Saturday, April 09, 2005

"I'll let the record speak for itself."

So said Retired General Wesley Clark, referring to the validity of his views, and those of Richard Perle, presented at a 2002 joint appearance before the House Armed Services Committee. Their joint appearance was reprised this week, as reported by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post:
As chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, Perle had gone before the same committee in 2002 and smugly portrayed retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who urged caution in Iraq, as "hopelessly confused" and spouting "fuzzy stuff" and "dumb cliches."
Thirty months and one war later, Perle and Clark returned to the committee yesterday. But this time lawmakers on both sides hectored Perle, while Clark didn't bother to suppress an "I told you so."

Perle wasn't about to provide the apology Jones sought. He disavowed any responsibility for his confident prewar assertions about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, heaping the blame instead on "appalling incompetence" at the CIA. "There is reason to believe that we were sucked into an ill-conceived initial attack aimed at Saddam himself by double agents planted by the regime [emphasis added]. And as we now know the estimate of Saddam's stockpile of weapons of mass destruction was substantially wrong."
While Perle's preparation for the hearing was no better than the preparation for the Iraq war, General Clark's readiness was evident:
When [committee chairman Duncan] Hunter's GOP colleagues didn't join his line of questioning, he took another turn grilling Clark. The chairman likened President Bush's Middle East policies to those of President Ronald Reagan in Eastern Europe.
"Reagan never invaded Eastern Europe," Clark retorted.

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