Where was the Leadership?
Manchester, NH, July 22, 2003
At the time, even though I was a governor of a small state in New England, there were many unanswered questions in my mind and in the mind of many Americans about the nature of the threat posed. Many of us continued to ask these difficult questions in the months leading to the war, and continue to ask those questions to this day.
Last week, I called upon the Administration to answer sixteen questions about their leadership and candor in leading us to war.
Today, I ask some important questions of those in Congress who had the power to seek the truth nine months ago, who had the power to involve the American people in the debate prior to the Congressional vote, who had the power to ask the tough questions of the Administration, and yet voted to give the President blank check authority to go to war with Iraq anyway.
We now find out that prior to the Congressional vote, Congress was presented with intelligence casting doubts on the existence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program or attempts to develop one. Why did those in Congress not question the Administration's claims that Iraq posed a nuclear threat to the United States prior to voting to give the Administration blank check authority to go to war?
In September, 2002, the White House released its new National Security Strategy in which it laid out the Bush Doctrine, stating that the President had the authority to use anticipatory force any time it perceived a threat, regardless of whether that threat was deemed to be imminent. This publicly announced controversial new doctrine turned forty years of bipartisan consensus on foreign policy on its head, and should have been reason enough to vote against the war. So why did the Congress vote to give the President blank check authority to go to war, thereby setting the precedent that the Bush Doctrine was acceptable?
Perhaps most importantly, why is it that those in Congress have waited until now to question the intelligence, to question the lack of post-war planning, to question the skyrocketing costs of this war. Why were they not asking these questions and seeking the truth nine months ago, BEFORE they voted to give the President blank check authority to go to war?
That is not leadership.
Leadership is standing up to an Administration despite the polls. Leadership is asking the right questions at the right time.
Leadership is sticking to your guns and standing on principle.