Cheney Reiterates Iraq Terror Connection
By Petty Officer 3rd Class John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2006 Saddam Hussein's sponsorship of terrorists and terrorism is a matter of open public record, Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday.
Cheney was a guest on nationally syndicated radio programs hosted by Sean Hannity and Tony Snow.
"The fact is we know that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were heavily involved with terror," Cheney told Snow. "They were carried as a terror-sponsoring state by our State Department for many, many years." He cited two terror organizations in particular -- Abu Nidal and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad - that operated out of Saddam's Iraq. He also noted that Saddam was making payments to families of suicide bombers. "All of this is very well established," Cheney said.
Snow noted that critics of the Iraq war frequently assert exactly the opposite - namely, that there "there's no linkage between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein."
Cheney acknowledged this criticism, but said it is factually incorrect and misleading. Prior to the Iraq War, he observed, then-CIA Director George Tenet testified during open session before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda dated back at least 10 years.
"What was never established," the vice president said, "was that there was a link between Iraq and the attacks of 9/11. ... So what some people have done is gotten very sloppy and ... then jumped to the conclusion that there was no relationship at all with respect to al Qaeda."
In fact, captured Iraqi documents, which only now are being reviewed, offer additional evidence of this relationship, Cheney said. But regardless of the exact reasons that the United States liberated Iraq, "significant progress" has been made there, he told Hannity.
The vice president admitted that it's hard sometimes to see this progress, given the continued level of violence. "But when you think of the fact they've made every single political deadline that's been set -- the January elections; (they) wrote a constitution in the summer, ratified it in October; national elections in December -- it has been, I think, a remarkable success story so far," he said.
Acknowledging that much remains to be done in Iraq, Cheney said it's a matter of having the will to do it. "The only way we lose," he said, "is if we pack it in and go home - and we're clearly not going to do that."
Cheney noted "significant progress" in both Iraq and Afghanistan, such as the liberation of 50 million people, the beginnings of democracy in both places and the establishment of indigenous security forces. "It's a remarkable achievement that's due primarily to the enormous capability and courage of the American military and the president's leadership," he said. "And I think history will judge it very favorably."