During the Republican presidential debate last Thursday night, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee suggested that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, hid them like Easter eggs, and then secretly moved them to Jordan.
Today on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace pressed Huckabee to offer evidence to support this claim. “Governor, the Iraq Survey Group looked around Iraq for months after the invasion,” Wallace noted, and “could find no evidence that Saddam Hussein had an active program…Do you have any evidence of that contention?” Huckabee answered:
I don’t have any evidence. [Saddam] was the one who announced openly he had weapons of mass destruction. He’s the one who had used similar weapons in the past. Let’s remember that both Democrats and Republicans and our intelligence agencies believed that he had them.
My point was that, no, we didn’t find them. Did they get into Syria? Did they get into some remote area of Jordan? Did they go some other place? We don’t know. They may not have existed. But simply saying — we didn’t find them so therefore they didn’t exist — is a bit of an overreach.
Huckabee appears to view the lack of any evidence of Iraqi WMD as proof that they existed. CBS’s 60 Minutes reports tonight that Saddam led others to believe he had WMD because he “didn’t think the U.S. would invade Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction, so he kept the fact that he had none a secret to prevent an Iranian invasion he believed could happen.”
Huckabee defended Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, arguing that the President is like “the quarterback of the NFL team [that] didn’t get the winning play.” It’s easy to offer Monday morning criticism of him, but Bush “deserves credit for taking action” because it’s different when “you’ve been on the NFL field and you’ve taken a couple of hits from 300-pound linemen,” Huckabee explained.
UPDATE: On CNN’s Late Edition, Huckabee further defended his claims:
BLITZER: Well, do you believe that the president of the United States and the top national security advisers, the military commanders were all wrong when they now acknowledge there were no WMD under Saddam Hussein when the U.S. went into Iraq?
HUCKABEE: They all say they weren’t there when we went into Iraq. My point was, Saddam Hussein bragged that he had them. We know that he in the past had used them. So there have been weapons of mass destruction.
And I’m simply saying that because when we went in we didn’t find them, everybody wants to criticize the president and say, oh, the president lied to us. The president didn’t lie to us. The president acted on information that he had, that he believed, and intelligence services believed that they were weapons of mass destruction.
And Democrats in Congress believed it too, and that is why they voted with the president to go into Iraq. Did those weapons end up in Syria or some remote location in Jordan? I don’t know, may not. But for us to categorically say they never existed, that was my point. They didn’t exist when we got into Iraq, but that didn’t mean they never were there.