Killing the Constitution: How I Became a Radical Twenty Years Ago Today

They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
for trying to change the system from within
I'm coming now -- I'm coming to reward them
First we take Manhattan then we take Berlin

-- Leonard Cohen

Many think they now see through the Democrats' complicity with the Bush administration's illegal wars and unconstitutional actions. If they think this is new, they don't know that half of it.

Exactly twenty years ago today, on July 13, 1987, I witnessed the Democratic Party establishment covering up -- and therefore helping -- the subversion of the U.S. Constitution. It was actually on national TV, but few seemed to care.

The Iran-Contra hearings were going on. I watched them almost in their entirety, had just graduated from college and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I spent time with my dad, who’d just been diagnosed with a severe heart condition and we watched much of the hearings together.

For a while, I was admiring of the co-chairs of the Iran-Contra committee, the Democrats Sen. Daniel Inouye and Rep. Lee Hamilton — who would go on to co-head the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Commission.

But, following events closely, it became clear Inouye and Hamilton were covering things up things. This became glaring on July 13, 1987 when the following exchange took place as Rep. Jack Brooks, a Democrat from Texas questioned Oliver North:

REP. BROOKS: Colonel North, in your work at the NSC, were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the “<> continuity of government ” in the event of a major disaster?

BRENDAN SULLIVAN (North’s lawyer): Mr. Chairman?

SEN. INOUYE: I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch on that, sir?

REP. BROOKS: I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American constitution. And I was deeply concerned about it and wondered if that was the area in which he had worked. I believe that it was and I wanted to get his confirmation.

SEN. INOUYE; May I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this, I’m certain arrangements can be made for an executive session. [Text is here and video is here].

And go into executive session they would. I expected a firestorm about this. It never happened. The media were largely silent, the Chicago Tribune the next day was rare in having a page one story (which I of course didn’t see till years later) leading with:

Members of the Iran-contra congressional panels Monday questioned Lt. Col. Oliver North about his alleged involvement in a highly secret government plan that reportedly included suspension of the Constitution in times of national crisis.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Iran, immediately cut off discussion of the plan, saying it touched on a “highly sensitive and classified area.”

The reference by Rep. Jack Brooks (D., Tex.,) to the plan followed comments Friday by chief Senate committee counsel Arthur Liman that the late CIA Director William Casey was attempting to promote “a CIA outside of the CIA” to carry out covert policy.

And the committee did go into executive session at various points. In his questioning, Brooks was referring to a few articles like the Miami Harald piece of July 5, 1987 by Alfonso Chardy, which I didn’t find until much later:

Some of President Reagan’s top advisers have operated a virtual parallel government outside the traditional Cabinet departments and agencies almost from the day Reagan took office, congressional investigators and administration officials have concluded.

Investigators believe that the advisers’ activities extended well beyond the secret arms sales to Iran and aid to the contras now under investigation.

Lt. Col. Oliver North, for example, helped draw up a controversial plan to suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad. [Text is here].

You might have watched the hearings but not remember any of this — that’s probably because most of the media wrote pieces like the liberal Mary McGrory in the Washington Post quoting Inouye shortly thereafter: “We have a job to remind people of the Constitution and what it stands for.”

In fact, just a few days after the Brooks-Inouye exchange, much of Congress went on to Philadelphia for the 200th Anniversary of the Constitution that they were in the process of undermining. ABC reported on July 16:

Two hundred years ago today in Philadelphia the Constitutional convention designed what we now call the Congress of the United States. And for the occasion a delegation from Congress rode a special train to Philadelphia for a ceremony in the same room where the Constitution was written.

The ABC piece quoted Lee Hamilton: “The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. I do not see how your attitude can be reconciled with the Constitution of the United States.”

If the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights are dead, their death did not just happen during one administration or by one political party. It was indicated on national TV by a few brave representatives like Jack Brooks and Henry Gonzalez, written about by some independently minded journalists. And the establishment of both the Democratic and Republican parties with the big media outlets covered it up — while celebrating the Constitution they were killing.

