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Cheney: CIA probe distracts from real threats

The former vice president said agents will now have to focus on hiring lawyers instead of watching figures like A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani who sold nuclear technology to Iran and North Korea and was freed last week.

By David MonteroCorrespondent / August 31, 2009



Former Vice President Dick Cheney doesn’t want President Barack Obama looking into the CIA’s secrets, but there’s one thing he does want Mr. Obama to do: keep an eye on A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program.

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And perhaps for good reason: Mr. Khan was freed last Friday in Pakistan. Since 2004, he's been held under house arrest in Islamabad or had restrictions on his movement, after admitting that he sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea, and Libya.

In his now famous appearance this past Sunday on Fox News, Mr. Cheney said the CIA should be following Khan, instead of scrambling to find lawyers to fend off US Attorney General Eric Holder’s probe, as Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper reports.

'The courts in Pakistan have ruled that A.Q. Khan, the father of the Pakistan nuclear weapon, who provided assistance to the Iranians, the North Koreans, the Libyans, has now been released from custody,’ Mr Cheney said.
‘It’s very, very important we find out and know long-term what he’s up to. He’s so far the worst proliferator of nuclear technology in recent history.’
The CIA, he said, had ‘agents and people’ who ought to be on that case and worry about it, but now they would be busy hiring lawyers at their own expense in order to defend themselves.

Khan has long figured at the center of Cheney’s post-9/11 security vision, as he referenced in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in May:

…everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market….

In a sense, Cheney has used Khan’s nefarious activities as a justification for the Bush administration’s aggressive approach to fighting terrorism:

But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks. We decided, as well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of the United States.…
We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these policies in place. It has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations … the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network ...

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