Gerald Ford Opposed Iraq War

Gerald Ford would not speak out against another President while alive, especially a Repubilcan President, but now that he has died an embargoed interview from July 2004 reveals that Gerald Ford opposed Bush’s decision to go to war. Bob Woodward reports:

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. “I don’t think I would have gone to war,” he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford’s own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford “very strongly” disagreed with the current president’s justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney — Ford’s White House chief of staff — and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford’s chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

“Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction,” Ford said. “And now, I’ve never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do.”

Later Woodward reports on how Bush would have handled Saddam:

Describing his own preferred policy toward Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Ford said he would not have gone to war, based on the publicly available information at the time, and would have worked harder to find an alternative. “I don’t think, if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly,” he said, “I don’t think I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer.”

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Kerry Goes After Bush, And Looks Towards 2008

Today’s Washington Post reports With Eye On 2008, Kerry Goes After Bush. I’ve previously posted the specifics of Kerry’s latest criticism of Bush, but this article is of interest for its discussion of Kerry running for the 2008 nomination. They note the obstacles, such as Hillary Clinton’s lead, but are somewhat misleading when quoting one poll placing Kerry forth and ignoring others that place him as high as second.

Those of us who recall the fall of 2003, when everyone said Dean was unbeatable between his lead in the polls, his netroots support, and growing list of endorsements, and recall how Kerry even trailed Al Sharpton in some polls, are not going to be concerned about today’s conventional wisdom. Nor will Kerry allow this to dissuade him:

None of this seems to discourage the Massachusetts senator. He said he has been getting a far different sense from conversations with Democrats during his travels this fall. “I’m very encouraged,” he said in an interview a few hours before his speech. “I know what the conventional wisdom is, and it’s had a good record of being wrong.”

Kerry believes he was defeated in 2004 in large part because of what he calls two lies from his opponents: one about the way America went to war in 2003, the other far more personal — the Swift Boat veterans’ attacks that challenged his Vietnam War record, crippling his campaign in August 2004.

Democrats still fault Kerry for failing to fight back against those charges, and he says he regrets that he was not more aggressive. “We thought the truth was understood,” he said. “We should have done more.” But, Kerry added: “I don’t think that should disqualify you from being president of the United States, necessarily.”

What is disqualifying, he believes, is the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy. “This war is utterly disastrous,” he said. “It’s without parallel in modern American foreign policy history in the incompetence and in the lack of effort to bring elders of both parties together and create an atmosphere of solving it. And I am incensed that young Americans are losing their lives because these guys are arrogant and incompetent.”

Those kinds of comments have drawn instant rebukes from critics in the Republican Party, and even Democrats have been reluctant to follow Kerry’s recommendations for changing policy by setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces. He predicts that more of his colleagues in the Senate will move his way after the midterm elections.

Kerry said those who have encouraged him to run again believe he can be a viable candidate. “Are there enough people who believe that?” he asked. “Can we put that together? Have I learned the lessons of getting kicked on my butt and dusted up, and can I bring a better experience to the table? I think I’ve learned a lot of lessons. The question is, can you convey that to people? I don’t know. Those are the imponderables.”

The Washington Post also has an interview with John Kerry previously conducted by Bob Woodward.

Update: Transcript of John Kerry’s appearance on Fox News Sunday.

Related Story: The Case for Kerry 2008

John Kerry and the L-Word

I’ve heard John Kerry accuse George Bush of misleading the country in public. I’ve heard of John Kerry accuse George Bush of lying in comments not intended for the public. I may be mistaken, but I do not recall John Kerry repeatedly use the word lie in public previously. Apparently the gloves are now off, and presumably Kerry is preparing for a major fight in 2008. At the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual fall fundraising dinner, the l-word was used repeatedly:

“A lie, a lie, a lie, a lie. What we have in Washington is a house of lies, and in November, we need to clean house.”

“They tell us we’re making progress in Iraq and that there is no civil war. That is a lie,” Kerry said. “It’s immoral to lie about progress in that war in order to get through a news cycle or an election cycle.”

Republicans also are lying when they claim the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley is a Democratic plot to win the midterm elections, said Kerry.

Update: Full transcript under the fold.

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Olbermann Comments on Bush’s Lies

Once again, while most of the news media is asleep, Keith Olbermann has said what needs to be said. In his latest special commentary, Olbermann responded to George Bush’s latest lies told in a speech in Colorado:

There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But he still says so.

There was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida.

But he still says so.

And thus, gripping firmly these figments of his own imagination, Mr. Cheney lives on, in defiance, and spreads—around him and before him—darkness, like some contagion of fear.

They are never wrong, and they never regret — admirable in a French torch singer, cataclysmic in an American leader.

Thus, the sickening attempt to blame the Foley scandal on the negligence of others or “the Clinton era”—even though the Foley scandal began before the Lewinsky scandal.     

Thus, last month’s enraged attacks on this administration’s predecessors, about Osama bin Laden—a projection of their own negligence in the immediate months before 9/11.

Thus, the terrifying attempt to hamstring the fundament of our freedom—the Constitution—a triumph for al Qaida, for which the terrorists could not hope to achieve with a hundred 9/11’s.

And thus, worst of all perhaps, these newest lies by President Bush about Democrats choosing to await another attack and not listen to the conversations of terrorists.

Full text under the fold, and video here.
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Bob Woodward: Bush in State of Denial

There’s not much time to blog today (and likely all weekend), but I can’t go without at least mentioning these stories. Bob Woodward’s latest book, State of Denial, is the latest blow to the Republicans going into the midterm elections. From The New York Times:

The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter and author. The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war.

The warning is described in “State of Denial,” scheduled for publication on Monday by Simon & Schuster. The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq.

As late as November 2003, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.”

The Washington Post runs a story reporting Card Urged Bush to Replace Rumsfeld, Woodward Says:

Former White House chief of staff Andrew Card on two occasions tried and failed to persuade President Bush to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to a new book by Bob Woodward that depicts senior officials of the Bush administration as unable to face the consequences of their policy in Iraq.

Card made his first attempt after Bush was reelected in November, 2004, arguing that the administration needed a fresh start and recommending that Bush replace Rumsfeld with former secretary of state James A. Baker III. Woodward writes that Bush considered the move, but was persuaded by Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, that it would be seen as an expression of doubt about the course of the war and would expose Bush himself to criticism.

Card tried again around Thanksgiving, 2005, this time with the support of First Lady Laura Bush, who according to Woodward, felt that Rumsfeld’s overbearing manner was damaging to her husband. Bush refused for a second time, and Card left the administration last March, convinced that Iraq would be compared to Vietnam and that history would record that no senior administration officials had raised their voices in opposition to the conduct of the war.

The book is the third that Woodward, an assistant managing editor at The Washington Post, has written on the Bush administration since the terrorist attacks of September, 11, 2001. The first two were attacked by critics of the Bush administration as depicting the president in a heroic light. But the new book’s title, “State of Denial,” conveys the different picture that Woodward paints of the Bush administration since the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003.

Richard Armitage’s Role In The Plame Scandal

It’s getting to be that you need a score cared to keep straight the relationship each person involved in the Plame scandal has with the others. Joe Wilson became the topic of a lengthy discussion here on the Iraq war under my post Absurdities In Defending A Failed Iraq Policy. Newsweek reviews the role of Richard Armitage as revealed in the book As recounted in a new book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War by Michael Isikoff and David Corn:

Armitage, a well-known gossip who loves to dish and receive juicy tidbits about Washington characters, apparently hadn’t thought through the possible implications of telling Novak about Plame’s identity. “I’m afraid I may be the guy that caused this whole thing,” he later told Carl Ford Jr., State’s intelligence chief. Ford says Armitage admitted to him that he had “slipped up” and told Novak more than he should have. “He was basically beside himself that he was the guy that f—ed up. My sense from Rich is that it was just chitchat,” Ford recalls in “Hubris,” to be published next week by Crown and co-written by the author of this article and David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation magazine.

As it turned out, Novak wasn’t the only person Armitage talked to about Plame. Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward has also said he was told of Plame’s identity in June 2003. Woodward did not respond to requests for comment for this article, but, as late as last week, he referred reporters to his comments in November 2005 that he learned of her identity in a “casual and offhand” conversation with an administration official he declined to identify. According to three government officials, a lawyer familiar with the case and an Armitage confidant, all of whom would not be named discussing these details, Armitage told Woodward about Plame three weeks before talking to Novak. Armitage has consistently refused to discuss the case; through an assistant last week he declined to comment for this story. Novak would say only: “I don’t discuss my sources until they reveal themselves.”

Maybe this will put an end to all those conservative blogs which are spreading preposterous claims that it was Joe Wilson himself who revealed his wife’s identity.