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Topics in the News: WMD


Ben Carson on War & Peace : Jan 24, 2012
Morality of war in Iraq was highly debatable

Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the enthusiasm for military intervention was tremendous. A war with well-defined & widely accepted goals that ends in victory will virtually always be seen as virtuous. The subsequent war with Iraq years later was much more controversial, especially after WMDs were not found. Whether the war in Iraq was moral or not is highly debatable. If you think stopping a brutal dictator from continuing to kill hundreds of thousands of his own people is worthwhile, then you are more likely to believe that we acted in a morally justifiable manner. If you are more concerned about the over 4,000 American lives that were lost and the hundreds of billions of dollars that were added to our national debt to be passed along to our children, then you're more likely to feel that our efforts were immoral.

The point here is that it is very difficult to determine our nation's morality based on its military conflicts. Then too one can legitimately ask the question, is any war moral?

Click for Ben Carson on other issues.   Source: America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson, p.104

Gary Johnson on War & Peace : May 27, 2011
Military surveillance should discover WMD before invasion

Q: You don't think we belong in Iraq, despite all the incidents?

A: What we don't argue about is the need for a strong national defense. We don't argue that at all. What we might argue about is the actual threat to our national security. When it came to Iraq, I would have argued at that time this isn't a threat to our national security. But if they do have weapons of mass destruction, we have the military surveillance capability to see that happen and we could go in and strike at that point.

Q: We knew he used weapons of mass destruction. We had images of dead children, Kurds in the north because chemical weapons were used. The way he was acting made everybody, including most Democrats, conclude that he had them.

A: Well, and under the umbrella of a no-fly zone, did this occur?

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Sean Hannity 2012 presidential interviews "Hannity Primary"

Gary Johnson on War & Peace : May 5, 2011
I opposed the Iraq War from the beginning

I was opposed to us going into Iraq from the beginning, I really thought that there was no threat to our national security, I really thought that if we went into Iraq we would find ourselves in a civil war to which there would be no end and I thought we had the military surveillance capability to see Iraq rollout any weapons of mass destruction and if they would have done that, we could have gone in and dealt with that. Afghanistan originally, I was completely supportive of that.
Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in South Carolina

Deval Patrick on War & Peace : Apr 12, 2011
Bush was careless in starting Iraq war

Kerry was given a perfect opportunity to distinguish himself from Bush in the summer of 2004 when a bipartisan commission issued a damning report on the run-up to the American invasion of Iraq. The weapons of mass destruction, used by Bush to justify his decision to go to war, did not exist. Both candidates were asked: Had you known then what you know now--that there were no weapons of mass destruction--would you have still invaded Iraq?

Bush immediately said yes. Kerry dawdled for 3 days, and many assumed he was conducting a poll to determine the best answer or the best way to frame it. I furiously shot off emails to Kerry's brother, a prominent Boston lawyer who was central to the campaign. I thought Kerry had a chance to present a different vision for using American military force while confronting the Bush administration for its carelessness in starting the war. Instead, he answered the question by agreeing with Bush. I was certain it was not what he believed.

Click for Deval Patrick on other issues.   Source: A Reason to Believe, by Gov. Deval Patrick, p.204-205

Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Oct 1, 2008
2002: Saddam gave aid to Al Qaeda terrorists

"Almost no one disagrees with these basic facts. That he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons."
--Sen. John Edwards, Sept. 12, 2002

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members."
--Sen. Hillary Clinton, Oct. 10, 2002

"Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There's no question about that."
--Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Nov. 17, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
--Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sept. 27, 2003

"If we wait for the danger to become clear, it could be too late."
--Sen. Joseph Biden, Sept. 4, 2002

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 28-29

Condoleezza Rice on War & Peace : Oct 1, 2008
We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud

"There is already a mountain of evidence that Saddam Husseion is gathering WMDs for the purpose of using them. And adding additional information is like adding a foot to Mount Everest."
--White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer, Sept. 6, 2002

"There's no deate in the world as to whether they have these weapons. We all know that. A trained ape knows that."
--Donald Rumsfeld, Sept. 13, 2002

"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
--Condoleezza Rice, Sept. 8, 2002

"Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof--the smoking gun--that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."
--George W. Bush, Oct. 7, 2002

"We know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."
--Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003

"I don't believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons."
--Donald Rumsfeld, May 14, 2003

Click for Condoleezza Rice on other issues.   Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 24-25

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 1, 2008
2002: Waiting to be sure of Saddam danger could be too late

"Almost no one disagrees with these basic facts. That he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons."
--Sen. John Edwards, Sept. 12, 2002

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members."
--Sen. Hillary Clinton, Oct. 10, 2002

"Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There's no question about that."
--Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Nov. 17, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
--Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sept. 27, 2003

"If we wait for the danger to become clear, it could be too late."
--Sen. Joseph Biden, Sept. 4, 2002

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 28-29

Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Jan 31, 2008
Iraq war vote was meant to be used as coercive diplomacy

Q: Why can’t you just say right now that vote was a mistake?

