“Addressing about 100 wide-eyed Wyoming high school students learning about government and the political process,” Vice President Cheney yesterday repeated one of the key fabrications that helped send the United States into war.
During the question and answer session, one student asked, “I was wondering — I’m not trying to start a debate, or anything, but do you still think that the Iraq war can be won?” Cheney immediately answered “yes,” adding, “I think we’re making significant progress now.”
He then launched into a justification of the war, citing the September 11 attacks. “The fact of the matter is Iraq is part of the global war on terror,” he told the students. “And you’ve got to go back and look at what happened on 9/11.” Cheney recounted the tale of the late al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the administration’s great pre-war myths:
The worst terrorist we had in Iraq was a guy named Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian by birth; served time in a Jordanian prison as a terrorist, was let out on amnesty. … Then when we launched into Afghanistan after 9/11, he was wounded, and fled to Baghdad for medical treatment, and then set up shop in Iraq. So he operated in Jordan, he operated in Afghanistan, then he moved to Iraq.
The implication that Zarqawi helped justify the war was thoroughly debunked last year by the Senate Intelligence Committee, then chaired by Bush loyalist Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS.) It found:
Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and…the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi. [p. 109]
Adding insult to injury, earlier in the event, Cheney was asked about the “values or philosophy” he has developed during his 40 years of government service. He answered, “I basically developed a great respect for American history.”