Warner and Biden Call Bush, Cheney Liars
Here's Senator Warner, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, flat-out disagreeing with the Bush administration's new Lie du Jour, that members of Congress had pre-war intelligence on Iraq identical to that held by the White House.
Tim Russert: But even back then, Senator Warner, and this is really important. This is what you said on August 27, 2002. "As I read and follow the debate, there appears to be a `gap' in the facts possessed by the Executive Branch and the facts possessed by the Legislative Branch."Think that will be enough to get Bush, Cheney, Scott McClellan and Ken Mehlman to stop spinning that crap?
The White House is now saying that you had every bit of intelligence that they had and yet, leading up to the war debate, you were saying there was a gap between what you knew and what the president knew.
Senator Warner: Well, I stand by that statement also. There are times in which I feel that we do not have the full knowledge, and as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, I have done my very best to assure that members of our committee do get the full intelligence. I also serve on the Intelligence Committee. And I feel very strongly that that gap should never exist. And apparently, at that time, I was of the opinion and I stand by the statement.
Minutes later, Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, responded to Dick Cheney's ongoing assertions that it is "dishonest and reprehensible" for Senators to suggest "... that the president of the United States or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on prewar intelligence."
Joe Biden: Let me ask you, Tim, a rhetorical question. He sat on your program in the fall before the war and said, "Saddam Hussein has reconstituted his nuclear weapons." I simultaneously said, "There is simply no evidence to sustain that. None. Zero. None." I said it then, I said it again, I say it now. I demand anyone put forward for me, classified or in any other form, any evidence to sustain the assertion the vice president of the United States made that Saddam Hussein said to Tim Russert he, Saddam, has reconstituted his nuclear weapons. That is a flat misrepresentation of the facts.And we should probably start keeping a roll call of this because Biden just became another U.S. Senator to admit his vote to trust Bush with the power to take the nation to war was wrong.
Russert: And, in fact, he did say exactly that March 16, 2003. Later that year, September 14, he said he "misspoke"...
Biden: Well, there it is.
Russert: ...that he meant nuclear capability.
Biden: Well, even nuclear capability, you--we did not have access to the same stuff that the president gets every morning, as John will acknowledge. We didn't realize that--how discredited the sources were that were being quoted to us about the reconstitution of a nuclear capability. There was no evidence of that. Look, you had phrases like "mushroom cloud," "much graver threat than grave threat," "mortal threat," "the threat is urgent," "grave and gathering danger," "urgent threat," "immediate threat," "serious and growing threat," "real threat," "significant threat." These are all phrases these guys used.
Russert: And yet it's important that we put things in historical context. Senator Biden, you were on the show in August of 2002 talking about Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. You concluded your statement by saying, "I think Saddam either has to be separated from his weapons or taken out of power." A month later you voted for a resolution authorizing just that. In hindsight, knowing everything you know now about the absence of weapons of mass destruction, was your vote a mistake?Finally, a sidebar question for Tim Russert: You're supposed to be a reporter, aren't you? Just like we all learned in journalism school, why don't you gather all of these quotes, and all of the facts you have accumulated in the last few months and do an investigative report on how the president and vice president have lied to our country?
Biden: It was a mistake. It was a mistake to assume the president would use the authority we gave him properly. And I brought along that whole quote. I knew you'd ask me this. I said, "We know he continues to attempt to gain access to additional capability, including nuclear capability. There's a real debate on how far off that is, whether it's a matter of years or it's a matter of less than that. We don't know enough now." That was the rest of my quote. So I never argued that there was an imminent threat. We gave the president the authority to unite the world to isolate Saddam. And the fact of the matter is, we went too soon. We went without sufficient force. And we went without a plan.
Russert: If there was a vote today, you would vote no?
Biden: I--with this president, absolutely I would vote no, based on the way in which they've handled it.
Now there's an idea! Wouldn't that be more gratifying than asking the same damn questions on the subject every freakin' Sunday?