The Media’s Collective WMD Deception

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“Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don’t know exactly, and that’s the problem.”
-George W. Bush, Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct 7, 2002

In wake of ISIS possibly acquiring and using chemical weapons in Iraq (note: WSJ reported back in June of ISIS occupying the Al Muthanna complex, which was once Saddam Hussein’s premier chemical-weapons production facility) The NYTimes’ C.J. Chivers came out with a piece earlier this week that has reignited debate over the issue of Iraq WMD.

Chivers’ article that covers old munitions and the plight of OIF soldiers exposed to chemical weapons leakage, is not exactly new news. “Nothing found” is a lie, which much of mainstream belief has embraced due to the constant barrage of “No wmd found” and “Bush lied” slogans. It’s the reason why Karl Rove and the Bush White House mistakenly decided to move forward and talk about “nation-building” in Iraq rather than continue defending the original justifications, including the WMD reasoning.

A number of low-information voters are commenting, expressing anything from shock to “so Bush was right” and vindicated. This is similar to what happened in ’08 when the U.S. shipped yellowcake out of Iraq and into Canada. It was already declared stuff and known about, pre-‘o3 Invasion, under lock at Tuwaitha with a UN label. The progressive critics are pointing and laughing, wondering if these commenters actually bothered to read the article and not just a headline blurb about “chemical weapons found”. Chivers article demonstrates the power, reach, and influence of mainstream media. The only thing revelatory (at least for myself) is how these soldiers exposed to chemical weapons have not been receiving better care.

arc399

Glenn Kessler gives 4 pinocchios to anyone who claims that the New York Times story vindicates George W. Bush-era claims of Iraq WMD.

Foreign Policy Blog: Bush Defenders Say NYTimes Just Vindicated The Iraq Invasion

Vox: Iraq war supporters think they were just vindicated on Saddam’s WMDs. They’re wrong.

MSNBC: Conservatives continue to get Iraqi WMD story wrong

HuffPo: That NYT Story On Abandoned Munitions Doesn’t Prove Bush Was Right About WMDs

Mother Jones: No, There’s Still No Evidence There Was an Active WMD Program in Iraq

These are just a few examples of how the media in it’s snobbery has deluded its own self into a false narrative.

Patrick Brennan at the National Review Corner has the most balanced response to Chivers’ article:

The existence of these weapons doesn’t affect the debate over the war’s justification either way: They’re not evidence that Saddam Hussein was, as proponents of the war contended, in the process of resuming chemical-weapons production or starting other WMD programs. But on the other hand, as the existence of thousands of hidden or mislabeled chemical-weapons munitions reported in Chivers’s article could suggest, Saddam was clearly not complying with United Nations requirements about exposing and dismantling his chemical-weapons stores, which was the legal justification for the war.

Some of the munitions found in post-war Iraq were deliberately buried/hidden and not declared to UN weapons inspections. It doesn’t matter if these were pre-’90/’91 era- Saddam wasn’t supposed to still have these at all.

The simple question is: Did Saddam, in a 12 year span that involved 16 + 1 UNSCRs, ever come into full compliance of UNSCR 678, 687, and 1441 (1441 was not what was cited as legal justification for OIF)? The simple answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT! And it’s because of the feeble, toothless UN that Saddam felt emboldened to continue snubbing his nose at the international community for over a decade of deceit and defiance. Even when U.S. forces began massing upon his doorstep in preparation for Operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam did not believe President Bush and the American people had the will nor the gonads to risk casualties and commit to a ground invasion.

Whether or not WMD material- new or old- was shipped out of Iraq before/during Invasion, it was Saddam himself who perpetuated the belief, however accurate or inaccurate, that he was a WMD danger. Translated post-war documents bear this out; as well as Saddam Hussein’s own confessions to his FBI debriefer, George Piro.

Conducting an interview with Kevin Woods, the US Army officer who authored the Pentagon-funded study, The Iraqi Perspectives Project, relates part of what his research in translating post-war documents and interview of Iraqi officials found:

Woods and his team interviewed hundreds of former senior members of the Iraqi army and government, and were handed tapes of Iraqi government meetings, including meetings chaired by Saddam. It took them about five years to piece the story together. There’s too much of interest to cover here – you’ll have to buy the book – so I’ll focus on what Iraqi officials said to him about WMD.

Woods was surprised to find that many of the Iraqi officials had drawn the same conclusions about Iraq’s WMD as the West had done. Saddam constantly signalled that he was playing the West along when he denied he had WMD.

Woods asked the regime’s head of research into WMD whether he had ever thought it possible there was a secret WMD programme that even he didn’t know about. The official nodded. Yes, he had thought it a possibility. After all, he explained, the government was extremely compartmentalised and secretive, and everyone lied to everyone else. Only one man knew everything.

