On today’s Democracy Now! (audio, high quality audio, video, high resolution video), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) was interviewed and he is up for re-election. Contrary to what Amy Goodman says repeatedly on her show, transcripts of DN! segments are not always available online (some, like this interview, are only partially there and some are missing entirely). I’ve transcribed the following from the audio recording available on archive.org.
Gov. Richardson won’t criticize the invasion in any substantive way, and he supports the Iraqi sanctions that killed millions of Iraqis; he joins former Secretary Madeleine Albright that the death of half a million children was “worth it”:
Leslie Stahl: We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Secretary Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.
Gov. Richardson’s interview starts at 47 minutes 32 seconds into the show:
Amy Goodman: Cindy Sheehan has been going around the country speaking out, she lost her son Casey in the war. You are the first Governor to have your state, New Mexico, provide life insurance for national guardsmen on active duty. But I didn’t want to ask about that. I wanted to ask: as she travels leading up to the big anti-war protest that will take place in Washington D.C. on Saturday, on the 24th, she came through New York. And there she was fiercely critical of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her authorization of war, standing with the President to authorize the invasion. What are your thoughts about that? She’s saying Democrats enabled this as well as Republicans, it was not just President Bush.
Gov. Bill Richardson: Well, look, I believe that Senator Clinton has a sound policy on Iraq, I believe that she is calling for an exit strategy, for a sensible policy. You know, I want to tell you that in those days when there was information about weapons of mass destruction, when there was information about Saddam Hussein and his very tortuous activities with his own people, I could have seen a senator taking the vote that he or she did. Right now, there is no link to Al-Qaida, there are no weapons of mass destruction, so in retrospect I believe that those votes taken but without the proper information may have not been the correct votes. I believe that the President should have met with Cindy Sheehan. She is somebody that lost a child, lost a son. This is why I provided health insurance—$250,000—because the death benefit was shameful. It’s $11,000. And I said our state is gonna step up and we’re gonna do $250,000 life insurance for every one of the New Mexico national guardsmen. But again, in retrospect, when you had bad intelligence, I can see how those senators voted the way they did.
Amy Goodman: But many say that although President Bush led this invasion, that President Clinton laid the groundwork with the sanctions and with the previous bombing of Iraq. You were President Clinton’s U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Gov. Richardson: Well, I stand behind that. I think the strikes that we made, the efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein, there were weapons of mass destruction, the sanctions were the correct policy. Was the correct policy to invade? That’s probably another question. But to think that Saddam Hussein was benevolent dictator in the best thing to do would be to ignore him, I think that would have been very very bad foreign policy because what we have in the area is potential threats to Israel, we’ve got Saddam Hussein who acknowledged that one of his objectives was to threaten not just U.S. interests but the surrounding countries. He went to war with Iran, he greviously violated human rights of thousands of people.
Amy Goodman: But the U.N. sanctions, for example, the sanctions led to the deaths of more than a half a million children, not to mention more a million of Iraqis.
Gov. Richardson: Well, I stand behind the sanctions. I believe that they successfully contained Saddam Hussein. I believe the sanctions were an instrument of our policy.
Amy Goodman: To ask a question that was asked of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright: Do you think the price was worth it? 500,000 children dead?
Gov. Richardson: Well, I believe our policy was correct. Yes.