Updated Thursday, see bottom of post
The Democrats latest attempt to seize the political high ground is a work of genius: "Let's say that President Bush lied about WMD, and when people ask why we then voted for the war, we'll say that he misled us!"
Except that it's not proving so easy.
Senator Jay Rockefeller got his words used against him by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday
, and he got his head handed to him:
WALLACE: OK. Senator Rockefeller, the president says that Democratic critics, like you, looked at pre-war intelligence and came to the same conclusion that he did.Busted!
In fact, looking back at the speech that you gave in October of 2002 in which you authorized the use of force, you went further than the president ever did. Let's watch:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROCKEFELLER: I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11th that question is increasingly outdated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Now, the president never said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat. As you saw, you did say that. If anyone hyped the intelligence, isn't it Jay Rockefeller?
And, uh, "imminent threat"? Not even the president said the threat from Iraq was imminent. In fact, he explicity rejected
the idea that the threat was imminent, saying rather that we had to act before
it become imminent.
During the next few questions Rockefeller tried to weasel out of it, saying that because he didn't get to see the Daily Intelligence Briefings, he didn't have all the information. (I'll let you read the entire interview on the Fox site and determine if I've taken this out of context. I read the whole thing and Rockefeller just squirms the entire time.)
Which raises the question: "Well, Senator, if you didn't have all the information why did you vote for the war?!?!?!?"
As Kat points out on her blog The Middle Ground
, if we take their statements at face value, the Democrats were either stupid or lazy. Stupid to have been fooled by a president that most or many liberals themselves routinely describe as a moron, and lazy because if they didn't have the information they needed they should have stepped up and demanded it.
The fact is, however, that the Democrats in Congress received quite enough intelligence for them to conclude that Saddam had WMD. They knew perfectly well that the Daily Intelligence briefings existed. If they didn't all the information they needed they had a moral duty not to vote for the war.
And no one has shown that the intelligence was manipulated. Besides, it's not as if everything depended on a few pieces of evidence coming from the Bush Administration. As Norman Podhoretz showed in a brilliant piece on FrontPage Magazine
(to be published in the December print issue of Commentary), the entire idea that the Democrats were misled is utter nonsense.
Podhoretz' article is too long to do justice here, but just consider this:
George Tenet, his own CIA director, assured him that the case was “a slam dunk.” This phrase would later become notorious, but in using it, Tenet had the backing of all fifteen agencies involved in gathering intelligence for the United States. In the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2002, where their collective views were summarized, one of the conclusions offered with “high confidence” was that
Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear, and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.
The intelligence agencies of Britain, Germany, Russia, China, Israel, and—yes—France all agreed with this judgment.
So what was Bush to do, ignore his own (Clinton-appointed) CIA director? Set up his own investigation? People who think that if only Al Gore had been in office he would have seen through all this are kidding themselves. Gore might not have invaded, but the idea that he would have magically discovered the intelligence failure are just not being honest.
Here's Podhoretz again:
Another fallback charge is that Bush, operating mainly through Cheney, somehow forced the CIA into telling him what he wanted to hear. Yet in its report of 2004, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee, while criticizing the CIA for relying on what in hindsight looked like weak or faulty intelligence, stated that it
...did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence, or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq’s weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities.
The March 2005 report of the equally bipartisan Robb-Silberman commission, which investigated intelligence failures on Iraq, reached the same conclusion, finding
...no evidence of political pressure to influence the intelligence community’s pre-war assessments of Iraq’s weapons programs. . . . [A]nalysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments.
Read the whole thingBack to Our Good Senator
But we have more from Senator Rockefeller.:
WALLACE: Senator Rockefeller, I want to play another clip from your 2002 speech authorizing the use of force, this time specifically on the question of Saddam's nuclear program. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROCKEFELLER: 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, and he could have it earlier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Now, by that point, Senator, you had read the National Intelligence Estimate, correct?
