In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing for Secretary of State-designee Condoleezza Rice last Tuesday, Sen. John Kerry resumed the same disingenuous critique of President Bush’s conduct of the Iraq War that helped turn voters against him in the November election.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.), meanwhile, put on a performance that, together with her unprecedented effort two weeks ago to challenge the counting of Ohio’s Electoral College votes, may vault her over Sen. Teddy Kennedy (D.-Mass.) into position as the Senate’s leading left-wing windbag.
The next day, the committee sent Rice’s nomination to the full Senate with a 16-2 vote recommending confirmation. Only Kerry and Boxer voted “no.”
Kerry claimed in the hearing, as he did during his campaign, that nations not currently aiding the U.S. effort in Iraq were champing at the bit to send in troops, and that the Bush Administration had turned them away. “Why have we rebuffed the efforts of others to be involved? Russians, Indians offered peackeepers,” he said.
Rice immediately set him straight: “Senator, I’ll check, but frankly I’m not aware of offers of Russian or Indian peacekeepers in Iraq, in fact quite the opposite, that there don’t seem to be people who are willing to put forces on the ground.”
Boxer directed an unfounded attack at Rice that she might as well have directed at Kerry. She attacked Rice for saying, while explaining the administration’s case for the Iraq War, that Saddam was “reconstituting his nuclear program.” At one point she framed her assault on Rice in personal terms. “I personally believe–this is my personal view–that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth.”
The truth is the Central Intelligence Agency gave Rice the same horrendously incorrect intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s alleged nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction programs that it gave the Senate. She drew the same conclusion from this intelligence that Kerry drew.
It wasn’t until July of last year that the investigative report of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee fully revealed the outrageous inaccuracy of CIA intelligence on Iraq. That report said: “The major judgments in the [National Intelligence Estimate], particularly that Iraq ‘is reconstituting its nuclear program,’ ‘has chemical weapons,’ ‘was developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents,’ and that ‘all key aspects–research & development (R&D), production, and weaponization–of Iraq’s offensive biological weapons (BW) program are active and that most elements are larger and more advanced than they were before the Gulf War,’ either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting provided to the Committee.”
Back on Oct. 9, 2002, speaking in the Senate about his vote to authorize the war, Kerry painted a more dramatic and dire picture of the threat than Rice ever did.
“Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery on a range of vehicles such as bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers, and covert operatives which could bring them to the United States homeland,” Kerry declared.
“Who can say that this master of miscalculation will not develop a weapon of mass destruction even greater–a nuclear weapon–then reinvade Kuwait, push the Kurds out, attack Israel, any number of scenarios to try to further his ambitions …,” said Kerry. “[C]an we afford to ignore the possibility that Saddam Hussein might accidentally, as well as purposely, allow those weapons to slide off to one group or other in the region where weapons are the currency of trade? How do we leave that to chance?”