[Congressional Record Volume 151, Number 149 (Thursday, November 10, 2005)]
[Pages S12636-S12637]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. KENNEDY. Earlier this week, Madam President, several of our 
Republican colleagues came to the Senate and attempted to blame 
individual Democratic Senators for their errors in judgment about the 
war in Iraq. It was little more than a devious attempt to obscure the 
facts and take the focus off the real reason we went to war in Iraq. 
Madam President, 150,000 American troops are bogged down in a quagmire 
in Iraq because the Bush administration misrepresented and distorted 
the intelligence to justify a war that America never should have 
fought. The President wrongly and repeatedly insisted that it was too 
dangerous to ignore the weapons of mass destruction in the hands of 
Saddam Hussein and his ties to al-Qaida.
  If his march to war, President Bush exaggerated the threat to the 
American people. It was not subtle. It was not nuanced. It was pure, 
unadulterated fear mongering based on a devious strategy to convince 
the American people that Saddam's ability to provide nuclear weapons to 
al-Qaida justified immediate war.

  The administration officials suggested the threat from Iraq was 
imminent and went to great lengths to convince the American people that 
it was. At a roundtable discussion with European journalists last 
month, Secretary Rumsfeld deviously insisted:

       I never said imminent threat.

  In fact, Secretary Rumsfeld told the House Committee on Armed 
Services on September 18, 2002:

     . . . some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is 
     not imminent--that Saddam Hussein is at least 5-7 years away 
     from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain.

  In May of 2003, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether 
we went to war because we said WMD were a direct and imminent threat to 
the United States. And Fleischer responded, ``Absolutely.''
  What else could National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice have been 
suggesting other than an imminent threat, extremely imminent threat 
when she said on September 2, 2002:

       We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

  President Bush himself may not have used the word ``imminent,'' but 
he carefully chose strong and loaded words about the nature of the 
threat, words that the intelligence community never used to persuade 
and prepare the Nation to go to war against Iraq.
  In the Rose Garden on October 2, 2002, as Congress was preparing to 
vote on authorizing the war, the President said the Iraqi regime ``is a 
threat of unique urgency.''
  In a speech in Cincinnati on October 7, President Bush specifically 
invoked the dangers of nuclear devastation:

       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.

  At an appearance in New Mexico on October 28, 2002, after Congress 
had voted to authorize war and a week before the election, President 
Bush said Iraq is a ``real and dangerous threat.''
  At a NATO summit on November 20, 2002, President Bush said Iraq posed 
a ``unique and urgent threat.''
  In Ft. Hood, TX, on January 3, 2003, President Bush called the Iraqi 
regime ``a grave threat.''
  Nuclear weapons. Mushroom cloud. Unique and urgent threat. Real and 
dangerous threat. Grave threat. These words were the administration's 
rallying cry to war. But they were not the words of the intelligence 
community, which never suggested the threat from Saddam was imminent or 
immediate or urgent.
  It was Vice President Cheney who first laid out the trumped-up 
argument for war with Iraq to an unsuspecting public. In a speech on 
August 26, 2002, to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he asserted:

     . . . We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to 
     acquire nuclear weapons . . . Many of us are convinced that 
     Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.

  As we now know, the intelligence community was far from certain. Yet 
the Vice President had been convinced.
  On September 8, 2002, he was even more emphatic about Saddam. He 

       [we] do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his 
     procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order 
     to enrich uranium to build nuclear weapons.

  The intelligence community was deeply divided about the aluminum 
tubes, but Vice President Cheney was absolutely certain.
  One month later, on the eve of the watershed vote by Congress to 
authorize the war, President Bush said it even more vividly. He said:

       Iraq has attempted to purchase high strength aluminum tubes 
     . . . which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. 
     If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an 
     amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a 
     single softball, you can have a nuclear weapon in less than a 
     year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would 
     be crossed . . . Saddam would be in a position to pass 
     nuclear technology to terrorists.

  In fact, as we now know, the intelligence community was far from 
convinced of any such threat. The administration attempted to conceal 
that fact by classifying the information and the dissents within the 
intelligence community until after the war, even while making dramatic 
and excessive public statements about the immediacy of the danger.
  In October of 2002, the intelligence agencies jointly issued a 
national intelligence estimate stating that ``most agencies'' believe 
that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program after inspectors left in 
1998 and that if left unchecked, Iraq ``probably will have a nuclear 
weapon during this decade.''
  The State Department's intelligence bureau, however, said the 
``available evidence'' was inadequate to support that judgment. It 
refused to predict when ``Iraq could acquire a nuclear device or 
  About the claims of purchases of nuclear material from Africa, the 
State Department's intelligence bureau said that claims of Iraq seeking 
to purchase nuclear material from Africa were ``highly dubious.'' The 
CIA sent two memoranda to the White House stressing strong doubts about 
those claims. But the following January 2003, the President included 
the claims about Africa in his State of the Union Address and 
conspicuously cited the British Government as the source of that 
  Information about nuclear weapons was not the only intelligence 
distorted by the administration. On the question of whether Iraq was 
pursuing a chemical weapons program, the Defense Intelligence Agency 
concluded in September 2002 that:

