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Democracy Alliance Follow-up: Iraq War Dust-up

The Fix can now identify the liberal campaign donor who engaged in verbal fisticuffs with former President Bill Clinton last weekend at a private gathering in Texas -- Guy T. Saperstein, a civil rights attorney from Oakland, Calif. (See this morning's post for background.)

Saperstein e-mailed a copy of a letter he sent this week to Clinton in which he acknowledged an apology he received from the former president. The letter restates Saperstein's view that it is not inappropriate for voters to judge lawmakers by how they voted on the 2002 Iraq war resolution.

"You suggested we look forward, not back, and said the question we had to address was, 'What should we do now?' ... Regardless of which direction events are headed, what is important to understand is that the U.S. long ago lost control of the situation. ... Jack Murtha is telling the truth to the American people; it would be helpful if other Democrats joined him." Read the full text of the letter after the jump.

In responding to The Fix's inquiries, Saperstein asked to correct the record on a few items. First, he didn't interrupt Clinton's remarks; their exchange came later during a Q&A. Second, Saperstein wasn't voicing support for Sen. John Edwards so much as he was holding Edwards up an example of someone who made "a good first step towards recognizing the mistake made in voting for the October 2002 resolution and, hopefully, beginning to address the false assumptions that continue to underlay -- and undermine -- our occupation of Iraq."

And finally, Saperstein says he wasn't piling on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton alone; his views apply to all the Democrats in Congress who supported the Iraq resolution in 2002.

Saperstein is a '60s-radical-turned-lawyer who made his name in big employment cases and as a supporter of the Sierra Club and other environmental causes. His memoir, "Civil Warrior," was released in 2002.

Saperstein sent the following letter to former president Clinton on May 24:

Dear President Clinton:

Thank you for the apology you transmitted to me last Saturday. It was quite gracious, but it wasn't necessary. We're all adults here, Iraq is a contentious issue and it is no surprise that elbows occasionally will be thrown. I wanted to respond substantively to your comments, but others wanted to ask questions too, so I chose not to monopolize the audience microphone.

The question I raised last Saturday remains: Is it credible for you, or anyone, to suggest that the problems of a war in Iraq, and/or discerning President Bush's true intentions in seeking the Iraq resolution, were not knowable in October 2002? I respectfully submit that the answers to both questions were knowable and the explanations you offered simply don't work.

Separate and apart from any claims made by Bush or Cheney, there existed a large amount of scholarship about the history of Iraq. One prominent book is David Fromkin's "A Peace to End All Peace," a study of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the modern Iraq. Leaving aside the base motivations of Britain, Germany, France, etc. surrounding Iraq's oil, it is clear that the history of racial, ethic and religious conflict among the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds goes back at least hundreds of years. Indeed, you can pick nearly any page of Fromkin's book and it reads like yesterday's New York Times. The problems the British had in Iraq were essentially no different than the problems the U.S. is having today and this was totally predictable before the Iraq resolution and invasion. Anyone who thought then that an invasion would not stir those historic conflicts, or thinks now that the U.S. can outwait or outlast these conflicts by continuing to occupy Iraq, is living in Fantasyland.

Even key Republicans understood, and spoke publicly about, the dangers of invading Iraq. Former President George H. W. Bush wrote in 1998:

While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of Iraq. We were concerned about the long term balance of power at the head of the Gulf....We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well....Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.

On August 15, 2002, Brent Scowcroft wrote the following in the Wall Street Journal:

[T]here is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks. Indeed, Saddam's goals have little in common with the terrorists who threaten us and there is little incentive for him to make common cause with them. He is unlikely to risk his investment in weapons of mass destruction, much less his country, by handing such weapons to terrorists who would use them for their own purposes and leave Baghdad as the return address. Threatening to use these weapons for blackmail---much less their actual use---would open him and his entire regime to a devastating response by the U.S. While Saddam is thoroughly evil, he is above all a power-hungry survivor.

[T]he central point is that any campaign against Iraq, whatever the strategy, cost and risks, is certain to divert us for some indefinite period from our war on terrorism. Worse, there is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. So long as that sentiment persists, it would require the U.S. to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy against Iraq, making any military operations correspondingly more difficult and expensive. Ignoring that clear sentiment would result in a serious degradation in international cooperation with us against terrorism.

