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Old 11-13-2005, 09:32 AM   #1
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John Edwards - I Was Wrong

I was wrong.

I wrote these words about my vote to authorize the Iraq war in a Washington Post op-ed piece and I want to share my views with you as well.

Almost three years ago, we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a very dear price. It is not right, just or fair that we made a mistake, but they pay for that mistake.

The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.

While we can't change the past, we need to accept responsibility because a key part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes or been proven wrong -- and to show that we have the creativity and guts to make it right.

The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate. The information the American people were hearing from the President -- and that I was being told by our intelligence community -- wasn't the whole story. Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war.

George Bush won't accept responsibility for his mistakes. Along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, he has made horrible mistakes at almost every step: twisting intelligence to fit their pre-conceived views about Iraq's threat; failed diplomacy; not going in with enough troops; not giving our forces the equipment they need; not having a plan for peace.

Because of these failures, Iraq is a mess and has become a far greater threat than it actually ever was. It is now a haven for terrorists, and our presence there is draining the goodwill that our country once enjoyed, diminishing our global standing. It has made fighting the global war against terrorist organizations more difficult, not less.

The urgent question isn't how we got here, but what we do now. We have to give our troops a way to end their mission honorably. That means leaving behind a success, not a failure.

What is success? I don't think it is Iraq as a Jeffersonian democracy. I think it is an Iraq that is relatively stable, largely self-sufficient, comparatively open and free, and in control of its own destiny.

A plan for success needs to focus on three interlocking objectives: reducing American presence; building Iraq's capacity; and getting other countries to meet their responsibilities to help.

First, we need to remove the image of the imperialist America from the landscape of Iraq. American contractors who have taken unfair advantage of the turmoil in Iraq need to leave Iraq. If that means Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, then KBR should go. Such departures, and the return of the work to Iraqi businesses, would be a real statement about our hopes for the new nation.

We also need to show Iraq and the world that we will not stay there forever. We've reached the point where the large number of our troops in Iraq hurts, not helps, our goals. Therefore, early next year, after the Iraqi elections and a new government has been created, we should begin the redeployment of a significant number of troops out of Iraq. This should be the beginning of a gradual process to reduce our presence and change the shape of our military's deployment in Iraq.

Most of these troops should come from National Guard or Reserve forces. That will still leave us with enough military capability, combined with better trained Iraqis, to fight terrorists and continue to help the Iraqis develop a stable country.

Second, this redeployment should work in concert with a more effective training program for Iraqi forces. We should implement a clear plan for training and hard deadlines for certain benchmarks to be met. To increase incentives, we should implement a schedule outlining that as we certify that Iraqi troops are trained and equipped, a proportional number of U.S. troops will withdraw.

Third, we must launch a serious diplomatic process that brings the world into this effort. We should bring Iraq's neighbors and our key European allies into a diplomatic process to get Iraq on its feet. It's not just in America's security interest for Iraq to succeed, but the world's -- and the President needs to create a unified international front.

Too many mistakes have already been made to make this easy. Yet we must take these steps to succeed. The American people, the Iraqi people and -- most importantly -- our troops who have died or been injured there and those who are fighting there today deserve nothing less.

America's leaders -- all of us -- need to accept the responsibility we each carry for how we got to this place. Over 2,000 Americans have lost their lives in this war; and over 150,000 are fighting there today. They and their families deserve honesty from our country's leaders. And they also deserve a clear plan for a way out.

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Old 11-13-2005, 06:39 PM   #2
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It's good that John is being honest.

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Old 11-13-2005, 09:48 PM   #3
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More and more it is how I feel on the topic.

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Old 11-14-2005, 03:55 PM   #4
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I think this is a very good angle for the Dems to take in 2008...instead of pretending they were always against the war, admit it wasn't the best decision and quickly get to explaining how they will do a better job of handling it than the Bush administration. That means plans, and (god forbid) timetables, not vague talking points about "staying the course" (whatever that means).
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Old 11-14-2005, 04:07 PM   #5
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A good angle, if they can stick to the message.

The attack on W will start before they finish the first part of the statement.
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Old 11-14-2005, 04:58 PM   #6
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Originally posted by nbcrusader

The attack on W will start before they finish the first part of the statement.
I've got no problem with "attacks" that are about life and death issues. They absolutely should be pounding W on those issues.

