fall, the White House released a national security strategy that called
for an end to the doctrines of deterrence and containment that have
been a hallmark of American foreign policy for more than half a century.
national security strategy is based upon pre-emptive war against those
who might threaten our security.
strategy of striking first against possible dangers is heavily reliant
upon interpretation of accurate and timely intelligence. If we are going
to hit first, based on perceived dangers, the perceptions had better
be accurate. If our intelligence is faulty, we may launch pre-emptive
wars against countries that do not pose a real threat against us. Or
we may overlook countries that do pose real threats to our security,
allowing us no chance to pursue diplomatic solutions to stop a crisis
before it escalates to war. In either case lives could be needlessly
lost. In other words, we had better be certain that we can discern the
imminent threats from the false alarms.
days ago [as of June 24], President Bush announced that he had initiated
a war to "disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world
from grave danger." The President told the world: "Our nation
enters this conflict reluctantly yet, our purpose is sure. The people
of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the
mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass
murder." [Address to the Nation, 3/19/03]
has since announced that major combat operations concluded on May 1.
He said: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle
of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." Since
then, the United States has been recognized by the international community
as the occupying power in Iraq. And yet, we have not found any evidence
that would confirm the officially stated reason that our country was
sent to war; namely, that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction constituted
a grave threat to the United States.
heard a lot about revisionist history from the White House of late in
answer to those who question whether there was a real threat from Iraq.
But, it is the President who appears to me to be intent on revising
history. There is an abundance of clear and unmistakable evidence that
the Administration sought to portray Iraq as a direct and deadly threat
to the American people. But there is a great difference between the
hand-picked intelligence that was presented by the Administration to
Congress and the American people when compared against what we have
actually discovered in Iraq. This Congress and the people who sent us
here are entitled to an explanation from the Administration.
28, 2003, President Bush said in his State of the Union Address: "The
British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant
quantities of uranium from Africa." [State of the Union, 1/28/03,
pg. 7] Yet, according to news reports, the CIA knew that this claim
was false as early as March 2002. In addition, the International Atomic
Energy Agency has since discredited this allegation.
5, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the United Nations Security
Council: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile
of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough
to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." [Remarks to UN Security Council,
2/5/03, pg. 12] The truth is, to date we have not found any of this
material, nor those thousands of rockets loaded with chemical weapons.
8, President Bush told the nation: "We have sources that tell us
that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use
chemical weapons – the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not
have." [Radio Address, 2/8/03] We are all relieved that such weapons
were not used, but it has not yet been explained why the Iraqi army
did not use them. Did the Iraqi army flee their positions before chemical
weapons could be used? If so, why were the weapons not left behind?
Or is it that the army was never issued chemical weapons? We need answers.
16, the Sunday before the war began, in an interview with Tim Russert,
Vice President Cheney said that Iraqis want "to get rid of Saddam
Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we
come to do that." He added, "...the vast majority of them
would turn [Saddam Hussein] in in a minute if, in fact, they thought
they could do so safely." [Meet the Press, 3/16/03, pg. 6] But
in fact, today Iraqi cities remain in disorder, our troops are under
attack, our occupation government lives and works in fortified compounds,
and we are still trying to determine the fate of the ousted, murderous
30, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, during the height of the war,
said of the search for weapons of mass destruction: "We know where
they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west,
south, and north somewhat." [This Week, 3/30/03, pg. 8] But Baghdad
fell to our troops on April 9, and Tikrit on April 14, and the intelligence
Secretary Rumsfeld spoke about has not led us to any weapons of mass
or not intelligence reports were bent, stretched, or massaged to make
Iraq look like an imminent threat to the United States, it is clear
that the Administration's rhetoric played upon the well-founded fear
of the American public about future acts of terrorism. But, upon close
examination, many of these statements have nothing to do with intelligence,
because they are at root just sound bites based on conjecture. They
are designed to prey on public fear.
of Osama bin Laden morphed into that of Saddam Hussein. President Bush
carefully blurred these images in his State of the Union Address. Listen
to this quote from his State of the Union Address: "Imagine those
19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans – this time armed by
Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped
into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known."
[State of the Union, 1/28/03, pg 7] Judging by this speech, not only
is the President confusing al Qaeda and Iraq, but he also appears to
give a vote of no-confidence to our homeland security efforts. Isn't
the White House, the brains behind the Department of Homeland Security?
Isn't the Administration supposed to be stopping those vials, canisters,
and crates from entering our country, rather than trying to scare our
fellow citizens half to death about them?
did the Administration warn about more hijackers carrying deadly chemicals,
the White House even went so far as to suggest that the time it would
take for U.N. inspectors to find solid, 'smoking gun' evidence of Saddam's
illegal weapons would put the U.S. at greater risk of a nuclear attack
from Iraq. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice was quoted as saying
on September 9, 2002, by the Los Angeles Times, "We don't
want the 'smoking gun' to be a mushroom cloud." [Los Angeles
Times, "Threat by Iraq Grows, U.S. Says," 9/9/02] Talk
about hype! Mushroom clouds? Where is the evidence for this? There isn't
26, 2002, just two weeks before Congress voted on a resolution to allow
the President to invade Iraq, and six weeks before the mid-term elections,
President Bush himself built the case that Iraq was plotting to attack
the United States. After meeting with members of Congress on that date,
the President said: "The danger to our country is grave. The danger
to our country is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and
chemical weapons.... The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with
fissile material, could build one within a year."
