Hillary's War Vote: She Knew - Then & Now
While many Americans are angry that Bush duped them into supporting this war, lawmakers have an oversight duty to question and challenge the Executive Branch on such grave issues as war. And that duty is triggered when the MSM publish credible data that contradict or undermine Bush's prewar claims.
Hillary needs to admit that her vote to authorize force in 2002 was not just a mistake but wrong because she should have voted "no" based on what she knew then.
1. Hillary's Reasons For Voting "Yes."
On October 11, 2002, the Senate voted to approve the Iraq war resolution. The day before, Hillary stated her reasons for a "yes" vote. In general, Hillary believed that Saddam was an imminent threat because he was rebuilding his WMD capacity and would not disarm, which was rendered more serious by the belief that Saddam had given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists.
Hillary discussed Saddam's history in terms of the Gulf War and prior UN inspections that he blocked in 1998. She also noted how intelligence reports from prior administrations showed that Saddam worked to "rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program." Hillary characterized these facts as "undisputed" and not in doubt. Hillary decided that the best course of action was unlimited UN inspections which could be enforced by military action, if required, and she opposed preemptive war. Notwithstanding that belief, she voted yes "with conviction."
In 2005, Hillary explained that she would not have voted yes "based on the information that we have today" because this information showed that Bush misled the country. There is no question that Bush should be held accountable for misleading and lying to the Congress and the nation.
However, lawmakers also need to be held accountable. Much of the information that proved that Bush misled the nation was available and reported by the MSM prior to Hillary voting "yes" and prior to commencement of war. Over the years, more and more details have been reported, but prior to war, nearly every claim by Bush was refuted. Indeed, as early as June 2003, Hillary stated that "the jury is still out as to whether or not that evidence merited my vote or anyone else's...." However, Hillary stated when she voted that she did not blindly accept Bush's conclusions, but carefully reviewed the information available and conducted her own assessment.
Hillary apparently did not consider the vast MSM reports of information leaked by government and administration officials who refuted most everything uttered by Bush. The following is only a sampling of the information that the MSM reported during 2 time periods. First, MSM reports published prior to the war vote on October 11, 2002 and second, the MSM reports published after the vote and prior to the start of war on March 19, 2003. Both sections focus on the concerns expressed by Hillary: WMDs, terrorists linked to Iraq and Bush misleading the country.
2. MSM Reports Published Prior To War Vote On October 11, 2002.
The Iraq WMD Threat
Bush claimed that an unprovoked Iraqi attack on the US by WMDs was so imminent that the "final proof - the smoking gun -could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." However, the next day the CIA Director informed Congress that Iraq was not likely to conduct attacks against the US with chemical or biological weapons unless the US attacked it.
Cheney claimed that Iraq might have nuclear weapons "fairly soon," but then a CIA report shot down that theory, concluding that "it could take Iraq until the last half of the decade to produce a nuclear weapon, unless it could acquire bomb-grade uranium or plutonium on the black market." This is what triggered Bush's claims about aluminum tubes and Niger yellowcake.
Bush categorically stated that the UN in 1998 dismantled nuclear weapons-related facilities but a high-ranking Iraqi nuclear engineer stated that Saddam ordered his nuclear program to continue in that same year. However, this WMD rebuilding theory was debunked by the disclosure that the engineer had retired from Iraq's nuclear program in 1991 and left Iraq in 1995.
Bush then argued that an IAEA report and satellite photos proved that Iraq had nuclear production facilities and thus could shortly have nuclear weapons. The UN quickly rejected both as not true. In addition, the "authoritative International Institute for Strategic Studies ... concluded in a report ...that 'Iraq does not possess facilities to produce fissile material in sufficient amounts for nuclear weapons' and that 'it would require several years and extensive foreign assistance to build such fissile material production facilities.'" Bush's claim was also contrary to a public report issued by the CIA that it would take at least 5 years to develop uranium for a nuclear warhead unless Iraq could obtain enriched uranium from abroad.
Bush definitively stated that Iraq not only had stockpiles but continued to develop "vast quantities of biological and chemical weapons." However, a "comprehensive British government report, based on its own intelligence agency findings, noted that most estimates were based on guesswork."
To prove Saddam was rebuilding WMDs, Bush officials claimed Iraq tried to buy "thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes" which Rice stated were only "suited for nuclear weapons programs." There was no evidence that these tubes even arrived in Iraq. In any event, Bush's claims were wiped out again. The majority view of the US intelligence community was that the tubes were for artillery rockets. Independent experts who had investigated Iraq's nuclear program after the Gulf War also rejected Bush's claim that tubes were for a nuclear program.
