Sidney Blumenthal holds forth on yet another (regrettably believable) Cheney-esque insult to Americans in his effort to whitewash and propagandize his place in U.S. history.
Cheney has chosen neoconservative columnist Stephen Hayes — the biggest promulgater, beyond James Woolsey and Laurie Mylroie, of the Saddam Hussein-al Qaeda link rationale for invading Iraq — to be his official biographer.
For this Herculean task, Cheney has passed over every single professional historian and instead selected Stephen Hayes, a writer for the neoconservative organ, the Weekly Standard. “I’m not a historian,” Hayes told US News, modestly.
For years, Hayes has doggedly attempted to prove links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida in order to buttress Cheney’s uncorroborated claims. From the run-up to the Iraq invasion to the present he has been relentless in publishing articles purporting to disclose conclusive evidence that has been repeatedly, consistently and thoroughly debunked by major news organisations.
“Dick Cheney Was Right” ran the headline on a Hayes piece of October 20 2003, followed by a cover story in The Weekly Standard on November 14, 2003, entitled “Case Closed”. Unfortunately, the Washington Post and Newsweek promptly discredited his “proof,” a leaked memo written by the neoconservative undersecretary of defence Douglas Feith.
Newsweek‘s report, “Case Decidedly Not Closed: The defense dept. memo allegedly proving a link between al-Qaida and Saddam does nothing of the sort,” stated that Hayes’s account was “mostly based on unverified claims that were first advanced by some top Bush administration officials more than a year ago — and were largely discounted at the time by the US intelligence community, according to current and former US intelligence officials.”
Before the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration set up an intelligence operation to parallel established US intelligence in order to avoid having material siphoned by Iraqi exiles and freebooters like Ahmed Chalabi being subjected to objective standards of analysis. Within the administration, the information, later revealed as disinformation, was stove-piped from Cheney’s office to Feith’s hastily assembled office of special planning at the Pentagon, back to Cheney’s office, and then to Condoleezza Rice’s compliant national security council, and finally, if at all, to the president.
What is also odd about this decision to select Hayes is the decision by some in the White House to get out and re-fight the battle on the Saddam Hussein linkage to al Qaeda.
At the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association meeting this week in Philadelphia, I spoke on a panel on U.S. foreign policy with National Security Council staff member and Duke University professor Peter Feaver.
At the panel, Feaver offered a memo, which I hope to get an electronic copy of (if he will email to me), that goes through seven reasons why thinking through and speculating about a Hussein-al Qaeda link made sense. Many of the items he offered on that memo were quite sensible and thoughtful, but at the beginning of his statement — he argued that the administration had completely tossed out the relevance of either WMDs or a Saddam Hussein-al Qaeda linkage as a rationale explaining and justifying the invasion of Iraq.
In his comments, Feaver stated “Stephen Hayes not withstanding,” this linkage was not a rationale in any way for the President going to war against Iraq.
Let’s take Peter Feaver at his word and face value on this that Bush had dropped every other available rationale for taking on Hussein by the time of his decisions and just wanted to push ballot boxes into Baghdad, what is striking is that Vice President Cheney has clearly not given up — nor did he ever — on one of the fundamental drivers of the American invasion was the Hussein link to 9/11.
I believe Feaver believes what he has been sharing before audiences, but this does mean that there is a fundamental split — still — between Bush and Cheney on what took us into the debacle in Iraq.
— Steve Clemons
Ed. Note: More here. SCC