Another Dem War Hawk Bites the Dust

Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA):

Dicks now says it was all a mistake — his vote, the invasion, and the way the United States is waging the war.


Dicks, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, says he's particularly angry about the intelligence that supported going to war.

Without the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), he said, he would "absolutely not" have voted for the war.

The Bush administration has accused some members of Congress of rewriting history by claiming the president misled Americans about the reasons for going to war. Congress, the administration says, saw the same intelligence and agreed Iraq was a threat.

But Dicks says the intelligence was "doctored." And he says the White House didn't plan for and deploy enough troops for the growing insurgency.

"A lot of us relied on [former CIA director] George Tenet. We had many meetings with the White House and CIA, and they did not tell us there was a dispute between the CIA, Commerce or the Pentagon on the WMDs," he said.

He and Murtha tended to give the military, the CIA and the White House the benefit of the doubt, Dicks says. But he now says he and his colleagues should have pressed much harder for answers.
Dicks relied on “briefings” and “information provided by our intelligence agencies to members of Congress” to draw his conclusion that “Saddam Hussein has developed sophisticated chemical and biological weapons, and that he may be close to developing a nuclear weapon,” which he asserted in an October 2002 House debate. By the time Joe Wilson’s piece in the New York Times was published on July 6, 2003, Dicks started to question that about which he had previously been so sure.

There’s a part of me that’s really angry at Democrats like Dicks. There was plenty of information available casting doubt on the administration’s claims leading up to the war. There were plenty of people sounding the alarm that the pretenses were false. When I think about the time leading up to the war, it seems as though there was something in my gut telling me Bush was full of shit, but it really wasn’t my gut—it was reading lots and lots of stuff from credible people who were claiming that the intelligence was being cooked, and noticing that the Bushies had no real interest in undermining the widely-held notion that Saddam and 9/11 were linked, and recognizing all the reasons the Bushies had to go to this particular war.

But at the same time, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a part of the government and have administration officials and intelligence agencies giving you information, which one would reasonably assume is credible, while being under the pressure of being tagged traitorous if you withhold support for the issue being debated. All of Congress was put in a pretty shitty situation, and one might quite reasonably suggest that the Dems shouldn’t have bowed to that pressure, or that the pressure itself maybe should have clued them in that the rationale wasn’t solid, but sitting in judgment from here is all too easy.

Still, there’s something that’s being left unsaid by Democrats who now admit they made a mistake. Irrespective of the reasons for their votes, they voted for a war of preemption, which was unprecedented. They weren’t overtly told that Saddam was behind 9/11, that we were going to war with Iraq in response to having been attacked. They knew it was a preemptive war, and they voted for it anyway. And that’s a mistake for which there is no excuse.

When will they address that collective failure? Or don’t they think it was one?

(Hat tip to Oddjob, who hat tips HuffPo.)

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