Cheney: US never had burden of proof
By Times Of India
11/22/05 "TOA" -- -- WASHINGTON: US vice president Dick Cheney on Monday accused critics of "corrupt and shameless" revisionism in suggesting the White House misled the nation in a rush to war, the latest salvo in an increasingly acrimonious debate over prewar intelligence.
Cheney also denounced proposals for a quick US withdrawal from Iraq as "a dangerous illusion" and shrugged off the failure to find weapons of mass destruction.
"We never had the burden of proof," he said, adding that it had been up to Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to prove to the world that he didn't have such weapons.
Following president Bush's lead, Cheney praised the character of Rep John Murtha even as he voiced strong disagreement with the Pennsylvania Democrat's proposal last week to pull out all US troops.
"He's a good man, a Marine, a patriot -- and he's taking a clear stand in an entirely legitimate discussion," Cheney told the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
Cheney, who represented Wyoming in the House of Representatives in the 1980s, called Murtha "my friend and former colleague."
A key Democrat on military issues with close ties to the Pentagon, Murtha set off a firestorm last week when he proposed all of the some 160,000 US troops now in Iraq be pulled out over the next six months.
Congressional Republicans denounced him and White House spokesman Scott Mc Clellan, traveling with the president in Asia, branded him as an ultraliberal comparable to activist filmmaker Michael Moore.
Later, Bush and other administration officials toned down their criticism, fearful of a backlash in support of Murtha. Bush on Sunday called Murtha "a fine man" and longtime supporter of the military.
However, Cheney said, "It is a dangerous illusion to suppose that another retreat by the civilised world would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone."
"Those who advocate a sudden withdrawal from Iraq should answer a few simple questions," Cheney said, such as whether the US would be "better off or worse off" with terror leaders such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri in control of Iraq.
Murtha told CNN, "I'm trying to prevent another Vietnam" and predicted Cheney would eventually see it that way, too. "This war cannot be won militarily, ... cannot be won on the ground," Murtha said.