Republicans, of course, were not the only ones to perceive the folly of invading Iraq. In a series of eloquent speeches, Senator Robert Byrd detailed the "disastrous consequences" of invading Iraq, which included violation of international law and the U.N. Charter, weakening alliances with European allies, fomenting Anti-Americanism around the world based on "mistrust, misinformation, suspicion and alarming rhetoric that is fracturing the once solid alliance against global terrorism which existed after September 11," ignoring homeland security, disrupting the world's oil supplies and elevating fuel prices, inflaming the Arab world and bankrupting the U.S.

Due to reasons such as these, 148 Democrats in Congress (125 in the House and 23 in the Senate) saw through the smoke and mirrors, accurately perceived that Bush/Cheney would use the Iraq resolution to invade, and voted against it. It was ironic that on Saturday you quoted the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to support your argument that mistakes get made in these types of situations because a large number of Democrats voting against the Iraq resolution cited the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to support their skepticism of Bush's claims. Obviously, some Senators had learned the lesson of the Gulf of Tonkin better than others.

Did Bush and Cheney lie and mislead? Did they misinform the Congress and the public? Did Bush claim the resolution would not necessarily lead to war? Of course, but by October 2002 there were abundant reasons not to believe what they said about their intentions---or anything else---and 148 Congressional Democrats were not misled. You know more about leadership than I do, but isn't part of leadership making the right decision under pressure with incomplete information---even when public opinion might be running the other way? And while you twice quoted Bush saying that he would not use the resolution to go to war, when he did use it for that purpose I don't recall Hillary raising her voice in opposition.

I am not suggesting we should judge anyone solely on one vote, but this was the single most important vote anyone currently in Congress ever made and we all will be paying for it for many years, maybe our entire lifetimes. The war has diverted America's attention from the real war---the fight on terrorism. Who knows what this diversion of our attention and resources ultimately will cost us? It has cost us alliances and caused America's standing in the world to plummet. It has weakened America's ability to respond to real national security threats, such as Iran and North Korea---the U.S. and Britain have become, in the words of The Economist, "The Axis of Feeble." It has depleted our financial resources and made it difficult, if not impossible, in the foreseeable future to address any of America's serious infrastructure needs---even if Democrats take control of Congress in 2006 and/or the Presidency in 2008. In short, the war has been catastrophic on many fronts. Are voters supposed to forget how we got into this mess, its long-term costs, or not measure leadership by who got it wrong?

You suggested we look forward, not back, and said the question we had to address was, "What should we do now?" First, let me acknowledge that you and I are not far off in the answer to that question. I have thought from the beginning that once Saddam was removed, there were only two possibilities: A Shiite government closely aligned with Iran that would dominate the Kurds and Sunnis, most likely aggressively; or a tri-partite separation into Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni regions (which Joe Biden now supports and you seem to endorse). Regardless of which direction events are headed, what is important to understand is that the U.S. long ago lost control of the situation. The question no longer is building democracy, or anything else; it is how many more thousands of American soldiers will be killed and maimed and how many more trillions of dollars will be flushed down the toilet before we achieve sanity and get out. Seventy-one percent of the American soldiers in Iraq say that should be within 6 to 12 months, which sounds right to me. Jack Murtha is telling the truth to the American people; it would be helpful if other Democrats joined him.

At risk of invoking humor into a serious topic, the difference you and I have might best be summed up in a cartoon in this week's The New Yorker (May 22) on page 61, where the caption is, "But what you call a track record I call ancient history." I suggest that neither the beginning of the Iraq adventure nor the current quagmire should be treated as ancient history and neither are removed from consideration of what constitutes leadership.

Best Regards,

Guy T. Saperstein

Cc: Democracy Alliance Partners

By Editors  |  May 25, 2006; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party  
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Thank God for "self-promoting narcissists" like Saperstein, for without them we'd never get the truth.

