I would like nothing more than to be able to say that seeing the vice president of the United States lying to a live TV audience before he even finished answering the first question surprised me. It did not. What Vice President Dick Cheney did during the debate Tuesday night was in line with the unethical distortion of facts he has been consistently pursuing since the Bush administration got the idea into its head Saddam Hussein had to be taken out.
Questioned about the connection between al Qaida and Saddam Hussein’s regime Cheney said, that when looking at the situation in Iraq one must see it in the “broader context of the global war on terror” and consider that there had been “established ties with al Qaida.”
This has been debunked so many times it’s hard to count. The 9/11 Commission has said there was no connection. So did Richard Clarke, former terrorism adviser to several presidents, including President George W. Bush.
Cheney then went on to say that the war in Iraq was justified because Iraq was the “most likely nexus between terrorists and WMDs.” How can this be? Not only was there no working relationship between Osama bin Laden and Saddam, Saddam also didn’t have WMDs. So how could Iraq have handed WMDs to terrorists if it didn’t even have any?
One glimmer of hope was that Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards wouldn’t have it.
Edwards shot back “there is no connection between” Saddam and Sept. 11 a point he later reiterated several times. He accused Cheney “you are suggesting that there is one,” to which Cheney responded, “I have not said there is a connection.” In June, while campaigning in Florida, he also said Saddam “had long-established ties with al Qaida.”
Bush himself, speaking onboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln after prematurely declaring “mission accomplished,” said the following: “The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al Qaida and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more.” Again, there was no working connection; they didn’t have WMDs and Iraq therefore had nothing to do with the “war on terror,” but was a war of choice.
It appears we have what the Bush campaign would call a “credibility gap.”
On the topic of supporting the troops, Cheney accused Sen. John Kerry and Edwards of voting against the troops. Edwards rightly responded, “While they were on the ground fighting, they lobbied the Congress to cut their combat pay. This is the height of hypocrisy.”
To send young Americans into battle under false pretenses is bad enough, but to then also attempt to cut their pay and benefits fails description.
The rest of the debate was laden with half-truths.
Speaking about Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, Cheney said he “has been shut down.” That may be true, but he has also been pardoned by the Pakistani government because he publicly apologized on national television. How can Cheney bring up such points and then accuse the Kerry/Edwards ticket of being too soft on terrorism?
Cheney also denied that while serving as CEO of Halliburton, the company traded with Iran while U.S. sanctions clearly prohibited such actions. The ties have been confirmed. The actions took place through subsidiaries, but it is very doubtful that Cheney had no knowledge of such policies as CEO of the company.
When asked if he believed the sanctions had been justified, Cheney said “What happens when we impose unilateral sanctions is, unless there’s a collective effort, then other people move in and take advantage of the situation and you don’t have any impact except to penalize American companies.”
Foreign policy, not to mention national security, takes a backseat to corporate profit? To use another term coined by the Bush campaign, this would clearly send “mixed messages” to our declared enemies, would it not?
Bearing all these facts in mind ,I could not agree more with Edwards when he told Cheney, “Mr. Vice President, I don’t think the country can take four more years of your administration.”
Or as Cheney said when trying to put down Edward’s leadership skills, referring to himself: “I think the record speaks for itself.”
Sebastian Meyer is a junior majoring in environmental science and is the Oracle Opinion Editor.