Sunday, April 23, 2006

William Pitt interviews Sen John Kerry...

Deadlines and Dissent
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t Perspective
Sunday 23 April 2006

[excerpt: the interview]

The following interview was conducted via telephone on Saturday evening.

PITT: Are there other Senators who will sign on or have signed on to your May 15th deadline you have put forward?

KERRY: I think we have a few, but I haven't gotten the latest word from the staff down in Washington. I don't know yet what the final number is going to be. We've been out on the Easter break for the last two weeks, so my colleagues have been sort of moving around.

One of the problems is that I proposed the May 15th date about three or four weeks ago, so there would be a six-week period of time where the ultimatum could be given. The president hasn't publicly, and as far as we know, hasn't privately given them an ultimatum. So some colleagues will say, oh God, it's only two weeks from now, how do we do that?

The point is not the date, so much as it is giving them the ultimatum of about four weeks or five weeks, and tell them they've got to do this or else. That's really the key.

PITT: How do you respond to those who say a US withdrawal from Iraq under any circumstances will cause that nation to collapse into chaos?

KERRY: There is no military resolution, anyway, so they have to stand up for themselves. You're in a civil war. The fact is that 242,000 members of the security forces have been trained, according to the administration. If 242,000 have been trained, and the basis for this policy is that we will stand down as soon as they stand up, their target goal for the full stand-up was 270,000. So we're only 30,000 away from where they supposedly said was our final security goal, and we haven't been standing down at all.

I'm not suggesting that, if they form the government, we're out of there overnight. We're out of there over the course of a year. A year is enough time for them to stand up and take control. Moreover, I've said we will maintain an "over-the-horizon" capability, precisely to avoid having al Qaeda and chaos to take over.

I think it's a red-herring argument, it's a phony argument, it doesn't recognize the realities of what they said their own policy is.

PITT: 60 Minutes is going to report Sunday night that the CIA informed both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that Iraq was not in possession of weapons of mass destruction a full six months before the invasion took place, and that both Bush and Cheney dismissed their analysis because the decision for regime change had already been made. What is your response to this revelation?

KERRY: If it is true, it confirms more and more of what we've heard from the British memos, from the Downing Street memo, from different statements by people in the administration and out, that they had made up their mind to go to war, and that they misled the Congress and the American people.

PITT: How do you see the odds of the Democrats retaking one or both chambers of Congress?

KERRY: I think we have a shot. I can't predict. I know that if the real issues are on the table, and I hope they will be and that's what we'll be fighting for, I think there's a terrific chance. Most of my focus is going into that. I've helped over 140 different candidates around the country in 33 states. I'm working very hard on '06, because I believe '06 is the real battle.

PITT: You have said that no decision on a 2008 presidential run will be forthcoming soon, and that you are looking hard at the possibility. My question, therefore, is this: if you do decide to run again, what if anything will you do differently in this campaign?

ERRY: Let me just say that I learned a lot of lessons, and we made some mistakes, which I completely take responsibility for. I learned what we have to do, and if I decide to run, I'm going to do it, and I will know how to win.

But I'm not going to get into all of that at this point in time. I'll go into those things if and when the time comes. The bottom line is that we came within 60,000 votes, and I think I know how to cure the issues that were not properly addressed in the course of the campaign.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.


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