2004 US Presidential Election
February 10, 2004
Kerry | Flashback: Kerry on Meet The Press 8/31/03
Last August seems like ages ago in this Democratic primary. Now that John Kerry is the presumptive Democratic nominee, and now that inaccuracies in intelligence estimates about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq are likely to be a major campaign issue, it’s worth revisiting what Kerry had to say to Tim Russert last August about the issue:
MR. RUSSERT: Senator, you voted for a resolution in October of 2002 authorizing the president to go to war in Iraq, but you’ve also been critical of his policy. . . . You went to New Hampshire in June, and Ron Fournier of the Associated Press was there and captured your comments, and let me share them with you and our viewers:
”‘He misled every one of us,’ Kerry said. ‘That’s one reason why I’m running.’ Kerry said Bush made his case for war based on at least two pieces of U.S. intelligence that now appear to be wrong, that Iraq sought nuclear material from Africa, and that Saddam’s regime had aerial weapons capable of attacking the United States with biological material. … ‘I will not let him off the hook throughout this campaign with respect to America’s credibility and credibility to me because, if he lied, he lied to me personally.’”
That doesn’t sound like someone who’s supporting the war in Iraq.
SEN. KERRY: Wrong. I supported the notion that we must as a country hold Saddam Hussein accountable for what he was doing. I supported it under President Clinton. In 1998, I suggested that President Clinton should go to the United Nations and raise the issue of Saddam Hussein’s non-compliance in the international arena. It would have been inconsistent for me, with President Bush, not to suggest that the security issue of 1998, after we knew we had been finding weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological, after we knew we had been destroying them, after we knew he still had more and we left the country without inspectors for four years, it would have been irresponsible not to stand up and say, “We need to hold him accountable.”
But I warned all along, Tim . . . [i]t was right to have a threat of force because it’s only the threat of force that got Hans Blix and the inspectors back in the country. The difference is, I would have planned, I would have been patient, I would have worked with the United Nations. I would have exhausted the remedies which were available to us. . . I’m running because I’m angry at the mismanagement of how we worked with our colleagues in the world and how we, in fact, have conducted the war. . . .
MR. RUSSERT: No regret over your vote?
SEN. KERRY: My regret is that the president of the United States didn’t do what he said he would do. Look, he told us that he was going to-that we needed to do this because they had the capacity to deploy weapons in 45 minutes. Not true now. He told us that he would go as a matter of last resort. Not true. He told us that he was going to build a real international coalition. Not true. They told us that there were unmanned vehicles that were able to fly. They even showed photographs. Not true. We haven’t found them anyway.
MR. RUSSERT: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on, Senator. . . . I went back and re-read your speech on the floor of the Senate October 9, and I want to share that with you and our viewers… because you repeated many of exactly the same claims and concerns that President Bush did.
SEN. KERRY: Correct.
MR. RUSSERT: Let’s watch.
(Videotape, October 9, 2002):
SEN. KERRY: Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating agents and is capable of quickly producing weaponizing of a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery on a range of vehicles, such as bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers and covert operatives which would bring them to the United States itself.
In addition, we know they are developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents.
According to the CIA’s report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that they are seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop them.
In the wake of September 11, who among us can say with any certainty to anybody that the weapons might not be used against our troops or against allies in the region? Who can say that this master of miscalculation will not develop a weapon of mass destruction even greater, a nuclear weapon?
MR. RUSSERT: Unmanned aerial vehicles…
SEN. KERRY: Sure.
MR. RUSSERT: …a nuclear threat. Those are exactly the things that you suggested in New Hampshire President Bush had lied to you about.
SEN. KERRY: That’s precisely the point. That is exactly the point I’m making. We were given this information by our intelligence community. Now, either it was stretched politically in the many visits of Dick Cheney to the CIA and the way in which they created a client relationship, but the information we were given, built on top of the seven and a half years of what we knew he was doing, completely justified the notion that you had to respond to give the president the right to put inspectors in. . . .
MR. RUSSERT: But you had access to the intelligence. You had access to the national intelligence estimate…
SEN. KERRY: Absolutely.
MR. RUSSERT: …which said the CIA had a low confidence in Saddam Hussein using weapons of mass destruction or transferring the terrorists. And the State Department, which is included in the national intelligence estimate, said there was not a compelling case, that he reconstituted his nuclear program.
SEN. KERRY: I didn’t base it on the nuclear, but the most important and compelling rationale were the lack of inspections and the non-compliance of Saddam Hussein. Even Hans Blix at the United Nations said he is not in compliance.
MR. RUSSERT: Were you misled by the intelligence agencies? Were you duped?
SEN. KERRY: No, we weren’t-I don’t know whether we were lied to, I don’t know whether they had the most colossal intelligence failure in history, I don’t know if the politics of the White House drove them to exaggerate. The bottom line is that we voted on the basis of information that was given to us, that has since then been proven to be incorrect. The bottom line is also, Tim, the president had an obligation to put the United States in the strongest position possible. I warned the president in January, “Mr. President, do not rush to war. Take the time to build the coalition. Take the time to exhaust the remedies.” And when he made the decision, I said, “I would have preferred that we took further time to do further diplomacy.” I think we should have.
MR. RUSSERT: What Democrats are saying is that there’s a difference in tone from John Kerry, different emphasis. Back last fall, when the war was popular, he was for it. Now that Howard Dean is surging, he’s a little bit more ambivalent. This is what Ron Brownstein reported you saying in January, telling a questioner, “If you don’t believe Saddam Hussein is a threat with nuclear weapons, then you shouldn’t vote for me.” . . .
SEN. KERRY: I don’t wish I’d been a naysayer from the start. I did the right thing. My vote was a vote for the security of the United States of America based in the information we were given. Tim, for seven and a half years, Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and we found them. We destroyed them. We knew they were there. We also knew there were some there that we hadn’t finished destroying, at which point the inspections stopped. For four years you had no inspections. During that time, we are told by our intelligence community and by the president the following things are happening: he’s reconstituting, he’s building. We were even shown photographs: “Here’s what’s happening in this building, Senator.”
MR. RUSSERT: Where are they?
SEN. KERRY: That’s exactly correct. Now, we may find them in the next months. I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that it was right to hold Saddam Hussein accountable, absolutely correct. And anybody who doesn’t believe it wasn’t correct ought to go dig around in those graves or even make a judgment about what would happen if you left Saddam Hussein alone to do this.
John Kerry, in his own words (emphasis added). Draw your own conclusions.
Posted by Baseball Crank at February 10, 2004 06:21 PM | TrackBack
A Classic and Typical response for
It will bite his tail soon.
Posted by: leaddog2 at February 10, 2004 07:55 PM