WMDs are being politicized
Many of you will recall that when the United States and its partners in a multinational coalition undertook their invasion of Iraq in March 2003, they did so with a firm purpose.
In the twelve years since the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm and the liberation of the Kingdom of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein repeatedly defied and ignored no less than eight United Nations Security Council resolutions which included demands to return all Kuwaiti prisoners of war and end the oppression of his own people.
Most importantly, however, the UN in four individual resolutions demanded the government of Iraq turn over all information regarding its weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and the nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs being developed or already in process.
Based on a strong compilation of intelligence that Hussein was not completely forthcoming with this information, President George W. Bush ordered the coalition to invade Iraq, depose that nation's oppressive government, and take "whatever action is necessary" to "defend the freedom and security of the American people."
Unfortunately, opponents of the administration -- in an effort to secure their thirty-second sound bites on the evening news -- immediately began shouting that the war was being carried out using faulty and misused intelligence information.
Certainly criticism of our president is not something new. History has shown a long trend of disagreement among Congress and the residents of the White House, particularly during periods when they are of different political parties.
However, criticism of our presence in Iraq shows not only a disagreement with the president but a strong lack of respect for the men and women of our armed forces who have voluntarily put their lives in danger to defend our freedom here at home and secure freedom for an oppressed people halfway around the globe.
During my recent trip to Iraq, I did not meet one single soldier, sailor, airman, or marine who did not recognize the importance of their job or who did not feel a strong sense of pride in the job they have done.
Criticism aside, opponents and members of the mainstream media are conveniently and selectively putting out misinformation to reinforce their position that the invasion of Iraq was done under the premise of lies and deception by the Bush administration.
In recent weeks, the report issued by David Kay, former head of the Iraq Survey Group, has been used to strengthen criticism of the motives of the president. Many of the Democratic presidential candidates have seized on selected portions of Mr. Kay's statements in an effort to portray the administration in a negative light. Some examples:
Even on recent stories posted by CBS News, it has been reported that "former chief weapons hunter David Kay has said Iraq appears to have had no WMD stockpiles."
These quotes only paint a part of the picture. Let me now provide you with several quotes from Mr. Kay that are not being reported and which show a somewhat different picture than that which has been presented to this point:
1) "I think it's (the statement that the administration misled the American people) not fair, and it also trivializes what we did find and the problem we face."
2) "I think it was absolutely prudent (to go to war). In fact, I think at the end of the inspection process we'll paint a picture of Iraq that was far more dangerous than even we thought it was before the war."
3) "I think there is a tendency at this time to say, 'Got you!' and try to do politics. I think this is national security, and far more important than momentary political gain."
On January 28, 2004, Mr. Kay also testified before the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding his report and asserted that he feels it is incorrect to explain the failure to find WMDs with the statement that "analysts were pressured to reach conclusions that would fit the political agenda of one or another administration. I deeply think that is the wrong explanation."
Undoubtedly in the weeks ahead, we will continue to hear naysayers issue statements that the president lied about our reasons for invading Iraq, or that the administration used deceptive tactics and misinformation to support the war. There were certainly some shortcomings in the intelligence available prior to the war, but you can be assured this will continue to be investigated by Congress and the appropriate oversight bodies in the months ahead.
However, these opponents would be well-served to remember the words of a U.S. president with regard to Saddam Hussein:
February 17, 1998