Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.
— Elizabeth Cady Stanton
At the debate last night, John Kerry, asked to give examples of the administration’s deceptiveness on the “war on terrorism,” said the following:
“Well, 45 minutes deployment of weapons of mass destruction, number one. Aerial vehicles to be able to deliver materials of mass destruction, number two. I mean, I — nuclear weapons, number three. I could run a long list of clear misleading, clear exaggeration….”
On Oct. 9, 2002 John Kerry participated in “a long list of clear misleading, clear exaggerations,” to put it mildly. In his speech on the floor of the Senate just before voting to authorize Bush to invade Iraq, Kerry said:
“Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don’t even try? … According to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons … Iraq is developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents…”
Kerry became famous by asking senators “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” Kerry is now himself a senator.
Mr. Kerry: How do you ask someone to die for your support of the invasion of Iraq? How do you ask someone to die for this mistake? More than a “mistake,” how do you ask someone to die because you voted for an illegal , unconstitutional invasion? How do you ask Iraqis and Americans and others to die because you backed Bush?
How can you tell us that Bush was deceitful when you uttered many of the same falsehoods? How can you hold him accountable when you refuse to be held accountable yourself?
How can you be “electable” when you have many of the same skeletons in your closet as Bush? Do you really think the Republican machine won’t cite your speech over and over again — “Kerry claims that Bush lied when Kerry said many of the same things!” Fox will blare. Or, after you get the Democratic nomination, will you be quiet about Iraq, other than to talk about narrow issues like Halliburton — searching for something, anything, that Bush is guilty of that you are not? You will come off as petty. Bush will come off as the visionary.
How could you have been deceived by the administration on Iraq? You tout your leadership and foreign policy experience. How could the idea of a government lying systematically about a war not been considered seriously by you, given your experience in Vietnam? How could you not know that Bush was lying even before the invasion?
How do you explain your speech — lies in your speech that were known lies at the time.
The threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real, but it is not new. It has been with us since the end of the Persian Gulf War. It has been with us for the last four years — since Saddam Hussein kicked out U.N. weapons inspectors at the end of 1998. And frankly, after Operation Desert Fox failed to force Iraq to readmit inspectors, the United States – and the international community — erred in failing to find effective ways to compel Iraqi compliance, thus giving Saddam Hussein a free hand for four years to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction programs and allowing the world to lose focus on the threat of proliferation.
Can you count the lies here? If anything, Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction capability ended with the Gulf War, the exact opposite of what it claimed. Hussein did not “kick out U.N. weapons inspectors at the end of 1998.” They were withdrawn by UNSCOM head Richard Butler at the behest of the Clinton administration so it could launch the “Desert Fox” bombing campaign on the eve of Clinton’s scheduled impeachment vote. And “Desert Fox” did not “fail” to achieve Iraqi compliance, it succeeded in destroying UNSCOM. The U.S. government, well before Bush, clearly did not want a successful weapons inspection program. If Saddam could continue verifying his compliance, there would be more pressure to lift the draconian economic sanctions.
How can you talk of the administration rushing to war when you said:
But the Administration missed an opportunity two years ago and particularly a year ago after September 11th to address this issue. They regrettably, even clumsily, complicated their own case. The events of September 11 created a new understanding of the terrorist threat and the degree to which every nation is vulnerable. That understanding enabled the Administration to forge a broad and impressive coalition against terrorism. Had the Administration tried then to capitalize on this unity of spirit to build a coalition to disarm Iraq, we would not be debating this question now, just a few weeks before Congressional elections. The Administration’s decision to engage on this issue now, rather than a year ago or earlier, and the manner in which it engaged has politicized and complicated the national debate and raised questions about the credibility of its case.
So that’s what raises questions about the credibility of the administration — the fact that they leveraged the Iraq invasion for the mid-term elections, not their pattern of lies. Mr. Kerry, you actually fault the administration for not being hawkish enough, for not immediately “capitalizing on” 9-11. It is clear that you merely offer a different flavor of U.S. corporate global control than the Bush administration.
For over a decade, no politician ever lost political ground by attacking Saddam. But you could be the first.