To the editor:
In his Oct. 10 column, David Broder asks, "When ever has the United States launched a preemptive attack on a foreign nation with as little provocation -- and as spurious a rationale -- as this war on Iraq?"
The answer is Dec. 16, 1998, the day Bill Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox to "attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors." According to Clinton, "so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world."
The next day, Secretary of State Madeline Albright appeared on "Meet the Press" and said the Iraq threat was "probably harder for some to understand because it is a threat of the future rather than a present threat or a present act, such as a border crossing, a border aggression. Here, as the president described in his statement yesterday, we are concerned about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's ability to have, develop, deploy weapons of mass destruction and the threat that that poses to the neighbors, to the stability of the Middle East and, therefore, ultimately to ourselves."
If the Duefler report is correct, Saddam's WMD programs ceased to be active years before 1998. Nevertheless, Albright said on Jan. 9, 2001, "I am really sorry that we had the issue of Saddam Hussein on our plate when we arrived, and I am equally sorry to say that we are passing it on."