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Hillary's war vote

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro and Mark Murray
In the upcoming New York Times magazine, the authors of the new biography of Hillary Clinton -- former and current New York Times investigative reporters Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. -- have written an article, adapted from their book, on Hillary's 2002 war authorization vote. The piece is already out, and so you don't have to read the entire 18-page article here's what caught our eyes or what we think is new:

-- "Of course, Clinton was tough. And she was experienced. But according to aides and strategists, her insecurity about her public image and her nascent national-security credentials made it difficult, if not impossible, for her to vote no" on the Iraq war authorization.

-- "Bill Clinton served as her main counsel on the Iraq war vote, longtime associates of theirs told us."

-- As the Washington Post noted earlier from the Gerth-Van Natta book, Clinton might not have read the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate before she cast her vote. "The question of whether Clinton took the time to read the N.I.E. report is critically important. Indeed, one of Clinton's Democratic colleagues, Bob Graham, the Florida senator who was then the chairman of the intelligence committee, said he voted against the resolution on the war, in part, because he had read the complete N.I.E. report. Graham said he found that it did not persuade him that Iraq possessed W.M.D. As a result, he listened to Bush's claims more skeptically. 'I was able to apply caveat emptor,' Graham, who has since left the Senate, observed in 2005. He added regretfully, 'Most of my colleagues could not.'"

-- "[O]n the sensitive issue of collaboration between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Senator Clinton found herself adopting the same argument that was being aggressively pushed by the [Bush] administration.… By contrast, most of the other Senate Democrats, even those who voted for the war authorization, did not make the Qaeda connection in their remarks on the Senate floor."

-- "For all the scrutiny of Clinton's vote, an important moment has been lost. It came several hours earlier, on Oct. 10, 2002, the same day Clinton spoke about why she would support the Iraq-war authorization. In her remarks on the Senate floor, she stressed the need for diplomacy with Iraq on the part of the Bush administration and insisted she wasn't voting for 'any new doctrine of pre-emption, or for unilateralism.' Yet just a few hours after her speech, Clinton voted against an amendment to the war resolution that would have required the diplomatic emphasis that Clinton had gone on record as supporting — and that she now says she had favored all along…. Clinton has never publicly explained her vote against the Levin amendment or said why she stayed on the sidelines as 11 other senators debated it for 95 minutes that day."

-- "In February 2005, Clinton took a second trip to Iraq and delivered a somewhat upbeat assessment about the progress being made and the chances for peace, despite mounting evidence that the insurgency was gaining momentum."

-- "Not surprisingly, the first signal of Clinton's intention to tack [to the antiwar side] came via Bill Clinton, who had taken on the role of saying things that Senator Clinton was not yet prepared to say. Addressing students at the American University in Dubai on Nov. 16, 2005, the former president declared that the invasion was a 'big mistake.' He added that he didn't 'agree with what was done.'"

-- Clinton surprisingly wound up co-sponsoring the 2006 Reed-Levin amendment. When it was introduced on the Senate floor, she wanted to be heard: "Clinton's first words took some insiders by surprise: 'I rise in support of the Levin amendment of which I am proud to be an original co-sponsor.' 'We were puzzled,' the aide said, because no one had told them about Clinton's sudden ascendancy to a leadership role on the measure. Indeed, just a few minutes earlier, Jack Reed, in his remarks, had not included Clinton in his list of sponsors."

-- "In early February, Clinton told the Democratic National Committee that she would end the war in Iraq when she became president. That definitive, forward-looking pledge is what she is counting on voters to remember in 2008."