Former Vice President Dick Cheney showed up on Fox News on Wednesday to make a familiar case for going back to war in Iraq: Nuclear weapons are “spreading” to extremists across the globe.
In recent weeks the al Qaeda splinter group ISIS has taken advantage of a power vacuum left after the U.S. invaded Iraq to take over large parts of the country, giving Cheney and other architects of the 2003 invasion an opportunity to use some of their original talking points for military action.
Cheney’s recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal stopped just short of accusing President Barack Obama of treason, saying that he had been determined to take the United States “down a notch” before leaving office.
“Defeating them will require a strategy—not a fantasy,” Cheney wrote. “It will require sustained difficult military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts—not empty misleading rhetoric. It will require rebuilding America’s military capacity—reversing the Obama policies that have weakened our armed forces and reduced our ability to influence events around the world.”
After a campaign of television interviews failed to make his case against Obama, Cheney was back on Fox News on Wednesday to play the same nuclear weapons card that he used in 2003.
“The focus shouldn’t be just on Iraq,” he insisted. “It’s indicative of a much broader problem. We’ve had — The Rand Corporation just recently published a study that shows there’s been a 58 percent increase in the number of al Qaeda-type terrorist groups in the last four years. Fifty-eight percent! Doubling the number of terrorists roughly, and they’re spreading out from West Africa all across North Africa to East Africa, up through the Middle East, all the way around to Indonesia.”
“And the other problem, of course, is the developing possibility that sooner or later some of them will get their hands on deadlier weapons,” the former vice president added.
While Cheney was taking a breath, Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck tossed him a softball
“Are you indicating that we could be on track for something worse than 9/11?” she asked.
“I think that’s a possibility,” he declared. “You know, I can’t say at this point specifically when something like that might happen. But it would be foolish of us to ignore the extent to which there are people who — terrorist-sponsoring states who have in fact tried to provide nuclear technology.”
“The North Koreans, for example, built a nuclear reactor in the Syrian dessert,” Cheney continued. “We’ve also had testimony from the man who created the Pakistani [nuclear] program publicly, A.Q. Khan, that the North Koreans bribed the Pakistanis for the latest enrichment technology.”
“So, it’s spreading. And access to those kind of capabilities, I think, is on an increase.”
In 2002, Cheney had argued that the United States must attack Iraq because Saddam Hussein would have nuclear weapons “fairly soon.”
“We do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon,” Cheney told NBC later that year.
President George W. Bush also used similar talking points, warning that the U.S. could not wait for proof of Cheney’s claims because “the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
And then in his 2003 State of the Union Address, Bush included the now-infamous “16 words” that put the country on a path to war: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
Watch he video below from Fox News’ Fox & Friends, broadcast June 25, 2014.