NY Times falsely suggested that Hagel and Clinton took different votes on Iraq war resolution


In an article on Sen. Hillary Clinton's vote on the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, The New York Times' Eric Lipton suggested that Sen. Chuck Hagel and Clinton took different positions on the resolution. But Hagel, like Clinton, voted for the resolution -- a fact Lipton did not report.

In a January 14 New York Times article, reporter Eric Lipton suggested that Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) took different positions on the 2002 resolution that authorized the use of force against Iraq. But, like Clinton, Hagel voted for the resolution (H.J. Res. 114), a fact nowhere to be found in Lipton's article.

Lipton reported that Sen. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton "appear[ed] to misconstrue the facts" in pointing to Hagel's assertion that his support for the resolution was, in Hillary Clinton's words, "not a vote for war" but rather "a vote to use the threat of force against Saddam Hussein, who never did anything without being made to do so." As purported evidence for the claim that the Clintons misconstrued the facts, the Times article suggested that the Clintons' assertion that Hagel "helped to draft the resolution" was contradicted by the fact that the version of the bill that Hagel helped write -- which "authorized only to secure the destruction of Iraq's unconventional weapons, not to enforce 'all relevant' United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq" -- was not the version that ultimately passed and that Hillary Clinton voted for. Instead, a "slightly less restrictive" authorization bill passed, according to the Times. Yet at no point in the article did the Times note that, like Clinton, Hagel voted for the final version of the resolution, or that he praised the sponsors of the Senate version of the bill (which is "substantially similar" to the House version that passed) for reaching "a far more responsible and accountable document than" the version of the bill the White House was pushing.

The New York Times reported:

In October 2002, Mr. Hagel had in fact been working with Senators Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, and Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, on drafting a resolution that would have authorized the war.

But while those negotiations were under way, to the disappointment of some Congressional Democrats, the Bush administration circumvented their effort and reached a separate agreement with Representative Richard A. Gephardt, Democrat of Missouri, then the House minority leader.

That agreement resulted in a bill, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, now an independent, which was slightly less restrictive than the proposal that Mr. Hagel had been helping to develop.

In the original proposal Mr. Hagel had backed, force was authorized only to secure the destruction of Iraq's unconventional weapons, not to enforce "all relevant" United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, which was the language in the version that ultimately passed.


In an interview published in GQ magazine in January 2007, Mr. Hagel said that he helped shape the course of the debate -- even if it was not his resolution that ultimately passed. He said he helped convince the White House to narrow its request for authorization to go to war just to Iraq. Initially, the administration wanted Congress to approve a broad measure that would not have necessarily specified Iraq as the only target, potentially allowing action elsewhere in the Middle East.

Yet, in an October 9, 2002, floor speech, Hagel praised the compromise bill sponsored in the Senate by Lieberman -- S.J.Res. 46 -- that was referenced by the Times.

From Hagel's October 9 floor speech:

The United Nations, with American leadership, must act decisively to end Saddam Hussein's decade-long violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions.


S.J. Res. 46, sponsored by Senators LIEBERMAN, WARNER, MCCAIN, and BAYH, is a far more responsible and accountable document than the one we started with 3 weeks ago. I congratulate my colleagues, especially Senators LUGAR, BIDEN, and DASCHLE, and the four sponsors of this resolution, for their efforts and leadership in getting it to this point.

S.J. Res. 46 narrows the authorization for the use of force to all relevant U.N. resolutions regarding Iraq, and to defending our national interests against the threats posed by Iraq. It includes support for U.S. diplomatic efforts at the U.N.; a requirement that, before taking action, the President formally determines that diplomatic or other peaceful means will not be adequate in meeting our objectives; reference to the war powers resolution requirements; and periodic reports to Congress that include those actions described in the section of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 regarding assistance and support for Iraq upon replacement of Saddam Hussein. This resolution recognizes Congress as a coequal partner in dealing with the threat from Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Posted In
Government, National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
The New York Times
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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