DON WALTON | Lincon Neb | Aug 19
Lincon Jornal Star – U.S. Rep. Doug Bereuter created a stir in Washington and rumbling across the Internet on Wednesday following his declaration that the war in Iraq was unjustified.
In Nebraska, his Republican colleagues expressed respect for Bereuter’s foreign policy credentials without accepting his judgment that the pre-emptive U.S. assault on Iraq was a mistake.
“The president has been very clear that knowing what he knows today he would have made the same decision,” White House spokesman Jim Morrell said.
America and the world are safer because Saddam sits in a jail cell.”
In a letter to constituents revealed Tuesday, Bereuter pointed to evidence of flawed or misrepresented intelligence about weapons of mass destruction as a faulty pretext for a pre-emptive U.S. assault.
Bereuter said Wednesday he believes he made the right decision in voting two years ago to authorize the president to take military action based on the information he had at the time.
“And I believe President Bush made the right decision in launching the action, based on the information I believe he had,” the congressman said.
“But, unlike President Bush and Senator (John) Kerry, I believe in retrospect that pre-emptive military action at that time was an error.”
Recognizing the controversy stirred by his assessment, Bereuter said: “I think it’s never a mistake to tell the public, especially one’s constituents, the truth as I see it.”
Bereuter’s strong retrospective conclusions about the war won top billing in Wednesday’s Hotline, the National Journal’s daily political briefing read all across Capitol Hill.
“John Kerry, Meet Doug Bereuter” was the headline on its spotlight story.
Bereuter’s Nebraska congressional colleagues said they respect the views of the 13-term congressman, noting his experience on the House International Relations Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.
“Many of Congressman Bereuter’s comments reflected the questions, concerns and warnings I had presented before the Iraq invasion,” Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel said.
But, he said, “we are where we are. We are not going to unwind the decision that was made to go to war in Iraq. Must there be accountability for that decision? Yes.”
GOPRep. Tom Osborne said there is “no question the intelligence that the inception of the war was founded upon was not reliable.”
“But, having said that, we’re in the war now, and we can’t go back and undo what’s been done.”
Republican Rep. Lee Terry said he “understand(s) why there are many Americans who may share (Bereuter’s) views.”
The intelligence community, he said, is “badly in need of reorganization and repair.”
Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson has “the utmost respect for Congressman Bereuter and he believes Doug Bereuter is a voice to be listened to on these matters,” said Nelson spokesman David DiMartino.
State Sen. Matt Connealy of Decatur, the Democratic nominee for Bereuter’s 1st District seat, applauded the congressman for “his courage and wisdom in stepping forward and acknowledging that the United States was unwarranted in its military attack against Iraq.”
Republican nominee Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln said he shares with Bereuter a “common objective of ensuring the safety of our troops while upholding order and stabilizing the region, building international support and returning our men and women to their families as soon as possible.”
Republican State Chairman David Kramer said he disagrees with Bereuter’s conclusion, but respects his opinion.
“Ultimately, the outcome has been worth the sacrifice,” he said.
Democratic State Chairman Steve Achelpohl praised Bereuter for “having the courage to make a powerful statement” about the war.
“At last, some Republican with great standing in the area of foreign policy has the courage to say what he said.”
Reach Don Walton at 473-7248 or email@example.com.