In recent articles, The New York Times and the New York Daily News falsely characterized Sen. Clinton's vote for the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq as a vote "for the Iraq war." However, prior to her vote, Clinton said that she expected the White House to push for "complete, unlimited inspections" and that she did not view her support for the resolution as "a vote for any new doctrine of pre-emption or for unilateralism."
An August 19 New York Times article and an August 20 New York Daily News article falsely characterized Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) vote for the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq as a vote "for the Iraq war." In fact, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, the 2002 resolution for which Clinton and a majority of her congressional colleagues voted gave the president the authority to go to war against Iraq; it was not, as the Times and Daily News suggested, a congressional declaration of war or a directive to the president to launch an invasion. Although acknowledging that the vote for the resolution could "lead to war," Clinton has noted herself that a vote for the resolution was not a "vote for" war. Prior to her vote, in an October 10, 2002, statement on the Senate floor, Clinton said that she expected the White House to push for "complete, unlimited inspections" and that she did not view her support for the measure as "a vote for any new doctrine of pre-emption or for unilateralism."
From Clinton's October 10, 2002, floor statement:
CLINTON: Even though the resolution before the Senate is not as strong as I would like in requiring the diplomatic route first and placing highest priority on a simple, clear requirement for unlimited inspections, I take the President at his word that he will try hard to pass a United Nations resolution and seek to avoid war, if possible.
Because bipartisan support for this resolution makes success in the United Nations more likely and war less likely, and because a good faith effort by the United States, even if it fails, will bring more allies and legitimacy to our cause, I have concluded, after careful and serious consideration, that a vote for the resolution best serves the security of our Nation. If we were to defeat this resolution or pass it with only a few Democrats, I am concerned that those who want to pretend this problem will go way with delay will oppose any United Nations resolution calling for unrestricted inspections.
This is a difficult vote. This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Any vote that may lead to war should be hard, but I cast it with conviction. Perhaps my decision is influenced by my 8 years of experience on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue in the White House watching my husband deal with serious challenges to our Nation. I want this President, or any future President, to be in the strongest possible position to lead our country in the United Nations or in war. Secondly, I want to ensure that Saddam Hussein makes no mistake about our national unity and support for the President's efforts to wage America's war against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. Thirdly, I want the men and women in our Armed Forces to know that if they should be called upon to act against Iraq our country will stand resolutely behind them.
My vote is not, however, a vote for any new doctrine of preemption or for unilateralism or for the arrogance of American power or purpose, all of which carry grave dangers for our Nation, the rule of international law, and the peace and security of people throughout the world.
Over 11 years have passed since the UN called on Saddam Hussein to rid himself of weapons of mass destruction as a condition of returning to the world community.
Time and time again, he has frustrated and denied these conditions. This matter cannot be left hanging forever with consequences we would all live to regret. War can yet be avoided, but our responsibility to global security and the integrity of United Nations resolutions protecting it cannot.
I urge the President to spare no effort to secure a clear, unambiguous demand by the United Nations for unlimited inspections.
Finally, on another personal note, I come to this decision from the perspective of a Senator from New York who has seen all too closely the consequences of last year's terrible attacks on our Nation. In balancing the risks of action versus inaction, I think New Yorkers, who have gone through the fires of hell, may be more attuned to the risk of not acting. I know I am.
So it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our Nation. A vote for it is not a vote to rush to war; it is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of our President. And we say to him: Use these powers wisely and as a last resort. And it is a vote that says clearly to Saddam Hussein: This is your last chance; disarm or be disarmed.
Moreover, the Times article, by reporters Patrick Healy and Michael Cooper, stated that "some of her [Clinton's] closest allies were shocked when, at a presidential debate in June, she used the word 'mistake' in an answer about her Iraq position, yet calibrating it carefully to say it was 'a mistake to trust George Bush.' " However, at the June 3 debate to which Healy was referring, Clinton made clear that she had said something similar in an earlier debate. From the June 3 debate:
CLINTON: Well, I have said repeatedly that if I had known then what I know now, I never would have voted to give the president authority. And in the last debate, I said that, you know, it was a mistake to trust George Bush that he would do what he told all of us he would do.
Indeed, at an April 26 debate, when asked to name a "political or professional mistake" she had made, Clinton said her mistake was "believing the president when he said he would go to the United Nations and put inspectors into Iraq to determine whether they had WMD." From that debate:
DAVID STANTON, WIS NEWS: The next question is a short-answer question -- one sentence, and I'm going to ask each of you, beginning with Senator Gravel. This is from Paula in Conway, South Carolina. What is the most significant political or professional mistake you have made in the past four years? And what if anything did you learn from this mistake which makes you a better candidate?
STANTON: Senator Clinton.
CLINTON: Well, I don't have enough time to tell you all the mistakes I've made in the last many years. Certainly the mistakes I made around health care were deeply troubling to me and interfered with our ability to get our message out -- and, you know, believing the president when he said that he would go to the United Nations and put inspectors into Iraq to determine whether they had WMDs.
Additionally, an August 20 Newsday article characterized Clinton's 2002 Iraq vote as "her 2002 vote to support the Iraq invasion."
From the August 19 Times article:
Some campaigns see the debates, which are more closely covered and dissected than many other campaign appearances, as opportunities to put across carefully planned messages.
Mrs. Clinton, for instance, has refused to say that her 2002 vote for the Iraq war was a mistake. So some of her closest allies were shocked when, at a presidential debate in June, she used the word "mistake" in an answer about her Iraq position, yet calibrating it carefully to say it was "a mistake to trust George Bush."
From the August 20 Daily News article:
Sen. Hillary Clinton assured Democrats yesterday she's the one who can whip Republicans on the right, even as she edged left by saying for the first time she regrets voting for the Iraq war.
The New Yorker's rivals who also voted for the war all have called their votes mistakes. She has said repeatedly she only regrets how President Bush used his authority to wage war.
Yesterday, she joined her party's chorus at a debate in Des Moines. "I, too, regret giving George Bush the authority that he misused and abused," she said. As recently as February, she told Politico.com she did not regret her vote. She also has refused to call her vote a mistake or apologize for it.
From the August 20 Newsday article:
For the first time, Clinton expressed "great regret" over her 2002 vote to support the Iraq invasion, but maintained that she and other pro-war Democrats had been misled by White House intelligence reports.