WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Wednesday that he deeply regretted his vote to go to war with Iraq in 2003.
"Do you know how I feel about that?" Reid asked during a sit-down interview in his office with The Huffington Post. "I'm sure this is no big surprise," he said, pausing for ten seconds before continuing in a muted voice: "What a mistake."
"I should never have voted for that," Reid went on. "But I accepted what [former Secretary of State] Colin Powell and the others said. But it took me just a matter of a few months to realize it was a bad mistake, and my record speaks for itself. I've spoken out against what was going on, not once, not twice, but lots of times. And I'm sorry that I was misled, but I was, and it was a mistake for me to vote for that war."
Back in 2003, Reid was among several high-profile Senate Democrats who voted for the authorization of force in Iraq, a vote which gave the war effort the imprimatur of bipartisan support. That vote was used against him as his criticism of the war ramped up during the Bush years. When he took to the floor this Wednesday to criticize the neoconservative voices who were calling for President Barack Obama to engage more forcefully in the country, as it grapples with an extremist-fueled insurgency, conservative critics raised it once more.
Along with other congressional leaders, Reid went to the White House Wednesday for a meeting on a way forward in the ravaged country. Speaking hours beforehand, he said he would discuss proposals for potential U.S. airstrikes to help beat back an insurgency that has swept across northern Iraq, threatening Baghdad itself. But he insisted that he would firmly oppose any U.S. military involvement that included soldiers re-entering the country
"As far as I'm concerned there shouldn't be a single boot on the ground," Reid said. "There's enough American blood in Iraq that lasts forever."
The majority leader said that should the Obama administration ultimately decide otherwise, or choose to ramp up an air campaign to help deal with the insurgency in Iraq, it would not have to come to Congress to get approval.
"I don't think there needs to be any more authorization," he said. "I think there has been sufficient authorization."
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