US military experts agreed with Bush that Iraq was constructing drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), but rejected Bush's claim that these drones could reach the US to disperse chemical or biological weapons because they had a maximum range of a few hundred miles and thus were no threat to the US. Moreover, "because Iraqi airspace is closely monitored by U.S. and British planes and radar systems, experts say, the slow-moving unmanned aerial vehicles would likely be shot down as soon as they crossed Iraq's borders. It's also unclear how the vehicles would reach the U.S. mainland -- the nearest point is Maine, almost 5, 500 miles away -- without being intercepted."
The Iraq Link To Terrorists
There was a good reason why "administration officials cautioned reporters against drawing tight links between Iraq and al Qaeda" after a speech by Bush citing all sorts of claimed links.
Bush claimed that there was a camp in Northern Iraq where Iraq was training al-Qaeda in "bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases." However, Bush decided to NOT pursue a covert strike because "whatever al-Qaida was up to was too rudimentary to pose a direct threat and was not worth risking American lives."
Bush claimed that terrorists were the "official guests of the Government," but a "senior US intelligence official said there was no evidence that Saddam had formally 'welcomed in or sheltered'" any terrorists in Iraq. Rather, the Iraq government actively hunted down any terrorists, keeping them "on the run."
US intelligence officials questioned Bush's claims of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. There was no evidence to substantiate the claim of a meeting or link between 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent. And, Rummy's claim that Iraq offered safe haven to bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was partially true. The offer was made years ago in 1998 after Clinton bombed training camps, and intelligence reports stated "bin Laden rejected the offer because he didn't want Hussein to control his group."
Reports Bush Manipulating Intelligence
The MSM reported that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence in order to make its case for war. Administration statements were based on "insubstantial" evidence, ambiguous intelligence data that led to subjective and "just plain wrong" interpretations by the administration and in some cases, "administration statements appear to run directly counter to assessments made by intelligence agencies."
It was intelligence officials and diplomats in the Bush administration who charged that hawks had exaggerated the evidence. Moreover, the Bush cabal pressured officials in the CIA, FBI and energy department to slant reports to support Bush's claims.
For example, Bush cited an IAEA report for his theory that Iraq could have a nuke in 6 months, saying "I don't know what more evidence we need." The IAEA immediately rejected Bush's account as false. In reality, the 1998 IAEA report concluded that Iraq had been 6-24 months away from developing nuclear capability before the 1991 Gulf War and the subsequent UN weapons inspections, which had destroyed most of Iraq's nuclear infrastructure. The White House finally admitted "that the 1998 report did not say what Bush claimed. 'What happened was, we formed our own conclusions based on the report.'" Bush also cited a satellite photograph as evidence Iraq was developing WMDs, claiming the photo showed new nuclear weapon construction sites, and implying it was UN intelligence to bolster his claim. The UN rejected the claims as false, saying the White House had misinterpreted the photo, which "was not U.N. intelligence imaging but simply a picture from a commercial satellite imaging company."
Even this small sampling of the news reported prior to the vote shows that it is disingenuous to claim that information showing that Bush's grounds for war were based on cherry-picked intelligence was not available until 2005. Over the years, more details emerged. But, when nearly every claim Bush uttered was shown not to be truthful, then lawmakers should be asking questions and holding hearings before sending our troops to war.
3. MSM Reports Published Oct 11, 2003 - March 19, 2003.
Congress is now considering voiding the October 2002 war resolution due to changed circumstances. So, what additional information did Congress obtain from the MSM after voting for the resolution but prior to the commencement of war that could have been grounds at least for Congressional inquiries into whether new information debunked or credibly questioned any of Bush's grounds for war?
The Iraq WMD Threat
The Bush cabal pushed the claims about tubes and Niger yellowcake in the run up to the vote. In December 2002, the IAEA publicly requested the evidence and documents for the Niger claim, but were refused. Bush repeated the charge in the 2003 SOTU. Eight days later, Powell refused to use the Niger claim when he addressed the UN on evidence for war. Bush finally gave the Niger documents to the IAEA in February. The next month, the IAEA Director informed the "UN Security Council that the documents allegedly detailing uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are 'not authentic' and 'these specific allegations are unfounded.'" Two days later, Powell acknowledged that the Niger documents may be false.
Chemical Storage Bunkers
Powell claimed that satellite imagery of ammo storage bunkers constituted evidence that the bunkers were used to store chemical weapons prior to inspections. However, these bunkers had been inspected by the UN team, which used "sniffers" to detect the "past presence of chemical and biological weapons," but the UN inspectors did not find anything suspicious.
