Biden Has Been Lying About His Record on Iraq for Years

In Tuesday night’s debate, Sam Husseini would like to see the Democratic presidential candidate finally face serious scrutiny for his support for the Iraq war. 

Joe Biden during the December primary debate. (Screenshot)

By Sam Husseini
Common Dreams 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his surrogates such as former Secretary of State John Kerry continue to falsely claim that he did not favor the Iraq invasion.

But Senator Bernie Sanders’ camp has just highlighted a video of Biden speaking at the Brookings Institution in July 2003, after the invasion, in which he expresses support for “finishing this job” in Iraq and says: “The president of the United States is a bold leader and he is popular.”

As far as showing Biden’s support for the war, that video is the tip of the iceberg.

In that address to Brookings (video) Biden makes brazen pro-war falsehoods, claiming that Saddam Hussein “violated every commitment that he made. He played cat and mouse with the weapons inspectors. He failed to account for the huge gaps in weapons declarations that were documented by UN weapons inspectors and submitted by them to the UN Security Council in 1998, and every nation in that Council believed he possessed those weapons at that time. He refused to abide by any conditions.”

Pack of Lies 

That’s a pack of lies. The Iraqi government released a massive amount of information in 2002. It agreed to allow the UN weapons inspectors in well before the congressional vote that authorized war — a vote that Biden has claimed was justifiable to give Bush a stronger hand in getting inspectors into Iraq.

Additionally, the prior weapons inspection regime, UNSCOM, was ended in 1998 not because Saddam Hussein kicked them out, but because then President Bill Clinton ordered them withdrawn on the eve of his scheduled impeachment vote to make way for the Desert Fox bombing campaign. 

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It’s fitting that the Biden camp has put Kerry on this issue since Kerry’s falsifications regarding Iraq are remarkably similar to Biden’s. Kerry might be the Democratic senator whose record helped the Iraq war as much as Biden’s. This notably led to his contortions in the 2004 election when he was the Democratic Party nominee and lost to George W. Bush.

When I questioned Kerry in 2011 about his vote for the Iraq invasion, he claimed that “I didn’t vote for the Iraq war. I voted to give the president authority that he misused and abused. And from the moment he used it, I opposed that.” 

Another lie. Kerry actually attacked the notion of a withdrawal from Iraq at that point, even saying in December of 2003: “I fear that in the run-up to the 2004 election the administration is considering what is tantamount to a cut-and-run strategy,” effectively taking position even more militaristic than that of Bush. Also see from August 2004 from CNN: Kerry stands by ‘yes’ vote on Iraq war.”

It’s remarkable how little scrutiny Biden has gotten for his role in the Iraq invasion. Sanders has mostly criticized Biden’s vote, but beyond that, Biden was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has been criticized by leading analysts and weapons inspectors for the hearings he presided over that led to war.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, viewed by many as an antiwar candidate, has outright let Biden off the hook. At a debate last year, Gabbard said of Biden: “He was wrong — he said he was wrong.

Thus, Biden may be positioned to become the Democratic nominee — and face Trump in the general election — with minimal scrutiny for his major role in the worst policy decision of our lifetimes. He’s also in a worse position to take on Trump’s phony “America First” isolationism than Hillary Clinton was in 2016.” 

In September’s Democratic Party debate hosted by ABC News, Biden lied about his Iraq record, just as he did at the first two debates.

Watch:

In the July debate, Biden claimed: “From the moment ‘shock and awe’ started, from that moment, I was opposed to the effort, and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress.”

When he first said that, it received virtually no scrutiny except for Mideast scholar Stephen Zunes, who authored Biden Is Doubling Down on Iraq War Lies.” In that piece, Zunes outlined much of Biden’s record, including his insistence in May 2003 — months after the Iraq invasion — that “[t]here was sufficient evidence to go into Iraq.”

In the September debate that he voted for the Iraq invasion authorization to “to allow inspectors to go in to determine whether or not anything was being done with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons.”

But the congressional vote happened on Oct. 11, 2002 (see Biden’s speech then).

And by that time Iraq had agreed to allow weapons inspectors back in. On Sept. 16, 2002, The New York Times reported: U.N. Inspectors Can Return Unconditionally, Iraq Says.” (This was immediately after a delegation organized by the Institute for Public Accuracy — where I work — had gone to Iraq.)

Independent journalist Michael Tracey, who interviewed Biden in New Hampshire last fall, reported that Biden made the ridiculous claim that he opposed the invasion of Iraq even before it started. Said Biden: “Yes, I did oppose the war before it began.” See Tracey’s piece: Joe Biden’s Jumbled Iraq War Revisionism and video.

Biden did initially back a bill, along with Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, which would have somewhat constrained Bush’s capacity to launch an invasion of Iraq completely at his whim. But the Bush administration opposed the measure. One might have thought that such opposition would lead Biden to conclude that Bush insisting on not having any constraint would be a reason not to write him a blank check. But Biden ultimately voted for the legislation giving Bush the complete license the president wanted.

 Resolution Backing Bush

Bush ended up launching the war by telling the UN to get the weapons inspectors out — thus forcing an end to their work — before launching a bombing campaign. Immediately, Biden co-sponsored a resolution backing Bush.