[originally published at on July 13, 2007. Also published at CounterPunch and other pages.]

Health Care Scams

In the last month there's been talk about the Clinton health care agenda of the early 1990s. Republican presidential candidates have called the effort "socialist" and Hillary Clinton herself has talked about the need to stand up to the insurance companies. The piece I wrote, below, published in the Nation magazine in their Dec. 13, 1993 issue, basically debunks these myths.

Hillary & Bill & Harry & Louise

"I know you've all seen the ads. You know, the kind of homey kitchen ads where you've got the couple sitting there talking about how the President's plan is going to take away choice and the President's plan is going to narrow options, and then that sort of heartfelt sigh by that woman at the end, 'There must be a better way' -- you know, you've seen that, right?

"What you don't get told in the ad is that it is paid for by insurance companies. ... It is time for you and for every American to stand up and say to the insurance industry: 'Enough is enough, we want our health care system back!' "

What Hillary Rodham Clinton was referring to in a recent speech was a series of soap opera-style TV ads featuring a woeful couple, "Harry and Louise," and sponsored by the Health Insurance Association of America (H.I.A.A.). The First Lady positioned herself as a foe of big business; the media played right along.

Tom Brokaw introduced NBC's segment saying, "Hillary Rodham Clinton today launched a scathing attack on the health insurance industry." Correspondent Andrea Mitchell, working on the basis of anonymous sources, suggested that the Administration went after H.I.A.A. because "the White House wanted a scapegoat." On CNN reporters relayed that the Administration is "engaged in something close to an all-out war with the health insurance industry," and that "the White House would rather talk about insurance industry profits than the rosy assumptions on which its own plan is based."

A closer look, however, reveals a different sort of deceit on the part of the Administration, the TV networks and Senator Edward Kennedy, who joined in the First Lady's pseudo-populism, asking the H.I.A.A. to "drop the ads and come work with us" on the Clinton health plan. That plan, in fact, serves the interests of the insurance establishment. As Patrick Woodall of Public Citizen says, "The managed competition-style plan the Clintons have chosen virtually guarantees that the five largest health insurance companies -- Aetna, Prudential, Met Life, Cigna and The Travelers -- will run the show in the health care system."

These big companies helped develop Clinton's plan of managed competition, and all but The Tavelers paid for much of the research that was done by the Jackson Hole Group, an organization that drew up the original blueprint for managed competition. (The Administration tries to obscure this; in rebuttal to the H.I.A.A.'s ads, the Democratic party made a commercial saying of the Clinton plan: "The insurance companies may not like it, but the President didn't design it for them-he designed it for you.")

Robert Dreyfuss of Physicians for a National Health Program says, "The Clintons are getting away with murder by portraying themselves as opponents of the insurance industry. It's only the small fry that oppose their plan. Under any managed competition scheme, the small ones will be pushed out of the market very quickly."

Indeed, the H.I.A.A. is made up mostly of small and medium-sized insurers. The five biggest insurers have formed their own organization, the Alliance for Managed Competition, which basically backs the Clinton approach. These big insurers stand to gain from the Clinton plan's increased corporatization of health care since they have been rapidly buying H.M.O.s, 45 percent of which are now owned by the eight largest insurance companies. The outlays for advertisements by the big insurers and the H.M.0.s dwarf the moneys being spent on advocacy ads by the H.I.A.A. and either the Democratic or Republican Party.

The compelling question, then, is not who's behind "Harry and Louise" but who's behind Bill and Hillary?

[originally published at on June 17, 2007]

Once denied, now confirmed

So now the Bush administration is saying its model for Iraq is South Korea:

The Bush administration is developing what are described as concepts for reducing American combat forces in Iraq by as much as half next year, according to senior administration officials in the midst of the internal debate...

[O]fficials cautioned that no firm plans have emerged from the discussions. But they said the proposals being developed envision a far smaller but long-term American presence, centering on three or four large bases around Iraq. Mr. Bush has told recent visitors to the White House that he was seeking a model similar to the American presence in South Korea.

