Leslie Burg, Newton's Iraq Resolution
Bill Moyers, Restoring The Public Trust
Bill Moyers June 4, 2003
Howard Zinn at Spelman College
Bill Moyers May 15, 2005
Bill Moyers December 1, 2004
Sen Byrd Oct 17, 2003
Sen Byrd April 7, 2004
MP George Galloway Senate Testimony
MP George Galloway interview by Amy Goodman
Al Gore Nov 29 ,2003
Kennedy Oct 16, 2003
Kennedy Jan 14, 2004
Kennedy March 5, 2004
Kennedy: America's Future in Iraq
Mark Dayton Opposing Ms. Rice
Martin Luther King: Beyond Vietnam
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Howard Zinn at Spelman College
"AMERICA, IRAQ, AND PRESIDENTIAL LEADERSHIP"
Speech Delivered by Senator Edward M. Kennedy
To the Center for American Progress
At The Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Thank you General Nash for that generous introduction.
General Nash had an impressive career in the U.S. Army.
His experience and expertise in conflict prevention and post-war
reconstruction from his leadership in the Balkans has greatly assisted the
debate on post-war Iraq.
I'm grateful to him for his impressive public service,
and for joining us today.
I'd also like to thank Brian and Alma Hart and Sergeant
Peter Damon for coming today. The Hart's son, John, was killed in Iraq this
fall on patrol in an unarmored Humvee. Sergeant Damon lost both his arms
serving in Iraq. We honor their service and their sacrifice.
The enduring accomplishments of our nation's leaders are
those that are grounded in the fundamental values that gave birth to this
great country. As our Founders so eloquently stated in the preamble to our
Constitution, this nation was founded by "We the People... in Order to form
a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the
Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." Over the course of two
centuries, these ideals inspired and enabled thirteen tiny quarreling
colonies to transform themselves-not just into the most powerful nation on
earth, but also into the "last, best hope of earth." These ideals have been
uniquely honored by history and advanced by each new generation of
Americans, often through great sacrifice.
In these uncertain times, it is imperative that our
leaders hold true to those founding ideals and protect the fundamental trust
between the government and the people. Nowhere is this trust more important
than between the people and the President of the United States. As the
leader of our country and the voice of America to the world, our President
has the obligation to lead and speak with truth and integrity if this nation
is to continue to reap the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our
The citizens of our democracy have a fundamental right to
debate and even doubt the wisdom of a president's policies. And the citizens
of our democracy have a sacred obligation to sound the alarm and shed light
on the policies of an Administration that is leading this country to a
I believe that this Administration is indeed leading this
country to a perilous place. It has broken faith with the American people,
aided and abetted by a Congressional majority willing to pursue ideology at
any price, even the price of distorting the truth. On issue after issue,
they have moved brazenly to impose their agenda on America and on the world.
They have pursued their goals at the expense of urgent national and human
needs and at the expense of the truth. America deserves better.
The Administration and the majority in Congress have put
the state of our union at risk, and they do not deserve another term in the
White House or in control of Congress.
I do not make these statements lightly. I make them as an
American deeply concerned about the future of the Republic if the extremist
policies of this Administration continue.
By far the most extreme and most dire example of this
Administration's reckless pursuit of its single-minded ideology is in
foreign policy. In its arrogant disrespect for the United Nations and for
other peoples in other lands, this Administration and this Congress have
squandered the immense goodwill that other nations extended to our country
after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. And in the process, they made
America a lesser and a less respected land.
Nowhere is the danger to our country and to our founding
ideals more evident than in the decision to go to war in Iraq. Former
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has now revealed what many of us have long
suspected. Despite protestations to the contrary, the President and his
senior aides began the march to war in Iraq in the earliest days of the
Administration, long before the terrorists struck this nation on 9/11.
The examination of the public record and of the
statements of President Bush and his aides reveals that the debate about
overthrowing Saddam began long before the beginning of this Administration.
