Some Democrats are disingenuously trying to create the perception that the Bush Administration duped them into incorrectly believing Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Chief among these is Sen. Bob Graham (D.-Fla.), the former Intelligence chairman who is now running for President. “If they [WMD] are not found,” Graham told CNN on June 1, “. . . that will indicate a very serious intelligence failure, or the attempt to keep the American people in the dark by manipulating that intelligence information.” In the same interview, however, Graham conceded: “I have seen the same information, or at least most of the same information, that has been made available to the President and his advisers, and it made a compelling case.” In light of this contradictory argument—i.e. the intelligence was manipulated, but we still believe it—HUMAN EVENTS Assistant Editor David Freddoso went to Capitol Hill to ask Democrats who voted for the war this bottom-line question: Do they disavow their vote?
You voted for the Iraq war resolution last October on the basis that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Do you stand by that vote now? SEN. JOHN BREAUX (D.-LA.): Sure. Do you think that the administration misled you into voting for a war? BREAUX: No. I mean, we don’t know whether their intelligence was accurate enough, but we’re still looking for the weapons and I hope we find some. There was enough reason, I think, even in the absence of that, to justify the actions that occurred.
Given the way things have fallen out, would you stand by [the war] vote now? REP. NITA LOWEY (D.-N.Y.): Yes, I would. I would stand by that vote. You don’t think that President Bush has misled Congress into war on the supposition that— LOWEY: Well, we haven’t had a serious investigation on that issue, and I’ll await that. But I would have supported the President.
You voted for the war resolution in October partly based on the fact that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction—that was in the resolution. Do you still stand by that vote now? REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D.-MASS.): Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I just got back from Iraq. It’s a better world now because we’ve gotten rid of Saddam Hussein. It’s troubling that the intelligence that we received does not seem to be confirmed by what we’ve found so far. However, I think that the mass graves that have been found, and also what the previous inspectors found and removed, destroyed during the Clinton administration, indicated what they were capable of. And from Saddam’s own words, and what Tariq Aziz said, they felt that they retained the right to produce weapons of mass destruction if any other country in the world had that right. Even though you may have voted for the war anyway, do you feel at all that the Bush administration may have duped Congress into that fight? LYNCH: Well, there may have been some exaggeration on the part of some of our intelligence. But there was always the tacit admission that there’s guesswork at hand in this. And we were trying to guess whether the threat was immediate, long range, whether they were months away or years away from developing these WMD systems. So admittedly, there was guesswork going in. And those of us who felt that the danger was more immediate voted for action. And many of my colleagues, especially in the Democratic Party, felt that the danger was less immediate and that we could try to work the same program we’d been working for the last ten years a bit longer. There may be uncertainty, you’re saying, but you don’t suspect outright fraud—you know that some people actually are saying that. LYNCH: Yeah, I know that some people are saying that. I don’t agree. I think that a lot of people did their level best.
You voted in favor of the Iraq war resolution in October, which contains the statement that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Given the way things have shaken out since then, do you still stand by that vote? REP. MARTY MEEHAN (D.-MASS.): Well, sure I do. We have to wait and see. First of all, I think there should be hearings, investigations into whether intelligence information that we were presented was accurate, and I think we have to continue to attempt to locate the weapons of mass destruction. So obviously, if false intelligence is provided to the Congress, that’s a different matter. So I think we need a thorough investigation before we make assumptions, and also continue to look for the weapons.
You voted in favor of the Iraq war in October. Given what’s happened so far with regard to WMD, do you still stand by that vote today? REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D.-N.Y.): Yeah, but I have a lot of questions. I mean, the presence of weapons of mass destruction was a fundamental building block to my decision. And it’s in the resolution. WEINER: Sure was. And I’m one of those people that is beginning to be very anxious about the failure to find the stuff. Do you have suspicions that the administration duped Congress into fighting a war unnecessarily—even just suspicions of that? WEINER: Well, it never occurred to me when I was getting information from the administration that it might not have been on the level. I’m starting to wonder now.
You voted in favor of the Iraq war resolution in part because Iraq supposedly had weapons of mass destruction. Do you still stand by that vote today? REP. HAROLD FORD (D.-TENN.): The President made his case to the country, and I took him at his word. Naturally, I stand by my vote. I think the world is safer without [Hussein]. But I think some larger questions have been raised now about how we collect intelligence. I mean, this administration probably owes not only the American people, but the world to explain what happened and what we’re doing, and the steps we’re taking to ensure that our intelligence is better. Because even the message he gave that evening was clear [March 17, two days before the invasion]. We may eventually find all this stuff, but they made it sound as if those weapons were there, ready to be found. . . . Do you think he may have deliberately misled you and the Congress into war? FORD: I don’t think so. I have no reason to believe that the President did that or would do that. But I do think it’s fairly obvious that something was not done right.
You voted in favor of the Iraq war resolution in October. . . . Do you still stand by that vote today, or do believe you were deliberately misled by the administration into voting for the war? REP. ALBERT WYNN (D.-MD.): At this point I would say I’m very concerned regarding that issue. The information that was presented to me at the time was very persuasive and seemed very certain. So my thinking at this point is, either the entire public and Congress has been terribly misled, or—and even more importantly—there’s been a failure of intelligence. Because the question still remains, where are the weapons? I have no doubt that they existed. The question becomes, if they aren’t in Iraq now, where are they? . . . But I think it’s pretty evident that the administration overstated the intelligence. And it’s very unfortunate, because I, and I think that a lot of people, put partisan politics aside to try to do what we thought was in the best interests of the country based on the evidence that was presented to us. Now we hear that perhaps they only presented some of the evidence or the evidence most supportive of their side, rather than a true intelligence analysis, which is supposed to be objective. But I don’t think we got an objective intelligence analysis. But you think the WMD really do exist—it wasn’t just an outright lie? WYNN: Yeah, I think they do exist, because they have existed in the past. Blix said they existed, and we don’t know what happened to them. I have confidence that they exist, and I think we’ll find them, but I think what we’re seeing now is people questioning—rightly so—the evidence we were presented, because I don’t think the evidence is as conclusive as the administration led the public to think it was.