From Colbert’s video to the White House briefing room

Helen Thomas asks the new press secretary: Why did we invade Iraq, anyway?

Topics: Iraq war, War Room, Helen Thomas,

From the “Life Imitates Art” Department, Helen Thomas reprised her role in Stephen Colbert’s White House Correspondents’ Association video skit today by asking Tony Snow why the United States invaded Iraq.

The exchange, from today’s gaggle:

Thomas: The new Italian prime minister says that the president’s invasion of Iraq was a grave error. As the new kid on the block, can you give me the latest rationale the U.S. has for invading Iraq?

Snow: There has only been one rationale, as you know, Helen, and this that Saddam Hussein had resisted — what is the proper number? — 17 United Nations resolutions, and had refused repeatedly to permit weapons inspectors to do their work, and consistent with that. And also we had cited other concerns in terms of democracy and human rights. That case has never changed. Also the case laid out and voted by the United States Senate —

Thomas: He finds that as a justification to invade a country where we had choke-hold sanctions, satellite surveillance —

Snow: Helen, I’m not going to get in another argument about the — this is a three-year-old argument and you’re trying to reargue the case. The president made his case back then. The United States Senate voted overwhelmingly.

Thomas: He did not make the case.

Snow: Well, in your opinion he didn’t make the case. He made the case. He laid out his reasons.

Thomas: He made the case, in your opinion?

Snow: Yes.

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We’re glad to know that Snow is on board with his boss. We’d be happier to report that he had a firm grasp of history. As a student researcher at the University of Illinois found a couple of years ago, the Bush administration advanced more than 20 different justifications for the war in Iraq between 2001 and 2002. One that Snow didn’t mention, at least explicitly, today: The threat, described by the president in his September 2002 speech before the U.N. General Assembly, that Saddam Hussein was going to give the weapons of mass destruction he didn’t have to al-Qaida terrorists with whom he wasn’t working.

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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