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The "Official Secrets' Movie vs. Joe Biden's Lies About the Iraq War

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A basic flaw in Biden's latest Iraq doubletalk has to do with his inversion of actual timing. Either he can't remember when the Iraqi government agreed to allow U.N. weapons inspectors back into Iraq -- or he's so desperate to keep lying about his actual record on the Iraq war that he can't bring himself to be truthful.

Biden is claiming that he voted for the war resolution so it would be possible to get U.N. weapons inspectors into Iraq. During the ABC debate last week, Biden said that he voted for the Iraq invasion authorization "to allow inspectors to go in to determine whether or not anything was being done with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons." But his claim has the timing backwards.

The Iraqi government announced on September 16, 2002 -- with a letter hand-delivered to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan -- that it would allow the U.N. weapons inspectors back in "without conditions." The New York Times reported the big news under the headline "U.N. Inspectors Can Return Unconditionally, Iraq Says." That was a full 25 days before Biden voted with virtually every Republican and most Democratic senators to approve the Iraq war resolution.

How could that resolution he voted for on October 11 be viewed as a tool for leverage so the Iraqi government would (in Biden's words) "allow inspectors to go in" -- when the Iraqi government had already agreed to allow inspectors several weeks earlier?

I have a vivid memory of when the news of that agreement broke. I was in Baghdad near the end of a trip with an independent delegation organized and sponsored by the Institute for Public Accuracy (where I'm executive director) that included then-Congressman Nick Rahall and former Senator James Abourezk. We had just met with Iraq's number two official, Tariq Aziz. In its coverage, the Washington Post reported on September 16: "Iraq maintains that all its weapons of mass destruction have been destroyed. The deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, insisted . . . that even if his government readmitted the weapons inspectors, the United States and Britain would proceed with military action. 'It's doomed if you do, doomed if you don't,' he said."

Hours later, when the news came that Iraq would allow U.N. weapons inspectors without restrictions, it removed the get-the-inspectors-into-Iraq excuse for the war resolution that was then making its way through Congress. But it's an excuse that Biden has now dusted off and pressed into service, twisting the timeline of actual events.

The congressional resolution that Biden spoke for and voted for on the Senate floor was clear, stating: "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."

Four months later, in February 2003, at a time when Katharine Gun was anxiously waiting to see whether the NSA document that she had leaked to a British news outlet would actually be revealed to the public, Biden was proclaiming his support for the imminent invasion. He told a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Delaware: "I supported the resolution to go to war. I am not opposed to war to remove weapons of mass destruction from Iraq."

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Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched Bernie Delegates Network. (more...)
 

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