Cheney defends 'final throes' remark

June 20, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday defended his comment last year, often ridiculed by administration critics, that the Iraqi insurgency was ''in its final throes.''

He said he was referring to a series of events -- including elections and the drafting and acceptance of a new Iraqi constitution -- that he believes history will show to be pivotal.

But the vice president did say that he underestimated the strength of the insurgency in some of his earlier remarks.

He said much of the continuing violence has its roots in ''the devastation'' that 30 years of Saddam Hussein's iron-fisted rule ''had wrought on the psychology of the Iraqi people.''

Cheney also said that aggressive U.S. action is responsible for preventing new terror attacks since the Sept. 11 strikes.

He credited a determined offense against terrorists abroad, improved intelligence-gathering and preventive steps at home for thwarting or discouraging attacks on U.S. soil.