Memo To: Sen. Bob Graham [D FL], presidential candidate
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Connecting the dots
On FoxNewsSunday this morning, you repeated your recent assertion that if the standards of impeachment set by the House of Representatives in the impeachment of Bill Clinton were applied to President George W. Bush, he would now be impeached for his "dereliction of duty" in waging war against Iraq. You did say this will not happen, because the Republican House leaders would never permit a bill of impeachment to come before the House Judiciary Committee -- but the people will be able to remove the President for these reasons on Election Day next year. As you are in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, I assume this will be a central theme in your campaign. Which is why I suggest you read the following WorldNetDaily column by Dr. Gordon Prather. Your problem is in connecting the dots in a way that persuades the American people that Mr. Bush knew he was not being truthful when he sent Congress his formal determination that diplomacy had failed. Unless you can do that, all you might do is persuade the American people that he was purposely misled by his national security team. What Prather finds is that Congress itself was culpable and should be "ashamed of itself" in accepting the presidential determination, when it should have been clear before the bombing began that diplomacy had in fact succeeded in disarming Iraq.
Bush's Iraq determination: Dead wrong
By Gordon Prather
By law, the constitutional powers of the president to "introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities" are limited, and can only be exercised "pursuant to; (a) a declaration of war, (b) specific statutory authorization, or (c) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces."
As both Bushes George and Dubya have discovered, getting "specific statutory authorization" isn't easy.
Congress didn't authorize George Bush to subject our military forces in the Persian Gulf region to a United Nations Coalition until Jan. 14, 1991, long after Coalition forces had been assembled.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 678 had not been adopted until a few weeks before. It essentially authorized the Coalition to use "all necessary means" to force Saddam to withdraw from Kuwait.
UNSCR 660 demanding that Saddam Hussein withdraw his forces from Kuwait and restore peace to the region had been adopted Aug. 2, 1990, the day Saddam invaded.
But, the accent in "all necessary means" is on "necessary."
Consequently, before launching military operations, Congress required George Bush to make available to the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate his determination that the use of force was really necessary.
Of course, Saddam didn't withdraw. So, George proceeded to "kick burros."
On March 2, 1991, Iraq accepted the terms of UNSCR 686, the ceasefire resolution.
There were those around George Bush who reckoned they had missed a golden opportunity to effect regime change in Iraq by agreeing to the ceasefire.
Quite a few of these New World Order neo-crazies are now around Dubya. They viewed Sept. 11 as a second golden opportunity, an excuse to effect regime change not just in Iraq, but in the Muslim world, generally.
So, when Dubya went to Congress last September, seeking "specific statutory authorization" to resume the Gulf War, he based his case on the highly classified National Intelligence Estimate of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs.
It reportedly contained positive proof that Saddam was reconstructing his nuke and chem-bio programs, with the intention of supplying them to Islamic terrorists for use against us.
Well, Congress did give him the authority he sought for invading Iraq.
But there was a catch. Before resorting to the use of force, Dubya also had to satisfy Congress that "reliance on peaceful means alone will not adequately protect the national security of the United States."
So the U.N. inspectors went back into Iraq.
By mid-March, most of us had concluded as a result of the reports by Chairman Hans Blix of the Monitoring and Verification Commission and by Director-Gen. Mohammed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency that Saddam was effectively disarmed and had not since 1998 attempted to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction programs.
In short, Saddam was not a threat to us.
Hence, it was something of a surprise when Dubya determined on March 19 that no "further diplomatic or other peaceful means will adequately protect the national security of the United States from the continuing threat posed by Iraq."
When Congress allowed Dubya to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom that day most of us if not the rest of the world assumed Dubya and Congress knew something vitally important the Security Council didn't.
Well, now that highly secret National Intelligence Estimate which was the basis for our use of force against Iraq has effectively been declassified and made available to the world.
Read it and weep.
Congress should be ashamed of itself.
Even back last September the unbelievably poorly written NIE shouldn't have passed the smell test. Most judgments were unsupported "just trust us." When some support was provided, it was of the form "well, the U.N. inspectors haven't been in Iraq for four years, so we assume this is what Saddam has been doing."
Of course, it may have been possible for congresspersons to hold their noses and swallow that "intelligence" last September. But by mid-March, because of the exhaustive up-to-date reports of Blix and ElBaradei, all those congresspersons should have known that every judgment and assumption in the NIE was wrong.
How in the name of all that's Holy could Congress have then accepted Dubya's March 19 determination based upon that National Intelligence Estimate that Iraq posed "a continuing threat to the national security of the United States" by "continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations"?