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January 18, 2004
Ted Kennedy Loses His Mind

Ted Kennedy writes a puzzling and dishonest column in today's Washington Post, ironically entitled, "A Dishonest War." The long-time Senator from Massachussets takes Paul O'Neill's recent memoirs and goes the full tinfoil-hat monty:

Of the many issues competing for attention in this new and defining year, one is of a unique order of magnitude: President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq. The facts demonstrate how dishonest that decision was. As former Treasury secretary Paul H. O'Neill recently confirmed, the debate over military action began as soon as President Bush took office. ... The events of Sept. 11, 2001, gave advocates of war the opening they needed. They tried immediately to tie Hussein to al Qaeda and the terrorist attacks. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld created an Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon to analyze the intelligence for war and bypass the traditional screening process. Vice President Cheney relied on intelligence from Iraqi exiles and put pressure on intelligence agencies to produce the desired result.

Kennedy takes the MoveOn and International ANSWER position that no one prior to the Bush Administration ever took the position that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs or felt that regime change was necessary to resolve the twelve-year Iraq crisis. However, Congress itself almost unanimously passed HR 4655, the Iraq Liberation Act, which made regime change in Iraq official government policy of the United States. Surely Kennedy should recall this: he voted for it! And in this resolution, Congress made twelve "findings" providing the rationale for this policy change, only one of which mentions the word "weapons", and only in the context of UNSCOM inspectors. The majority of these findings deal with the oppression of the Iraqi people and the failure of Saddam to meet his obligations under the cease-fire and UNSC resolutions.

Bill Clinton's own statement signing HR 4655 into law again only mentions "weapons" once but oppression and aggression multiple times:

Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998." This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers. ... My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership.

However, in today's statement, Kennedy tries to claim that the US policy was based on WMDs alone, and that Bush falsified intellegence to claim Saddam still had them. In fact, from 1998 through the debate on the Iraq war resolution in the fall of 2002, no one seriously doubted that Saddam had retained WMDs, as this Snopes entry demonstrates. If you read the part that gives full context to the quotes, they demonstrate that there was no disagreement on the question of WMDs; in 2002, the debate was what to do about them. To claim that Bush lied about them when the Bush administration used the same intelligence as the Clinton administration is less than honest in itself. Even Ted Kennedy had this to say in October 2002:

We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction. Our intelligence community is also deeply concerned about the acquisition of such weapons by Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria and other nations. But information from the intelligence community over the past six months does not point to Iraq as an imminent threat to the United States or a major proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

In public hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, CIA Director George Tenet described Iraq as a threat but not as a proliferator, saying that Saddam Hussein — and I quote — "is determined to thwart U.N. sanctions, press ahead with weapons of mass destruction, and resurrect the military force he had before the Gulf War." That is unacceptable, but it is also possible that it could be stopped short of war.

Ted Kennedy chooses now to put on his tinfoil hat and imagine vast conspiracies of neocons attempting to secretly take this country to war illegally, while at the same time telling everyone what they were going to do. He gives quote after quote of Adminstration officials telling everyone who would listen that they intended to resolve the 12-year quagmire that Iraq had become. Containment was failing, as the allies that Kennedy prizes so much had already begun covertly shipping arms to Iraq, arms which later were used against US, British, Spanish, and Polish soldiers. Bush and Blair went to the UN twice to get them to finally endorse the enforcement of 17 separate resolutions and they refused, led by the same nations whose weapons were found in Iraq after the war.

Kennedy excoriates Bush for implementing the foreign-policy objective Kennedy himself voted into law. Clearly, Kennedy voted for HR 4655 with no intention of doing anything to realize its intent other than throwing $97M at Iraqi ex-patriate groups and a whole lot of hot air into the political arena. If you need a demonstration why Democrats cannot be trusted with national security policy, just read this column.

UPDATE: Power Line dissects this piece from another perspective, and also see the discussion on this post at Blogs for Bush.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 18, 2004 10:49 AM

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» Kennedy Gets His Fisking from Jay
I was going to give a thorough Fisking to Ted Kennedy's ridiculous little rant in The Washington Post, but thankfully The Captain has already done so, and done so well. It's clear that Kennedy, who said in October of 2002... [Read More]

Tracked on January 18, 2004 3:42 PM

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