And here's Tony Snow, on Wednesday:

Q Tony, on Iraq, for the gaggle you were asked about U.S. troops and just how long the presence would be there, the vision. And you compared it to the Korean model. Can you explain that?

MR. SNOW: Yes...You have the United States there in what has been described as an over-the-horizon support role so that if you need the ability to react quickly to major challenges or crises, you can be there, but the Iraqis are conducting the lion's share of the business -- as we have in South Korea, where for many years there have been American forces stationed there as a way of maintaining stability...

I can't help but find this interesting, because I asked this very question of Adnan Pachachi, then president of the Iraqi Governing Council, in January, 2004 at the National Press Club:

Q Sam Husseini from IPA Media. I have a couple of questions, if I could. Last night, President Bush said "the people of Iraq are free" but as you've repeatedly noted, they're under foreign military occupation. What's your reaction to his claim?....What would happen if the governing council should ask the U.S. to leave, would it do so, and how long do you expect U.S. troops to be there? Will they be there 50 years from now, as they are --

MR. PACHACHI: The governing council cannot at present ask the U.S. to leave, because the U.S. is there with a United Nations mandate...the majority of Iraqis feel the United States military presence should continue for the time being, until we are able without any outside help to maintain law and order in the country. Irrespective of what some of the news media will tell you, but this is a fact in Iraq...

Q Will they remain there for decades, as they have been in Korea?

MR. PACHACHI: No, not decades, we hope a matter of a year or two maybe.
[originally published at on May 31, 2007]

Democrats Take Cover from Impeachment by Focusing on Gonzales

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was widely criticized for not addressing a host of questions in his testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But the chair of that Committee -- Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont -- himself won't address the issue of impeaching Bush and Cheney. I've asked him about it twice in the last month, and both times he has responded by talking about Gonzales. This even though Vermont -- the state Leahy is sent to D.C. to represent -- is the state leading the impeachment drive againt Bush and Cheney.

Last month, after nearly 40 cities and towns in Vermont voted for impeachment, I questioned Leahy as he walked out of the studios of CBS's "Face the Nation":

Question: Senator, townspeople all over your state of Vermont have recently voted for impeachment. Do you think that the facts and the constitution, not the politics, but the facts and the Constitution merit at least investigating Bush and Cheney for impeachment?

Senator Patrick Leahy: We have a great deal of investigation going on and you'll see Kyle Sampson, the Assistant to the Attorney General appear before my committee under oath on Thursday this week and I've already go the authority for subpoenas for many others. There's not going to be a lack of asking questions. Thank you. Video is here.

And again, this Sunday, I asked him about the Vermont State Senate voting overwhelmingly for a pro-impeachment resolution. And again, he sidestepped my repeated efforts to have him address the substance of the subject. See video here.

On Friday, Dave Lindorff noted:

In a joint statement issued in Washington, DC, Vermont's Congressional delegation, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch, responded to the state senate resolution by saying that "before we talk about impeachment," current investigations in the Congress need to be "allowed to run their course."

Ignoring the fact that 39 towns in the state, including some it Vermont's larger municipalities, have voted out impeachment resolutions, the three, all Democrats, go on to say, "In our view, the people of Vermont want us to focus our attention on such issues as ending the war in Iraq, protecting the needs of our veterans, raising the minimum wage, addressing the crisis of global warming and providing health care to all of our citizens.” ... If ever there was a case of elected officials ignoring the clearly expressed will of their constituents, this is it.

This effort has been lead by activists in Vermont who actually still seem to believe in the Constitution. One of them, Ellen E. Tenney, wrote to Pelosi earlier this year when the Speaker said impeachment was "off the table":

When everyone in the three branches of government took their oath of office, they swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States, therefore, you are honor bound, it is your duty, and the duty of every member of the House and Senate to investigate and try, anyone who breaks the laws of the land, including the president and vice president and anyone else involved. No one is above the law.

Tenney also noted that Senator Leahy said in his newsletter, “I have never seen a time when our Constitutional and fundamental rights, as Americans, were more threatened by our own government.”

