Fact-checking Clinton on Iraq

Justifying her prewar position at the Democratic debate Thursday, Hillary Clinton repeated a common falsehood about the 1998 U.S. bombings of Iraq.

Published February 1, 2008 3:41PM (EST)

A reader wrote in with a great catch this morning -- at last night's Democratic debate, while explaining her vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq, Sen. Hillary Clinton said this:

"I believe that it is abundantly clear that the case that was outlined on behalf of going to the resolution -- not going to war, but going to the resolution -- was a credible case. I was told personally by the White House that they would use the resolution to put the inspectors in ... Some people now think that this was a very clear open-and-shut case. We bombed them for days in 1998 because Saddam Hussein threw out inspectors."

This assertion, that the U.S. bombing in 1998 came in response to an expulsion of weapons inspectors by Hussein, is a common one. But it's not true. In 2000, after an article in the paper repeated the falsehood, the New York Times ran this correction:

"A front-page article yesterday about the Clinton administration's policy on Iraq misstated the circumstances under which international weapons inspectors left that country before American and British air strikes in December 1998. While Iraq had ceased cooperating with the inspectors, it did not expel them. The United Nations withdrew them before the air strikes began."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Hillary Rodham Clinton Iraq Middle East War Room