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WRONG AS WRONG CAN BE:
SENATOR JON KYL ON IRAQ

by David L. Winkler
Veterans for Peace
mediamaven@cox.net

Senator Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican who has become a leading voice for conservatives in the upper chamber, also criticized those who would delay a vote on a congressional resolution [on the Iraq war]. "This has to happen now. We can walk and chew gum at the same time."
Kyl says he called National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to suggest that the president send a letter to Congress formally requesting a vote... the president will demand a congressional vote before Congress leaves town in early October.

-- 9/23/02 Stephen Hayes, "Democrats in a box," Weekly Standard

Introduction

When will Senator Jon Kyl be held accountable for his role in promoting a war of aggression on Iraq? For his political maneuvering, fearmongering, peddling of falsehoods, shameless propagandizing, and his base attacks on honest Americans who told the truth about this corrupt and malevolent administration?

With few exceptions, news media seem more interested in lauding and cultivating access to the powerful Senator than in examining just how consistently and disastrously wrong Kyl has been on the greatest foreign policy blunder in a generation. TIME Magazine just designated Kyl, nicknamed "The Operator," as one of America's 10 Best Senators, because of his talent for "subterfuge." Local talk show hosts fawn over him; the Arizona Republic opened its Op-Ed page for his judicial diary; the Republic and the East Valley Tribune have felled more than a few tall trees printing his incessant opinion columns.

Even Phoenix New Times took a pass on the Iraq record of Arizona's most powerful chickenhawk, in a deeply respectful profile by Robert Nelson ("Stealth Zealot," 4/13/06). Of course, New Times has other priorities these days, as the not-so-alternative media monopoly tries to digest the prestigious Village Voice and convert it into something found on the bottom of a birdcage. (For a detailed look at the tragedy of the Village Voice, see the April 13, 2006 edition of Democracy Now! at http://www.democracynow.org/)

What appears below is a sampling of Kyl quotes from the buildup to the war on Iraq to the present, to document how he misled his constituents before the war, and continues to do so now. These quotes have been compiled from print sources: news articles about him, his many Op-Ed columns, and transcripts of television appearances. Sources are referenced for anyone who wishes to verify them. The commentary and views expressed are my own, and not necessarily those of the peace organizations with which I am affiliated. (The report has been sent to Kyl's office for comment; none has been received as of this writing.)

Some questions occurred as I reviewed this material. Kyl started out as a Barry Goldwater conservative. Yet he has thrown his lot in with the neoconservatives, those big government, budget-busting idealogues, called neoconservatives because unlike Kyl and Goldwater, many of them started out as leftists. Kyl even supported Bush's Medicare drug plan, whose design is worthy of Rube Goldberg, a plan that benefits giant pharmaceutical companies more than senior citizens, which may suggest who Kyl's real constituents are.

Barry Goldwater was well known for speaking his mind, and was not afraid to voice disagreement with those in his own party. Goldwater also moderated his views with time. Yet with few exceptions, Kyl slavishly follows the Bush agenda.

How strange to see those two together. Bush is a rather ignorant fellow despite his ivied degrees, deeply inferior to Kyl in intellect and embarrassingly inarticulate. Kyl is extremely bright, well educated in his fields, and a masterful debater. People who know Kyl say he's a very decent man. Bush is self-centered and vindictive, and relies on Karl Rove to scheme his way to power.

Looking over his many opinion columns, one is struck by the lengths Kyl goes to praise President Bush, comparing him favorably (and laughably) with Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, even the brilliant Abraham Lincoln. Whereas many in his own party are openly questioning Bush's policies, and even J.D. Hayworth refuses to have Bush campaign for him, Kyl remains faithful. Kyl even lets Vice President Cheney, whose approval rating is lower than whale droppings, campaign for him. Why? What's in it for Kyl?

Reviewing his many public statements, I also am left wondering whether Jon Kyl actually believes his own propaganda. Just as truth is the first casualty of war, it may be that the first casualties of propaganda are the propagandists themselves. To quote Seinfeld's George Constanza: "It's not a lie, if you believe it."


