Monday, July 21, 2003

Questions for Cheney
According to, the Democratic members of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations today sent Dick Cheney a letter asking many of the questions about Saddam’s bomb that we’ve all wanted to ask. The letter was addressed to Cheney’s office at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. No doubt the good people there forwarded it to his secure undisclosed location so he get right on answering it.

Reps. Kucinich, Maloney and Sanders included plenty of background so the veep would not have any trouble understanding just what they wanted. The questions:
  1. How many visits did you and your chief of staff make to CIA to meet directly with CIA analysts working on Iraq?
  2. What was the purpose of each of these visits?
  3. Did you or a member of your staff at any time direct or encourage CIA analysts to disseminate unreliable intelligence?
  4. Did you or a member of your staff at any time request or demand rewriting of intelligence assessments concerning the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
  5. Who in the office of Vice President was informed of the contents of Ambassador Wilson's report?
  6. What efforts were made by your office to disseminate the findings of Ambassador Wilson's investigation to the President, National Security Adviser, and Secretary of Defense?
  7. Did your office regard Ambassador Wilson's conclusions as accurate or inaccurate?
  8. Since your address to the [103d National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on August 26, 2002] occurred nearly 7 months after Ambassador Wilson reported his findings to the CIA and State Department, what evidence did you have for the assertion that Iraq was continuing "to pursue the nuclear program" and that Saddam had "resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons"?
  9. Since the Secretary of Defense testified to Congress that Iraq was "pursuing nuclear weapons" nearly 8 months after Ambassador Wilson's briefing to CIA and the State Department, what effort did you make to determine what evidence the Secretary of Defense had for his assertion to Congress?
  10. What was the basis for this assertion made by you on national television [IAEA Director General ElBaradei was wrong in finding a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq unlikely]? We hope you will take the opportunity to answer these questions about your role in the dissemination of false information about Iraq's nuclear program to justify the war in Iraq. We look forward to a response.

I hope this letter gets lots of press coverage. Naturally, Cheney will weasel around and variously try to ignore the letter, claim all of the questions have already been answered, cast aspersions on the motives of the questioners, and gruffly insist it’s none of their damn business. Just as naturally, a sizeable chunk of the punditocracy will dismiss the letter as “just political” because Kucinich is a candidate. They do us all a disservice by taking that attitude. These are the sorts of who knew what when questions that need to asked and answered in detail.

Most of the damage that the administration has managed to inflict on America and the world has been accomplished with the passive acquiescence of the press, the Democrats, moderate Republicans, and professionals in government and military service. The truly breathtaking and encouraging thing about the last few weeks is how all of these groups have begun to stand up and say “enough”. I hope we see more letters like this.

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