Congressional Record: June 24, 2003 (Senate)
Page S8398-S8400                        

                   Prewar Intelligence Investigation

  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, the news is just on the wires that six 
British troops have been killed near Basra in Iraq. Every day--every 
day--brings us sad tidings of American and/or Allied troops being 
killed in Iraq.
  How much longer--how much longer, Mr. President--are our American 
fighting men and women going to have to remain in harm's way in a 
foreign land? How much longer are our National guardsmen and women and 
reservists going to have to be away from home?
  The President announced not too long ago that major hostilities had 
ended. Were we told by this administration how long our military forces 
will be required to run these terrible risks that daily confront them 
in this biblical land of Mesopotamia, land between the two great 
rivers? I often asked the question, before the war began, What is going 
to be the cost? What is the plan? What is the administration's plan? 
What about the morning after the war ends?
  No announcement has been made at this point that the war has ended, 
only that major hostilities no longer exist. And then there were public 
disagreements as to how many Americans would be needed in Iraq to bring 
about a safe and secure society.
  I try to put myself in the place of a father or a husband of one of 
our military personnel in Iraq. I try to imagine the pain and the 
suffering on the part of those who wait--who wait--at home for the 
return of their loved ones.
  Last fall, the White House released a national security strategy that 
called for an end to the doctrines of deterrence and containment that 
have been a hallmark of American foreign policy for more than half a 
  This new national security strategy is based upon preemptive war--
something unheard of in the past experiences, practices, and policies 
of our Nation--preemptive war against those who might threaten our 
  Such a strategy of striking first against possible dangers is heavily 
reliant upon interpretation of accurate and timely intelligence. If we 
are going to hit first, based on perceived dangers, the perceptions had 
better be accurate. If our intelligence is faulty, we may launch 
preemptive wars against countries that do not pose a real threat 
against us or we may overlook countries that do pose real threats to 
our security, allowing us no chance to pursue diplomatic solutions to 
stop a crisis before it escalates to war. In either case, lives could 
be needlessly lost. In other words, we had better be certain that we 
can discern the imminent threats from the false alarms.
  Just 96 days ago, as of June 24, President Bush announced that he had 
initiated a war to ``disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the 
world from grave danger.'' The President told the world:

       Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly--yet, our 
     purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our 
     friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw 
     regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass 

  The President has since announced that major combat operations 
concluded on May 1. He said:

       Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle 
     of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

  Since then, Mr. President, the United States has been recognized by 
the international community as the occupying power in Iraq. And yet we 
have not found any evidence that would confirm the officially stated 
reason that our country was sent to war; namely, that Iraq's weapons of 
mass destruction constituted a grave threat to the United States--a 
grave threat to the United States.
  We have heard a lot about revisionist history from the White House of 
late in answer to those who question whether there was ever a real 
threat from Iraq. But it is the President who appears to me to be 
intent on revising history.
  There is an abundance of clear and unmistakable evidence that the 
administration sought to portray Iraq as a direct, deadly, and imminent 
threat to the American people. But there is a great difference between 
the handpicked intelligence that was presented by the administration to 
Congress and the American people when compared against what we have 
actually discovered in Iraq. This Congress and the American people, who 
sent us here, are entitled to an explanation from this administration.
  On January 28, 2003, President Bush said in his State of the Union 

       The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein 
     recently sought significant quantities of uranium from 

  Yet, according to news reports, the CIA knew this claim was false as 
early as March 2002. In addition, the International Atomic Energy 
Agency has since discredited this allegation.
  On February 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the United 
Nations Security Council:

       Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a 
     stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons 
     agents. That is enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets.

  But, the truth is, to date we have not found any of this material, 
nor those thousands of rockets loaded with chemical weapons.
  On February 8, President Bush told the Nation:

       We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently 
     authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons--
     the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.

  Well, I say to my fellow Senators, we are all relieved that such 
weapons were not used, but it has not yet been explained why the Iraqi 
Army did not use them. Did the Iraqi Army flee their positions before 
chemical weapons could be used? If so, why were the weapons not left 
behind? Or is it that the army was never issued chemical weapons?
  We need answers. We need answers to these and other such questions.
  On March 16, the Sunday before the war began, in an interview with 
Tim Russert, Vice President Cheney said the Iraqis want ``to get rid of 
Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States 
when we come to do that.'' Vice President Cheney said the Iraqis want 
``to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the 
United States when we come to do that.''
  He added:

       . . . the vast majority of them would turn Saddam Hussein 
     in in a minute if, in fact, they thought they could do so 

  But, today Iraqi cities remain in disorder. Our troops are under 
attack as well as our allies. Our occupation government lives and works 
in fortified compounds, and we are still trying to determine the fate 
of the ousted murderous dictator.
  On March 30, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, during the height 
of the war, said of the search for weapons of mass destruction:

[[Page S8399]]

       We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit 
     and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.

