Sen. Biden, staffer, queried on pre-war hearings

These questions took place outside of the studios of NBC News in Washington, D.C. on January 7, 2007.


Sam Husseini: Let me read you what Scott Ridder wrote on July 30th, 2002 about the hearings that you were just about to convene as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “For Senator”–you were head of foreign relations at that time as well–”For Senator Biden’s Iraq hearings to be anything more than a political sham used to evoke a modern day Gulf of Tonkin resolution equivalent for Iraq, his committee will need to ask hard questions and demand hard facts concerning the real nature of the weapons threat posed by Iraq.” Ridder seems to obviously have been correct about this. Do you agree?

Senator Joseph Biden: What’s your question?

SH: Do you agree that Ridder was right about that, that you presided over hearings that didn’t ask the necessary questions–

JB: No, I don’t agree with that. We did ask the necessary questions–

SH: –And, and, and in effect for a Gulf of Tonkin resolution–

JB: No, I don’t agree with that. Your question, Mam?

JB: Thank you all very much.

SH: Why isn’t Ridder correct, Sir? Wasn’t it in effect a Gulf of Tonkin resolution?

Aide: Have you even read the hearing transcripts?

SH: Yeah, I’ve read chunks of them.

Aide: You’ve read them?

SH: Are you with him?

Aide: Yeah, I’m Tony Lincoln. How — you are?

SH: Hi Tony.

Aide (Tony Lincoln): What’s your name? I’m sorry?

SH: Sam Husseini, I’m with-Now, so, I’m mean what’s wrong with that? Wasn’t it, in effect, a Gulf of Tonkin resolution?

Aide (Tony Lincoln): Read the hearing transcripts–

SH: No, no, no! I’m talking–

Aide (Tony Lincoln): Every hard question was answered–

SH: Who was there–

Aide (Tony Lincoln): He said there was no yellowcake–

SH: Who? Who? Who was there–

Aide (Tony Lincoln): He said there was no aluminum tubes–

SH: Who was there?

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on Jan. 10, 2007; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]

Rep. Obey queried on Congress’ war powers, obligations

These questions took place outside of the studios of ABC News in Washington, D.C. on January 7, 2007.


[Note: David Obey is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.]

Sam Husseini: Why not withhold funds for a surge? The troops aren’t there.

Representative David Obey: Well the troops are gonna be there before we really have any opportunity to act on it number one and number two the president would simply veto it. So we would have spend not time — the President isn’t going to sign any legislation that cuts off funding for the troops.

SH: But, you have war making authority under the Constitution, you have the power of the purse and you’re telling us that you have nothing —

DO: The problem is the President is the Commander in Chief, he has the authority to expand operations and to move military units around. We will be faced with a reality. You can’t repeal a reality.

SH: But what happens if he just keeps waging the war and you can have all the hearings that you want, so how you going to affect what’s on the ground?

DO: I don’t think that the American people are going to let him keep waging the war. The President needs to understand that if he continues to wage the war — if he follows a — a so-called, ‘surge policy’ which, as I said, is really just an expansion and an intensification of the existing effort, that means that we will be stuck there for all of this presidency. If that happens, there will be disastrous results for his own party in the next election. I hope that pressure will force him to recognize that he’s got to have a major change in policy. This is an — we’ve got to have an active effort at persuasion going on here.

SH: So you are hoping that the political reality will dawn on him rather than looking at this as a Constitutional matter, as to what your Constitutional responsibilities are?

DO: I take no lectures from anybody on Constitutional responsibilities. I voted against going to war in the first place. But the fact is, there are certain realities that we have to face. We do not have a majority in the Senate, I don’t believe, to cut off funds, I don’t believe in futile efforts. I believe in doing things that will have some results.

SH: Have you declared war?

DO: Have I declared war? Of course not!

SH: Has Congress declared war? So why are we —

DO: The Congress took a duck, and what the Congress did under the previous Republican leadership was to take a duck and shove the responsibility off on the President which is why I voted against it.

SH: Was that Constitutional?

DO: Was it Constitutional?

SH: — to take that duck?

DO: Who knows, all I know –

SH: You’re just a member of Congress.

DO: I’m not a lawyer and I’m not a member of the Supreme Court, so lets just –

SH: (laughing)

DO: Lets quit playing word games. We are trying to do the best be can to persuade the President we need a strong change in policy and you don’t do that by engaging in futile gestures which the White House laughs at.

SH: He lost the election, he got rid of Rumsfeld. And now he’s talking about a surge –

DO: That’s correct and I think it’s wrong.

SH: So, what are you gonna do?

DO: I’ve already answered that question twice. It may not be an answer that suits you, but its my answer. You’ve got the right to ask a question and I’ve got the right to answer it my way.

SH: I’m saying that, beyond holding hearings, beyond hoping that the political realities dawn on him…He seems — if he seems impervious to that —

DO: [Opening each side of his jacket] Do you see a magic wand in this pocket? Or do you see a magic wand in this pocket?

SH: I see Constitutional powers.

DO: Not if you can’t pass it. We are not the Supreme Court, we don’t have the power to unilaterally do anything. What we are trying to do is persuade the President that he’s wrong and that’s the end of my comments on that. We can continue to chew this same rag all day, your questions are going to be the same and my answers are gonna be the same…

SH: No, my questions aren’t gonna be the same –why not go to the Supreme Court?

DO: How would you suggest we do that?

SH: You’re a member of Congress, I assume you have some sort of standing regarding war powers —

DO: Well, when you figure it out, send me a note and we’ll talk about it.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on Jan. 9, 2007; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]

Haikus on Ford Funeral

Ford's praised for pardon

Saddam's killing warns despots?

