Sen. Clinton: I didn't vote for 'pre-emptive war'
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), a Democratic presidential front-runner, said in an interview today that she did not vote for a 'pre-emptive war' in Iraq.
Clinton "insisted her 2002 vote for a resolution authorizing an invasion of Iraq was 'not a vote for a pre-emptive war,' but was instead a show of support for further United Nations-directed weapons inspections," writes Manchester Union Leader senior political reporter John DiStaso, who conducted the exclusive interview with the former First Lady.
DiStaso notes that Clinton "has been criticized by hard-line anti-war groups for making that vote more than four years ago and for not apologizing now," as 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has done.
"I will let others speak for themselves," DiStaso quotes Clinton. "I have taken responsibility for that vote. It was based on the best assessment that I could make at the time, and it was clearly intended to demonstrate support for going to the United Nations to put inspectors into Iraq.
"When I set forth my reasons for giving the President that authority, I said that it was not a vote for pre-emptive war."
Clinton asserted to DiStaso that the Bush administration forced an end to weapons inspections and invaded Iraq prematurely. She added that the White House is responsible for the status of the war and for being "grossly misinformed" or for having "twisted the intelligence to satisfy a pre-conceived version of the facts," DiStaso writes.
"Either interpretation casts grave doubt on their judgment," Clinton told DiStaso.
Excerpts from the Union Leader article, available in full at this link, follow...
She said she does not "at this time" support a cut in funding for American troops in Iraq. She backs instead a cut in funding for Iraqi troops.
"We have got to get their attention," she said of the Iraqi leadership. She said they "do not fulfill their promises" and make "worthless" assurances.
She predicted that if Congress were to approve a funding cut, Bush would veto it. "I hate to say that," she said, "but I think that shows the level of stubbornness and rigidity that we are confronting with this President."
And in what may have been veiled criticism of at least some of her Democratic opponents, Clinton said, "This is a very difficult situation we find ourselves in, and anyone who thinks there are easy answers or flip rhetoric that can be used is not fully appreciating the challenge that those of us confront who are trying to set up circumstances that will persuade the President to do what we all expect and want him to do."