As we enter the preliminaries for the 2016 presidential election, Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media… including such heretofore “fair-minded” journalists as Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday… are trotting out their favorite “gotcha” questions, reserved exclusively for Republican candidates. To date, their two favorites are: “Are you personally opposed to gay Americans or same-sex marriage? And, “If you knew then what you know now, would you have sent U.S. ground troops into Iraq in 2003?”
No less a liberal icon than Bob Woodward of the Washington Post has set the record straight on the buildup to the Iraq War. In a May 25, 2015, appearance on Fox News Sunday, Woodward agreed that George Bush may have made mistakes, but that to say he had lied to get us into war was “grossly unfair and inaccurate.” He said, “I spent 18 months looking at how Bush decided to invade Iraq… lots of mistakes… but it was Bush telling George Tenet the CIA director, ‘Don’t let anyone stretch the case on WMD.’ He was the one who was skeptical.”
Woodward continued, “And if you try to summarize why we went into Iraq, it was momentum. That war plan kept getting better and easier, and finally at the end people were saying, ‘Hey, look, it’ll only take a week or two.’ And early on it looked like it was going to take a year or eighteen months, and so Bush pulled the trigger. A mistake certainly can be argued, and there’s an abundance of evidence. But there was no lie in this that I could find.”
Throughout calendar year 2002, policy-makers in Washington and around the world searched for ways in which to eliminate the threat posed by the weapons development programs of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Finally, on November 8, 2002, the U.N. Security Council adopted, unanimously, Resolution 1441. Under Resolution 1441, the Security Council recognized “the threat Iraq’s noncompliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security.”
Resolution 1441 affirmed that Security Council Resolution 678 of November 29, 1990, authorized member nations to “use all necessary means (emphasis added) to uphold and implement Resolution 660 of August 2, 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to Resolution 660, and to restore international peace and security in the area.” It was the authority of the U.N. that member states relied upon in their decision to use military force against Iraq.
Few members of Congress were anxious to see American ground forces engaged in a ground war in the Middle East. Accordingly, during the summer of 2002, under the theory that no dictator can remain a dictator unless his people believe him to be both omnipotent and omniscient, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Porter Goss (R-FL), authorized funds for an “Infowar,” or SOFTWAR, offensive against Iraq… where SOFTWAR is defined as “the hostile utilization of global television to shape another nation’s will by changing its view of reality.” The goal of the SOFTWAR offensive was to remove one or both of the omnipotence/omniscience advantages from Saddam, advancing the day when the Iraqi people would find it beneficial to overthrow the dictator. (The SOFTWAR concept was the brainchild of my longtime friend, Chuck de Caro, an Information Warfare lecturer at the National Defense University and other agencies of the U.S. defense/intelligence establishment.)
The SOFTWAR offensive authorized by HPSCI, as a supplement to its FY 2003 defense authorization, read, in part, as follows:
The budget request contained $63.9 million in PE65710D8Z for Classified Programs for the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence)… The Committee notes that information operations (IO) is increasingly becoming a more significant weapon in modern military, and moreover, asymmetric operations…
The Committee is somewhat concerned that insufficient consideration is paid to developing a capability to shape the information sphere for asymmetric operations… The Committee understands that there has been proposed a concept called Infowar, in which intelligence analysis of the threat Infosphere is coupled with the knowledge management functions of television, and an offensive management plan is developed for execution. The Committee notes that this concept is different from more traditional IO approaches in that it does not “attack” the threat directly, but rather through the threat’s intended public information consumers. The Committee believes this is a worthwhile new approach and believes the Intelligence Community should pursue it vigorously.
Therefore, the Committee recommends $73.9 million in PE65710D8Z, an increase of $10.0 Million in Classified Programs-C3I, for the SOFTWAR program.
However, the U.S. Senate, comprised of 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats, changed from Republican to Democratic control on May 24, 2001, when Sen. Jim Jeffords (R-VT) left the Republican Party to become an Independent, aligning himself with senate Democrats. As a result, when the HPSCI authorization arrived in the U.S. Senate as a supplement to the FY 2003 Defense Appropriations bill, senate Democrats decided that it was more important for them to have a political issue to use against George W. Bush in his 2004 reelection campaign than to avert a ground war in Iraq.
During the months of September and October, 2002, when the HPSCI proposal was hopelessly stalled in the U.S. Senate, I assisted Chuck de Caro in lobbying key senators, seeking to gain their support for HPSCI’s SOFTWAR offensive. We met with senior staff aides to then-Senator Dick Shelby (R-AL), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and then-Senator John Warner (R-VA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And we met on several occasions with senior aides to then-Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who, along with the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, were the key players in the effort to fund the SOFTWAR offensive in Iraq. But the enthusiasm of aides to Rockefeller and Byrd were not in sync with the political games that their employers were playing.
While Democrats made impassioned speeches on the floor of the senate, insisting that the Congress could not give George W. Bush the war powers he sought, and that a way had to be found to remove Saddam Hussein through non-violent means, they were busy behind closed doors instructing the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee to kill the HPSCI SOFTWAR authorization… our last best hope of averting a ground war in Iraq. Senate Democrats were so intent upon creating an issue to use against George W., Bush that when they were asked to fund the project for a single dollar, just to get the offensive “in the pipeline,” with supplemental funding to be added during the 108th Congress, they refused even that.
Thus, as coalition forces prepared for war with seeming unstoppable momentum, the Iraq War Powers Act, P.L. 107-243, passed the Republican-controlled House on October 10, 2002, by a vote of 296-133, and the Democrat-controlled Senate on October 11 by a vote of 77-23. Twenty-eight Democrats, including Senators Rockefeller, Clinton, Kerry, and Biden voted in favor of the war powers resolution.
But that was not the last we heard of Sen. Rockefeller’s role in sabotaging the Iraq war effort. In the December 3, 2005 edition of the Canada Free Press, writer Joan Swirsky published an article describing events before and during the Iraq War, titled, “Rockefeller’s Treachery,” republished in the May 21, 2015 edition of the RenewAmerica website.
Ms. Swirsky reminds us of Rockefeller’s November 14, 2005 appearance on Fox News Sunday, during the period in which he served as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. In that interview, Rockefeller recalled, “I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 (months before the HPSCI proposal was approved by the House of Representatives) to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq – that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.” It was an entirely baseless charge.
Ms. Swirsky went on to say, “By himself, and fully armed with America’s most sensitive intelligence, Sen. Rockefeller decided to go to three Arab countries – including Syria, which is on the State Department’s list of terrorist regimes and a close ally of Saddam Hussein – and literally alert them to what might befall a neighboring Arab state.” Putting this sharply into context, Ms. Swirsky reminds us that, “This was Sen. Rockefeller’s judgment only four months after September 11th and a full year before President Bush expressed any intention to go to war.”
Finally, on March 20, 2003, with all multi-national coalition forces in place, the invasion of Iraq commenced. And while Democrats continue to this day to try to convince the American people that George Bush and Dick Cheney lied to launch the Iraq War, there is a strong case to be made that it was their own politically-motivated treachery that was most responsible for our entrance into the war. In that war, some 4,500 American men and women, and countless Iraqis, paid with their lives. Clearly, their blood is on Democrat hands, not on Bush and Cheney’s hands.
Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College. He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.