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By CNN's Wolf Blitzer
(CNN) – Former Vice President Dick Cheney is now in an open debate with both of President George W. Bush’s secretaries of state – Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. They sharply dispute what he writes about them in his new book, “In My Time.”
President Bush is taking the high road. He’s simply suggesting that everyone in his administration has his or her own recollections about what happened and that “objective historians” eventually will get to the truth.
I suspect President Bush is right. That’s usually what happens, since memoirs almost always are self-serving.
But beyond all that, Cheney’s book has clearly re-opened the debate over the president’s order to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in March 2003. The reaction that I’ve been getting from readers and viewers has been intense, and most of it centers on whether Cheney “lied” to the American people when he said the following in August 2002:
“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”
Those were strong words that in the months leading up to the war were echoed by Bush, Powell, Rice and most of the other senior administration officials. It was the thrust of Powell’s presentation before the U.N. Security Council.
Cheney denies he lied. He says the intelligence was “flawed.” He says the CIA and other intelligence agencies got it wrong.
But he’s still not backing away from the war. He continues to insist that Saddam Hussein was a menace, and that the world is better off without him in power.
Cheney’s critics say the vice president “cherry picked” only the intelligence that pointed to Iraqi WMD. They say he ignored those skeptics inside and outside the government who raised serious questions. Among those skeptics: U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
I will interview Cheney on Tuesday. We will certainly get into this question. You will be able to see the interview on “The Situation Room,” 5-7 p.m. ET.