The Vice President appears on Meet the Press with Tim Russert
RUSSERT Will the president call Mr. Arafat or call Mr. Sharon on the phone? CHENEY He may well meet with one or both of them on his trip to Europe next . while at the same time relieving the burden on the civilian population in Iraq. VICE PRES. DICK CHENEY: Good morning, Tim. MR. RUSSERT: This is the first television program to originate from here, which underscores. It's not just that Russert abetted the Bush Administration in the Iraq War; lie on Meet the Press, such as when Dick Cheney flat-out denied he.
He's a dangerous man. He had the ability to make weapons at the very minimum. On Iraq as a War of Choice or Necessity: In light of not finding the weapons of mass destruction, do you believe the war in Iraq is a war of choice or a war of necessity?
I think that's an interesting question. Please elaborate on that a little bit. A war of choice or a war of necessity? It's a war of necessity. In my judgment, we had no choice when we look at the intelligence I looked at that says the man was a threat. He didn't show up when he should have showed up.
Political season is here. I got an honorable discharge. The Boston Globe and the Associated Press have gone through some of their records and said there was no evidence that you reported to duty in Alabama during the summer and fall of There may be no evidence, but I did report; otherwise, I wouldn't have been honorably discharged. In other words, you don't just say "I did something" without there being verification.
Military doesn't work that way. I got an honorable discharge, and I did show up in Alabama. Was there a reason? Well, I was going to Harvard Business School and worked it out with the military. When allegations were made about John McCain or Wesley Clark on their military records, they opened up their entire files. Would you agree to do that?
And I can assure you in the year people were looking for those files as well. But would you allow pay stubs, tax records, anything to show that you were serving during that period? And I'm just telling you, I did my duty, and it's politics to kind of ascribe all kinds of motives to me.
But I have been through it before. I'm used to it. Would you authorize the release of everything to settle this?
We did so inby the way. On the Bush-Cheney Economic Record: The debt has gone from 5. Based on that record, why should the American people rehire you as CEO? And that, itself, has led to this recovery. On Future Tax Cuts: Every president since the Civil War who has gone to war has raised taxes, not cut them. If our situation is so precious and delicate because of the war, why do you keep cutting taxes and draining money from the treasury?
Well, because I believe that the best way to stimulate economic growth is to let people keep more of their own money. And I believe if you raise taxes as the economy is beginning to recover from really tough times, you will slow down the economic growth.
You will make it harder.
Meet the Press, Meet the Press, May 20, | Alexander Street, a ProQuest Company
This is Time magazine: Why George Bush arouses such passion and what it means for the country. Gosh, I don't know, because I'm working hard to unite the country.
There is just a lot of evidence to link his organization, the al-Qaida organization, and he is the head of al-Qaida, to this operation. There are some ties, for example, to some of the people involved here back to the U. Cole bombing in Yemen. We're able to tell--going back now looking at relationships and the way they've operated in the past, we're quite confident that, in fact, as the president said, he is the prime suspect.
That doesn't mean we know all there is to know yet. That doesn't mean there weren't others involved. As I mentioned, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad has a very close working relationship with this organization. So there may well be others. We want to continue to investigate aggressively to make sure we've wrapped up and understand fully all who were involved.
But clearly, the evidence at this point takes us very much in that direction. You have no doubt that Osama bin Laden played some role in this.
I have no doubt that he and his organization played a significant role in this. Were you surprised by the precision and sophistication of the operation? Well, certainly, we were surprised in the sense that, you know, there had been information coming in that a big operation was planned, but that's sort of a trend that you see all the time in these kinds of reports.
No specific threat involving really a domestic operation or involving what happened, obviously, the cities, airliner and so forth. We did go on alert with our overseas forces a number of times during the course of the summer when we thought the threat level had risen significantly.
So clearly, we were surprised by what happened here. On the other hand, in terms of the sophistication of it, it's interesting to look at, because clearly what happened is you got some people committed to die in the course of the operation, you got them visas, you got them entered into the United States.
Some of them enrolled in our commercial aviation schools and learned to fly, courtesy of our own capabilities here in the United States. Then what they needed in order to execute was some degree of coordination, obviously, in terms of timing. But they needed knives, cardboard cutters, razor blades, whatever it was, and an airline ticket.
