Durbin Gives Edwards More to Apologize For

On April 28, 2007 Sen. Dick Durbin attempted to cleanse the blood off his senate suit by admitting that as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee he had been told the opposite of what Bush was telling the Congress and the American people. But, Durbin remained silent. And, as Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote “The cruelest lies are often told in silence.”

Durbin said he “couldn’t believe” how the administration was giving different information to the American people than “the information we had on the Intelligence Committee.” He says “I sat here on the floor of the Senate and listened to this heated debate about invading Iraq and thinking the American people are being misled. They are not being told the truth.”

What did he do about it? Nothing. He kept the information secret until five years into a bloody and disastrous war. He did not fulfill his larger responsibility to stop an illegal war based on lies, deceptions and false information.

Durbin can’t cleanse the blood of his senate suit so easily, but he is not the only one who has some explaining to do. There were sixteen members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who were given the same information as Durbin. They all remained silent. They let the administration lie to the Congress and mislead the American people into a catastrophic war. They let a war begin on false pretenses. A war that has cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqis their lives, destroyed their country and started a civil war. A war that cost thousands of Americans their lives and resulted in fifty thousand causalities of war — more than two hundred thousand if illnesses like post traumatic stress disorder are counted. And, it has cost the American taxpayer more than $400 billion thus far with projected costs of over $1 trillion.

If ever silence was complicity, this is that time. Sixteen elected officials, sworn to uphold the Constitution — a Constitution that gives the Congress the sole power to declare war — knew Bush was lying when he sought the power to go to war and remained silent. They are complicit in Bush’s actions because if they had been honest with the American people and their fellow elected officials the war could have been averted.

Among those sixteen members of the Intelligence Committee was Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and potential Republican candidate Fred Thompson. Can we trust these men to be president?

Edwards has apologized for voting for the war resolution. But now that we know that he was told by the intelligence community that the administration was lying is his apology enough? Doesn’t this raise serious questions about his judgment? Voting for a war when he was told the basis of it was false is not the kind of judgment we need in a commander-in-chief.

Durbin’s revelation raises questions not only about Edwards vote for the war resolution but also whether we can trust him to be honest with the American people. He knew we were being lied to about the most important issue a country can face. He knew his colleagues in the Congress were being lied to about the most important decision the Congress is responsible for — whether to go to war. And what did he do about it? He remained silent. Can we trust someone who remains silent in such circumstances?

Edwards better hope that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was wrong when he said, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

The same questions come up for former Senator Fred Thompson the potential Republican candidate. He has not made any apology for his vote for the war — a vote based on information he knew was false. Indeed, his current view on the war is that it is wrong to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq because he believes that the U.S. should leave on “our terms and not al-Qaeda’s.” Talk about bad judgment!

Last week I participated in a dramatic demonstration in the Senate Hart office building. The demonstration had several parts, ending with a ceremonial “Funeral for the Next Soldier.” Two banners were dropped one was a message to Congress about their failure to hold President Bush accountable and their failure to end the war. Now, it seems the sign also applies to their failure to stop the war from starting:


You can see Senator Durbin’s statement on the Senate floor.

A transcript of Durbin’s statement.

Statement of Sen. Durbin on Inconsistency
Between Intelligence Briefings and Bush Administration Statements
Speech on the Senate Floor April 28, 2007

“A few hundred feet away from here in a closed room, carefully guarded, the Intelligence Committee was meeting on a daily basis for top secret briefings about the information we were receiving and the information we had on the Intelligence Committee was not the same information that was being given to the American people. I couldn’t believe it. Members of this administration were in active heated debate over whether aluminum tubes really meant that the Iraqis were developing nuclear weapons some within the administration were saying of course not it is not the same kind of aluminum tube. At the same time members of the administration were telling the American people to be fearful of mushroom shaped clouds. I was angry about it. Frankly, I could not do much about it cause you see, on the Intelligence Committee we’re sworn to secrecy. I could not go outside the door and say the statement made yesterday by the WH is in direct contradiction to classified information that’s being given to this Congress. We can’t do that. We couldn’t make those statements.