JON KYL ON IRAQ: REPRESENTATIVE STATEMENTS FROM 2002 - 2006
Case closed.

"Saddam's intensive and continuing efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological, and nuclear -- are well-known." Kyl, 5/24/02, "The Sponsors of Terror"

"Saddam Hussein is moving rapidly to obtain a nuclear capability that would augment his existing biological and chemical weapons arsenal. We are in a race to the finish line with a brutal dictator..." Kyl, press release, 9/9/02

"But we've had regular reports from the intelligence community about the status of Saddam Hussein's activities, including the possession of weapons of mass destruction in the chemical and biological sphere, as well as some means of delivering those weapons, and his attempts to develop nuclear weaponry... And we're pretty well informed about what he's got." 9/12/02, Kyl, CNN's Connie Chung Tonight

"It cannot be that Iraq is suddenly out of the weapons of mass destruction business. Quite the contrary: he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weaponry." Kyl, "The danger of empty threats," 9/30/02.

Bush critics "with the terrorists"

"Our message, in short, should be exactly what President Bush said in his address to Congress after the 9/11 attacks: 'Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.'" Kyl, 5/24/02, "The Sponsors of Terror"

"Our enemies are emboldened with every shrill attack on the President..." Kyl, 12/4/04, "Why We Fight"

Kyl loves Big Brother!

And if you don't, you're aiding the terrorists! Kyl: If the US takes another terror hit, "opponents of security tools such as the Patriot Act and NSA surveillance will have to answer for their opposition." 1/19/06 Arizona Republic

Keep it simple, stupid.

"The President's critics are correct in acknowledging an element of "simplicity" in this new policy. It is the simplicity of recognizing the existence of good and evil, and taking steps to see that the latter is defeated." Kyl, 5/24/02, "The Sponsors of Terror"

Pretext? We don't need no stinkin' pretext!

"Some have attempted to draw a nexus between Iraq and the September 11 plotters. Making such a connection would be interesting, but not essential. The obvious threat Saddam poses to the world negates the need for a pretext to act against him." Kyl, 6/21/02 "The Case Against Iraq"

Don't call them wars of aggression.

"In a world where terrorist groups and hostile regimes are racing to acquire weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear - America often may have no other option than to act preemptively." Kyl, 6/21/02 "The Case Against Iraq"

Heaven help the Arabs.

Iraq will "serve as a model for the rest of the Arab world, and stand as a testament to the West's commitment to a better life for the Arab people." Kyl, 7/26/02, "The Case for Democracy"

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

"...we are relaunching today the Committee on the Present Danger, a group of citizens... who will work to... support the war on terrorism in Iraq and beyond... In this war our enemies do not distinguish between Republicans and Democrats. All Americans are the targets of their hate, because all Americans share the values they detest..." 7/20/04, Jon Kyl & Joe Lieberman, "The Present Danger."

"...many experts believe that Saddam needs only a few more months to build a nuclear weapon..." Kyl, 9/20/02, "Saddam's Deceit"

Kyl's Deceit.

"Since 1991, Iraq has agreed at least five times to accept unconditional inspections -- and then proceeded to derail them. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who proudly announced this latest deal with Iraq last week, brokered a similar agreement in 1998 - not long before Iraq ejected inspectors altogether." Kyl, 9/20/02, Saddam's Deceit

Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter: "Nothing could be further from the truth. The Iraqis did not kick the inspectors out in December 1998. The Americans ordered the inspectors out, and then bombed Iraq using intelligence information gathered by the inspectors to target Saddam Hussein and his security apparatus." LA Weekly, "No Threat," 9/18/02

Politics? What politics?

Connie Chung: "Isn't it quite a political coincidence that he's bringing up war with Iraq very carefully, as Senator Graham said, before Congress, before the international community, now in September? It could have been done in August. But it just happens to seem to be closer to the election in November." Kyl: "That's ridiculous, with all due respect." 9/12/02, CNN Connie Chung Tonight.