This is not about blowjobs, illegitimate babies and swfitboats.
At least W is getting pounded for issues that are of the highest order. It's not like it has been 8 years of White Water accusations and Monica, it's been 4 years of issues of incompetence costing lives. Sure, there is a political game at play, always is. Sort of goes without saying doesn't it?

I am not a John Edwards fan, but at least he's showing some contrition, I'll be shocked if our President ever shows any.
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Old 11-14-2005, 05:07 PM   #7
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Frankly I can't recall one time that President Bush has ever said he was wrong, not just about Iraq either.

I have much respect for John Edwards for saying he was wrong. He can't even run until 2008.
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Old 11-14-2005, 05:18 PM   #8
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^yeah, I even seem to recall some kind of televised interview where, when asked if there was anything he regretted, he was honestly at a loss for words and mumbled something about "a hard question"...

I doubt this is anything more than a political move on Edwards' part. (how can politicians feel remorse? they don't have souls. ) Still, I'm all for the Dems coming up with a concerted strategy/message for 2008 and the earlier they start the better...
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Old 11-15-2005, 02:48 PM   #9
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Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Frankly I can't recall one time that President Bush has ever said he was wrong, not just about Iraq either.

I have much respect for John Edwards for saying he was wrong. He can't even run until 2008.
Well...George did finally take responsibility for the post-Katrina messes. Yes, it was a contrived PR move based on poor polling numbers, but unlike most other times, he did acknowledge they fuct up.
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Old 11-15-2005, 02:48 PM   #10
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"I Was Wrong, but So Were You"

Parsing Bush's new mantra.
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Monday, Nov. 14, 2005, at 6:39 PM ET

The president changes his tune on Iraq

President George W. Bush has suddenly shifted rhetoric on the war in Iraq. Until recently, the administration's line was basically, "Everything we are saying and doing is right." It was a line that held him in good stead, especially with his base, which admired his constancy above all else. Now, though, as his policies are failing and even his base has begun to abandon him, a new line is being trotted out: "Yes, we were wrong about some things, but everybody else was wrong, too, so get over it."

Quite apart from the political motives behind the move, does Bush have a point? Did everybody believe, in the run-up to the war, that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction? And are Bush's Democratic critics, therefore, hypocritically rewriting history when they now protest that the president misled them—and the rest of us—into war by manipulating intelligence data?

President Bush made this claim—and thus inaugurated the new line of counterattack—at a Veterans Day speech last Friday before a guaranteed-to-cheer crowd at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania, one of the few American military bases that no sitting president had ever visited. (The White House transcript of the 50-minute speech notes a breathtaking 47 interruptions for applause.)

As with many of the president's carefully worded speeches on the subject, this one contains fragments of truth—for instance, nearly everyone, including the war's opponents, did think back in the fall of 2002 that Saddam had WMDs—but they serve only to disguise the larger falsehoods and deceptions.

Let's go to the transcript:

'Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.'

This is not true. Two bipartisan panels have examined the question of how the intelligence on Iraq's WMDs turned out so wrong. Both deliberately skirted the issue of why. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence deferred the second part of its probe—dealing with whether officials oversimplified or distorted the conclusions reached by the various intelligence agencies—until after the 2004 election, and its Republican chairman has done little to revive the issue since. Judge Laurence Silberman, who chaired a presidential commission on WMDs, said, when he released the 601-page report last March, "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us agreed that that was not part of our inquiry."

There's something misleading about Bush's wording on this point, as well: The investigation "found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments." The controversy concerns pressure from the White House and the secretary of defense to form the judgments—that is, to make sure the agencies reached specific judgments—not to change them afterward.

'They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein.'

This is an intriguingly ambiguous statement. What does he mean by "our assessment of Saddam Hussein"? Of the man—his motives, intentions, wishes, fantasies? In which case, he's right. Most of the world's intelligence agencies figured Saddam Hussein would like to have weapons of mass destruction. If he means an assessment of Saddam Hussein's capabilities, though, he's wrong: Several countries' spy agencies never bought the notion that Saddam had such weapons or the means to produce them in the near future.

'They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing the development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.'

This, too, is misleading. These resolutions called on Saddam to declare the state of his WMD arsenal and, if he claimed there was no such thing, to produce records documenting its destruction. The resolutions never claimed—or had the intention of claiming—that he had such weapons.

Saddam did demonstrably have chemical-weapons facilities when the U.N. Security Council started drafting these resolutions. But, as noted by former weapons inspector David Kay (but unnoted in President Bush's speech), President Bill Clinton's 1998 airstrikes destroyed the last of these facilities.

