First, assume the following: al Qaeda had contacts with Saddam’s regime during the late 1990s. We have no credible evidence that they ever collaborated in a terrorist venture, but we don’t have a thorough record of what happened when the two entities were in contact. We know that one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists was in Iraq and received medical treatment there. This terrorist ran his own operation, but was also associated with al Qaeda. Saddam Hussein produced biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. Our best intelligence was that he had such weapons at the time we attacked him. That intelligence is now subject to doubt, but there is little question that he once had such weapons and was capable of producing them again.
Under these circumstances, is the United States safer with Saddam and his regime gone?
Second, assume all of the above. Assume also that President Clinton spoke often about the dangers of Iraq’s WMD program and seriously considered going to war with Saddam in 1998. Assume that President Bush received approval from Congress, with strong support from Democrats, to go to war with Saddam but didn’t do so (or assume that Bush never considered going to war). Finally, assume that the U.S. is attacked by terrorists who use biological or chemical weapons that Saddam at one time possessed and had the capacity to produce.
Under these circumstances, would Democrats (and bi-partisan commissions) be outraged at President Bush for not overthrowing Saddam’s regime?
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