Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday mocked Republicans for seeking foreign policy advice from former Vice President Dick Cheney, and said Cheney's push to invade Iraq represents the biggest foreign policy mistake the U.S. has ever made — even though Reid himself voted for the war.
"There are people here in Congress who are taking advice from Dick Cheney," Reid said on the Senate floor. "He was here yesterday, and I think they better be very careful with the advice that they take from Dick Cheney."
"Dick Cheney is more responsible than anyone else for the worst foreign policy decision in the history of the country: the invasion of Iraq," Reid added.
Reid said he supports President Barack Obama's plan to use airstrikes and drones — but not ground troops — in an effort to rein in the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. And he said Cheney's advice would likely lead the U.S. back into a situation where it would commit ground troops to the Middle East again.
"He gave them advice on foreign policy. Please, please," Reid said. "Taking advice from Dick Cheney on foreign policy? That's a terrifying prospect."
"I'm amazed that some members of Congress want to rush to war," he said. "How did that work out for us last time? Not so well."
But while Reid blamed Cheney for "rushing into conflict," the Bush administration used the proper procedure of asking Congress for authorization. Bush's request passed the Democratic Senate in a 77-23 vote and passed 296-133 in the GOP House.
Reid also ignored the fact that he supported the Bush administration's request for authorization to fight in Iraq.
In contrast, Obama is considering stepped up airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, but he is not expected to seek congressional authorization for those moves. Obama is also expected to try arming and training Syrian opposition forces, which may or may not require authorization from Congress.
But Reid said he believes Obama already has the authority to take all of the steps that Obama will outline in an address to the nation Wednesday night.
Contrary to Reid's remarks, many Republicans have blamed the Obama administration for failing to negotiate a stay-behind force with Iraq to help keep the peace in that country while Iraqi security forces are trained.
Aside from Cheney, Reid had harsh words for the overall U.S. war effort in Iraq over the last decade. He said he does not believe the war in Iraq was "necessary," an argument that seemed designed to bolster his current position of not supporting the push by some Republicans to commit ground troops.
"Was that war necessary?" Reid asked of the first Iraq war. "In hindsight, it appears to me that it really wasn't."
"Not only have we lost thousands of American lives, it's destabilized the whole Middle East, and hundreds of thousands… of Iraqis have been killed," he added. "They're now dead."