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Cheney Comes Clean
Just kidding. But he does lie with a certain panache:
BLITZER: Did you read the so-called Downing Street memo?
CHENEY: No, I did not.
BLITZER: Well it suggests British officials came here before the war, months before the war and said the administration had already decided to go to war against Saddam Hussein. The intelligence wasn't there, and the memo says it will be fixed around the policy, the intelligence. In other words, they were going to make it up. You were going to make it up as you go along to justify removing Saddam Hussein from power.
You dispute that. I assume you dispute that.
CHENEY: Of course. The memo was written sometime prior to when we actually got involved in Iraq.
BLITZER: In the fall of 2002 when the war was ...
CHENEY: Right. And remember what happened after the supposed memo was written. We went to the United Nations. We got a unanimous vote out of the Security Council for a resolution calling on Saddam Hussein to come clean and comply with the U.N. Security Council resolution. We did everything we could to resolve this without having to use military force. We gave him one last chance even, and asked him to step down before we launched military operations.
The memo is just wrong. In fact, the president of the United States took advantage of every possibility to try to resolve this without having to use military force. It wasn't possible in this case. I am convinced we did absolutely the right thing. I am convinced that history will bear that out
BLITZER: My exclusive conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney will continue. Just ahead, I'll ask him about Osama bin Laden and what he knows about the al Qaeda leader's current whereabouts.
And we'll check some other news later this hour, including some new developments in the disappearance in that Alabama student, Natalee Holloway. The father of the 17-year-old suspect has now been arrested himself. We'll go live to Aruba.
Much more coming up.
BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We welcome our viewers from around the world.
The fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction and the ongoing search for Osama bin Laden, my exclusive interview with the Vice President Dick Cheney continues right now.
BLITZER: As you saw that presidential commission that came out with its report on the WMD assessments before the war -- their words, the U.S. assessment, intelligence assessment, was dead wrong.
How could the U.S. government, the intelligence community have been dead wrong in saying that Saddam Hussein had chemical, biological weapons of mass destruction when he didn't have any, apparently?
CHENEY: Well, remember what they were dealing with. They had a tough target. I have got a sympathy for the intelligence community. But they did. Their judgment was overwhelmingly that he did in fact have weapons of mass destruction. We knew certain things. We knew that he had produced them in the past. We knew he had used them in the past. We knew that he had started two wars. We knew he had slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his own people.
And we found after the fact, while he did not have stockpiles, he still had the capability. He still had the technicians who knew how to produce this stuff. He still had some labs that could, in fact, have been converted to this process very quickly.
We also know now something that we didn't know at the time which was that the sanctions had been a joke, that in fact Saddam Hussein had corrupted the oil-for-food program intended to provide food and medicine for the Iraqi people and used it to bribe senior officials at the United Nations and in other governments in order to undermine the sanctions and that he was simply waiting until such time as the sanctions had been lifted or had been totally been undermined to resume business as usual.
So I think eventually he would in fact have been back in the business and I think ...
BLITZER: I don't want to go too much into the history.
CHENEY: No, that's all right. But you asked the question.
BLITZER: I know.
CHENEY: I think the community did in fact miss the exact status of the stockpiles at the time, but I don't think there is any question about his intent or about what he had done in the past or the fact that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.
BLITZER: The criticism, though, that has been leveled at you is that you in effect pressured the intelligence community to come up with ... CHENEY: Wolf, if you go back.
BLITZER: You've heard that, for instance.
CHENEY: It's not true. And anybody who has looked at it, and several people have, have found it's not true. The WMD commission looked at that very carefully and found not a shred of evidence to support it. The Senate Intelligence Committee, which did a complete and thorough study before the WMD commission and questioned hundreds of intelligence analysts, found there was absolutely no truth. They couldn't find one single individual who would validate that comment you just made. There's nothing to support it. There never was, because it never happened.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Porter Goss, the CIA director. He says he has an "excellent idea" where Osama bin Laden is hiding out. Do you?
CHENEY: We've got a pretty good idea of the general area that he's in, but I -- you know, I don't have the street address.
BLITZER: Well, what is the general area? It's been widely reported to be..
CHENEY: I don't talk -- I don't -- I don't...
BLITZER: ...somewhere along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
CHENEY: I don't talk about intelligence matters.
BLITZER: But it's not Iran. Because some...
BLITZER: ... like Curt Weldon, the vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee...
CHENEY: Wolf, if I don't talk about -- I don't talk about classified information.
BLITZER: You don't want to get into that.
BLITZER: Osama bin Laden. But any assessment of, is he going to be caught soon, not so soon? Any idea when?
CHENEY: What, do you expect me to say three weeks from next Tuesday?
I'm convinced eventually we'll get him. I know for a fact that we've made significant inroads in his organization. We have captured and killed many of his fellow travelers, if you will, most recently a man named Abu Faraj al-Libbi, who was the new number-three man in the organization. We've been, I think, enormously successful against al Qaeda. We've still got a lot to do, because it's a tough, resilient organization, and they're still out there trying to find ways to attack us.