Congressional hearings into Iraq's weapons program are pointless, Libertarians say
Libertarian Party Press Release - June 20, 2003
WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressional hearings into the Bush administration's claims about Iraq's weapons program are a waste of time, Libertarians say, because the public already knows that presidents routinely lie or exaggerate to justify waging war.
"Surprise! It appears that another U.S. leader has manipulated facts and exaggerated threats in order to whip up war hysteria," said Joe Seehusen, executive director of the Libertarian Party, which staunchly opposed the invasion of Iraq.
"Do we really need a congressional hearing to discover that politicians are adept at using words as weapons of mass deception?"
Prompted by the continuing failure to find chemical or biological weapons since Baghdad fell on April 9, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is holding hearings into the accuracy of the Bush administration's prewar claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Over the past several weeks Bush has been stung by allegations from intelligence officials and others that he misused intelligence data to justify the war.
But congressional hearings are utterly pointless, Libertarians say, because they will only tell Americans what they already know.
"History is replete with examples of U.S. leaders lying our country into war, so why should we expect this war to be any different?" he asked.
A few specific cases:
* In 1898, the U.S.S. Maine blew up off the coast of Cuba, killing over 250 U.S. sailors. Although most historians believe it was an accident, Congress used "Remember the Maine" as a rallying cry to declare war on Spain.
* In 1964, two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin reported being fired upon by the North Vietnamese -- an attack that in reality never happened. Yet President Lyndon Johnson used the incident to win support for a Congressional resolution authorizing military force in Vietnam.
* In 1990, President George Bush Sr. perpetrated the infamous "babies-being-pulled-from-incubators hoax," which claimed that Iraqi troops had invaded a hospital in Kuwait City, ripped babies from incubators and shipped the incubators off to Baghdad. After the war it was determined that the story had been fabricated by a Washington public relations firm that had been paid $10.7 million by the government of Kuwait.
With such a track record of presidential deceit, it's disingenuous for Congress to pretend to be shocked by another misuse of intelligence data, Seehusen said.
"Perhaps Congress is hoping that these hearings will shield them from responsibility for a war that didn't have to be fought," he noted.
"Keep in mind that last October, 296 Representatives and 77 Senators voted in favor of a resolution supporting the invasion of Iraq. So every one of these individuals is just as responsible as Bush for the consequences of that decision -- and convening a hearing won't change that."
Seehusen acknowledged that it may be too early to say definitively that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.
"But if such evidence does turn up, two serious questions remain," Seehusen said.
"One, did the weapons exist in a sufficient amount to pose an actual threat to the United States? The fact that Saddam declined to use WMD even when the destruction of his regime became imminent is a strong indication that they did not.
"Two, even if Saddam did have such weapons, would he have used them to attack the United States if a U.S. strike against Iraq were not planned?"
"At the very least, Bush's claims about Iraq seem to have been exaggerated, and at worst, completely untrue.
"The way to avoid unnecessary wars in the future is to demand the truth before the war -- rather than holding congressional hearings after the war."