They then were able to take over the aircraft and use our own, you know, heavily loaded with fuel large aircraft to take over and use it. Intentionally choosing planes that had lots of fuel and a few passengers? It certainly looks that way. And the--so the sophisticated--on the one hand it's very simple.
It doesn't involve a lot of hardware or complex devices that they have to bring into the United States. They, in effect, turned some of our own system against us, but its simplicity does, in fact, also speak volumes in terms of planning, creativity, ingenuity in terms of how they go about these kinds of operations.
We clearly will have to revisit our visa procedures. We ought to look at all aspects of the operation here in terms of what happened. Clearly there are going to be a lot of lessons to be learned from it. But it's important for us, too, not to get trapped into thinking if we just guard against another situation where terrorists can hijack airplanes and use them to hit vital targets in the U.
Cheney: WMD or not, Iraq invasion was correct
I'm sure they're out there right now thinking about new, creative ways to come after us that don't involve any of those techniques at all, but something totally new. Osama bin Laden released a training video, minutes long, which was obtained by the Western media this summer, and I want to show a portion of that to you and give you a chance to respond to it, and we'll play it right now. These are followers of his chanting, "We have to fight every day, even to the shedding of blood in God's righteous path.
They go on to say, "We thank God for granting us victory the day we destroyed the Cole in the sea. Those are his supporters marching. There you are as secretary of Defense visiting Saudi Arabia, used in this video to rally support for Osama bin Laden. And bin Laden himself, "We have to practice the way of the suicidal commandos of faith and the heroism of the resistance fighter and we refuse their culture and we will take advantage of their misfortunes and the blood of their wounded.
Secretary, that, "With small capabilities we can defeat the U. America is much weaker than it appears. Well, I think he seriously misreads the American people. I think the--I mean, you have to ask yourself, why somebody would do what he does. Why is someone so motivated? Obviously he's filled with hate for the United States and for everything we stand for Why does he hate us so much? It must have something to do with his background, his own upbringing.
He's the son of a prominent Saudi family, successful business group with significant wealth. He went and served in Afghanistan with the mujahedeen during the war against the Russians, and he has, for whatever reason, developed this intense hatred of everything that relates to the United States. And his objective, obviously, is to try to influence our behavior to force us to withdraw from that part of the world, and clearly he's not going to be successful.VP Dick Cheney Interview: 'Iraq Was Stable When We Left' - MSNBC
He has stated unequivocally that he wants the United States out of the Middle East. He no longer wants the United States to be the ally of Israel. Will our relationship with Israel change in any way, shape or form because of this event?
The fact of the matter is that the--we'll not allow him to achieve his aims. We're not about to change our policies or change our basic fundamental beliefs. What we are going to do is aggressively go after Mr. He's under indictment for his involvement in blowing up embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Could we say to the Afghanistan government, "You are harboring a fugitive from justice. Give him over in 48 hours or we're coming in and taking him"? We could say such a thing. I'll simply restate again, Tim, I don't want to get into the business of predicting what specific steps we will take.
But without question, the president has been very, very clear that to harbor terrorists is to, in effect, accept a certain degree of guilt for the acts that they commit. And the government of Afghanistan has to understand that we believe they have, indeed, been harboring a man who committed, and whose organization committed, this most recent egregious act. You're convinced he's still in Afghanistan?
Is there any international law or United States law which would prohibit us from killing him if we found him? Not in my estimation, Tim. But I'd have to check with the lawyers on that, obviously. Lawyers always have a role to play, but one of the intriguing things here is the way in which people have rallied around, other governments have rallied around this notion that, in fact, this is a war.
We've seen our NATO allies for the first time in history invoke Article 5, an attack against one is an attack against all. It's never before been done. They unanimously agreed to that proposition earlier this week in Brussels. I think the world increasingly will understand what we have here are a group of barbarians, that they threaten all of us, that the U.
The British, for example, have an estimated dead and to still missing. So it's an attack not just upon the United States but upon, you know, civilized society. A very important country in all this is Pakistan, on the border of Afghanistan. Pakistan--there are reports on the wires today--has sent a delegation to the Taliban government in Afghanistan saying it's time to turn Osama bin Laden over. The Pakistan government is also saying to its people this morning, "We will get more aid from the United States.