Posted by: Fred | May 30, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

It is a pleasure to watch people like DP1 at work. The ability to make personal attacks in order to not admit they have no rational basis for their negativeness. Saperstein said that he was talking about all Democrats who did not publicly state they were mistaken. Also, we honor the office, not the man; Was he rude? Not that I noticed. Also, in common language, a person can consider himself a lawyer even though he can not practice at the time. It is his image of himself, what role he considers to be important. Shame on you, DP1!

Posted by: Alan Shapiro | May 27, 2006 9:33 PM | Report abuse

In response to Matt on 5/26/01, my post only restated what the California Bar website reports about Mr. Saperstein's status. I take Saperstein at his word that he stopped practicing 12 years ago. Most lawyers, however, go inactive or just withdraw their membership rather than letting it "lapse." The point is Saperstein is so self-promoting, not only did he provide the full text of his "private" letter to President Clinton, he misrepresented his professional status in the bio he gave the Post and then had the gall to plug his own book. Besides being rude to a former president, who is in any case not responsible for his wife's independent voting record, Saperstein is also narcissistic. I'm sure that his bit of press will go far to further his status among delusional, elitist, left-wing political circles in the East Bay.

Posted by: DP1 | May 27, 2006 8:21 PM | Report abuse

There were a number of speeches in the Senate about the 'authorization of use of force' resolution. Senator Byrd was brilliant and correct; Senator Kerry was the opposite. Senator Clinton's speach was the best in support of the authorization. She made absolutely clear that her vote was to give the administration the leverage to force Iraq to accept the inspectors.

The inspectors were allowed into Iraq and they - Mr. Elbaradei in the case of nukes, and Mr. Blix for the rest - reported their failure to find any WMDs or WMD programs. Mr. Elbaradei asked for more time for his work but went on to say that he doubted that any nuclear program would be found. Mr. Blix said that he followed up on the leads provided by the government of the United States and that those leads only wasted his time. Thus the world knew of serious problems with the mushroom cloud scare and WMD claims. Mrs. Clinton was morally obliged to challenge the imminent invasion of Iraq at that time according to her own words.

Mr. Bush failed to provide congress with a valid finding of the need to invade Iraq as required by the legislation, and thus violated American Law as well as Internation Law. Mrs. Clinton failed to call for Mr. Bush's impeachment on this matter.

I am heart broken that Mr. Bush was authorized to murder between 20,000 and 50,000 human beings just because he wanted to. On a different level, I am heart broken that Mrs. Clinton could do so well in school and not be able to understand her own speech. She works very hard and has a good heart, but, Good God, she is a twit.

Posted by: William Nuesslein | May 27, 2006 9:41 AM | Report abuse

The prime function of a bureaucracy is to perpetuate itself (so they say). Therefore the prime function of a politician is to continue to fill a elective office. If understood in this way, it goes a long way towards understanding their lying and dissembling. There are some who are responsible adults; Some who start out as responsible are not so at the end of their careers. The weaker they are, the more they need omnipotence. As for war, it creates the sense of being irreplaceable and also produces enormous amounts of money. There are possible solutions. One is that people need to be educated so that they aren't fooled by those who have something to gain. This is not general education; It is political education; Voters should become cynics. Another way is for there to be no financial gain to be derived from being in office. This might not be possible. A third is to make the system more responsive to the electorate, a parliamentary system. We must remember that the founding fathers could not have imagined the size of the country and the size of the multi-hydra media.

Posted by: Alan Shapiro | May 27, 2006 1:12 AM | Report abuse

It was nice of the Post to at least let the eloquent sentiments of Mr. Saperstein be published here in this here out of the way blog, even as they continue to tacitly promote the president's continued lies regarding Iraq on the front page.

In a recent story covering a Bush speech on Iraq, he resumed hammering away with the "we are fighting the terrorists in Iraq" line. Most street-smart people recognize this manipulative ploy: use the definitive article "the" before "terrorists" so that huge numbers of American news consumers will assume if we are fighting "the" terrorists, why they must be "the" ones who attacked us, or that want to attack us.

