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July 09, 2004

Kerry on WMD's: A Smoking-Gun Which May Become a Mushroom Cloud

I've been wondering if there were any smoking-gun Kerry quote about WMD's. Finally, someone on Free Republic has done my homework for me.

This transcript from an August 2003 Meet the Press includes a transcript from Kerry's 2002 remarks about Saddam's WMD's. I've added my own emphasis in bold:

MR. RUSSERT: No regret over your vote?

SEN. KERRY: My regret is that the president of the United States didn’t do what he said he would do. Look, he told us that he was going to—that we needed to do this because they had the capacity to deploy weapons in 45 minutes. Not true now. He told us that he would go as a matter of last resort. Not true. He told us that he was going to build a real international coalition. Not true. They told us that there were unmanned vehicles that were able to fly. They even showed photographs. Not true. We haven’t found them anyway.

MR. RUSSERT: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on, Senator.


MR. RUSSERT: I went back and re-read your speech on the floor of the Senate October 9, and I want to share that with you and our viewers...

SEN. KERRY: Absolutely.

MR. RUSSERT: ...because you repeated many of exactly the same claims and concerns that President Bush did.

SEN. KERRY: Correct.

MR. RUSSERT: Let’s watch.

(Videotape, October 9, 2002):

SEN. KERRY: Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating agents and is capable of quickly producing weaponizing of a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery on a range of vehicles, such as bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers and covert operatives which would bring them to the United States itself.

In addition, we know they are developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents.

According to the CIA’s report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that they are seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop them.

In the wake of September 11, who among us can say with any certainty to anybody that the weapons might not be used against our troops or against allies in the region? Who can say that this master of miscalculation will not develop a weapon of mass destruction even greater, a nuclear weapon?

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Unmanned aerial vehicles...


MR. RUSSERT: ...a nuclear threat. Those are exactly the things that you suggested in New Hampshire President Bush had lied to you about.

SEN. KERRY: That’s precisely the point. That is exactly the point I’m making. [???-- It is?!?!] We were given this information by our intelligence community. Now, either it was stretched politically in the many visits of Dick Cheney to the CIA and the way in which they created a client relationship, but the information we were given, built on top of the seven and a half years of what we knew he was doing, completely justified the notion that you had to respond to give the president the right to put inspectors in. The president said when he put them in “War is not inevitable.” Colin Powell said to us, “The only rationale for going to war was weapons of mass destruction,” and it was legitimate to hold Saddam Hussein accountable to get the inspectors in. I’m saying to you that I don’t believe this president did the job of exhausting the remedies available to make us as strong as we should have been in doing that and certainly didn’t do the planning to be able to win the peace in the way that we need to. And I still think we can do it, Tim, but we’ve got to get about the business of doing it.

MR. RUSSERT: But you had access to the intelligence. You had access to the national intelligence estimate...

SEN. KERRY: Absolutely.

MR. RUSSERT: ...which said the CIA had a low confidence in Saddam Hussein using weapons of mass destruction or transferring the terrorists. And the State Department, which is included in the national intelligence estimate, said there was not a compelling case, that he reconstituted his nuclear program.

SEN. KERRY: I didn’t base it on the nuclear, but the most important and compelling rationale were the lack of inspections and the non-compliance of Saddam Hussein. Even Hans Blix at the United Nations said he is not in compliance.

MR. RUSSERT: Were you misled by the intelligence agencies? Were you duped?

SEN. KERRY: No, we weren’t—I don’t know whether we were lied to, I don’t know whether they had the most colossal intelligence failure in history, I don’t know if the politics of the White House drove them to exaggerate. The bottom line is that we voted on the basis of information that was given to us, that has since then been proven to be incorrect. The bottom line is also, Tim, the president had an obligation to put the United States in the strongest position possible. I warned the president in January, “Mr. President, do not rush to war. Take the time to build the coalition. Take the time to exhaust the remedies.” And when he made the decision, I said, “I would have preferred that we took further time to do further diplomacy.” I think we should have.

MR. RUSSERT: What Democrats are saying is that there’s a difference in tone from John Kerry, different emphasis. Back last fall, when the war was popular, he was for it. Now that Howard Dean is surging, he’s a little bit more ambivalent. This is what Ron Brownstein reported you saying in January, telling a questioner, “If you don’t believe Saddam Hussein is a threat with nuclear weapons, then you shouldn’t vote for me.”

Howard Dean crystalized it. This is what Mr. Dean said way back in February: “What we can’t have is somebody who says to you in Iowa the Iraq war is bad, goes back and votes in favor of the [Senate war] resolution and then comes back and tells you at your county dinners why it’s not a good thing.”

And Deborah Orin in the New York Post cast it this way: “Kerry Follows Dean’s Lead. Call him Copycat Kerry. The best proof of how Howard Dean has spooked the other 2004 Democratic presidential candidates can be found... in the shrill tone of John Kerry’s slashing attack on President Bush, all but painting him as liar-in-chief. ‘President Bush should tell the truth - and get out of the way and let us find the truth - about the intelligence gap,’ fumed Kerry, claiming Bush is stalling probes into 9/11 and fudging the facts on Iraq. ...Kerry sounded as if he was trying to sound just like Dean. In fact, it sounded as if Kerry was kicking himself - hard - for having ever voted for the Iraq war last fall and wishes he had been a naysayer from the start, like Dean.”

SEN. KERRY: I don’t wish I’d been a naysayer from the start. I did the right thing. My vote was a vote for the security of the United States of America based in the information we were given. Tim, for seven and a half years, Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and we found them. We destroyed them. We knew they were there. We also knew there were some there that we hadn’t finished destroying, at which point the inspections stopped. For four years you had no inspections. During that time, we are told by our intelligence community and by the president the following things are happening:

he’s reconstituting, he’s building. We were even shown photographs: “Here’s what’s happening in this building, Senator.”

MR. RUSSERT: Where are they?

SEN. KERRY: That’s exactly correct. Now, we may find them in the next months. I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that it was right to hold Saddam Hussein accountable, absolutely correct. And anybody who doesn’t believe it wasn’t correct ought to go dig around in those graves or even make a judgment about what would happen if you left Saddam Hussein alone to do this.


Check it out: When it's Kerry attacking Bush, the war was wrong and there was no justification.

When it's Kerry defending himself against Dean's attacks, going to war was the right choice. As Kerry says, "And anybody who doesn’t believe it wasn’t correct ought to go dig around in those graves or even make a judgment about what would happen if you left Saddam Hussein alone to do this."

Oddly enough, when Kerry is against the war, Kerry is right; when he's in favor of the war, he's also right. His positions are as changeable as the desert winds, except for one: that he ought to be President, whether he was right, wrong, duped or doube-talking on any particular issue, and on that one claim he's as unchanging and insistent as the desert sun.

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posted by Ace at 03:15 AM

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