If he believes that, then is Leahy not violating his oath of office by not advocating an impeachment investigation of Bush and Cheney?

[originally published at on April 22, 2007]

Leahy Again Avoids Impeachment Question

For recent background on this issue, see: Dave Lindorff’s “Huge Win for Impeachment in Vermont.”

Note that on March 25, Leahy avoided the question of impeachment from Washington Stakeout.

Also see “Democrats Take Cover from Impeachment by Focusing on Gonzales”


Sam Husseini: The Vermont State Senate just voted overwhelmingly for an impeachment resolution against Bush and Cheney. You put out a statement basically opposing that. Why are you in effect defending â€”

Senator Patrick Leahy: That’s not what I said.

SH: â€” why are you —

PL: Let me finish. That’s not what I said.

SH: Sure.

PL: Read that statement and the press have it if you have other questions.

SH: What was the statement?

PL: I think one of the things —

SH: â€” describe your position —

PL: â€” I think one of the things we’re gonna find with the Attorney General — he has lost the confidence of many in the Senate. Both Republicans and Democrats, as well as in the House. As well as the American people. But if he is to be replaced, he has to be replaced with somebody who says that they’ll be independent. The reason we have the problems we now have is that the White House was allowed, for the first time in the history of the Department of Justice, first time, they were allowed to go in and interfere with ongoing prosecutions, allowed to interfere with the justice system. And as a result, we have had people hurt in law enforcement, from the cop on the beat all the way up through. If there is another attorney general, it has to be somebody who is willing to swear that they will never allow the White House to do this. Now, I would hope whoever the next president is realizes that the criminal justice system in this country is something we all need, and need to have as independent with total integrity. We can never allow, never allow, this sort of interference with our prosecutors of the criminal justice system again.

SH: Senator, I’m not asking — I’m asking about the impeachment proceedings. Why are you defending the President from impeachment? Senator —

… [Leahy turns to field another question about gun control] …

PL: I was a prosecutor for eight years. I could never imagine having the governor of our state, for example, telling me who I could prosecute and who I can’t and how I should do it. Basically, they allowed in the federal system, for the president to do that and that’s wrong.

SH: Senator, why are you in effect shielding the President? You have an impeachment movement that got the State Senate in your own state and you’re in effect shielding —

PL: I think that anybody who looks at the investigations that I’ve had, what I’ve had done, nobody in their right mind would say I’m shielding the President.

[Leahy walks away]

SH: From the impeachment effort. You didn’t answer my que —

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on April 22, 2007; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]

Gonzalez and Leahy: Scandal as Cover-up?

Is the questioning of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales evidence that the Democratic Party leadership is finally scrutinizing the Bush administration? Or does it provide a useful illusion to distract from the Democrats' continued failure to raise questions about long-standing, deeper issues?

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont Thursday morning delivered a "tongue-lashing" to Gonzales: "Today the Department of Justice is experiencing a crisis of leadership perhaps unrivaled during its 137-year history," said the Vermont Democrat. "There's a growing scandal swirling around the dismissal" of prosecutors, he added.

But when I asked Leahy about investigating the impeachment of Bush and Cheney late last month, he replied only by talking about the attorney general scandal, without addressing the question of impeaching Bush and Cheney. This, even though the people he purports to represent voted to do just that in town hall meetings throughout Vermont.

Question: Senator, townspeople all over your state of Vermont have recently voted for impeachment. Do you think that the facts and the constitution, not the politics, but the facts and the Constitution merit at least investigating Bush and Cheney for impeachment?

Senator Patrick Leahy: We have a great deal of investigation going on and you'll see Kyle Sampson, the Assistant to the Attorney General appear before my committee under oath on Thursday this week and I've already go the authority for subpoenas for many others. There's not going to be a lack of asking questions. Thank you. Video is here.

But there is a lack of answering questions. Gonzales is being taken to task for not answering questions; but he's not the only one.