ROCKEFELLER: In fact, there were only six people in the Senate who did, and I was one of them. I'm sure Pat was another.
WALLACE: OK. But you had read that, and now we've read a declassified...
ROCKEFELLER: But, Chris, let's...
WALLACE: Can I just ask my question, sir?
WALLACE: And then you can answer as you choose. That report indicated there was a disagreement among analysts about the nuclear program. The State Department had a lot more doubts than the CIA did about whether he was pursuing the nuclear program. You never mentioned those doubts. You came to the same conclusion the president did.
ROCKEFELLER: Because that — first of all, that National Intelligence Estimate was not called for by the administration. It was called for by former Senator Bob Graham, who was chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Dick Durbin.
We didn't receive it until just a couple of days before we voted. Then we had to go read it and compare it to everything else that we thought we'd learned about intelligence, and I did make that statement. And I did make that vote.
But, Chris, the important thing is that when I started looking at the weapons of mass destruction intelligence along with Pat Roberts, I went down to the floor, and I said I made a mistake. I would have never voted yes if I knew what I know today.
ARRRRUUUGGGHHH!!!You shouldn't have voted at all if you didn't have time to understand what you were voting on!
And - must I really point this out? - you can only take decisions based on information you have at the time. Is the Senator looking for a time machine?
No, he's looking to avoid responsibility:
WALLACE: But you voted, sir, and aren't you responsible for your vote?
ROCKEFELLER: No. I'm...
WALLACE: You're not?
Unvbelieveable.Meanwhile, Back at the RanchOn CBS Senator McCain
goes after the Democrats (via Instapundit)
SCHIEFFER: President Bush accused his critics of rewriting history last week.
Sen. McCAIN: Yeah.
SCHIEFFER: And in--he said in doing so, the criticisms they were making of his war policy was endangering our troops in Iraq. Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?
Sen. McCAIN: No, I think it's a very legitimate aspect of American life to criticize and to disagree and to debate. But I want to say I think it's a lie to say that the president lied to the American people. I sat on the Robb-Silverman Commission. I saw many, many analysts that came before that committee. I asked every one of them--I said, `Did--were you ever pressured politically or any other way to change your analysis of the situation as you saw?' Every one of them said no.
As Glenn Reynolds points out, Schieffer's question on whether "it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy" is a strawman. As if the issue is simple questioning of a policy. What is unpatriotic is making up lies about how the president alledgedly lied about WMD. Also unpatriotic is associating with groups like International ANSWER and Code Pink, but now is not the time for that sermon.Inconvenient Quotes from Democrats
Inconvenient to Democrats, that is. They're quite convenient for me.
Best of all, the quotes are impeccably sourced. They come courtesy of one of my favorite talk show hosts, Glenn Beck
. Visit his page to see if he is on a station in your area.
"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real..."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003 | Source
"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force -- if necessary -- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002 | Source
"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
- President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998 | Source
"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
- President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998 | Source
"We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction."
- Madeline Albright, Feb 1, 1998 | Source
"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
- Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998 | Source
"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
Letter to President Clinton.
- (D) Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, others, Oct. 9, 1998 | Source
"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."
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998 | Source
"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999 | Source
"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and th! e means of delivering them."
- Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002 | Source
"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source
"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source
"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002 | Source
"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002 | Source
"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 ... We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002 | Source
"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 ... 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."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002 | Source
"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002 | Source
As Kat said in her post, if we take the Democrats at their word, then when evaluating the intelligence before voting in favor of war with Iraq they were either lazy or stupid. Lazy at not insisting on more, or stupid to have let Bush misled them.
But as every good liberal knows, Bush is a moron. So if he misled them, that makes them... supermorons? Hmmm.