"Senator Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican who has become a leading voice for conservatives in the upper chamber, also criticized those who would delay a vote on a congressional resolution. 'Liberals are now saying this is a multi-stage process. First, the U.N. speech; second, the U.N. debate; third, a U.N. resolution; and only then can we take this up," he says. 'They want to slice and dice it. This has to happen now. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.' Kyl says he called National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to suggest that the president send a letter to Congress formally requesting a vote... [T]he president will demand a congressional vote before Congress leaves town in early October." 9/23/02 Stephen Hayes, "Democrats in a box," Weekly Standard

Echoes of Malcolm X.

"I was a co-sponsor of the resolution that eventually passed the Senate that year [1998]. It authorized the President 'to take all necessary and appropriate actions to respond to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs'... Many Americans faced with these sharp changes in views might wonder what has taken place in the last four years to justify ignoring what was adopted as official U.S. policy in 1998: regime change in Iraq by any means necessary." Kyl, "The danger of empty threats," 9/30/02.

Kyl lacking Common Sense.

Snubbing world opinion as the war on Iraq began, Kyl reached back a couple of centuries to appropriate Thomas Paine's good name in the service of an illegal and immoral war: "After all, as Thomas Paine once wrote: 'The cause of America is in good measure, the cause of all mankind.'" 3/27/03, "With Mankind in Mind: Appreciating American Leadership."

Thomas Paine: "He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death." 1783, The American Crisis.

Thomas Paine: "That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of Nations is as shocking as it is true..." Rights of Man, 1791.

Looting? What looting?

"Remember the recent firestorm of criticism of U.S. troops who, in the words of the New York Times, 'stood by while Iraq's museums were looted in the days after the Hussein government fell'? Well, the actual number of priceless pieces "looted" has been recently reappraised... to just 33." Kyl, 6/13/03, "The Search for Iraqi Weapons."

NOTE: This bogus story was initially run in the Washington Post, picked up by Charles Krauthammer and widely cited on conservative blogs. I did not see a retraction by Kyl or Krauthammer or WAPO. See USA Today 11/2/05 citing the US military's lead investigator, Col. Matthew Bogdanos. "In all, more than 13,864 objects were stolen, and at least 5,359 were recovered, say investigators." Bogdanos is the author of Thieves of Baghdad, "the civilian world's most detailed look at how the thefts unfolded and the behind-the-scenes efforts to recover the priceless antiquities." Columbia University archaeologist Zainab Bahrani "believes a final analysis will find that more than 20,000 items were stolen."

Jon Kyl's great WMD snipe hunt.

"They may be hidden or buried." Kyl, 4/25/03, "After the War"

"Now critics ask why huge stockpiles of these weapons have not been found. The first obvious response is that, the fact that they have not been found does not mean all the experts were wrong - that they never existed. All it means is that they have not yet been found..." Kyl, 6/13/03, "The Search for Iraqi Weapons"

Blame the media

Kyl attacks the "one-sided pictures we are getting every night on TV about Iraq - unsettling images of death, protest, and anger from those seeking signs of "quagmire" rather than progress." Kyl, 9/19/03, "Yes, There is Good News in Iraq"

Somebody tell the troops.

"Major combat operations ended in Iraq just four months ago." Kyl, 9/19/03, "Yes, There is Good News in Iraq"

US Troops will prevent civil war?

"Suppose President Bush listened to his critics on the war in Iraq. [Message: Don't listen to critics!] Perhaps as soon as December, he'd cede control of the country to some sort of rudimentary government there, as France and Germany have demanded. He'd turn over authority for Iraq's recovery to the United Nations, just as several Democratic presidential candidates have repeatedly urged. And American troops, except perhaps for a small force, would begin to withdraw. What happens then?... To start with, the country would face the prospect of civil war." 11/30/03, "Victory In Iraq, Victory at Home," Jon Kyl & Zell Miller.