Tracey writes, “It’s unclear whether the Delaware senator genuinely believes the tale he is currently telling, or if it’s the product of his apparent cognitive decline.” But, Biden has been lying about Iraq for years and years and years and years. He was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2002 and presided over hearings that were called rigged at the time by actual critics of the Iraq invasion.

Still, Biden’s voluminous deceits on Iraq — which he’s adding to by the day — have yet to be adequately examined. Biden told Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” in 2007 of Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction: “The real mystery is, if he, if he didn’t have any of them left, why didn’t he say so?

Of course the Iraqi government, in 2002 and before, had been pleading that it had disarmed. And it was widely mocked by the U.S. government and media for such claims.

Saddam Hussein told Dan Rather on 60 Minutes in February 2003:

“I believe that that [the U.S. military preparations in the Gulf] were, in fact, done partly to cover the huge lie that was being waged against Iraq about chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. And it was on that basis that Iraq actually accepted [the U.N.] Resolution — accepted it, even though Iraq was absolutely certain that what it had said — what the Iraqi officials … had kept saying, that … Iraq was empty, was void of any such weapons — was the case. But Iraq accepted that resolution … in order not to allow any misinterpretation of its position … in order to make the case absolutely clear that Iraq was no longer in possession of any such…weapons. [See from FAIR: Saddam’s ‘Secret.]

But such remarks from Iraq were derided. On Nov. 13, 2002, The New York Times reported: U.S. Scoffs at Iraq Claim of No Weapons of Mass Destruction.” The Bush administration, the newspaper reported in the piece, “dismissed Saddam Hussein’s contention today that he possesses no weapons of mass destruction as a fabrication. But President Bush’s advisers said they would not be taunted into revealing the intelligence they had gathered to contradict him until after Iraq delivered a full accounting of weapons stores in early December.”

Similarly, The International Herald Tribune on Dec. 9, 2002, ran the headline, “Senators dismiss Iraqi arms declaration to UN,” which reported: “Copies of a 12,000-page Iraqi declaration on banned weapons reached UN offices in Vienna on Sunday and were en route to the United Nations in New York for analysis, but senior U.S. senators of both parties dismissed its contents as lies. And they spoke of a likely war that they said would have surprisingly broad backing.”

These senators did this without even having access to the documents.

The piece continued: “Senator Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, incoming chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that he assumed the Iraqi report would ‘totally be an obfuscation.’ The Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 2000, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, called the declaration ‘probably a 12,000-page, 100-pound lie.'” The piece also quoted Biden saying that Bush was likely to “have all that he needs, all the help, all the bases in the Middle East” and a coalition “larger than anyone anticipated.”

What Biden did was to help ensure war happened while trying to wash his hands of responsibility for it. He helped build the car for Bush, filled it up with gas, saw that Bush was drunk, gave him license to do what he wanted — and then told him to be responsible while he handed him the keys. Eventually, Biden pretends he’s shocked that the streets are littered with mangled bodies.

Biden is the exact opposite of Sen. Wayne Morse, one of only two senators who voted against the Tonkin Gulf Resolution — a false pretext used by Lyndon Johnson’s to dramatically escalate the Vietnam War in 1964. To those — like Biden in 2002 — who argued that you have to back the president, Morse responded that they didn’t understand the Constitution or their responsibilities as senators:

“Why not give the president a vote of confidence? This was the lingo of the reservationists: We’ve got to back our president. Since when do we have to back our president, or should we, when the president is proposing an unconstitutional act? And so these reservationists said that although I’m going to back my president, I want to show him I have confidence in him. I want to warn him I’m not giving him a blank check. This doesn’t mean that I don’t expect him to consult me in the future. This doesn’t mean that the president can go ahead and send additional troops over there without consulting me, a senator of the United States. And you know, I most respectfully, but used language that they understood, said that’s just nonsense. I want to say to my colleagues in the Senate, you’re being consulted right now.

Would that Biden understood his responsibilities as well.

Sam Husseini is a writer and political activist. He is communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a Washington-based nonprofit that promotes progressive experts as alternative sources for mainstream media reporters. He tweets @samhusseini.

An earlier version of this article was published in Common Dreams

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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18 comments for “Biden Has Been Lying About His Record on Iraq for Years

  1. Paolo
    January 16, 2020 at 06:45

    The problem is not the lies Biden says (and those so many other politicians say)

    The problem is the media that don’t denounce the lies. Newsmen were supposed to be the watchdogs of democracy. They have become the house pets of politicians

    • robert e williamson jr
      January 16, 2020 at 15:00

      Exactly which is why the French video documentary needs to go viral, pass it on.

      But don’t try to use ass-face–book to to do it.

  2. Realist
    January 16, 2020 at 01:58

    It is impossible to get the truth on anything across to the American people if it contradicts the official false narratives floated by the Matrix of the figurehead government, the mass media, the so-called social media, the intel agencies, the Pentagon War Machine and the ruling puppet masters of the transnational oligarchy who control our entire lives. Try it and they’ll systematically smear you, beat you down, arrest you if you are a big enough thorn (like Assange, Manning or Kiriakou), and possibly even eliminate you like several public figures who conveniently died in plane crashes or committed “suicide.”

