Cheney should just resign

Back in May I wrote that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should be fired for bad judgment. He led the United States into a war with Iraq by clearly substituting innuendo from flakes for facts and solid intelligence. I should have also called for Vice President Dick Cheney’s resignation. Hopefully Rumsfeld knew his advice could be in error. But it appears Cheney never had any such doubts. According to The Washington Post:

In January, Cheney repeated his view that Iraq was tied to al Qaeda, saying that “there’s overwhelming evidence” of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection. He said he was “very confident there was an established relationship there.”

As you may recall when the 9/11 Commission released its preliminary findings on June 16th it stated it could find no evidence of any collaborative relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Did such a high level bipartisan finding bother Dick Cheney? Of course not! The very next day he was out asserting for the umpteenth time that such a collaborative relationship did in fact exist. He drew attention to a long since discredited report of a meeting in the Czech Republic between Mohammad Atta and the Iraqi consul to Prague, Ahmed al-Ani.
Again from The Washington Post:

As for the Atta meeting in Prague mentioned by Cheney, the commission staff concluded: “We do not believe that such a meeting occurred.” It cited FBI photographic and telephone evidence, along with Czech and U.S. investigations, as well as reports from detainees, including the Iraqi official with whom Atta was alleged to have met.

Now it appears that Cheney is indirectly admitting that he may have had his facts wrong all along. From Reuters:

The Sept. 11 commission, which reported no evidence of collaborative links between Iraq and al Qaeda, said on Tuesday that Vice President Dick Cheney had no more information than commission investigators to support his later assertions to the contrary.

So now we get this spin from Cheney’s office:

Cheney spokesman Kevin Kellems denied any conflict between the commission’s finding of no Saddam/al Qaeda relationship and the vice president’s position. He described Cheney as being “pleased” about the commission’s statement and said the message “put to rest a non-story.”

Cheney’s words have hitherto been crystal clear. He has repeated over and over again like a broken record that Saddam and al Qaeda had a collaborative relationship. But now through his spokesman Cheney is asserting tacit agreement with the 9/11 Commission. He is saying that in fact a collaborative relationship did not exist. In other words, Cheney has been lying, perhaps to himself, but definitely to Bush and to the American people all along. He sold us a false assertion based on nothing credible at all. And he did it over and over again.

I remember back when George H. W. Bush was president. I am not a praying man, yet I would regularly pray regularly that Bush Sr. would not die in office. The idea of a boob like Dan Quayle becoming chief executive scared the pee out of me, and many others.

George W. Bush is Dan Quayle in the Oval Office, just not as good looking and seemingly less intelligent. And now we know that Bush outsourced his judgment to his senior leadership and in particular the Vice President. And now it is clear that on matters of national security Cheney couldn’t or simply wouldn’t bother to discern fact from fiction. At best this is gross incompetence. At worst it is treason.

These are scary times indeed. Keep praying nothing worse happens until Kerry and Edwards inhabit the White House in January 2005. The grownups need to get back in charge ASAP.

A vice president with some decency in his soul would resign over this mess. Instead we have one who profanely tells senators to have intercourse with themselves on the Senate floor. Cheney should resign for his many bald-faced lies on this and other issues. It is clear he used his leverage with Bush to begin an unnecessary war. This is a war that has killed nearly a thousand of our soldiers and injured tens of thousands more. And it is a war that has killed at least ten thousand Iraqis, and likely a lot more.

But unfortunately Cheney can’t be fired. He is a constitutional officer. He can only choose to resign or be impeached. And we all know Bush would never ask for Cheney’s resignation. In fact, he’s such a fool he will nominate Cheney as his Vice President for a second term. This act may be the Achilles heel that loses him the election.

At least one person with balls told Bush to his face what he should have heard. I leave you with this interview with Democratic Senator Joe Biden from Rolling Stone:

Here’s what the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says he told Bush and Cheney in a recent visit: “I was in the Oval Office the other day, and the president asked me what I would do about resignations. I said, ‘Look, Mr. President, would I keep Rumsfeld? Absolutely not.’ And I turned to Vice President Cheney, who was there, and I said, ‘Mr. Vice President, I wouldn’t keep you if it weren’t constitutionally required.’ I turned back to the president and said, ‘Mr. President, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are bright guys, really patriotic, but they’ve been dead wrong on every major piece of advice they’ve given you. That’s why I’d get rid of them, Mr. President — not just Abu Ghraib.’ They said nothing. Just sat like big old bullfrogs on a log and looked at me.”

