Cheney: Dissolving Iraqi military 'might have been a mistake'

Disbanding the Iraqi military after the fall of Baghdad was a strategic blunder -- maybe, former Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday.

In typically nuanced and heavily qualified fashioned, Cheney said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “it may have been a mistake” to dissolve Iraq’s military once Saddam Hussein’s regime had been toppled.

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“A large part of it was they just packed up and went home,” Cheney said. “It wasn’t as if they all found a place and waited for us to come in and take command of the army.”

Cheney was asked to respond to comments made recently by former Secretary of State Colin Powell that during the run up to the 2003 Iraq war, Cheney and his staff opted against planning for a post-Saddam Iraq.

Cheney did not directly address Powell’s comments, but did say “there were a number of things we expected would happen that didn’t happen.”

One was an assumption by the Bush administration that they could remove from office the senior officials across Saddam’s government and the remaining layers of government would simply show up for work every day.

That did not occur, and Iraq quickly descended into chaos and sectarian-fueled violence.

The former vice president’s new book alleges then-national security adviser Condi Rice once tearfully apologized.

"Rice realized sometime later that she had made a major mistake by issuing a public apology,” Cheney wrote in the memoir, according to media reports. “She came into my office, sat down in the chair next to my desk, and tearfully admitted I had been right. Unfortunately, the damage was done."

Rice has forcefully denied that ever occurred.

“I have to disagree with her,” Cheney said Sunday.

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Cheney also said he lobbied former President Bush into the final days of their time in office to pardon his former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, who went to prison after a CIA operative’s name was leaked.

Numerous times Cheney “argued strenuously” in favor of a pardon for Libby, he said. He credited Bush for listening to his case “on a number of occasions.”

Cheney also took a shot at Richard Armitage, then a top Powell deputy at the State Department -- and the official who allegedly leaked the operative’s name to the media, not Libby.

The former vice president noted several times that “nothing ever happened to” Armitage over the affair.