The United States will lift economic sanctions against us. And we've been given assurances that the Indian government and the Israeli government will not be part of any military operation based in Pakistan. I've seen some communication back and forth at this point. Let me simply say we have had discussions with the Paks. They've had a good conversation. We have made certain requests of the Pakistanis.
They have agreed to work with us in this endeavor, and some of that's covered in the statement they've made there. They will get more assistance from us. Well, we'd like to be able to work with them. You've got to remember, Pakistan's been a close friend and ally of the United States in the past.
The relationship's been somewhat strained in recent years primarily because congressionally imposed sanctions have had an adverse effect, clearly, on the relationship, and the sanctions were imposed as the Pakistanis developed nuclear weapons. But we're clearly in a situation here where that relationship is important. It's important to us. It's important to Pakistan.
Pakistan borders Afghanistan; they one of only three countries that have diplomatic relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan. They can be very helpful in this case, and we expect they will be. And there's nothing wrong with providing economic rewards for helpful behavior.
I think you're going to want both the carrot and the stick approach. Pakistan also has a nuclear capability. How dangerous is it for that government to come out against Osama bin Laden or be helpful to the United States? Are we concerned about destabilizing Pakistan with nuclear capability, a capability that could fall in the hands of the Taliban or Osama bin Laden?
Well, we're clearly very sensitive to those kinds of problems. Any time you're dealing in that part of the world in the Middle East, the potential for instability always exists.
You could have a change in government in relatively short notice, and we're well aware of all that. But it also--it's one of the reasons, frankly, you'll see the al-Qaida organization, Osama bin Laden, choosing to locate in that part of the world because it is an area of instability, because there are places that nobody really controls.
And those are the areas we're going to have to operate in if we're going to be successful. And again, the key here to keep in mind is that what we're asking nations to do, and which the Paks have clearly made a decision to do, is we're asking nations to step up and be counted. They're going to have to decide. Are they going to stand with the United States and believe in freedom and democracy and civilization, or are they going to stand with the terrorists and the barbarians, if you will?
And it's a fairly clear-cut choice. And I'm delighted to see that Pakistan has, in fact, stepped up to the task. They also have segments of their population that look at Osama bin Laden as a hero. If we demand that they support us, do we risk destabilizing those governments? No, I think you've got to recognize from the standpoint of the Saudis, for example, they're a prime target for this organization of terrorists, Osama bin Laden.
He adamantly opposes the Saudi royal family. Probably second only to the United States would be his hatred for the current government in Saudi Arabia. With respect to Egypt, for example, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, these are groups and organizations that have threatened the government of Egypt in the past.
President Mubarak's been the target of several assassination attempts during the course of his career; some of them promulgated by these kinds of groups and organizations.
And I think they'll be prepared to help us. Vice President, how difficult and delicate is it to send this message that we're going to uproot terrorism and Osama bin Laden and some other cells, but that this is not a war against Islam and not a war against all Arab people?
We have to continually remind folks of that. The president has been very clear, and it would be a huge mistake for we as Americans to assume that this represents some kind of--or should lead us to some kind of condemnation of Islam. It's clearly not the case. This is a perversion, if you will, of some of these religious beliefs by an extremist group.
We have extremists associated with, you know, every imaginable religion in the world. But this is by no means a war against Islam. We've got a great many Arab Americans, for example, who are first class, loyal American citizens. We need to make certain that we don't make the mistake of assuming that everybody who comes from a certain ethnic group or certain religious background is somehow to be blamed for this. Clearly, that's not the case.
They are as appalled by it as we are. It only emboldened him. It only inspired him and seemed even to increase his recruitment. Is it safe to say that that kind of response is not something we're considering, in that kind of minute magnitude? I'm going to be careful here, Tim, because I--clearly it would be inappropriate for me to talk about operational matters, specific options or the kinds of activities we might undertake going forward.
We do, indeed, though, have, obviously, the world's finest military. They've got a broad range of capabilities. And they may well be given missions in connection with this overall task and strategy. We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will.
We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful.
