Let's revisit Hillary's vote for war in 2002 in spite of not having cared to read the key piece of evidence against the war: The National Intelligence Estimate.
Of course, others ignored it as well. But that's no excuse; all are individually responsible for the ensuing death and destruction. In any case, the others are not running for President.
And, as we will see below, the others have not semantically twisted and contorted themselves into pretzels trying to defend their vote.
State/INR Alternative View of Iraq's Nuclear Program
The Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR) believes that Saddam continues to want nuclear weapons and that available evidence indicates that Baghdad is pursuing at least a limited effort to maintain and acquire nuclear weapons-related capabilities. The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons. Iraq may be doing so, but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment. Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, INR is unwilling to speculate that such an effort began soon after the departure of UN inspectors or to project a timeline for the completion of activities it does not now see happening. As a result, INR is unable to predict when Iraq could acquire a nuclear device or weapon.
In INR's view Iraq's efforts to acquire aluminum tubes is central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, but INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors. INR accepts the judgment of technical experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose. INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets. The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for use in Iraq's nuclear weapon program.
INR's Alternative View: Iraq's Attempts to Acquire Aluminum Tubes
Some of the specialized but dual-use items being sought are, by all indications, bound for Iraq's missile program. Other cases are ambiguous, such as that of a planned magnet-production line whose suitability for centrifuge operations remains unknown. Some efforts involve non-controlled industrial material and equipment -- including a variety of machine tools -- and are troubling because they would help establish the infrastructure for a renewed nuclear program. But such efforts (which began well before the inspectors departed) are not clearly linked to a nuclear end-use. Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious.
From Hubris (Michael Isikoff and David Corn, 2006), p. 133-134:
As soon as he could, Peter Zimmerman, the scientific adviser to the Senate foreign relations committee, rushed to a secure room in the U.S. Capitol to read the CIA's classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. This was the report that had been requested three weeks earlierby Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee. The ninety-page paper, delivered to Congress on the night of October 1, was suppposed to be the most authoritative summary of the U.S. government's intelligence on Iraq's deadly weapons of mass destruciton and the threat they posed to America. Zimmerman, who had been unimpressed by the closed-door Tenet briefing a week earlier, was anxious to see what the CIA really had to back up the WMD case for war.
He read the NIE twice. He was, he later said, astonished..."I remember thinking," he later said, "Boy, there's nothing there. If anybody takes the time to actually read this, they can't believe there actually are major WMD programs."
From Fiasco (Thomas Ricks, 2006), p. 61:
The National Intelligence Estimate, in its full, ninety-two-page classified form, contained a host of doubts, caveats and disagreements with Bush's assertions.
Meet the Press, January 13, 2008:
MR. RUSSERT: Again, learning from mistake, do you wish you had read the National Intelligence Estimate, which had a lot of caveats from the State Department and the Energy Department as to whether or not Saddam Hussein really had a biological and chemical and active nuclear program?
SEN. CLINTON: I was fully briefed by the people who wrote that. I was briefed by the people from, you know, the State Department, the CIA, the Department of Defense; all of the various players in that...I felt very well briefed. And it wasn't just what the Bush administration was telling us in the NIE, I went way outside of any kind of Bush administration sources; independent people, people from the Clinton administration, people in the British government.
Hillary asserts she was "briefed" by an enormous number of important people.
Except we note that of this entire list, not one person is specifically named.
Except she was curiously uninterested to get the best briefing of all: from the one document that was the authoritative source.
Except that in the time and affort it would have taken to get "briefed" by all those people she could have read the actual authoritative document (remember -- that document was a product of the ENTIRE intelligence community) dozens of times or more.
Except that if she was thoroughly briefed, she would have been aware of all the doubt and dissention as to whether Saddam even had any WMD.
All this raises serious doubt as to whether she was "briefed" in any meaningful sense.
(continued, from her reply to Russert):
I looked as broadly as I could at how to assess this.
No she didn't. She didn't care to read the most important document of all. Purported to be the most authoritative evidence behind the vote.
(continued, from her reply to Russert):
I thought (the vote for war) was a vote to put inspectors back in, to make it very clear that Saddam Hussein wouldn't be able to go off unchecked. If those inspectors had been permitted to do the job that they were set up to do, we would have avoided war.
Oh, really? Let's look at the text:
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.
In other words, the President is authorized to use force to make war on Iraq. If he feels like it. Period.
So Hillary evades addressing the text directly.
Hillary, in any case, tries to get us to believe you can force inspectors back into a country when they don't want them. Well, you can. And ultimately the only way to assure this is to invade. To make war.
Hillary appears to have nearly mastered the art of evasion and double-talk. Do we want this in a President?