Whatever Cheney and his allies do gets graded from wonderful to at least defensible, while adversaries operate with the worst possible motives and are always wrong. Facts are selected to support these preordained conclusions.
So, for instance, there has long been a clear-cut case that right-wing Cuban terrorists Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles masterminded the 1976 in-air bombing of a Cubana Airline flight killing 73 people, including Cuba's youth fencing team. Yet, for decades, U.S. authorities -- especially members of the Bush Family -- harbored both men, protecting them from extradition.
However, in Cheney World, the evidence that the Bush Family harbored terrorists wouldn't compute. By definition -- or at least by a well-entrenched double standard -- it couldn't be possible. Whatever Cheney's side does is fine.
Yet, different rules apply to Cheney's enemies. According to Cheney's memoir, Saddam Hussein was guilty of harboring al-Qaeda operatives just because Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had a base inside Iraq and once traveled to Baghdad. Here is how Cheney frames the case:
Zarqawi "had arrived in Iraq in 2002, spent time in Baghdad, and then supervised camps in northern Iraq that provided a safe haven for as many as two hundred al Qaeda fighters escaping Afghanistan. At one of those camps, called Khurmal, Zarqawi's men tested poisons and plotted attacks to use them in Europe.
"From his base in Iraq, Zarqawi also directed the October 2002 killing of Laurence Foley, a U.S. Agency for International Development officer, in Jordan."
These elliptical connections between Zarqawi and Iraq are meant to create an impression for the weak-minded or the fact-deprived, "proving" that Hussein had a relationship with al-Qaeda. However, the Zarqawi claim -- though repeated endlessly by the Bush administration to the American people -- was completely misleading.
Zarqawi's base in northern Iraq was outside Hussein's control and was protected by a U.S./U.K. "no-fly zone." Hussein's forces could not reach Zarqawi's base -- and curiously the Bush administration, which could have obliterated the camp from the air, made no effort to attack it.
As for Zarqawi's visit to Baghdad, it was a secret trip to get medical treatment. It also turned out that Hussein, who was violently opposed to Islamic extremists like Zarqawi, had received an intelligence tip about Zarqawi's presence and had dispatched secret police to capture him but they failed.
However, the Bush administration used the Zarqawi-Hussein myth as a key pillar in the case for invading Iraq -- and Cheney dusts it off one more time in his memoir.
The Bush administration built a similar house-of-cards case regarding intelligence on pre-9/11 contacts between Iraqi intelligence officials and representatives of al-Qaeda, who were hoping for some help from Hussein's regime. What the administration -- and Cheney -- always left out of this construct was that Iraq rejected al-Qaeda's overtures.
During the Bush administration, it became necessary to read whatever was said about Iraq and other foreign adversaries with a highly skeptical eye, not just regarding what was said but also what wasn't said. Cheney's memoir is a 565-page extension of that process.
Tarring a Critic
But foreign enemies were not the only ones to get this treatment. Out-of-step Americans were also tarred with a broad and ugly brush, as in Cheney's depiction of Iraq War critic, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, and the so-called Plame-gate Affair.
Plame-gate was a scandal in which the Bush administration reacted to Wilson's debunking of Bush's claim that Iraq had been seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger by smearing Wilson and exposing his wife Valerie Plame as a covert CIA officer.
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