That's the world these folks operate in, and so it's going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective. There have been restrictions placed on the United States intelligence gathering, reluctance to use unsavory characters, those who violated human rights, to assist in intelligence gathering. Will we lift some of those restrictions? Oh, I think so. I think the--one of the by-products, if you will, of this tragic set of circumstances is that we'll see a very thorough sort of reassessment of how we operate and the kinds of people we deal with.
There's--if you're going to deal only with sort of officially approved, certified good guys, you're not going to find out what the bad guys are doing. You need to be able to penetrate these organizations. You need to have on the payroll some very unsavory characters if, in fact, you're going to be able to learn all that needs to be learned in order to forestall these kinds of activities.
It is a mean, nasty, dangerous dirty business out there, and we have to operate in that arena. I'm convinced we can do it; we can do it successfully. But we need to make certain that we have not tied the hands, if you will, of our intelligence communities in terms of accomplishing their mission. These terrorists play by a whole set of different rules. It's going to force us, in your words, to get mean, dirty and nasty in order to take them on, right?
And they should realize there will be more than simply a pinprick bombing. Yeah, the--I think it's--the thing that I sense--and, of course, that's only been a few days, but I have never seen such determination on the part of--well, my colleagues in government, on the part of the American people, on the part of our friends and allies overseas, and even on the part of some who are not ordinarily deemed friends of the United States, determined in this particular instance to shift and not be tolerant any longer of these kinds of actions or activities.
Even if we take out Osama bin Laden, that will not stop terrorism. He's the target at the moment. But I don't want to convey the impression that somehow, you know, if we had his head on a platter today, that that would solve the problem. You've got this organization, as I say, called al-Qaida. It's--somebody described it the other day as--it's like an Internet chat room, that people who come and participate in it, for one reason or another, engage in terrorism, have sometimes different motives and ideologies, but the tactics they use, the way they operate, their targets, that will continue until we go out, basically, and make the world unsafe for terrorists.
And that's a key part of the strategy, in terms of working aggressively with those nations that have previously provided support and sustenance and sanctuary, to see to it that they no longer do that. You wouldn't mind having his head on a platter. I would take it today.
Saddam Hussein, your old friend, his government had this to say: Do we have evidence that he's harboring terrorists? There is--in the past, there have been some activities related to terrorism by Saddam Hussein. But at this stage, you know, the focus is over here on al-Qaida and the most recent events in New York. Saddam Hussein's bottled up, at this point, but clearly, we continue to have a fairly tough policy where the Iraqis are concerned.
Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation? Let me turn to the events of Tuesday. Where were you when you first learned a plane had struck the World Trade Center?
Well, I was in my office Tuesday morning. Monday, I had been in Kentucky, and the president had been in the White House. Tuesday, our roles were sort of reversed. And a little before 9, my speechwriter came in. We were going to go over some speeches coming up.
And my secretary called in just as we were starting to meet just before 9: So we turned on the television and watched for a few minutes, and then actually saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center. And the--as soon as that second plane showed up, that's what triggered the thought: You sensed it immediately, "This is deliberate"? Then I convened in my office. Condi Rice came down. Her office is right near mine there in the West Wing.
The national security adviser. National security adviser, my chief of staff, Scooter Libby, Mary Matalin, who works for me, convened in my office, and we started talking about getting the Counterterrorism Task Force up and operating.
I talked with the president. This call came in, and the president knew at this point about that. We discussed a statement that he might make, and the first statement he made describing this as an act of apparent terrorism flowed out of those conversations.
While I was there, over the next several minutes, watching developments on the television and as we started to get organized to figure out what to do, my Secret Service agents came in and, under these circumstances, they just move. They don't say "sir" or ask politely.
They came in and said, "Sir, we have to leave immediately," and grabbed me and Literally grabbed you and moved you? And, you know, your feet touch the floor periodically. But they're bigger than I am, and they hoisted me up and moved me very rapidly down the hallway, down some stairs, through some doors and down some more stairs into an underground facility under the White House, and, as a matter of fact, it's a corridor, locked at both ends, and they did that because they had received a report that an airplane was headed for the White House.
This is Flight 77, which had left Dulles. Which turned out to be Flight It left Dulles, flown west towards Ohio, been captured by the terrorists. They turned off the transponder, which led to a later report that a plane had gone down in Ohio, but it really hadn't.
