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Cheney on Iraq Bloodbath: "Exactly The Right Thing To Do"

Vice-President Lashes Out At Senator Edwards For "Undistinguished" Record

by Michael K. Smith

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 Posted: 5:15 AM EDT (0915 GMT)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney proudly claimed the Bush Administration's  bloodsoaked record in Iraq as a success story and blasted Senator John Edwards of North Carolina for having an "undistinguished" record in the Senate in last night's Vice Presidential debates.

Cheney insisted the world is safer today thanks to the widening catastrophe in Iraq, which is proving a breeding grounds for Al Qaeda terror that did not exist in the country prior to the U.S. invasion.  Cheney said if he had it to do all over again, he gladly would.  

"It's important to look at all of our developments in Iraq within the broader context of the global war on terror," Cheney said.  This includes the soaring popularity of Osama Bin Laden, growing legions of recruits eager to serve his cause, and increasing hatred and disgust with Washington throughout the world.

Cheney denied ever suggesting a link between Iraq and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  "I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11, but there's clearly an established Iraqi track record with terror."  True enough.  Iraq gassed Iran and later the Kurds with the full support of the Reagan Administration, whose Commerce Department arranged for Saddam Hussein to receive the materials he needed for his WMD program. Washington also provided satellite intelligence to help direct the gas attacks on Iran.   Reagan Middle East envoy Donald Rumsfeld was instrumental in carrying out these memorable achievements.

Cheney insisted Halliburton was a non-issue.  Under his reign as CEO between 1995 and 2000, he and Halliburton clearly made the world a much better place.  They profited off of rebuilding Iraq's petroleum industry, which Cheney had helped destroy as Secretary of Defense in the first Gulf War.  They worked closely with major human rights violators like the governments of Burma, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and the Congo.  They passed their tax burden on to the American people by quintupling Halliburton's subsidiaries registered in offshore tax havens like the Cayman islands. They doubled the value of Halliburton's federal contracts based on Cheney's government connections and made Cheney a deliriously rich man.  As for the U.S. taxpayers, they got billed $750,000 for work Halliburton did for the Pentagon that actually only cost $125,000.  

Halliburtonıs federal taxes dropped from $302 million in 1998 to a negative $85 million in 1999, that is, the company got an $85 million rebate that year.  At the same time Halliburton received $2.3 billion in government contracts and $1.5 billion in government financing and loan guarantees. During his vice-presidential debate with Joe Lieberman in 2000 Cheney insisted that the government had had ³absolutely nothing to do² with his financial success.  $3.8 billion = 0.  I guess itıs that new math.  

Based on such achievements, Cheney was on firm ground in accusing Senator Edwards of having a "not very distinguished" Senate record.   It certainly is no match for Cheney's, which is in a class by itself.  As a Wyoming Representative from 1979 to 1989, Cheney voted against the Equal Rights Amendment, against Head Start, against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, against a holiday for Martin Luther King, against Meals on Wheels for seniors, against government funded abortions for incest and rape victims, against a ban on cop killer bullets, against restrictions on plastic guns that could easily be slipped through airport security, against safe drinking water standards, against establishing the Department of Education, against a waiting period for handgun purchases, and against imposing sanctions on apartheid South Africa (but only 10 times).

   Another career highlight for Cheney occurred when California spun into financial disaster from a phony energy crisis induced by Enron. Cheney had six meetings with Enron representatives, including two with CEO Ken Lay, the last just six days prior to the companyıs revelation that it had vastly overstated its earnings.  While Enron executives cashed out over $1 billion in company stock before the day of reckoning, their employees lost their pensions and their jobs - just in time for the Christmas season.
  When he left Halliburton, Cheney received $13 million in severance pay and left behind millions of dollars in losses from bad investments, a spate of SEC investigations, and a pile of lawsuits, not that there's anything wrong with that.  The value of Halliburton stock plunged.

Cheney has also blessed the nation with his terrific sense of humor.    After the Bush Administration abandoned its campaign promise to regulate carbon dioxide emissions Cheney said the promise had been a mistake because carbon dioxide isnıt a pollutant.  David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council commented:  ³If carbon dioxide isnıt a pollutant, maybe ketchup is a vegetable after all.²  With news like this, Jon Stewart will never have to write material.  

  Ecology is perhaps Cheneyıs strongest suit.  When he was faced with a series of potentially ruinous asbestos-related lawsuits at Halliburton the company decided it should lobby for a change of law rather than argue the cases in court.  So Cheney and his company shelled out nearly half a million dollars to congressional candidates between 1997 and 2000, with $157,000 directed to 62 lawmakers who found it in their hearts to co-sponsor bills limiting the liability of asbestos manufacturers.  Democracy in action!  

  Cheney is a big fan of drilling for oil in the National Arctic Wildlife Preserve, which can supply U.S. energy needs for weeks on end.   On the other hand, his Energy Task Force killed a plan to increase fuel-efficiency standards, which would have saved 2.5 million barrels of oil a day - permanently.

  Like all Republicans, Cheney cherishes family values, which is why at the 2000 Republican Convention in New York City he would not appear on the victory platform with his lesbian daughter. Of course, his real family is Halliburton, Enron, Philip Morris, AT&T, Microsoft, and the Pentagon.

Michael K. Smith is the author of "The Madness of King George" (illustrations by Matt Wuerker), available from Common Courage Press


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