VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY SPEAKS AT THE ISRAELI EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON
Vice President Dick Cheney laid out the White House's case for pre-emptive action against Iraq on August 26, 2002, citing mortal danger to the U.S. and labeling critics as guilty of "willful blindness." Cheney used a gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars to reject fears that such action would undermine the global U.S. war on terrorism and mark a radical new departure for American foreign policy. Cheney is seen speaking in Washington in this April 17 file photo. Photo by William
Dick Cheney; "We gotta let little George nuke
I have to ask myself what Saddam Hussein would do if he had a weapon of mass destruction. Where would he send that weapon? Would he try to send it to Israel and kill almost as many Muslims as Jews? Maybe he would get lucky and send one to the United States? How many could he send, two, three, four?
Now after he launches these weapons of mass destruction, what then? The whole world would turn against him and the United States would turn Baghdad into a molten sheet of glass. No more Baghdad. No more Iraq. No more Saddam.
Yeah Dick, we need to strike first? And by the way do we get more mileage out of radioactive oil?
August 27, 2002
Cheney presses case against Iraq
By RON FOURNIER
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (Aug. 26) - Vice President Dick Cheney warned Monday that the United States could face devastating consequences from any delay in acting to remove Saddam Hussein as president of Iraq.
Lawmakers urged President Bush to get their support before any invasion, even though White House advisers say congressional assent is not legally required.
Cheney's remarks were among the strongest by a high administration official about the urgency of ousting Saddam, spoken even as the White House contends no decision has been made to invade Iraq.
Speaking at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Nashville, Tenn., Cheney dismissed what he called ''deeply flawed'' logic of people who argue against a pre-emptive strike to stop Saddam from developing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
''What we must not do in the face of a mortal threat is to give in to wishful thinking or willful blindness,'' he said. ''We will not simply look away, hope for the best and leave the matter for some future administration to resolve.''
Cheney pressed the administration's case for invading Iraq in face of growing misgivings about the potential loss of lives; the cost to U.S. taxpayers; the effects on other countries, friend and foe; and uncertainty about who would replace Saddam and how long the U.S. commitment would last. Many of the admonitions for caution have come from Republican lawmakers and officials of former GOP administrations.
''If this is a noble cause, and it's in the interest of our country, then the president needs to make the case,'' said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., a member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He said Bush should seek Congress' backing before ordering an invasion of Iraq, regardless of whether it's required. ''If the president is going to commit this nation to war,'' Hagel said, ''he'd better have the support of the Congress and the American people with him.''
''The president has to get congressional approval,'' said House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri. ''He must have a debate on this issue and a vote in the Congress.''
Gephardt spoke during a campaign appearance in Waterbury, Conn., on behalf of U.S. Rep. Jim Maloney, D-Conn.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the decision of going to war ''should not be treated like a technicality.''
''For the good of the country and for the long-term success of whatever approach we take, President Bush should follow his father's lead and support a vigorous and constructive debate on Iraq,'' he said through a spokesman. Bush's father sought and received congressional backing before the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
The Republican chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Henry Hyde of Illinois, said he agreed with Gonzales, ''but I also believe that any policy undertaken by the president without a popular mandate from Congress risks its long-term success.'' he said in a statement.
''Congress ultimately controls the government's budget, and the president should seek the active involvement of Congress in developing his policy.''
In Crawford, Texas, where Bush is vacationing, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said White House counsel Al Gonzales advised Bush he does not need congressional authority to go to war with Iraq. Nevertheless, Fleischer said: ''The president will consult with the Congress, because Congress has an important role to play.''
In his Tennessee speech, Cheney delivered perhaps the administration's most comprehensive argument to date for ousting Saddam, although Bush and his advisers already had made most of the points he offered.
Failing to attack now will only allow Iraq to grow stronger, Cheney said. Forcing Saddam from power would bring freedom to Iraq, peace to the region, boost Arab moderates, cause extremists to rethink violence and help the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, he averred.
Those who say Iraq should be attacked only if Saddam develops a nuclear weapon later would argue, ''We cannot because he has a nuclear weapon,'' Cheney said. That would lead to ''a course of inaction that itself could have devastating consequences for many countries, including our own,'' he said.
The comments reflect growing unease within the White House:
Aides acknowledge that Bush's critics are getting the upper hand because he can't make his case for ousting Saddam until he decides when and how to do it.
Congress has just begun exploring whether the United States should attack Iraq. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held two days of hearings before the August break, and more hearings are expected in the fall in both the House and Senate.
Lawmakers have circulated letters and offered resolutions calling on Bush to seek congressional authorization before attacking Iraq.
If invoked, the War Powers Act, passed in 1973 late in the Vietnam War, would prohibit the president from waging war for more than 60 days without congressional approval or a declaration of war by Congress.
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