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Cheney: Iraq Insurgent Activity 'Will Clearly Decline'

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2005 – The insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes," and its activity "will clearly decline" over time, Vice President Dick Cheney predicted during a May 30 interview on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"We're making major progress" against terrorism, the vice president said during an interview at his residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory here. He pointed to reports that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been injured and that Osama bin Laden's No. 3 operator, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, has been captured.

The coalition has bin Laden "on the run" and has "dealt a major blow to the al Qaeda organization," Cheney said.

Cheney said he's "absolutely convinced we did the right thing in Iraq" and that "obviously we want to get it over with as quickly as possible."

That, he said, will happen "as soon as the task is over with" and depends on conditions on the ground, not artificial timetables. The two main requirements are for the Iraqis to be able to govern and defend themselves, and Cheney said solid progress is being made on both fronts.

The vice president acknowledged that this progress demands "sending young Americans into harm's way" and said he regrets every live lost in combat.

This service and sacrifice is helping make the United States more secure, the vice president said. "America will be safer in the long run when Iraq and Afghanistan ... are no longer safe havens for terrorists or places where people can gather and plan and organize attacks against the United States," he said.

Asked his reaction to Amnesty International's charges that the United States has violated human rights among detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Cheney said he was "offended" and doesn't "take them seriously."

"The fact of the matter is, the United States has done more to advance the cause of freedom (and) has liberated more people from tyranny over the course of the 20th century and up to the present day than any other nation in the history of the world," the vice president said.

"Just in this administration, we've liberated 50 million people from the Taliban in Afghanistan and from Saddam Hussein in Iraq -- two terribly oppressive regimes that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of their own people," he said.

The U.S. military is operating the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay "in a very sane and sound fashion," he said, adding that the detainees have been "treated humanely and decently."

In nearly every case, allegations of mistreatment at the facility "turn out to come from somebody who has been inside and been released to their home country, and now are peddling lies about how they were treated," he said.

Similarly, he said, the same people are peddling stories about mistreatment of the Koran in an attempt to discredit the United States. "It's basically been a bum rap," the vice president said of the allegations. "I think our guys have dealt with the Koran with respect in nearly every case."

Cheney said it's important to remember the type of people being held at Guantanamo.

"These are people that were picked up off the battlefield in Afghanistan and other places in the global war on terror. These are individuals who have been actively involved as the enemy, if you will, trying to kill Americans," he said.

These captives have provided valuable intelligence that has helped the United States better understand how terrorist networks are organized. They've also "helped us gather the kind of information that makes it possible for us to defend the United States against further attacks," the vice president said.

"What we're doing down there ... has been done perfectly appropriately," Cheney said. "I think these people have been well treated -- treated humanely and decently."

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