Hillary Attempts To Explain Her Iraq War VoteJanuary 13, 2008
Via MSNBC, her comments on Meet the Press (emphasis mine):
Clinton justified her 2002 Iraq war vote again on Meet the Press, saying that she thought “it was a vote to put inspectors back in” so Saddam Hussein could not go unchecked. She insisted that she was “told by the White House personally” as were others that that’s what the resolution was for and noted that Bush himself said publicly that the resolution was the best chance to avoid a confrontation.
Moderator Tim Russert pointed out that the title of the resolution was the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.”
Clinton responded saying, “We can have this Jesuitical argument about what exactly was meant. But when Chuck Hagel, who helped to draft the resolution said, ‘It was not a vote for war,’ What I was told directly by the White House in response to my question, ‘If you are given this authority, will you put the inspectors in and permit them to finish their job,’ I was told that’s exactly what we intended to do. ”
I find it both appalling and somewhat surreal that after close to 5 years, tens of thousands dead and hundreds of billions of dollars spent, there is still debate on what the hell Clinton and the rest of the enablers in Congress actually voted for back in October 2002. Maybe it’s just …sad. No doubt that some would call Clinton a liar here, and insist that she knew exactly what she was voting for, and that this type of response is just spin. In reality, her statement here was at least somewhat consistent with what she said back in 2002, before casting her vote:
“So it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interest of our nation. A vote for it is not a vote to rush to war. It is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of our president.”
Indeed it did. While Clinton is essentially framing this as an admission of making the mistake of trusting Bush (which, in the very least, is a sign of poor judgement), and implying that the resolution she signed was sound in its intent force inspectors back in, what’s overlooked here is the broader indiscretion (if you take her words at face value): Clinton and the rest of the “yeas” in Congress signed a bill that granted the president the sole authority to declare war on very ambiguous terms:
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.
(b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION.
In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon there after as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and
(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
I thought the “but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority” part was especially interesting.
Also see my post: Did Congress “Vote For The War”?
Update: From the NYT: In Defending War Vote, Clintons Contradict Record
In the original proposal Mr. Hagel had backed, force was authorized only to secure the destruction of Iraq’s unconventional weapons, not to enforce “all relevant” United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, which was the language in the version that ultimately passed.
It was the White House proposal, not Mr. Hagel’s, that Mrs. Clinton supported, explaining in an Oct. 10, 2002, speech on the Senate floor that it was time to tell Saddam Hussein that “this is your last chance — disarm or be disarmed.”
The repeated references to Mr. Hagel by the Clintons make it clear that they are trying to distance her from the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq, by associating her with a persistent critic of the war.