Presidential candidate Joe Biden is now claiming about the 2003 Iraq invasion: “Yes, I did oppose the war before it began.”
Biden has been claiming:
“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.”
That claim was made by Biden in the second DNC debate and received virtually no scrutiny except for the piece by Mideast scholar Stephen Zunes, “Biden Is Doubling Down on Iraq War Lies.”
Biden repeated the claim recently on NPR and did receive some scrutiny. The Biden camp claimed he “misspoke” — but then reiterated the central claim, that Biden “was immediately clear in his opposition to how we got into the conflict” — an explanation the Washington Post accepted.
Now, independent journalist Michael Tracey, who interviewed Biden in New Hampshire recently, reports that Biden is now claiming that he opposed the invasion of Iraq even before it started; see his piece and video, which contains audio of Biden’s most recent remarks.
Of course, Biden voted for the war authorization bill in October 2002 and, as Zunes has amply documented, stood by that vote after the invasion started.
Tracey also writes:
“When I reminded Biden that if he opposed the war all along, he could have joined 23 of his Senate colleagues in voting against authorizing it, he replied: ‘No, no, because they argued against authorizing the ability to get the United Nations to go back in with inspectors. We needed the Security Council to get a vote to put inspectors in to determine whether or not there was any nuclear activity going on.’”
This statement is wrong on several levels. Perhaps most obviously, in mid-September, before the congressional vote, 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 had gone to Iraq.)
Biden did initially back a bill along with Republican Sen. Richard Lugar which would have somewhat constrained Bush’s capacity to launch an invasion at his whim. But the Bush administration opposed the measure — and Biden voted for the legislation giving Bush the leeway he wanted. See Biden’s speech.
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Sam Husseini, sam at accuracy.org, @samhusseini is senior analyst with the Institute for Public Accuracy and has written extensively on U.S. policy on Iraq. See his recent piece: “Film Official Secrets Is Tip of Mammoth Iceberg.”