[originally published at on April 19, 2007]

Iraqi Ambassador questioned on Iraqi opinion, U.S. support of Kurdish militias attacking Iran, oil law, and U.S. bases

amir Al Sumadaie, the Iraqi Ambassador to the United States, was questioned outside the studios of CNN in Washington, D.C. on March 25.Continue reading for a transcript of the exchange.


Sam Husseini: A majority of Iraqis in poles seem to want to view the US as negative and to be wanting a timeline for pulling out. What’s your view?

Iraqi Ambassador to the United States, Samir Al Sumadaie: Well I think that’s a reaction. Well, I don’t know the exact details of these statistics, but that’s a reaction to their lives at the moment. Losing control of their lives, they are subject to a lot of threats. And they see this as a direct result, or the responsibility more accurately, of the United States. Whether rightly or wrongly, people react to their feelings rather than to a rational analysis always.

SH: In sectors of the US press and also of the Turkish press there are reports that Iraq is being used as a staging ground for attacks on Iran through the PKK and also through the MEK. What can you tell us about that? And why is that happening?

AS: Well, I can tell you if that is happening it is certainly against the will of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government has made it very clear that we don’t want to the be staging ground for any attack on our neighbors. We want to pose no threat to our neighbors and we will cooperate with them and with anybody else to stem such actions.

SH: Do you have any knowledge of this?

AS: I have no knowledge of this. If you tell me there are reports about this then I’ll just listen to you, but I don’t know of any such activity.

SH: Some people have been attacking the current Iraqi government and saying that its being protected by the United States in the green zone and its doing things that the US wants like passing the Iraq Oil Law, which opens the door to massive privatization and might lock in Iraq for decades to come in very unfair things that will siphon off Iraq’s oil wealth.

AS: Well that criticism is both unfair and untrue. The Iraqi Oil Law in its draft form has been negotiated very carefully between all parties in the Iraqi government. Its got to go through Parliament and have more negotiations in it. Its an entirely Iraqi process, and the United States, apart from encouraging the Iraqis to finish this task has not interfered in the details of this negotiation. So its an entirely Iraqi process.

SH: Does it open the door to privatization? And could that be—

AS: Well, if you read—Of course it does. It opens the door to the involvement of the private sector. That’s what we want. That’s a policy decision. That’s a conscious decision. But it is based on the fundamental principle that the oil and gas belongs to all Iraqi people. That is an article in the Constitution and the law does not depart from that.

SH: What about the bases? Long term US bases in Iraq, are you concerned about that?

AS: Well, that again for future Iraqi governments and parliaments to decide. Its not something that will be decided by this government. And its not going to be decided finally by this Parliament. For the time being, there is an American presence, in fact, an international presence in Iraq anchored in international law based on security council resolutions. With the consent of the elected Iraqi government, there is in Resolution 16.37 a clause which permits the Iraqi government to request the departure of these troops at anytime. So this presence is subject to the agreement and the approval of the Iraqi government, the elected Iraqi government. Now, in future what will happen will have to be left to future governments.

SH: You mentioned the international community and so on. How would you envision—are there plans or ideas on the table to get the international community in to take the place of the United States either through the Arab League or through the United Nations?

AS: Well I don’t know if it is to take the place of the United States, but everybody is need to help. The recent meeting in Baghdad plus the P5, the permanent members of the Security Council, was an important first step in engaging our neighbors and the rest of the community in helping with the security situation. We had the launch of the Iraq Compact in New York on the 16th of this month. Again that’s engaging the international community on the development and reconstruction in Iraq because we cannot just move on the security tract, we need to move on parallel with that on the political and economic tracks to make that work.

SH: But it terms of the security track its questionable whether its going to be working with the United States?

AS: It is questionable, but we cannot declare victory, as it were, but there are encouraging signs. We have to remember that deployment has not been completed, to take another month or two before deployment is complete even and its far too early to know the results, we expect it to become clear in sort of late summer, early autumn. Thank you very much indeed. Thank you.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on March 28, 2007; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]

Leahy avoids impeachment question

Sam Husseini asked Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont about investigating the White House in regards to impeachment proceedings. The Senator spoke about other investigations under way, but did not address the issue of impeachment. This exchange took place on March 25, 2007.

