Cheney: What Was Behind His Outbursts on Iraq?

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Dick Cheney is usually the man the Administration brings out to calm a frenzy. But last week it was the Vice President who was stirring up the fuss, with two bellicose speeches that laid out the case for war against Iraq. What was Cheney up to? With such eminent members of the G.O.P. foreign-policy establishment as former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, former Secretary of State James Baker and Senator Chuck Hagel all advising a go-slow approach on Iraq, the Vice President was worried that the debate was being lost. "We had to restate the case," says a senior adviser. "This was a place holder." Despite some grumbling at the White House that Cheney had gone off on his own at a time when the Administration was frantically trying to get off the topic, a Veep aide said the speech had been okayed by the President. Bush and Cheney discussed the text, and the President even made additions and edits. But the Vice President didn't share his speech with some other key members of the Administration's foreign policy team, including National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Though Cheney offered no new evidence about Saddam Hussein's purported cache of weapons of mass destruction, hawks in the Administration promise that new intelligence will serve as a smoking gun. They are holding back on specifics, they say, until the moment the President must make his case for war. But that doesn't mean Cheney is finished speaking his mind. He plans to give another version of the same speech next week.