Cheney: CIA Report Backs Iraq War Plan

Times Staff Writers

Vice President Dick Cheney presented a new, sharply worded attack on the Democratic presidential ticket today, saying the CIA report on unconventional weapons in Iraq supported the administration’s decision to go to war.

In an equally aggressive response, Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards shot back that Cheney used “convoluted logic” to argue that the new report’s findings buttress the case for the Iraq war.

“They are willing to say left is right, up is down,” Edwards told several hundred supporters in the industrial port city of Bayonne, N.J. Bush and Cheney “need to recognize that the Earth is actually round, that the sun rises in the east, that there is no connection between Saddam Hussein and Sept. the 11th.”


News accounts of the weapons report, prepared by the U.S. weapons inspector, Charles A. Duelfer, focused on the finding that Iraq had destroyed its unconventional weapons shortly after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and had little ability to produce such munitions at the time of the U.S. invasion 12 years later.

“Well, we already knew that,” Cheney said dismissively on the second day of a four-day campaign swing through Florida.

Instead, Cheney focused on the portion of the report that detailed the extent of corruption in the United Nation’s administered “oil for food program” that Saddam looted.

“It turns out that the Oil for Food program was totally corrupted by Saddam Hussein; that he was using it to siphon off billions of dollars,” Cheney said. “He was in effect corrupting the program in such a way that he was trying to buy support from countries outside Iraq so they would in effect support lifting the sanctions that had been imposed on Iraq.”

Cheney talked about what the Bush administration offers as the central issue in the presidential campaign — the altered state of national security in the wake of the September 2001 attacks — as he sought to justify the U.S. military action in Iraq by using the CIA report released Wednesday.

At the same time, he predicted that Sen. John F. Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards, would launch sharp attacks on the Patriot Act.


“You’re going to hear a lot of comment from Sens. Kerry and Edwards that ‘no, no, no, there are some problems with the Patriot Act; that it needs to be overturned or it needs to be modified in a significant way.”

“Hogwash,” he declared. “They voted for it. Now, it’s political. It’s campaign time. So they found reason to criticize it. It’s not at fault. There’s nothing wrong with the Patriot Act. It’s an absolutely essential building block for ... our security.”

Kerry spokesman Phil Singer accused the vice president of issuing “a gross distortion of what Kerry has said” about the Patriot Act, and said the senator supported changes in the legislation that would balance domestic security concerns with protection of civil liberties.

In New Jersey, Edwards, seized on the CIA report to argue that Bush and Cheney were glossing over the harsh realities of the Iraq war and the growing evidence of their flawed rationale for the U.S. invasion.

“They think the American people are naive — if they keep saying something often enough, over and over and over, that people will believe what they say instead of their own eyes and what they’re seeing on television, in the newspaper,” Edwards said. “We’ve lost over 1,000 men and women in Iraq. We see Americans being kidnapped. We see beheadings.”

The Democrats’ plans for fighting terrorism were the central theme of Edwards’ campaign stop Thursday in Bayonne, where he accepted the endorsement of four family members of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.


One of them, Terry McGovern, whose mother Ann McGovern was killed in the south tower of the World Trade Center, faulted Bush and Cheney for “blurring the lines about who had actually attacked us and using the images of our loved ones’ violent deaths to justify the invasion of Iraq.”

“Iraq did not attack us,” she said.

The candidate’s backdrop was two giant cargo ships, which he used as props to argue that Bush had failed to provide adequate protection against another terrorist strike. Speaking to supporters on folding chairs on a clear, smoggy day, he said the United States inspects just 5% of “these containers that are behind us right now.”