CIA Warning of 9/11 Attacks
“It comes from the most sensitive sources and methods that we have as a government. It’s the family jewels.”—May 19, 2002, explaining why the Aug. 6, 2001, Daily Presidential Brief, titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” should not be made public.
“There wasn’t anything really new in it. It was one more sort of rehash, if you will, of the material that was out there.”
—May 19, 2002, same interview.
“A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of compliance with U.N. resolutions. On the contrary, there is a great danger it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow ‘back in his box.’”—Aug. 26, 2002.
“We will not hesitate to discredit you.”
—Fall 2002, to UNMOVIC head Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei, before the start of U.N. arms inspections.
“Mr. ElBaradei is, frankly, wrong.”
—March 16, 2003, disputing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report to the U.N. Security Council that Iraq did not attempt to acquire yellowcake uranium from Niger and that documents stipulating otherwise were forged.
Who’s to Blame for Being Wrong
“That was George Tenet’s testimony, the director of the C.I.A., in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.”
—Sept. 10, 2006, after the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report puts the Saddam–Al Qaeda claims to final rest.
“The press, with all due respect, [is] oftentimes lazy, oftentimes simply reports what somebody else in the press said without doing their homework.”—June 17, 2004, explaining why reporters didn’t write articles supporting claims of a relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda..
Victory Is Just Around the Corner
“I think it’s important not to let anecdotal reporting on individual resistance conflicts somehow color or lead us to make misjudgments about the total scope of the effort.”—Sept. 14, 2003.
“I don’t think there was a serious misjudgment here.”—Sept. 14, 2003, denying any underestimation of the number of troops required to secure Iraq.
“We’re moving in the right direction.”—Aug. 24, 2004
“I believe they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.”—May 30, 2005.
“There is no doubt in my mind but we are going to win …. We are winning …. The evidence is there for anybody who wants to look at it.”—June 22, 2006.
“When we look back on this period of time 10 years from now … 2005 will have been the turning point, because that’s the point at which the Iraqis stepped up and established their own political process, wrote a constitution, held three national elections and basically took on the responsibility for their own fate and their future.”—Sept. 10, 2006, two weeks after the Defense Intelligence Agency reports that the “2005 elections appeared to heighten sectarian tensions and polarize sectarian divides.”
“Well, I look at it and see it as actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well.”—Feb. 21, 2007, commenting on Britain’s decision to begin withdrawing its troops from the Basra area, listed by the Pentagon as one of only two regions “not ready for transition” to Iraqi authorities.
What’s in Store for Doubters
“Once we have victory in Baghdad, all the critics will look like fools.”
—Summer 2002, to a senior British official.
“What we are going to do is aggressively go after Mr. bin Laden”—Sept. 16, 2001.
“Bin Laden has been a top priority for us from the beginning. There has been no lessening of our interest or activity.”—Sept. 10, 2006, after the reported closing of the C.I.A.’s bin Laden task force.
“You know, I don’t have the street address.”—June 24, 2005
The United Nations
“Go tell them it’s not about us. ‘It’s about you. You are not important.’”—August 14, 2002, recommending what President George W. Bush should say in his upcoming address on Iraq to the United Nations General Assembly.
“We’d like to [move against Iraq] with the sanction of the international community.”
—Sept. 14, 2002, midway through a six-week campaign urging Bush not to seek U.N. approval.
Good Times, Bad Times
“There’s a story in The New York Times this morning—and I want to attribute The Times. I don’t want to talk about, obviously, specific intelligence sources, but it’s now public that, in fact, he has been seeking to acquire, and we have been able to intercept and prevent him from acquiring through this particular channel, the kinds of [aluminum] tubes that are necessary to build a centrifuge. And the centrifuge is required to take low-grade uranium and enhance it into highly enriched uranium, which is what you have to have in order to build a bomb.”
—Sept. 8, 2002, citing an article containing information that Cheney ordered leaked to The Times.
“What The New York Times did today was outrageous.”—June 14, 2004, attacking the newspaper’s “irresponsible … possibly malicious” report that the 9/11 Commission found no connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
The Saddam Threat
“Saddam Hussein’s bottled up at this point.”
—Sept. 16, 2001.
“There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”
—Aug. 26, 2002, 11 months later.
“Deficits don’t matter.”
—June 2002, dismissing Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s warnings of tax cuts causing massive budget deficits.
“I am a deficit hawk.”
—Sept. 14, 2003, after the Office of Management and Budget reports a $374 billion budget deficit for the fiscal year.
National Energy Task Force
“Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.”
—April 30, 2001, defending his National Energy Task Force’s call for building one new power plant a week for the next 20 years.
“If you want to do brain surgery, you go get a brain surgeon.”
—May 4, 2001, explaining why his National Energy Task Force met with oil-, gas- and power-industry executives 117 times, and representatives from environmentalist groups just once.
“Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an amb[assador] to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?”—July 6, 2003, note to Scooter Libby scrawled atop the New York Times Op-Ed article, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” by Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, husband of C.I.A. covert operative Valerie Plame.
“Well, let me see. I’m trying to think of how to describe this without crossing over the line and violating my own deeply held convictions that you shouldn’t talk about classified information.”—May 19, 2002, 10 months before telling Libby to leak misleading portions of a secret National Intelligence Estimate to The New York Times.
“I’m going to respectfully decline to talk about that.”
—Dec. 18, 2005, refusing to say when he first heard the name Valerie Plame.
“It would be totally inappropriate for me to comment, period.”—Dec. 18, 2005, refusing to say whether he directed anyone to lie to a federal grand jury about leaking Valerie Plame’s status as a covert agent.
“I’ve said all I’m going to say on the subject.”
—September 10, 2006, refusing to say whether he had the authority to declassify information on Valerie Plame’s status as a C.I.A. covert operative.
“I am very disappointed.”—March 6, 2007, after a jury finds Libby guilty on four felony counts. and near-drowning.
“I’m one of those who believes very strongly in the market, and I think we have to be very careful not to pass artificial, unfair standards that sound nice.”
—June 19, 2001, assuring General Motors executives that there will be no increase in fuel-efficiency standards.
“If you want to do something about carbon-dioxide emissions, then you ought to build nuclear-power plants.”
—March 21, 2001.
“There’ll be, I’m sure, a lot of sort of Monday morning quarterbacking, second-guessing, if you will.”—Sept. 16, 2001.
“We received a threat to Air Force One—came through the Secret Service …. I talked to the President, urged him to stay away for now …. I mean, it was such a clear-cut case, in my estimation.”
—Sept. 16, 2001, 35 months before the 9/11 Commission finds no evidence of any threat to Air Force One.
“It must have something to do with his background, his own upbringing.”
—Sept. 16, 2001, on Osama bin Laden’s motives.
“Ken’s been a friend. I was once involved doing a baseball stadium for Ken.”
—May 17, 2001, commenting on press revelations of his confidential, one-on-one meeting with Enron C.E.O. Ken Lay during the creation of national energy policy.
“Price caps provide short-term relief for politicians, but they do nothing to deal with the basic, fundamental problem.”
—April 18, 2001, during the California energy crisis, one day after Ken Lay hands him a memo stating that the administration “should reject any attempt to re-regulate wholesale power markets by adopting price caps.”
“The fact is, Enron didn’t get any special deals.”—Jan. 27, 2002, nine months after the Energy Task Force recommends that the President direct the Secretaries of State and Energy to work on natural-gas matters with India—which Enron was suing for $5 billion after the Indian government shut down a $2.9 billion power station fueled by natural gas.
“Everybody I’ve met with is … upbeat.”
—Sept. 8, 2005, touring the Katrina-devastated Mississippi Gulf Coast, two days before the removal of FEMA head Michael Brown.
Looking Out for Terrorists
“The threat to the continental United States and our infrastructure is changing and evolving, and we need to look at this whole area oftentimes referred to as homeland defense.”
—May 8, 2001, upon the announcement that he will lead the White House Task Force on Terrorism.
“The administration wasn’t yet ready to take a position on how we ought to organize for homeland defense.”
—May 22, 2002, explaining why the terrorism task force had yet to meet when World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked.
“We’re not in the habit of reading the raw intelligence reports from the FBI. There aren’t enough hours in the day for us to do all of that.”—May 19, 2002, on his lack of knowledge regarding F.B.I. warnings of suspicious Middle Eastern men taking lessons to fly large airliners.
“Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.”
—Aug. 26, 2002.
“We’ve gotten this from the firsthand testimony of defectors, including Saddam’s own son-in-law.”—Aug. 26, 2002, referring to Iraq nuclear-weapons program head Hussein Kamel al-Majid, who actually told C.I.A. interrogators that Iraq had destroyed “all weapons, biological, chemical, missile, nuclear” in 1991—four years before his defection.
—Aug. 26, 2002, describing the freshness of the information obtained from al-Majid—six years after his return to Iraq and subsequent execution.
“We do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build nuclear weapons … specifically aluminum tubes.”
—Sept. 8, 2002, citing information from an Iraqi defector who was branded a fabricator by U.S. and British intelligence.
“We now have irrefutable evidence.”
—Sept. 20, 2002, referring to “nuclear use” aluminum tubes, composed of the same material used in the U.S. Air Force’s air-to-ground rocket tubes.
“We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”
—March 16, 2003.
“I did misspeak …. We never had any evidence that he had acquired a nuclear weapon.”
—Sept. 14, 2003, six months after the U.S. invades Iraq.
Saddam’s Links With al Qaeda
“There’s overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi government.”—Jan. 22, 2003, after the Defense Intelligence Agency reports “evidence of direct cooperation between government of Iraq and al Qaeda has not been established.”
