http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/370frfnx.asp They Left Him No Choice Trying to reconcile Democrats on 9/11 and Iraq. by Joel Engel 11/17/2005 700 AM THE MAN who positioned himself as the anti-Chamberlain has nonetheless allowed his presidency to be hijacked by appeasement. For two years, he appeased those who shouted ever louder that he lied about why we went to war in Iraq. At first, no doubt, the president saw those claims as too ridiculous to merit any kind of response; doing so would've seemed beneath the office. But in not reacting, as President Clinton used to do almost daily to his political adversaries, President Bush has allowed the Big Lie chorus to drown out the rest of the country. It's gotten so loud that polls now show nearly half the populace believing our president can't be trusted. Which is of course why he and his advisers have at last gone on the offensive, pointing out that his critics in Congress saw the same data he saw and yet voted to grant him their blessings to send out the troops. The facts are on the president's side, as numerous commentators have elucidated with supreme skill. Prominent among them: Norman Podhoretz eviscerates each of the critics' ludicrous claims, and Christopher Hitchens details the cynicism and credulousness one would have to suffer from in order to believe the Big Lies. As Stephen F. Hayes has pointed out, the case can be made that opposition politicians are cynically playing with our security. So there's no need here to gild any lilies. There is, though, a need to remember what transpired before the war--in fact, soon after the towers fell. And what happened was this declaration, from the mouth of Rep. Cynthia McKinney while the ashes were still smoldering: "We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11. What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11?" Farfetched as the claim may have seemed--the utterance of a leftist conspiracy wacko--the Georgia congresswoman was the first but would not be the last to accuse President Bush of having purposefully ignored intelligence that predicted the imminent use of hijacked planes as missiles. Echoed Senator Hillary Clinton soon thereafter--from the Senate floor, no less: "What did Bush know and when did he know it." Ditto Howard Dean. The then-presidential candidate passed along the "theory"--as he called it--on WAMU radio that Bush "was warned ahead of time by the Saudis." (Later came the pronouncements of former Nixon aide John Dean. Promoting a book about the Bush administration titled Worse Than Watergate, the convicted felon wrote that the president "likely" ignored "the potential of terrorists [to fly] airplanes into skyscrapers.") A headline in the New York Times declared, "Bush Was Warned Bin Laden Wanted to Hijack Planes," which was what the Washington Post confirmed with its "Bush Was Told of Hijacking Dangers." These stories, among many, referred to comments by co-chair of the 9-11 commission Thomas Kean, synopsizing the first findings which suggested that the attacks could have been prevented. The clamor inevitably reached the morning TV chat fests (Katie Couric: "What did Bush know and when did he know it?") and the rest of the zeitgeist, growing so pervasive that it sounded like hillside coyotes celebrating a kill. Its apotheosis would later appear in the person of Richard Clarke, former National Security Council chief of counter-terrorism. His bestselling book, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, received much media attention for his claims that the president and his team had remained willfully ignorant of the threat posed by al Qaeda. Remember all this? Sure you do. What you may not remember was that the source of all this hysteria was a single Presidential Daily Briefing, given to the president on August 6, 2001. The report said nothing about hijacked planes being flown into buildings and indeed admitted that "some of the more sensational threat reporting" could not be corroborated. It did, however, refer to bin Laden's stated goals of bringing the fighting to America--claims made by bin Laden himself on national television three years before--as well as the luckily foiled millennium bomber of 1999 and the African embassy bombings a year earlier. It seems churlish but necessary to mention that these events happened under the previous president's watch, and that the millennium bombing plot in particular was played down immediately afterward by then-National Security adviser Sandy Berger, who assured the country that it was not part of a more concerted effort to attack America. Yet an after-action report--possibly the one he later pilfered while "preparing"--suggested that this had likely been confirmation of al Qaeda's presence in the United States. For their part, the mainstream media credulously reported Berger's and Clinton's assurances. Likewise, in early 2001, when the all-too-prescient Hart-Rudman commission issued its "Roadmap for National Security: Imperative for Change," a 150-page report stating that terrorists were already preparing to strike American soil, the media either ignored or gave short shrift to its findings: "States, terrorists, and other disaffected groups will acquire weapons of mass destruction, and some will use them. Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers." Yet the New York Times reported not a word of the report, and even turned down an op-ed written by the commission chairs, formers senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman. Now comes early 2003. Saddam Hussein has failed to comply with his 17th United Nations resolution by, as even Hans Blix agreed, not providing a complete and detailed list of all WMD and ballistic missile capabilities (remember: it was up to him to come clean, not up to us to seek and find the weapons). The resolution (1441) has threatened "serious consequences" for failure to comply, but the French and Russians, their Security Council palms greased by oil-for-food bribes, are whispering in Saddam's ear that they won't go along with any military action and that, in fact, there's a good chance they can get the 12-year-old sanctions against him lifted. Indeed, this reflects a growing consensus of world opinion. Back in Washington, the president and Congress have access to bales full of intelligence from around the world stating that Hussein has an active WMD program, including biological, chemical, and probably nuclear capabilities. Even the Egyptians are warning the president that Iraq is well-armed and dangerous. The Senate, having viewed that intelligence and consulted with international leaders, is on the record, both verbally and with a vote, as supporting the notion that Saddam Hussein needs to go before he attacks America. Now what? Well, even if you buy the Democrats' new claim that, as Senator John Kerry said, "This administration misled a nation into war by cherry-picking intelligence," you're inconveniently stuck with the fact that a vast preponderance of that intelligence, rightly or wrongly, pointed unambiguously toward Iraq's status as a rogue state. Think about this from the president's point of view: Much of the country is calling for your head regarding your alleged failure to prevent 9/11 when no firm intelligence predicted such a thing. Do you really have any choice but to act on the overwhelming amount of clear evidence that says bad things are happening beneath hidden bunkers in Iraq? No. You have no other way out than to fight preemptively. If you don't, well, heaven forbid another attack is made on American soil--with grotesque weapons that came out of Iraq after sanctions were lifted and Saddam's WMD program was reconstituted (as the Duelfur Report later extrapolated). At his impeachment trial, shortly before conviction, the president would have been made to endure a verbatim recitation of the many dire warnings about Iraq and Saddam Hussein uttered by Democrats Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Sandy Berger, and Madeline Albright. "Iraq is a long way from [here]," Secretary of State Albright said on February 18, 1998, "but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face." It is both disgraceful and threatening to our national security what the Democratic party is doing. They are pushing us to defeat. They are aiding worldwide terrorism. They are, by their actions, ensuring we will again be attacked. I'm ashamed to call them fellow citizens.