Four Years Ago: Questions We Raised About Coming Iraq War

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By: E&P Staff

Four years ago this wek, E&P carried the following article by Ari Berman, then an intern here, following President Bush’s final major press conference before he launched the invasion of Iraq.

Reporters, in the main, had directed softball or, at the least, less than combative questions at the president. We titled the story, “13 Questions We Wish They’d Asked.” Here are some of them.

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— You say one major reason for taking this action is to protect Americans from terrorism. How do you respond to the warnings of CIA Director George Tenet and others that invading Iraq would in fact likely increase terrorism?

— Rather than make us wait for a supplemental budget request — after the war has been launched — to tell us what it, and its aftermath, will cost, don’t you think the American people (who will pay the bill) deserve to know the latest long-term estimates before the fact?

— Why is the U.S. threatening a non-U.N.-backed war if 59% of Americans do not support a U.S. invasion without the approval of the U.N. Security Council, according to a Feb. 24-26 CNN/Gallup Poll?

— Why, if North Korea has the capability to produce six nuclear warheads by mid-summer, are you letting their very reluctant neighbors take the lead in deterring them (as you announced tonight) while demanding that the U.S. take charge in confronting Saddam?

— You praise the Iraqi people, say we have no quarrel with them, pledge to save them from the dictator and give them democracy. Would you tell us how many of them are likely to die in even the best invastion scenario?

— With the economy shaken and deficits climbing, how do you respond to critics who say you’re ignoring domestic issues and the long-term economic security of this country by focusing so much of your time and resources on Iraq?

— Why did the U.S. edit the 12,000 page Iraqi weapons report (as recently revealed) to the U.N. Security Council, removing all names of U.S. companies that sold weapons materials to the Iraqis in the past?

— Would you confirm or deny the reports this week, based on a leaked memo, that the U.S. bugged and otherwise spied on representatives of countries that are swing votes on the U.N. Security Council? Do you approve of such actions?

— You claimed tonight that Iraq has started producing new missiles — but are these nothing more than less capable versions (fully permitted by the U.N.) of the missiles being destroyed now?

— How do you respond to reporter Daniel Schorr’s statement that the “coalition of the willing” is actually a “coalition of the billing?”

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