It appears U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein is on her way to re-election, despite unanswered questions regarding her judgment and credibility as a result of her role ten years ago in pushing through the resolution that made possible the disastrous U.S. invasion, and subsequent war, in Iraq. The consequences of that illegal, unnecessary war remain with us to this day.
Prior to the vote, I had contacted the senator and explained how it was virtually impossible for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to have reconstituted his biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs. Citing reports from the United Nations, reputable think tanks, recognized arms control experts, and respected peer-reviewed academic journals, I thought I had made a convincing case that Iraq was no longer a threat to the United States or its neighbors.
Other scholars and arms control specialists made similar arguments. Indeed, Scott Ritter, the former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, personally briefed the senator as to how Iraq had achieved qualitative disarmament and was no longer a threat.
However, Senator Feinstein still insisted that Iraq somehow remained a “consequential threat” to the national security of the United States, and insisted Iraq still possessed biological and chemical weapons. None were found.
Similarly, even though the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency had correctly noted in 1998 that Iraq’s nuclear program had been completely eliminated, Feinstein also falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein was still “engaged in developing nuclear weapons.” No nuclear program was found.
When asked at the time how she could make such claims despite any credible evidence, she insisted that she was somehow “privy to information that those in California are not.” However, despite repeated requests to make public what she was supposedly privy to, she has to this day refused to allow me or any other independent strategic analyst access to this supposed information.
To this day, Feinstein’s supporters insist that she didn’t lie.
They insist that her false claims about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” were just an honest mistake and the fact that Iraq happens to sit on one of the world’s largest supplies of oil is just a coincidence.
I was also among a number of scholars specializing in the Middle East who warned Senator Feinstein—correctly, as it turned out—that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would likely spark a disastrous armed insurgency, ethnic and religious tensions, and dramatically increased terrorism and anti-American extremism. Despite being made aware of the likely consequences, however, she insisted that the United States should invade Iraq anyway.
Feinstein acknowledged at the time of the resolution authorizing the invasion that calls and emails to her office were overwhelmingly opposed to her supporting President Bush’s war plans. Unfortunately, she decided to ignore her constituents and joined a right-wing minority of Democrats on Capitol Hill voting in favor of the resolution.
California voters must decide whether, under such circumstances, Senator Feinstein really deserves another six years in office.