Ford: A time to heal
Empires need healing as well
Evil resurgent

Let us look forward?
Ford was against Iraq war?
Or acts assured it?

If there is a hell
Of course teevee shows people
There destined in "church"

Church'n'state become like one
Why National Cathedral?
Heresies must fall

Let's stop the next war?
Face the deeper malady
From them to ourself

[originally published at on Jan. 2, 2007]

Senator Reid questioned about war budget, support

As Senator Harry Reid (D - NV) left the set of ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Sam Husseini asked him about withdrawing troops from Iraq and whether supporting the war budget wasn’t also support for the Bush Administration’s prosecution of the war.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on Dec. 17, 2006; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]

Pressing Colin Powell about his Security Council speech, Hussein Kamel


Sam Husseini: Do you know that Hussein Kamel said that there were no WMDs? Did you know that?

Colin Powell: What’s that?

SH: You cited Hussein Kamel in your UN testimony. Did you know that he said that there were no WMDs, did you know that at the time?

CP: I only knew what the intelligence community told me.

SH: But did you know that fact?

CP: Of course not!

SH: You didn’t know that he said that, even though it was reported?

CP: I -

SH: You didn’t know -

CP: I’ve answered your question.

SH: You didn’t know that he said there were no WMDs.

In his famous February 4, 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council, General Colin Powell said:

… It took years for Iraq to finally admit that it had produced four tons of the deadly nerve agent, VX. A single drop of VX on the skin will kill in minutes. Four tons.

The admission only came out after inspectors collected documentation as a result of the defection of Hussein Kamal, Saddam Hussein’s late son-in-law. …

Sam Husseini tried to follow-up some initial questions (see video below) with Powell today, as he left his Face The Nationappearance in Washington, D.C. Husseini pointed out that the man Powell cited in his speech, Hussein Kamel, also had said that there were no more weapons of mass destruction.

This story was first broken, according to FAIR, by Newsweek, in late February of 2003 (dated for early March) — before the open launch of the Iraq war and after Powell’s speech.

When Husseini pressed to see of Powell was aware of this evidence, he adamantly asserted “Of course not!”

In pressing again for a direct confirmation that he was not aware of evidence contradicting public assertions about alleged-Iraqi WMD, Powell’s only response was “I’ve answered your question.”

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on Dec. 17, 2006; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]

Rep.-Elect Sestak: Iraq war funding, redeployment; Sen. Levin on air power

Representative-Elect Joe Sestak (D - PA) answered questions from Sam Husseini regarding the Iraq Study Group’s recommendation to privatize the Iraqi oil industry and whether or not Congress’ funding of the Iraq war was also support for Bush’s administration of the war. Husseini also asked Sestak about his support for a plan that would include increased use of U.S. air power in Iraq and his position on some the Bush administration’s other policies with respect to Israel and Palestine.

Sestak admitted “our way” of doing things may not be best of the Iraqis and lent ostensible support to the principle of self-determination, that Iraqis best decide what works for them.

The new Representative refused to support war budget cuts to force a withdrawal, rather he endorsed moving some components of war funding into the normal budget process, as opposed to these hypothetical programs being a part of emergency supplemental funding.

Sestak was also asked for the form of redeployment he supported which highlights increased use of air power. Sestak claimed “we do air power very well without doing a lot of casualties.”

Sestak was also asked about the U.S. role in the Israel-Palestine situation.

Levin on Air Power

Last week Senator Levin was asked about his position on scenarios for redeploying troops in Iraq that included increased air power.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on Dec. 17, 2006; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]

Senator Lott on President Carter’s Palestine book


Sam Husseini: Senator Lott, how do you react to President Carter’s recent statements that Israel is imposing an apartheid system on the Palestinians, and there’s been a defacto silence, a complicity, by both parties in the Congress. How do you react to that statement?

Senator Trent Lott: I really have been concerned by a lot of what former President Carter had to say, and I don’t think a lot of it has been helpful in any way. The situation with Israel and how they deal with the Palestinian issue and others is very very serious, very critical, and I think while we should try to be helpful, we should also be very careful in what we propose and what we say.

Husseini: Senator, have you been to the West Bank, have you been to any Palestinian towns?

 Yeah, uh, I have not recently, but I have been there in the past, yes.

Husseini: In Israeli settlements, or on the other side of the line?

Lott: On the Israeli side of the line.

Husseini: So you haven’t been to the Palestinian towns and villages.

Lott: No, no I have not been to the Palestinian side of the equation. Look, it is not a perfect situation, I don’t deny that

Husseini: Doesn’t that prove Carter’s point?

Lott: Now part of what you do in finding a solution is not start, you know, using names and casting dispersions on either side. You try to find how you solve the problem. You try to move to a positive solution without trying to characterize or condemn one side or the other. Look, there’s no perfection in how that part of the world and the Middle East is being done. But we need to try to find a way to come to some solutions and I think good men and women of good will are going to have to do that.

Husseini: But how can you do that if you only go to one side of the line? You said you’ve only been to one side

Lott: Look, I haven’t condemned the other side

Husseini: No, no, but you haven’t been there, you don’t see their point of view. How do you know it’s not apartheid if you haven’t been on their side of the fence?

Lott: I’ve never been to North Korea either, do I have an opinion on that situation, yeah. I haven’t been to Iran

Husseini: So it might be apartheid for all you know.

Lott: I would not describe it that way.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on Dec. 10, 2006; posted on posthaven Nov. 11, 2015]