A: I did an enormous amount of investigation and due diligence to try to determine what if any threat could flow from the history of Saddam being both an owner of and a seeker of WMD. The ide of putting inspectors back in was a credible idea. I believe in coercive diplomacy. You try to figure out how to move bad actors in a direction that you prefer in order to avoid more dire consequences. If you took it on the face of it and if you took it on the basis of what we hoped would happen with the inspectors going in, that in and of itself was a policy that we’ve used before. We have used the threat of force to try to make somebody change their behavior. What no one could have fully appreciated is how obsessed Bush was with this particular mission. Unfortunately, I and others who warned at the time, let the inspectors finish their work do not wage a preemptive war, use diplomacy, were just talking to a brick wall.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday

Mike Huckabee on War & Peace : Jan 27, 2008
Saddam might have had WMD and got them to Syria before 2003

Q: At the last debate you said that Saddam Hussein may, in fact, have had weapons of mass destruction when the US invaded in 2003. You said, “Now, everybody can look back and say, ‘Oh, well, we didn’t find the weapons.’ It doesn’t mean they weren’t there Just because you didn’t find every Easter egg didn’t mean that it wasn’t planted.” Governor, the Iraq Survey Group looked around Iraq for months after the invasion, could find no evidence that Saddam Hussein had an active WMD program when he was ousted, nor any active stockpile of weapons. Do you have any evidence for that contention?

Q: Oh, I don’t have any evidence. But he was the one who announced openly that he did have weapons of mass destruction. My point was that, no, we didn’t find them. Did they get into Syria? Did they get into some remote area of Jordan? Did they go to some other place? We don’t know. They may not have existed. But simply saying, “We didn’t find them, so therefore they didn’t exist,” is a bit of an overreach.

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series

Mike Huckabee on War & Peace : Jan 24, 2008
Failing to find the WMDs doesn’t mean they weren’t there

Q: Was the war worth the price in blood & treasure?

A: I supported Bush when he led us into this. We owe him our thanks that he had the courage to recognize a potential of weapons of mass destruction, and whether than wait until we had another attack, he went and made sure that it wasn’t going to happen from Saddam Hussein. Everybody can say we didn’t find the weapons. It doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Just because you didn’t find every Easter egg didn’t mean that it wasn’t planted.

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida

Newt Gingrich on Homeland Security : Sep 1, 2007
Contain nuclear threats:China, Russia, Pakistan, North Korea

Every day, terrorists try to acquire weapons of mass destruction & weapons of mass murder. Iran & North Korea continue to develop their nuclear and other weapons programs. There is constant danger of a coup by radical Islamists in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

And the greatest danger for us in meeting this threat is the weakness of our intelligence services. We do not have any significant intelligence on the enemy’s plans, networks, & troop strength.

Second, we must contain powers that could threaten us, including China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, & Pakistan--all of which have weapons of mass destruction.

The greatest threat of rogue dictatorships, like Iran or North Korea, is that they will sell weapons of mass destruction. While North Korea--with nuclear, chemical, & biological weapons--is a big threat to South Korea & Japan, it is a very distant threat to the US. But an Iran or a North Korea willing to sell nuclear and biological weapons to terrorists is very dangerous to America.

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org, “Issues”

Mitt Romney on War & Peace : Jun 5, 2007
Right to invade Iraq, but not what came after

Q: Knowing everything you know right now, was it a mistake for us to invade Iraq?

A: Well, the question is kind of a non sequitur, if you will, or a null set. If Saddam had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they’d come in and they’d found that there were no WMD, had Saddam not violated UN resolutions, we wouldn’t be in the conflict we’re in. But he didn’t do those things. I supported the president’s decision based on what we knew at that time. I think we were under-prepared and under-planned for what came after we knocked down Saddam.

Q: But the question was, knowing what you know right now--not what you knew then, what you know right now--was it a mistake?

