MR. RUSSERT: Some observers, Senator, have said that you simply opposed the war from day one and that's your agenda. They point to a comment you made back in September of 2003. "This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud." Fourteen hundred and forty-five Americans dead, 10,770 injured or wounded. All that blood for a political fraud? Is that your view?
SEN. KENNEDY: Listen, my view is that we honor. We honor, deeply, deeply honor every one of the servicemen and women who have lost their lives. We've lost 32 in Massachusetts. I've talked to the parents and have attended a number of the funerals out at Arlington. They are heroes. And you know something, Mr. Russert? Our responsibility to those fighting men and women is to get it right, to get the right policy. That is the best way to honor them. And when I hear the secretary of defense say this morning that he was somewhat puzzled by the level of the insurgency, the rise of the insurgency, I remember being on the Armed Services Committee when we listened to the generals that testified before that Armed Services Committee and they all predicted an insurgency.
General Hoar, a former Marine, said, "If we get into Iraq, we fight the Iraq, we will win and you will have an insurgency that'll make the last five, seven minutes of `Private Ryan' look like a church picnic." They were absolutely correct. This is what the problem is. We're making it up as we go along. We heard it this morning. We've got to establish a policy. We have to establish a plan in order to get the Americans out with honor. And that plan that I put forward, I think, can achieve it.
MR. RUSSERT: But do you still believe that the war is a fraud and was begun for political reasons?
SEN. KENNEDY: What I believe is that this administration took their eye off the ball in fighting against terror. It was al-Qaeda that saw the loss of American lives. It was Osama bin Laden that we had on the run in Afghanistan. We had him on the run, and we took our eye off that and we went to war that we never should have fought in Iraq. And I don't think--and the reasons that we fought the war were weapons of mass destruction and because the tie with al-Qaeda.
Now, we found there's no weapons of mass destruction. The 9-11 Commission said there's no tie-in with al-Qaeda. Now, we're talking about we're leaving Americans in there till we democratize the country. You talk about mission creep. When did that ever get--do you possibly think that the Senate of the United States would have ratified going to war because we just want a democracy? We have stood for democracy and we haven't gone to war. We saw the restoration of democracy in Chile when Pinochet collapsed. We saw it in Argentina. We saw it in Paraguay. We saw it come in South Africa and we didn't go to war.
A porta inferi.
Erue, Domine, animam ejus.
Requiescat in pace.