Wednesday, January 26, 2005
In general, I believe the president should be able to choose his Cabinet officials. But this nomination is different, because of the war in Iraq. Dr. Rice was a key member of the national security team that developed and justified the rationale for war, and it's been a catastrophic failure, a continuing quagmire. In these circumstances, she should not be promoted to secretary of state.
There is a critical question about accountability. Dr. Rice was a principal architect and advocate of the decision to go to war in Iraq, at a time when our mission in Afghanistan was not complete and Osama bin Laden was a continuing threat because of our failure to track him down.
In the Armed Services Committee before the war, generals advised against the rush to war. But Dr. Rice and others in the administration pressed forward anyway, despite the clear warnings.
Dr. Rice was the first in the administration to invoke the terrifying image of a nuclear holocaust to justify the need to go to war in Iraq. On Sept. 9, 2002, as Congress was first considering the resolution to authorize the war, Dr. Rice said: " ... We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
In fact, as we now know, there was significant disagreement in the intelligence community about Iraq's nuclear weapons program. But Dr. Rice spoke instead about a consensus in the intelligence community that the infamous aluminum tubes were for the development of nuclear weapons.