Dick Cheney is still on his book tour and Sunday he disgraced CBS with an appearance on Face The Nation. Not only has he proclaimed that he was the Decider in Chief of the Bush administration during the 9/11 attacks in his book and the military refused his order to shoot civilian planes down, but he had the audacity to lie about how the Iraq invasion escalated into a full blown civil war after the invasion was over. He responded to Colin Powell's criticisms of the job he did as VP.
COLIN POWELL: "He says that I went out of my way not to present my positions to the President but to take them outside of the administration. That's nonsense. The President knows and I had told him what I thought about every issue of the day. Mister Cheney may forget that I'm the one who said to President Bush 'If you break it, you own it, and you've got to understand that if we have to go to war in Iraq, we've to be prepared for the whole war, not just the first phase.' And Mister Cheney and many of his colleagues were not prepared for what happened after the fall of Baghdad.
Remember, Cheney was the one who kept telling America that the Iraq conflict was in its last throes (as far back as 2005) over and over again as the violence kept escalating. Schieffer actually asked the right question.
SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you this...was it a mistake to get rid of all the people in the army? To disband the army as they did?
CHENEY: Well, it may have been a mistake. It wasn't as though we had total control over everything. In effect, what happened for a large part of it was they just packed up and went home. They disappeared back into the countryside and went back to their private lives. So they weren't there, it wasn't as though they'd all found a place where they were waiting for us to come in and take command of the army.
What was that? The army's response to being disbanded by the Bush administration immediately destroyed what fragile peace there was and turned the Sunnis Muslims against the Shiite Muslims, leading to a horrifying blood bath.
Probably the single decision that triggered the hostilities was when Paul Bremer was appointed in Iraq and he unceremoniously told Saddam's former army members that they were not allowed to be part of the newly forming government.
Sweeping away remnants of pre-war Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, on Friday dissolved the Iraqi Armed Forces, the ministries of Defense and Information, and other security institutions that supported Saddam Hussein's regime.
An American senior coalition official said the move effectively disbands the Army, the Republican Guard and the Revolutionary Command Council, among others, and cancels any military or other ranks conferred by the previous regime.
It also put an estimated 350,000 to 400,000 soldiers out of work, as well as an estimated 2,000 Information Ministry employees.
A deal had been brokered to keep the fragile peace in Iraq by the military leadership and Bremer, who has a history of destabilizing countries by defaulting on their promises without even consulting them.
Gen. Peter Pace, then the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations in February 2004 that the decision to disband the Iraqi Army was made without the input of the joint chiefs. “We were not asked for a recommendation or for advice,” he said.
These troops were angry and didn't take their Tonka trucks and go home as Cheney depicted here. They picked up their guns started the civil war. Director Charles Ferguson explained much in his excellent documentary "No End In Sight"
The worst mistake, however, was the disbanding of the Iraqi Army in May 2003, two months after the invasion. This was a decision made by only a few men — specifically Bremer in his capacity as the head of the occupation authority, and his aide Walter Slocombe — and against the advice of just about everyone with any on-the-ground knowledge of the situation. (According to Ferguson, it’s unclear if President Bush approved of the idea.) Bremer and Slocombe apparently believed that the Iraqi Army had to be rendered powerless, though others explain to Ferguson that Bremer and Slocombe were confusing the army with the Republican Guard. The Guard consisted of Baath Party loyalists; the Iraqi military was a professional force that had always tried to keep its distance from the Hussein regime. When the war began, the army had faded into the countryside, leaving the Guard to do the bulk of the fighting. Once the Americans prevailed, according to Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff, Iraqi military officers indicated their willingness to work with the occupiers, but instead they and their troops were stripped of their positions and careers. An estimated 500,000 to 800,000 men, 7 to 10 percent of the Iraqi work force, lost their jobs. And they had guns. “More than any other single action,” Ferguson says, the order to disband the army “created the Iraqi insurgency.”
C&L had Charles Ferguson on for a live chat when his film was released in 2007.