Chicago Tribune: "...by any measure, Iraqis will tell you that their country is embroiled in what amounts to civil war." "On the ground, it's a civil war," by Aamer Madhani, 4/14/06.

Cakewalk?

"No one ever said this [war] plan would be easy." Kyl, 5/31/04, "'Nothing new' in Iraq Doesn't Mean 'Nothing Important'"

Support the troops: SHUT UP!

"President Bush’s harshest critics offer no serious policy alternatives, but do great damage: to our troops’ morale..." Kyl, 6/7/04, "Iraq, Afghanistan and the Meaning of Sacrifice"

Forget 500,000 dead Iraqi children due to sanctions; US bases in Saudi Arabia; blind support for Israel; the plight of Palestinians...

"Terrorists have attacked the United States because they believed we were soft." Kyl, 9/30/02, "The danger of empty threats"

Those lucky protesters better watch out.

"Most Americans support U.S. military action, but a vocal minority does not. This is democracy. We should all be grateful that we live in a country where government dissent does not mean imprisonment or murder." 3/27/03, National Review Online.

Ignore 'naysayers' and 'hand-wringers.'

"If naysayers had had their way, Franklin Roosevelt would never have come to the aid of Churchill's England prior to Pearl Harbor. Just as they do today, millions rallied against America's foreign policy — even famous celebrities, such as Charles Lindbergh and the radio commentator Father Charles Coughlin. Roosevelt's own ambassador to England, Joseph P. Kennedy, prophesied that democracy was "finished" and Hitler unstoppable. He urged appeasement." Kyl, 3/27/03, National Review Online.

"Hand-wringing does not win wars." 9/20/04, "Republican Senators Sound the Alarm over Iraq," International Herald Tribune.

Bush as FDR.

"But Roosevelt ignored them. He understood Hitler's threat, recognizing it would eventually reach U.S. shores. And without American assistance, England would surely have been lost to the Nazis, who might then have won the war." Kyl, 3/27/03, "With Mankind in Mind: Appreciating American Leadership." National Review Online.

Bush as Woodrow Wilson.

"As Woodrow Wilson once characterized America's involvement in the First World War as an effort 'to make the world safe for democracy,' today, in our war against terror, President Bush must take the opportunity to demonstrate that democracy is the key to remaking a safer world." Kyl, 7/26/02, "The Case for Democracy"

Bush as Harry Truman.

"Like Harry Truman before him, President Bush is criticized by those who can’t envision the ultimate benefit to the United States. And like Truman, George Bush knows where the buck stops..." [In Dick Cheney's offshore account?] Kyl, 5/31/04, "Nothing New in Iraq Doesn't Mean Nothing Important."

Bush as Lincoln.

"The kind of vitriol directed at President Bush and his advisers is not unprecedented. Abraham Lincoln was called a fool, an ape and worse as the Union lost battle after battle and suffered tens of thousands of casualties in the early years of the Civil War. But Lincoln never lost sight of his ultimate objectives..." Kyl, 6/7/04, "Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Meaning of Sacrifice"

Bush as Chimp.

With apologies to the chimps, and to Senator Kyl, who bares no responsibility for these curious views of the Simian-in-Chief: http://www.bushorchimp.com/

War critics as Anti-Semites

In an address to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Kyl defended the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, aka "The Lie Factory" (Robert Dreyfuss & Jason Vest, Mother Jones Magazine, Jan. 2004 http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2004/01/12_405.html ). The OSP supplied bogus information hyping the threat posed by Iraq, but Kyl calls this a conspiracy theory "with bigoted overtones: many of the neoconservatives are Jews..." Kyl singles out Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski for particular scorn. Kwiatkowski, who is featured in the film "Why We Fight" http://www.sonyclassics.com/whywefight/ about the military-industrial complex, and who was a source for Dreyfuss & Vest, is an "ultra-libertarian" whose writings "include many weird, extremist and bigoted diatribes" with a fixation on "Zionist conspiracies." Kyl, "DOD's Role in Pre-War Iraq Intelligence: Setting the Record Straight," 5/3/04.