Its roots began thirteen years ago, during the first Gulf War, when the
first President Bush decided not to push on to Baghdad and oust Saddam.
President Bush and his National Security Adviser Brent
Scowcroft explained the reason for that decision in their 1997 book, A World
Transformed. They wrote the following: "Trying to eliminate Saddam,
extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our
guideline about not changing objectives in midstream. . .and would have
incurred incalculable human and political costs. . .We would have been
forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would
instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies
pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable exit
strategy we could see, violating another of our principles. . . Had we gone
the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an
occupying power in a bitterly hostile land." Those words are eerily
descriptive of our current situation in Iraq.
During the first Gulf War, Paul Wolfowitz was a top
advisor to then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, and he disagreed strongly
with the decision by the first President Bush to stop the war after driving
Saddam out of Kuwait.
After that war ended, Wolfowitz convened a Pentagon
working group to make the case that regime change in Iraq could easily be
achieved by military force. The Wolfowitz group concluded that "U.S. forces
could win unilaterally or with the aid of a small group of a coalition of
forces within 54 days of mid to very high intensity combat."
Saddam's attempted assassination of President Bush during
a visit to Kuwait in 1993 added fuel to the debate.
After his tenure at the Pentagon, Wolfowitz became Dean
of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and continued
to criticize the decision not to end the reign of Saddam. In 1994 he wrote:
"With hindsight, it does seem like a mistake to have announced, even before
the war was over, that we would not go to Baghdad. . ."
Wolfowitz's resolve to oust Saddam was unwavering. In
1997, he wrote, "We will have to confront him sooner or later-and sooner
would be better. . . Unfortunately, at this point, only the substantial use
of military force could prove that the U.S. is serious and reverse the slow
collapse of the international coalition."
The following year, Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and 16
others-10 of whom are now serving in or officially advising the current Bush
Administration-wrote President Clinton, urging him to use military force to
remove Saddam. They said, "The only acceptable strategy is one that
eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use
weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to
undertake military action, as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long
term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now
needs to become the aim of American foreign policy."
That was 1998. President Clinton was in office, and
regime change in Iraq did become the policy of the Clinton
Administration-but not by war.
As soon as the current President Bush took office in
2001, he brought a group of conservatives with him, including Wolfowitz,
Rumsfeld, and others, who had been outspoken advocates for most of the
previous decade for the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein.
At first, President Bush was publicly silent on the
issue. But as Paul O'Neill has told us, the debate was alive and well.
I happen to know Paul O'Neill, and I have great respect
for him. I worked with him on key issues of job safety and health care when
he was at ALCOA in the 1990's. He's a person of great integrity,
intelligence, and vision, and he had impressive ideas for improving the
quality of health care in the Pittsburgh area. It is easy to understand why
he was so concerned by what he heard about Iraq in the Bush Administration.
In his "60 Minutes" interview last Sunday, O'Neill said
that overthrowing Saddam was on the agenda from Day 1 of the new
Administration. O'Neill said, "From the very beginning there was a
conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to
go...It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The
President was saying, "Go find me a way to do this."
The agenda was clear: find a rationale to end Saddam's
But there was resistance to military intervention by
those who felt that the existing sanctions on Iraq should be strengthened.
Saddam had been contained and his military capabilities had been degraded by
the Gulf War and years of U.N. sanctions and inspections. At a press
conference a month after the inauguration, Secretary of State Colin Powell
said: "We have kept him contained, kept him in his box." The next day,
Secretary Powell very clearly stated that Saddam "has not developed any
significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction..."
Then, on September 11th, 2001, terrorists attacked us and
everything changed. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld immediately began to link
Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda and the attacks. According to notes taken by an
aide to Rumsfeld on September 11th, the very day of the attacks, the
Secretary ordered the military to prepare a response to the attacks. The
notes quote Rumsfeld as saying that he wanted the best information fast, to
judge whether the information was good enough to hit Saddam and not just
Osama bin Laden. "Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all
up. Things related and not."
