Did Joe Biden Believe That Saddam Hussein Had Weapons of Mass Destruction?

In an interview on MSNBC’s The Last Word on Monday, former Vice President Joe Biden claimed that he did not believe Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction when he voted in favor of the Iraq war as a senator in 2002.

“The reason I voted the way I did was to try to prevent a war from happening, because, remember, the threat was to go to war,” said Biden.

“The argument was because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. So [President George W. Bush] said that, ‘I need to be able to get the security council to agree to send in inspectors to put pressure on Saddam to find out whether or not he’s producing nuclear weapons.’

“And at the time, I said, ‘that’s your reason? All right, I get it.’

“The rationale was, that’s the way to not go to war. Because I didn’t believe he had those nuclear weapons. I didn’t believe he had those weapons of mass destruction.” (emphasis added.)

This directly contradicts Biden’s words in October 2002, when during a Senate debate he said:

“The objective is to compel Iraq to destroy its illegal weapons of mass destruction and its programs to develop and produce missiles and more of those weapons.”

In the same speech, Biden said that “the reason [Hussein] poses a growing danger to the United States and its allies is that he possesses chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons, with the $2 billion a year he illegally skims from the U.N. oil-for-food program. For four years now, he has prevented United Nations inspectors from uncovering those weapons and verifying Iraq’s disarmament, and he is in violation of the terms he agreed to allowing him to stay in power.”

Biden went on to join28 Democratic senators and 48 Republican senators to vote in favor of authorizing the use of military use in Iraq on October 11, 2002. On the eve of the invasion, Biden released a statement saying that, “By refusing to disarm, a defiant Saddam has made the fateful choice between war and peace. Let us make sure that in winning the war, we also win the peace.”

A few months later in May 2003, no WMD had been found, but Biden stood his ground. In an interview on Meet the Press, Biden said that “we hyped nuclear, we hyped al Qaeda, we hyped the ability to disperse and use these weapons,” but continued to say that “I do think we’ll find weapons of mass destruction.”

Photograph of Joe Mario Tama/Getty Images.

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