The other option is that they are crass political opportunists, and that they only voted for the war because they wanted to get on the bandwagon, and that they now want to pretend like they were misled because they see public opinion turning against it. This is my favorite.Update I
John McCain has some more tough words for Senators, and anyone, who is calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, or who even want to set a timetable. In and editorial in the New York Post titled "Aiding and Abetting"
, McCain says that
A date is not an exit strategy. To suggest that it is only encourages our enemies, by indicating that the end to American intervention is near. It alienates our friends, who fear an insurgent victory, and tempts undecideds to join the anti-government ranks.
And to those who disagree,
The sponsors may disagree with my interpretation of their words, saying that 2006 is merely a target, that their legislation is not binding and that it included caveats. But look at the initial response to the Senate's words: a front page Washington Post story titled "Senate Presses for Concrete Steps Toward Drawdown of Troops in Iraq."
Think about this for a moment. Imagine Iraqis, working for the new government, considering whether to join the police force, or debating whether or not to take up arms. What will they think when they read that the Senate is pressing for steps toward draw-down?
Are they more or less likely to side with a government whose No. 1 partner hints at leaving?
The Senate has responded to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who put their faith and trust in America and their government, by suggesting that our No. 1 priority is to bring our people home.
So what should our goal be?
We have told insurgents that their violence does grind us down, that their horrific acts might be successful. But these are precisely the wrong messages. Our exit strategy in Iraq is not the withdrawal of our troops, it is victory.
Now, I've never made it a secret that I disagree with McCain quite a bit. I think his fixation on "soft money" is absurd. And I think many of his criticisms of the war unfounded. But he is on the right side, and let me say that I acknowledge fully that his criticisms are in good faith.Update II
Christopher Hitchens has a much sharper tongue than John McCain, but as a non-politician this is a luxury he can afford. He goes after
those who persist with the "Bush Lied!" or "Bush misled us" mantra:
But then there is the really superb pedantry and literal-mindedness on which the remainder of the case depends. This achieved something close to an apotheosis on the front page of the Washington Post on Nov. 12, where Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus brought complete gravity to bear. Is it true, as the president claimed in his Veterans Day speech, that Congress saw the same intelligence sources before the war, and is it true that independent commissions have concluded that there was no willful misrepresentation? Top form was reached on the inside page:
But in trying to set the record straight, [Bush] asserted: "When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support."A prize, then, for investigative courage, to Milbank and Pincus. They have identified the same problem, though this time upside down, as that which arose from the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, during the Clinton-Gore administration, in 1998. That legislation—which passed the Senate without a dissenting vote—did expressly call for the removal of Saddam Hussein but did not actually mention the use of direct U.S. military force.
The October 2002 joint resolution authorized the use of force in Iraq, but it did not directly mention the removal of Hussein from power.
Let us suppose, then, that we can find a senator who voted for the 1998 act to remove Saddam Hussein yet did not anticipate that it might entail the use of force, and who later voted for the 2002 resolution and did not appreciate that the authorization of force would entail the removal of Saddam Hussein! Would this senator kindly stand up and take a bow? He or she embodies all the moral and intellectual force of the anti-war movement. And don't be bashful, ladies and gentlemen of the "shocked, shocked" faction, we already know who you are.
I've never "double Amened" before, but there's a first time for everything.Update III
Ok, there will be three updates tonight. As I said, there's a first time for everything.
Hop on over to fellow Conserva-Puppy" Kat's main blog for her WMD Update
Reading the UNMOVIC report for 2005 and 2003 reports from UNMOVIC, it's no wonder we went to war and, frankly, even knowing what we allegedly know now, I'd still support it. I've never seen so much "they had this", "this was the quantity declared", "this was reported destroyed", "we can't account for the rest", "this was not declared in 1991", "this was declared in 1995 aftre Hussain Kamal defected", "this plant was declared as dual use", "this was still going on", "we can't confirm the destruction", "Iraq admitted to moving previously accounted for destroyed munitions from this site to that in order to make up for the unaccounted for missiles/biological/chemical/weapon/materials/equipment/etc, etc, etc so inspectors would believe the product was destroyed; we don't know where the unaccounted for things are".
Oh but Bush "misled" everyone, right?