Jewish World Review Jan. 13, 2004 / 19 Teves, 5764
Debra J. Saunders
Who lied, who forgot?
Clark lied. According to Monday's New York Times, in 2002, retired Gen. Wesley Clark said, "Certainly
there's a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda." Now that it is an anti-war tenet of faith that there was no
Iraq-al Qaeda connection, thinking Americans should be outraged at Clark's deliberate and cynical attempt to
mislead the American people.
Except, of course, that Clark was saying what he believed at the time and what he had reason to
Now that he's a Democratic candidate for president, Clark says he is convinced there is no Saddam
Hussein-Osama bin Laden nexus. So Clark accused President Bush of using the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as
an excuse to invade Iraq "a world-class bait-and-switch," Clark now calls it.
To believe that the White House deliberately misled the American public, you have to believe that the
Bush administration was making claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction situation that it had
manufactured that is, claims no one else was making. That's simply not true.
President Clinton believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Last week, Portuguese Prime
Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso disclosed that Clinton told him he believed Iraq had WMD in October.
Al Gore believed it. Last year, the former vice president told the Commonwealth Club of California, "We
know that (Saddam Hussein) has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his
The French believed it. Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin argued last year that "Iraq's weapons of
mass destruction programs are being largely blocked, even frozen."
The United Nations' chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, believed that Iraq failed to account for 6,500
chemical bombs that it claimed it had destroyed along with other WMD. He also suspected Iraq had created
weapons using the nerve agent VX.
Some things were known: Saddam Hussein used WMD in the 1980s, essentially expelled U.N.
weapons inspectors in 1998 and refused to comply with U.N. Resolution 1441, which warned of "serious
consequences" if Hussein did not disclose and destroy his weapons of mass destruction. As a result of
Hussein's refusal to comply with the inspection process, there was a lot that officials did not know and what
they didn't know rightly scared them.
Some peaceniks now are arguing just that that Hussein destroyed his WMD and, for some reason,
destroyed them on the sly so that he could not win an end to U.N. economic sanctions against Iraq.
As proof, some point to a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report which found that Iraq's
weapons programs did not pose "an immediate threat to the United States, to the region or to global security"
and that the intelligence community "misrepresented" Iraq's WMD threat.
Au contraire: While critics argue that Bush said Iraq presented an "immediate" or "imminent" threat,
Bush said the opposite in his 2003 State of the Union address: "Some have said we must not act until the
threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on
notice before they strike?"
My guess: Shortly after the cognoscenti decide there are absolutely no WMD in Iraq, some weapons will
surface. The Bush administration wrongly, we now know believed that Iraq was so WMD-rich that Blix and
his inspectors had to be incompetent not to stumble onto caches of weapons. Now, the Bush haters, when they
argue there are no such weapons, seem poised to make their own version of the same mistake. The truth will
be in the middle.
The "Bush-lied" crowd also points to Secretary of State Colin Powell's admission last week that there
was no "smoking gun" linking Osama bin Laden and Hussein. (As if the administration ever claimed it found a
smoking gun the Bush administration, in fact, argued that those who waited for a "smoking gun" were asking
for a mushroom cloud.)
Here is more of what Powell said: "I think the possibility of such connections did exist and it was prudent
to consider them at the time that we did."
Powell also reminded reporters how this war came to pass. "The president took the case to the
international community and said: For 12 years, you have been defied. What are you going to do now? It's time
for us to act."
Enter a real Hussein-al Qaeda nexus: U.N. inaction in Iraq (despite Hussein's flagrant violations of
Resolution 1441) plus U.S. failure to rout Hussein loyalists after winning the Persian Gulf War together
emboldened extremists to believe that they could act with impunity and without consequence.
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate