By Tom Quiner
That was a comment I received following my recent post, “If Bush lied, Clinton lied.” The writer, Monte Gray, who always keeps me on my toes, defends Mr. Clinton at the expense of Mr. Bush. Let’s take a closer look.
The tragedy of 9/11 may not have happened had it not been for a decision made by the Clinton administration. That decision was to let Bin Laden slip away when they had an opportunity to get him. Here’s an excerpt from the Los Angeles Times in 2001 on this subject:
“President Clinton and his national security team ignored several opportunities to capture Osama bin Laden and his terrorist associates, including one as late as last year.
I know because I negotiated more than one of the opportunities.”
The write is Mansoor Ijaz who was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has been a CNN commentator. He had plenty to say on the subject:
“From 1996 to 1998, I opened unofficial channels between Sudan and the Clinton administration. I met with officials in both countries, including Clinton, U.S. National Security Advisor Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger and Sudan’s president and intelligence chief. President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, who wanted terrorism sanctions against Sudan lifted, offered the arrest and extradition of Bin Laden and detailed intelligence data about the global networks constructed by Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, Iran’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.
Among those in the networks were the two hijackers who piloted commercial airliners into the World Trade Center.
The silence of the Clinton administration in responding to these offers was deafening.”
Was this a big deal? According to Ijaz, yes:
“As an American Muslim and a political supporter of Clinton, I feel now, as I argued with Clinton and Berger then, that their counter-terrorism policies fueled the rise of Bin Laden from an ordinary man to a Hydra-like monster.”
I quote Mr. Ijaz as a counterweight to the “Bush Lied” revisionists. President Bush certainly made mistakes, just as President Clinton made mistakes. We will take a closer look at the “Bush lied” screed in a moment. But to the point made by Mr. Gray that at least Clinton didn’t take us to war, that’s not totally accurate. Mr. Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox on December 16, 1998. For 4 days, the United States and Great Britain bombed Iraq for their failure to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolutions, a similar reason given by President Bush for launching the Gulf War. (Iraq was in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441.)
President Clinton’s effort differed by degree and resolve, not motivation, to President Bush’s.
As Saddam Hussein acknowledged after his capture, he thought Mr. Bush would embrace similar bombing tactics as had been employed by President Clinton. He said he hadn’t anticipated Bush’s resolve after eight years of an American Presidency with a different level of resolve. In fairness to President Clinton, 9/11 changed the political landscape dramatically.
As referenced in my post on August 14th, Hussein acknowledged that he encouraged the belief that he still possessed WMDs to use as leverage against their enemy, Iran. Because he had used WMVs before, because Iraq did not cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors, because of the heightened insecurity following the attack on our nation on 9/11 by a man Clinton let get away, President Bush had to make a tough call that President Clinton didn’t have to make. Do we leave our security in the hands of the United Nations? Bush said no.
Even after the United Nations weapons inspectors said that they couldn’t find any WMDs, the world still thought Iraq had them hidden away somewhere, or would at least still have the capability to begin production of them again.
Here’s what Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso said in October of 2003:
“When [former President Bill] Clinton was here recently he told me he was absolutely convinced, given his years in the White House and the access to privileged information which he had, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction until the end of the Saddam regime.”
Here’s what French President Jacques Chirac said in February of 2003:
“There is a problem — the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq. The international community is right . . . in having decided Iraq should be disarmed.”
Here is what former President Clinton said in July of 2003:
” . . . [I]t is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons. We might have destroyed them in ’98. We tried to, but we sure as heck didn’t know it because we never got to go back there.”
Here is what General Wesley Clark said in September 2002 in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee:
“There’s no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat. . . . Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. . . . He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn’t have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks, as would we.”
“There’s no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the United States and to our allies.”
“I agree with President Bush — he has said that Saddam Hussein is evil. And he is. [Hussein] is a vicious dictator and a documented deceiver. He has invaded his neighbors, used chemical arms, and failed to account for all the chemical and biological weapons he had before the Gulf War. He has murdered dissidents and refused to comply with his obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions. And he has tried to build a nuclear bomb. Anyone who believes in the importance of limiting the spread of weapons of mass killing, the value of democracy and the centrality of human rights must agree that Saddam Hussein is a menace. The world would be a better place if he were in a different place other than the seat of power in Baghdad or any other country.”
“How close is the peril of Iraqi WMD? Today, or at most within a few months, Iraq could launch missile attacks with chemical or biological weapons against its neighbors (albeit attacks that would be ragged, inaccurate and limited in size). Within four or five years it could have the capability to threaten most of the Middle East and parts of Europe with missiles armed with nuclear weapons containing fissile material produced indigenously — and to threaten U.S. territory with such weapons delivered by nonconventional means, such as commercial shipping containers. If it managed to get its hands on sufficient quantities of already produced fissile material, these threats could arrive much sooner.”