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Hillary Attempts To Explain Her Iraq War Vote

January 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.

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17 comments

  1. If one is exceedingly generous, one might give Clinton “credit” for being naive. Of course, that wouldn’t be a great Presidential trait.

    Basically, she’s claiming that it’s not her fault that things went wrong. Never mind that she ceded the Senate’s responsibility to be in charge of declaring war.


  2. Get over it Chen. We’re winning the war in Iraq (much to your consternation) and the world will be a much better place because of it.
    Even the nattering nabobs of negativity (your friends the congressional Democrats) have stopped harping about it. It’s time to move on, for your own mental heath.

    One question though- why do you and your Lefty friends hate the Iraqis so much that you don’t want them to have their freedom? What the hell did the Iraqis ever do to you? Classical Liberals, which you and your leftist buddies in no way are, would be screaming from the rooftops that Saddam must go and the Iraqi people should have their freedom. What ever happened to the Classical Liberal JFK types?


  3. DS, everyone wants Iraqis to be free, or for the more indifferent, doesn’t want to see them suffering under tyranny. However an illegal and also mismanaged war is not exactly the way to deal with the problem.
    After all, freedom and peace through bombs and war is a bit paradox, no?

    IMHO, the only people who would qualify as hating Iraqis so much are the let’s-invade-their-country-and-bust-the-place-up kind of people. Fortunately there aren’t too many of those.


  4. “IMHO, the only people who would qualify as hating Iraqis so much are the let’s-invade-their-country-and-bust-the-place-up kind of people. Fortunately there aren’t too many of those.”

    First of all, the number of “let’s-invade-their-country-and-bust-the-place-up kind of people” totals exactly ZERO. I don’t no anyone who wanted to ‘bust up’ the place…so I’m having a hard time understanding who you’re talking about. I do however know a lot of people who wanted to get rid of a tyrant. And just like Hitler and Mussolini before him, we knew there would be a considerable amount of pain in doing so.
    Second of all, this war was not illegal by any stretch of the imagination. There was a legal declaration of war with Iraq in 1990 that was NEVER ended. There was a cease fire agreement signed but it was never adhered to by Saddam. This was the reason why Clinton was able to legally lob cruise missiles into Iraq. 10 years and 17 UN resolutions, which were all ignored by Saddam did nothing to bring about a legal end to the declared war. If this war was truly illegal, the UN would have already brought charges against the President and the United States.

    “After all, freedom and peace through bombs and war is a bit paradox, no?”

    It worked for Germany and Japan, no?


  5. First of all, the number of “let’s-invade-their-country-and-bust-the-place-up kind of people” totals exactly ZERO. I don’t no anyone who wanted to ‘bust up’ the place…so I’m having a hard time understanding who you’re talking about.

    Let’s apply your logic to a simple truth: I know loads of Muslims, more than I can count. None of them are terrorists. Therefore, the number of Muslim terrorists totals exactly ZERO.

    Now, sit back and think about how that sounded to you.

    Second of all, this war was not illegal by any stretch of the imagination. (…) If this war was truly illegal, the UN would have already brought charges against the President and the United States.

    The reasons Bush went to war with Iraq were the non-existent weapons of mass destruction, and Saddam’s alleged affiliation with 9-11. We all know now that Saddam was not tied to 9-11, and months of inspections in Iraq yielded not even one single WMD. So the whole war was based on one single lie, and that is nowhere near legal.

    Furthermore, let’s take a closer look at the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002”:

    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 thereafter 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 joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

    Ad point (a)(1), it was evident that Iraq didn’t pose the threat against the US as the Bush administration’s propaganda wanted to sell to the world. The same applies for point (b)(1), where the national security of the US was NOT compromised if it weren’t for military intervention (Quite the opposite, as the Iraq War has certainly fueled even more terrorists to fight the US, domestic or international).

    And point (b)(2) also required Bush to prove that he is fighting a terrorist organization, more specifically one that has participated in any way with the attacks on 9-11. And we know now that Saddam was a dictator and a tyrant, but had nothing to do with the attacks.

    So while Bush had acted as if he was complying to these requirements set by the UN resolution, he just didn’t, which pretty much defenestrates the legality of the attack.

