FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What Edwards Should Ask Cheney Tonight

As James Gerstenzang of the Los Angeles Times writes three days before the Dick Cheney-John Edwards debate: “the underlying message remains unchanged—Cheney plants the idea that [Saddam] Hussein was allied with the group responsible for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” Even now, long after the 9-11 Commission laid that myth to rest, the de facto president and Terror War propagandist attack dog repeats the claim at every opportunity, having asserted without elaboration or credibility that he may have intelligence about this link to which the bipartisan Commission somehow wasn’t privy.

This is important as the Cheney-Edwards context looms. Pundits say there was no “knockout punch,” no “zinger” in Thursday’s Bush-Kerry debate. But there was something close. After Bush justified the invasion of Iraq by declaring “The enemy attacked us, Jim,” Kerry said to the moderator: “Jim, the president just said something extraordinarily revealing and frankly very important in this debate. In answer to your question about Iraq and sending people into Iraq, he just said, ‘The enemy attacked us.’ [But] Saddam Hussein didn’t attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us.” To which the scowling chief executive could merely rejoin defensively, “Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that” as though someone had impugned his basic knowledge of history or geography, as in fact often happens.

Clearly Bush has sought all along to confuse in the collective mind what is confused in his own mind: this Iraq-al-Qaeda nexus. In Cheney’s mind, on the other hand, I sense there is much clarity. Knowing full well the lack of any connection, he has sought to establish one through the conscious, systematic dissemination of disinformation. Long after both Bush and Powell have acknowledged no evidence for any link between Saddam and 9-11, Cheney continues to suggest that the jury’s out on that question, and that anyway there are longstanding ties between Saddam and bin Laden.

“This is one of his major issues,” says Michael B. Feldman, former senior aide to Al Gore. “He tries to blur the lines between al-Qaeda and 9/11, and Saddam Hussein and Iraq. From the very beginning of the effort to see the [Iraq] war, this has been Cheney’s role. He’s.at odds with the facts. That doesn’t stop him. I don’t think it’s an accident.” Cheney was the chief figure creating the spooky “Office of Special Plans” which Congressional investigators don’t want to talk about until after the election—the office created specifically to promote this and other lies to justify the Iraq invasion. (Wouldn’t it be nice if this came up during the debates?)

Currently Cheney seeks to substantiate the link by arguing that the ubiquitously mentioned but elusive and mysterious Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, blamed for much of the resistance in Iraq and in particular the gruesome beheadings of hostages, is both a long time bin Laden and Saddam associate. I’ve questioned the reportage on al-Zarqawi elsewhere. Now I read, the same day I see Gerstenzang’s piece, a Telegraph article by Adrian Blomfield beginning with the not so surprising report that “American intelligence obtained through bribery may have seriously overstated the insurgency role of the most wanted fugitive in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”

Blomfield cites an American agent as stating, “We were basically paying up to $US10,000 ($A13,700) a time to opportunists, criminals and chancers who passed off fiction and supposition about Zarqawi as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq.” Shades of the Chalabi disinformation scandal. There is a deep scandal here, that involves less Chalabi than the current “prime minister” Iyad Allawi who, having headed the organization validating the fictitious “45 minutes” charge that inclined British public opinion to support the war, also validated the dubious “Zarqawi letter” announced by the New York Times last January that linked Saddam to Mohammed Atta, Libya, Syria and a ‘Niger shipment.” At that time longstanding CIA operative Allawi (not yet prime minister) dutifully affirmed the document’s accuracy. Few outside the Project for a New American Century give it any credence today. But tales of Zarqawi are crucial to Cheney’s fanciful Saddam-bin Laden narrative.

Cheney, insisting on non-existent links, grasping at straws, exploiting disinformation, leaves himself way open to a frontal attack from John Edwards, if the Southern trial lawyer has the cojones to do it, during Tuesday’s debate in Ohio. “Mr. Vice President,” he should say (breaking the debate rules if necessary), “you keep insisting on this Saddam-al-Qaeda link. But the 9-11 Commission and dozens of press reports make it very clear that there is no evidence of that link. You’re more responsible than anyone in getting 44% of the American people (according to a June Gallup poll) to believe in that link. Won’t you say to those people watching us now, whose trust you so abused, and to the families of those 1060 dead American troops, that in your zeal to go to war in Iraq you lied to them? That you cynically used the emotions of 9-11 to whip up support for a war of choice? Have you no shame, Mr. Cheney?”

Of course Edwards won’t say that, any more than Cheney will tell Edwards “Fuck yourself” (as he did to Pat Leahy on the Senate floor) in a televised debate. It’s too impolitic for a debate between politicians whose foreign policy perspectives are in fact not dissimilar. But as Justin Raimondo remarked in connection with the first Bush-Kerry debate, we can appreciate how “as just a purely political event,” a debate of this sort can appropriate “the anti-interventionist narrative” if only for the opposition candidate’s advantage. While contemptuous of both tickets, I hope Edwards will apply this line of attack Tuesday night, as he confronts the least popular figure in the administration. In doing so he might stimulate broader, more honest and informed debate about the war, and jolt some of the 44% out of their delusion.

GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu

 

 

More articles by:

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail