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The Clinton Administration's Case Against Saddam

George W. Bush wasn't the first president to understand the threat from Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

6:30 PM, Jun 23, 2004 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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FORMER VICE PRESIDENT Al Gore recently told an audience that "the [Bush] administration did not hesitate to heighten and distort public fear of terrorism after September 11th, to create a political case for attacking Iraq." With this in mind, I would to like draw your attention to a Project brief entitled, The Clinton Administration's Public Case Against Saddam Hussein. Some highlights:

* The New York Times reported that at the November 14 [1997] meeting the "White House decided to prepare the country for war." According to the Times, "[t]he decision was made to begin a public campaign through interviews on the Sunday morning television news programs to inform the American people of the dangers of biological warfare." During this time, the Washington Post reported that President Clinton specifically directed Cohen "to raise the profile of the biological and chemical threat."

* On November 16, Cohen made a widely reported appearance on ABC's This Week in which he placed a five-pound bag of sugar on the table and stated that that amount of anthrax "would destroy at least half the population" of Washington, D.C."

* In an article ("America the Vulnerable; A disaster is just waiting to happen if Iraq unleashes its poison and germs," November 24, 1997), Time wrote that "officials in Washington are deeply worried about what some of them call 'strategic crime.' By that they mean the merging of the output from a government's arsenals, like Saddam's biological weapons, with a group of semi-independent terrorists, like radical Islamist groups, who might slip such bioweapons into the U.S. and use them."

* In Sacramento, November 15, Clinton painted a bleak future if nations did not cooperate against "organized forces of destruction," telling the audience that only a small amount of "nuclear cake put in a bomb would do ten times as much damage as the Oklahoma City bomb did." Effectively dealing with proliferation and not letting weapons "fall into the wrong hands" is "fundamentally what is stake in the stand off we're having in Iraq today."

* He [President Clinton] asked Americans to not to view the current crisis as a "replay" of the Gulf War in 1991. Instead, "think about it in terms of the innocent Japanese people that died in the subway when the sarin gas was released [by the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo in 1995]; and how important it is for every responsible government in the world to do everything that can possibly be done not to let big stores of chemical or biological weapons fall into the wrong hands, not to let irresponsible people develop the capacity to put them in warheads on missiles or put them in briefcases that could be exploded in small rooms. And I say this not to frighten you."

* Cohen began his November 25, 1997 briefing on the Pentagon report by showing a picture of a Kurdish mother and her child who had been gassed by Saddam's army. A bit later, standing besides the gruesome image, he described death on a mass scale. "One drop [of VX nerve agent] on your finger will produce death in a matter of just a few moments. Now the UN believes that Saddam may have produced as much as 200 tons of VX, and this would, of course, be theoretically enough to kill every man, woman and child on the face of the earth." He then sketched an image of a massive chemical attack on an American city. Recalling Saddam's use of poison gas and the sarin attack in Tokyo, Cohen warned that "we face a clear and present danger today" and reminded people that the "terrorist who bombed the World Trade Center in New York had in mind the destruction and deaths of some 250,000 people that they were determined to kill."

* Under the White Paper's "nuclear weapons" section, it observed: "Baghdad's interest in acquiring nuclear or developing nuclear weapons has not diminished"; "we have concerns that scientists may be pursuing theoretical nuclear research that would reduce the time required to produce a weapon should Iraq acquire sufficient fissile material"; "Iraq continues to withhold significant information about enrichment techniques, foreign procurement, weapons design, and the role of Iraq's security and intelligence services in obtaining external assistance and coordinating postwar concealment."

* At Tennessee State on February 19, Albright told the crowd that the world has not "seen, except maybe since Hitler, somebody who is quite as evil as Saddam Hussein." In answering a question, she sketched some of the "worse" case scenarios should Saddam "break out of the box that we kept him in. . . ." "Another scenario is that he could kind of become the salesman for weapons of mass destruction--that he could be the place that people come and get more weapons."