One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician's objective. Election and power are.
In the matter of the interim report prepared by David Kay and the Iraq Survey Group on whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, opponents of the war and President Bush have been trying to make it say things it does not. In a Washington Post op-ed column (10/7/03), Secretary of State Colin Powell summarized Kay's case: ".two things are abundantly clear: Saddam Hussein's Iraq was in material breach of its United Nations obligations before the Security Council passed Resolution 1441 last November, and Iraq went further into breach after the resolution was passed."
Most of the critics who want to use Kay's report to defeat the president's reelection also ignore some of the report's key findings. Among them are these little gems:
- "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002."
- "The testimony we have obtained from Iraqi scientists and senior government officials" makes clear that "Saddam Hussein remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons."
A Wall Street Journal editorial (10/6/03) said that critics have been talking about the failure to discover "stockpiles" of WMD. "But the Stockpile Standard," notes the Journal, "wasn't anyone's measure in agreeing to 1441 . and what Mr. Kay has already found is . enough proof that Saddam was attempting to deceive the world one more time about his dangerous intentions."
If Powell, Kay and the Wall Street Journal aren't enough to persuade the skeptics, what about Democrats? These aren't today's Democrats, who question everything the administration does. These are the Democrats of just a few months ago who saw evil intent everywhere in Iraq. The Web page frontpagemag.com has conveniently chronicled the clear vision of some Democrats as recently as last December, before politics blinded them.
- "The threat of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction is real ." - Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), (12/8/02)
- "We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction." - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), (10/10/02)
- "In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members .. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons." - Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), (10/10/02)
My personal favorite comes from Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who now says the war was a "fraud." That's not what he said on Sept. 27, 2002: "We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons .."
So, which is it? Was Saddam Hussein obtaining weapons of mass destruction that could have brought violence and death to large numbers of people? Or did the Bush administration overstate the case for political reasons?
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), one of the president's harshest post-war critics, said: "I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in (Saddam Hussein's) hands is a real and grave threat to our security." (10/03/02)
The Democrats' patron saint, Bill Clinton, asserted: "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction." (2/4/98)
It appears some Democrats have developed amnesia as the next election gets closer. But how can they be right then and wrong now? They would have to be incompetent, liars or political opportunists. Or career politicians.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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