Of course, then they turned back and headed back towards Washington. As best we can tell, they came initially at the White House and The plane actually circled the White House?
Didn't circle it, but was headed on a track into it. The Secret Service has an arrangement with the F. They had open lines after the World Trade Center was Tracking it by radar. And when it entered the danger zone and looked like it was headed for the White House was when they grabbed me and evacuated me to the basement. The plane obviously didn't hit the White House.
It turned away and, we think, flew a circle and came back in and then hit the Pentagon. And that's what the radar track looks like.
The result of that--once I got down into the shelter, the first thing I did--there's a secure phone there.
First thing I did was pick up the telephone and call the president again, who was still down in Florida, at that point, and strongly urged him to delay his return.
Cheney: Iraq war right, WMD or not - Meet the Press | NBC News
You told him to stay away from Washington. We don't know what's going on here, but it looks like, you know, we've been targeted. Why did you make that judgment? Well, it goes to--you know, sort of my basic role as vice president is to worry about presidential succession. And my job, above all other things, is to be prepared to take over if something happens to the president.
But over the years from my time with President Ford, as secretary of Defense, on the Intel Committee and so forth, I've been involved in a number of programs that were aimed at ensuring presidential succession. We did a lot of planning during the Cold War, Tim, with respect to the possibility of a nuclear incident. And one of the key requirements always is to protect the presidency. It's not about George Bush or Dick Cheney.
It's about the occupant in the office. And one of the things that we did later on that day were tied directly to guaranteeing presidential succession, and that our enemies, whoever they might be, could not decapitate the federal government and leave us leaderless in a moment of crisis.
That's why, for example, when we have a State of the Union speech and we've got the entire government assembled--the president, vice president, congressional leaders, Cabinet and so forth--we always leave a Cabinet member out. He's always taken to a secure location and set up there in case something should happen in the House chambers so we still have a president. Did you have any role in Speaker Hastert We evacuated Speaker Hastert to a secure facility, and later, the rest of the congressional leadership.
I also ordered the evacuation of Cabinet members. And in the days since, we've always maintained to say--I've spent a good deal of my time up at Camp David since the president returned to the White House just so we weren't both together in the same place so we could ensure the survival of the government. The president was on Air Force One. A credible threat to Air Force One. You're convinced of that. I'm convinced of that. Now, you know, it may have been phoned in by a crank, but in the midst of what was going on, there was no way to know that.
I think it was a credible threat, enough for the Secret Service to bring it to me. I had Condi Rice with me and several of my key staff people. We had access, secured communications with Air Force One, with the secretary of Defense over in the Pentagon. We have the counterterrorism task force up on that net. And so I was in a position to be able to see all the stuff coming in, receive reports and then make decisions in terms of acting with it.
But when I arrived there within a short order, we had word the Pentagon's been hit.
We had word the State Department had been bombed, that a car bomb had gone off at the State Department. Turned out not to be true, but we didn't know that at the time. We had a report that Norm had provided that there were six airplanes that might have been hijacked, and that's what we started working off of, was that list of six.
Now we could account for two of them in New York. The third one we didn't know what had happened to it. It turned out it had hit the Pentagon. But the first reports on the Pentagon attack suggested a helicopter, and then later, a private jet, and it was only after we got ahold of some eyewitnesses that we knew it was an American Airlines flight. So then we had three planes accounted for, but we still have had three outstanding.
We had reports of planes down in Ohio, turned out not to be true; down in Pennsylvania; turned out that was true. And all of that--excuse me--added with the report of a perspective attack on Air Force One itself, we'd have been absolute fools not to go into button down mode, make sure we had successors evacuated, make sure the president was safe and secure.
Offutt was a good location for that purpose, and also the president Are you convinced there were only four hijackings, that there were not other hijacks attempted that we don't know about? We know there were four, of course. I don't think until we've completed our investigation, looked at all the ties and relationships, we'll be able to say that there were no other plans for additional planes. When you made the recommendation to the president, "Stay where you are, go to a secure facility in Nebraska," were you ever concerned, did it ever enter your thought process that there would be criticism of the president for not coming back to Washington during a crisis?
I didn't really think about it.