Cheney’s “Hard, Hard Power” and Syria

Apparently, the Poodle’s memoir (the tour for which got a little messy in Dublin) confirms something that was blatantly obvious: Dick Cheney wanted to conquer the entire Middle East, country by country.

Describing the former US vice president as an advocate of “hard, hard power”, Mr Blair said Damascus was next on Mr Cheney’s hit list.

“He would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it – Hizbollah, Hamas, etc,” Mr Blair wrote in his autobiography, A Journey. “In other words, he thought the whole world had to be made anew, and that after September 11, it had to be done by force and with urgency.”

As this report notes, Cheney’s transparent desire to take out Syria led that country to do things–like offer a haven for Iraqi insurgents–that hurt our overall war effort in Iraq. More importantly, Sy Hersh wrote extensively about how targeting Syria deprived the US of one of its best sources of information on al Qaeda.

State Department officials have told me that by early 2002 Syria had emerged as one of the C.I.A.’s most effective intelligence allies in the fight against Al Qaeda, providing an outpouring of information that came to an end only with the invasion of Iraq.


… after September 11th the Syrian leader, Bashar Assad, initiated the delivery of Syrian intelligence to the United States. The Syrians had compiled hundreds of files on Al Qaeda, including dossiers on the men who participated—and others who wanted to participate—in the September 11th attacks. Syria also penetrated Al Qaeda cells throughout the Middle East and in Arab exile communities throughout Europe. That data began flowing to C.I.A. and F.B.I. operatives.


Syria also provided the United States with intelligence about future Al Qaeda plans. In one instance, the Syrians learned that Al Qaeda had penetrated the security services of Bahrain and had arranged for a glider loaded with explosives to be flown into a building at the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet headquarters there. Flynt Leverett, a former C.I.A. analyst who served until early this year on the National Security Council and is now a fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, told me that Syria’s help “let us thwart an operation that, if carried out, would have killed a lot of Americans.” The Syrians also helped the United States avert a suspected plot against an American target in Ottawa.


“Up through January of 2003, the coöperation was topnotch,” a former State Department official said. “Then we were going to do Iraq, and some people in the Administration got heavy- handed. They wanted Syria to get involved in operational stuff having nothing to do with Al Qaeda and everything to do with Iraq. It was something Washington wanted from the Syrians, and they didn’t want to do it.”

But what I’m most interested in, particularly given the way that–as David Corn shows–Blair selectively edited out the parts of history that show the US was prepared to provoke an excuse to go to war against Iraq, is what it says about the intelligence we were trumping up about Syria. You know? Claims made by the now Director of National Intelligence that Iraq had moved its WMD program into Syria? Or the A1 cutout leak of John Bolton’s bogus testimony to Judy Miller to pre-empt intelligence community disagreements with it?

Granted, we really have known this all along: the Cheney government was inventing intelligence to justify a war not only against Iraq, but against much of the Middle East.

But as we piece together the evidence as new sources become available, this serves as a reminder that it’s not just about Iraq and Iran.

  1. phred says:

    Shock Doctrine writ large. What Klein called a tabula rasa, Blair describes as “made new”, either way it is all the same. The destruction of whole populations and cultures to make new play things for rapacious mega-corporations.

  2. MadDog says:

    And more from Blair on Mussolini Cheney via Politico:

    “…Dick is the object of so much conspiracy theory that it’s virtually impossible to have a rational discussion about him,” Blair adds. “To those on the left, he is, of course, an uncomplicated figure of loathing. Even for the middle ground, they tend to reach for the garlic and crucifixes. You have to go pretty far right to find Dick’s natural constituency…”

    Though I usually don’t, on Sunday I may watch/record ABC’s This Week (via The Hill):

    …ABC’s “This Week” talks to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair about his new memoir. In “A Journey,” Blair reflects on supporting the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks and taking his country to war in Iraq. He’ll also share his thoughts on American leaders including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

    • phred says:

      To those on the left, he is, of course, an uncomplicated figure of loathing.

      While I cannot deny that I loathe PapaDick, Tony once again misses the forest for the trees.

      The most overwhelming profound feeling I have about PapaDick is frustration. He is literally a living breathing walking-among-us poster child for the fact that we are no longer a nation of laws.

      When known criminals walk free, without so much as a complaint filed against them, it engenders a sense of intense frustration.