“Also”, he continued, “Your president said it was so!”. Iraqi officials had been impressed by Bush’s certainty, and thought of the CIA as an intelligence service of legendary prowess which wouldn’t make a mistake like this. (This raises the Heller-esque possibility that some Iraqis were telling Western intelligence that the WMDs existed because they believed Western intelligence when it said they existed).

Saddam had constructed a hall of mirrors into which everyone, including the West, had allowed themselves to be drawn into. When the U.S military turned up in Iraq and discovered no WMD, they were amazed. So were Iraqi officials – not so much because it turned out that Saddam had been bluffing, but because they couldn’t believe that Bush would be so stupid as to neglect to take the precaution of planting some WMDs on Iraqi soil, so that the Americans had at least something to “discover”. To their minds, it was incompetence of the highest order.

bush_wmd_cartoon.1

The WMD narrative has been shaped by media and opponents of the war into the belief that the sole war justification was in the assertion that Saddam had an active WMD program and the threat was imminent (In President Bush’s 2003 SotU speech, he warned that we must act before the threat becomes imminent; otherwise, we would have waited too long. Also note: Senator Rockefeller and Democratic Party presidential hopeful Howard Dean did make the assertion of “imminent threat”; and Senator Rockefeller in a Feb 2003 interview with Wolf Blitzer made an assertion that President Bush never made: Tying Saddam to OBL).

“The fact that Zarqawi certainly is related to the death of the U.S. aid officer and that he is very close to bin Laden puts at rest, in fairly dramatic terms, that there is at least a substantial connection between Saddam and al Qaeda.”
February 5, 2003
Speaking to Wolf Blitzer on CNN regarding the implications of al Zarqawi’s presence in Iraq before the war.

If one looks back to the original AUMF II that had full bipartisan support from Congress, it contained around 27 “whereas” clauses with only about 7 that pertained to wmd. If I remember correctly, it lists the word “terrorism” or “terrorists” 16 times in its justifications portion. In comparison, the word “weapon(s)”, as it relates to WMD, is used 15 times. That dreadful neocon Douglas Feith believed the case against Saddam was strong enough without the wmd emphasis. The CIA overestimated Saddam’s WMD status, due to no new intell after 1998 (kicked out weapons inspections); but they underestimated Saddam’s ties to Islamic terror/al Qaeda (Thanks to an incurious and politically partisan Paul Pillar and like-mindeds within the CIA who refused to turn over that rock and examine outside of their preconceived box).

As Douglas Feith writes, being the evil neocon that he is,

WAS the war in Iraq fought only to remove WMD stockpiles?
IN FACT:
Saddam’s pattern of aggression, defiance, and ties to terrorists were a major concern, made all the more serious by his programs of WMD development.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 distorted public discourse on the Iraq issue, focusing the debate narrowly on WMD disclosures and inspections-and therefore on whether the inspectors would find contraband stockpiles. And it ignored the logic of the rationale for regime change-that Saddam’s record of aggression was so long and so bloody as to be irredeemable. (p. 336)

Contrary to later claims by many commentators, President Bush did not build his case against Saddam exclusively on assertions that Iraq possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Not even the portion of his case that dealt with weapons of mass destruction focused only on stockpiles. (p. 311)

Saddam maintained connections to foreign terrorists. To some he gave refuge. Others he allowed to operate from Iraqi territory. He trained thousands of foreign terrorists in Iraqi facilities and provided them political support and funds. The CIA reported in September 2002 that “Iraq continues to be a safehaven, transit point, or operational node for groups and individuals who direct violence against the United States, Israel, and other allies. Iraq has a long history of supporting terrorism.” (p. 187)

With economic sanctions eroding, we anticipated that they would soon collapse and Saddam would emerge emboldened by his victory over the United States and the United Nations. Our main concern was not that Saddam would then attack the United States out of the blue. We worried rather that, in his effort to dominate the Persian Gulf and the broader Middle East, Saddam would aim to deter outside intervention by developing his conventional and WMD capabilities, along with the prohibited long-range missiles (or, possibly, terrorist alliances) to deliver them. (p. 514)

After weighing the risks of war against the risks of leaving Saddam in power, President Bush decided it was unreasonably risky to allow Saddam to choose the time and place for turning Iraq’s ongoing, low-level confrontation with the United States into a high-level conflict. (p. 515)

In dealing with the threat from Saddam Hussein, President Bush understood that he was responsible for calculating the risks of inaction as well as the risks of action. In the prewar deliberations on Iraq, he discussed both types of risk. The decision to go to war was controversial, and he knew he would be damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. He had to choose the course of action for which he would rather be damned by his contemporaries and by history. (p. 525-6)

The decision to remove an irredeemable regime from power- one that had defied its legal obligations to disarm for over a decade and was in materiel breech- had as much to do with history, capability, and intent as it did with actual possession of WMD stockpiles. And as we know from post-war findings by the Iraq Survey Group, Saddam clearly retained both the capability and the intentions to restart his dormant weapons programs as soon as sanctions were lifted (sanctions were eroding; you had countries like France, China, and Germany selling Saddam illegal materials and weapons; there was the Oil-for-Food scandal).

