each passing day, the questions surrounding Iraq's missing weapons of
mass destruction take on added urgency. Where are the massive stockpiles
of VX, mustard, and other nerve agents that we were told Iraq was hoarding?
Where are the thousands of liters of botulinim toxin? Wasn't it the
looming threat to America posed by these weapons that propelled the
United States into war with Iraq? Isn't this the reason American military
personnel were called upon to risk their lives in combat?
17, in his final speech to the American people before ordering the invasion
of Iraq, President Bush took one last opportunity to bolster his case
for war. The centerpiece of his argument was the same message he brought
to the United Nations months before, and the same message he hammered
home at every opportunity in the intervening months, namely that Saddam
Hussein had failed to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and
thus presented an imminent danger to the American people. "Intelligence
gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq
regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons
ever devised," the President said.
two months after the fall of Baghdad, the United States has yet to find
any physical evidence of those lethal weapons. Could they be buried
underground or are they somehow camouflaged in plain sight? Were they
destroyed before the war? Have they been shipped out of the country?
Do they actually exist? The questions are mounting. What started weeks
ago as a restless murmur throughout Iraq has intensified into a worldwide
cacophony of confusion.
question that is nagging at many is this: How reliable were the claims
of this President and key members of his Administration that Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction posed a clear and imminent threat to the
United States, such a grave threat that immediate war was the only recourse?
who were assured before the war that weapons of mass destruction would
be found in Iraq, and many of whom voted to give this Administration
a sweeping grant of authority to wage war based upon those assurances,
have been placed in the uncomfortable position of wondering if they
were misled. The media is ratcheting up the demand for answers: Could
it be that the intelligence was wrong, or could it be that the facts
were manipulated? These are very serious and grave questions, and they
require immediate answers. We cannot and must not brush
such questions aside. We owe the people of this country an answer. Every
member of this body ought to be demanding answers.
I am encouraged
that the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees are planning
to investigate the credibility of the intelligence that was used to
build the case for war against Iraq. We need a thorough, open, gloves-off
investigation of this matter and we need it quickly. The credibility
of the President and his Administration hangs in the balance. We must
not trifle with the people's trust by foot-dragging.
me is that the President himself is not clamoring for an investigation.
It is his integrity that is on the line. It is his truthfulness that
is being questioned. It is his leadership that has come under scrutiny.
And yet he has raised no question, expressed no curiosity about the
strange turn of events in Iraq, expressed no anger at the possibility
that he might have been misled. How is it that the President, who was
so adamant about the dangers of WMD, has expressed no concern over the
where-abouts of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
instead of leading the charge to uncover the discrepancy between what
we were told before the war and what we have found or failed to find
since the war, the White House is circling the wagons and scoffing
at the notion that anyone in the Administration exaggerated the threat
interview with Polish television last week, President Bush noted that
two trailers were found in Iraq that U.S. intelligence officials believe
are mobile biological weapons production labs, although no trace of
chemical or biological material was found in the trailers. "We
found the weapons of mass destruction," the President was quoted
as saying. Certainly he cannot be satisfied with such meager evidence.
CIA, Director George Tenet released a terse statement the other day
defending the intelligence his agency provided on Iraq. "The integrity
of our process was maintained throughout and any suggestion to the contrary
is simply wrong," he said. How can he be so absolutely sure?
Pentagon, Doug Feith (FITHE), the Under Secretary of Defense for policy,
held a rare press conference this week to deny reports that a high level
intelligence cell in the Defense Department doctored data and pressured
the CIA to strengthen the case for war. "I know of no pressure.
I can't rule out what other people may have perceived. Who knows what
people perceive," he said. Is this Administration not at all concerned
about the perception of deception?
of State Powell, who presented the U.S. case against Iraq to the United
Nations last February, strenuously defended his presentation in an interview
this week and denied any erosion in the Administration's credibility.
"Everybody knows that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,"
he said. Should he not be more concerned than that about U.S. claims
before the United Nations?
yet...the questions continue to grow, and the doubts are beginning to
drown out the assurances. For every insistence from Washington that
the weapons of mass destruction case against Iraq is sound comes a counterpoint
from the field another dry hole, another dead end.
top Marine general in Iraq was recently quoted as saying, "It was
a surprise to me then, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have
not uncovered weapons, as you say, in some of the forward dispersal
sites. Again, believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to
virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and
Baghdad, but they're simply not there."
the American people to believe? What are we to think? Even though I
opposed the war against Iraq because I believe that the doctrine of
preemption is a flawed and dangerous instrument of foreign policy, I
did believe that Saddam Hussein possessed some chemical and biological
weapons capability. But I did not believe that he presented an imminent
threat to the United States as indeed he did not.
may eventually turn up. But my greater fear is that the belligerent
stance of the United States may have convinced Saddam Hussein to sell
or disperse his weapons to dark forces outside of Iraq. Shouldn't this
Administration be equally alarmed if they really believed that Saddam
had such dangerous capabilities?
Hussein is missing. Osama bin Laden is missing. Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction are missing. And the President's mild claims that we are
"on the look" do not comfort me. There ought to be an army
of UN inspectors combing the countryside in Iraq or searching for evidence
of disbursement of these weapons right now. Why are we waiting? Is there
fear of the unknown? Or fear of the truth?
and, indeed, the world were led into war with Iraq on the grounds that
Iraq, possessed weapons of mass destruction, and posed an imminent threat
to the United States and to the global community. As the President said
in his March 17 address to the nation, "The danger is clear: using
chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the
help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and
kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country,
or any other."
may still be valid, but I wonder how the war with Iraq has really mitigated
the threat from terrorists. As the recent attack in Saudi Arabia proved,
terrorism is alive and well and unaffected by the situation in Iraq.
the President seems oblivious to the controversy swirling about the
justification for the invasion of Iraq. Our nation's credibility before
the world is at stake. While his Administration digs in to defend the
status quo, Members of Congress are questioning the credibility of the
intelligence and the public case made by this Administration on which
the war with Iraq was based. Members of the media are openly challenging
whether America's intelligence agencies were simply wrong or were callously
manipulated. Vice President Cheney's numerous visits to the CIA are
being portrayed by some intelligence professionals as "pressure."
And the American people are wondering, once again, what is going on
in the dark shadows of Washington.
time that we had some answers. It is time that the Administration stepped
up its acts to reassure the American people that the horrific weapons
that they told us threatened the world's safety have not fallen into
terrorist hands. It is time that the President leveled with the American
people. It is time that we got to the bottom of this matter.
waged a costly war against Iraq. We have prevailed. But, we are still
losing American lives in that nation. And the troubled situation there
is far from settled. American troops will likely be needed there for
years. Billions of American tax dollars will continue to be needed to
rebuild. I only hope that we have not won the war only to lose the peace.
Until we have determined the fate of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction,
or determined that they, in fact, did not exist, we cannot rest, we
cannot claim victory.
weapons of mass destruction remain a mystery and a conundrum. What are
they, where are they, how dangerous are they? Or were they a manufactured
excuse by an Administration eager to seize a country? It is time to
answer these questions. It is time past time for the Administration
to level with the American people, and it is time for the President
to demand an accounting from his own Administration as to exactly how
our nation was led down such a twisted path to war.