Try listening.

"In fact, if any of [Bush's] critics has a better approach, I haven’t heard it." Kyl, 5/31/04, "'Nothing New' in Iraq Doesn’t Mean 'Nothing Important'"

Kyl to media: I'll tell you what to ask me.

Senator Kyl, I am going to actually start with something that House Speaker Dennis Hastert had to say over the weekend. He essentially told reporters that al Qaeda could operate with more comfort if John Kerry were elected president. Do you really think that's the case?
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: I'm not going to get into that question because that's taking us away from the real question, which is...
ZAHN: But that's the question I asked you.
KYL: I know, but I'm not... CNN, Paula Zahn Now, 9/20/04

Kyl to Murtha: Shut up already!

Kyl: Calls for Iraq withdrawal aid bin Laden. "It's clear that our enemies are listening. So it remains an important duty for those who serve in public office to clearly consider what signals are sent by calls for troop withdrawals or rigid withdrawal timetables." 1/19/06 AZ Rep

Saddam = Hitler

"History remembers attempts to appease Hitler as a dangerous folly that gave him needed time to build up his forces." Kyl, "The danger of empty threats", 9/13/02.

"Adolph Hitler's vision of Nazi domination presented to European leaders in the 1930s a similar choice between aggressive confrontation and appeasement, provoking a debate with eerie similarities to today's." Kyl, 11/15/04, "‘A Fundamental Disagreement’ Over More Than Iraq"

"...the organization that Franklin Delano Roosevelt dreamed would prevent the rise of another Hitler has not only abdicated any responsibility for dealing with would-be fuehrer Saddam Hussein, but has essentially opted out of helping to build a democratic Iraq." Kyl, 12/27/04, "A chance to fix the UN Security Council?"

On the 60th anniversary of D-Day: "The survivors of the 133,000 Allied troops who stormed the beaches would go on to spend months slogging their way through ferocious battle into the heart of the Third Reich, liberating concentration camps, towns and entire nations along the way. Likewise, the bravest of our generation now labor mightily to bring freedom to Iraq and Afghanistan..." Kyl, 6/7/04, "Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Meaning of Sacrifice"

"If naysayers had had their way, Franklin Roosevelt would never have come to the aid of Churchill's England prior to Pearl Harbor... Roosevelt's own ambassador to England, Joseph P. Kennedy, prophesied that democracy was "finished" and Hitler unstoppable. He urged appeasement." Kyl, 3/27/03, National Review Online.

We're going to win in Iraq. Really. Trust me.

"We can win the war in Iraq. The question is whether we could lose the war here at home." Kyl, 4/12/04, "Why We Fight"

"Iraq is a fight we can win, and must..." Kyl, 6/7/04, "Iraq, Afghanistan and the Meaning of Sacrifice"

The sovereignty turnover last month "could mark a turning point in the war against terrorism... We are making real progress in the war of values and ideas in Iraq..." 7/20/04, Jon Kyl & Joe Lieberman, "The Present Danger."

One would hope that these improvements and last week’s election would finally silence the claims, from Hollywood to Howard Dean, that the war in Iraq is "unwinnable." Kyl, 12/19/05, "Iraqi Democracy 3, Terrorists 0"

No we don't.

"Even skeptics of Iraq’s potential for democracy would surely agree that a coalition defeat in Iraq (or the premature withdrawal of our troops) would be a major victory for terrorism..." Kyl, 4/12/04, "Why We Fight"

Chickenhawks agree: Support the troops -- Back Bush!

"But perhaps the most powerful affirmation a soldier needs, when a mission sends them far from friends and family and into harm’s way, is to believe in the mission itself." Kyl, 8/23/04, "Supporting the Troops and their Mission"

"But it is another matter entirely to undercut the morale and effectiveness of our military by claiming that their mission is simply not worth doing." Kyl, 8/23/04, "Supporting the Troops and their Mission"

Military casualties? Fuhgeddaboutit!