The advocates of war in Iraq desperately sought to make
the case that Saddam was linked to 9/11 and Al Qaeda, and that he was on the
verge of acquiring a nuclear capability. They created an Office of Special
Projects in the Pentagon to analyze the intelligence for war. They bypassed
the traditional screening process and put pressure on intelligence officers
to produce the desired intelligence and analysis.
As the world now knows, Saddam's connection to 9/11 was
false. Saddam was an evil dictator. But he was never close to having a
nuclear capability. The Administration has found no arsenals of chemical or
biological weapons. It has found no persuasive connection to Al Qaeda. All
this should have been clear. The Administration should not have looked at
the facts with ideological blinders and with a mindless dedication to the
results they wanted.
A recent report by the Carnegie Endowment concluded that
Administration officials systematically misrepresented the threat from
Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs. They also
concluded that the intelligence community was unduly influenced by the
policymakers' views and intimidating actions, such as Vice President
Cheney's repeated visits to CIA headquarters and demands by officials for
access to the raw intelligence from which the analysts were working. The
report also noted the unusual speed with which the National Intelligence
Estimate was written and the high number of dissents in what is designed to
be a consensus document.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, President Bush
himself made clear that his highest priority was finding Osama bin Laden. At
a press conference on September 17th, 2001, he said that he wanted bin Laden
"dead or alive." Three days later, in an address to a Joint Session of
Congress, President Bush demanded of the Taliban: "Deliver to the United
States authorities all the leaders of Al Qaeda who hide in your land." And
Congress cheered. On November 8th, the President told the country, "I have
called our military into action to hunt down the members of the Al Qaeda
organization who murdered innocent Americans." In doing that, he had the
full support of Congress and the nation-and rightly so.
Soon after the war began in Afghanistan, however, the
President started laying the groundwork in public to shift attention to
Iraq. In the Rose Garden on November 26th, he said: "Afghanistan is still
just the beginning."
Three days later, even before Hamid Karzai had been
approved as interim Afghan President, Vice President Cheney publicly began
to send signals about attacking Iraq. On November 29th, he said "I don't
think it takes a genius to figure out that this guy [Saddam Hussein] is
clearly ... a significant potential problem for the region, for the United
States, for everybody with interests in the area."
On December 12th, the Vice President elaborated further:
"If I were Saddam Hussein, I'd be thinking very carefully about the future,
and I'd be looking very closely to see what happened to the Taliban in
Prior to the terrorist attacks on September 11th,
President Bush's approval rating was only 50%. But with his necessary and
swift action in Afghanistan against the Taliban for harboring bin Laden and
Al Qaeda, his approval soared to 86%.
Soon, Karl Rove joined the public debate, and war with
Iraq became all but certain. At a meeting of the Republican National
Committee in Los Angeles on January 19th, 2002, Rove made clear that the war
on terrorism could be used politically, and that Republicans, as he put it,
could "go to the country on this issue."
Ten days later, the deal was all but sealed. In his State
of the Union Address, President Bush broadened his policy on Afghanistan to
other terrorist regimes. He unveiled the "Axis of Evil"-Iraq, Iran, and
North Korea. Those three words forged the lock-step linkage between the Bush
Administration's top political advisers and the Big Three of Cheney,
Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz. We lost our previous clear focus on the most
imminent threat to our national security-Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda
What did President Bush say about bin Laden in the State
of the Union Address that day? Nothing.
What did the President say about Al Qaeda? One fleeting
What did he say about the Taliban? Nothing.
Nothing about bin Laden. One fleeting mention of Al Qaeda.
Nothing about the Taliban in that State of the Union Address.
Barely four months had passed since the worst terrorist
atrocity in American history. Five bin Laden videotapes had been broadcast
since September 11th, including one that was aired after bin Laden escaped
at the battle of Tora Bora. President Bush devoted 12 paragraphs in his
State of the Union Address to Afghanistan, and 29 paragraphs to the global
war on terrorism. But he had nothing to say about Bin Laden and only one
single fleeting mention of Al Qaeda.
