February 17, 2011

Pres. Clinton on February 17, 1998 - sending ominous signals.

On this day in 1998 it was all about Iraq and the infamous Weapons Of Mass Destruction. Addressing the nation from the Department of Defense, President Clinton prepared everyone for what was going to be a series of air strikes and stepped up sanctions against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Iraq, it seemed, was the recurring thorn in everyone's side and in 1998 it was no different.

President Clinton: “Despite Iraq’s deceptions UNSCOM has, nevertheless done a remarkable job. It’s inspectors, the eyes and ears of the civilized world, have uncovered and destroyed more weapons of mass destruction capacity than was destroyed during the Gulf War. This includes nearly 40,000 chemical weapons, more than 100,000 gallons of chemical weapons agents, 48 operational missiles, 30 warheads specifically fitted for chemical and biological weapons, and a massive biological weapons facility at Al-Hakim, equipped to produce Anthrax and other deadly agents. Over the past few months as they have come closer and closer to rooting out Iraq’s remaining nuclear capacity, Saddam has undertaken yet another gambit to thwart their ambition. By imposing debilitating conditions on the inspectors, and declaring key sites which have still not been inspected off-limits, including I might add, one palace in Baghdad, more than 2600 acres large. By comparison when you hear all this business about Presidential sites reflect our sovereignty, why do you want to come into a residence, the White House complex is 18 acres, so you’ll have some feel for this. One of these Presidential sites is about the size of Washington D.C. – that’s about . . .how many acres did you tell me it was? Forty thousand acres. We’re not talking about a few rooms here with delicate personal matters involved.”

Well . . .we all know how that story ended.

Here is the complete address, along with comments by Defense Secretary Cohen and vice-President Gore and post-address analysis by NPR correspondents.

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