      Coupled with the fact that as a frequent flier out of Logan (which along with McCarren in Las Vegas, has upped the ante on molesting passengers at will) I am endlessly reminded that I have lost my legal right to travel freely unimpeded and unmolested by an overreaching executive. There has been no Constitutional Convention to withdraw the 4th amendment. There hasn’t even been a Congressional debate. Skeletor just shows up to sell pricey gadgets to TSA and they order up the lot without a 2nd thought. Maybe they figure the guy’s just gotta make a living.

      So Tony old man for what it’s worth, what I feel (you presumptuous ass) isn’t loathing, it is a seething frustration that I have no legal rights, while PapaDick is simultaneously beyond the reach of the law.

          • rosalind says:

            i feel your pain, phred. i have to fly a lot more lately, and each time i enter the terminal my stomach clenches at the thought that the new machines will be installed and i’ll have to put my convictions into action. i can’t abide having yet another layer of privacy stripped from me. i can’t abide that asking for a hand search will likely result in my name getting stuck in yet another database.

            • phred says:

              You know the hardest part is, that I really am a pleasant law abiding Midwesterner at heart. I hate making a fuss. If my order gets messed up at a restaurant, I let it go, because I don’t want to bother anyone. I use the crosswalk. I press the button and wait for the light to change before I cross. It’s ridiculous how law abiding I am. I haven’t had so much as a speeding ticket in 20 years.

              And despite all of my comments and opinions here in what I consider to be an appropriate political (and football ; ) forum, I am a very private person. No one has ever taken a naked picture of me ever and no one ever will. That would violate every shred of Midwestern modesty I possess. My parents would have been aghast at the very idea of being strip searched. My parents were formal upstanding citizens, members of the Greatest Generation, and they raised me to be polite and modest, even if they also encouraged a certain opinionated stubborn streak as well ; )

              So now to travel, as I have done for 30 years, I am now supposed to acquiesce to being: a) strip searched, or b) physically molested. It is outrageous. And the only way to put a stop to it is to make a fuss. None of these options is appealing.

              But, the only alternative left is to quit flying. It could be done domestically I suppose, but I doubt my employer would be keen on allowing a week for travel out to the west coast (assuming approximately a 3 day train trip each way), not to mention the added per diem costs. And international travel becomes a nightmare. How long does it take to take a boat? I don’t even begin to know how to find a ship for “commuting” as opposed to vacationing.

              So, what the fuck am I supposed to do? I have never felt so trapped or helpless in my whole life. And I am way beyond angry. I suppose that will make making a fuss a lot easier : ) I just hope I don’t cry. When I get really really mad, I start shaking with rage and I cry. I hate that. But hitting someone can get you arrested ; )

              • rosalind says:

                Maybe we can start a Conscientious Objector line. We’ve been conscripted into this war with no end, engaged against a tactic not a country, against our will. Time to bring back the C.O. designation.

                My last flight was the first one with my new Ipad, which I had loaded up with some videos to pass the time. Cruising altitude reached, I started up the first episode of one of Michael Palin’s BBC train trips. Suddenly my screen fills with a small town in Pakistan known for its gun making. Scene after scene of Arab men showing off machine guns, hand guns, rocket launchers. Fearing one of my fellow travelers would think I was watching an Al Qaeda training video and turn me in, I quickly switched over to Episode 2, India.

                On my flight back I opened up my first e-book, and up came the cover of Markos’ “American Taliban”. I made a mental note to think through my on-board entertainment choices a little more carefully.

                • bmaz says:

                  Jeebus, yer gonna start getting a reputation. Kind of like Ms. Wheeler, who has a knack for getting seated on airplanes next to people that are not necessarily appreciative of her, uh, talents.

                • phred says:

                  What a great idea! Time to reclaim Conscientious Objector indeed.

                  Bob, I loved the Madden Mobile, but he had a week to get wherever he was going and he didn’t have to go to other continents to cover games ; )

                  And bluedot12, you don’t need to violate the Constitution to conduct effective security screenings. What is being done now, is not essential, it is a waste of our tax dollars, and it violates our most basic civil liberties in ways that are literally obscene.

              • bobschacht says:

                Ah, phred. We are Midwestern birds of a feather. So I hesitate to suggest that you take John Madden as your role model. After all, terrestrial transportation didn’t seem to inhibit his career overmuch, did it?

                Or maybe Charles Kuralt, who made a career about not-flying.

