Michael Moore Fact-Checks John Kerry's Selective Memory on Iraq

September 6th, 2013 11:30 PM

Seven words I never thought I'd say -- keep up the good work, Michael Moore.

What prompted this was a tweet from the leftist filmmaker after Secretary of State John Kerry's appearance last night on MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes" during which Kerry described why military action against the Assad regime in Syria is justified. (Video after the jump)

Hayes was skeptical and asked how the US would react if Syrian dictator Bashar Assad again unleashed chemical weapons --

HAYES: If we strike Assad, what happens if he uses chemical weapons again? It seems that we have then committed ourself to an escalated punitive ...

KERRY (interrupting): I, I, I disagree. First of all, let me make this clear. The president, and this is very important because I think a lot of Americans, a lot of your listeners, a lot of people in the country, are sitting there and saying oh my gosh, this is going to be Iraq, this is going to be Afghanistan, here we go again. I know this, I've heard it. And the answer is no, profoundly no. You know, Senator Chuck Hagel, when he was senator, Senator Chuck Hagel, now secretary of defense, and when I was a senator, we opposed the president's decision to go into Iraq but we know full well how that evidence was used to persuade all of us that authority ought to be given. 

Moore tweeted this in response --

On MSNBC Kerry said he & Hagel "opposed the president's decision to go into Iraq" http://mmflint.me/1aSZ6g5 Actually, they both voted for it

Moore also sarcastically mocked Kerry --

BREAKING: U.S. Capitol Building throws John Kerry's war medals back at him.

Not surprising given the venue where Kerry made this claim, Hayes didn't push back against it, any more than a Pravda reporter/stenographer would have questioned Comrade Brezhnev about that year's bountiful harvest after such a severe drought.

What was it that then-senators Kerry and Hagel voted for in October 2002 that Kerry now claims they didn't? Here is its title -- "AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAQ RESOLUTION OF 2002." Not much in ambiguity there.

Moore's tweet was refreshing for another reason. It undermines the long-held contention from many opponents of the Iraq war that the congressional vote in October 2002 did not specifically authorize military force against Iraq if President Bush deemed it necessary.

Kerry not only voted in favor of war with Iraq, he made an impassioned plea from the Senate floor, in remarks eerily reminiscent of what he's now saying about Syria --

If the president arbitrarily walks away from this course of action, Madame President, without good cause or reason, the legitimacy of any subsequent action by the United States against Iraq will be challenged by the American people and the international community, and I would vigorously oppose the president doing so. Mr. President, when I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat and a grave threat to our security and that of our allies in the Persian Gulf region, I will vote because I believe it is the best way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable and the administration, I believe, now is committed to a recognition that war must be the last option to address this threat, not the first, and that we must act in concert with allies around the globe to make the world's case against Saddam Hussein.

Not only was Kerry in favor of war with Iraq, he warned what he'd do if Bush "arbitrarily walk(ed) away from this course of action" -- he would "vigorously oppose the president doing so." Which was followed -- five months later, after Saddam's deceit-filled accounting of his WMD programs and more cat-and-mouse with UN inspectors -- with Bush doing what Kerry and a majority of both chambers of Congress authorized him to do -- invade Iraq. Soon thereafter, John Kerry became a vigorous opponent of the war in Iraq.

By going on MSNBC, Kerry knew he could toss out a bogus assertion like this and not get challenged. For many of us, Michael Moore included, Kerry will forever be the guy in favor of the war before he was against it.