I don't, at this time, doubt the character of any current administration official. I do, however, doubt their competence. Dick Cheney was in hot pursuit of a war with Iraq before September 11th. Last night's Hardball:
MATTHEWS: He may have had some help in this regard, Mr. Sands. A passage in a new book, your book is called “Lawless World.” This other book by Bernard Trainor, “Cobra Two,” describes a phone call from then Vice President Elect Cheney to then Defense Secretary William Cohen regarding Iraq. This phone call came soon after the debate by the Supreme Court when they gave the election to President Bush after the Florida dispute.
Here‘s what Cohen received, a call from the vice president, Cheney. Here‘s what he said. He said that he wanted to see one thing. He did not want to see a tour of the world or all the potential threats to our country, he wanted to get a briefing for the new president, his partner, George W. Bush, on one topic, Iraq. That‘s all he wanted.”
I talked to Bill Cohen a number of times on this, and he said it was breath taking. All the vice president wanted to know about, he didn‘t care about the world all around the globe, the only thing he cared about was Iraq. He was already honing in on that decision in December of 2000. What does that tell you?
SANDS: Well, I think it tells us that all of this is completely consistent with the materials that emerged, the Downing Street Memo of July 2002, and now this White House meeting memo of January 2003, that an early decision was taken, and I think what it raises is fundamental questions about competence.
It raises, in my view, fundamental questions of legality, but also more importantly perhaps for the president‘s purpose, incompetence. We face other threats. I‘m absolutely convinced, for example, that the situation in Iran is altogether more serious than it ever was in Iraq. But what we now have is two leaders, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, who have effectively taken our two countries to war on a false prospectus and now have undermined the trust that is needed at a time of real threat for the United States and real threat for Britain, and that‘s why I think the situation today is extremely serious.
MATTHEWS: Well, in this country, we have been given so many reasons for this war, that have turned out not to be accurate, so many prediction that have turned out to be inaccurate that we still wonder really deep down, why did this president go to war in Iraq.
We know the vice president was raring to go, we know that Wolfowitz was raring to go. We don‘t know, by the way, whether Rumsfeld was even asked by the president, because I asked him once, did the president ask your opinion, and he said, funny thing, he‘s never asked me whether we should go to war or not.
It‘s still tricky to figure out when and why our president, much less your prime minister over there, decided to go to war, because all the reasons they have given and all the predictions they have made, have not come to anything. Anyway, thank you for very much. The book is called “Lawless World.” Is it going to be on sale over here soon?
SANDS: It‘s coming to the U.S. in the new additional. So, absolutely, with more material I hope.
MATTHEWS: Great. “Lawless World” by Phillipe Sands. Thank you, sir, from London. Coming up, Pat Buchanan and former Clinton chief of staff, John Podesta, on the Republican split over illegal immigration and why Democrats are feeling good about their chances in November.