Presidential candidate Joe Biden is adding lies on top of lies to cover up his backing of the Iraq invasion.
During Thursday night's Democratic Party debate hosted by ABC News, Biden lied about his Iraq record, just as he did at the first two debates.
In the July debate, Biden claimed: "From the moment 'shock and awe' started, from that moment, I was opposed to the effort, and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress."
When he first said that, it received virtually no scrutiny except for Mideast scholar Stephen Zunes, who wrote the piece "Biden Is Doubling Down on Iraq War Lies." Zunes outlined much of Biden's record, including his insistence in May 2003 — months after the Iraq invasion — that "[t]here was sufficient evidence to go into Iraq."
During Thursday night's debate, Biden claimed that he voted for the Iraq invasion authorization to "to allow inspectors to go in to determine whether or not anything was being done with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons."
But the congressional vote happened on Oct. 11, 2002 (see Biden's speech then). And by that time Iraq had agreed to allow weapons inspectors back in. On Sept. 16, 2002, the New York Times reported: "U.N. Inspectors Can Return Unconditionally, Iraq Says." (This was immediately after a delegation organized by the Institute for Public Accuracy — where I work — had gone to Iraq.)
Now, independent journalist Michael Tracey, who interviewed Biden in New Hampshire recently, reports that Biden made the ridiculous claim that he opposed the invasion of Iraq even before it started. Said Biden: "Yes, I did oppose the war before it began." See Tracey's piece: "Joe Biden's Jumbled Iraq War Revisionism" and video.
Biden did initially back a bill, along with Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, which would have somewhat constrained Bush's capacity to launch an invasion of Iraq completely at his whim. But the Bush administration opposed the measure. One might have thought that such opposition would lead Biden to conclude that Bush insisting on not having any constraint would be a reason not to write him a blank check. But Biden ultimately voted for the legislation giving Bush the complete license the president wanted.
Bush ended up launching the war by telling the UN to get the weapons inspectors out — thus forcing an end to their work — before launching a bombing campaign. Immediately, Biden co-sponsored a resolution backing Bush.
Tracey writes, "It's unclear whether the Delaware senator genuinely believes the tale he is currently telling, or if it's the product of his apparent cognitive decline." But, Biden has been lying about Iraq for years and years and years and years. He was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2002 and presided over hearings that were called rigged at the time by actual critics of the Iraq invasion.
Still, Biden's voluminous deceits on Iraq — which he's adding to by the day — have yet to be adequately examined. Biden told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" in 2007 of Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction: "The real mystery is, if he, if he didn’t have any of them left, why didn't he say so?"
Of course the Iraqi government, in 2002 and before, had been pleading that it had disarmed. And it was widely mocked by the U.S. government and media for such claims.
Saddam Hussein told Dan Rather on "60 Minutes" in February 2003:
I believe that that [the U.S. military preparations in the Gulf] were, in fact, done partly to cover the huge lie that was being waged against Iraq about chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. And it was on that basis that Iraq actually accepted [the U.N.] Resolution — accepted it, even though Iraq was absolutely certain that what it had said — what the Iraqi officials … had kept saying, that … Iraq was empty, was void of any such weapons — was the case. But Iraq accepted that resolution ... in order not to allow any misinterpretation of its position … in order to make the case absolutely clear that Iraq was no longer in possession of any such...weapons. [See from FAIR: "Saddam's 'Secret.'"]
But such remarks from Iraq were derided. On Nov. 13, 2002, the New York Times reported: "U.S. Scoffs at Iraq Claim of No Weapons of Mass Destruction." The Bush administration, the newspaper reported in the piece, "dismissed Saddam Hussein's contention today that he possesses no weapons of mass destruction as a fabrication. But President Bush's advisers said they would not be taunted into revealing the intelligence they had gathered to contradict him until after Iraq delivered a full accounting of weapons stores in early December."
Similarly, the International Herald Tribune on Dec. 9, 2002, ran the headline, "Senators dismiss Iraqi arms declaration to UN," which reported: "Copies of a 12,000-page Iraqi declaration on banned weapons reached UN offices in Vienna on Sunday and were en route to the United Nations in New York for analysis, but senior U.S. senators of both parties dismissed its contents as lies. And they spoke of a likely war that they said would have surprisingly broad backing." These senators did this without even having access to the documents.
The piece continued: "Senator Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, incoming chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that he assumed the Iraqi report would 'totally be an obfuscation.' The Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 2000, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, called the declaration 'probably a 12,000-page, 100-pound lie.'" The piece also quoted Biden saying that Bush was likely to "have all that he needs, all the help, all the bases in the Middle East" and a coalition "larger than anyone anticipated."
What Biden did was to help ensure war happened while trying to wash his hands of responsibility for it. He helped build the car for Bush, filled it up with gas, saw that Bush was drunk, gave him license to do what he wanted — and then told him to be responsible while he handed him the keys. Eventually, Biden pretends he's shocked that the streets are littered with mangled bodies.
Biden is the exact opposite of Sen. Wayne Morse, one of only two senators who voted against the Tonkin Gulf Resolution — a false pretext used by Lyndon Johnson's to dramatically escalate the Vietnam War in 1964. To those — like Biden in 2002 — who argued that you have to back the president, Morse responded that they didn't understand the Constitution or their responsibilities as senators:
Why not give the president a vote of confidence? This was the lingo of the reservationists: We've got to back our president. Since when do we have to back our president, or should we, when the president is proposing an unconstitutional act? And so these reservationists said that although I'm going to back my president, I want to show him I have confidence in him. I want to warn him I'm not giving him a blank check. This doesn't mean that I don't expect him to consult me in the future. This doesn't mean that the president can go ahead and send additional troops over there without consulting me, a senator of the United States. And you know, I most respectfully, but used language that they understood, said that's just nonsense. I want to say to my colleagues in the Senate, you're being consulted right now.
Would that Biden understood his responsibilities as well.