    Politicians playing at Joe Biden’s level, like Obama and Hillary before him, sold their souls to the shadow kingmakers decades ago… long before they even became widely known to the public, I understand. They are vetted while still striving to become someone of consequence at an Ivy League campus. Plaudits to the alternative media (like CN) that carry on the good fight on-line, the problem is they are swamped by the establishment and systematically
    targeted by the thousands of mercenaries working for the insider elites.

  3. robert e williamson jr
    January 15, 2020 at 17:40

    The death of the republic will be hoisted on the deceit fueled by the liars of both parties. To re-elect either the IMPOTUS or Biden will not change anything that curses us at the moment.

    New blood is needed in D.C. not Iraq or Iran.

  4. Leslie Dagnall
    January 15, 2020 at 12:56

    Joe Biden is the worst candidate for the Democratic Party and if they manage to get him the nomination, I will not vote for him, but will write in Bernie Sanders, who in the House, did vote against the war with Iraq.

    Biden is a liar and a fraud – mainstream media seems to like that about him. I wonder why

  5. Vera Gottlieb
    January 15, 2020 at 11:59

    A country – any country, gets the government it deserves. To me, Biden is an “has been”. Look forward not backward…

  6. January 15, 2020 at 11:51

    When Washington ignored the documentation from Iraq that had gotten rid of its WMDs, the author quotes this beauty of a statement. Sound similar to White House claims why the murdered the Iranian General? We have the evidence but we can’t tell anyone. Trust us.

    “But President Bush’s advisers said they would not be taunted into revealing the intelligence they had gathered to contradict him until after Iraq delivered a full accounting of weapons stores in early December.”

  7. January 15, 2020 at 11:19

    Simply put: Joseph Biden is not presidential material (and never was).

    • ML
      January 15, 2020 at 15:17

      Hear, hear! And amen.

  8. Tony
    January 15, 2020 at 11:00

    I remember seeing Biden on the news channels after 9/11.
    He praised President Bush’s handling of the situation!
    He should have demanded his impeachment for ignoring all the warnings.

    Warnings came from members of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, Putin and the CIA.
    The CIA Presidential Daily Briefing of 6 August 2001 was titled: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”
    There is a very good chance that if Bush had done his job properly, or at all, then 9/11 could have been avoided.

    Biden would be out of his depth as dogcatcher. Trump will be laughing his head off if Biden is the nominee.

    • January 15, 2020 at 13:07

      Unless external events intervene – possibilities include: economic collapse or war with Iran – Trump will be re-elected, almost by default.

      The Democrats just do not have good material on offer. No spark. No heroism. Dull establishment views.

      Bernie has his strong points, but he is old, has had a heart attack, and showed serious weakness vis-a-vis Hillary Clinton and her theft of the nomination in 2016.

      Tulsi Gabbard, a really promising politician, is simply ignored by the Democratic establishment and the press.

      It really doesn’t matter which of the candidates wins. They are all married to the Pentagon and war, and with the US spending about a trillion a year in borrowed money for the military/security establishment, no social programs of any consequence are going to be put in place.

      All the leading candidates worship at the alter of the Pentagon and CIA.

      American “democracy” is looking thinner than ever.

  9. January 15, 2020 at 10:38

    Biden has always been a pretty sleazy operator.

    Somehow that smile and folksy talk fools a lot of people.

    Same phenomenon as Obama.

    • JOHN CHUCKMAN
      January 15, 2020 at 20:51

      He consistently supported wars and coups. He worked closely with Obama on some of them.

      He is also credited with helping convince Obama to start America’s vast extrajudicial killing scheme. A hi-tech update of the old Argentine Junta’s “disappearing” people by the thousands without any charge or trial or defense. Just a nameless operator at a screen playing computer games with real human beings.

      Remember, he received the Medal of Freedom from Obama – that’s Obama of the jocular statement, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this killing stuff!” – and you don’t get that award without doing some serious dirty work for America’s empire. Just ask Madeline Albright.

  10. January 15, 2020 at 10:04

    Indeed Biden is not lying, he is just a SENILE old man suffering from Alzheimer!! It would be a crime to elect this man for US president!! Although sometimes it’s not even noticed by the voters as we saw with Nixon & Reagan!

    • Vera Gottlieb
      January 15, 2020 at 12:01

      I would dare say that too many of the voters suffer from “short memory”…

    • January 15, 2020 at 13:43

      His age isn’t the issue. He’s been lying all throughout his career.

  11. michael
    January 15, 2020 at 08:10

    The DNC, the MSM, and the Government Establishment has selected Biden as the nominee. It doesn’t matter that Biden is a Corrupt Liar and his pro-war, pro-Rich and pro-corporatist policies have destroyed America since he became a US Senator in 1973; he is Obama 2.0.

  12. Toxik
    January 14, 2020 at 22:10

    Biden’s a liar, a cheat, and a fraud. And to top that off, he’s a sexual predator. its not surprising the mainstream media is not even talking about feeling up females.

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