Why not more? Because of an extraordinary policy coup.
Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz-the Axis of War-had prevailed. The President
was changing the subject to Iraq.
In the months that followed, Administration officials
began to draw up the war plan and develop a plausible rationale for the war.
Richard Haass, Director of Policy Planning at the Department State during
this period, said recently that "the agenda was not whether Iraq, but how."
Haass said the actual decision to go to war had been made in July 2002. He
had questioned the wisdom of war with Iraq at that time, but National
Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice told him, "Essentially...that decision's
been made. Don't waste your breath."
It was Vice President Cheney who outlined to the country
the case against Iraq that he had undoubtedly been making to President Bush
all along. On August 26, 2002, in an address to the Veterans of Foreign
Wars, the Vice President argued against UN inspections in Iraq and announced
that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, meaning chemical and biological
weapons. He also said: "We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to
acquire nuclear weapons. Among other sources, we've gotten this from the
firsthand testimony of defectors, including Saddam's own son-in-law, who was
subsequently murdered at Saddam's direction. Many of us are convinced that
Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon." Those were Cheney's words.
It is now plain what was happening: The drumbeat for war
was sounding, and it drowned out those who believed that Iraq posed no
imminent threat. On August 29th, just two days after Cheney's speech,
President Bush signed off on the war plan.
On September 12th, the President addressed the United
Nations and said: "Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard, and
other chemical agents and has made several attempts to buy high-strength
aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon." He told the
United Nations that Iraq would be able to build a nuclear weapon "within a
year," if Saddam acquired nuclear material.
President Bush was focusing on Iraq and Saddam, even
though one year after the attack on our country, bin Laden was still nowhere
to be found. A sixth bin Laden tape had been aired, and news reports of the
time revealed new military threats in Afghanistan. U.S. and Afghan military
and intelligence officials were quoted as saying that Al Qaeda had
established two main bases inside Pakistan. An Afghan military intelligence
chief said: "Al Qaeda has regrouped, together with the Taliban, Kashmiri
militants, and other radical Islamic parties, and they are just waiting for
the command to start operations."
Despite the obvious Al Qaeda threat in Afghanistan, the
White House had now made Iraq our highest national security priority. The
steamroller of war was moving into high gear. The politics of the timing is
obvious. September 2002. The hotly contested 2002 election campaigns were
entering the home stretch. Control of Congress was clearly at stake.
Republicans were still furious over the conversion of Senator Jim Jeffords
that had cost them control of the Senate in 2001. Election politics
prevailed, but they should not have prevailed over foreign policy and
The decision on Iraq could have been announced earlier.
Why time it for September? As White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card
explained on September 7th, "From a marketing point of view, you don't
introduce new products in August."
That was the bottom line. War in Iraq was a war of
choice, not a war of necessity. It was a product they were methodically
rolling out. There was no imminent threat, no immediate national security
imperative, and no compelling reason for war.
In public, the Administration continued to deny that the
President had made the decision to actually go to war. But the election
timetable was clearly driving the marketing of the product. The
Administration insisted that Congress vote to authorize the war before it
adjourned for the November elections. Why? Because the debate in Congress
would distract attention from the troubled economy and the troubled effort
to capture bin Laden. The strategy was to focus on Iraq, and do so in a way
that would divide the Congress. And it worked.
To keep the pressure on, President Bush spoke in
Cincinnati on Iraq's nuclear weapons program, just three days before the
Congressional vote. He emphasized the ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. He
emphasized Saddam's access to weapons of mass destruction, especially
nuclear weapons. He said, "If the Iraqi regime is able to produce or steal
an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball,
it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to
happen, a terrible line would be crossed...Saddam Hussein would be in a
position to pass nuclear technology to terrorists."
