As Brit Hume implies, some of the pronouncements of the retired generals amounts to good old fashioned CYA.
Former Clinton CENTCOM commander, Anthony Zinni — the most prominent of the retired generals attacking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — now says that, in the run-up to the war in Iraq, “What bothered me … [was that] I was hearing a depiction of the intelligence that didn’t fit what I knew. There was no solid proof, that I ever saw, that Saddam had WMD.”
But in early 2000, Zinni told Congress “Iraq remains the most significant near-term threat to U.S. interests in the Arabian Gulf region,” adding, “Iraq probably is continuing clandestine nuclear research, [and] retains stocks of chemical and biological munitions … Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains scientific, technical, and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months.”
Yes well, like the man said consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. Or something like that.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean: "There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the United States and to our allies. ... [I]f Saddam persists in thumbing his nose at the inspectors, then we're clearly going to have to do something about it." (CBS' "Face The Nation," 9/29/02)
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE): "It would be unrealistic, if not downright foolish, to believe we can claim victory in the war on terrorism and a more secure world if Saddam Hussein is still in power five years from now, at least acting as he has the last five years." (Sen. Joe Biden, Remarks At Center For Strategic And International Studies Forum, Washington, D.C., 2/4/02)
Rep. Ford : "For anyone to suggest or pretend that Saddam Hussein is not a threat or a menace, I think he or she is fooling himself or herself, and is misleading the nation." (MSNBC's "Buchanan & Press," 10/8/02)
Yes, he or she certainly would be. I think the thing that annoys me the most here is the idea that there was no need to go to Iraq because AlQaida did not run the place.... Saddam did and he was just a harmless little homicidal maniac dictator with oil. And yet AlQaida is there right now and most of these folks have no desire to fight them, so what does it matter to them one way or another since reverse is the only gear they got that works?
My personal favorite :
Back on Feb. 17, 1998, Hayes notes, Clinton – speaking at the Pentagon – warned of the "reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals." He said these "predators of the twenty-first century," who are America's enemies, "will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen. There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein's Iraq."
And later the same spring, Clinton's Justice Department prepared an indictment of al-Qaida's leader, Osama bin Laden, in which a prominent passage located in the fourth paragraph reads:
"Al-Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al-Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al-Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq."