The Iraq That Dick Cheney Actually Left Behind


Former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on CNN on Tuesday, once more claiming that the Iraq his administration left behind was a “very stable” one. In actuality, on the waning days of the Bush administration, Iraq was still a highly violent place, with car bombs exploding and government officials targeted.

“I think when we left office, we had in Iraq a very stable situation,” Cheney told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “We’d put together a program with a surge the a decision the president made and by the time we left office, Iraq was in good shape.”

Contrary to his claims, the Iraq that Cheney and the rest of the administration parted with was not one that was in good shape. During the Iraq War, McClatchy’s Washington Bureau ran a daily round-up of violence that had taken place in the country. While stressing that it was not a comprehensive list, on January 18, 2009 — two days before the Obama administration took office — at least six roadside bombs were detonated in Iraq, five in Baghdad and another in Mosul. Nineteen people were wounded in those explosions.

Those bombs weren’t the only violence in the country that day. A magnetic bomb planted under a car in Basra exploded, wounding the prison employee driving. Three mortar shells hit the Jamiaa neighborhood of Baghdad. And an Iraqi politician was assassinated: “A suicide bomber targeted the former major general Hassan Zaidan, whose son Falah is a parliament member of the national dialogue, at the Haj Ali village in Qaiyara (south of Mosul) around 6 p.m. Zaidan was killed in that incident.”

The next day, the last day in office of Vice President Cheney, saw another five roadsides bombs detonated. Three were in Baghdad, the other two in Mosul, with the combined explosions killing one — a captain in the Ministry of the the Interior — and wounding another 18.

In fairness, the amount of violence had decreased in Iraq by the time the second term of the Cheney vice-presidency was ending. In 2008, the death toll in Iraq — according to the Iraq Body Count — had reached 10,203, far from the peak seen in 2007 of 25,921. 2009 would eventually reveal itself to be a relatively calm year for Iraq, but nowhere near Cheney’s claims of it being “very stable.” In January alone, 372 Iraqi civilians were killed in violence. By the end of the year, an estimated total of 5,175 people were killed in Iraq.

Cheney also turned down the chance to take any sort of responsibility for the current crisis that Iraq is going through. Iraq’s parliament finally named a new speaker, but the fate of current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki is still up in the air. Though formerly strongly supported by the United States, al-Maliki has been increasingly seen as overly biased towards his fellow Shiites and unable to reconcile the political crisis is going through. Militants allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) also continued to make and consolidate gains; ISIS is the successor of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which formed in Iraq only after the U.S.-led invasion.

“I guess what I’m asking, aren’t some of the decisions made by you and President Bush responsible for what is going on right now?” Tapper asked. “Are you saying it’s all Malaki and Obama?” Cheney readily agreed. “I think it’s primarily Malaki and Obama,” he said. “That’s what I believe and that’s what the history books will show.” (HT: Lisa Desjarnis)