POLITICS
04/04/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Hagel: Bush Administration 'Certainly Misrepresented' Facts On Run-Up To War

Over the past year, Senator Chuck Hagel has not been shy about expressing his disillusionment with his own party. Having announced that he'll be foregoing a third term in the Senate, Hagel has been slow to support GOP nominee John McCain, and has recently penned a book titled America: Our Next Chapter, in which he espouses the idea of "an independent candidate for the presidency, or a bipartisan unity ticket."

On last night's edition of Hannity And Colmes Hagel allowed himself to express the full measure of his disaffection with the Republican Party without giving an inch on his conservative principles. His votes against the prescription drug bill and the No Child Left Behind act, he maintained were votes "against the real big government type programs." But it was his criticism of the Bush administration's war strategy that drew the harshest critique from Hagel. While Hagel remains unwilling to characterize Bush's pre-war positioning with the word "lie," it was clear that Hagel was familiar with many, many synonyms for that word:

COLMES: Senator, when the president said he would let the IAEA finish and didn't, did he lie to you?

HAGEL: Well, lie is a tough word. I have always tried to be responsible with my language. And I have never accused the president of lying. I would say this, that his administration certainly misrepresented, starting with the fact when we were told, many of us, including me, that this administration had not made a decision to go to war. At the time of the resolution vote in October of 2002, in fact, now we know that that is just not true.

COLMES: You don't want to use the word lie, that is a strong word. But that's what you are implying?

HAGEL: You can take any meaning out of that that you want, but I think -- almost six years now after this, we have a pretty clear record of what they said and what they didn't say.

Hagel saved his most unsparing language for Vice President Dick Cheney:

COLMES: You also say in the book that Dick Cheney cherry picked intelligence and used fear to promote war sloganeering. That's a pretty strong charge against him.

HAGEL: Well, he did. And if you recall the war speech that he gave the National VFW Convention in August of 2002, the day after that speech I called Colin Powell and I said to Colin Powell, what's going on? You are going to war? Powell said no, the president has made no decisions. I said that war speech that Cheney gave is very, very clear. Cheney was doing that all the lead up to the invasion.

Hagel concluded: "I don't think that they were direct and honest at all with what they were telling us versus the planning that was going on."