As Memorial Day approaches, 51 percent of Americans, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, think the commander in chief "deliberately misled" us about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. "Deliberately misled"? Once again, let's go to the videotape:
Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, February 1998: "Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."
Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, February 1998: "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has 10 times since 1983."
Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, October 2003: "When [former President Bill] Clinton was here recently he told me was absolutely convinced, given his years in the White House and the access to privileged information which he had, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction until the end of the Saddam regime."
French President Jacques Chirac, February 2003: "There is a problem -- the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq. The international community is right . . . in having decided Iraq should be disarmed."
President Bill Clinton, December 1998: "Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them, not once, but repeatedly -- unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war, not only against soldiers, but against civilians; firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. Not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq. . . . I have no doubt today that, left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again. . . . "
Clinton, July 2003: " . . . [I]t is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons. We might have destroyed them in '98. We tried to, but we sure as heck didn't know it because we never got to go back there."
Gen. Wesley Clark, September 2002, testimony before the House Armed Services Committee: "There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat. . . . Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. . . . He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn't have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks, as would we."
Vermont Gov. Howard Dean [D], September 2002: "There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the United States and to our allies."
Dean, February 2003: "I agree with President Bush -- he has said that Saddam Hussein is evil. And he is. [Hussein] is a vicious dictator and a documented deceiver. He has invaded his neighbors, used chemical arms, and failed to account for all the chemical and biological weapons he had before the Gulf War. He has murdered dissidents and refused to comply with his obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions. And he has tried to build a nuclear bomb. Anyone who believes in the importance of limiting the spread of weapons of mass killing, the value of democracy and the centrality of human rights must agree that Saddam Hussein is a menace. The world would be a better place if he were in a different place other than the seat of power in Baghdad or any other country."
Dean, March 2003: "[Iraq] is automatically an imminent threat to the countries that surround it because of the possession of these weapons."
Robert Einhorn, Clinton assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, March 2002: "How close is the peril of Iraqi WMD? Today, or at most within a few months, Iraq could launch missile attacks with chemical or biological weapons against its neighbors (albeit attacks that would be ragged, inaccurate and limited in size). Within four or five years it could have the capability to threaten most of the Middle East and parts of Europe with missiles armed with nuclear weapons containing fissile material produced indigenously -- and to threaten U.S. territory with such weapons delivered by nonconventional means, such as commercial shipping containers. If it managed to get its hands on sufficient quantities of already produced fissile material, these threats could arrive much sooner."
Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and others, in a letter to President Bush, December 2001: "There is no doubt that . . . Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons programs. . . . In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., December 1998: "Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., ranking minority Intelligence Committee member, October 2002: "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years."
Larry Elder is an accomplished attorney, radio personality, syndicated columnist, best-selling author and host of daytime television's The Larry Elder Show