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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Fearmaster Cheney and Zarqawi the Super-Terrorist

From last night's debate:
Mr. Cheney: Gwen, the story that appeared today about this report is one I asked for. I asked an awful lot of questions. That’s part of my job as vice president. A C.I.A. spokesman was quoted in that story as saying they’d not yet reached the bottom line and there’s still debate over this question of the relationship between Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein. The report also points out that at one point some of Zarqawi’s people were arrested, Saddam personally intervened to have them released and supposedly at the request of Zarqawi.

But let’s look at what we know about Mr. Zarqawi. We know he was running a terrorist camp, training terrorists in Afghanistan prior to 9/11. We know that when we went into Afghanistan that he then migrated to Baghdad. He set up shop in Baghdad where he oversaw the poisons facility up at Khurmal, where the terrorists were developing ricin and other deadly substances to use. We know he’s still in Baghdad today. He is responsible for most of the major car bombings that have killed or maimed thousands of people. He’s the one you will see on the evening news beheading hostages. He is without question a bad guy. He is without question a terrorist. He was in fact in Baghdad before the war and he’s in Baghdad now after the war.
So, Mr. Vice President, Useless Dick, Veep from the Deep--I have a followup. If Zarqawi is in Baghdad, why do you continue to bomb his "safe houses" in Fallujah?

Granted, Fearmaster Cheney probably meant to say "Iraq" instead of "Baghdad" at least four of the five times he said "Baghdad" in that paragraph. He probably also knows that Khurmal is in the far northern part of Iraq, which was under the control of the Kurds and the "no-fly" zone imposed by US and British air forces, and not under the control of Saddam Hussein. To be fair, Colin Powell did claim, in his infamous talk to the UN, that "Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization Ansar al Islam (Partisans of Islam) that controls this corner of Iraq." However, the February 9, 2003 article in which I found that quote also says:
A remote site in the mountains of northern Iraq identified by U.S. officials as a crude laboratory where al-Qaida terrorists concoct poisons is a muddy, decrepit, refuse-strewn compound devoid of any signs of deadly substances.

Ansar al Islam, a Kurdish militant group accused by U.S. and Kurdish officials of harboring al-Qaida fugitives from Afghanistan, on Saturday took foreign journalists on a tour of the site and denied it had a poison-making facility. Ansar controls a rugged sanctuary within the independent Kurdish zone of northern Iraq and imposes harsh Taliban-style Islamic rule.
The article also provides this possible explanation for there being no signs of "deadly substances:"
The journalists' tour of the compound came three days after Powell's presentation, ample time for incriminating evidence to be cleared away. Ansar gunmen also prevented the visitors from approaching parts of the heavily fortified site, which is ringed by barbed wire hung with red signs warning of mines.
Again, maybe so, but that of course begs the question as to why Colin Powell would publicly inform the UN General Assembly in New York about this camp before privately informing the UN inspectors in Iraq. To which there is, of course, one simple answer: UN inspectors could have completely destroyed the last feeble thread of the tenuous (actually non-existent) link which supposedly existed between Saddam and al Qaeda if they had arrived at Khurmal before Powell's speech. The US refrained from bombing Khurmal before the war for the same reason.

And Cheney doesn't pack just one outrageous lie into a paragraph--his statements are multi-deceptive. He has made Zarqawi, who again is variously reported to be maimed and/or dead, into the super-terrorist of the millenium. While Osama takes years to patiently plan operations like 9/11 and the African embassy bombings, Zarqawi is busily planning "most of the major car bombings," and still has time for a few beheadings on the side. This, of course, means that Zarqawi can't be captured any time soon, since that would leave Cheney without an explanation when the car bombings continue unabated (although they did manage to dig up Zarqawi after Saddam was captured, and would certainly find some other demon to blame).

You would hope that after decades of using one demon after another as an excuse for our brutal foreign policy that the American people would start to catch on. Castro, Khaddafi, Noriega, Khomeini, Osama, Saddam, Uday and Qusay, Zarqawi. Dick Cheney is counting on the American people never catching on, and the depressing truth is that he's probably right.

[Update] It turns out that Cheney can't even keep his lies straight. According to Kevin McKiernan, the supposed poisons lab was located in a town called Sergat, not Khurmal. McKiernan says that Colin Powell corrected his mistake shortly after his UN lie-fest, but word never got to Fearmaster Cheney.