    It’s also rather laughable how Saddam’s tyranny is the regular excuse brought in order to cover up this major f***-up, in terms of: “Yeah well, we didn’t find any WMDs or evidence that Iraq was dangerous, but HELL he was evil, so it’s all good.”
    But no, it’s not good. The war was waged for the WRONG reasons, the whole country is in a huge mess, so many civilians have died for nothing and yet you act as if it’s all dandy. And this is where I address your last point:

    It worked for Germany and Japan, no?

    Tell that to the people who died completely unnecessarily, or who lost their families and/or homes in the bombings. Then they’ll understand why their whole existence was obliterated, right? Who would dare complain after all, if the aggressors say the end result is fine, from the comfort of their homes..


  6. Sage! How are ya buddy? I missed ya.

    One question though- why do you and your Lefty friends hate the Iraqis so much that you don’t want them to have their freedom? What the hell did the Iraqis ever do to you? Classical Liberals, which you and your leftist buddies in no way are, would be screaming from the rooftops that Saddam must go and the Iraqi people should have their freedom. What ever happened to the Classical Liberal JFK types?

    Well, that’s some pretty familiar spin. You don’t really want to have this same “ends justify the means” argument again, do you?


  7. While I supported the Iraq war at the beginning, and believe that we must continue to keep forces there now (which means I’m on your side, Desert Sage), let’s be honest about the fact that there are people who think we should “bust the place up.”

    There are people who still think that we should just nuke Iraq in order to end the war there. A lot of people casually dismiss civilian casualties. There are those who think we didn’t kill enough civilians. I can present quotes if necessary.

    There are many Iraqis who died because of what we did, who wouldn’t have died otherwise. Before we get too proud of our righteousness, I think that we have some moral issues of our own to clear up.


  8. “Well, that’s some pretty familiar spin. You don’t really want to have this same “ends justify the means” argument again, do you?”

    How do you and Sphinx do that quote thingy?

    You’re right, it’s pretty familiar spin. You, me and the Sphinx could go round and round ad nauseam about the reasons and legality of this war. No doubt it will be debated for decades, maybe centuries to come. Sphinx took the time to lay out his case and I respect that…but it’s nothing that I haven’t seen a thousand times. I can lay out my case the same way for the opposite viewpoint just as forcefully if I wanted to take the time to do so.
    None of it will change a thing. You and the Sphinx will still have your POV and I’ll have mine.

    The bottom line is that Gen. Petraeus and our troops have brought about an amazing change in Iraq and I for one could not be happier. The Iraqi people, for the first time in their lives, have a real chance at living in freedom. If you guys can’t see this as a good thing, then all I can say is that I feel sorry for you.
    I hold no anger or ill will toward the Left, who have tried to derail the Iraqi peoples chances to live free from the beginning. I wish the Left would get on board and support these people in the heart of the Middle East who for the first time can see that liberty is at their doorstep. But I know that would be asking too much. Anger and revenge rules the day for the Left. While we on the Right can move on and be happy about bringing even more people in the world to live in freedom, you on the Left will continue to seethe and whine and bitch and moan.
    Instead of being happy for the Iraqis, you have scores to settle. Well, so be it. I for one will be happy for the Iraqis. I will just look upon my Leftist friend with bewilderment, wondering just when they took that turn to be so, deciding to be bleak and angry….instead of happy and hopeful.


  9. Sage- this:

    <blockquote>Instead of being happy for the Iraqis, you have scores to settle. Well, so be it. I for one will be happy for the Iraqis. I will just look upon my Leftist friend with bewilderment, wondering just when they took that turn to be so, deciding to be bleak and angryâ?¦.instead of happy and hopeful.</blockquote>

    …creates this:

    Instead of being happy for the Iraqis, you have scores to settle. Well, so be it. I for one will be happy for the Iraqis. I will just look upon my Leftist friend with bewilderment, wondering just when they took that turn to be so, deciding to be bleak and angry….instead of happy and hopeful.

    And you’re going to have to give me a break here Sage. If I had told you before that war that we’d suffer tens of thousands of casualties, spend a trillion dollars, and stretch our military thin to the point of weakening our ability to respond to a real threat…all in the name of giving the Iraqis freedom and happiness, you’d have been for it? C’mon. I know that it certainly helps to look at the bright side, but let’s not start lying to ourselves, OK?