'[M]any of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security."'

Bush's opponent, Sen. John Kerry, did utter these words, possibly to his later regret. Still the key phrase is "to use force if necessary." Kerry has since said—as have many other Democrats who voted as he did—that they assumed the president wouldn't use force unless it really was necessary to do so, or unless the intelligence he cited was unambiguous and the threat he envisioned was fairly imminent. This, Bush never did.

That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and Senate—who had access to the same intelligence—voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

This is the crucial point: these Democrats did not have "access to the same intelligence." The White House did send Congress a classified National Intelligence Estimate, at nearly 100 pages long, as well as a much shorter executive summary. It could have been (and no doubt was) predicted that very few lawmakers would take the time to read the whole document. The executive summary painted the findings in overly stark terms. And even the NIE did not cite the many dissenting views within the intelligence community. The most thorough legislators, for instance, were not aware until much later of the Energy Department's doubts that Iraq's aluminum tubes were designed for atomic centrifuges—or of the dissent about "mobile biological weapons labs" from the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

Intelligence estimates are unwieldy documents, often studded with dissenting footnotes. Legislators and analysts with limited security clearances have often thought they had "access to intelligence," but unless they could see the footnotes, they didn't.

For instance, in the late 1950s, many senators thought President Dwight Eisenhower was either a knave or a fool for denying the existence of a "missile gap." U.S. Air Force Intelligence estimates—leaked to the press and supplied to the Air Force's allies on Capitol Hill—indicated that the Soviet Union would have at least 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles by 1962, far more than the U.S. arsenal. What the "missile gap" hawks didn't know—and Eisenhower did—was that the Central Intelligence Agency had recently acquired new evidence indicating that the Soviets couldn't possibly have more than 50 ICBMs by then—fewer than we would. (As it turned out, photoreconnaissance satellites, which were secretly launched in 1960, revealed that even that number was too high; the Soviets had only a couple of dozen ICBMs.)

So, yes, nearly everyone thought Saddam was building WMDs, just as everyone back in the late '50s thought Nikita Khrushchev was building hundreds of ICBMs. In Saddam's case, many of us outsiders (I include myself among them) figured he'd had biological and chemical weapons before; producing such weapons isn't rocket science; U.N. inspectors had been booted out of Iraq a few years earlier; why wouldn't he have them now?

What we didn't know—and what the Democrats in Congress didn't know either—was that many insiders did have reasons to conclude otherwise. There is also now much reason to believe that top officials—especially Vice President Dick Cheney and the undersecretaries surrounding Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon—worked hard to keep those conclusions trapped inside.

President Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said today that the arguments over how and why the war began are irrelevant. "We need to put this debate behind us," he said. But the truth is, no debate could be more relevant now. As the war in Iraq enters yet another crucial phase—with elections scheduled next month and Congress finally taking up the issue of whether to send more troops or start pulling them out—we need to know whether the people running the executive branch can be trusted, and the sad truth is that they cannot be."

Dispicable. What's even more sickening is that there are still people defending Bush and this war, even though the administration waging it no longer can.

BTW, the Bush defense of "ignorance" is not only pathetic, it's completely false, as this report suggests. For those who are skeptical, I highly recommend you read "The WMD Mirage: Iraq's Decade of Deception and America's False Premise for War", edited by former NYTimes reporter Craig Whitney. In it are published all the unclassified intelligence documents that the Bush Administration had access to before the war, including the NIE, IAEA report and UN reports on the state (absence) of Iraq's weapons program. It has very little editorial commentary. You can just read the reports youself and then Bush's speeches. It's really quite incriminating. All the intel reports suggested to the Bush Admin that Iraq's WMD status was not supported by evidence, making his statments about them outright lies.

One point that the article does not cover adequately: The intelligence of the other countries Bush used to defend the war (that from England, for example) knowingly came from sources (one in particular) that the CIA itself had discredited and which the Admin knew was unreliable. That defense is now a laughable PR charade.
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Old 11-17-2005, 10:48 AM   #11
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"It would be nice, fitting and pretty close to sexually exciting if Bush somehow acknowledged his mistakes and said he had learned from them."
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Old 11-17-2005, 12:04 PM   #12
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Originally posted by Dreadsox
More and more it is how I feel on the topic.

Come into the light!

But it is deadly serious.
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Old 11-22-2005, 01:17 PM   #13
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You think he'd know all this stuff already, being a psychic and all.

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