What is not legitimate — and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible — is the suggestion by some U. S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence.
Some of the most irresponsible comments have come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein. These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence materials. They are known to have a high opinion of their own analytical capabilities. (Laughter.) And they were free to reach their own judgments based upon the evidence. They concluded, as the President and I had concluded, and as the previous administration had concluded, that Saddam Hussein was a threat. Available intelligence indicated that the dictator of Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and this judgment was shared by the intelligence agencies of many other nations, according to the bipartisan Silberman-Robb Commission. All of us understood, as well, that for more than a decade, the U.N. Security Council had demanded that Saddam Hussein make a full accounting of his weapons programs. The burden of proof was entirely on the dictator of Iraq — not on the U.N. or the United States or anyone else. And he repeatedly refused to comply throughout the course of the decade.
For the President to have “purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence,” the President and a large number of people within the Administration would have had to have known that there were not, or probably were not, banned weapons in Iraq, and all of those people would have had to been willing to put their careers, and even possibly their freedom, on the line to service the President’s intended deception. This would include several cabinet secretaries and undersecretaries, the members of the National Security Council, the Director of Central Intelligence, the various deputy directors in the CIA and DIA, intelligence analysts, a group of people that would probably number over a hundred.
And that, of course, is just in our government. The leaders of the British government, the Spanish government, the Polish government, and dozens more, all would have been willing to put their careers (at the very least) on the line . . . to help George Bush attack Iraq.
Our liberal friends continually tell us that George Bush is absolutely hated abroad. As nearly as I can tell, if their argument that President Bush engaged in a deliberate deception to push the war in Iraq, he must be one of the most loved leaders in the world, that so many people in so many countries willingly put their futures on the line to help him.
And, of course, they all had to know that there was no escape of scrutiny, at the very least. If they were willing participants in a deliberate lie about the existence of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq, they had to have known that, upon invading Iraq, those weapons would not be found. And when not found, their actions and assessments would come under close examination.
Yet none of them, not a single one, came forward and said that President Bush and the American government were pressuring them to make knowingly false statements to push for the invasion. Even the French and German and Russian governments, all of which opposed the war, all of which tried to prevent the war, and all of which have sizable intelligence agencies of their own, never came out and said that the intelligence assessments were wrong.
What about President Bush, personally? If he knew that there were no banned weapons in Iraq, and we assume that all of the others who also knew this actually were willing to keep their mouths shut, Mr. Bush had to have known that, within a month or two, at the most, after the invasion, it would be very clear to everyone that no, there were no banned weapons in Iraq. The invasion began in March of 2003, a year and a half before the President’s reelection campaign. Why didn’t he wait, until September of 2004, to make his press for war? That way, he’d have gone into the 2004 elections with a hugely successful military campaign under his belt, but before the non-existence of the banned weapons could be demonstrated. The 2004 election was a solid victory for the President, but it was closer than he might have liked, and there was a solid possibility that he could have lost. Yet, with the example of his own father’s defeat by having his military victory come too far in advance of his reelection campaign obviously present, the current President Bush went ahead and started a war, under false pretenses according to the left, too far in advance of his own reelection.
The fact is that there were no banned weapons found in Iraq; that makes the Administration’s statements about the presence of WMD wrong. But for the left to say that they were a deliberate lie (meaning: making a statement that is known to be false), the left must be either invincibly stupid (to be unable to see that it is virtually impossible that so many people participated in a known lie, at the risk of their careers and freedom), amazingly credulous (to believe that so many people would risk their careers and freedom just to help George Bush), or deliberately lying themselves . . . and to themselves.
Nevertheless, like the Big Lie technique of the Nazis, the (deliberately?) false statements of the left, repeated time and time and time again, are having an effect. That’s why Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld noted yesterday that, “The battle is here in the United States.”
Well, I think that the time has come to vote on it! Representative John Murtha, (D-PA) proposed the following:
Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of American in Congress assembled, That:
Section 1. The deployment of United States Forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.
Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines shall be deployed in the region.
Section 3. The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.
That is, of course, stripped of several “whereases” that made the proposed resolution impossible for the GOP to allow to come to a vote. A .pdf file of the entire resolution can be found here. The Republicans proposed the following resolution:
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
The Democrats have made a lot of noise about the Mr. Murtha’s original resolution not having been brought forward. But the GOP version expressed only the “sense of the House,” (meaning: it was a vote without legal consequences) while Mr. Murtha’s original would have, in effect, repealed the congressional authorization for the use of force in Iraq, under the concurrent resolution provisions of The War Powers Act of 1973.
(Section 5, Â§ c) Notwithstanding subsection (b), at any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution.
The Republicans may have made a mistake on the resolution; by not having a vote on Mr. Murtha’s original (possibly with the offensive “whereases” stripped out), they gave the Democrats an opening to attack the vote as a sham. And that gave the Democrats a way out of having the political courage to actually cast the votes in support of their words. One might have thought that the Democrats would have welcomed the GOP substitute, given that it was a vote with no legal consequences, but that would have required the Democrats to think non-demagogically, and such may not be possible.
So, I suggest that the Republicans return Mr. Murtha’s proposed resolution to the floor, perhaps stripped of the offensive preambles, but with the legal implication intact, that the House of Representatives and the Senate, by concurrent resolution, hereby terminate the deployment of American forces in Iraq, under the War Powers Act of 1973. That would be a vote with teeth in it, and it would demonstrate for us, clearly, unmistakably, unambiguously, whether the Democrats actually had the courage to put their votes on the line to match their rhetoric.