In an article in the Washington Post, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was described as retreating from his criticism of Clinton?s air strikes on Iraq. Lott had questioned the timing of the attacks, on the eve of the impeachment debate in the House. Post reporter Helen Dewar said that Lott, in an interview on CNN, had said that he supported the action after it was underway. Dewar said, “In the interview, Lott did not specificaly address his earlier comment that he could not support Clinton?s decision to bomb Iraq.”
That?s not exactly true. In the CNN interview Lott explained why he issued that statement questioning the timing. He did so by going back in history, to the time preceding the August bombing of a so-called chemical weapons-related facility in Sudan and an alleged terrorist camp in Afghanistan. This occurred just a few days after Clinton?s grand jury testimony in the Monica Lewinsky affair, when Clinton was desperate to change the subject.
“Back in August,” Lott said, “I was called by the president….[He] said based on evidence they had received that had been communicated to me that they were going forward with the bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan. I put out a public statement supporting that decision based on what I was told. But now I wonder…was that strike at the time as it should have been? Did it work out? …What was the result of that? Do the people know? Do we know? The answer is ?no.?” Lott went on to say, “Once you sort of feel like you?ve been burned, the next time it comes around then you are inclined to be a little more cautious and ask a few more questions. That is all I am doing, and I will do my job in that regard.”
Lott was burned because he believed the president. This is the story that Washington Post reporter Helen Dewar did not tell. Lott supported the strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan even though we now know that they were ineffective or worse. In Sudan, it seems clear the United States hit a pharmaceutical factory that had nothing to do with making chemical weapons. In Afghanistan, it appears the U.S. hit a few tents and possibly a Mosque.
Rather than talk about being burned, Lott should initiate hearings into the president?s erratic behavior, which is obviously designed to save his political skin. An editorial in the Washington Times concluded that “Republicans should very seriously consider adding the president?s actions…to the list of his impeachable offenses.” In Iraq, Clinton claimed that we were attempting to diminish Iraq?s capability of producing and using weapons of mass destruction. Then it came out that the U.S. was carefully avoiding hitting known Iraqi chemical and biological sites because of the fear of fallout from those weapons.
Herb Titus, who served as a professor of law at Regent University, says it is legitimate to consider invoking the Constitution?s 25th amendment if the president continues to resist resignation. It provides for the Cabinet to declare the president incapacitated and to replace him with the Vice President. Senator Lott isn?t the only one who has been burned. The entire nation is at risk.