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June 19, 2004
Clinton: Bush Had No Choice On Iraq

First, Vladimir Putin tells people that Saddam Hussein planned terror attacks in the US, and the Left scoffed. Now, Bill Clinton says that George Bush had no choice but to remove Saddam Hussein after 9/11, based on the intelligence reports both men saw as President:

Clinton, who was interviewed Thursday, said he did not believe that Bush went to war in Iraq over oil or for imperialist reasons but out of a genuine belief that large quantities of weapons of mass destruction remained unaccounted for.

Noting that Bush had to be "reeling" in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Clinton said Bush's first priority was to keep al Qaeda and other terrorist networks from obtaining "chemical and biological weapons or small amounts of fissile material."

"That's why I supported the Iraq thing. There was a lot of stuff unaccounted for," Clinton said in reference to Iraq and the fact that U.N. weapons inspectors left the country in 1998.

Clinton only disagrees with Bush on the timing of the attack. He would have preferred to wait until Hans Blix "finished his inspections," but the problem is that Blix spent over three months trying to confirm Iraqi cooperation under UNSC Resolution 1441 and reported that the Iraqis continued to evade their responsibilities. Blix wanted a longer, drawn-out inspection regime, the kind of program that had failed miserably in 1998 and earlier. After 9/11 the US could not afford to sit around for years while Saddam played cheat-and-retreat yet again.

However one cuts it, Clinton has reaffirmed what the 9/11 Commission tried to call into question -- that Saddam Hussein was a known threat against the US, no matter whether he played a part in the 9/11 attacks or not. Clinton's remarks, carried both in Time Magazine and in a 60 Minutes interview with Dan Rather (reported by the Washington Post), takes the air out of the radical left's contention that the Iraq war was based on lies or misleading statements by the Administration, an assertion made just two days ago by the Democratic nominee, John Kerry.

Now I suppose we'll hear from John Kerry that he was for the Iraq war before he was against it, and after that, too.

UPDATE: Two readers, one e-mail, and my father all said this morning that Clinton is undermining Kerry deliberately in order to leave the field clear for Hillary in '08. Normally I'd scoff at that, as political parties would much rather have the bird in the hand than perhaps have one after Bush. However, Bill has always been about Bill and not about the party (although he's rarely been about Hillary, for that matter), and combined with the timing of his book and publicity tour, it looks odd to me too.

Now maybe we can understand why Gore was so reluctant to have Clinton campaign for him.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 19, 2004 11:47 PM

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» Discussion Question Envy from The Resplendent Mango
Just when you thought you understood politics, Bill Clinton comes out and says that Bush had no choice but to attack Iraq after 9/11....Fair enough. But why on earth is he saying this? Captain Ed, along with his readers, postulates that "Clinton ... [Read More]

Tracked on June 20, 2004 11:27 AM

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