Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hillary Clinton: Smoking Gun!

There is a smoking gun in the national debate over pre-war intelligence about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), whether the president misled the public. That weapon is Democratic Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately for the militants if her own party, she reinforces the President’s case: he went with the best available intelligence. She does this merely by having voted for the war.

Radical war protesters, and far left liberals have maintained all long that Bush “lied” to get us into a war. Recently with the President struggling for approval, extreme partisan Democrats in the Senate have begun to seriously echo this sentiment, spinning it with the more politic turn of phrase “misled us.” The assertion being that the administration, at best carefully selected intelligence to make the case for war, and at worse cooked it up in White House staff offices.

Senator Clinton’s war vote essentially nullifies this proposition, as does her continuing silence on the issue. Clinton, more than any other politician, stands to gain by exploiting the President’s current weakness in the polls. Already the Democrat’s frontrunner for a presidential campaign starting in two years, Clinton could motivate the liberal primary voters by impugning Bush. Merely stating: “I felt I was misled into voting for the war,” might assure early victories in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2008. So why has she stayed mute?

Likely, because more than other Senators Clinton was in a position to analyze the intelligence that went to Congress two years ago. Yes the Bush administration, likely sent its most solid, most pro-war case to Congress. But even that case still included the usual caveats.

The Special National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE), that essentially made the case for WMD was produced by the entire intelligence community. It included reservations from the State Department and other agencies about the WMD related intelligence.
In October of 2002, Hillary Clinton was one of the Democrats who voted for the war. At the time she was in her tenth year as a national political figure. Eight of those years were in the White House where as first lady she was hailed by many as a “virtual co-president.”

As a White House veteran, she’d had complete access to intelligence; she was the closest political confidant that then President Bill Clinton had. She surely understood that the intelligence in the SNIE was “worst case scenario.” Certainly as a former White House insider she knew the current administration was “making a case” and as such had presented the most favorable documentation it could.

Why? Because the intelligence data was consistent with what she had seen in the White House. Her husband’s administration, too, had maintained the existence of Iraqi WMD. If the Bush administration had truly skewed the data, or if they had cooked some new revelations up, Clinton would have known. She, however, assessed the intelligence as valid, and voted for war.

She was not alone; 29 Senate Democrats voted for war, only 21 voted against, while 81 of 227 House Democrats voted for force. Of the 29 Senators who voted Yea, were soon to be Presidential Candidate John Kerry and running mate John Edwards, and former vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman. Three Democrat yes votes were members of the Intelligence Committee, two sit on Foreign Affairs and four, including Clinton sit on the Armed Services committee.

These senators routinely see intelligence. Many of them have been seeing it for years. None of them at the time expressed doubts or objections to the prevailing analysis in 2002. Most remain mute in the current debate. Some like Kerry last year and Clinton today would stand much to gain by proving they were intentionally misled.
Now some other Democrats, including Harry Reid who also voted Yea would have us believe that the administration was capable of completely deceiving all of that combined talent. The problem is that such an argument just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. And Senator Clinton’s yes vote sums up why not.

She had seen data on Iraqi WMD all the way back to 1992. She knew and understood the process by which the administration selected intelligence to send to congress, and how to find out what if anything was being omitted. She had the experience to understand the meaning and the importance of reservations and caveats in intelligence documents, including the SNIE. But she voted for war, and despite the benefits of saying she was misled into making a mistake Senator Clinton has thus far stood by her Yea vote.

Why? Because there was no conspiracy. Because whatever faults there were in the intelligence they were not the deliberate work of one party. Because overthrowing Saddam Hussein remains the right choice.

As advertised in the Mudville Gazette.

Betsy Newmark has a similar case on Jay Rockefeller

See Michelle Malkin's Google story.

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