                But alas, I am no longer as keen on long driving trips as I once was. The 8 hour drive between Flagstaff and Riverside, CA a couple of times a year is about all I can handle, as long as I have a bag of trail mix (with M&Ms, nuts, and raisins)that don’t melt in the sun, and drinks handy. You don’t hear much about eastern(!) California, and for good reason, but there’s a lot of it.

                Bob in AZ

              • nomolos says:

                phred. I do not fly put of this country anymore. As I a now retired I do not have to fly on business so I drive to Montreal and have a pleasant flying experience. Of course once I am out of this country I use my Irish passport so I no longer have to put up with, understandable, anti-americanism. This country has gone to the dogs.

                • phred says:

                  I can pass for Irish and my accent has been mistaken for Canadian, but there is no getting around my US passport
                  ; ) Still, there are worse ways to travel than taking the train to Montreal and flying from there. Thanks for the tip!

      • bobash says:

        [Dick Cheney] is literally a living breathing walking-among-us poster child for the fact that we are no longer a nation of laws.

        Best one-liner I’ve read in awhile. Couldn’t agree more.

        • RevBev says:

          I do hope he may live long enough to be indicted; or, at least, to see his family (wife, dau.) ashamed enough to get off the TV with their know it all nonsense. The truth will usually out.

          • dipper says:

            I have had the feeling lately that Darth will be leaving the earth soon, possibly due to his not having anything to say in public, which is so unlike him.

              • MadDog says:

                I would, but then I live in Minnesota and might not even have to drive. *g*

                P.S. – Why would they bury him in Cheesehead land? And why would the Cheeseheads allow this?

                • phred says:

                  I bet nomolos meant Wyoming, I do that first letter switcheroo with names all the time myself. As I tell the Mr., if I get the first letter right, I consider it the right name ; )

                • bmaz says:

                  You know, prematurely booting the Pampered Geezer was one thing, but adopting Cheney for burial would be the last straw. I would quit eating cheese.

                  • phred says:

                    My beloved home state would never fall so far from grace ; )

                    And [email protected], not to pick a fight or anything, but your chance of dying on an airplane is near zero. For example, last year 25.5 million passengers went through Logan. Logan is the 20th busiest airport in the country. 20th. I don’t know the total passenger numbers for all of the US last year, but on that basis it has to be hundreds of millions. Not one of whom died due to a terrorist-related incident on board. The chance of a terrorist killing you on a plane is staggering small. This was also true before 2001. Before the shampoo follies, before confiscated nail clippers, before naked girly machines and groping.

                    You are much much more likely to die from a lightning strike. Or a car accident. Cancer. Heart disease. If the TSA gave a damn about my safety, there would be free health clinics in airports with free screenings for each passenger instead of naked girly machines.

                    Your safety is not remotely a concern of the TSA. Their job is to brainwash Americans into compliance on endless war. And if it gives them job security and makes Skeletor a few bucks, all the better.

                    Humans are terrible at risk assessment and as a result make bizarre “safety” choices all of the time. The government knows how to exploit that for political advantage.

                    • PJEvans says:

                      phred, it’s the security theater that I hate. I know the chances of dying (other than by naturalish causes) are very small, and that doesn’t bother me. Being treated as a potential terrorist, when they couldn’t even find real ones that they were being told about beforehand, is worse than insulting.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      Being treated as a potential terrorist, when they couldn’t even find real ones that they were being told about beforehand, is worse than insulting.

                      Oh, gawd.
                      Born a US citizen, but outside the US.
                      Married to a US citizen, but married outside the US.
                      University? Part of it also outside the US.

                      My father and uncles are/were vets of WWII.
                      My cousins are/were vets of Korea and VNam.

                      You would not believe how hard it is for me to use a passport at a customs gate. And although not a ‘modest Midwesterner’ like phred, I gravitate to the same sense of ‘privacy’. Being treated as if I’m some kind of suspicious person because I’ve actually been beyond the borders of the US just incenses me.

                      Inside the US borders, I’ve started riding the train.

                      One of my favorite stories, sadly, is of a friend who’d been outside the US for special chemo-cancer treatments. When he came back in, his body was so radiactive that he started the alarms when he passed through the passport gate.

                      So apparently, if you have been born outside US, married outside US, worked outside US, studied outside the US, or get chemo outside US, you’re a “person of interest.”

                      Meanwhile, the government has never explained what happened wiht $700 billion of TARP money, and that was only a tiny amount of the total bailouts. On a sane planet, all that missing money would be viewed as a national security risk.

