Senior Administration Official

Reductio Ad Absurdum:

Who was the mystery official on Vice President Dick Cheney's plane? There were plenty of clues about his identity if you read a transcript of his remarks.

The rules were simple. The official who briefed reporters on Cheney’s plane could be identified only as a senior administration official. But the high-ranking official wasn’t very careful about concealing his identity as Cheney wrapped up his round-the-world trip with surprise stops in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pay attention to the pronouns—me and I—that the official uses in describing the vice president’s mission.

“The reason the president wanted me to come, obviously, is because of the continuing threat that exists in this part of the world on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border,” the senior administration official said Tuesday.

The White House distributed a text of the official’s comments on Air Force Two as Cheney flew from Afghanistan to Oman before beginning his flight back to Washington. The transcript did not spell out why the official on Cheney’s plane would not be quoted by name.

There had been reports in some newspapers that Cheney, who was back in Washington Wednesday, was going to tell Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, that he needed to be more aggressive against al-Qaida operatives and Taliban fighters in the lawless border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Let me just make one editorial comment here,” the official said. “I’ve seen some press reporting says, `Cheney went in to beat up on them, threaten them.’ That’s not the way I work. I don’t know who writes that, or maybe somebody gets it from some source who doesn’t know what I’m doing, or isn’t involved in it. But the idea that I’d go in and threaten someone is an invalid misreading of the way I do business.

The mind boggles.

Chris Hayes is the host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

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