Walter Pincus concludes in today’s WaPo piece:
On March 16, Cheney appeared again on “Meet the Press” and reiterated his views of the previous August about Hussein’s nuclear program. “We know he’s been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” The war began three days later.
Clearly Pincus does not read Spinsanity, because once again, a member of the press fails to use the quotation in the appropriate context. From Spinsanity:
Finally, a dispute has arisen over a quote from Vice President Dick Cheney, who said on the March 16 edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “we believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” To date, the assertion remains unproven, and has drawn heavy criticism in the dispute over statements made by the administration in arguing on behalf of a potential war with Iraq. However, as UCLA law professor and blogger Eugene Volokh points out in an article on National Review Online (echoing a point made by a several bloggers), commentators such as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Slate’s Tim Noah and Salon’s Joe Conason have neglected to point out the context of Cheney’s statement. Specifically, Cheney said four times in the same interview that Saddam was pursuing nuclear weapons, not that he already possesses them, and the phrase “reconstituted nuclear weapons” makes little sense on its own (why would Saddam give up nuclear weapons if he possessed them?). Volokh argues that Cheney likely misspoke and that he meant to say “reconstituted nuclear weapons programs” or something similar, which is exactly what his aides told the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank (see his May 20 White House Notebook column). Cheney’s critics may believe his statement was intentional, but they owe their readers a clearer picture of the context in which he said it, as do too many other journalists and pundits of late, it seems.
But, as the Daily Howler has pointed out, the press has made up their minds.
So, in other words, what Walter Pincus wrote was technically correct.
The statement in the SOTU is not only technically correct, but completely accurate to the Brits. That is why I do not understand what the controversy is…
As far as the Cheney quote, I think it’s quite right that he had a slip of the tongue, and I won’t be using that argument.
A good discussion of the real Bush lies is continued by Timothy Noah here.
Now, it seems to me, John, that you are arguing both that Bush didn’t lie because he attributed the uranium story to the British, which I find epistemically untenable, and also that the British story might be true. Well, it might, but there is absolutely zero evidence to support it.
Just as there is zero evidence to support Bush’s bizarre claim in May that we had found the weapons of mass destruction.
Just as there is zero evidence that Bush was right and Larry Lindsey was wrong on the cost of the Iraq War (a truth that cost Lindsey his job). I understand that’s in the Wall Street Journal today, but I don’t subscribe and their online edition costs money.
The feeding frenzy arises from the pattern and practice that everyone recognizes. I mean, this is the George Bush who RIDICULED Al Gore’s “no controlling legal authority” comments about fundraising, while Gore’s statement was at least as technically accurate as the uranium hoax. Pitiful. Now, all of a sudden, the Zeitgeist is that Bush lies (too?). It’s long past time.
I think they found out the CIA evidence was false, and went forth with the assumption that British evidence was true. We do share iformation, and we should be able to trust them. If they were wrong, that is one thing. That does not mean they lied. I am all in favor of an investigation to find out how to improve the intelligence gathering methods. You, and the Democrats, it appears, are simply looking for a gotcha where there isn’t one.
At the time Bush claimed they had found WMD, it was widely reported and believed by everyone the trailers where mobile labs. Bush has not repeated the claim since that has been disputed.
I seriously doubt Bush created the cost estimates for the war…
Bush has not tried to duck or weave or create legalistic excuses- or made up excuses about having too much ice tea to remember, either.
I understand what you are going through- you think he lied- you have wanted to belive the worst in him since the beginning. But I don;t think you have anything here.
Can I search your archives for my prediction that these canvas-sided rusty trailers were not WMD centers? (Some “centers”.) Indeed, far from being believed by everyone, this claim was believed and rapidly disseminated only by those desperate to believe it, which comprises the Bush Administration and its supporters. I was prepped for my prediction by the even more risible WMD “finds” that came before. You’ll remember the unnamed Iraqi “scientist” supplied by Ahmed Chalabi pointing at various sites in the sand, while Judith Miller watched from a respectful distance. And the cave filled with cans of — paint. Far from exonerating Bush, your explanation shows only WHY he dissembles: because all facts must be reshaped to fit the previously-determined theory, which was adopted for reasons largely geo-strategic or even domestic, without regard to evidence.
Bush may not have “created” the cost estimates for the war, nor the estimates of the cost and duration of the occupation. But he is most certainly responsible for siding with those subordinates who fed him manifestly over-optimistic numbers, and for allowing his attack dogs to criticize and even fire sources of accurate contrary information. Bush fibs because he chooses to fib, and he chooses to fib because the fibs are more consistent with his world view than the facts.
Careful, John; soon you will look as silly as those who believed BJ Clinton hadn’t had sexual relations with Miss Lewinsky. (I was never one of them.) Although, of course, it all depends what “relations” are and “is” is.
Rubbish. Take as Exhibit A the official talking point that the phrase was only 16 words. (It’s amazing how disciplined the right wing has become in sticking to the official themes, I grant you that.) Clinton’s lie was only 10. What!?
Actually- I never received my talking points, and I posted the entire Iraq portion of the SOTU- I was absolutely shocked that Democrats were and still are pretending that this line is the sole reason they signed on.
This is just gamesmanship- I give it ten more days, max.
I’m with you here, in the literal interpretation. I think it’s more accurate to see Yellowcake as synecdoche. After all, the ENTIRE WMD claim, suffers from being overstated or outright false. And that’s not to mention the completely spurious association of Saddam with Osama, that has something like 40% of American believing that Saddam personally approved 9/11. (In order to maintain technical accuracy, this innuendo has often been spread by juxtaposing mentions of Iraq with mentions of Al Qaeda, leaving the listener to create the inaccurate connection. As a rhetorical device, it’s very clever. Except, I suppose, when Bush was more specific and simply L*I*E*D.)
What I think we are seeing is Democratic remorse at having been steamrollered by the COLLECTION of half-truths. It’s not like their roll over and play dead act did the party much good, either.
Lazarus (and others), you seem to be forgetting that pretty much the entire world believed that Saddam had sizeable stockpiles of WMDs — the argument was *what to do about it*.
I just can’t believe this whole Niger/African Uranium thing has seen this much attention. It makes the rabid right-wingers going after Clinton look like a boy scout meeting.
For what it’s worth, I’m very surprised that more evidence of WMDs, or the actual weapons, havn’t been discovered.
Frankly, I don’t really give a shit that some idiots out there believe Saddam had anything to do with 9/11. I’ve never felt the Bush admin attempted to paint that picture. Ask that same 40% how much they paid in taxes.. (nothing! I got $200 back!)
If Cheney mispoke in March , why oh why did it take this long for him to correct what seems to be a BIG misstatement? If Saddam only had programs, what was the rush to war?