Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Dean's claims and accusations on the war
Finally, we are standing up to this chronic misrepresenter.Scroll down for the waffler's problems on the war resolution.
Dean has also implied in a number of cases that he opposed giving the president authority to take action in Iraq. Yet on most of those occasions, Dean has not explained that, at the time, he supported an alternate Congressional resolution that would also have granted the president authority to take unilateral action if he made additional certifications to Congress before doing so. Dean contends having to make these certifications would have prevented Bush from taking action, but this subtle distinction is often lost in his rhetoric.
The Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq passed in October 2002 with the support of Dean rivals Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-MO, Senator John Kerry, D-MA, Senator Joe Lieberman, D-CT, and Senator John Edwards, D-NC. As CNN reported at the time, it "requires Bush to declare to Congress either before or within 48 hours after beginning military action that diplomatic efforts to enforce the U.N. resolutions have failed. Bush also must certify that action against Iraq would not hinder efforts to pursue the Al Qaeda terrorist network that attacked New York and Washington last year. And it requires the administration to report to Congress on the progress of any war with Iraq every 60 days." (Bush has taken these steps as required.)
Dean did not support this resolution. However, as Kerry and Gephardt have pointed out and as Ron Fournier reported last week in the Associated Press, Dean supported an alternate resolution known as Biden-Lugar:[T]he former Vermont governor rarely mentions his support of a resolution by Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Joe Biden, D-Del., that would have asked Bush to get a new U.N. resolution to enforce weapons inspections in Iraq.If the United Nations had declined, the president would have had to make a formal determination that the Iraqi threat was so serious that the use of military force would be necessary.Bush would have been required to send Congress a letter -- not seek a vote of approval -- before waging war, Kerry said. He argued there was no significant difference between the Lugar-Biden resolution and the one passed by Congress.Dean acknowledged that the alternative resolution was not binding against the president, but argued that Bush would have somehow been more likely to use restraint."Biden-Lugar required the president to come back to Congress -- not for a vote," but only to certify that a number of actions were taken, including more diplomacy, Dean said. "Had the president done that, we would not have gone to war, because then he would have been forced to certify with his word ... all the claims he made that were not true."
Dean may believe that requiring additional certifications to Congress would have prevented war due to political considerations (Bush "would have been forced to certify with his word ... all the claims he made that were not true"), but this is an assertion about a hypothetical. It is undisputed, however, that Biden-Lugar would have granted the president authority to take unilateral action against Iraq if the UN failed to act and Bush satisfied the requirements of the legislation. Dean has implicitly acknowledged this distinction at times, such as a statement on the February 25, 2003 edition of PBS's "Newshour with Jim Lehrer" in which he said "What they [his rivals] voted for was to allow the president of the United States to attack Iraq unilaterally without going back to Congress." (my italics)