July 01, 2003


The questions from Lateline’s Tony Jones were fairly typical and straighforward:

“President Bush ... argued that the weapons of mass destruction constituted a clear and present danger to the US, as yet there is no evidence of that. If there is in the end no evidence of that, will that undermine his specific case, the legal case that he made for the intervention?”

“Does it worry you at all the accusation that a small group inside the Pentagon known as the office of special plans manipulated intelligence information that went to the White House?”

Etc, etc. But the answers from interviewee Christopher Hitchens were, as usual, atypical and way interesting. Go read, or watch the video.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 1, 2003 01:19 PM

Tony Jones seems confused (my charitable description of any ABC presenter whose lips are moving). It was Bill Clinton who said "This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance." In 1998. (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec1998/n12171998_9812171.html)

Bush 43 has never, as far as I can tell, used that terminology. What he did say in his 2002 State of the Union address was:-

"Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option."

Posted by: Monica at July 1, 2003 at 05:40 PM

Tom Clancy had a book called Clear and Present Danger out in 1993.

I guess it's easy to confuse Pulp Novelists and American Presidents these days!

Posted by: Rex at July 1, 2003 at 06:14 PM

Huh? The phrase "clear and present danger" originates from a court case that established limits on the freedom of speech: "Words which, ordinarily and in many places, would be within the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment may become subject to prohibition when of such a nature and used in such circumstances a to create a *clear and present danger* that they will bring about the substantive evils which Congress has a right to prevent." (Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 1919.)

Posted by: Michael S. at July 1, 2003 at 06:45 PM

I am astonished that, a few months ago, the Bush-bashers were beating up President Bush for promoting a new policy of preemptive war that did NOT rely on an "imminent" danger as casus belli. Now, after having bitched at the President for not claiming that Saddam was an imminent danger, the very same people are saying he lied when he claimed that Saddam was an imminent danger.

Good thing that non-liberal media is all over the contradictions and dishonesty of the Bush-bashers, eh?

Posted by: T. Hartin at July 2, 2003 at 06:50 AM

After Hitchens outlined the solid case for the action against the regime, Tony Jones reiterates the blithering communbard line, but the legals.

It is time to scrap the ABC for it is run by and for grubstreet communistas.

(Liberation from Fat Aunty Front).

Posted by: d at July 2, 2003 at 11:33 AM