A: Well, I answered the question by saying it’s a non sequitur. It’s a hypothetical that I think is an unreasonable hypothetical. And the answer is, we did what we did; we did the right thing based on what we knew at that time. I think we made mistakes following the collapse of Saddam’s government.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College

Mitt Romney on War & Peace : Jun 3, 2007
FactCheck: Saddam didn’t refuse UN inspectors prior to war

Romney tried to pin the blame for the Iraq war on Saddam Hussein’s refusal to allow weapons inspections.
ROMNEY: If Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they’d come in and they’d found that there were no WMDs, had Saddam Hussein, therefore, not violated UN resolutions, we wouldn’t be in the conflict we’re in. But he didn’t do those things.
Romney is not alone in playing loose with the facts about weapons inspections. On at least 3 occasions in 2003, Pres. Bush has made the same claim. However, that the UN’s IAEA was not permitted to make inspections might come as a bit of a surprise to Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, who reported on March 17, 2003, that “late last night I was advised by the US government to pull out our inspectors from Baghdad.” Inspectors had been in Iraq since November 2002. They remained until the UN Secretary-General ordered their evacuation on March 17, just three days before US and British troops invaded Iraq.
Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: FactCheck on 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College

Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Jun 3, 2007
Iraq war wouldn’t have happened had the inspectors been sent

Q: Do you regret not reading the National Intelligence Estimate before the Iraq war vote? A: I feel like I was totally briefed, I knew all of the arguments that were being made by everyone from all directions. I thought the best way to find out who was right in the intelligence community was to send in the inspectors. If Bush had allowed the inspectors to finish the job they started, we would have known that Saddam Hussein did not have WMD and we would not have gone and invaded Iraq.
Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Apr 29, 2007
In 2002 Saddam posed a threat of purchasing a nuclear bomb

Q: In 2002 you said about Saddam: “He must be dislodged from his weapons or dislodged from power.”

A: I was correct about that. I also said at the time that I did not think he had weaponized his material, but he did have these stockpiles everywhere.

A: It turned out they didn’t, but everyone in the world thought he had them. The weapons inspectors said he had them. What he did with them, who knows?

Q: Gen. Zinni, when he heard the discussion about WMD that Saddam had, said, “I’ve never heard that” in any of the briefings he had as head of the Central Command. How could you as a US Senator be so wrong?

A: I wasn’t wrong. When asked about aluminum tubes, I said they’re for artillery. I don’t believe they’re for cascading.

Q: But you said Saddam was a threat.

A: He was a threat.

Q: In what way?

A: If Saddam was left unfettered, with sanctions lifted and billions in his coffers, then he had the ability to purchase a tactical nuclear weapon.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Apr 29, 2007
Vote for war allowed war only after all else failed

Q: Should you have sought out people who had a dissenting view on WMD?

A: Oh, I did. I called every intelligence agency before the Foreign Relations Committee, had them all sit there at once. I pointed out to all my colleagues who came that there was vast disagreement among the intelligence community.

Q: But despite the doubts you heard, you voted for the war.

A: I voted to give the president the authority to avoid a war. We had a more constrictive amendment, but he had 55 votes no matter what.

A: It allowed the president to go to war. It did not authorize him to go to it. You make it sound like it said, “Mr. President, go to war.” It said, “Mr President, don’t go to war.” It said “go to the United Nations. Try to get a deal. Get the inspectors back in. Tell us that that’s what you’re about to do. And, Mr. President, if all else fails, you have authority to use force.” That’s what it said.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series

Hillary Clinton on Principles & Values : Apr 26, 2007
Biggest mistakes: mishandling healthcare; believing in WMDs

Q What is the most significant political or professional mistake you have made in the past four years?

A: Well, I don’t have enough time to tell you all the mistakes I’ve made in the last many years. Certainly, the mistakes I made around health care were deeply troubling to me and interfered with our ability to get our message out. And, you know, believing the president when he said he would go to the United Nations and put inspectors into Iraq to determine whether they had WMD.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC

Barack Obama on Homeland Security : Mar 27, 2007
Protecting nuclear power plants is of utmost importance

We have utterly failed to deal with what may be one of the most significant potential terror threats to this country, and that is how we protect our chemical plants across the nation. These plants are stationary weapons of mass destruction spread across the country. Their security is light, their facilities are easily entered, and their contents are deadly.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p.160

Mike Huckabee on War & Peace : Jan 4, 2007
Make sure we finish the job in Iraq and finish it right

There has been plenty of second-guessing as to whether the US should have invaded Iraq. Regardless of where members of Congress now stand, in the days leading to our invasion of Iraq, there was a consensus from both Democrats & Republicans that Saddam di have weapons of mass destruction. There was a wholesale belief that he would unhesitatingly use them against the US if he had the opportunity, and would gladly assist terrorists who sought to repeat the horrific attacks of Sep. 11.

It may well be that the intelligence on which the decision was made was incomplete or flawed, but had we failed to topple Saddam’s empire and he had utilized WMDs against us, there would have been an even greater anger that we failed to act.

Now that we have gone to Iraq, one thing is certain--we need to make sure that we finish the job and finish it right. If we were to pull out prematurely and allow tyranny to be restored to that nation, the ripple effect throughout the Middle East and the world would be profound.

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p.134-136

Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Oct 22, 2006
Regrets Bush’s handling of war, but not her war vote

Q: You’ve been critical of Pres. Bush’s handling of the war. But you have not apologized for your vote to authorize that action.

