|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Dr. Rice, before I get to my formal remarks, you no doubt will be confirmed -- that's at least what we think. And if you're going to become the voice of diplomacy -- this is just a helpful point -- when Senator Voinovich mentioned the issue of tsunami relief, you said -- your first words were, "The tsunami was a wonderful opportunity for us." Now, the tsunami was one of the worst tragedies of our lifetime -- one of the worst -- and it's going to have a 10-year impact on rebuilding that area. I was very disappointed in your statement. I think you blew the opportunity. You mention it as part of one sentence. And I would hope to work with you on this, because children are suffering, we're worried they're going to get in the sex trade. This thing is a disaster, a true natural disaster and a human disaster of great proportions, and I hope that the State Department will take a huge lead under your leadership in helping those folks in the long range.
Dr. Rice, I was glad you mentioned Martin Luther King -- it was very appropriate, given everything. And he also said, Martin Luther King, quote, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." And one of the things that matters most to my people in California and the people in America is this war in Iraq.
So in your statement it takes you to page three to mention the word "Iraq." Then you mention it in the context of elections -- which is fine -- but you never even mention indirectly the 1,366 American troops that have died, or the 10,372 who have been wounded -- many mentally, as a report that I read over the weekend that maybe a third will come home and need help because of what they saw -- it's been so traumatic to them. And 25 percent of those dead are from my home state. And this from a war that was based on what everyone now says, including your own administration, were falsehoods about WMDs, weapons of mass destruction. And I've had tens of thousands of people from all over the country say that they disagree -- although they respect the president -- they disagree that this administration and the people in it shouldn't be held accountable.
And I think the way we should start is by trying to set the record straight on some of the things you said going into this war. Now, since 9/11 we've been engaged in a just fight against terror. And I, like Senator Feingold and everyone here who was in the Senate at the time, voted to go after Osama bin Laden and to go after the Taliban, and to defeat al Qaeda. And you say they have left territory -- that's not true. Your own documents show that al Qaeda has expanded from 45 countries in '01 to more than 60 countries today.
Well, with you in the lead role, Dr. Rice, we went into Iraq. I want to read you a paragraph that best expresses my views, and ask my staff if they would hold this up -- and I believe the views of millions of Californians and Americans. It was written by one of the world's experts on terrorism, Peter Bergen, five months ago. He wrote: "What we have done in Iraq is what bin Laden could not have hoped for in his wildest dreams: We invaded an oil-rich Muslim nation in the heart of the Middle East, the very type of imperial adventure bin Laden has long predicted was the U.S.'s long-term goal in the region. We deposed the secular socialist Saddam, whom bin Laden has long despised, ignited Sunni and Shi'a fundamentalist fervor in Iraq, and have now provoked a defensive jihad that has galvanized jihad- minded Muslims around the world. It's hard to imagine a set of policies better designed to sabotage the war on terror." This conclusion was reiterated last Thursday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank, which released a report saying that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of professionalized terrorists.
That's your own administration's CIA. NIC chairman Robert Hutchings said Iraq is, quote, "a magnet for international terrorist activity."
And this was not the case in '01. And I have great proof of it, including a State Department document that lists every country -- could you hold that up? -- in which al Qaeda operated prior to 9/11. And you can see the countries; no mention of Iraq. And this booklet was signed off on by the president of the United States, George W. Bush. It was put out by George Bush's State Department, and he signed it. There was no al Qaeda activity there -- no cells.
Now, the war was sold to the American people, as Chief of Staff to President Bush Andy Card said, like a "new product." Those were his words. Remember, he said, "You don't roll out a new product in the summer." Now, you rolled out the idea and then you had to convince the people, as you made your case with the president.
And I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth. And I don't say it lightly, and I'm going to go into the documents that show your statements and the facts at the time.
Now, I don't want the families of those 1,366 troops that were killed or the 10,372 that were wounded to believe for a minute that their lives and their bodies were given in vain, because when your commander-in-chief asks you to sacrifice yourself for your country, it is the most noble thing you can do to answer that call.
I am giving their families, as we all are here, all the support they want and need. But I also will not shrink from questioning a war that was not built on the truth.
Now, perhaps the most well-known statement you've made was the one about Saddam Hussein launching a nuclear weapon on America with the image of, quote, quoting you, "a mushroom cloud." That image had to frighten every American into believing that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of annihilating them if he was not stopped. And I will be placing into the record a number of such statements you made which have not been consistent with the facts.
As the nominee for secretary of State, you must answer to the American people, and you are doing that now through this confirmation process. And I continue to stand in awe of our founders, who understood that ultimately those of us in the highest positions of our government must be held accountable to the people we serve.
So I want to show you some statements that you made regarding the nuclear threat and the ability of Saddam to attack us. Now, September 5th -- let me get to the right package here. On July 30th, 2003, you were asked by PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill if you continued to stand by the claims you made about Saddam's nuclear program in the days and months leading up to the war.
In what appears to be an effort to downplay the nuclear-weapons scare tactics you used before the war, your answer was, and I quote, "It was a case that said he was trying to reconstitute. He's trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody ever said that it was going to be the next year." So that's what you said to the American people on television -- "Nobody ever said it was going to be the next year."
Well, that wasn't true, because nine months before you said this to the American people, what had George Bush said, President Bush, at his speech at the Cincinnati Museum Center? "If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of highly-enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year."
So the president tells the people there could be a weapon. Nine months later you said no one ever said he could have a weapon in a year, when in fact the president said it.
And here's the real kicker. On October 10th, '04, on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, three months ago, you were asked about CIA Director Tenet's remark that prior to the war he had, quote, "made it clear to the White House that he thought the nuclear-weapons program was much weaker than the program to develop other WMDs. Your response was this: "The intelligence assessment was that he was reconstituting his nuclear program; that, left unchecked, he would have a nuclear weapon by the end of the year."
So here you are, first contradicting the president and then contradicting yourself. So it's hard to even ask you a question about this, because you are on the record basically taking two sides of an issue. And this does not serve the American people.
If it served your purpose to downplay the threat of nuclear weapons, you said, "No one said he's going to have it in a year." But then later, when you thought that perhaps you were on more solid ground with the American people because at the time the war was probably popular, or more popular, you'd say, "We thought he was going to have a weapon within a year."
And this is -- the question is, this is a pattern here of what I see from you on this issue, on the issue of the aluminum tubes, on the issue of whether al Qaeda was actually involved in Iraq, which you've said many times. And in my rounds -- I don't have any questions on this round, because I'm just laying this out; I do have questions on further rounds about similar contradictions. It's very troubling.
You know, if you were rolling out a new product like a can opener, who would care about what we said? But this product is a war, and people are dead and dying, and people are now saying they're not going to go back because of what they experienced there. And it's very serious.
And as much as I want to look ahead -- and we will work together on a myriad of issues -- it's hard for me to let go of this war, because people are still dying. And you have not laid out an exit strategy. You've not set up a timetable.
And you don't seem to be willing to, A, admit a mistake, or give any indication of what you're going to do to forcefully involve others. As a matter of fact, you've said more misstatements; that the territory of the terrorists has been shrinking when your own administration says it's now expanded to 60 countries. So I am deeply troubled.