The headline of a Roll Call article on Tuesday–”Democratic Agenda Off for 2005–wasn’t exactly breaking news to anyone who has paid attention to Congress over the past few years. Though Democrats continue an organized campaign to find something–anything–to justify their anger at the president, they have yet to develop a campaign for anything.
The article quoted a Democrat who said: “This fall is not the time for Democrats to roll out a positive agenda.” But neither is winter, spring or summer, apparently. We still haven’t seen what they’re for, only what and who they are against (namely, everything and everyone the president proposes). While the Republicans are making progress on issues that matter to real people, Democrats are struggling to find something to stand for.”
Nowhere is this dearth of Democrat ideas more stark than in the debate over the war on terror. Democrats have consistently raised the twin specters of manipulating intelligence and failing to have a plan in Iraq. Both are false, and both are offered in lieu of plans, a viable agenda, or a position on a critical aspect of our national security.
Democrats, in the Senate and elsewhere, believe they’ve hit upon a winning political strategy: Telling anyone who will listen that the administration has manipulated intelligence and has exaggerated the threat. But that line of attack itself is the manipulation of facts; a complete revision of recent history: Recall that only a few years ago Democrats joined Republicans in a bipartisan acknowledgment that Saddam Hussein posed a grave threat to the world.
In fact, it was the Senate that unanimously passed the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998 which called for supporting efforts to overthrow Saddam Hussein. And it was President Clinton who so eloquently described the threat posed by Hussein and the consequences of inaction when he said:
“Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors; he will make war against his own people. And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.”
Did President Clinton lie when he discussed the intelligence that led him to support the forced ouster of Saddam Hussein? Did he manipulate intelligence to justify his bombing in Iraq? Or did he rely upon the same intelligence that this administration and this Congress and our allies did when they came to the same conclusion that Saddam was a threat to the region and to the world–including the same Democrats who now demand investigation after investigation into this same intelligence?
An Armchair-General Second-guessing Strategy
Even those Democrats who agree that Saddam’s removal was the right thing to do have nonetheless headed down another line of attack. Their new position is that the administration does not have a plan in Iraq. But to imply that our military leadership does not understand what it takes to win in Iraq is simply wrong–not to mention insulting.
Does anyone outside the Democrat cloakroom really believe the wisdom and experience of General Abizaid and General Casey is somehow subordinate to that of the many armchair generals in Washington, D.C.? These military leaders understand the facts, the situation on the ground, and what is needed for victory. Sadly, many in Congress simply do not.
Iraq represents the central front in the global war on terror. Yet we have even seen the sad occasion of having sustained 2,000 deaths of America’s fighting men and women in Iraq spark an ill-advised, premature call for withdrawal of our troops by the angry, anti-war Left.
That call has been picked up, in part, if not in whole, by some politicians seeking to capitalize on that anger. Merely venting anger without proposing alternative solutions is not the work of serious people. But it appears that is all they have to offer–a call to withdraw. To cut and run. To give up. That is their plan.
When consulting the available facts, this much is clear: No one sought to manipulate intelligence. Accusations and allegations directed out of anger and frustration are not productive, they are divisive.
Intelligence by its very nature is never certain–but we are restructuring our intelligence community to ensure that the president of our country–Democrat or Republican–gets the most accurate intelligence available.
Meanwhile, members of the Senate who have politicized the issue with their false allegations of manipulation of intelligence would do well to realize that their allegations are not helpful, they are hurtful. Not only do they seek to divide Americans–they dishonor the sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform and undermine critical American resolve to finish the important work we are about in Iraq.
–The Honorable John Cornyn (R., Texas) is an United States senator from Texas Cornyn chairs the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.