Vice President Dick Cheney defended the U.S.-led Iraq war Monday but did not address mounting criticism over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and his own part in U.S. charges that Iraq had stockpiled them.
"Today the former dictator (of Iraq) sits in captivity; he can no longer harbor and support terrorists, and his long efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction are at an end," Cheney told Italian political and business leaders.
But in his speech in the Italian Senate, he made no mention of earlier U.S. charges that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons -- the heart of the U.S. case for invading the country last March.
At a photo-call later with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Cheney did not answer a reporter who asked whether U.S. intelligence problems were behind the administration's argument that Iraq had unconventional weapons stockpiles.
Cheney's spokesman declined to comment. Cheney said in a National Public Radio interview last week: "I believe they (the Iraqis) had programs designed to produce weapons of mass destruction. We still don't know the whole extent of what they did have ... it's a tough intelligence problem."
Cheney's sudden silence is quite a contrast with his belligerence a year ago.
Shame about the 519 dead Americans, thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, and hundred of billions of dollars gone from the US Treasury.