Republican Rep. Peter King, one of most hawkish members of Congress, said "it would not have been appropriate" to invade Iraq if we had known that Saddam Hussein's regime did not possess an active program of weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to the United States.
"Knowing now — and again, you never know at the time what you're gonna find out years later — knowing now that the WMD were there, it probably — it would not have been appropriate to invade at that time," said the New York Republican to BuzzFeed News.
"However Hussein was still a very serious threat to the region, and we could have allowed more time to bring pressure on him, and to insure that he did not take any further action."
King, who is weighing a presidential bid had said however it would have been "criminally negligent" to not invade Iraq based on the intelligence at the time.
"First of all, knowing what we did know at the time, it would have been criminally negligent not to invade Iraq. Based on what was thought to be known at the time by every intelligence agency, including every leading Democrat, from John Kerry to Al Gore to Hillary Clinton, it was essential that the president take the action that he did.
He added it the world knew Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction it would have been "a different story."
"His strength was built on the fact that he had no WMD. If the world knew that he had no WMD, then it's a different story, and he could have been monitored more seriously. The fact is, everyone in the region, including his own generals, though he had WMD, and that was a source of real disarray in the Middle East."
King still said "all efforts should have been" for regime change in Iraq, but such efforts could have taken place over time and not have been an invasion.
"No. If I had known then, in March of 2003 — knew conclusively, and the world knew — that he did not have WMD, then we could have waited to remove him. But all efforts should have been to remove him," he said. "But it did not have to be an invasion at that time. And that's assuming not only that we knew, but that the whole world knew and believed that he did not have WMD, because the source of his power then was countries in the region thought he did have WMD."
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at email@example.com.
Ilan Ben-Meir is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Ilan Ben-Meir at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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