lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 17 07:34:29 MDT 2003
Terry M. Neal: Talking Points
The Contortions of the Pro-War Democrats
By Terry M. Neal
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 16, 2003; 6:54 PM
Are some of the Democratic presidential candidates trying to have it
both ways on Iraq?
In recent days, Democrats have escalated their criticism of the Bush
administration's pre-war claims about the threat posed by Iraq. Four of
the major candidates who voted for the war resolution last year are now
raising serious questions about the administration's handling of the
Iraq situation, while maintaining that they did the right thing by
supporting the march to war.
Sens. John Kerry (Mass.), Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), and John Edwards
(N.C.) and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) have all stepped up their
rhetoric about either Bush's pre-war claims or his post-war planning or
Kerry, for instance, has been very forceful in criticizing the way the
administration has handled its post-war planning, saying that
essentially the administration had no plan for securing the peace after
the war ended.
"I hope they [the administration] have a strategy," Kerry told
Washington Post reporters and editors in a luncheon meeting last week.
"It seems to me that having been as intent as they obviously were on
taking down Saddam Hussein, they would have had a more extensive plan
for winning the peace and yeah, I'm actually, I'm really shocked and I
am angry about the sort of arrogant absence of any major international
effort to do what's really needed here to protect our troops and to
guarantee a victory."
Asked if he was still comfortable with his vote authorizing the
president to use force, Kerry did not hesitate.
"I have no question about the decision I made," he said. "Even Hans Blix
said they weren't in compliance."
Then there was Kerry again on CNN this morning, criticizing not only the
administration's post-war planning, but also raising questions about the
administration's handling of intelligence, particularly the claim that
Hussein was seeking the material for nuclear weapons in Africa.
When asked by Soledad O'Brien if he were "backtracking to some degree"
now, Kerry responded: "It's not just the 16 words, it's all of our
intelligence. I mean, we were told they had weapons that could be
deployed within 45 minutes. We were told they had unmanned vehicles that
had the ability to deliver. I mean, there are a series of things here.
Colin Powell came to the Foreign Relations Committee and told us, in
answer to one of my questions, the only reason to go to war were weapons
of mass destruction. So I voted to give the president the power to go to
the U.N. in order -- and to have the threat of force -- in order to hold
Saddam Hussein accountable."
So now Kerry is saying his vote was based on faulty intelligence from
the administration while still maintaining that he has absolutely no
question about the validity of his vote. But if the intelligence was
faulty, doesn't that call into question a vote based on it? Not in
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