Helpful Hints for Dick Cheney

Yesterday, Don Imus asked Vice President Dick Cheney what mistakes he’d made in planning the war in Iraq. His reply? Blame Saddam. He said, “I think the hundreds of thousands of people who were slaughtered at the time, including anybody who had the gumption to stand up and challenge [Saddam], made the situation tougher than I would have thought…I would chalk that one up as a miscalculation, where I thought things would have recovered more quickly.”

Cheney might want to think about pointing that finger a little closer to home. Here are some replies that may have been a little more honest from the Vice President:

“We didn’t send enough troops in to quell the insurgency in the first place.” L. Paul Bremer, the former head of the administration’s coalition provisional authority, admitted in October 2004 that the United States failed to deploy enough troops to Iraq in the beginning. According to Bremer, the lack of adequate forces hampered the occupation and efforts to end the looting immediately after the ouster of Saddam Hussein. “We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness. We never had enough troops on the ground,” he said.

“We thought political allegiance was a more important job requirement than know-how and left reconstruction in the hands of inexperienced party loyalists.” The Washington Post reported last year the $13 billion reconstruction project in Iraq was headed up by young, inexperienced politicos whose main qualification was they’d applied for jobs with the Heritage Foundation. Clueless, they were unable to get the project up and running. Today, only $2.2 billion of the funds allocated for the reconstruction of Iraq have been distributed. In September, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) called that record “beyond pitiful and embarrassing; it is now in the zone of dangerous.” Two years after the invasion, Iraqis are suffering from major food shortages and the country is producing less electricity than it was before the war. In addition, the deterioration of water and sewage systems has led to the spread of hepatitis and outbreaks of typhoid fever.

“We set up a legal framework for torture, which led to widespread abuse such as that seen at Abu Ghraib, which turned many Iraqis against us and strengthened the insurgency.” Then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales approved a series of memos which created a framework for torture. One memo contended the president “wasn’t bound by laws prohibiting torture and that government agents who might torture prisoners at his direction couldn’t be prosecuted by the Justice Department.” Another said that the pain caused by an interrogation must include “injury such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions — in order to constitute torture.” In July 2002, he also held secret meetings to discuss just how far the U.S. could go in interrogating suspects. Far from urging restraint, Gonzales was aggressive, wondering if in fact they were going far enough.