Maher, shortly after the war started, told CNN’s Larry King: “I always said I did not think going after a country that was not directly involved in 9/11 … was not the approach. … But you know what? The idea that Bush has — and it is a big idea, I got to give him that. He’s a guy with big ideas. The idea of transforming the Middle East and fighting this in a long-range way by having democracy in Iraq is not the worst idea I could think of, and I’m rooting for that plan.” Yes, that Bill Maher.
Third, Bush supposedly “squandered” the post 9/11 bipartisanship by finding no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, shattering the rationale for the war, and thus making many Americans feel “lied to.”
Lied to? Bush retained the same CIA director, George Tenet, as served under Bill Clinton. Months after the start of the Iraq War, former President Bill Clinton visited Portugal. The Portuguese prime minister later said, “When Clinton was here recently he told me he was absolutely convinced, given his years in the White House and the access to privileged information which he had, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction until the end of the Saddam regime.”
Kenneth Pollack, Clinton’s Iraq expert, long opposed an Iraq war, believing the U.S. should use sanctions and inspections. But he insists that the intel unanimously supported the assumption that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD: “The intelligence community convinced me and the rest of the Clinton Administration that Saddam had reconstituted his WMD programs following the withdrawal of the U.N. inspectors, in 1998, and was only a matter of years away from having a nuclear weapon. … The U.S. intelligence community’s belief that Saddam was aggressively pursuing weapons of mass destruction predated Bush’s inauguration, and therefore cannot be attributed to political pressure. … Other nations’ intelligence services were similarly aligned with U.S. views. … Germany … Israel, Russia, Britain, China and even France held positions similar to that of the United States. … In sum, no one doubted that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.” So much for “lied to.”
Ten years after 9/11, we have not suffered another successful major attack on our soil. That Bush did the right thing is evidenced by his successor’s reluctant embrace of nearly all his predecessor’s policies that — along with a little luck — have kept us safe for 10 years. And counting.
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