Given that most Americans in 1998 were paying attention to Bill Clinton's wandering penis and wondering where it would show up next rather than his actual duties as President of the United States, it is understandable how few of us were paying attention when he signed into law the Iraq Liberation Act.
Here's what Bill Clinton had to say about the Iraq Liberation Act back in both November and December 1998:
Regime change was obviously the order of the day. The Clinton Administration was willing to do whatever it took to see the end of Saddam Hussein, claiming that they wanted to replace him with a government that focussed on peace. The President noted that the best way to assure peace in the region and global security was to put in place a new Iraqi government.
Just to ensure that the message got through to American voters, here's an excerpt from a speech that was given to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Pentagon on February 17, 1998:
Let's look at part of the speech that wasn't covered in the video:
"Iraq repeatedly made false declarations about the weapons that it had left in its possession after the Gulf War. When UNSCOM would then uncover evidence that gave lie to those declarations, Iraq would simply amend the reports.
For example, Iraq revised its nuclear declarations four times within just 14 months and it has submitted six different biological warfare declarations, each of which has been rejected by UNSCOM.
In 1995, Hussein Kamal, Saddam's son-in-law, and the chief organizer of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, defected to Jordan. He revealed that Iraq was continuing to conceal weapons and missiles and the capacity to build many more.
Then and only then did Iraq admit to developing numbers of weapons in significant quantities and weapon stocks. Previously, it had vehemently denied the very thing it just simply admitted once Saddam Hussein's son-in-law defected to Jordan and told the truth. Now listen to this, what did it admit?
It admitted, among other things, an offensive biological warfare capability notably 5,000 gallons of botulinum, which causes botulism; 2,000 gallons of anthrax; 25 biological-filled Scud warheads; and 157 aerial bombs.
And I might say UNSCOM inspectors believe that Iraq has actually greatly understated its production.
As if we needed further confirmation, you all know what happened to his son-in-law when he made the untimely decision to go back to Iraq.
Next, throughout this entire process, Iraqi agents have undermined and undercut UNSCOM. They've harassed the inspectors, lied to them, disabled monitoring cameras, literally spirited evidence out of the back doors of suspect facilities as inspectors walked through the front door. And our people were there observing it and had the pictures to prove it.
Despite Iraq's deceptions, UNSCOM has nevertheless done a remarkable job. Its inspectors the eyes and ears of the civilized world have uncovered and destroyed more weapons of mass destruction capacity than was destroyed during the Gulf War.
This includes nearly 40,000 chemical weapons, more than 100,000 gallons of chemical weapons agents, 48 operational missiles, 30 warheads specifically fitted for chemical and biological weapons, and a massive biological weapons facility at Al Hakam equipped to produce anthrax and other deadly agents.
Over the past few months, as they have come closer and closer to rooting out Iraq's remaining nuclear capacity, Saddam has undertaken yet another gambit to thwart their ambitions.
By imposing debilitating conditions on the inspectors and declaring key sites which have still not been inspected off limits, including, I might add, one palace in Baghdad more than 2,600 acres large by comparison, when you hear all this business about presidential sites reflect our sovereignty, why do you want to come into a residence, the White House complex is 18 acres. So you'll have some feel for this.
One of these presidential sites is about the size of Washington, D.C. That's about how many acres did you tell me it was? 40,000 acres. We're not talking about a few rooms here with delicate personal matters involved.
It is obvious that there is an attempt here, based on the whole history of this operation since 1991, to protect whatever remains of his capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction, the missiles to deliver them, and the feed stocks necessary to produce them.
The UNSCOM inspectors believe that Iraq still has stockpiles of chemical and biological munitions, a small force of Scud-type missiles, and the capacity to restart quickly its production program and build many, many more weapons....
...Now, let me say to all of you here as all of you know the weightiest decision any president ever has to make is to send our troops into harm's way. And force can never be the first answer. But sometimes, it's the only answer.
You are the best prepared, best equipped, best trained fighting force in the world. And should it prove necessary for me to exercise the option of force, your commanders will do everything they can to protect the safety of all the men and women under their command.
No military action, however, is risk-free. I know that the people we may call upon in uniform are ready. The American people have to be ready as well."
It certainly sounds like the Clinton Administration was preparing for significant military intervention.
With the former President's decisive comments on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction in mind, let's look at this quote from Arms Control Association...
"UN weapons inspectors worked in Iraq from November 27, 2002 until March 18, 2003. During that time, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC) conducted more than 900 inspections at more than 500 sites. The inspectors did not find that Iraq possessed chemical or biological weapons or that it had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program."
...and this comment from the letter accompanying the report "The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction" from 2005:
"We conclude that the Intelligence Community was dead wrong in almost all of its pre-war judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. This was a major intelligence failure. Its principal causes were the Intelligence Community's inability to collect good information about Iraq's WMD programs, serious errors in analyzing what information it could gather, and a failure to make clear just how much of its analysis was based on assumptions rather than good evidence. On a matter of this importance,we simply cannot afford failures of this magnitude. "
Now, let's go back to Bill Clinton and the Iraq Liberation Act. Here is the text of the Act:
Note that in section 6, the Bill already had plans for a war crimes tribunal with the purpose of "...indicting, prosecuting and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide and other violations of international law.".
Here are some of President Clinton's comments after he signed the bill into law on October 31, 1998:
"Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998." This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers.
Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are:
The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and lawabiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.
The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian makeup. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else.
The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life."
It's interesting to put this date into historical perspective; two short weeks earlier, lawyers for Paula Jones had demanded a $2 million settlement in the sexual harassment case against President Clinton. His lawyers refused to pay more than $700,000. Two weeks after the Iraqi Liberation Act was signed, Paula Jones dropped her sexual harassment appeal in return for a payment of $850,000. The President made no apology or admission of guilt.
While many of us love to pin the current disaster that is Iraq on the Bush II Administration and its neoconservative deep thinkers, it's pretty clear that President Clinton was heading in the same direction. Sometimes, it's pretty hard to tell the difference between a DINO and a real, honest-to-goodness neocon, isn't it? It also should give us reason to ponder the long-term ramifications of this statement about Iran and the P5+1 nuclear deal from Ms. Clinton in mid-January 2016:
“But we shouldn’t thank Iran for the prisoners or for following through on its obligations. These prisoners were held unjustly by a regime that continues to threaten the peace and security of the Middle East. Another American, Bob Levinson, still isn’t home with his family. The treatment of our Navy sailors earlier this week was offensive, including the release of a demeaning and provocative video. Iran is still violating UN Security Council resolutions with its ballistic missile program, which should be met with new sanctions designations and firm resolve.
So we can’t take our eye off the ball. As President, my approach will be to distrust and verify. I will vigorously enforce the nuclear deal as part of a comprehensive strategy that confronts all of Iran’s negative actions in the region and stand side-by-side with our ally Israel and our Arab partners.”
....and this verbal commentary:
God help us all.