  Well, Mr. President, Baghdad fell to our troops on April 9 and Tikrit 
on April 14, and the intelligence about which Secretary of Defense 
Rumsfeld spoke has not led us to any weapons of mass destruction. 
Whether or not intelligence reports were bent, stretched, or massaged 
to make Iraq look like an imminent threat to the United States, it is 
clear that the administration's rhetoric played upon the well-founded 
fears of the American public about future acts of terrorism. But upon 
close examination, many of these statements have nothing to do with 
intelligence because they are, at root, just sound bites based on 
conjecture. They are designed to prey upon public fear.

  The face of Osama bin Laden morphed into that of Saddam Hussein. 
President Bush carefully blurred these images in his State of the Union 
Address. Listen to this quote from the President's State of the Union 

       Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other 
     plans--this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one 
     vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to 
     bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.

  Judging by this speech, not only is the President confusing al-Qaida 
and Iraq, but he also appears to give a vote of no confidence to our 
homeland security efforts. Isn't the White House the brains behind the 
Department of Homeland Security? Isn't the administration supposed to 
be stopping those vials, canisters, and crates from entering our 
country rather than trying to scare our fellow citizens half to death 
about them?
  Not only did the administration warn about more hijackers carrying 
deadly chemicals, the White House even went so far as to suggest that 
the time it would take for U.N. inspectors to find solid smoking gun 
evidence of Saddam's illegal weapons would put the United States at 
greater risk of nuclear attack from Iraq.
  National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was quoted as saying on 
September 9, 2002, by the Los Angeles Times:

       We don't want the ``smoking gun'' to be a mushroom cloud.

  ``Threat by Iraq Grows,'' this is the headline that was in the Los 
Angeles Times.
  Well, talk about hype. Mushroom clouds? Where is the evidence for 
this? Where is the evidence for that hype? There isn't any.
  On September 26, 2002, just 2 weeks before Congress voted on the 
resolution to allow the President to invade Iraq and 6 weeks before the 
midterm elections, President Bush himself built the case that Iraq was 
plotting to attack the United States.
  After meeting with members of Congress on that date, the President 

       The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our 
     country is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and 
     chemical weapons. . . . The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, 
     and with fissile material, could build one within a year.

  Well, these are the President's words. He said that Saddam Hussein is 
seeking a nuclear bomb. Have we found any evidence to date of this 
chilling allegation? No.
  But President Bush continued on that autumn day:

       The dangers we face will only worsen from month to month 
     and from year to year. To ignore these threats is to 
     encourage them. And when they have fully materialized, it may 
     be too late to protect ourselves and our friends and our 
     allies. By then, the Iraqi dictator would have the means to 
     terrorize and dominate the region. Each passing day could be 
     the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX--nerve 
     gas--or some day a nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally.

  Yet, 7 weeks after declaring victory in the war against Iraq, we have 
seen nary a shred of evidence to support the President's claims of 
grave, dangerous chemical weapons, links to al-Qaida, or nuclear 
  Just days before a vote on a resolution that handed the President 
unprecedented war powers, President Bush stepped up the scare tactics. 
On October 7, just 4 days before the October vote in the Senate on the 
war resolution, the President had this to say:

       We know that Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network share 
     a common enemy--the United States of America. We know that 
     Iraq and al-Qaida have had high-level contacts that go back a 

  He continued:

       We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in 
     bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. . . . Alliance with 
     terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America 
     without leaving any fingerprints.

  President Bush also elaborated on claims of Iraq's nuclear program 
when he said:

       The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its 
     nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous 
     meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his 
     ``nuclear mujahideen''--his nuclear holy warriors. . . . If 
     the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount 
     of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single 
     softball, he could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year.