                      Sheer lunacy.
                      There are moments when I think bin Laden and the Iranians must be convulsing in hysterics over Richard Cheney’s utter stupidity.

                    • PJEvans says:

                      I know people who have been in train wreck(s). Really not fun, but you have a much better chance of surviving than in a plane crash.

                    • phred says:

                      Hmmm, now you have me wondering about train wreck statistics. Will be interesting to find out one’s probabilities for dying in a car, on a plane, or on a train.

                      Almost sounds like a topic for a macabre Dr. Seuss ; )

                    • pdaly says:

                      We need a short slogan to capture this sentiment on a bumper sticker.

                      Taking away our freedoms has not made us safer nor the government wiser about the identity of terrorists.
                      Strip searching/body patting every person boarding a flight is telegraphing to the public that the government is clueless about the current identity of terrorists.

  3. fatster says:

    Has anyone seen this book in the stores? I’m curious if it comes packaged in a plastic bag since it seems to be dripping with alligator tears for all the pain and suffering of the Iraqi and Afghani people.

    • michaelfishman says:

      That has to be one of the most incredible statements I’ve ever seen. And the amazing thing is that it’s possible he believes every word he’s saying.

      Everything they did was right and proper based on the erroneous information they were given. Who could think otherwise…and who could have known? Except those millions of people carrying on in the streets. But we know what they’re worth, don’t we?

      Such great minds are to be found only in the upper echelons of government and management.

      Thank you for that reference. It’s worth its weight in…what?

  4. fatster says:

    Doctors call for David Kelly inquest
    Group to seek full inquest into 2003 death of scientist who cast doubt on government’s claims over Iraq weapons


  5. bluedot12 says:

    I don’t travel as much as I used to but I can feel the pain here. I wish there were another way to guarantee safe flights. My fear is that despite all the intrusions, the assholes will still find a way to blow one up.

    • PJEvans says:

      The security theater isn’t about keeping guys from blowing up planes, really.
      It’s about the appearance of doing something.
      What they want to be seen doing is preventing the last attack.

      Metal detectors work, more or less, X-raying carry-ons works, more or less, but nothing is 100 percent effective, unless they really decide to make everyone fly in boxes, like pets. And that includes Congresscritters and other government officials.

      No, I don’t plan to fly anywhere either. Too much stupid on the government’s side, and not enough actual security.

  6. sadlyyes says:

    ive always wondered how socio/psychopaths(Hitler etc) make their way to the highest offices with the MOST power…HOW does this happen ,over and over nd over again? sigh

  7. bluedot12 says:

    Cheney should really be in jail. And, yes, it appears your civil rights can be violated whenever someone at Homeland Security says so. It is a shame our leaders in those years were such asses. But you could almost “feel” them spoiling for more fights. Yet, no one (or few) seemed to give a shit. Next stop now will likely be Iran for all the reasons you can think of and most of which will be bullshit.

    • sadlyyes says:

      our money=

      The New York Times reports that the U.S. has agreed to assist the Afghan government in bailing out that nation’s largest bank in order to prevent a nationwide financial crisis:

      Details of the deal, including how much each government would contribute, were still being worked out on Saturday between the Central Bank of Afghanistan and the United States Treasury Department, officials said…

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        If that shit happens, I wonder whether there will be even 10 Democratic members left in Congress after November.

        It’s enough to make even Cheney’s pulseless heart pitter-patter, no doubt.

  8. perris says:

    “Up through January of 2003, the coöperation was topnotch,” a former State Department official said. “Then we were going to do Iraq, and some people in the Administration got heavy- handed. They wanted Syria to get involved in operational stuff having nothing to do with Al Qaeda and everything to do with Iraq. It was something Washington wanted from the Syrians, and they didn’t want to do it.”

    what’s amazing to me, even though cheney destroyed the network that kept us from attack, we haven’t seen a successful attack in the states from al qaeda anyway

  9. masaccio says:

    Cheney really had it in for the secular regimes, didn’t he? Why does that make sense if the Jihadis were the problem.

    • PJEvans says:

      They’ll have to install a washdown system for it, complete with a sewer connection, because there are a lot of us who would like to excrete on his grave. (And those of his wife and his daughters, too.)

