Monday, June 18, 2007

Romney on Iraq: Doesn't know the facts - and insanely wants to double Guantanamo

Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Iraq: Doesn't know the facts - and insanely wants to double Guantanamo

Tom Fahey of the New Hampshire Union Leader led off one of the Republican the debates by asking Romney if the United States had made a mistake in invading Iraq:

FAHEY: Governor Romney, I wanted to start by asking you a question on which every American has formed an opinion. We have lost 3,400 troops, civilian casualties are even higher, and the Iraqi government does not appear ready to provide for the security of its own country. Knowing everything you know right now, was it a mistake for us to invade Iraq?

ROMNEY: Well, the question is kind of a non sequitur, if you will. And what I mean by that -- or a null set -- and that is that if you're saying, let's turn back the clock and Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors and they'd come in and they'd found that there were no weapons of mass destruction -- had Saddam Hussein therefore not violated United Nations resolutions -- we wouldn't be in the conflict we're in. But he didn't do those things, and we knew what we knew at the point we made the decision to get in.

Analyzing the debate on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, CNN political contributor Paul Begala said that Romney had made a "huge mistake" and that "if this were a general election debate, [it] would be a disqualifier." Begala then went on to correct Romney's "gaffe":

COOPER: You say that Romney made a big mistake tonight on Iraq.

BEGALA: A huge mistake, a gaffe that -- that's, if this were a general election debate, would be a disqualifier. He said -- we just heard the bite -- he said that, if Saddam Hussein had allowed IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, inspectors into his country to ascertain whether he'd had weapons, we wouldn't have had this war. He did.

On September 17 of 2002, the Iraqi government, under Saddam Hussein, allowed IAEA weapons inspectors into their country. Over 250 of them went, led by Hans Blix. They searched the whole countryside and found nothing. While they were still searching, on March 17 of 2003, George W. Bush told them to get out 'cause he was starting a war. And, on March 20th, we started the war.

You can't get something like that wrong. I mean, that's like -- that's like saying the Mexicans bombed Pearl Harbor. (1)

Debating the treatment of foreign detainees at Tuesday night's debate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he thought the US should "double" the number of prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay Cuba.

In the same exchange, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani noted again his service in New York following the Sept. 11 attacks and said he would support interrogators using a wide range of means to elicit confessions from suspected terrorists. Moderator Chris Wallace asked if Giuliani would support the use of waterboarding -- a controversial interrogation tactic some say is torture because it makes detainees believe they are drowning.

"Whatever they can think of," Giuliani said.

Romney said suspected terrorists need to be kept off American soil and he supported the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" with the approval of the president.

Critics say too many detainees are in Guantanamo without trial and some have called for shutting down the facility, Romney noted. A report conducted last year based on an analysis of defense department data found that 55 percent of Guantanamo detainees were not found to have participated in hostilities against the US and only 8 percent were found to be al Qaeda members.

Romney's solution called for ramping up detention efforts at the military base on Cuba's coast.

"We ought to double Guantanamo," he said.

1. Media Matters

2. Raw Story

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