Never mind that this is totally, demonstrably, laughably untrue. Study after analysis after assessment finds that only 5 to 10% of the insurgents in Iraq are of the foreign, Al Qaida profile. We are fighting the participants of a civil war - who often use terrorist tactics, yes - in Iraq. But the president goes on trying to mislead any American he can that this action is somehow defending our country. AND THE POST SHAMELESSLY NODS IN TACIT ASSENT, PASSING THE PROPAGANDA ON TO THE PUBLIC. NEVER A MENTION OF ANY OF THE MOUNTAIN OF INFORMATION SHOWING THAT IT IS UNTRUE.

If any Post employee is reading this, I virtually spit on you and the disreputable, dysfunctional, sociopathic rag you are helping to put out each day. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Stop whoring yourselves like this and get a real, functioning soul.

Posted by: B2O | May 26, 2006 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Bill and Hillary are two different people. To vote for Hillary because of Bill Clinton is silly. Bill Clinton has his issues, but leave them out of the discussion about Hillary.

The simple fact is Hillary isn't electable. Dems need to be careful not to back another default choice like John Kerry rather than picking someone who could actually challenge Bush on the issues (e.g., Howard Dean).

Final note: If you don't pay your bar dues, you aren't a lawyer. You can get prosecuted for unauthorized practice of law by holding yourself out as a lawyer. Be careful!

Posted by: Bill isn't Hillary | May 26, 2006 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Excellent letter Mr. Saperstein. You have articulated and presented very well the context in which the decision to vote for the Iraq resolution was made in 2002.

A few observations:

1. Running public policy on the basis of contemporaneous polling which could be biased is not statesmanship and does not reflect leadership. We might as well do away with legislators and have instant polling on all issues. It would be a lot less expensive.

2. The problem with many of the Democrats particularly since the Clinton era is their penchant for "triangulation" as opposed to standing for principle or ideology. Meaning political calculation trumps courage of conviction. And their calculations have not borne fruit in elections over the past 15 years.

3. The conservative Republicans have lost their convictions and their stance against "nation building" and foreign entaglements and limited government and fiscal restraint as they have rubber-stamped the desires of the large, intrusive government Bush-Cheney administration. Their 1994 "revolution" is in shambles as they too have succumbed to power and money and become corrupt in feeding off the taxpayer trough while enriching their friends and campaign donors.

4. Bush-Cheney knew then that Iraq had no WMD or terrorist connections. The CIA & State Dept intelligence did provide accurate information. As the Downing Street memos showed they were fixing the facts around the decision to invade. What we don't know is their real rationale for that decision?

5. The judgement of political leaders who participated and acquiesced to the invasion and occupation needs to be questioned. Can these same politicians judgement be trusted to make good decisions when the next stressful circumstance occurs?

6. The political leaders who voted against the Iraq resolution truly need to be lauded and supported as they showed character to make such an "unpopular" vote under the vitriolic pressure of being labeled as unpatriotic and a terrorist sympathizer. They demonstrated statesmanship and good judgement. A senator that deserves tremendous respect in that regard is Sen. Feingold - he not only voted against the Iraq resolution but was the sole senator to vote against the Patriot Act, which was the opening salvo in the erosion of constitutional protections of individual liberty - the cornerstone of the founding of our country.

Until the majority of our fellow citizens hold our politicians accountable we will inexorably devolve from the greatness of the history of our nation.

Posted by: ab initio | May 26, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I don't get it. Why did he ask Bill Clinton a question that seems to have been meant for Hillary Clinton?

And if the question was meant for all the Democrats in Congress, then ask them. A former president isn't responsible for Senators' actions.

Posted by: beth | May 26, 2006 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I would have liked to hear a better answer from President Clinton about the Iraq vote. Senator Hillary Clinton had my full support for MANY YEARS... since before Bill's first presidency. She has lost it permanently because of her stupid continued support of a dishonest, disgusting war and because she has legitimized the dishonest, disgusting Rupert Murdoch.

