Hannity falsely claimed Feingold was a "flip-flopper" on Iraq invasion

››› ››› KURT DONALDSON

On Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity selectively quoted from a speech that Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) gave before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to falsely characterize Feingold as a "flip-flopper" on the decision to authorize the Bush administration to use force to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. In fact, Feingold's comments, made days before he voted against the October 11 war resolution, contained a multi-faceted argument against the resolution.

On the March 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity selectively quoted from a speech that Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) gave before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to falsely characterize Feingold as a "flip-flopper" on the decision to authorize the Bush administration to use force to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. While Hannity noted that Feingold stated in the October 2002 speech that "Iraq presents a genuine threat" and that Hussein "is exceptionally dangerous and brutal," Hannity ignored the fact that Feingold also provided a series of reasons why he opposed the use of force before concluding that "I cannot support the resolution for the use of force before us."

In a discussion with Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh about Feingold's March 13 resolution calling for the United States Senate to censure President Bush over the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program, Hannity misrepresented Feingold's October 9, 2002, pre-war comments by highlighting only a selected segment of Feingold's speech that opposed the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. Hannity told Marsh: "If you want to vote for a guy [Feingold] that, quote, in the lead-up to the war said, 'I agree Iraq's a genuine threat in the form of weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, potential nuclear weapons. I agree he's dangerous and brutal, Saddam Hussein is,' you know, and then turn on the troops the way he did, just the way [Sen. John] Kerry [D-MA] did -- if that's your guy for '08, I'm all in favor."

In fact, Feingold's comments, made days before he voted against the October 11 war resolution, contained a multi-faceted argument against the resolution. From Feingold's October 9, 2002, speech on the floor of the Senate:

Many of us have spent months reviewing the issue of the advisability of invading Iraq in the near future. Now, after many more meetings and reading articles and attending briefings, listening to my colleagues' speeches, and especially listening to the president's speech in Cincinnati on Monday, I still don't believe that the president and the administration have adequately answered the critical questions. They have not yet met the important burden to persuade Congress and the American people that we should invade Iraq at this time.

[...]

Both in terms of the justifications for an invasion and in terms of the mission and the plan for the invasion, the administration's arguments just don't add up. They don't add up to a coherent basis for a new major war in the middle of our current challenging fight against the terrorism of Al Qaeda and related organizations. Therefore, I cannot support the resolution for the use of force before us.

[...]

None of this is to say that I don't agree with the president on much of what he has said about the fight against terrorism and even what he has said about Iraq. I agree that Iraq presents a genuine threat, especially in the form of weapons of mass destruction: chemical, biological and potentially nuclear weapons. I agree that Saddam Hussein is exceptionally dangerous and brutal if not uniquely so, as the president argues. And I agree, I support the concept of regime change. Saddam Hussein is one of several despots from the international community -- whom the international community should condemn and isolate with the hope of new leadership in those nations. And, yes, I agree, if we do this Iraq invasion, I hope Saddam Hussein will actually be removed from power this time.

[...]

But, Mr. President, I am increasingly troubled by the seemingly shifting justifications for an invasion at this time. I believe that this practice of shifting justifications has much to do with the troubling phenomena of many Americans questioning the administration's motives in insisting on action at this particular time. I'm talking about the spectacle of the president and senior administration officials citing a purported connection to Al Qaeda one day, weapons of mass destruction the next day, Saddam Hussein's treatment of his own people on another day, and then on some days the issue of Kuwaiti prisoners of war.

[...]

Mr. President, we need an honest assessment of the commitment required of America. If the right way to address this threat is through internationally-supported military action in Iraq and Saddam Hussein's regime falls, we will need to take action to ensure stability in Iraq. This could be very costly and time-consuming, could involve the occupation -- the occupation, Mr. President, of a Middle Eastern country. Now, this is not a small matter. The American occupation of a Middle Eastern country. Consider the regional implications of that scenario, the unrest in moderate states that calls for action against American interests, the difficulty of bringing stability to Iraq so we can extricate ourselves in the midst of regional turmoil. Mr. President, we need much more information about how we propose to proceed so that we can weigh the costs and benefits to our national security.

Hannity has previously distorted other Democratic politicians' positions on the Iraq war, as Media Matters for America has noted (here, here, and here).

From the March 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: Well, but -- look, I actually think this is a good thing. Mary Anne Marsh, you can have Russ Feingold. If you want to vote for a guy that, quote, in the lead-up to the war said, "I agree Iraq's a genuine threat in the form of weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, potential nuclear weapons. I agree he's dangerous and brutal, Saddam Hussein is," you know, and then turn on the troops the way he did, just the way Kerry did -- if that's your guy for '08, I'm all in favor. Let's bring the next flip-flopper on, and he's going to lose just like the last flip-flopper, the friend of yours.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Sean Hannity
Show/Publication
Hannity & Colmes
Stories/Interests
Attacks on Progressives, Propaganda/Noise Machine
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