Mobile Bio-Weapons Labs
Powell referred to 18 mobile biological weapons labs, but UN inspections examined the trucks and concluded they were mobile food-testing labs used by food quality inspectors. The UN inspectors did not find evidence of mobile biological weapons laboratories.
Tons Of Chemical Agents
Powell cited 100-400 tons of chemical agents supplied by the US in the 1980s. While Iraq did not have proper documentation to support its claim of destruction, these agents were made in the 1980s and would be degraded from age.
The Iraq Link To Terrorists
Additional evidence revealed more details showing that the Bush/Powell claim of a chemical and poison factory at the Ansar al-Islam terrorist camp in northern Iraq was simply false. Powell claimed at the UN that this camp had "amassed stockpiles of ricin, cyanide and aflatoxin, and has vowed to use the substances against American troops if they invade Iraq." However, this is the camp that Bush rejected bombing because it did not present a threat. Indeed, after Powell's address, a reporter hopped over to this terrorist camp and found nothing more than "chopped tomatoes" in the kitchen.
Reports Bush Manipulating Intelligence
The public was concerned that UN inspectors had not found any smoking gun evidence of WMDs and thus no grounds for war. So, the British government cut and paste an "intelligence dossier" from the internet as proof that Iraq had a security apparatus designed to hide WMDs from weapons inspectors. Blair, Bush and Powell claimed the "dossier" contained "fresh intelligence" about Iraq's "huge infrastructure of deception and concealment." However, the government plagiarized "a Californian post-graduate thesis focused on evidence from the invasion of Kuwait 13 years ago." Even worse, the government included unfounded exaggerations to strengthen their case.
4. Did Hillary Suspend Judgment Due To 9/11?
When stating her reasons on the Senate floor for a "yes" vote in October 2002, Hillary also noted the impact of 9/11 on New Yorkers:
"And finally, on another personal note, I come to this decision from the perspective of a Senator from New York who has seen all too closely the consequences of last year's terrible attacks on our nation. In balancing the risks of action versus inaction, I think New Yorkers who have gone through the fires of hell may be more attuned to the risk of not acting. I know that I am."
Why did Hillary not scrutinize more carefully the evidence proffered by Bush, particularly given the number of MSM reports that either debunked or provided credible evidence to challenge Bush's case for war? It may be because 9/11 caused some lawmakers and the public to "suspend judgment" by giving "the president their power of attorney" in trust that Bush as President would exercise good judgment. In an interview in May 2004, Hillary explained:
PRESSMAN: What about the duty of the legislators to scrutinize, which is
built into our system? Did you--did you do a good job?
Sen. CLINTON: I don't think the Congress has been doing a good job in
general. And, of course, I include myself, I include all of us. But I think
there are both understandable reasons and some pretty well-grounded criticisms
that flow from that. On--on the--on the side of understanding, you know,
because of September 11th, a lot of people, not just in the Congress, but,
frankly, journalists, citizens--a lot of very thoughtful people basically gave
the president their power of attorney, if you will. They said, 'You know, Mr.
President, this has never happened to us before. We have one president, one
commander-in-chief at a time. We're going to trust you, we're going to give
you our power.' I voted to give the president authority in Afghanistan and in
Iraq because I think it was imperative that, you know, the president be
empowered on our behalf with respect to security.
The problem is that that--that trust, that willingness to suspend judgment
for a period of time that we and the public and the--and the media conveyed
to the president was not returned with the kind of good judgment and honest
disclosures that one would hope for from the administration.
After the shock of 9/11, it may be understandable if Hillary voted for the war because she had suspended her judgment in faith that Bush could be trusted to properly exercise his authority. On the one hand, it displays an emotion shared by many Americans who did suspend judgment for years in faith and belief that Bush as President would protect us in a lawful manner. This may explain why Bush prevailed any time he played his "war on terror" card when increasing executive powers and taking away our civil rights. Then, over the past year or two, some Americans were rudely awakened to the fact that Bush can not be trusted with any kind of "power of attorney" to act in a reasonable manner on our behalf. However, lawmakers who must lead during a time of crisis may not have the luxury of suspended judgment.
When reviewing MSM articles published prior to this vote and prior to war, the most striking consistency is that nearly every Bush claim was immediately debunked by government and administration officials leaking to the press. Even if no single report would have caused doubt sufficient to trigger oversight, a pattern quickly emerged that Bush was not being truthful, and this should have called into question any claim or evidence proffered by this administration. Hillary is not the only lawmaker who may have ignored the data that government officials leaked to the MSM. But, as a presidential candidate, she needs to explain why MSM reports did not trigger Congressional oversight before voting "yes" and before letting this country proceed to war.
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