Posted by: Sally | May 26, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

as a matter of fact I have always had some questions that cause a lot of headache for me. These are some how related to the discussion of war in Iraq in this article. Why WARS? Isn't there a need to issue some regulations that prevent world leaders from lying to their pople? Whether Republicans or Demcrats, why should politicians support any war any where in this world? Why can't people choose PEACEFUL negotiations and PEACEFUL measures to settle their disputes and differences? I am sure that politics is quite capable of doing all these. But becuase most victims of wars are from ordinary people and the powerless soldiers, and rarely from politicians themselves, declaring wars becomes so easy for politicians. I am sorry if what I say sounds offensive. Nevertheless, I could not but speak my heart. Wars are messages of death under differeny names. We have enough of wars in man's history. Let us cooperate and put an end to all wars and obliterate such a word from the political discourse of today's nations, and more particularly from the dictionary of super powers' foreign policies.

Posted by: abu tawfeeq abbas | May 26, 2006 10:32 AM | Report abuse

as a matter of fact I have always had some questions that cause a lot of headache for me. These are some how related to the discussion of war in Iraq in this article. Why WARS? Isn't there a need to issue some regulations that prevent world leaders from lying to their pople? Whether Republicans or Demcrats, why should politicians support any war any where in this world? Why can't people choose PEACEFUL negotiations and PEACEFUL measures to settle their disputes and differences? I am sure that politics is quite capable of doing all these. But becuase most victims of wars are from ordinary people and the powerless soldiers, and rarely from politicians themselves, declaring wars becomes so easy for politicians. I am sorry if what I say sounds offensive. Nevertheless, I could not but speak my heart. Wars are messages of death under differeny names. We have enough of wars in man's history. Let us cooperate and put an end to all wars and obliterate such a word from the political discourse of today's nations, and more particularly from the dictionary of super powers'foreign policies.

Posted by: abu tawfeeq abbas | May 26, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Saperstein -- I join other commenters in applauding your excellent and historically accurate letter to former President Clinton.

FYI -- not only did many, if not most of the Democractic members of Congress know at the time in mid-2002 that an Iraq invasion & war would be both an immoral act and a disastrous action -- but they also knew that Iraq resolution being pushed by the Bush Admin & neo-con advocates would be misconstrued and misused immediately after the vote by Bush, Cheney and the war hawks to justify the Iraq invasion, regime change & US military occupation of Iraq.

I worked for the USG in Wash DC in 2001 and 2002. It was common knowledge in foreign policy USG govt. agencies that the Congressional Iraq resolution was simply a fig leaf for the Bush Administration to wage war. Both the Wash. Post and NY Times -- during the period 2001-2003 -- continually and repeatedly reported that the Bush White House and the Defense Dept were committed to Iraq regime change by invasion & war. Middle East regional experts inside of these foreign policy agencies warned that Sunni/Shiite/Kurd grievances & animosities were deep-seated and historical, and would erupt in the event of the overthrow of the 39 yr Baathist regime. In fact, several State Dept. MidEast country desk officers resigned their positions with public blasts at the lies & simplistic neocon propaganda that were being spread by the Bush Administration re: Iraq.

Most USG professionals who had been aware of the UN's successful efforts during the 1990's to isolate Iraq & disarm/destroy Saddam Hussein's WMD arsenals knew that the Bush White House claims were false. Former President Clinton and his White House national security policy staff knew that as well, since the his Administration spent most of the yr 2000 negotiating with Russia & European countries represented on the UN Security Council on a proposed changes to dramatically liberalize & loosen the existing post Gulf War Security Council resolutions re: oversight of Iraq destruction of WMD's & the UN economic/commercial restrictions placed on Iraq.

More to the point of Mr. Saperstein's letter, just about every Senator serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- as well as most Congressmen serving on the House Foreign Relations Committee -- Democrats & Republicans alike -- knew about all of the arguments raised by Brent Scowcraft and others skilled & experienced professional concerning the potentially disastrous results and consequences of a US invasion/occupation of Iraq.

The problem for the Democrats in Congress at the time (2001/2002/2003) -- and still today -- was that at least half of them in the House and most of them in the Senate simply lacked the courage to act on their knowledge and beliefs. It was just so much easier & more politically opportune to applaud & mimic the militaristic absurdities & chest thumping rabble rousing of Bush, Cheny, Rumsfeld, & company. Sadly, for many of those same Democrats -- THAT still is the case.

