Why a Conflicted Kerry Voted Yes -- and Later No -- on IraqHe did - and was labeled a flip-flopper for it by the Repubs and many Dems who never bother to check this backstory. At least now you know the truth.
...In early September, Bush announced he would seek congressional approval to "do whatever is necessary to deal with the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime." He also took his case to the United Nations, while emphasizing that the U.S. was prepared to act with or without U.N. sanction.
Kerry decried what he described as a rush to war, and expressed skepticism about the administration's commitment to working through the U.N. "We don't want to see this initiative turned into a charade, where it is merely a pro forma step on a road to an already determined decision," he said.
In mid-September, the White House asked Congress for broad, open-ended authority to use force against Iraq if Bush decided it was necessary. Lawmakers of both parties, including Kerry, balked. [...]
Just a week before the Senate vote, Kerry and other lawmakers got their best chance to review intelligence data when the CIA belatedly sent to Congress a detailed assessment of Iraq's weapons programs. The conclusions at the top of the 93-page report were unambiguous.
"We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction programs," the executive summary said.
But the rest of the report was more complicated and nuanced. Sprinkled in its pages were dissents from agencies questioning some of the more sweeping conclusions. For example, the State Department said the evidence that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program was "inadequate."
Kerry did not read the report, his aides say, because he had been briefed on its contents by Tenet.
A congressional aide who asked not to be named said Kerry was hardly alone in not reading the full report, which was available for lawmakers to review only in a few secure locations. [...]
Less than two days before the Senate vote Oct. 11, Kerry said his gut told him to vote for the resolution. But his speech on the Senate floor was riddled with reservations and caveats.
Despite the doubts he had expressed about the administration's commitment to diplomacy, Kerry said he would back the resolution on the strength of assurances from Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell that they would not go to war unilaterally or without exhausting diplomatic options.
"Let there be no doubt or confusion," Kerry said. "I will support a multilateral effort to disarm [Hussein] by force, if we ever exhaust those other options as the president has promised. But I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has not proven possible."
There was nothing in the resolution that guaranteed those conditions would be met. Nonetheless, he was one of 29 Democrats to vote for the resolution, which passed 77 to 23.
In his Senate speech, Kerry had said, "I will be among the first to speak out" if Bush failed to seek international support and go to war as a last resort.
Unfortunately, later in the story, they tell only half of this episode:
In the fall of 2003, his criticism of Bush's polices led to his vote against the $87-billion bill financing continued operations in Iraq. Only 12 senators voted against the financing measure, and only three — besides Kerry — voted for the war and against the second measure. Among them was Kerry's eventual running mate, John Edwards.What they left out was Kerry's initial support of the bill - because the funding was going to come from money originally earmarked for tax cuts for the wealthy. When it was revealed the funding was going to be tacked on to the deficit (and the tax cuts would still be enacted), Kerry voted against it.
Kerry said he voted against the bill because Bush had gone to war recklessly and without a plan for postwar Iraq. He called it a "principled" vote designed to pressure the administration to change its policies.
Even clarifications need clarifying these days...