Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Revisionist Tim Russert

Tim Russert shows his usual lack of balance. He did not challenge Senator John McCain for his vote to give President Bush the power to declare war on Iraq.

RUSSERT: In hindsight, was it a good idea to go into Iraq?

McCAIN: You know, in hindsight, if we had exploited the initial success, which was shock and awe, and we succeeded, and we had done the right things after that, all of us would be applauding what we did. We didn't. It was terribly mismanaged. It was -- I went over there very shortly after the initial victory and came back convinced that we didn't have enough troops on the ground, we were making the wrong decisions, and that [then-Defense] Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld was badly mismanaging the conflict. And I spoke about it and complained for years.

So, if we had succeeded and done the right thing after the initial military success, then all of us would be very happy that one of the most terrible, cruel dictators in history was removed from power. Now, because of our failures, obviously, we have paid a very heavy price in American blood and treasure and great sacrifice.

RUSSERT: So it was a good idea to go in?

McCAIN: I think at the time, given the information we had. Every intelligence agency in the world, not just U.S., believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He had acquired and used them before. There's no doubt that he was going to acquire and use them if he could. The sanctions were breaking down. The Oil for Food scandal was in the billions of dollars. And, of course, at the time, given the information we had -- hindsight is 20/20. If we'd have known we were going to experience the failures we experienced, obviously, it would give us all pause. At the information and the knowledge and the situation at the time, I think that it was certainly justified.

Russert does not challenge McCain on his vote. He takes a different tone with Senator Joe Biden.

RUSSERT: But when you read the National Intelligence Estimate, which has now been released, there are a lot of caveats put on the level of intelligence about the aluminum tubes and everything.

BIDEN: Absolutely.

RUSSERT: General [Anthony] Zinni, who's been on this program a few weeks ago, said when he heard the discussion about the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam had, he said, "I've never heard that" in any of the briefings he had as head of the Central Command. How could you, as a U.S. senator, be so wrong?

BIDEN: I wasn't wrong. I was on your show when you asked me about aluminum tubes, and I said, "They're for artillery. I don't believe they're for cascading."

RUSSERT: But you said Saddam was a threat, that he had to be --

BIDEN: He was a threat.

Is that the fairness and the balance or the B.S. I am smelling?

Russert's questioning of John Edwards reads as a replay of his attack on Biden.

RUSSERT: General [Brent] Scowcroft, former President Bush's national security adviser, and the National Intelligence Estimate that was given to you, and now made public, had some real caveats, and this is one of them: "The activities we have detected do not add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons." Do you remember seeing that?

EDWARDS: I did see it. I mean, I think it was -- there were serious questions about whether -- again, we're looking back. Now, we know none of this was true. But, at the time, there were serious questions about any effort to obtain nuclear weapons, which is what that statement just was. All of us believed there was no question that he had chemical and biological weapons, and there was at least some scattered evidence that he was making an effort to get nuclear weapons.

RUSSERT: But it seems as if, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, you just got it dead wrong and that you even ignored some caveats and ignored people who were urging caution.

It's nice to see a pundit who mislead viewers about his role in the Valerie Plame scandal take others to task for their integrity. Russert didn't mention it on the show until he was subpoenaed.

In 2003, Russert has pushed bogus tales of Iraq's WMD program.

Inspectors never found any nuclear weapons program in Iraq until 1995, when Saddam’s son-in-law defected and revealed secret nuclear program unknown to the inspectors. It was sheer luck, not the inspections, that kept Saddam from building 21 nuclear bombs by 2003.

The weapons facility Russert speaks of was destroyed during the first Gulf war. I support Democrats being held accountable for their vote. Russert lacks the credibility to be the interrogator.

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