     . . . there is no reliable information on whether Iraq is 
     producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or whether Iraq 
     has--or will--establish its chemical warfare agent production 

  That same month, however, Secretary Rumsfeld told the Committee on

[[Page S12637]]

Armed Services that Saddam has chemical weapons stockpiles.
  He said, ``We do know that the Iraqi regime has chemical and 
biological weapons of mass destruction,'' that Saddam ``has amassed 
large clandestine stocks of chemical weapons.'' He said that ``he has 
stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons'' and that Iraq has 
``active chemical, biological and nuclear programs.'' He was wrong on 
all counts.
  Yet the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate actually 
quantified the size of the stockpiles, stating that ``although we have 
little specific information on Iraq's CW stockpile, Saddam probably has 
stocked at least 100 metric tons and possibly as much as 500 metric 
tons of CW agents--much of it added in the last year.'' In his address 
to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin 
Powell went further, calling the 100 to 500 metric ton stockpile a 
``conservative estimate.''
  Secretary Rumsfeld made an even more explicit assertion in his 
interview on ``This Week with George Stephanopoulos'' on March 30, 
2003. When asked about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, he said:

       We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit 
     and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

  The administration's case for war based on the linkage between Saddam 
Hussein and al-Qaida was just as misguided.
  Significantly, here as well, the Intelligence Estimate did not find a 
cooperative relationship between Saddam and al-Qaida. On the contrary, 
it stated only that such a relationship might develop in the future if 
Saddam was ``sufficiently desperate''--in other words, if America went 
to war. But the estimate placed ``low confidence'' that, even in 
desperation, Saddam would give weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaida.
  But President Bush was not deterred. He was relentless in playing to 
America's fears after the devastating tragedy of 9/11. He drew a clear 
link--and drew it repeatedly--between al-Qaida and Saddam.
  On September 25, 2002, at the White House, President Bush flatly 

       You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you 
     talk about the war on terror.

  In his State of the Union Address in January 2003, President Bush 
said, ``Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and 
statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and 
protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda,'' and that he could 
provide ``lethal viruses'' to a ``shadowy terrorist network.''
  Two weeks later, in his Saturday radio address to the Nation, a month 
before the war began, President Bush described the ties in detail, 
saying, ``Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties 
to terrorist networks. . . .''
  He said:

       Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and Al Qaeda have met 
     at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent 
     bomb-making and document-forgery experts to work with Al 
     Qaeda. Iraq has also provided Al Qaeda with chemical and 
     biological weapons training. An Al Qaeda operative was sent 
     to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in acquiring 
     poisons and gases. We also know that Iraq is harboring a 
     terrorist network headed by a senior Al Qaeda terrorist 
     planner. This network runs a poison and explosive training 
     camp in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to 
     be in Baghdad.

  Who gave the President this information? The NIE? Scooter Libby? 
  In fact, there was no operational link and no clear and persuasive 
pattern of ties between the Iraq Government and al-Qaida. A 9/11 
Commission staff statement in June of 2004 put it plainly:

       Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that 
     any ties existed between Al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no 
     credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on 
     attacks against the United States.

  The 9/11 Commission Report stated clearly that there was no 
``operational'' connection between Saddam and al-Qaida. That fact 
should have been abundantly clear to the President.
  The Pentagon's favorite Iraqi dissident, Ahmed Chalabi, is actually 
proud of what happened. ``We are heroes in error,'' Chalabi said in 
February 2004. ``As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely 
successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in 
Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration 
is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords, if he 
  What was said before does matter. The President's words matter. The 
Vice President's words matter. So do those of the Secretary of State 
and the Secretary of Defense and other high officials in the 
administration. And they did not square with the facts.
  The Intelligence Committee agreed to investigate the clear 
discrepancies, and it is important that they get to the bottom of this 
and find out how and why President Bush took America to war in Iraq. 
Americans are dying. Already more than 2,000 have been killed and more 
than 15,000 have been wounded.
  The American people deserve the truth. It is time for the President 
to stop passing the buck and for him to be held accountable.
  I yield back the remainder of the time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.
  Mr. WARNER. Parliamentary inquiry, Madam President: We are in morning 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, for another 2 minutes.