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"The Iraq Lie" on MSNBC Hardball

Thursday, July 31, 2014
Joseph M. Hoeffel

Jos. Hoeffel on Chris Matthews Show


Rough transcript
Matthews: Bush's war and nine-year occupation of Iraq was of the biggest blunders in US history. The sectarian civil war and chaos now enveloping the war-torn nation proves this all the more. The intervention replaced Hussein with chaos, a far greater threat to US national security. A new book, The Iraq Lie, by former Penn. congressman Joseph Hoeffel, provides new light into the run-up to that war in 2003. Specifically, Hoeffel compares the intel that the Bush team were getting, and what they were selling to the American public, with deceptive statements like these, back in 2002: 

(Archive video footage of Cheney) "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." 
(Archive video footage of Bush) "Each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax, or VX nerve gas, or someday a nuclear weapon, to a terrorist ally."
"Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof – the smoking gun – that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."  
"We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons, and diseases, and gases, and atomic weapons."

Matthews: Congressman Hoeffel is here to tell about he and many others got duped into voting for the Iraq war authorization in 2002. Congressman, it's great to have you on here, it's great you've written this book, this is going to be part of what I consider is the long-needed commission on this, to find out the truth, if there's ever going to be any reconciliation. My first question to you is, the mushroom cloud. The President of the United States, George W. Bush, legitimately elected by the American people twice, went out and sold the idea that we are facing an existential threat, an annihilation under a nuclear war. We were going to get hit with a mushroom cloud. And it's going to come because Saddam Hussein is going to deliver it somehow to the United States, on some balsa wood plane or whatever. Did they ever produce evidence that they had the delivery system, the vehicle to send it with? 

Hoeffel: No evidence at all.

Matthews: Then why did everybody get sold with the idea of the mushroom cloud? 

Hoeffel: Well, it was a selling job by the Bush White House. They took classified intelligence that they were being given about the status of Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. That intelligence was filled with caveats, reservations, uncertainties, and they turned around and said in public, it's absolute, it's certain, he's got weapons, he wants war, he's about to use them. And none of that was true. 

Matthews: Why did they spin it so to put us into the war if they weren't sure? In other words, they got the raw data, they knew the uncertainties, was this a selling piece, they wanted to go to war for other reasons, whatever reasons, maybe strategy, something to do with Middle East peace, something to do with pushing the rejectionist states with Israel. Was it about oil, was it about George W. being mad because they tried to kill his dad, what was the motive behind all this dishonesty?

Hoeffel: Probably some of all of those. I think that Pres. Bush felt that he could establish democracy in the Middle East, and that was going to be his life...

Matthews: Who told him that?

Hoeffel: I don't know who he was listening to.

Matthews: He was listening to the intellectuals, the ones he never listened to in college. (laugh) Anyway, when did you first begin to think you'd made a boo-boo, a classic blunder, as I said, in voting for this bill. I mean, Hillary Clinton voted for it, John Kerry voted for it, Joe Bryan voted for it, a lot of people I like,  Ed Markey, a lot of people voted for it. So why did you all vote for it. When did you decide you got something wrong here. 

Hoeffel: Well I believed I had to vote to disarm Saddam Hussein. I was uncertain about the vote, but I felt I had to do it. In the winter of 2003, when the international inspectors were reporting to the UN that they were not finding weapons, they were getting full access but there were no weapons, I began to realize there was a huge problem. And you know Chris...

Matthews: What made you think, when you saw, OK, you can never trust Saddam Hussein, but basically, UN people going all over the place, couldn't find anything, what then did you think was driving the administration, when they weren't getting any evidence? Why were they pushing?

Hoeffel: I don't know. George Bush was not willing to reconsider his decisions. A great president would have called a time out, and said, wait a minute, I'm basing this war on weapons of mass destruction, if they're not being found, I better hold back. But Bush, frankly, wasn't a great president.

Matthews: When Bush got in there and we realized there were no weapons of mass destruction, after we got in there, it took a couple months, then they were blaming the White House, the people working for Cheney were blaming the CIA, the CIA was blaming Cheney, and the people in the special office over in Defense, with WHIG and those guys, everybody was blaming everybody. Why do you think we didn't come out then? What were we doing in Iraq, after we realized the goal was not going to be there, there was no goal line there, there were no weapons there? Why did we stay?

Hoeffel: Well, the country was committed, our troops were being shot at, the troops were in danger, once you go in to invade a country, you own it, that's the terrible part about it.

Matthews: You know what Teddy Kennedy said, The best vote I ever cast, was Nay.

Hoeffel: Well, it was my worst vote.

Matthews. Thank you. Thank you. Read the book. Read the book. Thank you. The Iraq Lie, by Joe Hoeffel, a great Congressman. Thank you for coming on. 


See also: Joe Hoeffel on the Marty Moss-Coane talk radio show on Radio WHYY Philadelphia, whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2014/08/04/the-iraq-lie/ 52 minutes, listen online or download


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