The scare tactics worked. Congress voted to authorize the
use of force in October 2002. Republicans voted almost unanimously for war,
and kept control of the House in the election in November. Democrats were
deeply divided and lost their majority in the Senate. The Iraq card had been
played successfully. The White House now had control of both houses of
Congress as well.
As 2003 began, many in the military and foreign policy
communities urged against a rush to war. United Nations weapons inspectors
were in Iraq, searching for weapons of mass destruction. Saddam appeared to
be contained. There was no evidence that Iraq had been involved in the
attacks on September 11th. Many insisted that bin Laden and Al Qaeda and
North Korea were greater threats, but their concerns were dismissed out of
Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz insisted that Iraq was
the issue and that war against Iraq was the only option, with or without
international support. They convinced the President that the war would be
brief, that American forces would be welcomed as liberators, not occupiers,
and that ample intelligence was available to justify going to war.
The gross abuse of intelligence was on full display in
the President's State of Union address last January, when he spoke the now
infamous 16 words-"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein
recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The
President did not say that U.S. intelligence agencies agreed with this
assessment. He simply and deviously said, "the British government has
As we all now know, that allegation was false. It had
already been debunked a year earlier by the U.S. intelligence community. Yet
it was included in the President's State of the Union Address. Has any other
State of the Union Address ever been so disgraced by such blatant falsehood?
In March 2003, on the basis, of a grossly exaggerated
threat and grossly inadequate post-war planning, and with little
international support, the United States invaded Iraq when we clearly should
not have done so.
Major combat operations ended five weeks later. Dressed
in a flight suit, the President flew out to an aircraft carrier and
proclaimed "Mission Accomplished." It was a nice image for the 2004
campaign, until the facts intruded. The mission was far from accomplished.
As the war dragged on and casualties mounted, the image on the aircraft
carrier was ridiculed. The Administration replaced it with a new image-the
President in Baghdad with cheering troops on Thanksgiving Day. Again, the
image-makers stumbled. This time, the image was of the President holding his
policy on Iraq-a turkey.
On a recent visit to Iraq, the writer, Lucian Truscott, a
1969 graduate of West Point, spoke with an Army colonel in Baghdad. In an
op-ed article in the New York Times last month, he wrote that Army officers
spoke of feeling that "every order they receive is delivered with next
November's election in mind, so there is little doubt at and near the top
about who is really being used for what over here."
There is little doubt as well that the Administration's
plan to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people by this summer-and the
pressure to hold elections in Afghanistan at that time-are intended to build
momentum for the November elections in this country as well.
Our troubles in foreign policy today are as clear as they
are self-made. America cannot force its vision of democracy on the Iraqi
people on our terms and on our election timetable.
We cannot simply walk away from the wreckage of a war we
never should have fought, so that President Bush can wage a political
campaign based on dubious boasts of success. Our overarching interest now is
in the creation of a new Iraqi government that has legitimacy in the eyes of
its own citizens, so that in the years ahead, the process of constructing
democratic institutions and creating a stable peace can be completed. The
date of Iraq's transition must not be determined by the date of U.S.
We all agree that the Iraqi people are safer with Saddam
behind bars. They no longer fear that he will ever return to power. But the
war in Iraq itself has not made America safer.
Saddam's evil regime was not an adequate justification
for war, and the Administration did not seriously try to make it one until
long after the war began and all the other plausible justifications had
proven false. The threat he posed was not imminent. The war has made America
more hated in the world, especially in the Islamic world. And it has made
our people more vulnerable to attacks both here and overseas.
By far the most serious consequence of the unjustified
and unnecessary war in Iraq is that it made the war on terrorism harder to
win. We knocked Al Qaeda down in the war in Afghanistan, but we let it
regroup by going to war in Iraq.
For nearly three weeks, our nation was recently on higher
terrorist alert again. And certain places will continue to be on high alert
for the foreseeable future. As Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said so
ominously in announcing the recent alert: "Al Qaeda's continued desire to
carry out attacks against our homeland are perhaps greater now than at any
point since September 11th."