Douglas Feith on “nothing found”:

IS IT TRUE that “no WMD was found” in Iraq?
IN FACT:
The Iraq Survey Group found that Saddam Hussein retained both the intention and the capability to revive bio-chemical weapons programs after sanctions were ended.

The reports we had from U.S. intelligence officials on Iraqi WMD painted essentially the same picture that those officials had presented to the Clinton Administration. The CIA declared that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons stockpiles. The stockpiles catalogued by the UN weapons inspectors in 1999 were still unaccounted for, and were therefore presumed to exist. (p. 224)

[T]he Iraq Survey Group team concluded that Saddam had retained the ability to produce chemical and biological weapons rapidly (within a month or two). In the 1990s he had shut down factories dedicated solely to making such weapons, replacing them with “dual-use” facilities capable of producing both civilian products and chemical or biological weapons. That gave him deniability if inspections ever started up again, as Saddam evidently expected they would. (p. 327)

The Iraq Survey Group also found that Saddam had the intention to revive Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs once the sanctions were ended. He had preserved the necessary teams of technicians, who would be the key to reviving the programs quickly. (p. 327)

The public’s impression of the Duelfer Report on these matters was shaped by news media headlines to the effect that “nothing was found.” Those headlines were misleading (one might even say fundamentally false), because the ISG found substantial WMD capabilities in Iraq, including personnel, materiel, facilities, and intentions-but not the stockpiles of the weapons themselves. (p. 328)

In the end, there are only three possible explanations for the failure to find the WMD materiel that had been catalogued in detail by UNSCOM. Saddam might have destroyed it, he might have hidden it in Iraq, or he might have transferred it out of Iraq. To this day, we do not know for sure which explanation is correct. (p. 330)

The Iraq Survey Group confirmed that President Bush had grounds for viewing Iraq’s WMD capabilities as a compelling threat. The CIA’s unsupportable statements about Iraqi stockpiles and WMD activity did not justify critics in making unsupportable pronouncements of their own, to the effect that Saddam had no WMD ambitions or capabilities. (p. 330)

For those who have not read War and Decision, I highly recommend it- not just for partisan OIF and Bush defenders, but for serious historians on both sides of the argument. It is a good academic read with valuable endnotes and appendix, and insiders’ account.

Here is more from the Iraq Survey Group’s final report findings on chemical weapons programs.

The CIA’s 2004 Detailed Preliminary Assessment of Chemical Weapons Findings on chemical weapons.

One of the points I found of interest in Eli Lakes piece regarding Karl Rove as the “decider” in not defending wmd finds in Iraq and the original justification(s) for removing Saddam from power, is this:

One explanation for why the White House was not interested was so as not to tip off Sunni insurgents in Iraq. As The New York Times reported this week, some of the main areas in Iraq used to store chemical weapons are in areas now controlled by ISIS.

Wurmser said that in 2004 and 2005 “chemical-weapons shells began turning up in arms markets in Iraq in small numbers, but eventually in batches of 100 or so.” He said that when he asked the U.S. intelligence community to go public with the information, they “quite properly asked it be kept quiet until they track down the source of the weapons so that they can secure it and not tip off Sunni insurgents to go and retrieve them themselves.”

Eventually, Wurmser said, Sunni insurgent groups did gain access to the shells in 2005. “There were to my memory at least two attacks on our soldiers using chemical weapons-rigged shells as [improvised explosive devices]. Fortunately, they were ineffectively weaponized and soldiers were wounded but not killed.”

Wurmser, however, grew more frustrated over time. “After waiting a year—during which we asked that the source of the batches be traced and followed to the location where the shells were being retrieved—we continued to see the trickle, but then discovered nobody was making any effort to track the source to the location of retrieval,” he said. “Instead, we were continuing to try to buy up some of the stuff in the market.”

After the U.S. found thousands of the old chemical-weapons shells, Wurmser and others at one point argued that they had an obligation to declare the stocks of chemical weapons under the Chemical Weapons Convention and destroy them. The United States was, after all, the occupier of Iraq and had assumed the country’s sovereign responsibilities as a signatory to the convention.