  10. TheOracle says:

    I had a hard time believing the right-wing claim that 1) Saddam Hussein had sent his WMD to Syria before the invasion (pre-invasion U.S. surveillance would have picked this up, and/or the pre-invasion U.N. weapons inspectors scouring Iraq for any WMD before being kicked out by Bush would have), or that 2) fleeing Iraqi Sunni Baathists had taken the WMD with them to Syria after the invasion began (in small quantities, if any), but I stopped believing the right-wing claim entirely once U.S. boots were on the ground in Iraq and no WMD were used against them, ever, in the years following the invasion. Nada. None. Zilch.

    IOW, if fleeing Iraqis based out of Syria had WMD, then wouldn’t they have smuggled that WMD back into Iraq to use against U.S. and “coalition of the willing” forces? And wouldn’t any al Qaeda lurking along the Syrian-Iraqi border have tried to get their hands on some of this purported WMD to use against U.S.-coalition forces? This didn’t happen. Ergo, they didn’t have any WMD.

    And then the two Bush/Blair-created Iraqi survey groups couldn’t find any purported WMD in post-invasion Iraq (if anything, they found depleted munitions dating back more than a decade, hardly new, hardly concentrated, hardly lethal). There was no WMD in Iraq, there was no WMD smuggled out of Iraq. All the pre-invasion Bush/Blair scary hype was a lie…and millions died, or were forced from their homes, or were maimed for life.

  11. researcher says:

    do they have oil reserves????????

    god can you imagine if we can control the oil reserves in iraq, iran, and synia?

    god bless we americans as christians we deserve that oil after all everyone else belongs to a religious cult.

    all we have to do is tell americans they had somehting to do with 9/11 and they have WMD’s and americans will open their pocket books to support our mega military conquests.

    it is good to be the king in the world.

    move over rome we will be the next world power to control the world.

    canada has oil slates how hard would it be with our tanks to knock out guys in red suits on horse back carrying a pistol???????

    plus our guys could have week end passes to be with their families while we occupy their homeland. sweet america.

  12. eaglebill says:

    Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and company should be hung if there is any justice in the world. If we take the standards established by the Nuremburg Tribunals the death penalty would be appropriate. Waging agressive war is punishible by death. I kid you not, look it up.

  13. fatster says:

    Remember the “dodgey dossier” that was all “sexed-up”? Turns out, it was indeed what many thought it was. Nice to have that documented.

    Iraq WMD dossier was ‘reviewed’ to match Labour spin, memo reveals
    Foreign Office official wrote memo in 2002 about the need to ‘avoid exposing differences’ on Saddam’s nuclear threat


  14. melior says:


    In other words, (Dick “Dick” Cheney) thought the whole world had to be made anew, and that after September 11, it had to be done by force and with urgency.

    Dwight “DFH” Eisenhower:

    If we agree that armed attack can properly achieve the purposes of the assailant, then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order. We will, in effect, have countenanced the use of force as a means of settling international differences and through this gaining national advantages.

    I do not, myself, see how this could be reconciled with the Charter of the United Nations. The basic pledge of all the members of the United Nations is that they will settle their international disputes by peaceful means, and will not use force against the territorial integrity of another state.

    If the United Nations once admits that international disputes can be settled by using force, then we will have destroyed the very foundation of the Organization, and our best hope of establishing a world order. That would be a disaster for us all.

  15. GregB says:

    The relationship between Iraq and Syria was quite poor. Let’s not forget that Syrian troops and equipment rolled into Iraq, alongside American and other allied forces in 1991.

    How Syria went from invading Iraq and possibly toppling Saddam to secretly allowing WMD, which would then make Syria a military target is inexplicable.

    It was a fantasy that was so oft repeated that it has become fact for many of the same folks who think that scientists are anti-capitalist rubes who gladly fabricate data in order to ruin America and who think that Glenn Beck is a wise professor and that Sarah Palin is the salt of the earth.

  16. moistenedbink says:

    Ah, so we are getting closer to connecting the PNAC (people for the new American century of whom Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and more are members, including John Bolton who is throwing the trial balloon out there to run for President) who advocated for preemptive strikes and a new Pearl Harbor to push through their plans and the Bush family who allowed Cheney to be VP and of whom Marvin was part of a company who had charge of security for the World Trade Center on 9/11. Still think that no one could have known?

    • PJEvans says:

      Well, if you could re-write that so it’s a bit less convoluted, we might be able to answer it. (After the second or third clause, it’s impossible to follow. Surely your grammar teachers told you to avoid that kind of writing!)

  17. madandmadder says:

    FYI, Wesley Clark wrote about hearing within the Pentagon about plans to keep going: Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and the big enchilada, Iran.