  Wasn't that enough to keep you awake, Senators? This is the kind of 
pumped-up intelligence and outrageous rhetoric that was given to the 
American people to justify a war with Iraq. This is the same kind of 
hyped evidence that was given to Congress to sway its vote for war on 
October 11, 2002.
  We hear some voices saying, well, why should we care? After all, the 
United States won the war, didn't it? Saddam Hussein is no more. Iraq 
is no longer a threat. He is either dead or on the run, so what does it 
matter if reality does not reveal the same grim picture that was so 
carefully painted before the war. So what. So what if the menacing 
characterizations that conjured up visions of mushroom clouds and 
American cities threatened with deadly germs and chemicals were 
overdone. So what.
  Our sons and daughters who serve in uniform answered the call to 
duty. They were sent to the hot sands of the Middle East to fight in a 
war that has already cost the lives of 194 Americans to this moment, 
thousands of innocent civilians, and unknown numbers of Iraqi soldiers. 
Our troops are still at risk. Hardly a day goes by that there is not 
another attack on the troops who are trying to restore order to a 
country teetering on the brink of anarchy. When are they coming home?
  The President told the American people we were compelled to go to war 
to secure our country from a grave threat. Are we any safer today than 
we were on March 18, 2003? Our Nation has been committed to rebuilding 
a country ravaged by war and tyranny, and the cost of that task is 
being paid for in blood and in treasure every day.
  It is in the compelling national interest to examine what we were 
told about the threat from Iraq. This is not revisionist history. These 
words are plain English words that I have quoted. It is in the 
compelling national interest to know if the intelligence was faulty. It 
is in the compelling national interest to know if the intelligence was 
distorted. It is in the national interest to know if the intelligence 
was manipulated.
  Mr. President, Congress must face this issue squarely. Congress 
should begin immediately an investigation into the intelligence that 
was presented to the American people about the prewar estimates of 
Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and the way in which that 
intelligence might have been misused. This is no time for a timid, 
tippy-toe Congress. Congress has a responsibility to act in the 
national interest and to protect the American people, and we must get 
to the bottom of this matter.
  Although some timorous steps have been taken in the past few days to 
begin a review of this intelligence--I must watch my words carefully, 
for I may be tempted to use the word ``investigation'' or ``inquiry'' 
to describe this review, and those are terms which I am told are not 
supposed to be used--the proposed measures appear to fall short of what 
the situation requires. We are already shading our terms about how to 
describe the proposed review of intelligence: cherry-picking words to 
give the American people the impression that the Government is fully in 
control of the situation, and that there is no reason to ask tough 
questions. This is the same problem that got us into this controversy 
about slanted intelligence reports. Word games, lots and lots of word 
  This is no game. For the first time in our history, the United States 
has gone to war because of intelligence reports claiming that a country 
posed a threat to our Nation. Congress should not be content to use 
standard operating procedures to look into this extraordinary matter.

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  We should accept no substitute for a full, bipartisan investigation 
by Congress into the issue of our prewar intelligence on the threat 
from Iraq and the use of that intelligence.
  The purpose of such an investigation is not to play preelection year 
politics, nor is it to engage in what some might call ``revisionist 
history.'' Rather, it is to get at the truth. The longer questions are 
allowed to fester about what our intelligence knew about Iraq, and when 
our intelligence knew it, the greater the risk that American people, 
whom we are elected to serve, will lose confidence in our Government.
  This looming crisis of trust is not limited to the public. Many of my 
colleagues were willing to trust the administration and vote to 
authorize war against Iraq. Many Members of this body trusted so much 
that they gave the President sweeping authority to commence war. As 
President Reagan famously said, ``Trust, but verify.'' Despite my 
opposition, the Senate voted to blindly trust the President with 
unprecedented--unprecedented, unprecedented--power to declare war. 
Shame. While the reconstruction continues, so do the questions, and it 
is time to verify.
  I have served the people of West Virginia in Congress for half a 
century. I have witnessed deceit and scandal, coverup and aftermath. I 
have seen from both parties Presidents who once enjoyed great 
popularity among the people leave office in disgrace because they 
misled the American people. I say to this administration: Do not circle 
the wagons. Do not discourage the seeking of truth in these matters.
  The American people have questions that need to be answered about why 
we went to war with Iraq. To attempt to deny the relevance of these 
questions is to trivialize the people's trust and confidence.
  The business of intelligence is secretive by necessity, but our 
Government is open by design. We must be straight with the American 
people. Congress has the obligation to investigate the use of 
intelligence information by the administration in the open so that the 
American people can see that those who exercise power, especially the 
awesome power of preemptive war, must be held accountable. We must not 
go down the road of coverup. That is the road to ruin.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.