Similarly, it’s for security concerns that the yellowcake uranium at Tuwaitha was not commonly known; and when the AP reported the movement of uranium from Iraq to Canada, that bit of news came as a surprise to some in the mainstream, misleading people into the belief that this was evidence of an active nuclear weapons program in Saddam’s Iraq. It was not.

The details of the transaction have been kept secret. By the time the AP reported the incident, the mission had already been underway for months. In a July 7 press conference, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that the secrecy was due to “security concerns.” U.S. officials worried the uranium might end up in the wrong hands if kept in an unstable region like the Middle East.

Randall Hoven with a good analysis of the story’s significance at American Thinker, at the time.

14 Responses to “The Media’s Collective WMD Deception”

  1. 1

    Nanny G

    Why is it that our own Homeland Security Dept pays attention to certain fertilizer purchases?
    It is because some fertilizers are dual-use chemicals.
    1/2 of a bomb can be made from fertilizer.
    The Oklahoma City bombing at the Muir Building was based on fertilizer.
    Now….

    [T]he Iraq Survey Group team concluded that Saddam had retained the ability to produce chemical and biological weapons rapidly (within a month or two). In the 1990s he had shut down factories dedicated solely to making such weapons, replacing them with “dual-use” facilities capable of producing both civilian products and chemical or biological weapons. That gave him deniability if inspections ever started up again, as Saddam evidently expected they would. (p. 327)

    At several points during our fighting in Iraq 1/2 of dual-use bomb-making materials were found in canisters hidden in desert caches.
    If they had been purchased for their civilian purpose, there would have been no reason to hide them in holes in the deserts.
    However, Bush-haters looked at their chemical make-up and declared them civilian products.
    They had to ignore their context: that they were secreted away.

    IIRC many chemical weapons have a short half-life and must not be kept in final form, but rather put together only shortly before use.
    Maybe this only applies to some chemical weapons.

  2. 2

    Larry+Weisenthal

    As I’ve always said, I’ll seriously consider the proposition that Iraq did, indeed, have the type of WMD which were used as justification for the Iraq War when George W. Bush, himself, asserts that this was the case. As it is, three times while George W Bush was still in office, including during his “exit interview,” in January, 2009, GWB stated that the erroneous impression that Saddam Hussein did, indeed, have the type of WMD used to justify the invasion was owing to “Bad Intelligence.” He also readily concedes the non-existence of those WMD in his autobiography “Decision Points.”

    The Iraq War was sold on the basis of an active nuclear weapons program and an active biological weapons program and not on the basis of the continued existence of rusting cannisters of mustard gas, left over from the Iraq/Iran War, which Saddam may even have obtained with the collusion of the Reagan administration.

    But I’m willing to have another look at the situation the day that George W Bush claims vindication, which he, himself, who is most in a position to know, never has.

    – Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

  3. 4

    another+vet

    Excellent post as usual based on historical facts as opposed to leftist revisionist history. I have no problem with those who opposed the war because they simply thought it was a bad idea regardless of WMD or terrorist ties etc. Hell, historians are still arguing over whether or not the War of 1812 was a good idea. War shouldn’t be taken lightly. I even have conservative friends with whom I agree with on every other issue and who believe Saddam was guilty on all the charges against him including that he had newer WMD and moved it, but who still thought going in there was a bad idea. However once we went into harm’s way, unlike the left and their Party (D), they supported us and didn’t try to undermine the mission. My issue is with those who persist in badmouthing the war based on lies such as Saddam didn’t have WMD or that WMD was the reason we went to war as well as the Durbins etc. who bashed those serving and who underminded the mission. They are traitors whom I will NEVER respect or forgive.

  4. 5

    John

    Of course he HAD. Workable Chem weapons at one time and we knew it we knew it because we sold him the designs sold him the chemicals and we KEPT THE RECEIPTS
    This was also stated in that NYT piece
    Iran spent decades with a huge infrastructure and has no nuke weapon you can’t build one in a small hidden factory it takes a tremendous amount of electrical energy to make one
    The Saddam chem weapons were hastily hidden with no thought of doing so in a way that would have allowed their use as designed
    AND DONT FORGET WE HELPED HIM BUILD THOSE WEAPONS AND REAGAN WAS POTUS he also of course gave billions to the radical Muslims fighting the russkies

  5. 6

    John

    The Iraq war was a stupid idea and you can’t fix stupid
    As for “traitors” I can never respect or honor those Americans who lied through their teeth to get Americans to support that warA stupid war that cost 5000 dead 30000 seriously wounded (1200 with serious genital wounds from IEDs ) over 40% of deployed combat troops are claiming permanent disability before discharge
    That is a tremendous cost for “Bad intelligence ”
    A much higher cost than we are paying for ” bad intelligence ” about the strength if ISIS
    Does ANYONE Seriously think that the costs of Iraq were justified by the national interests of the USA. ?

