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updated 1/27/2004 3:05:18 PM ET 2004-01-27T20:05:18

As chief weapons inspector David Kay steps down saying he “does not think weapons of mass destruction exist in Iraq,”  it‘s time for a new explanation and justification for the war.  Bottom line, the prewar intelligence was wrong and now we‘re entitled to know why.  As I‘ve said before, that does not necessarily mean the war wasn‘t justified.  It does mean we need something beyond “the world is a safer place without Saddam Hussein in power.” 

That‘s become the common refrain from Attorney General Ashcroft even to Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman.  And yet, that‘s not a good enough answer for people like me who supported the war based on the threat the weapons supposedly posed to the United States and the world.  Yes, Saddam was a tyrant, but I think we‘re entitled to know why eliminating this tyrant as opposed to others was worth well over 500 American lives, thousands more wounded and many billions of taxpayer dollars. 

Who was responsible for the faulty information?  Did the White House shape any intelligence to support its arguments?  The president himself has to give us a straight account. 

There are other possible justifications for this war:  Repeated U.N. violations, the mistreatment of his people and his neighbors, and even the idea that a message has been sent to other tyrants around the world.  But so far, various government officials have offered piecemeal and sometimes conflicting explanations.  And with no weapons of mass destruction found and no major link to al Qaeda, it‘s time for an update as to why the cost to this country have been worth it for this country.  I‘m not looking for an apology.  I‘m looking for candor.

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