The full text of the message can be read at snopes.com, where it is classified as "true", but with some pretty serious reservations about how the quotes were taken out of context. While snopes does a pretty good job of examining each quote, I haven't seen a really good response to the overall point of the message, which is that Democrats and Republicans alike supported the war because they believed that Saddam Hussein posed a nuclear threat to the United States.
The facts are not nearly as cut and dried. I'm not going to rewrite the entire snopes link, which you should read for yourself before continuing with this entry. But I would like to single out one of them as a representative example.
Hillary Clinton said:
In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.
As the link points out, the rest of the speech is left out. She went on to say:
Some people favor attacking Saddam Hussein now... However, this course is fraught with danger. We and our NATO allies did not depose Mr. Milosevic, who was responsible for more than a quarter of a million people being killed in the 1990s. Instead, by stopping his aggression in Bosnia and Kosovo, and keeping on the tough sanctions, we created the conditions in which his own people threw him out and led to his being in the dock being tried for war crimes as we speak.
If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us. In recent days, Russia has talked of an invasion of Georgia [obviously the one in the Former Soviet Union, not the US] to attack Chechen rebels. India has mentioned the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on Pakistan. And what if China were to perceive a threat from Taiwan?
I need to point that out, because it strongly highlights the difference between the approach that Democrats were urging Bush to take, and the approach that he actually took. While many Democrats such as Hillary Clinton recognized the possibility that Iraq had or was developing some weapons, they also stated at the time that there was not enough solid evidence to launch a full out war on them. Bombing a country, or combatting an invasion like in Kuwait is one thing. But starting a war and occupying the place, and trying to fill a void by toppling their entire government, is something else entirely. In fact, Bush's dad made this very clear when he explained why he didn't depose Saddam after dealing with Kuwait in 1991.
Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome.Pretty uncanny how accurate George H. W. Bush's predictions turned out to be.
--George Bush Sr. and Brent Scowcroft
Time (2 March 1998)
Of course, we know that Saddam Hussein had WMD's at one time. That's because the United States sold them to him during the Reagan administration. In case you've forgotten about that little detail, here is Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam, during a trip intended to set up friendly relations with Iraq. But Saddam was ordered to disarm after he lost the first Gulf War, and all evidence right now indicates that he did. Yes, Hussein kicked out the inspectors in 1998, and it's likely that he wanted to rebuild. But "wanting to" and "doing it" are not the same thing. Bill Clinton's response was immediate. He launched Operation Desert Fox, bombing suspected weapon sites but not endangering any American troops.
In other words, he pursued a policy of containment and responses to actions, not "pre-emption" against actions that hadn't happened yet. At this point I should remind you that the policy seemingly WORKED, based on the fact that no WMD's were found in Iraq in 2003. This is something that even Bush administration officials have acknowledged at this point.
For all these quotes about how Saddam Hussein kicked out the weapons inspectors and wouldn't let them back in, it's funny how none of them date after late 2002. Guess why? Because in early 2003, Saddam Hussein let the weapons inspectors back in. And they didn't find any weapons.
You remember that too, right? UN Weapons Inspectors, headed by Hans Blix, were on the ground in Iraq for three months. Their conclusion? No WMD's found, although they didn't rule out the possibility that they might find some. But immediately Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Miller, Larry Elder, and every other budding Republican comedian started repeating the joke, over and over again, that Blix was weapons inspector Clouseau. He couldn't even find the weapons in Iraq! And it just kept getting funnier every time. :)
Of course, the reason poor Inspector Clouseau couldn't even find any weapons in Iraq was because there weren't any. Remember, even Bush officials agree. We couldn't have known that at the time, but Blix's point was that more time was needed to gather evidence. They didn't get it. It wasn't Saddam who kicked them out. It was America, who said, in effect "We don't care what the evidence is, we are commencing the attack."
Let's also not forget that it's completely bogus to say that Bush was misled into attacking Iraq by bad intelligence. The administration was making plans to attack Iraq within hours of the September 11. Richard Clarke, former White House counter-terrorism czar, reported that Bush was pressuring the CIA to justify an attack on Iraq, not the other way around.
"The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.Colin Powell, who later testified so skillfully before the UN, said in 2001 that Saddam "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."
"I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'
"He came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer.
It was because his own intelligence wasn't giving the answer he wanted, that Bush formed the Office of Special Plans as an alternate intelligence agency to come up with the answers they wanted.
Much of the faulty information that "misled" Bush into war came from this office that he set up for the express purpose of doing whatever they could to make a case for going to war.
It's true, of course, that some (not all, or apparently even most) of the Democrats on the list spoke persuasively about Saddam's WMD's as a justification to go to war. Those Democrats absolutely share responsibility with Bush for the situation we find ourselves in now. However, it can't be overemphasized that the White House was pushing hard for war, before the dust from the World Trade Center had settled, and that they presented their case to Congress based on faulty intelligence that they had engineered by way of the Office of Special Plans, and against the judgment of many of the standard channels of intelligence gathering.
In other words, many people were misled into supporting the war by the president, and their primary mistake was trusting that what the president said was accurate.