  6. 7

    Mullly

    @John:

    The VP of the united states, the secretary of state and the former secretary of state all voted it for. Oh and Obama picked them all to be on his team. Does stupid come to mind here too for you?

  7. 8

    Wordsmith

    editor

    @Larry+Weisenthal:

    GWB stated that the erroneous impression that Saddam Hussein did, indeed, have the type of WMD used to justify the invasion was owing to “Bad Intelligence.” He also readily concedes the non-existence of those WMD in his autobiography “Decision Points.”

    In Decision Points, he also stands by the decision of removing Saddam from power

    The other error was the intelligence failure on Iraq’s WMD. Almost a decade later, it is hard to describe how widespread an assumption it was that Saddam had WMD. Supporters of the war believed it; opponents of the war believed it; even members of Saddam’s own regime believed it. We all knew that intelligence is never 100 percent certain; that’s the nature of the business. But I believed that the intelligence on Iraq’s WMD was solid. If Saddam didn’t have WMD, why wouldn’t he just prove it to the inspectors? Every psychological profile I had read told me Saddam was a survivor. If he cared so much about staying in power, why would he gamble his regime by pretending to have WMD?

    Decision Points, Pg 269

    We all know the answer to that, now, and George Bush goes on to mention it.

    And as someone who places great stock in loyalty (to a fault) and never one to throw anyone under a bus, Bush writes:

    I decided early on that I would not criticize the hardworking patriots at the CIA for the faulty intelligence on Iraq. I did not want to repeat the nasty finger-pointing investigations that devastated the morale of the intelligence community in the 1970s. But I did want to know why the information I received was wrong and how we could prevent a similar mistake in the future.

    Decision Points, Pg 269

    However, a president’s decision-making is, to an extent, only as good as the information he is receiving.

    Larry wrote:

    The Iraq War was sold on the basis of an active nuclear weapons program and an active biological weapons program

    Bob Woodward (no right-winger), Plan of Attack, pg 249-50:

    Bush turned to Tenet. “I’ve been told all this intelligence about having WMD and this is the best we’ve got?”

    From the end of one of the couches in the Oval Office, Tenet rose up, threw his arms in the air. “It’s a slam dunk case!” the DCI said.

    Bush pressed. “George, how confident are you?”

    Tenet, a basketball fan who attended as many home games of his alma mater Georgetown as possible, leaned forward and threw his arms up again. “Don’t worry, it’s a slam dunk!”

    It was unusual for Tenet to be so certain. From McLaughlin’s presentation, Card was worried that there might be no “there there,” but Tenet’s double reassurance on the slam dunk was both memorable and comforting. Cheney could think of no reason to question Tenet’s assertion. He was, after all, the head of the CIA and would know the most. The president recalled that McLaughlin’s presentation “wouldn’t have stood the test of time,” but Tenet’s reassurance, “That was very important.”

    ~~~

    The president told Tenet several times, “Make sure no one stretches to make our case.”

    Now, to be fair to Tenet, in his memoir, he recalls not having such a “seminal” moment as “slam dunk” (pg 479-81, At the Center of the Storm. Also pg 365-7). He admits that the CIA was wrong in its beliefs about WMD estimates, presented to the president. But believes himself to be the fall guy, in some WH-insider feeding Woodward the “slam dunk” scene description. Dick Cheney, in his memoir, In My Time, pg 395, also tells the “slam dunk” story. At the time, the Administration had already achieved AUMF II and UNSCR 1441, btw.

    I believe Tenet to be right on one point: That the decision to invade Iraq didn’t hinge on his purported “slam dunk” moment of assertion. I’m also one of those who, like Feith, believes the case built around ousting Saddam Hussein was solid around so much more than just active WMD stockpile possession.

    Condoleeza Rice in her book, No Higher Honor, pg 198, mentions

    The NSC Principals, all experienced people, read the NIE cover to cover, and George Tenet repeatedly assured us of his own judgment that the intelligence was sound.

    But what should have anchored the argument was the problem of WMD in the hands of Saddam, not just the problem of WMD per se. In fact, Senator Robert Bennett of Utah reminded me that I had told a group of legislators exactly that. Russia had many times the number of WMD that Saddam was thought to possess, but there wasn’t much worry about Moscow using it or passing it on to terrorists. Saddam was a unique threat on both counts.

    Pg 200 goes on to make mention of the “slam dunk” quote; but says she

    didn’t take it as anything more than that [meaning, the intelligence was strong-ws], but the President asked me to review the intelligence one more time.

