By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
After several meetings with two local congressmen about the Iraq War, it's time to unleash the transcript. Democratic Reps. Robert Wexler of Boca Raton and Peter Deutsch of Pembroke Pines revealed their most intimate thoughts during the sessions, though they thankfully stopped short of any discussion about their precious bodily fluids.
It has been, nevertheless, a rather Strangelovian experience, beginning with a September 26, 2002, column titled "Hawking for Israel" in which I argued that Wexler and Deutsch were backing George W. Bush's ill-conceived war because of their blind loyalty to Israel. Both told me it wasn't true.
Dozens of readers sent passionate letters, half accusing me of being an anti-Semite and half thanking me for bravely speaking the truth. Either I was a Nazi sympathizer or I deserved the Pulitzer.
In reality, I'm just a columnist who was frozen for 30,000 years before being dug up and restored to life by your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me. I don't know how to use your new "indoor plumbing" or what you mean by "Iraqi Governing Council," but I do know that when a criminal war is being waged by a bull-headed, recovering-alcoholic, court-appointed president in the name of "securing the peace," you should oppose it.
But enough about me -- this is about Wexler and Deutsch. The three of us had at least four meetings over the past 14 months on the issue of Iraq. At least, I think we had them. Maybe I just read it somewhere. I can't remember. Brain thaw can be a bitch. But don't worry -- my editor said he would add a footnote or two just to prove they said it.
September 2002: Bob Norman: So do we need to bomb the hell out of Iraq to show those Arab bastards who's boss or what?
Robert Wexler: The only element that gets respect in the Middle East is force... is power. And ultimately, the United States can bring to bear a level of power in this region that no one else can. So when Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Jordan and the Israelis and Yasser Arafat realize that George Bush is just dead serious about going into Iraq and mopping Saddam Hussein out of the place and cleaning Iraq out of their complicity with terrorism, then I think you'll see even a more constructive attitude toward the peace process.1
Bob Norman: Wow, I've never heard war sound so, um, janitorial. A little dab of MOAB'll do ya, huh? So this is about world domination?
Robert Wexler: We're looking to simply avoid Iraq exercising the weapons of mass destruction that it has.2
Bob Norman: But we don't know that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
Robert Wexler: The issue is really not that complicated. We know that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons.3
Bob Norman: Well, I'm sure you wouldn't pull such a grave assertion out of your ass. You're in Congress, after all.
Peter Deutsch: Saddam's weapons of mass destruction are directed at us. Saddam Hussein's weapons aren't aimed at Sweden or France; they are aimed at the United States and Israel... We are talking about a potential disaster beyond any of our imaginations.4
Bob Norman: Yikes. But Saddam Hussein has been pretty quiet for the past decade, hasn't he?
Robert Wexler: He's kept a low profile because he doesn't want to stick his head out and be a target, but he needs to go.5
Bob Norman: But he's never attacked the United States or directly engaged in terrorism.
Robert Wexler: I am convinced that Iraq is the epicenter of the terrorist network in the Middle East. I think the possibility of Saddam Hussein attacking American interests in one way or another is not only likely but is imminently real. And it doesn't have to be by a missile flying over an ocean. It could be in the form of a chemical put in an air conditioning system. It could be on the bottom of a cargo ship coming in to Port Everglades.6
Bob Norman: Good God! Saddam might be in our air conditioning vents? I'm glad he doesn't have nuclear weapons.
Peter Deutsch: There is no proof yet of nuclear weapons, but I'm confident it will come. I won't vote to authorize the president to use force in Iraq unless he proves that Iraq has nuclear weapons and has both the means and intent to deliver them.7
Bob Norman: What about allies? You've been to Turkey several times, Rep. Wexler, trying to persuade that country to join the war effort.
Robert Wexler: Turkey will be with us in the end. I guarantee it.8
Bob Norman: If you say so.
October 2002, just after the vote by Congress authorizing Bush to invade Iraq:Bob Norman: Well, Rep. Wexler, you said you would authorize the use of force, and you sure as hell did.
Robert Wexler: Not because I support the irresponsible manner and timing in which President Bush has proceeded with his plans for war, not because I support the president's attempt to handcuff Congress into granting a blank check for unilateral military action, and not because I accept the president's shameful neglect of our spiraling economic crisis and other domestic issues of imminent concern.9