FACT CHECK: Lieberman Skipping Key Iraq Votes Since the War Began

05/25/2011 11:55 am ET
  • David Sirota Newspaper columnist, radio host (AM760), bestselling author

Eighteen years ago, Joe Lieberman ran for the U.S. Senate on a campaign that focused almost exclusively on attacking his opponent's voting attendance record in the U.S. Senate. Lieberman piously hammered away at Lowell Weicker for supposedly missing votes on critical issues. But now, 18 years later, a look at Lieberman's record shows he has been skipping votes on the most pressing issues of the day. That includes skipping critical votes on the Iraq War, even when he's in Washington. Just last week, Lieberman skipped two critical votes on Iraq legislation, despite being in Washington and attending votes on other legislation. When asked why he skipped the votes, his campaign dismissed Iraq votes as just "procedural votes" - when in fact, they were anything but. Now, as a new fact sheet from Ned Lamont's campaign shows, Lieberman hasn't just been skipping recent Iraq votes - he's been skipping Iraq votes since the war began.

That's right, Lieberman has skipped a huge amount of Iraq votes on all sorts of key issues. For instance, he was the only U.S. Senator to skip a close vote on bipartisan legislation to urge President Bush to better engage America's international allies to help bear the military and financial cost of the war. He was also the only senator to skip a close vote on a bill that would have created a federal agency overseeing Iraq reconstruction money so as to prevent war profiteering. He even skipped a vote on legislation sponsored by his Connecticut colleague Sen. Chris Dodd (D) that would have provided additional emergency funding for safety equipment such as body armor for troops serving in Iraq.

Lieberman yesterday publicly dismissed last week's explosive Senate report detailing the Bush administration's brazen manipulation of pre-war intelligence. Despite using the WMD case as his justification for supporting the war, Lieberman yesterday disparaged the damning report as just something of "historical interest" and tried to change the subject by saying he's "focused on the fact that al-Qaida is [in Iraq] now." But "when asked if the decision to go to war with Iraq had a bearing on members of al-Qaida now operating in that country, Lieberman said: 'I'm not going to get into that today'" and then was "hustled away by aides." That's no wonder that Lieberman doesn't want to talk about this issue, hold the Bush administration accountable for misleading the country to war, or get to the bottom of how to prevent such intelligence manipulation in the future - he skipped the key Senate vote to create an independent commission to investigate pre-war intelligence, thus allowing the administration and the GOP to control the investigation through a White House panel and Republican-controlled Senate committee.

Lieberman's skipping votes goes way beyond him just making contradictory statements about Iraq, and cuts to a more fundamental issue: Lieberman's willingness to even bear the most minimum responsibilities of his job when it comes to the most critical life-and-death issues like war. He hasn't skipped just one or two votes. He's skipped a huge amount of the votes the U.S. Senate has deliberated on the Iraq War - with many of those votes being quite close. Check out the full fact sheet here - and be ready to be appalled.

(DISCLOSURE: I have long been a volunteer supporter of Ned Lamont's candidacy and written extensively about the race. As of Labor Day, I am officially working with the Lamont for Senate campaign on research. The writing on this blog is my own, and not the official work I do for the Lamont campaign.)