Eleven times in the two years since 9/11, Al Qaeda
attacked Americans in other parts of the world and other innocent civilians.
War with Iraq has given Al Qaeda a new recruiting program for terrorists.
For each new group of terrorist recruits, the pool is growing of others
ready to support them and encourage them.
As another dangerous consequence of the war, our Army is
over-stretched, over-stressed, and over-extended. Nearly 3,500 of our
servicemen and women have been killed or wounded. By the end of 2004, eight
of our ten active Army divisions will have been deployed for at least a year
in the Middle East in support of Afghanistan or Iraq. The Army is offering
re-enlistment bonuses of $10,000 to soldiers in Iraq, but many are turning
the money down and turning a new tour of duty down. Members of the National
Guard and Reserve are being kept on active duty and away from their
families, jobs, and communities for over a year.
Al Qaeda and the Taliban fighters who support them are
stepping up their terrorist campaign in Afghanistan, launching more and more
attacks against military personnel and civilians alike. The warlords are
jeopardizing the stability of the country. They make their money from the
drug trade, which is now booming again. International humanitarian
assistance workers, once considered immune from violence, are now targets of
a new Afghan insurgency.
In all these ways, we are reaping the poison fruit of our
misguided and arrogant foreign policy. The Administration capitalized on the
fear created by 9/11 and put a spin on the intelligence and a spin on the
truth to justify a war that could well become one of the worst blunders in
more than two centuries of American foreign policy. We did not have to go to
war. Alternatives were working. War must be a last resort. And this war
never should have happened.
We all care deeply about national security. We all care
deeply about national defense. We take immense pride in the ability and
dedication of the men and women in our armed forces and in the Reserves and
the National Guard. The President should never have sent them in harm's way
in Iraq for ideological reasons and on a timetable based on the marketing of
a political product.
We know the high price we have also had to pay-in our
credibility with the international community-in the loss of life-in the
individual tragedies of loved ones left behind in communities here at
home-in the billions of dollars that should have been spent on jobs and
housing and health care and education and civil rights and the environment
and a dozen other clear priorities, and should not have been spent on a
misguided war in Iraq.
The Administration is breathtakingly arrogant. Its
leaders are convinced they know what is in America's interest, but they
refuse to debate it honestly. After repeatedly linking Saddam Hussein to Al
Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in his justification for war, the President now
admits there was no such link. Paul Wolfowitz admitted in an interview that
the Administration settled for "bureaucratic reasons" on weapons of mass
destruction because it was "the one reason everyone could agree on."
The Administration is vindictive and mean-spirited. When
Ambassador Joseph Wilson publicly challenged the Administration for wrongly
claiming that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger for its nuclear weapons
program, the Administration retaliated against his wife, potentially
endangering her life and her career.
President Bush and his advisers should have presented
their case honestly, so that Congress and the American people could have
engaged in the debate our democracy is owed, above all, on the issue of war
That is what democracy means, and it is the great
strength of the checks and balances under the Constitution that has served
us so well for so long.
President Bush said it all when a television reporter
asked him whether Saddam actually had weapons of mass destruction, or
whether there was only the possibility that he might acquire them. President
Bush answered, "So what's the difference?" The difference, Mr. President, is
whether you go to war or not.
No President of the United States should employ misguided
ideology and distortion of the truth to take the nation to war. In doing so,
the President broke the basic bond of trust between government and the
people. If Congress and the American people knew the whole truth, America
would never have gone to war.
To remain silent when we feel so strongly would be
irresponsible. It would betray the fundamental ideals for which our troops
are sacrificing their lives on battlefields half a world away. No President
who does that to this land we love deserves to be re-elected.
At our best, America is a great and generous country,
ever looking forward, ever seeking a better nation for our people and a
better world for peoples everywhere. I'm optimistic that these high ideals
will be respected and reaffirmed by the American people in November. The
election cannot come too soon.
Thank you very much.