    Larry wrote:

    and not on the basis of the continued existence of rusting cannisters of mustard gas, left over from the Iraq/Iran War,

    Citing UNSCRs 678 and 687 as part of the legal justification for war, pre-’91 degrading munitions might not be sufficient reasoning to drum up popular support; but the point is, the undeclared munitions and equipment found is stuff Saddam wasn’t supposed to have at all, as per Cease-Fire Agreement.

    which Saddam may even have obtained with the collusion of the Reagan administration.

    I would really like to know the truth behind this.

    There’s quite a bit of supposition floating around; and I believe much of it distorted and exaggerated (similar to “US created OBL/funded al Qaeda/Taliban against the Soviets, created ISIS today, created Saddam, etc.)

    Even the NYTimes piece is misleading when it talks about American companies, “western companies”, U.S. munition design while also noting those munitions being “manufactured” by European companies. It all leads critics into the belief that the U.S. funded/trained/created the very people we now are fighting. That we are responsible for our own Frankenstein monster.

    There might be some truth in some of that; but I am also of the mind that it is necessary to do what needs to be done in the present- that action is sometimes better than inaction. It was right that we allied ourselves with Stalin against a common enemy, despite fighting a Cold War for the next 50 years. It made sense to give limited help to Saddam (how much aid we gave him is highly exaggerated) against a theocratic Iran that turned hostile to the U.S.- including 52+ American hostages taken- after a pro-American less-than-perfect ally in the Shah was overthrown. It was right to support Afghans mujahadeen against Soviet aggression when it mattered. We did not support the Taliban. We did not fund OBL. Some of these same mujahadeen whom we did support went on to fight the Taliban. Alliances are never permanent, anyway. Because we may become enemies in the future does not invalidate our temporary alliance and friendship in the present, for short-term goals and mutual interests.

    @drjohn:

    You do a good job with this.

    Was that directed to me, or to Larry? 🙂

    @another+vet:

    Excellent post as usual based on historical facts as opposed to leftist revisionist history.

    Thank you.

    I understand perfectly your points regarding good reasons as to why we should and should not have taken care of Iraq; but that once that decision had been made, we should have done everything we can do, as a people, to insure success and the best possible outcome. I, too, believe that some of the opposition to the war effort after it was taking place, made the job of our military and our country, much more difficult.

    @John:

    Workable Chem weapons at one time and we knew it we knew it because we sold him the designs sold him the chemicals and we KEPT THE RECEIPTS
    This was also stated in that NYT piece
    Iran spent decades with a huge infrastructure and has no nuke weapon you can’t build one in a small hidden factory it takes a tremendous amount of electrical energy to make one
    The Saddam chem weapons were hastily hidden with no thought of doing so in a way that would have allowed their use as designed
    AND DONT FORGET WE HELPED HIM BUILD THOSE WEAPONS AND REAGAN WAS POTUS he also of course gave billions to the radical Muslims fighting the russkies

    Read my address to Larry.

    Claiming American companies who sold ingredients is not the same as the charge that the U.S. government gave/sold Saddam chemical weapons. I think it is important to separate the facts from the fiction and am interested in looking more into this. I have the links saved to the documents that the NYTimes piece cites, as well as other stuff gathered. Will look them over more thoroughly when I have time.

  8. 9

    Larry+Weisenthal

    Hi Wordsmith, I have never claimed that “Bush lied” about the WMD. That’s not the point. He repeatedly used the term “bad intelligence” to describe how/why virtually everyone was fooled. I will state that I argued against the invasion prior to the run up to war in the winter of 2003 (on alt.politics.usa.republican and elsewhere) and I even stated, right before the invasion, that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the hunt for the alleged WMD turned out the same way as the famous Geraldo Rivera “Al Capone’s vaults” debacle. Just some empty bottles, covered with dirt. So forgive my (human) inability to resist saying “I told you so.”

    What I blamed Bush for — at the time — was the way that he and his speechwriters manipulated public opinion by creating the false impression that Saddam Hussein was complicit in 9/11. Every single speech he gave about Saddam, in the run up to war, included numerous references to the events of 9/11. “Saddam Hussein”/”9/11” got juxtaposed again and again. So much so that, by the time of the invasion, fully 70% of the American public thought that Saddam Hussein was complicit in 9/11. The President never came right out and said this, but it was obvious to me that he was trying to foster the impression of Saddam’s complicity, to greatly strengthen the case for invasion.

    I argued (as did the UN weapons inspectors) that the presence of weapons inspectors would make it impossible for Saddam to ever have a functioning WMD program. The inspectors were doing their job and there was absolutely no reason whatsoever to interrupt this process for a false emergency. The WMD argument, by itself, wouldn’t have “sold” the American public so strongly on the necessity of removing Saddam from power, without the linkage of Saddam to 9/11. To the extent that there is any truth at all to the charge that “Bush lied/people died,” that’s what the lie was. The false linkage of Saddam to 9/11. Not the phantom WMD, which wasn’t an intentional effort to mislead, but was simply an honest mistake, based on “bad intelligence.”

