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Cheney: I was Wrong about Iraqi Insurgency
Admits He was Mistaken Two Years Ago in Saying Insurgency in "Last Throes"
07/31/2007 6:52 PM ET
Vice President Cheney speaking with CNN's Larry King in an interview videotaped today for broadcast tonight.
From CNN
Vice President Cheney speaking with CNN's Larry King in an interview videotaped today for broadcast tonight.
Here's a key excerpt of the CNN Larry King interview to be telecast tonight:
Q Okay. Let's go back. On this program, May of 2005, you said the Iraq insurgency was in the last throes.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.

Q Why were you wrong?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think my estimate at the time -- and it was wrong; it turned out to be incorrect -- was the fact that we were in the midst of holding three elections in Iraq, elected an interim government, then ratifying a constitution, then electing a permanent government; that they had had significant success, we'd rounded up Saddam Hussein. I thought there were a series of these milestones that would in fact undermine the insurgency and make it less than it was at that point. That clearly didn't happen. I think the insurgency turned out to be more robust.

And the other thing that happened, of course -- this was prior to the actions of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi with his bombing of the mosque up at Samarra in early '06, that in effect helped to precipitate some of the sectarian conflict that led to a lot of the Shia on Sunni battles.

Q In that same interview you said that the Iraqis were well on their way to being able to defend themselves. Why not? Why aren't they? Why aren't we gone?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: They're not there yet because the job is not done yet, Larry. When you think about what's been accomplished -- in, what, about four years now since we originally launched in there -- they have in fact held three national elections, and written a constitution. There are a significant number of Iraqis now serving in the armed forces, serving as part of the security forces. We have made progress on that front. We've also obviously with the surge the President decided on last January I think made significant progress now into the course of the summer.

The real test is whether or not the strategy that was put in place for this year will in fact produce the desired results.

Q Will those results be in place on that day in '09 when you leave?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I believe so. I think we're seeing already -- from others; don't take it from me, look at the piece that appeared yesterday in The New York Times -- not exactly a friendly publication -- but a piece by Mr. O'Hanlon and Mr. Pollack on the situation in Iraq. They're just back from visiting over there. They both have been strong critics of the war, both worked in the prior administration; but now saying that they think there's a possibility, indeed, that we could be successful. So we'll know a lot more in September, when General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker come back and report to the Congress and the President on the situation in Iraq and whether or not we're making progress. Obviously we want to get it done as quickly as possible.

Q You don't know what to expect, though, do you? Or do you?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it's going to show that we will have made significant progress. The reports I'm hearing from people whose views I respect indicate that indeed the Petraeus plan is in fact producing results.

Now, admittedly, I've been on one side of this argument from the very beginning. I urge people to have an open mind, to listen to General Petraeus when he comes back, but also look at what others have to say.

Q Does it bother you that the Iraqi parliament is taking August off, while men are over there? And women.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's better than taking two months off, which was their original plan. Our Congress of course takes the month of August off to go back home, so I don't think we can say that they shouldn't go home at all. But obviously we're eager to have them complete their work. And they have, in fact, passed about 60 pieces of legislation this year. They have been fairly productive.

Now, there are major issues yet to be addressed and be resolved that they're still working on. But they did -- I made it clear, for example, when I was there in May that we didn't appreciate the notion that they were going to take a big part of the summer off and they did cut that in half.

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