Uncertainty about the vice president's whereabouts was cleared up two days after the space probe Anitinae made a flawless landing Monday on the surface of what NASA scientist are now calling "Planet Cheney." On its second "stroll" over the surface of the little-known planet, Anitinae's roving robot vehicle detected via infrared scanner the vice president of the United States seated in a duck blind with a Secret Service agent. Jack Kus was able to conduct an exclusive interview with Mr. Cheney via telemetry at the NASA Ames Research Center....
VICE PRESIDENT SAYS WMD DISCOVERY 'ONLY A MATTER OF TIME'
By Jack Kus
** "I stand by my position," says Cheney. "I know things you don't know." **
United for Peace of Pierce County
January 31, 2004
MOFFETT FIELD (CA) -- Speaking from what NASA scientists have dubbed "Planet Cheney," where he was located earlier this week by the space probe Anitinae, Vice President Richard B. Cheney said Friday that he still believes that Iraqi stockpiles of illegal chemical and biological weapons will be found. "I stand by my position. It's only a matter of time."
In an exclusive interview, Mr. Cheney said he now thinks that Iraq had illicit weapons at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf war. But subsequent United Nations inspections led Saddam Hussein to store the weapons "where you'd be least likely to look," he said.
Asked directly if he was saying that Iraq did have large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in the country, Mr. Cheney replied, "That is correct. But given Saddam's strategy of hiding the weapons in the most unlikely places, it's only to be expected that the search for them will take some additional, considerable period of time -- years, even decades."
Mr. Cheney's statements bolster one of the primary justifications set out by President Bush for the war with Iraq at a time when other officials have undermined them.
Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said late Friday that "Mr. Cheney serves this country well. He has this president's complete confidence." Mr. McClellan dismissed rumors that President Bush is thinking of dropping Mr. Cheney from the ticket in the November elections, and said the vice president was expected back from Planet Cheney early next week, in time for his weekly private luncheon with the president.
Uncertainty about the vice president's whereabouts was cleared up two days after Anitinae made a flawless landing Monday on the surface of Planet Cheney. On its second "stroll" over the surface of the little-known planet, the infrared scanner on Anitinae's roving robot vehicle detected the vice president and a Secret Service agent seated in a duck blind.
Friday's interview was conducted through telemetry at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, CA, with technical assistance from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
The assessment of the search for illegal Iraqi weapons provided by Mr. Cheney was far more upbeat than that given to a Congressional committee last week by David Kay. After resigning leadership of the American effort to find banned weapons, Mr. Kay told the Senate Armed Services Committee: "Turns out we were all wrong, probably."
Asked about Mr. Kay's remarks, the vice president said, "Who is this whose ignorant words cloud my design in darkness? I stand by my position. Let's face it. I know things you don't know, and I know things Mr. Kay doesn't know."
Reminded that Charles A. Duefer, Mr. Kay's replacement, had said earlier that the chance "of finding chemical weapons, biological weapons, is close to nil at this point," the vice president laughed. "Have the gates of death been revealed to Mr. Duefer?" he asked. "Has he comprehended the vast expanse of the world? Has Charles Duefer visited the Situation Room, or seen the arsenal which I have kept ready for the day of calamity, for war and the hour of battle? Come, tell me all this, if you know," Mr. Cheney said.
Sunspot activity prevented the interview from continuing. NASA technicians were hopeful that the communication link with Planet Cheney might be reestablished by midday Saturday.