But Rumsfeld used the occasion to reinforce his point on U.S. insistence on disarmament. "There is obviously a misunderstanding on the part of those who think that the goal is inspections," he said.
And he asserted again that Hussein's possession of chemical and biological weapons and his steady steps toward developing a nuclear capability demand swift action, without waiting for the indisputable evidence -- or "smoking gun" -- sought by some.
"The last thing we want to see is a smoking gun. A gun smokes after it's been fired…. If someone waits for a smoking gun, it's certain we will have waited too long," he declared.
"I suggest that any who insist on perfect evidence are back in the 20th century and still thinking in pre-9/11 terms," Rumsfeld said. Waiting for full evidence before acting, against the background of last year's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, cannot be justified "unless we are willing and comfortable accepting the loss of not thousands of lives, but potentially tens of thousands of lives," he argued.
Rumsfeld ticked off the administration's reasons for singling out Iraq for action, while acknowledging that other nations -- he cited North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria by name -- also present a serious threat to the United States and the world.
"Iraq is unique," he said. "No other living dictator matches Saddam Hussein's record of waging aggressive war against his neighbors; pursuing weapons of mass destruction; using WMD against his own people and other nations; launching ballistic missiles at his neighbors; brutalizing and torturing his own citizens; harboring terrorist networks; engaging in terrorist acts, including the attempted assassination of foreign officials; violating his international commitments; lying, cheating and hiding his WMD programs; deceiving and defying the express will of the United Nations over and over again."
Update: You can find the complete transcripts of Rumsfeld's Sept. 18, 2002 HASC testimony here.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2002 September 19 01:19 PM Inspections and Sanctions|