“You ought to go look at an article that Stephen Hayes did in The Weekly Standard …. That’s your best source of information.”—Jan. 9, 2004, referring to alleged evidence on the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda based on a leaked Douglas Feith memo, which the Department of Defense describes as “inaccurate,” “nothing new” and “not an analysis.”
“[Saddam] also had an established relationship with Al Qaeda, providing training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons, gases, making conventional bombs.”—Oct. 10, 2003, citing information extracted from a captured Al Qaeda operative after torture.
“It’s clearly established in terms of training, provision of bomb-making experts, training of people with respect to chemical and biological warfare capabilities, that Al Qaeda sent personnel to Iraq for training and so forth.”—June 4, 2004, six months after a special C.I.A. assessment ordered by Cheney finds no truth to the charge, the tortured Al Qaeda operative recants his claims, and the C.I.A. withdraws 153 intelligence reports based on his information.
“In the early 1990’s, Saddam had sent a brigadier general in the Iraqi intelligence service to Sudan to train Al Qaeda in bomb-making and document forgery.”—July 1, 2004, claim found false by the 9/11 Commission, the C.I.A. and the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“There was a relationship. It’s been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming. It goes back to the early 90’s …. There’s clearly been a relationship.”—June 17, 2004, two and a half years after the C.I.A. reports that there wasn’t.
“I continue to believe—I think there’s overwhelming evidence—that there was a connection between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi government. I’m very confident that there was an established relationship there.”—Jan. 21, 2005, six months after the 9/11 Commission seconds the C.I.A.
Iraq and 9/11
“No.”—Sept. 16, 2001, on whether there is any evidence linking Iraq to 9/11.
“It’s been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.”—Dec. 9, 2001, referring to lead 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, who was in Florida that April, according to an exhaustive investigation by the F.B.I.
“It’s credible.”—Sept. 8, 2002, describing the C.I.A.’s assessment of Atta’s alleged Prague trip, nine months after C.I.A. director George Tenet tells him that the story “doesn’t add up.”
“[Iraq is] the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.”—September 14, 2003.
“We never said that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. We never said that. You can’t find any place where I said it.”—June 17, 2004.
“No, I never said that …. I never said that …. Absolutely not.”—June 17, 2004, denying having said that Atta’s trip to Prague was “pretty well confirmed.”
“The Senator has got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there’s a connection between Iraq and 9/11.”—Oct. 5, 2004, rebutting John Edwards during the Vice Presidential debate.
How the War Will Go
“I don’t think it would be that tough a fight.”
—September 8, 2002.
“It will go relatively quickly … weeks rather than months.”
—March 16, 2003, three days before the U.S. invasion.
“My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”
—March 16, 2003.
We’ve not done any business in Iraq since the sanctions were imposed—and I had a standing policy that I wouldn’t do that.”
—Aug. 6, 2000, nine months before the disclosure of Halliburton sales to Iraq of $73 million in oil-production equipment and spare parts while Cheney was C.E.O.
“I’m not a direct party to it.”
—Sept. 8, 2002, declining to answer questions about the S.E.C.’s investigation of illegal accounting changes by Halliburton while he was C.E.O.—before his successor tells Newsweek that the Vice President was fully aware of them.
“I have totally divested myself of all of my outside financial interests—at considerable cost to myself—in order to be able to come in and function in this capacity and be free of any allegations of conflicts of any kind.”
—May 4, 2001, prior to filing a 2001 federal income-tax return listing $205,298 in deferred Halliburton income.
“I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts led by the Corps of Engineers or anybody else in the federal government.”—Sept. 14, 2003, 13 months before the publication of a March 5, 2003, internal Pentagon e-mail stating that “action” on a no-bid $7.5 billion Halliburton contract in Iraq was “coordinated” with the Vice President’s office by Defense Under Secretary Douglas Feith, acting on the authorization of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
American Popularity in Iraq
“I would chalk that one up as a miscalculation.”—Jan. 20, 2005, characterizing his own prewar estimate of the fighting lasting “weeks rather than months.”
“If you look at what the dictionary says about ‘throes,’ it can still be a violent period.”—June 23, 2005, clarifying his remark about the insurgency’s “last throes.”
“Well, you can’t anticipate everything.”—Feb. 7, 2006, accounting for the Bush administration’s failure to plan for the insurgency.
“We take seriously the responsibility to be civil.”
—Feb. 15, 2001.
“Go fuck yourself.”
—June 24, 2004, to Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
How the Detainees Are Faring
“They’re very well-treated down there. They’re living in the tropics.”—June 24, 2005, describing conditions at Guantánamo detention facility.
“Now, you can get into a debate about what shocks the conscience and what is cruel and inhuman. And to some extent, I suppose, that’s in the eye of the beholder.”
—Dec. 18, 2005.