CLINTON: I regret the way the president used the authority that Congress gave him. I thought it made sense to get inspector back into Iraq, and backing it up with coercive diplomacy. I was worried that there were residual WMD, and that Saddam could have done something quite irrational. We know now that this administration never intended to let the inspectors do their job and contain Saddam. I take responsibility for my vote. I regret that we’ve had strategic blunders and misjudgments. But if we knew then what we know now, there never would have been a vote, and there never would have been a war. This president chose that war and unfortunately, was ill-prepared for what was needed to be done to be successful.

Q: Do you regret voting that way at the time?

CLINTON: I regret the way he used it. I don’t believe in do-overs in life. I made the best judgment at the time.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: NY 2006 Senate Debate, moderated by Bill Ritter

Bobby Jindal on War & Peace : Nov 2, 2004
Prevent the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Fight terrorists wherever the hide, keeping them on the run with broad strategies to disrupt terrorist’s resources and operations. Prevent the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, as terrorist groups attempt to steal discarded or unprotected Cold War era weapons materials. Prevent countries such as North Korea and Iran from developing nuclear weapons and missile technologies. Continue to make the tracking of terrorist financing the center of America’s counterterrorism efforts.
Click for Bobby Jindal on other issues.   Source: 2004 House campaign website, BobbyJindal.com

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Oct 26, 2004
Saddam did not own and was not providing WMD to terrorists

It’s simply not true that Saddam was providing weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. This incursion into Iraq has resulted in a situation in which terrorist recruits are up. It’s been acknowledged, now, by the Pentagon, that the insurgents active in Iraq are far higher. Terrorist attacks worldwide are the highest in 20 years. The notion that somehow we’re less vulnerable in the US as a consequence of spending 200 billion dollars and sacrificing thousands of lives is simply not borne out by the facts
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: IL Senate Debate

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Oct 12, 2004
Terrorists are in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran

OBAMA: The Bush administration could not find a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. WMD are not found in Iraq. And so, it is absolutely true that we have a network of terrorists, but it takes a huge leap of logic to suddenly suggest that that means that we invade Iraq. Saudi Arabia has a whole bunch of terrorists, so have Syria and Iran, and all across the globe. To mount full-scale invasions as a consequence is a bad strategy. It makes more sense for us to focus on those terrorists who are active to try to roll them up where we have evidence that in fact these countries are being used as staging grounds that would potentially cause us eminent harm, and then we go in. The US has to reserve all military options in facing such an imminent threat- but we have to do it wisely.

KEYES: That’s the fallacy, because you did make an argument just then from the wisdom of hindsight, based on conclusions reached now which were not in Bush’s hands several months ago when he had to make this decision.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: [Xref Obama] IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network

Barack Obama on Homeland Security : Jul 12, 2004
Increase funding to decommission Russian nukes

More than a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia still has more nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons and enough nuclear material to produce 50,000 more. At the current rate of spending, it will take 13 years to secure all the potential bomb material from the old Soviet Republic. We should increase funding to do it in four years. We must also strengthen the existing Non-Proliferation Treaty, and lead in the efforts to prevent countries with the proven capability to build WMDs from doing so.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Press Release, “Renewal of American Leadership ”

Condoleezza Rice on War & Peace : Mar 28, 2004
War on terror is broad and hence includes Saddam

Q: The decision to go to war with Iraq: Given the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found and there’s no proof that Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11 or al Qaeda, the country is split about why we’re even in Iraq and if we’re fighting the right war.

A: The war on terrorism is a broad war, not a narrow war. And Iraq--the most dangerous regime in the world’s most dangerous region in the Middle East--is a big reason, or was, under Saddam Hussein a big reason for instability in the region, for threats to the US; he was firing at our aircraft practically every day as we tried to keep his forces under control; he had used weapons of mass destruction; he had the intent & was still developing the capability to do so. Saddam Hussein’s regime was very dangerous. And now that Iraq has been liberated and that Iraq has a chance to be a stable democracy, the world is a lot safer and the war on terrorism is well-served by the victory in Iraq.

Click for Condoleezza Rice on other issues.   Source: Interview on “60 Minutes” with Ed Bradley

Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Feb 25, 2004
2002 Iraq speech criticized both Saddam and U.N.

[On the 2002 Iraq war vote], she managed to sound vehemently anti Saddam without sounding pro Bush. In a floor speech on the measure to authorize the use of force in Iraq, Hillary managed quite a juggling act. She criticized the United Nations for puttin limits on inspection sites. She warned of Saddam Hussein’s ambitions for weapons of mass destruction. she concluded that going to war against Iraq ‘on the present facts is not a good option’ but voted to enable George W. Bush to lead the nation into war.
Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Madame Hillary, by R. Emmett Tyrell, p. 48-49

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