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Cheney Defends War In New Speech

US Vice President Dick Cheney delivers an address on the war in Iraq before the American Enterprise Institute 21 November 2005 in Washington, DC. Cheney launched a blistering new attack on critics of the war, saying senators and others who have accused US President George W. Bush of misleading Americans into supporting the war were guilty of "revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety". He also renewed the administration's rejection of a troop withdrawal from Iraq, as a respected Democratic senator has called for. AFP photo by Tim Sloan.

Washington (UPI) Nov 21, 2005
Vice President Dick Cheney continued the White House's media offensive to defend the Iraq war Monday, slamming what he called "irresponsible" comments from Capitol Hill opponents and reiterating the raison d'etre for the conflict.

Criticism of the war -- as it is being waged now and its inception -- is a legitimate part of democracy, the vice president said, but the suggestion by some U.S. senators that President George W. Bush or other administration officials lied or purposely misled the American public was "dishonest and reprehensible."

"American soldiers and Marines serving in Iraq go out every day into some of the most dangerous and unpredictable conditions," Cheney said. "Meanwhile, back in the United States, a few politicians are suggesting these brave Americans were sent into battle for a deliberate falsehood.

"This is revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety."

Cheney's comments came in an 18-minute speech on the Iraq War at the American Enterprise Institute, and closely followed Bush's velvet-gloved approach earlier in the week. Cheney's hard-charging remarks about war critics last week that raised a storm of protest were noticeably softened. The vice president presented himself at the conservative think tank as a reasonable educator rather as a pugilist.

Cheney's speech came as public opinion on the war and Bush's handling it hit a new low point. According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll taken Nov. 11-13, a total of 63 percent of respondents disapproved of the way the president was handling the war, compared to 35 percent in favor. Last February, 50 percent approved of his handling of the conflict as opposed to 48 percent against.

The low polling dovetailed with casualties among U.S. troops since the war started climbing above the 2,000 mark, and calls from Democrats on Capitol Hill for new investigations into suspicions of Bush administration falsehoods in the march to war, and amid cries for the immediate withdrawal of the 160,000 U.S. military personnel now in the country.

The United States ostensibly invaded Iraq because of its defiance of U.N. resolutions in regard to weapons of mass destruction and its suspected possession of such weapons. None were found.

U.S. investigative panels later concluded there was no deliberate attempt by the administration or intelligence communities to falsify information.

"In a post-9/11 world, the president and Congress of the United States declined to trust the word of a dictator who had a history of weapons of mass destruction programs, who actually used weapons of mass destruction against innocent civilians in his own country, who tried to assassinate a former president of the United States, who was routinely shooting at allied pilots trying to enforce no fly zones..." Cheney said.

"Although our coalition has not found WMD stockpiles in Iraq, I repeat that we never had the burden of proof; Saddam Hussein did."

Cheney said premature withdrawal from Iraq would invite more and stronger terrorist activity in the world. There could be no retreat, he said, as happened in Lebanon and Somalia following U.S. casualties.

"It is an illusion to suppose that another retreat by the civilized world would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone," he said.

"In fact, such a retreat would convince the terrorists that free nations will change our policies, forsake our friends, abandon our interests whenever we are confronted with murder and blackmail."

Cheney called on America to stay the course, and said the "self-defeating pessimism about Iraq" came as progress had been made on the ground -- from free elections and establishment of government, to training of more Iraqi troops to take over the fighting.

"None of us can know every turn that lies ahead for America in the fight against terror," Cheney said. "And because we are Americans, we are going to keep discussing the conduct and the progress of this war and having debates about strategy.

"Yet, the direction of events should also be seen as a time of promise."

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Washington (UPI) Nov 21, 2005
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