Wednesday, January 31, 2007

They call him "Flipper" - As mentioned elsewhere, Hillary Clinton is not the only politician who has shifted their position on the Iraq War. The history of events up to the time when Congress voted on the resolution authorizing military action against Iraq (along with the considerable work product from the intelligence community) seemed to prompt many Congressional Democrats to speak out against Saddam. Indeed, by the late 1990s, it was all that they could do to keep up with each other in trying to sound the most hawkish vis-à-vis Iraq. At the time they seemed more than eager to seize upon a reporter with a camera, or belly flop on top of a microphone or a tape recorder to articulate support for the war. Their own oratory provides too rich of a vein of chest-beating quotes to repeat all of them, but a select few will more than adequately make the point.

As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), December 16, 1998
[Saddam Hussein] is someone who cannot be trusted but must be watched carefully and closely. He is someone who must be monitored at all times for fear he could go too far in his development of weapons and his development of military strategies as a threat to the world. Everyone concedes this. I certainly concede it.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), September 23, 2002
When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security and that of our allies in the Persian Gulf region. I will vote yes because I believe it is the best way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA), October 9,2002
In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), October 10, 2002
Although I disagree deeply with much of President Bush’s domestic policies and some aspects of his foreign policy, I agree with his conclusion that we cannot leave Saddam to continue on his present course. No one doubts that he is trying to build a nuclear device, and when he does, his potential for blackmail to dominate the Persian Gulf and Middle East will be enormous, and our efforts to deal with him be even more difficult and perilous. The risks of inaction clearly outweigh the risks of action.
Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), October 10, 2002
There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), October 10, 2002
Iraq could start giving away its weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. It could create a humanitarian nightmare among the Kurds in the north and the Shi’a in the south, denying them food and medicine, even use chemical weapons against them. Saddam has done it in the past and could do it again.
Senator Joe Biden (D-PA), February 10, 2003

Now if you read all of that in its original English, it appears that senior House and Senate Democrats were essentially in agreement with both Presidents Bush (and Clinton) that Saddam Hussein was at best a destabilizing force in the Middle East, and had the potential to be a grave threat in the future, should he continue the weapons programs that were believed to be active at the time. Each one of them appeared to be giving at least implicit support of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emption, a doctrine best articulated in a security document issued by the White House on September 17, 2002, which advocated "defending the United States, the American people and our interests at home and abroad by identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders."

Please make note that these are all direct quotes from senior Democratic officials, to include a former and two current candidates for presidency, along with the current Speaker of the House. To a person, all of them claim to have intimate knowledge of the facts implicating Saddam Hussein in the development and distribution of WMDs. Each of them concluded, to quote Congressman Waxman, that "[t]he risks of inaction clearly outweigh the risks of action."
So it is unclear how we get to the point, approximately three years and several Iraqi elections later, where on November 1, 2005, Senate majority leader Harry Reid would stand on the floor of the Senate and huff about, "how this Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq." In situations like this, speculation is futile, but I do have my suspicions.

More to come...

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