    Yes, the intelligence community believed that Saddam had an active WMD program. No, there was never once any urgency to invade Iraq, save for the fact that Bush had a narrow window of opportunity, based on a combination of a false impression of Saddam’s involvement in 9/11, a temporary UN mandate, based on the belief of the reality of the WMD, and also the unfinished job of the weapons inspectors, which left open the door to the possibility that those WMD did, in fact exist. With additional time — time dearly wanted by the UN inspections team — the issue would have been further clarified. But that would have eliminated the chance to do what the administration wanted — and anyone who claims that we’d have invaded Iraq had Iraq not had its immense oil reserves is treating his audience as if they/we are fools.

    As far as the rusting canisters of mustard gas, Iraq had thousands of those. Safe disposal is very difficult and expensive. Those shells were not in some central storage facility, but scattered all over the country. The fact that many of them survive to this day can’t be used to support that concept that the “bad intelligence” was really correct after all. Absolutely no one is trying to make that case, save for die hard internet bloggers and certain talk radio-type talking heads. As I keep saying, I’ll seriously re-consider the proposition the day when President Bush, himself, tries to make this case.

    – Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

  9. 10

    Wordsmith

    editor

    @Larry+Weisenthal:

    Hi Wordsmith,

    Hi Larry! *Waves*

    I have never claimed that “Bush lied” about the WMD. That’s not the point.

    It is the point to many of the BDS-afflicted. Did I insinuate or say somewhere that you yourself have made the claim? This post is aimed at a larger, broader audience.

    He repeatedly used the term “bad intelligence” to describe how/why virtually everyone was fooled. I will state that I argued against the invasion prior to the run up to war in the winter of 2003 (on alt.politics.usa.republican and elsewhere) and I even stated, right before the invasion, that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the hunt for the alleged WMD turned out the same way as the famous Geraldo Rivera “Al Capone’s vaults” debacle. Just some empty bottles, covered with dirt. So forgive my (human) inability to resist saying “I told you so.”

    You can say it. I know you’ve said it in past posts, as well. You have those bragging rights. But the possibility that they might not find what they believed Saddam to be hiding was noted by the Administration. Again:

    “Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don’t know exactly, and that’s the problem.”
    -George W. Bush, Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct 7, 2002

    Donald Rumsfeld’s Parade of Horribles- a list of worst case scenarios of what could go wrong in Iraq, also predicted the possibility of no wmd:

    * “US could fail to find WMD on the ground in Iraq and be unpersuasive to the world.”

    Given that Saddam was the source of deception and the whole business of intelligence a guess-work, it was ever a gamble; but one which, based upon the circumstantial evidence, was a sound decision to make. To not believe Saddam was not an active wmd danger is to be the cherry-picker- not the other way around. Every government in the world, including those who opposed OIF, believed Saddam to be in possession of WMD. After all, he behaved like a wmd-loving dictator with something to hide for well over a decade.

    What I blamed Bush for — at the time — was the way that he and his speechwriters manipulated public opinion by creating the false impression that Saddam Hussein was complicit in 9/11. Every single speech he gave about Saddam, in the run up to war, included numerous references to the events of 9/11. “Saddam Hussein”/”9/11″ got juxtaposed again and again. So much so that, by the time of the invasion, fully 70% of the American public thought that Saddam Hussein was complicit in 9/11. The President never came right out and said this, but it was obvious to me that he was trying to foster the impression of Saddam’s complicity, to greatly strengthen the case for invasion.

    And it was obvious to me that the link between Saddam’s Iraq and the GWoT was that Saddam was steep deep linked with terrorism; and he made no secrets about his love and desire for WMD, based upon past history and present behavior. As you well know, I’ve covered this point extensively and rather thoroughly in a highlighted blogpost. It is worth the revisit.

    I do believe, though, that the Administration, throughout its term, had a communication problem. But I do not believe they “manipulated” public impressions in a devious manner. It’s not like “If you want to keep your Iraq/9-11 linkage, you can keep your Iraq/9-11 linkage.” In one of those responses (I think it was the later one, in 2006) where a press reporter asks President Bush what did Saddam have to do with 9/11, you can hear the exasperation in the President’s voice when he responds. I too had the, “Why do you guys keep perpetuating the strawman?” feeling of exasperation. And of course the next day’s headlines are, “BUSH ADMITS IRAQ HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11” when he never said that EVER to begin with!

