Getting to the Bottom of the Administration's Case for War, Part II

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is to be congratulated for his leadership, courage and patriotism. Yesterday he forced the majority party to keep their word to the American people and ensured a true and honest investigation into the circumstances leading to war.

In the coming weeks it will be the responsibility of our network across the country to make sure that this investigation is as non-partisan and thorough as the 9/11 Commission. We began this effort in our memo released last week, "Getting to the Bottom of the Administration’s Case for War". At the very least, the committee must be equally divided between the two parties and have subpoena power to compel witnesses to testify.

My hope is that one of the first witnesses will be Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. We should give her the chance to improve upon her previous answers to why the administration’s claim that Iraq had been seeking nuclear materials was tossed out of a Presidential speech in October 2002 only to reappear three months later in the State of the Union. Her explanation, delivered on a remarkable September 2003 Meet the Press appearance, was little more than a vague deferral of responsibility, as she insisted that ╩║We did not know at the time, no one knew at the time in our circles—maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew—that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery. This despite the fact that concerns about the Niger uranium claims had caused them to be thrown out of a presidential speech three months earlier.

Clearly, there is more that must be said. Somebody definitely knew there were problems with the Niger claims. But they put it in the State of the Union speech anyway.

My friends, it is hard to reach any other conclusion but that the President and his team knowingly misled the American people – in the most vetted speech of the year - about the most important rationale for sending our nation to war in Iraq.

Washington is awash in scandal. Much of the leadership of the Republican Party and the conservative movement are involved in grave and serious criminal investigations. They involve all sorts of wrongful behavior – insider trading, traditional corruption, lying to Congress and the American people, spitefully outing a covert CIA operative. All of this seems almost too incredible to be true. But it is.

The reason is that this conservative movement, out of power for so long and unused to the responsibilities of governing, quickly succumbed to the temptations of near absolute power. The leaders of this movement, those running the government, became arrogant, believing they could say and do most anything and never be challenged. But as the intrepid Patrick Fitzgerald reminded us last week, we are a nation of laws. No one – not the President, not the Vice President, not the Secretary of State - is above the law. And it is long past time for the leaders of our government to explain to us how they got it so wrong in the run up to Iraq, so we can ensure that such a mistake is never made again.

My hope is that you will stand with NDN in the coming months to ensure we get to the bottom of the cause of war. Let us begin by thanking Harry Reid for his courage today.