Yesterday, Lynne Cheney appeared on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show to offer an indefensible defense of her husband’s attempts to link Iraq to 9/11:
I’ve seen Dick specifically say “no” to the question asked “is there a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11″ because there isn’t a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. So, if your caller is troubled, I guess I would just like to know more specifics.
(Full transcript of the conversation below.)
In fact, when specifically asked about the link, Vice President Cheney did not play down — but rather played up — the connection. Here are the specifics:
WHEN ASKED SPECIFICALLY ABOUT AN IRAQ – 9/11 LINK, CHENEY SAID IT WAS “PRETTY WELL CONFIRMED”:
RUSSERT: Do you still believe there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in September 11?
CHENEY: “Well, what we now have that’s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that””it’s been pretty well confirmed that [9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.” [NBC, Meet The Press, 12/9/01]
EVEN AFTER THE WAR BEGAN, WHEN SPECIFICALLY ASKED, CHENEY SUGGESTED THERE MIGHT BE AN IRAQ – 9/11 CONNECTION:
RUSSERT: The Washington Post asked the American people about Saddam Hussein, and this is what they said: 69 percent said he was involved in the September 11 attacks. Are you surprised by that?
CHENEY: No. I think it’s not surprising that people make that connection.
MR. RUSSERT: But is there a connection?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: We don’t know.
[NBC, Meet the Press, 11/14/03]
CHENEY SAID IRAQ WAS THE “GEOGRAPHIC BASE” FOR 9/11 HIJACKERS:
CHENEY: If we’re successful in Iraq, … we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.” [NBC, Meet The Press, 9/14/03]
Here’s the relevant transcript for the Diane Rehm Show:
L. CHENEY: I don’t know of any leader – certainly the president or vice president has never said that Saddam Hussein was connected with 9/11.
REHM: But there have been connections made in speeches putting Saddam Hussein and Iraq adjacent to 9/11.
L. CHENEY: Well, I’ve seen Dick specifically say “no” to the question asked “is there a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11″ because there isn’t a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. So, if your caller is troubled, I guess I would just like to know more specifics.
REHM: More specifics — you mean a quotation?
L. CHENEY: Sure. I mean the president nor the vice president has ever made that assertion because it isn’t true. There’s no connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
REHM: I think that a great many people perhaps have had the impression that that is something the President and vice president have done. Now whether, as you say, there is no explicit paragraph to be cited, I think our listeners are going to supply that.
L. CHENEY: Good. Because it sounds like a straw man. You know you set up something that someone supposedly said so that you can knock it down. But the president and vice president have been very clear – when asked specifically, that there was no connection.
(To listen to the audio, click here. The conversation about Iraq and 9/11 begins at 16:35).