He hasn’t given the president a pass in the past, either: “About six months ago, the president said to me, ‘Well, at least I make strong decisions, I lead.’ I said, ‘Mr. President, look behind you. Leaders have followers. No one’s following. Nobody.'”

Fire Rumsfeld

There are times when I wonder if our president has taken up the bottle again. There has to be some explanation for why on Monday President Bush publicly told his embattled Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “You are doing a superb job.” It’s either the bottle or Bush took some dubious advice from his political adviser Karl Rove. Rove doubtless has been reading the latest poll numbers. While a recent Gallup poll found Bush’s approval rating at a historical low of 46%, Americans seem to be cutting Don Rumsfeld some wholly unearned slack, probably because they don’t read beyond the newspaper fold. An ABC News-Washington Post poll reported that 69 percent of Americans thought Rumsfeld should not resign over the prisoner abuse issue. But the same poll also showed that a majority of Americans claimed to be upset about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American forces. Perhaps Bush is hoping to ride on Rummy’s coattails? If so I predict it will be a short ride.

So Rumsfeld is doing a superb job. Apparently then incompetence is seen as commendable. It makes me wonder what sort of egregious acts it would take to get anyone in this administration fired. It is clear that Rumsfeld, along with Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz were the architects behind our disastrous invasion of Iraq. They convinced Bush there was a bogus connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. But that was only just the start. They got an apparently very gullible President Bush to believe that Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. They convinced Bush, to use his own words that Iraq was a “grave and gathering threat” against our national security. It was Rummy among others who told Bush to lift his middle finger to the United Nations and Europe, to put multiple asterisks next to our participation the human rights conventions and to disclaim some altogether. Human rights? There’s a war on they argued. We’ll do what we think we need to do to get the information we want and worry about the detritus later. So suspects get to hang out indefinitely in our prisons and detention camps, never get charged with a crime and apparently sometimes subject to abuses the Red Cross calls “tantamount to torture.”

Having sold Bush on the war they then went out of their way to screw it up badly. The good stuff came rather quickly. Saddam Hussein’s government collapsed in a few weeks. This was no surprise since his army was pretty much a shell anyhow. Although we have lost over 700 service men and women this number is rather low from a historical perspective. And eventually we found and captured Saddam Hussein, although it had no effect on bringing peace to this tortured country.

The rest of it has been thoroughly botched. It was Rummy and Wolfowitz who put together their own “Office of Special Plans”. Its mission was to find intelligence linking Saddam to al Qaeda that wasn’t there, so they substituted innuendo from flakes for facts. As for special planning, they came up with a special plan all right: perhaps the most incompetent war plan ever put together. Their generals said 250,000 to 300,000 troops were needed to properly occupy the country: they gave them 130,000. As for post war plans they had none other than the rosiest of scenarios: we’d be greeted as liberators and democracy would instantly flourish. It was a war that was to be run on the cheap. Initial cost estimates were that the United States would only have to contribute $2B-$3B toward reconstruction. Iraq’s oil revenues would pay for the rest.

So here it is 14 months later and Iraq is in anarchy. Basic services for Iraqis are worse than they were before the invasion. Our soldiers die needlessly every day because they have lightweight armor vehicles and lack bulletproof kevlar. We pay inflated prices for contractors of dubious worth who it turns out are not subject to U.S. law. We create a “Governing Council” that doesn’t govern but includes flakes like Ahmad Chalabi who hadn’t lived in Iraq in thirty years and is wanted in Jordan for embezzlement. Instead of tearing down the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, we stock it full of suspects. Many of these people are innocent and were taken out of their homes and from the arms of their screaming families in the middle of the night. Then we perpetrate on these victims abuses that prove we are at best a milder version of Saddam Hussein.

Elements of al Qaeda, which were not in Iraq before the war, are now in the country, helping the insurrection and beheading innocent American civilians. Meanwhile over in Afghanistan, our attempt to stabilize the country flounder. The Taliban is resurgent and is taking over provinces again. Other warlords are getting uppity again and refuse to recognize Ahmed Karzi as the leader of the country. Osama bin Laden seems to have migrated to our erstwhile ally Pakistan, which won’t give us permission to send in our troops to search and destroy him. While Pakistan continues to teeter on the very of its own anarchy and civil war, its forces deploy in Northwest Pakistan to try to battle al Qaeda then give up.

Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz should be fired. They should have been fired long ago. The way out of this debacle is not clear but new management is sorely needed. There aren’t many people that would win the respect of our soldiers at this point. But perhaps if Colin Powell became Secretary of Defense a strong message would be sent that a real grown up is in charge of the Department of Defense.