    I argued (as did the UN weapons inspectors) that the presence of weapons inspectors would make it impossible for Saddam to ever have a functioning WMD program. The inspectors were doing their job and there was absolutely no reason whatsoever to interrupt this process for a false emergency.

    I absolutely disagree.

    Much of what the Bush Administration cited from came from the UN inspections themselves. But UN inspections weren’t catching everything. And that was a big part of the worry.

    Neither UNSCOM nor UMOVIC (a weaker incarnation with reduced access power in order to be allowed back in after they were kicked out in ’98) were meant to be weapons hunters. The ultimate goal was to disarm Iraq (as required in 687). Not inspect in a game of hide-and-seek. Yet over the years, Saddam was appeased to the point where the burden of proof was put upon the UN rather than Saddam. He impeded their work, gave false information, blocked their movements, restricted access. In 1991, the IAEA was days away from declaring that Iraq did not have a nuclear program. That turned out not to be true and was only discovered by accident. So how can you claim “inspections were working”?

    In 1995, Saddam’s son-in-law defected and provided information to UNSCOM, IAEA, and foreign intelligence agencies regarding Saddam’s WMD programs. Iraqi officials later admitted they had hidden more than 100,000 gallons of botulinum toxin, more than 22,000 gallons of anthrax, more than 500 gallons of aflatoxin, four metric tons of VX nerve gas, and 2.7 gallons of ricin. How could UNSCOM have missed this stuff?

    UNSCOM had mixed success. When it was kicked out in 1998, its final report listed large quantities of chemical and biological weapons material that Iraq had not shown to be destroyed.

    You seem to expect the UN weapons inspections to bat a perfect game; because a less-than-perfect game means Saddam acquiring WMD-ready status. And we know from the post-war reports that he never gave up trying; he never gave up intent nor capabilities. He was wearing down sanctions; still deceiving UN inspectors up to the last. And you think UN inspections were working? Slowing him down, maybe. But that’s about it.

    It’s because of this constant “game” of threats and non-serious consequences that Saddam didn’t take George Bush seriously, that he would commit to an actual ground invasion, that Saddam never would fully disarm and come into compliance with the UN mandates. You seem to want to have kept gambling on the weaker incarnation of UNSCOM to continue a cat-and-mouse game in Iraq.

    The WMD argument, by itself, wouldn’t have “sold” the American public so strongly on the necessity of removing Saddam from power, without the linkage of Saddam to 9/11.

    Larry, it’s the nexus of Saddam’s decade of deceit and deception and love of WMD + past history and terrorism in a post 9/11 world.

    That sold me.

    To the extent that there is any truth at all to the charge that “Bush lied/people died,” that’s what the lie was. The false linkage of Saddam to 9/11. Not the phantom WMD, which wasn’t an intentional effort to mislead, but was simply an honest mistake, based on “bad intelligence.”

    There was a linkage between Saddam and 9/11, Larry! And once again the linkage is this: Saddam= state-sponsor of terrorism and lover of WMD. al-Qaeda= global terrorism. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. In a post-9/11 world, the Administration wanted to prevent the next terror attack; and feared Islamic terrorists would be used as proxy to deliver a wmd-related attack.

  10. 12

    another+vet

    @Wordsmith: Right on all counts. What some people seem to be missing is that the world, yes unlike Syria it was the world, drew a red line in the sand with Saddam in the form of the UN resolutions. Saddam was in violation of all of them. The U.S. under Clinton took the red line even further with the policy of regime change which was supported by both parties. Notice what has happened to U.S. influence since Obama drew his red line in the sand with Syria and then did nothing when they crossed it. Had Saddam not been made to pay the price for his defiance, it would have sent a clear signal to our enemies that we were not to be taken seriously. In a post 9/11 world that is the wrong message to be sending. Again, look at the post Syria red line results. If Saddam wasn’t a threat and we weren’t serious about regime change, then there never should have been any UN resolutions nor a U.S. policy of regime change. What were we supposed to do, keep him around to use as an escape outlet to divert attention away from other issues such as scandals? A scandal? No problem. Bomb Saddam. Rest assured if Clinton would have followed through with his policy of regime change all of these BDS arm chair generals would have supported it.

  11. 13

    Rich+Wheeler

    @another+vet: Obama should have followed thru with his red line assurance to depose Assad. Huge mistake to allow Putin offer to hold sway.
    Dictators and madmen like Assad, Khadaffi, Saddham, Hitler,Norriega etc should be overthrown “with extreme prejudice” whenever possible.

  12. 14

    John

    Well we do know from North Korea and from Iran that it takes a huge amount of effort to build a nuke and we know that Safdam had essentially no nuke program at all
    It was at least 10-20 years in the future which sort of puts a kabosh on the rush to invade
    He didn’t have centrifuge #1

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