Sam Husseini: Senator, townspeople all over your state of Vermont have recently voted for impeachment. Do you think that the facts and the constitution, not the politics, but the facts on the Constitution merit at least investigating Bush and Cheney for impeachment?

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT): We have a great deal of investigation going on and you’ll see Kyle Samp son, the Assistant to the Attorney General appear before my committee under oath on Thursday this week and I’ve already go the authority for subpoenas for many others. There’s not going to be a lack of asking questions. Thank you.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on March 28, 2007; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]

Sen. Hagel: On news of US-supported attacks on Iran, war funding and his war support

Senator Hagel was questioned about recent reports of Kurdish militias receiving U.S. support and operating out of Iraq to launch attacks into Iran. The Senator said he had no knowledge of these reports. Sam Husseini also questioned Hagel about his vote to give the President the authorization to use force and the lead-up to the Iraq war. When Husseini pressed that some public information existed at the time that could cause one to doubt the President’s claims before the war, Hagel insisted that “the entire intelligence community of this government, all 16 agencies,” and our allies were all convinced of the existence of weapons of mass destruction, although Hagel also admitted regretting his vote.

Continue reading for a transcript of the exchange.


Sam Husseini: Senator, you’re of course on both on the Foreign Relations and the Intelligence Committee. Reese Erlich, long-time Iraq specialist, and others are reporting that the U.S. is already using Iraq as a staging ground to conduct attacks on Iran. Is that true, to your knowledge, and doesn’t that further escalate tensions in the region?

Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE): Well, I am not aware of any pre-planning in Iraq to attack Iran.

SH: Ongoing low-level attacks are supposed to be happening.

CH: I’m not aware of any of that. A concern I have had, and I’ve said that it’s of concern, that anytime you are at war, like we are at war in Iraq, and the President’s comments a couple of months ago about pursuing the Iranians across the border, just as we recall from our experience in Vietnam, when the government said we were not in Cambodia and we were not in Laos, in fact we were. These things happen. And we need to pay attention to this. We don’t need to escalate an already big situation and a troubling situation. The one that we are going to have to unwind and that is the war in Iraq — and find an exit strategy — we don’t need to escalate that into Iran. We are far wiser in pursuing, as we are, with the United Nations, a course of action in dealing with Iran.

SH: If Congress exercised its right to cut off funding to the—to really end the war in Iraq, do you think the President would leave the troops in a lurch or would he withdrawal in a responsible fashion?

CH: Well, the President, depending on what the Congress would say would have to abide by a law. Now, he could veto a law, a bill, as he said he would veto the bill the House passed and I don’t know what the Senate is going to do this week. Certainly, the President has that Constitutional authority, but we are not there yet. But the bigger issue here is the President should reach out to the Congress and cooperate. We have a very dangerous situation in Iraq. Its not getting better. Its getting worse. If its getting better, than why are we escalating our involvement? If things are getting better, than why are we putting more troops in and all or our allies are leaving? Of course its not getting better. Its getting worse. I’m opposed to that escalation and I think a number of members of Congress are, reflected by what the House did on Friday so we’re going to continue to affect our Constitutional abilities to change the course of action of our involvement in Iraq.

SH: Do you regret your war vote? And do you think the administration believed that intelligence or did they work to rig it?

CH: Well, if you’re referring to the resolution, the Iraq War Resolution of 2002, that was not a resolution to go to war, that was resolution that would empower the President of the United States to take military action if it was the last course of action he could take, the last resort, after exhausting all the diplomatic efforts. So, I think we need to be clear around that. It wasn’t a resolution to go to war or not go to war.