  10. And you’re going to have to give me a break here Sage. If I had told you before that war that we’d suffer tens of thousands of casualties, spend a trillion dollars, and stretch our military thin to the point of weakening our ability to respond to a real threat…all in the name of giving the Iraqis freedom and happiness, you’d have been for it? C’mon. I know that it certainly helps to look at the bright side, but let’s not start lying to ourselves, OK?

    Thanks for the quote advice.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I was against invading Iraq before we ever went. If I was a Senator I would have voted no.
    That being said, a majority of the Congress (from both sides of the isle) voted to send our troops into battle. There should be no second guessing after the fact…just 100% commitment. I would still say that I was against the war – before it started – but I’m 100% committed to winning it now that our leaders have have chosen to put forces in harms way.
    I can show you hundreds of statements by liberal Democrats saying that Saddam must be removed, many even say by force, dating back as early as Clinton’s first term. Dozens of Liberal Democrats wanted to forcefully remove Saddam, GWB actually did it…now he’s hated fr doing what these Liberals would only talk about but never had the balls to do.
    Well, that’s fine, GWB has resigned himself to being the fall guy. I don’t really think he cares too much (which really drives the Left crazy).

    As for me, I’m just happy that this war has turned around in our favor. I think it’s good for the country in the long run. You may disagree, and you probably do, but it’s ultimately for history to decide…not us.

    Good to see that you’re still blogging and doing what you like Chen.


  11. That being said, a majority of the Congress (from both sides of the isle) voted to send our troops into battle. There should be no second guessing after the fact…just 100% commitment.

    Well that brings us back on topic. Hilary’s making the distiction here that that was NOT what they voted to do. See where this is a problem?


  12. You’re right, it’s pretty familiar spin. You, me and the Sphinx could go round and round ad nauseam about the reasons and legality of this war. No doubt it will be debated for decades, maybe centuries to come. Sphinx took the time to lay out his case and I respect that…but it’s nothing that I haven’t seen a thousand times. I can lay out my case the same way for the opposite viewpoint just as forcefully if I wanted to take the time to do so.
    None of it will change a thing. You and the Sphinx will still have your POV and I’ll have mine.

    I’m glad we can agree to disagree. Rarely do people go for this option while debating online, so thanks for that 🙂


  13. I find it interesting she’s giving the same wishy-washy answer Kerry gave. It didn’t work out so well for him. That tells you the unpopularity of the war doesn’t change the strategy as much as people think. It’s still dangerous to be an anti-war Democrat, and Hillary doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of this issue come November.

    But she did vote for the war. And I don’t think it’s necessary to comb over her words at the time to come to that conclusion. The Kerry excuse she is giving doesn’t matter since she also voted against the Levin amendment which would have tied the president’s hands, forcing him to come back to the Congress for another resolution in case the inspections failed.


  14. FYI- Bush didn’t need Congressional approval to go to War. The War vote was no more than a token vote in the interests of Public Support.

    If Congress had unanimously voted against the War Vote Bush would have gone to War anyway.

    SYRACUSE, New York (CNN) — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton urged the Bush administration to use caution before any military action against Iraq.

    Describing her visit to U.S. soldiers injured in Afghanistan and recovering at Washington’s Walter Reed Medical Center, the Democratic New York senator asked President Bush to seek congressional approval before any attack on Iraq.

    “I have personal faces I can put on this debate, and I want to be sure that the president comes with his arguments and information and evidence and that we debate it, and then as a nation we’ll stand behind the decision,” she said while attending a state fair in upstate New York.

    Administration lawyers have concluded President Bush doesn’t need congressional approval to launch an attack on Iraq, although White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the president would consult Congress.

    Fleischer did not say whether consultation would include a congressional vote approving military action, as was done before the Gulf War in 1991.

    The former president said the U.S. military could easily win an attack on Iraq and displace its leader, Saddam Hussein, but he questioned whether it should be done.

    “Everybody knows that he’s been a thug, hasn’t been good for his people, hasn’t been good for the region. There’s no question people would be better off without him,” Clinton said, but warned: “You don’t do things just because you can.”

    While he said he has no doubt the Iraqi leader has stocks of biological and chemical weapons, and has used them on his own people, Clinton said there should be a “large-scale public debate” on whether to wage war

    http://archives.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/08/31/clinton.iraq/index.html


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