A handful of politicians have publicly repented for their 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq War, but few as forcefully as Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) did last week.
“I did not do what I should have done to read and find out whether Bush was telling us the truth about Saddam being responsible for 9/11 and having weapons of mass destruction,” Jones said during an interview on The Tyler Cralle Show.
“Because I did not do my job then,” Jones continued, “I helped kill 4,000 Americans, and I will go to my grave regretting that.”
Listen to it (relevant portion at 23:00):
Jones was one of 297 congressman and 77 senators who voted to authorize the Iraq War in October 2002. He was such a staunch supporter, initially, that he led the effort to rename french fries as “freedom fries” in congressional cafeterias after France came out in opposition to the war.
However, by 2005, Jones was one of the first GOPers to recant his earlier support for the war, blaming faulty intelligence and demanding that the Bush administration apologize. The North Carolina congressman has been one of the war’s fiercest critics in Congress since.
Jones’ recent comments came as he weighs a congressional resolution to support or oppose the Iranian nuclear deal. The ten-term congressman said he was currently undecided, but drew a link between the Iran vote and the Iraq vote he now regrets, telling Cralle that “I’m gonna make my decision before I go back [from the August recess] but I’m gonna carefully, because I did not do what I should have done” in 2002.
Most politicians are unable to muster the level of candor that Jones showed. For example, GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said in May that, knowing what he knows now, he still would have authorized the Iraq War. A few days later, he reconsidered and declared “I would not have gone into Iraq,” but now argues that the real mistake was Obama’s decision to end the war in 2011.