Kyl: "It's not the president's job I think to stand up every morning and announce the number of casualties." CNN, Paula Zahn Now, 9/20/04

2400 dead, 17000 wounded, $400 billion?

"...by historical standards, the cost thus far has been light." Kyl, 6/7/04, "Iraq, Afghanistan and the Meaning of Sacrifice"

NOTE: For detailed information on the human cost of this needless war, see http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/

He's Bush's boy.

"The administration did find a strong supporter in one Republican senator, Jon Kyl of Arizona, who spoke on CBS. He said Bush had been a consistent and committed leader of the Iraq war." 9/20/04, "Republican Senators Sound the Alarm over Iraq," International Herald Tribune.

Spoken like a true chickenhawk.

"War is tough," Kyl said, "and there are casualties and just before victory sometimes it gets most violent." 9/20/04, "Republican Senators Sound the Alarm over Iraq," International Herald Tribune.

Chickenhawk lays an egg on the front line...

"The battle of Fallujah... has been a real turning point." Kyl, 12/6/04, "A Report from the Front Lines of the War on Terror."

Critics wrong. Bush right. Clinton bad.

On Ambassador Joe Wilson, who debunked the Niger yellowcake fraud to the great displeasure of Bush and Cheney who then leaked portions of a highly classified intelligence report to try to discredit Wilson: "Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona told CNN that Wilson had 'distorted' the facts about Niger and that Bush was justified in releasing classified information to counter that." 4/10/06, New York Daily News

NOTE: To get a sense of the abject hypocrisy of Kyl's and Bush's position on leaks, see the April 16, 2006 New York Times' editorial, "A Bad Leak," at http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0416-20.htm

On Richard Clarke's testimony before the 9/11 Commission criticizing Bush's lack of focus on terrorism: "Former anti-terrorism official's view skewed." His "charges are absurd, of course..." and colored by his "bitter disagreement over the administration's decision to liberate Iraq... Dick Clarke spared the Clinton administration from any serious criticism ..." 3/29/04, Kyl, "Richard Clarke's abrupt turn: What about the Clinton years?"

The 9/11 bait and switch.

"Four years after al-Qaida terrorists attacked our country, it's worth taking a moment to review the painful lessons we have learned, and the efforts America must undertake to ensure that it never happens again... there can be no doubt about the consequences of premature American withdrawal from [Iraq]. They would be cataclysmic." 9/11/05, Jon Kyl & John McCain, "Controlling Iraq prevents repeat of horror."

Penalty for early withdrawal: cataclysmic annihilation by terrorists.

Setting a timetable for withdrawal "would invite new attacks on America..." Kyl, 12/5/05, "The Stakes in Iraq"

"...those who would have us withdraw prematurely from Iraq face the burden of explaining how such a move would not play directly into the hands of America’s mortal enemies, who seek not only our defeat but our annihilation... The consequences of quitting Iraq short of victory would be cataclysmic." Kyl, 3/24/05, "Iraq is the Battlefield"

Support the troops: keep them in the Iraq quagmire indefinitely.

"My colleague Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman noted in a recent Washington Post op-ed that setting such an artificial schedule [for troop withdrawal from Iraq] would "discourage our troops..." Kyl, 12/5/05, "The Stakes in Iraq"

War without end

"Kyl sees no end to war on terror." "He sees no immediate end to the war on terror, instead likening it to the cold war." Kyl: "Dealing with Iraq is just another front line in the war on terrorism..." East Valley Tribune, 12/4/02

"How long are we going to be in Iraq? As long as it takes." Kyl, East Valley Tribune, 4/28/03

"...no war has ever been won on a timetable." Kyl, 12/5/05, "The Stakes in Iraq"

NOTE: We won WW2 in 3 years, 8 months and 2 days. We have been at war with Iraq for over 3 years and will exceed our involvement in WW2 after Nov. 22, 2006.

 
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