- The Washington Times - Friday, November 11, 2005

President Bush yesterday passed up the opportunity to deliver a typical Veterans Day speech in favor of a ringing defense of the bipartisan decision made by Congress and the president to remove Saddam Hussein from power. And Mr. Bush specifically did something he should have been doing for the past two years — responding to the Bush critics and political opportunists of all stripes when they made the slanderous assertions that Mr. Bush “lied” about the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking to a gathering of veterans in Tobyhanna, Pa., the president noted that when he decided to oust Saddam, “more than 100 Democrats in the House and Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.” Mr. Bush also quoted Sen. John Kerry’s explanation of his vote in favor of using force: “When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hand is a threat and a grave threat to our national security.”

Alluding to the fact that many in the current antiwar movement seek “to rewrite the history” of how the Iraq war began two years ago, Mr. Bush noted that the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee investigation which concluded last year found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgements regarding Iraqi weapons programs. The president also noted that intelligence agencies around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein’s capabilities, and the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions pointing to Iraqi WMD. The Robb-Silberman report on WMD intelligence, released in March, also found “no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community’s pre-war assessments of Iraq’s weapons programs.”

For the political left, however, it doesn’t seem to matter that other lawmakers who now suggest the administration misled the country into war like Sen. Jay Rockefeller previously cited Iraqi nuclear-weapons programs as a reason why Saddam Hussein was so dangerous. Mr. Rockefeller said on October 10, 2002, that there is “unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years.” Was Mr. Rockefeller lying, or was he merely duped by the nefarious Bush administration?

As both the Senate Intelligence Committee and Robb-Silberman reports make clear, the real problem wasn’t that Mr. Bush or other politicians lied; instead it was the abysmal quality of the intelligence which virtually every intelligence agency in the world had about Iraq. Instead of acknowledging that reality, Mr. Bush’s critics seem to have adopted the modern-day version of the slanderous anti-FDR charge made by right-wing isolationists like Clare Boothe Luce after Pearl Harbor: that Roosevelt was so bent on dragging the United States into war that he permitted the Japanese attack. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush’s reluctance to respond to the modern-day variation of this slur during the past two years has allowed the political hustlers plenty of opportunity to damage the war effort and his presidency.

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