Harry Reid has a failed record on Iraq for which he never has been held accountable. Reid voted for the war, then falsely claimed he was misled, then tried to defund the war, then declared the war lost, and then stubbornly refused to acknowledge the success of the surge after it was clear to everyone else. If Harry Reid had his way in April 2007, the Iraq war really would have been lost.
In October 2002, Reid voted to authorize President George W. Bush to commence military action against Iraq. In the run-up to that vote, Senators and Congressmen were provided access to a 90-page classified intelligence report, but Reid did not bother to read the report (emphasis mine):
A new book’s revelation that Hillary Clinton did not read the CIA National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi WMD before voting on war authorization should not be a surprise. Most congressmen and senators didn’t. And there is a (classified)list of who did and who didn’t because members had to visit a secure room — called the SCIF — at the Capitol to view it. Members have to sign the document out. In the case of the NIE on Iraq, there were separate logs for the five-page executive summary and the full 90-page NIE.
According to a former senior US intelligence official, “only a handful” of congressmen and senators actually went to the SCIF and signed out the NIE. Most who did were members of the intelligence and armed services committees. Although the log is classified, several senators have admitted either reading or not reading the report. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, of the Senate Intelligence Committee was one who admitted he read it. Among those who have admitted they didn’t were Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, and Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, now Senate
Reid’s failure to read the classified intelligence report took on significance in later years, as Reid claimed that the Bush administration had misled Reid into voting for the war:
The U.S. Senate returned to its daily work late Tuesday after Democrats enacted a rare parliamentary rule forcing a private session of the chamber so senators could speak in secret about the lead-up to the war in Iraq….
“If the administration had all the information that they have now back then,they wouldn’t even have brought it to the Congress for a vote,” Reid said of the Senate’s 2002 consent to launch a war against Iraq.
“We know that there were no [weapons of mass destruction] now in Iraq. We didn’t know it at the time. We know now that we didn’t know at the time that there was no Al Qaeda connection. We know now that we didn’t know then that there was no 9/11 connection. We know now that they had no plan for winning the peace. We didn’t know that at the time,” Reid, D-Nev., told reporters after the closed session ended.
Yet if Reid were misled, it was a result of his own failure to read the classified intelligence report. As reported by The New York Times (emphasis mine):
The 90-page report was delivered to Congress on Oct. 1, 2002, just 10 days before the Senate vote. An abridged summary was made public by the Bush administration, but it painted a less subtle picture of Iraq’s weapons program than the full classified report. To get a complete picture would require reading the entire document, which, according to a version of the report made public in 2004, contained numerous caveats and dissents on Iraq’s weapons and capacities.
By late 2006, if not sooner, everyone recognized that a change in strategy was necessary in Iraq. The Bush administration, under the military guidance of Gen. David Petraeus, decided that a surge of troops would be necessary to stabilize Iraq to allow the political process within Iraq to work.
But with Democrats having taken over the Senate after the November 2006 election, Reid joined the chorus of Democrats trying to interfere in the military plans to salvage a deteriorating situation.
In January 2007, having become Majority Leader, Reid made know not only his opposition to the surge, but also of plans to defund the war:
Sen. Edward Kennedy launched a pre-emptive strike Tuesday against President Bush’s anticipated plans to send more troops to Iraq.
The Massachusetts Democrat introduced legislation to require congressional approval before force levels can be increased….
Kennedy’s bill is one of several attempts by Democrats to prevent the war from escalating. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada issued a statement Tuesday applauding his Massachusetts colleague for his gusto, but he reserved judgment on Kennedy’s plan.
“Senator Kennedy’s resolution underscores the significant opposition on the Hill and with the American people to the president’s plan. This is only one of several ideas about how to respond to the president’s proposal on Iraq,” said Jim Manley, Reid’s spokesman.
Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, indicated Monday they might consider blocking funds for a troop spike.
In April 2007, as the surge was underway, Reid famously declared that the war already was lost and the surge already had failed:
Reid also joined other Democrats who were questioning the truthfulness of Gen. Petraeus:
U.S. Senator Russ Feingold introduced legislation today to effectively end U.S. military involvement in Iraq. The bill, supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, requires the President to begin safely redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq 120 days from enactment, as required by the emergency supplemental spending bill passed by the Senate. The bill ends funding for the war, with three narrow exceptions, effective March 31, 2008.
In addition to Reid, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). If the President vetoes the emergency supplemental spending bill, Reid has said he will work to ensure Feingold’s bill gets a vote in the Senate before Memorial Day.
Fortunately, the Reid-Feingold Bill did not become law, and Democrats largely abandoned any serious attempts to defund the surge. Throughout the summer and fall of 2007, the success of the surge in stabilizing Iraq became clear.
Yet Reid clung to his politics, denying the success of the surge which was obvious to everyone else, even other Democrats. In December 2007 Reid still was denying the success of the surge (emphasis mine):
Democrats are increasingly bailing on their previously held view that the troop surge in Iraq has been a “failure,” but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t ready to jump on the bandwagon with other Democrats who say the surge has worked…
The Senate re-opened for business on Monday after a two-week Thanksgiving
break, during which key Democrats traveled to Iraq and declared that the surge
is working, at least from a security and military perspective.
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), one the top war critics, stunned fellow Democrats late last week with his statement that “the surge is working,” even though he added that political reconciliation has been lagging. Murtha’s view was backed by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), who also said the surge worked after he returned from Iraq.
But Reid, in a Monday press conference, ceded no ground. “The surge hasn’t accomplished its goals,” Reid said. “… We’re involved, still, in an intractable civil war.”
The history of Harry Reid on Iraq is a history of political expediency, revisionist history, and judgments so monumentally wrong that Reid should be held to account. If Harry Reid had his way in April and May 2007, the result would have been chaos is Iraq beyond anything imaginable, and regional conflict as neighboring countries sought to protect their interests.
The publisher of Las Vegas Review-Journal has demanded an explanation from Reid:
Sen. Reid owes the country an explanation. He can start with Nevadans, who must decide in November whether he’s fit to send back to Washington. But in the end,he must stand accountable to the soldiers who won his “lost” war.
But Reid’s answer is to further revise history, by claiming in a recent interview that the surge worked only as a result of diplomacy:
Reid said his comments were “blown way out of proportion,” pointing out Petraeus said the war in Iraq could not be won militarily. Then this: “It wasn’t won militantly. It was won politically, diplomatically and with the surge.
Harry Reid, having voted for the war before he was against it, having claimed he was misled when in fact he was derelict in his duty to review available information, having called General Petraeus a liar and then declared the war lost and the surge a failure, and having clung to that position in the face of the obvious success of the surge, has not learned his lesson.