Second, your question, about do I regret it? Yes. If I could vote again, I would vote against it. The fact is that the war in Iraq was a war of choice. Saddam Hussein was not an imminent threat to the United States or anyone else. The fact is containment was working. The fact is he didn’t control 60% of his country. We had overflights in the north and the south. Those where F-16s that would fly our to Saudi Arabia. The fact is he was slowly strangling in the 40% of his country. That was a needless commitment of American blood and treasure. And if that vote was held again today, I’d vote against it.

SH: Do you think that they rigged the intelligence?


SH: Everything you said about Iraq a moment ago was known at the time. How do you explain—In your speak you said, “The risk of inaction is too high” and so on. You voted for and seemed to believe that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Was there a propaganda effort? Were you fooled by it? If so why?

CH: What you just said is not true? You just said that everything that we know today, we knew at the time.

SH: We certainly knew that Saddam Hussein did not control his entire region. We knew we had overflights and all that.

CH: I’m not going to debate you, but what you said is not true. That fact is,the entire intelligence community of this government, all 16 agencies, told the President as well as the intelligence agencies from other countries to all our allies, did believe and did say that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on March 28, 2007; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]

Sen. Hatch on the Democrats and war funding, reports of U.S.-supported militia attacks on Iran

On March 25 Sam Husseini spoke with Senator Orrin Hatch outside of CNN’s Washington studios. Hatch claimed that Saddam kicked out the UN weapons inspectors, contradicting the public record that the inspectors were withdrawn. Hatch also claimed that Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, told him that the inspectors could not get any further than they did, although ElBaradei is also on the public record as having asked for more time and attesting to working inspections.

Continue reading for a transcript of the exchange.


Sam Husseini: Senator, if Congress—

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT): Now that was a long answer and its not a sound byte, but it’s an important answer.

SH: If Congress exercised its right to cut off funding to really end the Iraq war, do you think that the President would leave the troops in a lurch or wouldn’t he withdrawal them in a responsible fashion?

OH: Well, Congress has the right to cut off funding. The Democrats don’t have the guts to do that and the reason they don’t is because they don’t have the votes either.

In fact, its amazing to me that they continue to push this awful resolution that the House has pushed knowing that the President will veto it and knowing that his veto will be upheld. Its all an exercise in politics that undermines our troops and I don’t think anybody could look at it fairly and say, “This is beneficial to our troops in the field.” And frankly, it undermines the free-seeking, the freedom-seeking, Iraqi peoples and so I get so tired of the politics.

But if the Democrats really believe that we should end that war and we should get out of there, then they could if they want to try to cut off the funds. I don’t think they have the guts to try that. I think the American people would really be offended by that, cause that would really be leaving our troops high and dry and leaving the Iraqi people high and dry In a way that could lead not only to civil war but to death and destruction of hundreds of thousands of people and I think in a wrongful fashion.

SH: People are raising concerns about two aspects of Iraq policy that they see as infringing upon Iraqi sovereignty. Specifically, the oil law which some people think sectors of the Administration are sort of forcing down Iraq’s throat that might end up leading to privatization and the establishment of long-term US bases.

OH: The only thing the United States is trying to do in the oil law is, as I see it, is to make sure its distributed, that the benefits are distributed fairly among the three major factions.

SH: There are also aspects of it that deal with possible privatization. You’re not aware of that?

OH: I’m aware of ideas. I don’t think anybody is pushing that that hard.

SH: The filibuster, the way that the filibuster—some people have argued that there’s a discrepancy in how the filibuster is applied to—Its on the table on general matters, and its off the table when Bush wants to get a judicial nomination through, that there’s a double standard as to when the filibuster is on the table in the Senate.

OH: Both sides use filibusters to stop legislation that they don’t agree with or stop nominations that they don’t agree with. That a right of either side to do that. Its not—you know—I might disagree with the use of filibusters against judges which, of course, has never been done before. At least in my view, and I study and research it pretty carefully. But I have no problem with either side filibustering if they feel strongly about various issues. But on judges, I don’t believe there should be filibusters.

SH: Do—

OH: We have an obligation to confirm or not confirm. That’s our obligation.

SH: Do you regret your Iraq vote for the authorization of the President to
initiate the invasion?