And its not just Joe Lieberman -- a schlep who is the poster boy for Bush apologist Democrats.

For all of his anti-war comments in 2005 & 2006, I don't recall reading about any apology from Sen. Kerry for voting for the 2003 Iraq resolution. Instead, what we all remember is Sen. Kerry -- who was the personification in the '70's of the anti-war Vietnam vet -- military saluting the 2004 Democratic convention & proclaiming "John Kerry reporting for duty." That one moment visually encapsulates the Democratic party leadership's shameful attempts at shallow political opportunists.

Which brings me to Sen. Clinton. I don't remember hearing anything about Hillary Clinton expressing any regret for the consequences of her vote in 2003 -- nor for that matter, any regret for any of the consequences of the US military misadventure in Iraq that she still supports.

And what about Joe Biden -- the guy who will be Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if the Democrats win control of the Senate in November. Biden is a classic case in point of Democrats who got it wrong in 2002-2003, and still get it wrong today. Amazingly, he is still supporting the original 2003 "necessity" for the US to invade, and occupy Iraq and for regime change in that country. Biden still is promoting the concept that the USG has the right & the obligation/responsibility to determine the national status of Iraq and how Iraq is to be governed. This, from a Senator originally elected on a platform of having the USG learn from the foreign policy mistakes of the country's disastrous military involvement in Vietnam & SE Asia in the '60's & '70's.

Its way past time for the Democratic grass roots supporters in the country to demand that Democratic elected officials publically face the consequences of their shameful acquiescense of the Bush Administration Iraq war policies.

Posted by: CentralCalifCoastDem | May 26, 2006 3:06 AM | Report abuse

MIKE BROOKS: If you are willing to run the risk of getting emails from the "whack jobs" you refer to, you could send me your email.

Posted by: Guy T. Saperstein | May 26, 2006 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Saperstein's letter to President Clinton is a fabulous summary of our political submission to march into war in Iraq.
But to claim that this is either a good way, or not a good way to fight "the war against terrorism" is absurd. The war in Iraq IS terrorism. We are waging it, and we are as guilty as the "terrorists" for using violence to achieve our political purposes. We can argue forever about the value of those purposes, as they have for a thousand years. But in the end, we are only becoming more like they are. Or is it the other way around?

Posted by: Phil | May 26, 2006 1:34 AM | Report abuse

is obviously not up to taking credit for being wrong...

childish but obvious, probably never got shot in cowboys and indians either, or whatever the current playground shoot em up is...aliens and earth men...whatever,

thing is to take them out behind the rock and kick the p-iss out of em...


Posted by: actually the man who trashtalked Saperstein.. | May 26, 2006 12:56 AM | Report abuse

By the way, Mr. Saperstein, I really enjoyed your letter. It's a very reasoned debate. I also think that more Democrats should have stood up against the process that led us to war with Iraq. The President was irresponsible, and the majority of the Congress was as well in voting to turn a blind eye and give the President power. I really hope that you and the other donors on the Alliance have the conviction to back more responsible candidates in the '08 primaries. Thank you for sticking to our principles.

Posted by: Matt | May 26, 2006 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Honestly, DP1, what point are you trying to make? The way you worded it originally, you didn't supply all of the information necessary for a reader to actually understand the issue - he wasn't barred from practicing, like you implied. He retired, as he mentioned. You pretended that because Mr. Saperstein has "not been allowed to practice law" (probably exactly how Sean Hannity would have worded it, by the way), that implies some kind of impropriety on his part. It was an ad hominum attack, and just because you're anonymous doesn't mean you get to get away with being irresponsible. Way to attempt to change the focus of the debate.

Posted by: Matt | May 26, 2006 12:49 AM | Report abuse

We shouldn't forget the fact that not all Republicans voted for the War. Jimmy Duncan of TN voted against it. Only to be overruled by a conservative majority of republican rubber stamps and a few democrats more committed to politics than good policy. These Democrats had a choice to make of being chastised by an American Public who were falsely spoon fed by the Bush Administration that the war was justified by WMDs and 911 connection or stand alone to be labeled unpatriotic.

