Limbaugh misrepresented Senator Byrd's opposition to “Bush doctrine of preemption”

The day after Senator Robert C. Byrd's (D-WV) July 18 interview on NBC's Meet the Press, during which he responded to a question about Iraq by saying that “the [President George W.] Bush doctrine of preemptive attack ... [is] a dangerous doctrine,” radio host Rush Limbaugh suggested that Byrd would not have supported a preemptive strike on Afghanistan even "[i]f we'd had intelligence that ... they're going to blow us up on 9-11, and we learned this on 9-10 or 9-9."

From the July 19 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: The question is, Senator Byrd, would you, and your fellow senators, have supported a war in Afghanistan five seconds before we were attacked on 9-11. That would be preemption. If we'd had intelligence that training missions had taken place in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda had trained, they're going to blow us up on 9-11, and we learned this on 9-10 or 9-9, and Bush says, “We are going to Afghanistan.” Would you have supported it, senator? I think not. Because you opposed it. ... So if we find out we're going to stop it, will you support us in stopping it? Or it's going to happen? I doubt -- don't think you would, senator. So this is a baseless, worthless argument.

Byrd, who supported the war in Afghanistan, has defined "the doctrine of preemption" on the floor of the Senate as “the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future” and denounced it as “a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense.” At no point has Byrd suggested that he would have opposed a preemptive strike against Afghanistan if it could have prevented the attacks of 9/11.