Hillary: I didn't vote for war
- Shall we give her the benefit of the doubt and suppose
that she just didn't read this section of the bill? :
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED
(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use
the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines
to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(1) defend the national security of the United
States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq
Hillary: I didn't vote for war
By JOHN DISTASO
Senior Political Reporter
Saturday, Feb. 10, 2007
MANCHESTER New York Sen. Hillary Clinton said
yesterday her 2002 vote for a resolution authorizing
the invasion of Iraq was "not a vote for a pre-emptive
war," but instead a show of support for further United
Nations weapons inspections.
The Democratic Presidential front-runner, who has been
criticized by hard-line anti-war groups for not
apologizing for the vote, emphasized that distinction
in a telephone interview from Washington.
While fellow candidate John Edwards, a former senator,
has apologized for his vote on the October 2002
resolution, Clinton again did not.
"I will let others speak for themselves," she said. "I
have taken responsibility for that vote. It was based
on the best assessment that I could make at the time,
and it was clearly intended to demonstrate support for
going to the United Nations to put inspectors into
She said that when she explained her vote four years
ago, "I said that it was not a vote for pre-emptive
A Clinton campaign spokesman later noted that on the
Senate floor on Oct. 10, 2002, Clinton stated that her
vote for the resolution "is not, however, a vote for
any new doctrine of pre-emption, or for unilateralism,
or for the arrogance of American power or purpose --
all of which carry grave dangers for our nation, for
the rule of international law and for the peace and
security of people the throughout the world."
In the interview, the former first lady said the Bush
administration forced an end to the final round of
weapons inspections and invaded prematurely. The
administration is responsible for the current status
of the war, she said, and for being "grossly
misinformed" or for having "twisted the intelligence
to satisfy a preconceived version of the facts" before
"Either interpretation casts grave doubt on their
judgment," she said. "If they were so intent on
pursuing military action, a pre-emptive action, which
I said at the time I opposed, against Saddam Hussein,
then why on earth were they not better prepared and
more competent in its execution?"
Clinton said Bush and his administration "have
performed a great disservice to our men and women in
uniform, to our country, to our vital national
security interests in the region and to the ongoing
struggle against Islamic extremists."
Clinton spoke with the New Hampshire Union Leader on
the eve of her first campaign visit to the
first-in-the-nation primary state. She is scheduled to
talk to voters today in Berlin and Concord and
tomorrow in Manchester, Nashua and Keene. She last
visited the state in 1996.
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Subscribers to that free service knew about this story
Also yesterday, Clinton said she would campaign in New
Hampshire even if the primary date set by Secretary of
State William Gardner under a state law does not
comply with the Jan. 22, 2008, date written into a new
party rule by Democratic National Committee (see
Clinton said she has proposed capping the U.S.
military force in Iraq at the Jan. 1 level and has
"voted for more than a year and a half to begin
redeploying our troops out of Iraq."
She does not "at this time" support a cut in funding
for American troops in Iraq. She backs instead a cut
in funding for Iraqi troops.
"We have got to get their attention," she said of the
Iraqi leadership. She said they "do not fulfill their
promises" and make "worthless" assurances.
She predicted that if Congress were to approve a
funding cut, Bush would veto it.
"I hate to say that," she said, "but I think that
shows the level of stubbornness and rigidity that we
are confronting with this President."
And what may have been veiled criticism of at least
some of her Democratic opponents, Clinton said, "This
is a very difficult situation we find ourselves in,
and anyone who thinks there are easy answers or flip
rhetoric that can be used is not fully appreciating
the challenge that those of us confront who are trying
to set up circumstances that will persuade the
President to do what we all expect and want him to
Clinton did not say how she would have voted on New
Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg's proposed
nonbinding Senate resolution simply opposing any cuts
in troop funding. She said she backed a resolution by
Republican Sen. John Warner and Democratic Sen. Carl
Levin to oppose the Bush troop "surge" while also
opposing a funding cut.
Bush, she said, "has proven impervious to the election
results, so we are trying to get the political support
we need in the Congress" to pass a strong
anti-escalation statement in a nonbinding resolution.
She said the breakdown of efforts in the Senate this
week to pass the Warner-Levin resolution was the
result of "a Republican strategic decision to try to
divert attention from doing that very straightforward
task of sending a clear message to the White House."
She supported even stronger measures, saying, "The
President should have to get a new congressional
authorization if he is going to move down this path."
Clinton said that after the United Nations Security
Council supported sending inspectors into Iraq in
November 2002, "Saddam Hussein was contained and there
was no reason not to let the inspectors finish their
job to find answers to the questions many people had."
She said Congress' authorization a month earlier "did
not necessarily require the President to short-circuit
the process to launch the invasion," adding, "The
abrupt conclusion of the inspection process, I think,
was a mistake."
She said an earlier Bush mistake came when he
"diverted attention from Afghanistan and the war
against al-Qaida and the opportunity to build a strong
international alliance against extremism and
terrorism" and focused on Saddam.
She said had she been President, "I think I would
never had asked for" authority to invade Iraq because
she would not have begun the war.
Elaborating, she said: "But once a President asks for
such authority, you either vote to give it to him or
vote to withhold it from him. If you look at the
options that were available, giving the President
authority to make it very clear to the security
council, to Iraq and to the world that we were serious
about forcing Saddam Hussein to comply with his
obligations under various United Nations' resolutions
and the agreement he entered into at the end of the
first Gulf War was a reasonable policy.
"What was not reasonable was manipulating the
intelligence, which we now know occurred, and refusing
to allow the inspectors under the edict of the United
Nations to do their work."
The Washington Post reported yesterday that a Pentagon
inspector general had found that intelligence provided
by a former undersecretary of defense to buttress the
White House case for the invasion included "reporting
of dubious quality or reliability" that supported the
political views of senior administration officials.
"This unfortunately confirms what we've been
discovering in the last three years," Clinton said,
"that the administration never intended to let the
inspectors complete their work despite assurances to
the contrary and that they gilded the lily on the
intelligence they had."
Clinton said, "If we had known then what we know now
about both the allegations concerning Saddam's
intentions and capacity and about our own government's
intentions, we would never have had a vote, and if
there had been a vote, I certainly would never have
voted to give the President authority," she said.