The two lions of the Senate are gone now, but their unfortunate legacy in national security policy remains. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) would have been shocked to see today’s Boston Globe which reports his GOP successor holds not only his Senate seat, but also his decades long claim to be the most popular politician in the Bay state.
Kennedy passed away last year and Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) died earlier today. They were both among the earliest and toughest critics of the Iraq War. Both agreed with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that the war should never have been fought “and can not be won.” The Nation devoted a special section to both Byrd and Kennedy’s Iraq viewpoint, and their constant criticism of the Bush administration regarding weapons of mass destruction. In 2004, Senator Byrd said:
With each passing day, the questions surrounding Iraq’s missing weapons of mass destruction take on added urgency. Where are the massive stockpiles of VX, mustard and other nerve agents that we were told Iraq was hoarding? Where are the thousands of liters of botulinim toxin? Wasn’t it the looming threat to America posed by these weapons that propelled the United States into war with Iraq? Isn’t this the reason American military personnel were called upon to risk their lives in combat?”
Did Democrats Believe WMD Existed in Iraq?
American troops left all Iraqi cities and towns in June of 2009 and significant force reductions have already occurred. President Obama had nothing to do with us. The Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq lays out the timetable for withdrawal, and this was signed by President Bush. It was Bush who set up the schedule and agreement to pull out of Iraq by 2011. The Obama Administration is just following Bush’s plan.
Another myth is that Democrats were skeptical about the Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The quotes below demonstrate many prominent Democrats were concerned about the existence of WMD stockpiles in Iraq prior to the U.S. liberation.
Please note that Senator John Kerry was a member of the Intelligence Committee in 1999-2000, and had access to the collected information on the WMD programs well in advance of the time when George W. Bush was President. The result is that Kerry was convinced the stockpiles existed.
- “One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.” – President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998
- “Iraq is a long way from USA but, what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.” – Madeline Albright, Feb. 18, 1998
- “We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.” – Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
- “Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.” – Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
- “I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force– if necessary– to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA), Oct. 9, 2002
- “Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation … And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction… So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real …” – Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA), Jan. 23, 2003
Bush Lied, People Died
Senators Byrd and Kennedy always maintained the Bush administration was lying about the existence of WMD in Iraq, and their anti-war allies claimed oil was the sole motivation behind the American intervention.
The failure to discover large WMD stockpiles permanently damaged Bush’s credibility. For over a decade prior to the American liberation, the United States and its allies believed Saddam Hussein had significant WMD stockpiles.
Before the war Bush asked CIA Director George Tenet if he was sure about the stockpiles and was told their existence was a “slam dunk.” Prior to the U.S. invasion no one could determine if these stockpiles had been destroyed because the Iraqi regime had kicked out the UN weapons inspectors four years earlier.
Significant stockpiles were not found, but they had clearly existed. The UN Report by weapons inspector Charles Duelfer concluded Iraq had the ability and infrastructure for creating new WMD stockpiles in about a week.
They intended to begin churning them out the minute the UN sanctions ended. The news media largely ignored the comments of Gen. James Clapper, the then Director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. He said satellite imagery showed that just before the war began, Iraq had transferred its WMD stockpile to Syria. Clapper was recently named by President Obama to be the Director of National Intelligence.
The media also ignored the remarks of Gen. Georges Sada, the deputy chief of Iraq’s Air Force during the Saddam Hussein era. He also said Saddam’s WMD had been transferred to Syria. Similar statements from Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s chief-of-staff, were reported but they were not given much credibility.
Furthermore, the media downplayed the 500 tons of yellow cake which was found, the equipment dispersed and hidden throughout the nation, and the Defense Department report which focused on the WMD issue after reviewing over 600,000 documents captured after the capitulation of Saddam’s regime.
The real weapon of mass destruction in Iraq was Saddam Hussein, and he was removed.
Many of the allies we wanted to help us bring down Saddam Hussein were already in a corrupt coalition to keep him in power. The UN found documents which showed the “guiding theme” of Saddam’s regime was to be able to start making WMD again “with as short a lead time as possible.”
Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions – which stopped him from acquiring weapons – were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved payments to every one of these individuals or groups.