Skip to comments.Senator BENNETT (R-UT) Floor Speach 10-22-03 (MUST READ)
Posted on 10/23/2003 6:10:50 AM PDT by OXENinFLA
IRAQ -- (Senate - October 22, 2003)
Mr. BENNETT. Mr. President, we have a continual drumbeat going on in this Chamber. It came to a crescendo during the debate over the Iraq supplemental, but it goes on even when there is no legislation on the floor dealing with Iraq. There are several themes of this drumbeat that I would like to address this morning. The first theme we hear over and over and over again is the theme of faulty intelligence. How could the President have been so stupid as to have acted on faulty intelligence? Occasionally, the enthusiasm for this theme gets carried away to levels that are inappropriate, as we have the accusation that the President was not just misled by faulty intelligence, he deliberately lied. We hear this again and again, particularly in the media: The President is a liar; he deliberately misled the country.
I would like to address that theme for a moment and then another theme we hear over and over which is that the President has made a terrible mistake when he has endorsed the concept of preemptive war. We have these two themes: No. 1, the President is either stupid or a liar because he mishandled the intelligence; and No. 2, he has embraced a historically repugnant doctrine, the doctrine of preemptive war.
On the issue of intelligence, let us understand something about intelligence.
It is never hard and fast. It is always an estimate. It is also a guess. It is also the best view of the people who are making intelligence decisions and assessments. And it is often wrong.
Let me give you an example of a President who acted on intelligence that turned out to be wrong. No, let me back away from that, not necessarily a President who acted, a commander who acted on intelligence that turned out to be wrong that had significant international effect.
I was traveling in China with the then-senior Senator from Texas, Phil Gramm, and we met with the Prime Minister of China, not long after the Americans, under the command of GEN Wesley Clark, had bombed the Chinese Embassy in Serbia. The Chinese were understandably very concerned about that.
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We said: It was a mistake. It was an error. And the Chinese Ambassador, with whom we were talking at the time, said: You have the best intelligence in the world. You must have known that was the Chinese Embassy. That was not a hidden fact. That was not a secret. You have the most accurate military in the world. You did that deliberately.
Then he pointed out to us that was not just the Chinese Embassy; that was, in fact, the headquarters of the Chinese intelligence operation throughout Central Europe. So we bombed an embassy and we took out their intelligence capability. They said: You did that deliberately. We said: No; it was a mistake.
I remember Senator Shelby saying: The proof of the fact that it is a mistake is that nobody would have been stupid enough to do that deliberately. Then the Chinese Ambassador said: If it was a mistake, why hasn't somebody been fired? And for that, we had no particular answer.
Checking into it, we found the reason that happened is because GEN Wesley Clark, the commander of NATO, was demanding targets: I need more targets. I'm running out of targets. And under the pressure of those demands from that commanding general, the CIA came up with targets, and they came up with an old target with bad information, under the pressure from a commander who was anxious to keep bombing even though he had run out of legitimate targets. In that pressure, a tragic mistake was made, and America's relationship with China was seriously damaged in that situation.
So intelligence is not always perfect. But in the postmortem of 9/11, we have seen how people want to have it both ways. They look at the intelligence that was available pre-9/11, and they say: How can you have missed this clue? You should have taken action, Bush administration, on the basis of this clue.
Then, when we have information with respect to Iraq that turns out not to be exactly accurate, we are told: How could you have been so misled? How could you have interpreted this way?
One CIA official said: If we had not acted on the basis of the information that we had prior to the war in Iraq, if we had not warned the President in the way we did, we would have been held in violation of our duty, particularly if something had happened.
Then the naysayers, who are saying, ``How could you be misled by this intelligence,'' would be saying, ``How could you have missed this clue?'' They attempt to put the President and this administration in a no-win situation. No matter what the President does, he is attacked by the people on the other side of the aisle.
Now, finally, this issue of preemptive war. I will not take the time to go into a full discussion, but I say, particularly to those Senators who pride themselves on their sense of history, let us look back in history and ask ourselves, what would have happened if Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Great Britain, had adopted the attitude of preemptive war when he went to Munich? What would have happened if he had sat down with Adolph Hitler and done what Winston Churchill was urging him to do, which is the same doctrine that George W. Bush had put forward, and said to Hitler: If you attack Czechoslovakia, there will be war. If you move ahead, there will be war?
Neville Chamberlain and some of the people around him said: Hitler does not represent an imminent threat. Hitler is not talking about bombing London now. If we give him Czechoslovakia, he will feel nice towards us. We need to worry about international opinion. We need to see to it that everybody gets together in the international community. And Czechoslovakia does not affect us.
Chamberlain said: Those are people far away from us with whom we have nothing to do, a speech that could have been made on the floor of this Senate as people talk about Iraq: They are far away from us, people with whom we have nothing to do. And the threat is not imminent.
Churchill was long-headed enough to know that if Hitler got control of Czechoslovakia, he would get control of the finest machine shops in Europe, he would add to his military machine, and he would be prepared to wage world war. If Hitler were denied Czechoslovakia, we now know in history, his own generals would have deposed him for being too risky.
But Neville Chamberlain said: No. We can't wage any kind of preemptive war. We have to wait until he attacks us before we can justify it. And 6 million Jews went to the concentration camps and into the ovens, and countless millions were killed in the Second World War because we did not take preemptive action when we could have. I say ``we''--the Western World did not.
Chamberlain was hailed as a hero when he came home, and the motion to support the action that he had taken went through the House of Commons by huge margins. When Winston Churchill stood up and said: We have suffered defeat of the first magnitude, he got only a handful of votes. But history has not been kind to Mr. Chamberlain. History has validated the position that Winston Churchill took, a position which George W. Bush is applying to modern conditions.
Those who value history should read all of history before they stand on the Senate floor and attack the President of the United States for a doctrine that they say is repugnant.
I yield the floor.
And some interesting comments on Wesley Clark.
There are several themes of this drumbeat that I would like to address this morning. The first theme we hear over and over and over again is the theme of faulty intelligence. How could the President have been so stupid as to have acted on faulty intelligence? Occasionally, the enthusiasm for this theme gets carried away to levels that are inappropriate, as we have the accusation that the President was not just misled by faulty intelligence, he deliberately lied. We hear this again and again, particularly in the media: The President is a liar; he deliberately misled the country.
There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction...JFK
But that might have been, insensitive.
What a warmonger! ;-)
I saw this, Bennett was excellent.
They attempt to put the President and this administration in a no-win situation. No matter what the President does, he is attacked by the people on the other side of the aisle.
I think they are overplaying their hand with this. It is going to be easy to pick apart the multitude of statements the Dims are making without providing one alternative.
WOHOOOO!!! .. He NAILED not only Kennedy but all the Dems that have be screaming about Bush
This one is going out in email
For any Democrat lurkers, let me interpret: he called you a**holes.,