OH: Not at all.

SH: And it terms of statements that were made about Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction. Other people didn’t buy it. Kucinich didn’t buy it. Ron Paul
didn’t buy it. Do you regret having bought some of that.

OH: If you’re going to cite Ron Paul as an expert of some of these things I
think that’s a mistake. He’s a member of Congress and deserves credibility but
he’s certainly not an expert on these areas.

With regard to the war resolution, I believe I voted properly. At that time, virtually every free nation that had an intelligence capability agreed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, agreed that Iraq had the capacity of fostering terrorism, agreed that they had used chemical weapons against their own people, the Kurds in the north, and that they actually had people in place who could have developed a nuclear device. So we all voted on the basis of that faulty intelligence, it was faulty in the sense that they had all of these weapons in place, it was not faulty in the sense that they had the capacity to develop those weapons. We moved in on truthful—what we thought were truthful reasons. And of course, as you know we have bottled up a lot of terrorism in the process. So, would we have gone in had we known that there were no weapons of mass destruction, you know, that’s another question.

SH: The administration cut short the inspectors. The inspectors were still saying. “We wanted more time” in early 2002.

OH: They cut short the inspectors, Saddam Hussein did. The fact of the matter is the UN inspectors left Iraq because they did not feel that they could continue because they did not have the support of the government at the time. So, no. We, and I personally talked to the UN inspector and he indicated that they weren’t able to go any farther than what they did.

SH: Which inspector?

OH: What?

SH: Which inspector did you talk to?

OH: Well, the head of the EA is who I talked to.

SH: Mohamed ElBaradei

OH: Uh-huh.

SH: There are some reports in US press as well as in the Turkish press that the US is using, with the PKK, Iraq as a staging ground for launching attacks on Iran. Are you aware of this?

OH: That’s totally false.

SH: How do you know that?

OH: That’s totally false. I’m aware of the accusations. I’m also aware of how totally false they are. Now, lets face it. We are concerned about Iranian influence and weapons being sent into Iraq to undermine the freedom that we hope Iraqis can have. And there’s some indication that Iranian weapons and other military devices have been seen into Iraq and are causing a lot of problems. We’re also concerned about Iran stirring up conflicts between the Sunnis and the Shiites. And frankly, I think could even go farther and say the Kurds as well. So, yes, we’re concerned about that, but we’re not concerned about going to war or doing anything overtly against the Iranians other than within Iraq.

SH: What happens if the administration launches an attack on Iran?

OH: They’re not gonna do that.

SH: They’re not gonna do that?

OH: No. Nobody’s even thinking of that. Nobody’s even had the slightest thought
along those lines. And that’s just a phony—

SH: Bush says everything is on the table.

OH: Well, lets put it this way, everything is on the table but nobody’s going to do that. It
would take some really serious thing for that to occur. And I don’t know anybody who wants to do that in the
administration or out of it.

SH: How exactly do you know that those things are false, that the allegations that the US is using the PKK or other forces to attack Iran, how do you know that that’s false? Who are trusting with that?

OH: I’m on the Intelligence Committee.

SH: Yes?

OH: That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

SH: But couldn’t you—

OH: That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

SH: You also believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

OH: I don’t believe that they have weapons of mass destruction.

SH: But you believed—

OH: Everybody believed that. All of the intelligence agencies: Britain, France, Germany, the United States believed they had weapons of mass destruction at the time that we decided to enter into this conflict.

SHBut people like Scott Ritter were saying that they didn’t. Dingell—

OH: He said that afterwards and he is not the authority on these matters. Lets be honest about it. Our intelligence was faulty. I’m right in the middle of all of that and it was faulty. But everybody who was anybody believed it at the time that there were weapons of mass destruction and that’s why we went in there. That’s one of the reasons we went in there. There were others as well. We believed that Al Qaeda had influence in Iraq that could have transcended. Today, we know they do. We know that Zarqawi and others were affiliated with Al Qaeda, we also know that they are a constant menacing force in Anbar Province.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on March 28, 2007; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]