Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Lest we forget

From Meet the Press, September 8, 2002: [emphasis added]

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the issue of Iraq. You have said that it poses a mortal threat to the United States. How? Define mortal threat.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: ... What we found on September 11 is that the danger now is an attack that’s launched from within the United States itself, not from some foreign territory, as happened with respect to the hijackers on 9/11. Also that, in this particular case, it was backed up by a cell, terrorist cell, operating in Hamburg, Germany. You have to completely recalibrate your thinking in terms of how you deal with that. Now, if you start with that as background, then you deal with Saddam Hussein and his 11 years, now, since 1991, since the end of the war, his refusal to comply with the U.N. Security Council resolutions. If you look at the extent to which he has aggressively sought to acquire chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, over the years, the fact that he has previously used them-he used chemical weapons both against the Kurds and against the Iranians during the 1980s-the fact that he has twice invaded his neighbors. He’s launched ballistic missiles against four of his neighbors over the years. There’s a pattern and a track record there that one has to be concerned about.

Now, the more recent developments have to do with our now being able to conclude, based on intelligence that’s becoming available, some of it has been made public, more of it hopefully will be, that he has indeed stepped up his capacity to produce and deliver biological weapons, that he has reconstituted his nuclear program to develop a nuclear weapon, that there are efforts under way inside Iraq to significantly expand his capability.

[...] So we find ourselves, on the one hand, with the demonstrated greater vulnerability of September 11; and, on the other hand, with the very clear evidence that this is a man who is resuming all of those programs that the U.N. Security Council tried to get him to forgo some 10 or 11 years ago. And increasingly we believe that the United States may well become the target of those activities.

[...] And what we’ve seen recently that has raised our level of concern to the current state of unrest, if you will, if I can put it in those terms, is that he now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs... Specifically aluminum tubes.

[...] It’s also important not to focus just on the nuclear threat. I mean, that sort of grabs everybody’s attention, and that’s what we’re used to dealing with. But come back to 9/11 again, and one of the real concerns about Saddam Hussein, as well, is his biological weapons capability; the fact that he may, at some point, try to use smallpox, anthrax, plague, some other kind of biological agent against other nations, possibly including even the United States. So this is not just a one-dimensional threat. This just isn’t a guy who’s now back trying once again to build nuclear weapons. It’s the fact that we’ve also seen him in these other areas, in chemicals, but also especially in biological weapons, increase his capacity to produce and deliver these weapons upon his enemies.

This was more than six months before the invasion of Iraq, and eleven months after the invasion of Afghanistan. Note the continuing mention of 9/11 in the context of Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

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