David Shuster, substitute hosting for Chris Matthews on Tuesday's Hardball, absurdly asserted that Dick Cheney "didn't know" about al-Qaeda before 9/11. After playing a clip of the former Vice President on Face the Nation stating that "on the morning of 9/12...there was a great deal we didn't know about al-Qaeda," Shuster ignored the "great deal," qualifier and insisted to his guests that somehow Cheney was clueless about the threat of the terrorist organization prior to 9/11. Shuster's guest, former Cheney aide Ron Christie, corrected Shuster, pointing out "that's one snippet taken out of context...Of course we knew about al-Qaeda," but that didn't stop Shuster from pressing his case as he claimed Cheney approved "torture," because he didn't know about al-Qaeda. [This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Tuesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
The following exchange aired on the May 12 edition of Hardball:
DAVID SHUSTER: You have both mentioned al Qaeda and here's something, Ron for you that I found sort of baffling. Here's Vice President Cheney talking about what we know about al Qaeda. Here he is from Face the Nation, this Saturday. Watch.
DICK CHENEY: On the morning of 9/12, if you will, there was a great deal we didn't know about al-Qaeda. There was a need to embark upon a new strategy with respect to treating this as a strategic threat to the United States.
SHUSTER: We didn't know about al-Qaeda Ron? I mean we knew that Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda bombed U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998. We knew they attacked the USS Cole in 2000. And in August of 2001 President Bush and Vice President Cheney knew or they were informed in an intelligence briefing that "Bin Laden Was Determined to Strike in the United States." So when Vice President Cheney says, "We didn't know about al-Qaeda." he's wrong, isn't he?
RON CHRISTIE FORMER CHENEY AIDE: Well again that's one snippet taken out of context David. I haven't seen that entire snippet. Of course we knew about al-Qaeda. But if we want to go back and we want to have selective memory against the Bush administration we also knew that the Clinton administration knew about al-Qaeda and President Clinton was given a golden opportunity to take out Osama Bin Laden and he elected not to do so. So let's not go down the road of we didn't know about al-Qaeda, David.
SHUSTER: But the reason, the reason Ron this is important is because the Vice President, right, but the reason, the reason I bring this up is because the Vice President's suggestion because we didn't know about al-Qaeda that it was therefore okay to torture to get information about al-Qaeda. And that's the link where I think it's problematic.