Dick Cheney and the “Big Lie”

This is the definition of chutzpah. Even after Memogate and Plamegate (or Nigergate or whatever they are calling it), Cheney thinks he will be believed in these outraged accusations against his accusers. This really is a textbook case of the Big Lie technique—and it is worth noting that the phrase, popularly attributed to the Nazis to describe their own propaganda, was actually first used by Hitler and Goebbels to discredit Allied and “Jewish” propaganda. So, at risk of violating Godwin’s Law, we submit that this analogy is not spurious. From MSNB, Nov. 17:

WASHINGTON – In the sharpest White House attack yet on critics of the Iraq war, Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday that accusations the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify the war were a “dishonest and reprehensible” political ploy.

Cheney called Democrats “opportunists” who were peddling “cynical and pernicious falsehoods” to gain political advantage while U.S. soldiers died in Iraq.

“Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein,” Cheney told the Frontiers of Freedom Institute, a conservative policy group.

Democrats shot back immediately, with the party’s 2004 presidential nominee, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, saying “it is hard to name a government official with less credibility on Iraq” than Cheney.

Administration plans ‘sustained’ response
Cheney’s speech was part of a GOP effort to push back against criticism on Iraq.

President Bush, whose public approval ratings have dropped to the lowest point of his presidency, has made two speeches in recent days that painted Democrats as hypocrites for criticizing the Iraq war after earlier supporting the idea that Saddam should go.

During a press conference Thursday in Gyeongju, South Korea, Bush was asked about Cheney’s comments. “I agree with the vice president,” Bush said.

“I think people ought to be allowed to ask questions,” the president said. “It is irresponsible to say that I deliberately misled the American people.”

Presidential counselor Dan Bartlett said Bush would keep fighting on the issue. He told reporters with Bush in South Korea that the criticism had reached a critical mass and that it “requires a sustained response.”

Cheney repeated Bush’s charge that Democratic critics were rewriting history by questioning prewar intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction even though many Senate Democrats voted in October 2002 to authorize the invasion.

“The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone — but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history,” said Cheney, a principal architect of the war and a focus of Democratic allegations the administration misrepresented intelligence on Iraq’s weapons program.

Cheney said the suggestion Bush or any member of the administration misled Americans before the war “is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.”

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld singled out Democrats, including President Clinton and his secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, who had depicted Saddam as a threat because of weapons of mass destruction.

The Republican National Committee posted on its Web site a video compilation of past statements by prominent Democrats — including several 2008 presidential hopefuls — who supported a hard line against Saddam.

“These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence, and were free to draw their own conclusions. They arrived at the same judgment about Iraq’s capabilities and intentions that was made by this administration and by the previous administration,” Cheney said.

He said there was “broad-based, bipartisan agreement” that Saddam was a threat, had violated U.N. Security Council resolution and had banned weapons.

Reid: Cheney is ‘playing politics’
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Cheney was “playing politics like he’s in the middle of a presidential campaign.”

“I would urge the members of the Bush administration to stop trying to resurrect their political standing by lashing out at their critics,” he said. “Instead, they need to focus on the job at hand, giving our troops a strategy for success in Iraq.”

Democrats have said they got their information on U.S. intelligence assessments about Saddam’s government from the administration. They have suggested that top administration figures — including Cheney, a staunch advocate of toppling Saddam — manipulated that intelligence to make a stronger case for invasion.

In October 2002, the Senate voted 77 to 23 to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq. The House approved the measure on a 296-133 vote.

In the Senate, 29 Democrats voted for the measure, including Kerry and Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina and Hillary Clinton of New York.

Kerry and Edwards, his running mate, have since reversed their stand and voiced opposition to the decision to go to war. Clinton has remained supportive of the president on Iraq.

“What we’re hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war,” Cheney said in his speech at the Frontiers of Freedom Institute’s 2005 Ronald Reagan gala.

“The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out,” he said.

Kerry responded by saying that Cheney “continues to mislead America about how we got into Iraqi and what must be done to complete the still unaccomplished mission.”

Cheney is, of course, sadly correct that there was bipartisan agreement on the war and that the Dems played along with the Administration’s lies. Dick can call their new-found backbone “playing politics.” We call it better late than never.

See our last post on Iraq.

  1. Muddy the water
    Besides being a classic Rove / Gingrich ‘shout traitor’ tactic this keeps the renewed investigation into Cheney’s 2001 taskforce off the media’s radar.

    Houston Chronical (NYTimes story)

    Lawmakers question Cheney’s oil ties
    Democrats want industry executives to testify again

    New York Times

    WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats demanded on Wednesday that several oil executives explain statements they made to Congress last week about their ties to Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force.

    “I join my Democratic colleagues in demanding that these oil executives be brought back to Congress, sworn in and forced to testify again,” said Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader.

    At issue is a long-running dispute over Cheney’s energy task force, which worked mostly behind closed doors in 2001 and 2002 and developed a broad array of industry-friendly energy proposals.

    Last week, chief executives from five major oil companies told a joint hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee that their companies had not been involved in the task force. But on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that a White House document showed that executives from at least four companies had met with Andrew Lundquist, the head of Cheney’s task force.

    Two companies, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, acknowledged that their executives had met with Lundquist. But both companies insisted that their executives had told the truth. The other two companies were Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc.

    Democrats and many environmental groups have long charged that the secretive task force worked hand-in-glove with oil companies.

    The White House fought a long and mostly successful court battle to avoid releasing information on who had participated in the meetings.

    None of the executives testified under oath, which could have exposed them to charges of perjury.

    Indeed, the co-chair of the hearing, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, firmly rejected demands by Democrats to put the executives under oath.

    At the hearing, Lee R. Raymond, chief executive of Exxon Mobil, said his company had not been involved with the task force.

    On Wednesday, Exxon-Mobil executives said Raymond had testified accurately. But the company did confirm that its head of government relations, James Rouse, met with Lundquist on Feb. 14, 2001.

    Another executive caught in the cross-fire is James J. Mulva, chief executive of ConocoPhillips. Mulva testified that his company had not met with the task force.

    On Wednesday, the company said Mulva had been correct — but only about the part of the company he had led in 2001, Phillips Petroleum, which merged with Conoco.

    Jeff Callender, a spokesman for ConocoPhillips, said Mulva had been “unaware” that Archie Dunham, then chief executive of Conoco, and Alan Huffman, another senior executive, had “reportedly appeared at task force meetings.”

    Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, said he wanted to recall all the executives and question them under oath. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, stopped short of saying that the executives should be summoned back but made his displeasure clear.