Stephen Hayes: Cheney's Favorite Iraq-9/11 Fabulist Now Biographer
Predictably, mainstream media discussion of Stephen Hayes' new biography of Vice President Dick Cheney has focused on his "unprecedented access" and salacious details. But while the Beltway is a abuzz about Cheney's decision to take the "cruddy job" of Vice President and Hayes' fanciful tale about a seemingly homophobic Cheney telling Senator Pat Leahy to "f**k yourself", little attention has been paid to Hayes himself.
Which is too bad. Because as the history shows, whether the issue is non-existent Saddam-9/11 links or the non-presence of Al Qaeda in pre-war in Iraq, Stephen Hayes is only too happy to make stuff up for his conservative masters.
Hayes was a logical choice by the Vice President for his official biographer. Long after the 9/11 Commission, the Senate Intelligence Committee's Phase II report and even President Bush concluded otherwise, the Weekly Standard writer has continued to argue that Al Qaeda had a working relationship with Saddam dating back to the early 1990's and that Al Qaeda maintained training camps in Saddam's pre-war Iraq. As ThinkProgress noted last August, Cheney repeatedly pointed to Stephen Hayes as his preferred "authoritative source" for the Vice President's own bogus rationales for war:
This January, Cheney was asked by then-Fox News radio host Tony Snow, "Were there links to - between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda?" Cheney answered, "Well, I think Steve Hayes has done an effective job in his article of laying out a lot of those connections." Hayes wrote an article entitled "Dick Cheney Was Right" about the Vice President's effort to connect Saddam to 9/11. But even President Bush said most recently that Iraq had "nothing" to do with 9/11.
In 2003, Hayes declared "case closed" in an article purporting to show the links between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Cheney recommeneded it to the Rocky Mountain news as the premier source of information on the issue. ("[Y]ou ought to go look is an article that Stephen Hayes did in the Weekly Standard here a few weeks ago...That's your best source of information.") Hayes relied on a classified Defense Department memo produced by Douglas Feith. The Defense Department shot down Hayes' article, stating the Feith memo was "not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, and it drew no conclusions."
For its part, the Weekly Standard makes no effort to conceal the perpetual lovefest between Cheney and Hayes. The Weekly Standard's web site contains this January 27, 2004 editor's note introducing Hayes' now thoroughly discredited November 2003 piece, "Case Closed:"
In today's Washington Post, Dana Milbank reported that "Vice President Cheney...in an interview this month with the Rocky Mountain News, recommended as the 'best source of information' an article in The Weekly Standard magazine detailing a relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda based on leaked classified information."
The Angler may prefer Hayes' revisionist tracts, but sadly they bear little relationship to history as it unfolded or to actual events on the ground. For example, in October 2005, Hayes' defended President Bush's 2003 SOTU claim regarding yellowcake in Niger, stating that the British Butler report had "concluded that the claim was - and remains - solid." Sadly, the Butler text concluded exactly the opposite, "We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded." That November, Hayes downplpayed revelations that captured Al Qaeda operative Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi had fabricated mythical Saddam-Al Qaeda links while under interrogation. In March of 2006, Hayes erroneously claimed that Saddam had provided financial and logistical support to Abu Sayyaf, the Al Qaeda affiliate in the Phillippines. And last September, Hayes launched a desperate - and fruitless - attack to discredit recently released portions of a Senate Intelligence Committee report which further devastated his fabulist claims about the Saddam-Al Qaeda-9/11 nexus.
The Cheney hagiography (Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful And Controversial Vice President) is Hayes' second book in three years. The other, The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America, is available at Amazon.com for as little as 2 cents a copy.
Which is altogether fitting. The work of Stephen Hayes literally isn't worth the paper it's printed on.