Posted by: D. Foster | May 25, 2006 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Saperstein: The article identified you as a "civil rights lawyer." If you are no longer practicing, then you are not a lawyer. It's not an attack, just a point of fact to correct the record.

Posted by: DP1 | May 25, 2006 7:46 PM | Report abuse

a very simple metric

that would tell us we were moving forward in absovling ourselves from the sin of having been "led astray in Iraq" that would give us credence in the eyes of the world....and scare the beejezus out of our corrupt congressional leeches....

would be the destruction of this congress and the cabal of monied evil and special interests group that have sold

imperialistic action as "a war,"

we attacked them....they know that.

you want to make things simmer down, you admit that and facilitate a working relationship with the people over there while burying your past by

arresting and dismantling those that were responsible for perpatrating this fraud on the American people....

nothing says "I'm sorry," more than a public execution by firing squad...

wouldn't you agree....line 'em up and put them down,

disperse their properties to the people that died supporting their 401 K's

poetic justice anyone....take 'em out

texas toast 'em, put em on the barby and poke them with a friggin fork....

lean into me fat boy....I want to smell you're stench so I can find you...


Posted by: an email whack job... | May 25, 2006 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Saperstein, I'm delighted that you read these sorts of posts. It gives me even more hope. It means you are out there actively looking at what ordinary people think instead of the self congratulatory mob of the "Washington/New York insiders". I wish it were possible to actually correspond with you, but if we exchanged email addresses here (I've done this in the past) you end of with endless email from whack jobs for a couple of months.

Posted by: Mike Brooks | May 25, 2006 5:59 PM | Report abuse

DP1 complains that "Saperstein hasn't been allowed to practice law in California for nearly 4 years." The reason is simple: I retired from practicing law 12 years ago and stopped paying my bar association dues.

By the way, what does this have to do with my views on Iraq, anyway?

This is the kind of ad hominem nonsense that people, even anonymous bloggers, need to grow out of.

Posted by: Guy T. Saperstein | May 25, 2006 5:24 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, Saperstein hasn't been allowed to practice law in California for nearly 4 years.

Posted by: DP1 | May 25, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

The unpleasant but all too true fact of the matter here is that save but a brave few, in October, 2002 the Congressional Democrats aided and abetted the neocon-fueled rush to what has become this utterly disastrous war on Iraq.

Many Democratic and not a few Republican senators knew better and failed to speak out, with the notable exception of Sen. Robert Byrd and others. Their warnings fell on deaf ears, and now we're dealing with the severe consequences of one of the most serious foreign policy blunders in U.S. history.

Rather than calling for a full-throated debate on the Senate floor about the war resolution, such as that which occurred prior to the 1991 Gulf War, the Democratic leadership in October, 2002 was cowed by fear that if they did not fall in line with the Bush administration, they would lose control of the Senate in the mid-term election.

As we know, the Democratic party lost that election anyway, the majority in the Senate, and most importantly, their moral compass.

Such a debate would have created a record in which members of both parties could have expressed their concerns about what we now know was inevitable, and at least helped establish the Democratic Party as the party of principle on the matter of the War in Iraq.

Who knows? That might have set the stage for Sen. John Kerry unapologetically to have taken the high ground during the 2004 presidential election against what was and is a failed, incompetent, and unprincipled president who by any reasonable measure did not deserve a second term.

There are many, many angry Democrats like me who knew in their gut what was going to happen with this war, and yet saw few national leaders emerge to challenge this insanity.

Will the elections of 2006 and 2008 be any different?

Posted by: James Peeples | May 25, 2006 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Admittedly I was a supporter of Senator John Edwards for President in 2004; however, I was disappointed with his vote in support of the Iraq War. While the vote cannot be changed, my respect for Edwards has deepened since his apology for that vote.

I cannot, and will not, support any Democrat in the Presidential primary who has not owned up to the error of their vote on the war.

The general election will be another matter, but if you want my help, and my money, you need to admit that the vote was a mistake. Watch Sen. Lieberman, Sen. Clinton.

