Though Wilson was correct in stating that Hussein had not sought yellowcake from Niger and the exposure of Plame's CIA identity destroyed her career, Cheney twists every nuance to make himself and his inner circle out to be the real victims here.
Cheney makes a big deal out of the fact that Bush attributed his claim to the British who indeed had made the false accusation about Iraq seeking yellowcake uranium, but Bush's British war collaborators were also partners in spinning lies to justify the Iraq invasion. The British lied, too, about Hussein's capability to launch a chemical attack on 45-minutes notice.
The bottom line was that Iraq had NOT sought to secretly buy yellowcake uranium from Niger (whatever some people might have initially suspected) and that the CIA had reached that conclusion before Bush made his speech to Congress in January 2003.
What is also clear about the Plame case is that Cheney was the one who unleashed the Bush administration's powerful assault against Wilson for daring to criticize Bush's use of the false yellowcake claim. Cheney's fury at Wilson was the driving force that led to Plame's exposure.
Cheney was the one who fashioned the P.R. counterattack against Wilson by suggesting that his investigative trip to Niger in 2002 at the request of the CIA was a "junket" arranged by Plame. Cheney scribbled that point in the margin of Wilson's New York Times op-ed in which the ex-ambassador describes his trip to Niger and his discovery that the yellowcake rumors were false.
This "junket" theme was then peddled by White House officials, including political adviser Karl Rove and Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby. The fact that one of Rove's friends, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, was the first administration official to blow Plame's cover to a reporter doesn't change the fact that the White House was pushing the story, too.
The war against Joe Wilson also didn't end with his wife losing her job at the CIA. The Right's powerful media machine -- and neocon editors at the Washington Post -- turned Wilson and Plame into human piñatas to be whacked at for the rest of Bush's presidency.
But none of that reality is in Cheney's book. If you relied simply on In My Time to understand this case, you would conclude that the evil Joe Wilson was persecuting noble public servants in the White House, not that some of the most powerful people in the United States had targeted a political critic and, in the process, destroyed the CIA career of the critic's wife. [For more details, see Neck Deep.]
What's also striking about Cheney's memoir is how it preserves the full flower of delusion from the Bush-43 era.
In Cheney World, President George W. Bush is one of the greatest presidents ever; the U.S. achieved "victory" in Iraq because of Bush's courageous "surge"; Bush's tax cuts and deregulation were massively successful; the United States is a flourishing society, except that once Bush handed this gem over to Barack Obama, the new president promptly crushed it.
One might think that a leading architect of the international and economic strategies, which have left behind two open-ended wars grinding inexorably toward American defeats as well as the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression and the largest federal deficits ever, would show some remorse for serious mistakes made.
But that may be the ultimate message from Cheney's book, that reality itself no longer has a place in the U.S. political system, that politics is simply a matter of strong-willed people asserting a "reality" and then relying on powerful media allies to enforce that "reality."
The separation of America's ruling elite from reality -- especially but not exclusively on the Republican side -- was underscored by another tidbit of news that slipped into Cheney's memoir, his recollections about his frequent meetings with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
In one passage from summer 2006 as the Iraq War was going badly and military commanders were intent on drawing down U.S. forces, Cheney described his opposition to those plans and his determination that "we had to win first." Cheney added:
"About this time Henry Kissinger visited me in my office at the White House, as he had done with some regularity since I had become vice president. Henry began with Iraq and warned about the political dynamics of withdrawing forces.
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