January 23, 2004

Cheney: Underbriefed, Insane, or Senile?

From Greg Miller of the Los Angeles Times:

Cheney is Adamant on Iraq "Evidence": Cheney also argued that the main thrust of the administration's case for war — the claim that Iraq was assembling weapons of mass destruction — had been validated by the discovery of two flatbed trailers outfitted with tanks and other equipment. "We've found a couple of semi-trailers at this point which we believe were in fact part of [a WMD] program," Cheney said. "I would deem that conclusive evidence, if you will, that he did in fact have programs for weapons of mass destruction."

That view is at odds with the judgment of the government's lead weapons inspector, David Kay, who said in an interim report in October that "we have not yet been able to corroborate the existence of a mobile [biological weapons] production effort." In a BBC interview that aired Thursday night on public television in the United States, Kay said that is still the case. He said it was "premature and embarrassing" for the CIA to conclude shortly after the vehicles were discovered last year that they were weapons labs. "I wish that news hadn't come out," Kay said, calling the release of the information a "fiasco."

Is he off in a private little world all his own, surrounded by aides who don't dare tell him that he believes things that are not true? Is he mentally unbalanced? Or is he too old for the job?

The fact that he is saying things like this at this stage--where all they do is erode everyone's confidence in his judgment--is very worrisome.

Posted by DeLong at January 23, 2004 09:05 AM | TrackBack


Or perhaps he just enjoys testing the Big Lie theory of propagandization.

Posted by: Brooklyn Sword Style on January 23, 2004 09:13 AM


I'm guessing they don't have regulare newspaper delivery or cable at his "secure undisclosed location" so he's having to rely on the same aides as Bush for his news reports. Wonder who it is that gets to rewrite reality for both of them?

Posted by: flory on January 23, 2004 09:17 AM


Is there any way to get the press to cover this in the way they covered Dean's yell?

Posted by: spencer on January 23, 2004 09:29 AM


Cheney is making me worldly wise.. I am growing up -
(i) No longer am I cynical at these tactics - they work.
(ii) No longer do I pooh-pooh 'staying on the message' - they work.
(iii) No longer do I discount a repeated lie - they work.
(iv) No longer do I hate being manipulated - the technique works and I learn.

Better my goals than someone elses...

Posted by: The Perlustrator on January 23, 2004 09:30 AM


I saw Dick and Lynn at the movies a couple of weekends ago. They went in to see "The Last Samurai," whereas my wife and I went to see "Love Actually." It sort of ruined my day for two reasons:

1) I couldn't get any popcorn before my movie began, because the wall of very fashionably, casually dressed secret service agents blocking my path.

2) Throughtout the whole film I was watching, I was cursing myself for not having the balls to yell, "Good call on the WMDs, Dick!"

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar on January 23, 2004 09:36 AM


Doesn't Cheney spend most of his public appearance time slumming in the AEI Ghetto? Do the wingnuts care? If what he says is true? Or not?

Posted by: bcinaz on January 23, 2004 09:45 AM


Perhaps in a presidential debate, Peter Jennings could ask George Bush why he refuses to dissociate himself from someone who makes such reckless charges....

Posted by: John A on January 23, 2004 09:47 AM


I agree with the 'Big Lie' theory. What matters to Chaney is power, period. Don't forget how he got to be selected for the VP spot-- If you've forgotten, Bush comissioned Chaney to look for VP candidates, and by an astonishing coincidence, Chaney's own name came out on top of the list...

Posted by: Matt on January 23, 2004 10:02 AM


Cheney lies so Bush doesn't have to. That was the pattern before the war, and it's been the pattern after the war.

Posted by: Tom Flanigan on January 23, 2004 10:05 AM


> Cheney lies so Bush doesn't have to


During Bush's visit to Poland, Bush said "we found the weap0ons of mass destruction".

They both lie, the Core knows it.
Cheney and Bush know that the Core doesn't care if they lie.

Posted by: cj on January 23, 2004 10:31 AM


CNN had a story on those trailers suggesting their real purpose was to provide helium for baloons. Maybe Cheney will finally figure this out when the baloons drop in NYC during the RNC. Will he panic thinking this is some terrorist attack?

Posted by: Harold McClure on January 23, 2004 10:35 AM


Kevin has the answer.

Posted by: MattB on January 23, 2004 10:46 AM


Two words: Spiro Agnew

Posted by: jim in austin on January 23, 2004 11:00 AM


>>I'm guessing they don't have regulare newspaper
>>delivery or cable at his "secure undisclosed
>>location" so he's having to rely on the same
>>aides as Bush for his news reports. Wonder who
>>it is that gets to rewrite reality for both of

He watches Fox, probably. Just to make sure they stick to the right talking points.

Recall the PIPA report from last Fall showing that viewers of different news sources having vastly different levels of misconceptions about world news. "Fox was the news source whose viewers had the most misperceptions. NPR/PBS are notable because their viewers and listeners consistently held fewer misperceptions than respondents who obtained their information from other news sources." See page 13 of the report at:


Maybe Cheney should tune into his local NPR station...

Posted by: mr on January 23, 2004 11:10 AM


David Kay has quit. As a final statement on illicit weapons in Iraq, he says he doesn't think there are any.

