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Cheney on Why Saddam Had to Go

1:45 PM, Jan 15, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Vice President Cheney explained to Jim Lehrer in an interview that aired last night why the Iraq war was the right choice.

Q: But Mr. Vice President, getting from there to here, 4,500 Americans have died, at least 100,000 Iraqis have died. Has it been worth that?

CHENEY: I think so.

Q: Why?

CHENEY: Because I believed at the time what Saddam Hussein represented was, especially in the aftermath of 9/11, was a terror-sponsoring state so designated by the State Department. He was making payments to the families of suicide bombers. He provided a safe haven and sanctuary for Abu Nidal and other terrorist operations. He had produced and used weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological agents. He'd had a nuclear program in the past. He killed hundreds of thousands of his own people. And he did have a relationship with al Qaeda.

We've had this debate that keeps people trying to conflate those arguments. That's not to say that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. It is to say as George Tenet, the CIA Director, testified in open session in the Senate, that there was a relationship there that went back 10 years. This was a terror-sponsoring state with access to weapons of mass destruction. And that's the greatest threat we faced in the aftermath of 9/11, that the next time we found terrorists in the middle of one of our cities, it wouldn't be 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters, it would be terrorists armed with a biological agent, or maybe even a nuclear device.

And so I think given the track record of Saddam Hussein, I think we did exactly the right thing. I think the country is better off for it today.