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Friday, September 05, 2003



Not So Easy To Find

The surprise entry of John Kerry into the Presidential race prompts us to look, once again, for his speech during the Senate debate last October authorizing the use of force against Iraq. Surprisingly, it does not seem to be at his website (or at least, I can't find it). However, it is available at Independents For Kerry.

I can only say, I am so relieved that George Bush did not give this speech, because I could never defend it. Let's note that Kerry spoke on October 9, 2002; the National Inteklligence Estimate (made famous due to the 16 Words) was available October 1).

Let the fun begin:

...With respect to Saddam Hussein and the threat he presents, we must ask ourselves a simple question: Why? Why is Saddam Hussein pursuing weapons that most nations have agreed to limit or give up? Why is Saddam Hussein guilty of breaking his own cease-fire agreement with the international community? Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don't even try, and responsible nations that have them attempt to limit their potential for disaster? Why did Saddam Hussein threaten and provoke? Why does he develop missiles that exceed allowable limits? Why did Saddam Hussein lie and deceive the inspection teams previously? Why did Saddam Hussein not account for all of the weapons of mass destruction which UNSCOM identified? Why is he seeking to develop unmanned airborne vehicles for delivery of biological agents?

...I believe the record of Saddam Hussein's ruthless, reckless breach of international values and standards of behavior which is at the core of the cease-fire agreement, with no reach, no stretch, is cause enough for the world community to hold him accountable by use of force, if necessary. The threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real, but as I said, it is not new. It has been with us since the end of that war, and particularly in the last 4 years we know after Operation Desert Fox failed to force him to reaccept them, that he has continued to build those weapons.

He has had a free hand for 4 years to reconstitute these weapons, allowing the world, during the interval, to lose the focus we had on weapons of mass destruction and the issue of proliferation.


We need to pause here - the next bit is almost incomprehensible, but strongly links Saddam to 9/11. Here we go:

Later in [1998], Congress enacted legislation declaring Iraq in material, unacceptable breach of its disarmament obligations and urging the President to take appropriate action to bring Iraq into compliance. In fact, had we done so, President Bush could well have taken his office, backed by our sense of urgency about holding Saddam Hussein accountable and, with an international United Nations, backed a multilateral stamp of approval record on a clear demand for the disarmament of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. We could have had that and we would not be here debating this today.

Come again?

But the administration missed an opportunity 2 years ago [Note - in October 2000, Clinton was President] and particularly a year ago after September 11. They regrettably, and even clumsily, complicated their own case. The events of September 11 created new understanding of the terrorist threat and the degree to which every nation is vulnerable. That understanding enabled the administration to form a broad and impressive coalition against terrorism. Had the administration tried then to capitalize on this unity of spirit to build a coalition to disarm Iraq, we would not be here in the pressing days before an election, late in this year, debating this now.

Ahh, I think he is saying that had we gone after Iraq immediately after 9/11, the world would have been with us. Of course, Rumsfeld has been criticized for asking about Iraq immediately after 9/11, so go figure.

...I have said publicly for years that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein pose a real and grave threat to our security and that of our allies in the Persian Gulf region. Saddam Hussein's record bears this out.

...It is clear that in the 4 years since the UNSCOM inspectors were forced out, Saddam Hussein has continued his quest for weapons of mass destruction. According to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of the 150 kilometer restriction imposed by the United Nations in the ceasefire resolution. Although Iraq's chemical weapons capability was reduced during the UNSCOM inspections, Iraq has maintained its chemical weapons effort over the last 4 years. Evidence suggests that it has begun renewed production of chemical warfare agents, probably including mustard gas, sarin, cyclosarin, and VX. Intelligence reports show that Iraq has invested more heavily in its biological weapons programs over the 4 years, with the result that all key aspects of this program--R&D, production and weaponization--are active. Most elements of the program are larger and more advanced than they were before the gulf war. 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. Since inspectors left, the Iraqi regime has energized its missile program, probably now consisting of a few dozen Scud-type missiles with ranges of 650 to 900 kilometers that could hit Israel, Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies in the region. In addition, Iraq is developing unmanned aerial vehicles UAVs, capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents, which could threaten Iraq's neighbors as well as American forces in the Persian Gulf.

Prior to the gulf war, Iraq had an advance nuclear weapons development program. Although UNSCOM and IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors learned much about Iraq's efforts in this area, Iraq has failed to provide complete information on all aspects of its program. Iraq has maintained its nuclear scientists and technicians as well as sufficient dual-use manufacturing capability to support a reconstituted nuclear weapons program. Iraqi defectors who once worked for Iraq's nuclear weapons establishment have reportedly told American officials that acquiring nuclear weapons is a top priority for Saddam Hussein's regime.

According to the CIA's report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop nuclear weapons. The more difficult question to answer is when Iraq could actually achieve this goal. That depends on is its ability to acquire weapons-grade fissile material. If Iraq could acquire this material from abroad, the CIA estimates that it could have a nuclear weapon within 1 year.

Absent a foreign supplier, it might be longer. There is no question that Saddam Hussein represents a threat. I have heard even my colleagues who oppose the President's resolution say we have to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. They also say we have to force the inspections. And to force the inspections, you have to be prepared to use force. So the issue is not over the question of whether or not the threat is real, or whether or not people agree there is a threat. It is over what means we will take, and when, in order to try to eliminate it.

...As bad as he is, Saddam Hussein, the dictator, is not the cause of war. Saddam Hussein sitting in Baghdad with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction is a different matter. In the wake of September 11, who among us can say, with any certainty, to anybody, that those weapons might not be used against our troops or against allies in the region? 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 to be the pan-Arab leader or simply to confront in the region, and once again miscalculate the response, to believe he is stronger because he has those weapons?

And while the administration has failed to provide any direct link between Iraq and the events of September 11, can 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 a region where weapons are the currency of trade? How do we leave that to chance?


Enough.




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