Monday, January 12, 2004


Washington state correspondent Eric LeMay summons from the dusty wastes of the Internet a September 2002 article noting Congress authorized President Clinton -- in September 1998 -- to help “remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein.”

Fascinating to look back. But what’s notable is that, although a litany of Hussein’s offenses is given, including the use of chemical weapons against Kurds and “a pattern of deception and concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs,” Congress doesn’t accuse Hussein of actually having those weapons.

This is interesting because the Bush administration and many others have defended the flawed weapons intelligence that led us to last year’s war by saying the same information was cited by previous administrations. Perhaps; but Congress certainly showed restraint, if not intriguingly canny foresight, by not mentioning it even in urging the president to take out Hussein.

In fact, their call was for Clinton “to call upon the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, and other criminal violations of international law.”

And, sorry to be glib about it, but I can’t imagine what Clinton was doing with his time when he could have been transforming Iraq into a democratic paradise.

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