Maybe Joe Lieberman is the perfect running mate for John McCain after all.
In December 2001, the Bush Administration had been trying to tie the then-recent anthrax mailings to Iraq, only to have those connections fully shot down.
So, members of Congress were enlisted by BushCo to 'get the party started,' so to speak. It seems a jointly signed letter was sent out on December 5th.
From UPI from 12/8/01:
"Two prominent American experts on Iraq cautioned the Bush administration on Friday not to go after Iraq in what is being termed as the possible "second phase" of America's new war on terrorism.
"The warnings came about as 10 key members of Congress sent a letter to President George W. Bush earlier in the week encouraging him to set his sights on Saddam Hussein's regime as the next target in the war.
"'As we work to clean up Afghanistan and destroy al Qaida, it is imperative that we plan to eliminate the threat from Iraq,' they noted.
"Signers of the letter included Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., Jesse Helms, R-N.C., Trent Lott, R-Miss., Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Henry Hyde, R-Ill., who is chairman of the House International Relations Committee."
The following day, States News Service (12/11/01), had the following to say:
"With possible U.S. victory nearing in the campaign to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan, a bipartisan group of lawmakers are now setting their sights on another target in the war against terrorism: Iraq.
"Claiming that Iraq continues to pursue the development of weapons of mass destruction 'intended for use against the United States,' nine leading members of Congress delivered a letter to the White House advising the administration to "directly confront" Iraqi President Saddam Hussein - "sooner rather than later."
"As part of that effort, the lawmakers advise that President Bush begin beefing up support for Iraqi opposition forces with military training, information gathering and humanitarian assistance.
"'Without allies on the ground inside Iraq, we will be handicapping our own efforts,'" reads the letter, which was spearheaded by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. 'Each day that passes costs us an opportunity to unite and professionalize the Iraqi opposition, thus ensuring it will be less capable when the conflict begins.'"
The 12/6/01 edition of the Washington Post had more details on the letter that was sent:
"The letter adds to the chorus of policymakers calling for efforts to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. It follows warnings by Bush that Iraq will face serious consequences if it does not allow United Nations inspectors to search for weapons of mass destruction. 'We believe we must directly confront Saddam, sooner rather than later,' the letter said.
"Noting that this month marks the third anniversary of the last U.N. inspection of Iraqi weapons programs, the lawmakers said the current economic sanctions are not enough to contain Iraq. They said the administration had struggled to close "loopholes" in the sanctions but had failed to stop illicit oil sales. They also said they have no doubt Hussein has "reinvigorated" Iraq's biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs.
"The lawmakers urged Bush to provide more assistance to the opposition Iraqi National Congress. 'Successive administrations have funded conferences, offices and other intellectual exercises that have done little more than expose the INC to accusations of being 'limousine insurgents' and 'armchair guerrillas,' the letter said."
Face The Nation
McCain was a guest on CBS' Face the Nation on 12/9/01. From that transcript comes this revealing excerpt:
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SCHIEFFER: Now, with another perspective on all of this, from Phoenix, Arizona, Senator John McCain.
Senator McCain, welcome.
U.S. SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Thank you.
SCHIEFFER: I want to get right to it here.
You and a number of other senators, mostly Republicans, but along with Democrat Joe Lieberman and I think Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., have sent a letter to the administration urging the next target to be Iraq. You said, and here`s a quote from the letter, "We believe we must directly confront Saddam Hussein sooner rather than later." Two questions. First, what are you talking about? Are you talking about invading Iraq, or are you talking about something else?
MCCAIN: I think we`re talking about addressing the issue.
As you know, several years ago, we passed a bill that Senator Lieberman and I and others sponsored that called for assisting the internal and external opposition to Saddam Hussein and doing everything we can to overthrow him.
I think that the strategy and the specific tactics would be left to people like your previous guest.
But what I think we`re trying to say is that Saddam Hussein presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America. We know he is acquiring weapons of mass destruction. We know he has had contact with terrorist organizations. We know he has violated the terms of his -- the cease-fire agreement of 1991. And recent defectors indicate that he has accelerated his efforts, particularly the acquisition of biological weapons. So he must be addressed.
I would suggest the first thing, as the president has already said, demand the return of the inspectors. And provide real assistance to this internal opposition.
Can they succeed? We don`t know, because we`ve never really given, neither the last administration nor sadly this administration, have given them the assistance that I think they need, to find out whether they are viable or not.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let`s say that Saddam Hussein, and there seems every indication that he`s going to, if he rejects that idea to let the inspectors come back in, then what do we do?
MCCAIN: Then I think, as I said, we continue -- or start to give real assistance to the internal opposition.
And then I think we examine our options. Whether that`s a direct military invasion, whether that`s a bombing campaign, whether that`s a number of other options, I think will be explored by the administration.
But I think it`s got to be a step-by-step kind of a scenario, because clearly we`re going to send young Americans, again, into harm`s way.
BORGER: Well, Senator, don`t you worry that, if we did get into that kind of an armed conflict against Iraq, that it could explode in the Middle East, that Iraq could attack Israel, say, for example, and then we`d have a larger problem on our hands?
MCCAIN: That`s always been, frankly, a nightmare scenario I`ve had, a biological weapon on a Scud missile aimed at Israel and Saddam Hussein making certain demands. I think that that`s a real problem.
Also maintaining the support or at least the acquiescence of other countries in the region would be difficult.
But I think the alternative is to sit by and watch Saddam Hussein cause millions of his own people to starve, which is sad in itself. But most importantly and most dramatically, is that it`s a matter of time before he acquires this capability. And the longer we delay, the more likely we`re faced with one of these nightmare scenarios which could entail casualties of enormous proportions, and, again, a direct threat to the security of the United States of America.