In the second presidential debate, Senator Kerry chastised the President for failing to adequately consult with the UN Security Council prior to action in Iraq--something he claims to have done:
"This president hasn’t listened. I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them, to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable," Mr. Kerry said of the Iraqi dictator. (emphasis added.)
In December 2003, the Washington Times reports that he made a similar statement to the Council on Foreign Relations, in which he explained that he understood the "real readiness" of the United Nations to "take this seriously" because he met "with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein." (emphasis added.)
Joel Mowbray of the Washington Times reports this morning that UN officials are disputing Kerry’s claim that he met with the entire security council:
An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred. . . . [O]f the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries’ U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either.
Equally damning, a U.N. spokesman said that "our office does not have any record of this meeting." Of course, Kerry did meet with the French representative to the UN (shocking!), but his statements reported by the Times do not help Mr. Kerry:
Jean-David Levitte, then France’s chief U.N. representative and now his country’s ambassador to the United States, said through a spokeswoman that Mr. Kerry did not have a single group meeting as the senator has described, but rather several one-on-one or small-group encounters.
He added that Mr. Kerry did not meet with every member of the Security Council, only "some" of them. Mr. Levitte could only name himself and Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of Britain as the Security Council members with whom Mr. Kerry had met.
Some will inevitably suggest that this was a mild exaggeration or a misstatement to be ignored. But aside from going to Kerry’s honesty, which had been questioned in this campaign, it also goes to the heart of Kerry’s claims against Bush. Kerry does not appear to have disputed that Bush spoke with select representatives from the UN, such as Britain. Kerry’s complaint was that Bush failed to adequately consult (or, bow deeply) to the full Security Council. But now we learn that Kerry did not do so either. He went and talked to a few of his friends--notably the French--and construed that as sufficient consultation. We again see that for Kerry, the sine qua non of multilateralism is appeasing Old Europe. This is why the facts underlying the gaffe, or to use the language of Democrats--the fact that KERRY LIED!--is important. Hat tip to Powerline.