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The Weekly Standard is reporting that Vice President Dick Cheney displays in his home a chunk of the house that U.S. forces blew up to kill terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2006. Beyond its obvious morbidity, the memento seems a bit unseemly in view of reports that the White House repeatedly passed on opportunities to blow up Zarqawi’s house before he killed thousands of people in Iraq and elsewhere.
According to former CIA agent Michael Scheuer, the agency was closely tracking Zarqawi’s activities after the 9/11 attacks and continually made known to the White House that he was in a terrorist training camp in Iraq that could be taken out: “Almost every day we sent a package to the White House that had overhead imagery of the house he [Zarqawi] was staying in.” At the time, Scheuer was told that the White House didn’t want to pull the trigger “because they were wining and dining the French in an effort to get them to assist us in the invasion of Iraq,” and were concerned about giving them the impression that we were “gunslingers.”
As things turned out, we didn’t get French support, we did get a damaging gunslinger reputation, and we didn’t drop Zarqawi until he had already massacred thousands of people. But once you work past these huge failures, that rock at Cheney’s house is clearly something that should be celebrated and admired.