“So, in my frustration I sat here on the floor of the Senate and listened to this heated debate about invading Iraq and thinking the American people are being misled. They are not being told the truth. That’s why I twenty-two members of my colleagues in voting no. I did not feel at the time that the American people knew the real facts.

“So what happened, we invaded, turned loose, hundreds if not thousands of people looking for these weapons of mass destruction. Never found one of them. Looked for nuclear weapons, no evidence whatsoever.”

Kevin Zeese co-directs Popular Resistance and is on the coordinating council for the Maryland Green Party. Read other articles by Kevin, or visit Kevin's website.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Deadbeat said on May 5th, 2007 at 9:13am #

    Durbin is no hero. The Democrats in Congress who were in control of the Senate violated their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Durbin sounds like some two-bit amoral attorney who put the process before justice.

  2. True patriot said on May 5th, 2007 at 3:16pm #

    You seem to have a very short memory, the clinton administration was saying the same things long before Bush said them:

    Text of President Clinton’s Address on Iraq
    By The Associated Press
    Tuesday, February 17, 1998; 1:32 p.m. EST

    It admitted, among other things, an offensive biological warfare
    capability — notably 5,000 gallons of botulinum, which causes botulism;
    2,000 gallons of anthrax; 25 biological-filled Scud warheads; and 157 aerial bombs.

    And I might say — UNSCOM inspectors believe that Iraq has actually greatly understated its production.


  3. Jeff said on May 7th, 2007 at 1:31pm #

    You would make a mistake to assume that what Durbin says is true, and that the other members of the Intelligence Committee lied as he does. If the entire committee knew everything was “lies”, they could readily have conveyed that to the public without violating any secrecy requirements. And yet now, years later, Durbin is breaking his silence? Right!

    You don’t have to follow his career too closely to know that he is an intellectual lightweight who will make ignorant statements without any concept of what he is really saying. In his mind, he probably was only saying, “I’m a smart guy. Now that I think back on it, I was skeptical about what I heard. In fact, now that I really think back, I knew they were lying!” In reality, he’s an idiot.

    My guess is that this is why his “blockbuster” statement has had so little mainstream press coverage – they know him and that it is probably not true.

  4. marty arrowsmith said on May 12th, 2007 at 9:20am #

    Hey true patriot – if wanton death and destruction is what patriotism is about – keep it. Fortunately it is not and therefore you are not a truepatriot, but rather an enabler for the war criminals

    Clinton didn’t invade and so once again blaming him for the illegal and immoral actions of the Bushies is simply absurd.

    In fact, it appears that outside of the vile Bush administration and the lap dog congress, a vast majoirity of the rest of the world knew that the kool-aid the Bushies were selling was laced with hate and bullsh**. Indeed 25% of Americans didn’t even buy the BS at the time, despite the right wing propaganda machine’s best efforts. Blix and Ritter didn’t buy it either.

    And when all is said and done, there were no WMDs (except maybe ours), there was no link to Al Qaeda, and we went there due to hubris, ignorance, and oil.

    With respect to Durbin – the nerve to hide behind the idea that he couldn’t stand up and be an honest, caring, and visionary statesman because of the super duper top-secret proceedings that would have put a more realistic story out to the general public is so lame as to defy understanding.

    It is the ultimate demonstration the silence is complicity. The generation currently in power is truly lost and has no (moral) compass to guide it. Look at the next set of panderers to choose from: McCain, Clinton, Romney, Edwards, Giulianni, etc, etc, etc

    Just frickin’ great.

  5. Dissident Voice : Playing Politics With the Iraq War Brings Out the Worst in the Duopoly said on May 12th, 2007 at 12:12pm #

    […] the war. Bush certainly led us into war based on lies, but the Democrats knew they were lies as Sen. Dick Durbin admitted last week on the Senate floor, but voted in favor of the use of force resolution. Bush has […]

  6. bugs said on May 15th, 2007 at 6:33am #

    not that i’m trying to defend durbins silence, but lets get our facts straight.
    durbin voted no on hj res 114 back in oct. ’02
    just sayin’…

  7. Gizmo said on June 7th, 2007 at 9:26pm #

    Dissent Voice, Durbin voted no on the resolution.

    the Republicans controlled the Senate.