Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Saddam Hussein and 9/11

Rove explains Cheney's 1994 view that overthrowing Saddam wouldn't be worth "very many" American lives.

Published August 20, 2007 10:57AM (EDT)

The Office of the Vice President may not have much to say about that 1994 videotape in which Dick Cheney explains that overthrowing Saddam Hussein isn't worth the lives of "very many" American soldiers. But asked about the tape on "Meet the Press" Sunday, Karl Rove had all sorts of things to say about it. Well, actually, just one thing: 9/11.

Cheney "was describing the conditions in 1994," Rove explained. "By 2003, the world had changed. It changed on 9/11, and it became clear -- it should be clear to every American that we live in a dangerous world where we cannot let emerging threats fully materialize in attacks on our homeland."

Now, that might have become clear to at least one American on Aug. 6, 2001, when Rove's boss received -- and ignored -- the memo entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." But we digress.

"Look, there, there are all kinds of contingencies that are discussed and evaluated and planned for and thought about," Rove continued Sunday. "But look, the world changed. Again, I repeat, it is fine to have a 1994 mindset in 1994. It is no longer acceptable to have a 1994 mindset after Sept. 11. America needs to think and act differently. We face a brutal enemy who will kill the innocent for one purpose and that is to gain control of the Middle East and to use the leverage of oil to bring down the West, and to attack us again."

Yes, and if we'd stayed focused on that enemy after 9/11 -- if we hadn't started a war against someone else entirely -- America, Iraq and the political legacy Rove is working so hard to salvage would all be a lot safer today.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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