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1 Apr 2004 - 12 Nov 2020
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Congressional Record: January 28, 2004 (Senate) Page S311-S312 NEW INFORMATION ON IRAQ'S POSSESSION OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, I express my appreciation to the Senator from North Dakota for the case that he has made, which has been very disturbing to us as two Senators, because the information we have received over the last several days causes us not only to scratch our heads but to shake our heads--that the intelligence we received in the secure rooms of this Capitol complex was either so faulty that we are in a considerable degree of vulnerability, that we are not getting accurate information upon which to defend this country, or that the information that was presented to us was faulty not because of the sources of that information and the analysis but there was some suggestion of coloring that information to reach a certain conclusion. I think this is far beyond Republicans and Democrats. This is about defense of the homeland. This is about America. Just because this has come up in January of an election year, with Dr. Kay coming forth and telling us today in the Armed Services Committee that he concluded this last November, then it is sure time for us to get some answers for the protection of this country and its people. I want to take this occasion to inform the Senate of specific information that I was given, which turns out not to be true. I was one of 77 Senators who voted for the resolution in October of 2002 to authorize the expenditure of funds for the President to engage in an attack on Iraq. I voted for it. I want to tell you some specific information that I received that had a great deal of bearing on my conclusion to vote for that resolution. There were other factors, but this information was very convincing to me that there was an imminent peril to the interests of the United States. I, along with nearly every Senator in this Chamber, in that secure room of this Capitol complex, was not only told there were weapons of mass destruction--specifically chemical and biological--but I was looked at straight in the face and told that Saddam Hussein had the means of delivering those biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction by unmanned drones, called UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles. Further, I was looked at straight in the face and told that UAVs could be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack eastern seaboard cities of the United States. Is it any wonder that I concluded there was an imminent peril to the United States? The first public disclosure of that information occurred perhaps a couple of weeks later, when the information was told to us. It was prior to the vote on the resolution and it was in a highly classified setting in a secure room. But the first public disclosure of that information was when the President addressed the Nation on TV. He said that Saddam Hussein possessed UAVs. Later, the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his presentation to the United Nations, in a very dramatic and effective presentation, expanded that and suggested the possibility that UAVs could be launched against the homeland, having been transported out of Iraq. The information was made public, but it was made public after we had already voted on the resolution, and at the time there was nothing to contradict that. We now know, after the fact and on the basis of Dr. Kay's testimony today in the Senate Armed Services Committee, that the information was false; and not only that there were not weapons of mass destruction-- chemical and biological--but there was no fleet of UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles, nor was there any capability of putting UAVs on ships and transporting them to the Atlantic coast and launching them at U.S. cities on the eastern seaboard. I am upset that the degree of specificity I was given a year and a half ago, prior to my vote, was not only inaccurate; it was patently false. I want some further explanations. Now, what I have found after the fact--and I presented this to Dr. Kay this morning in the Senate Armed Services Committee--is there was a vigorous dispute within the intelligence community as to what the CIA had concluded was accurate about those UAVs and about their ability to be used elsewhere outside of Iraq. Not only was it in vigorous dispute, there was an outright denial that the information was accurate. That was all within the intelligence community. But I didn't find that out before my vote. I wasn't told that. I wasn't told that there was a vigorous debate going on as to whether or not that was accurate information. I was given that information as if it were fact, and any reasonable person then would logically conclude that the interests of the United States and its people were in immediate jeopardy and peril. That has turned out not to be true. We need some answers, and I saw the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee ask the chairman for a further investigation into this matter. I heard the chairman say: I will take it under consideration. I hope that is a positive sign and not a negative sign. We need to get to the bottom of this for the protection of our country. It is too bad this is coming up in the year 2004, which happens to coincide with the Presidential election, because people are going to immediately say this is partisan politics. The fact is, this is the politics of the protection of our country, and we need some answers. I don't want to be voting on war resolutions in the future based on information that is patently false when everybody is telling me, looking me eyeball to eyeball, that it is true. I am hoping, as the Senator from North Dakota has suggested, that we have a convening of the appropriate intelligence officials in the secure room and that members of the intelligence community, as well as members of the administration, will come and explain, in addition to what Dr. Kay has explained on the public record--which is revealing enough in itself--what, in fact, happened and how we are going to correct the process and the analysis of information so that we never have this kind of miscalculation and misinformation again. Either the intelligence community's self-examination, its analysis was hugely faulty, or there were the hints at taking information and coloring it, called stacking the news and coming out with a conclusion that was wanted. I think we have to find out what happened. It is not a question of whether or not Saddam Hussein ought to be gone. Thank goodness he is gone. That probably had a very salutary effect on the United States in that part of the world, that the United States will back up its intentions with force. But when the United States makes decisions about a preemptive war, a war now that has claimed the lives of over 500 American men and women, then we have to have a much higher standard of accuracy of the information upon which we make the judgments to send America's finest on to the battlefield. I can tell you about all the soldiers from Florida who are now laid to rest. There are plenty of reasons I am raising these questions, but if for no other reason than to raise the questions for the mamas and the daddies and the spouses and the children of those soldiers. That is plenty justification enough. But the justification is much greater, and that is the justification of making sure we can protect ourselves in the future. In a war against terrorists, our defense is only going to be as good as the information we receive to stop the terrorists. We had a colossal failure of intelligence on September 11, 2 years ago. We can't afford that kind of failure again. Yet we have just found out that when we were given the reasons for going to war, that was faulty intelligence. America can't afford too many more of these, for the protection of ourselves and our loved ones. [[Page S312]] This is something of considerable concern to me personally. I know it is of considerable concern to the rest of the Senate. I hope the majority leader of this Senate, Senator Frist, is going to listen to those of us in this Chamber who say that this request has nothing to do with politics. Let's get to the bottom of what is the truth and how we make sure that information in the future is true. Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll. The assistant journal clerk proceeded to call the roll. Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. ____________________