Posted by: K Harris on January 23, 2004 11:27 AM


I agree with Matt B., who agrees with Kevin. But I also agree with mr.

This is an administration that is not concerned with the facts,they only care about their agenda and they are unconcerned about how their agenda is achieved.

Posted by: Karl on January 23, 2004 11:48 AM


Perhaps Mr. Cheney gets his info from non-traditional news sources like World Net Daily, a popular conservative site that reports stories that aren't covered in the liberal media. For example, did you know that the 9/11 hijackers practiced on a 707 in Baghdad?

I'm kidding, but only half-kidding. With so many conservative news sources providing misinformation like the above, it is akin to lying too much. They tell one set of lies to the "base" through the right wing news sites and another set of lies to the "middle". After a while it becomes hard to keep straight which is which.

Posted by: Moniker on January 23, 2004 12:18 PM


Harold McClure wrote, "CNN had a story on those trailers suggesting their real purpose was to provide helium for baloons."

I'm pretty sure it's hydrogen, not helium--the purpose of the trailers was to manufacture hydrogen. (You can't manufacture helium; all you can do is store it.) And the evidence that this is the case with those trailers has been pretty solid for some time now.

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on January 23, 2004 12:21 PM



Thanks. Chemistry was many years ago. My wife is a scientist. She have a good chuckle at my goof.

Posted by: Harold McClure on January 23, 2004 12:40 PM


IMHO, this yeear's October surprise will be both: 1.) Osama BinLaden captured; and 2.) WMD's at long last found in Iraq.... Needless to say, 1.) will have occurred months before but concealed for maximum and timely bounce, and 2.) - it takes a long time to plant that WMD stuff without getting caught.

Posted by: endgame on January 23, 2004 12:55 PM


Underbriefed, insane or senile? Additional possibility: uncivilised or unwise. So says Iranian President Khatami:

(FT, Jan 23)
The prize for the most cutting public put-down so far at this week's World Economic Forum goes, rather unexpectedly, to Mohammed Khatami, Iran's president. He dropped in to regale a somewhat bemused business audience with a long and rambling appeal for greater international dialogue, strewn with references to the Koran.

But at his press conference afterwards he showed himself to be a master of repartee. Asked whether his appeal signalled a readiness to engage in serious talks with Dick Cheney, US vice-president, who addresses the forum on Saturday, he replied: "I was speaking of a dialogue between cultures and civilisation, between scholars and wise men."


Posted by: P O'Neill on January 23, 2004 01:09 PM


One other thing to consider. If he ever does come around to conceding that there are no WMDs, then he had better sound surprised about it. As long as it's merely the worst intelligence fiasco in recent memory, and not a blatant lie, there is no criminality.

He's just doing what any smart accused person does, which is to act innocent even to the point where it strains belief. As soon as he sounds comfortable with the lack of WMDs, he looks like a liar.

Posted by: Paul Callahan on January 23, 2004 01:16 PM


Kevin Drum's conclusion is that Cheney and others just float these things out there in the headlines for the heft chunk of voters who just glance at headlines and watch a little TV. The denials and refutaions don't get as much play -- that's how non-partisan objectivity works.

My beef with this is that I think that a HIGH proportion of the independent, undecided, moderate voters the Dems are supposed to aim at are among those thoughtless headline/TV-scanners. They have the right to their opinion, but don't do any work on it. As a result the Democrats have ocked themselves into an expensive media-rich strategy, which puts them at the mercy both of big-money donors with favors to ask, and the commercial media who fatten off the political process and are basically hostile to the Democrats. So we end up paying tons of money to strengthen enemies who sabotage us.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on January 23, 2004 01:21 PM


Or: they've found some broken bottles and metal tubes in an old WMD lab, and are holding them for an October surprise, in case they need it.

Posted by: Lee A. on January 23, 2004 01:42 PM


David Kay just resigned, as predicted. What wasn't predicted is that he just, in effect, called Bush a liar.


By the way, it's interesting to compare the spin of that story with this one, which are based on the same facts.


The first uses the headline that Kay contradicts Bush. The second uses a less challenging headline, then uses a subhead in the middle of the article "Jury still out", in reference to Cheney's quote.

In theory, the second story is more "objective". But the first gets closer to the truth. Interesting.

Posted by: Moniker on January 23, 2004 02:53 PM


Stephen J Fromm:"I'm pretty sure it's hydrogen, not helium--the purpose of the trailers was to manufacture hydrogen. (You can't manufacture helium; all you can do is store it.) And the evidence that this is the case with those trailers has been pretty solid for some time now."



Posted by: Marcus Sitz on January 23, 2004 04:40 PM


What is taking them, our guys, so long to mfg the nuclear weapons and plant them. Seems damm easy to do to me. Problem solved at that point.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on January 23, 2004 05:33 PM


Cheney had a 4-way bypass in 1988. There are apparently risks of cognitive deficits from material released while on the heart-lung machine.
Deficits that he doesn't know that he doesn't know could impair his judgement.

WRT the CIA Analysts justifying their positions - when else would people at such a lower level in an organization be expected to argue their professional opinion against the known views of a powerful superior?

Posted by: rdb on January 24, 2004 04:54 AM


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