Posted by: Bill | May 25, 2006 4:14 PM | Report abuse

The 'PC baggage of the far left'? I see the idiots are out in full force today. Just drop a meaningless, pointless cliche and pretend you've made some kind of intelligent statement. Sorry, not.

If you want to jettison tons of dead weight, you could throw every corrupt Republican out of Washington. Check this out -- Bush has amended the 1934 Securities Act to allow corporations to rip off shareholders. another Great Depression, anyone?

" The memo Bush signed on May 5, which was published seven days later in the Federal Register, had the unrevealing title "Assignment of Function Relating to Granting of Authority for Issuance of Certain Directives: Memorandum for the Director of National Intelligence." In the document, Bush addressed Negroponte, saying: "I hereby assign to you the function of the President under section 13(b)(3)(A) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended."

A trip to the statute books showed that the amended version of the 1934 act states that "with respect to matters concerning the national security of the United States," the President or the head of an Executive Branch agency may exempt companies from certain critical legal obligations. These obligations include keeping accurate "books, records, and accounts" and maintaining "a system of internal accounting controls sufficient" to ensure the propriety of financial transactions and the preparation of financial statements in compliance with "generally accepted accounting principles."

From Businessweek. Unbelievable greed and corruption.

Posted by: Drindl | May 25, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Establishment Democrats like Hillary Clinton have to be quaking at the spectre of all the grassroots support out there to boot the incumbent Lieberman. I think that is what is at the heart of this. It doesn't bode well for Hillary within this highly-motivated demographic.

Posted by: wendy williams | May 25, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

If Iraq is likely to divide into 3 regions plus bloody Baghdad, shouldn't the U.S. be doing everything it can to help people who want to leave mixed population areas to do so before they are slaughtered? Like maybe we have some responsibility here? Not, hunh?

Posted by: mike | May 25, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh my! Maybe there is hope still. Will the Democrats come to their senses after all and win this upcoming elections? They will have to jettison a lot of dead weight. But, Chris, tell me, does Saperstein come with all of the PC baggage typical of the far left? If so, everyone can go back to sleep.

Posted by: Mike Brooks | May 25, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

It appears that there can actually be healthy debate as long as it doesn't cross party lines. It is a pity that the well is so poisoned that there can't be a bipartisan debate on the Iraq war and how to clean up the mess with the goal being clean up the mess, not win points.

Oh well, maybe in 2008 we will elect a president who will manage to not disgrace the post, it will have been 16 years at that point. A congress that wasn't a disgrace would be nice too, its been even longer for it

Posted by: chet | May 25, 2006 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Respectfully Friend of Vietnam Vets, Senator Hagel has gotten his lumps from the lockstep element of the GOP. Some do not believe that he can be nominated in 2008 because he has been a critic of Bush Admin policies on Iraq.

If the Republicans win in 2008, they will need to do it with someone who challenged the Bush Admin, not a sycophant.

Hagel is an internationalist, who - like Kerry, Lugar and others - believes in the power of diplomacy, of international organizations to promote change. I have no doubt that he would engage Iran as a last resort, but I think he - like Kerry, McCain, etc. - knows war, and that's the difference between him and the chickenhawks who got us into this mess.

Posted by: Politicus | May 25, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

This topic is so much more intelligent than debates over "the state of the Clinton marriage".

Civil debates on serious issues is healthy.

Also, there is the subject of the speeches given before the vote on the Iraq resolution, and what the resolution actually said, vs. White House spin on what it said.

As I recall, the speeches by Sens. Kerry and Hagel were pretty similar. So why do Republicans only bash Kerry? Could it be a belief that a combat vet who became a GOP politician is more "patriotic" than a combat vet who became a Democratic politician?

My high school friend lost his leg in Vietnam, and I am more sympathetic to BOTH Hagel and Kerry than to those who never served but by golly their partisanship makes them patriotic.
I hear that there are those of that age group who are now suffering delayed post traumatic stress.
And there is a need to fully fund and support programs for Iraq vets.
Keeping the debate on such topics rather than "you voted wrong" or "only one party is patriotic" would be helpful for this country.

Posted by: friend of Vietnam vets | May 25, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

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