are the President's words. He said that Saddam Hussein is "seeking
a nuclear bomb." Have we found any evidence to date of this chilling
Bush continued on that autumn day: "The dangers we face will only
worsen from month to month and from year to year. To ignore these threats
is to encourage them. And when they have fully materialized it may be
too late to protect ourselves and our friends and our allies. By then
the Iraqi dictator would have the means to terrorize and dominate the
region. Each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime
gives anthrax or VX – nerve gas – or some day a nuclear weapon to a
terrorist ally." [Rose Garden Remarks, 9/26/02]
seven weeks after declaring victory in the war against Iraq, we have
seen nary a shred of evidence to support his claims of grave dangers,
chemical weapons, links to al Qaeda, or nuclear weapons.
before a vote on a resolution that handed the President unprecedented
war powers, President Bush stepped up the scare tactics. On October
7, just four days before the October 11 vote in the Senate on the war
resolution, the President stated: "We know that Iraq and the al
Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy – the United States of
America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts
that go back a decade." President Bush continued: "We've learned
that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and
deadly gasses.... Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime
to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."
Bush also elaborated on claims of Iraq's nuclear program when he said:
"The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear
weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi
nuclear scientists, a group he calls his 'nuclear mujahideen' – his
nuclear holy warriors.... If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy,
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."
[Cincinnati Museum Center, 10/7/02, pg. 3-4]
the kind of pumped up intelligence and outrageous rhetoric that were
given to the American people to justify war with Iraq. This is the same
kind of hyped evidence that was given to Congress to sway its vote for
war on October 11, 2002.
some voices say, but why should we care? After all, the United States
won the war, didn't it? Saddam Hussein is no more; he is either dead
or on the run. What does it matter if reality does not reveal the same
grim picture that was so carefully painted before the war? So what if
the menacing characterizations that conjured up visions of mushroom
clouds and American cities threatened with deadly germs and chemicals
were overdone? So what?
and daughters who serve in uniform answered a call to duty. They were
sent to the hot sands of the Middle East to fight in a war that has
already cost the lives of 194 Americans, thousands of innocent civilians,
and unknown numbers of Iraqi soldiers. Our troops are still at risk.
Hardly a day goes by that there is not another attack on the troops
who are trying to restore order to a country teetering on the brink
of anarchy. When are they coming home?
told the American people that we were compelled to go to war to secure
our country from a grave threat. Are we any safer today than we were
on March 18, 2003? Our nation has been committed to rebuilding a country
ravaged by war and tyranny, and the cost of that task is being paid
in blood and treasure every day.
in the compelling national interest to examine what we were told about
the threat from Iraq. It is in the compelling national interest to know
if the intelligence was faulty. It is in the compelling national interest
to know if the intelligence was distorted.
must face this issue squarely. Congress should begin immediately an
investigation into the intelligence that was presented to the American
people about the pre-war estimates of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction
and the way in which that intelligence might have been misused. This
is no time for a timid Congress. We have a responsibility to act in
the national interest and protect the American people. We must get to
the bottom of this matter.
some timorous steps have been taken in the past few days to begin a
review of this intelligence – I must watch my terms carefully, for I
may be tempted to use the words "investigation" or "inquiry"
to describe this review, and those are terms which I am told are not
supposed to be used – the proposed measures appear to fall short of
what the situation requires. We are already shading our terms about
how to describe the proposed review of intelligence: cherry-picking
words to give the American people the impression that the government
is fully in control of the situation, and that there is no reason to
ask tough questions. This is the same problem that got us into this
controversy about slanted intelligence reports. Word games. Lots and
lots of word games.
this is no game. For the first time in our history, the United States
has gone to war because of intelligence reports claiming that a country
posed a threat to our nation. Congress should not be content to use
standard operating procedures to look into this extraordinary matter.
We should accept no substitute for a full, bipartisan investigation
by Congress into the issue of our pre-war intelligence on the threat
from Iraq and its use.
of such an investigation is not to play pre-election year politics,
nor is it to engage in what some might call "revisionist history."
Rather it is to get at the truth. The longer questions are allowed to
fester about what our intelligence knew about Iraq, and when they knew
it, the greater the risk that the people – the American people whom
we are elected to serve – will lose confidence in our government.
crisis of trust is not limited to the public. Many of my colleagues
were willing to trust the Administration and vote to authorize war against
Iraq. Many members of this body trusted so much that they gave the President
sweeping authority to commence war. As President Reagan famously said,
"Trust, but verify." Despite my opposition, the Senate voted
to blindly trust the President with unprecedented power to declare war.
While the reconstruction continues, so do the questions, and it is time
served the people of West Virginia in Congress for half a century. I
have witnessed deceit and scandal, cover up and aftermath. I have seen
Presidents of both parties who once enjoyed great popularity among the
people leave office in disgrace because they misled the American people.
I say to this Administration: do not circle the wagons. Do not discourage
the seeking of truth in these matters.
people have questions that need to be answered about why we went to
war with Iraq. To attempt to deny the relevance of these questions is
to trivialize the people's trust.
of intelligence is secretive by necessity, but our government is open
by design. We must be straight with the American people. Congress has
the obligation to investigate the use of intelligence information by
the Administration, in the open, so that the American people can see
that those who exercise power, especially the awesome power of preemptive
war, must be held accountable. We must not go down the road of cover-up.
That is the road to ruin.