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This just in -- now the mainstream media knows what everyone else does!
May 6, 2003 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Did Bush know? An article in today's New York Times (link to mirrored site with no reg. req.) pieces together data that the author claims proves that Bush and his inner circle were well-aware that they were using false "evidence" of Iraqi WMD. Sy Hersh from the New Yorker is also chiming in, as is Salon's Joe Connason and Katha Pollitt of The Nation. A pretty decent subsection of media is finally descending on this story. If Bush or Powell or Rumsfeld are proven to have been knowingly deceitful, will the American public be even half as angry as the rest of the world?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly (59 comments total)

 
I stumbled across this stuff while reading excerpts from an upcoming book by a former Clinton insider (1,2). There is a wild contrast between the rabid pursuit of anything that made Clinton look bad, and the blind pursuit of, well, blindness that we see today. Is Ken Starr busy?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:14 PM on May 6, 2003


These aren't the droids you're looking for.

Move along.
posted by rocketman at 12:19 PM on May 6, 2003


The vast majority won't care. They didn't really care about WMD to begin with. Some crazy raghead had to get punished for 9/11, and there Saddam was all along.
posted by argybarg at 12:27 PM on May 6, 2003


Wait... wait, wait, wait! Are you trying to tell me my government lied to me?

You know, it's people like you that are ruining this country! Shut up and get in line behind the rest of us.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 12:31 PM on May 6, 2003


I wonder when Fox News is going to pick this up.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2003


Hey, the government never gave me syphillis -- I'm white! What do I care?
posted by PigAlien at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2003


Yeah, what argybarg said. No one cares. No WMD? So what. Let's liberate them instead. Saddam is a vicious dictator and the Iraq/Iran war is over now so we don't need to support him anymore. If some kids get dismembered and lots of innocents get killed by cluster bombs, well, it's Saddam's fault.

Kristol wrote about getting rid of Saddam 8 years ago. 9/11 was kind of fortuitous if you look at the after effects. Cui bono.
posted by Mondo at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2003


And what will be the readction in Congress? They after all gave Bush all he asked foron the basis of what they were told about the existence of WMD? Could well become a political issue for the next election.
posted by Postroad at 12:35 PM on May 6, 2003


And what will be the readction in Congress? They after all gave Bush all he asked foron the basis of what they were told about the existence of WMD? Could well become a political issue for the next election.

Maybe this could even be the testicular-growth-enhancing-impetus that the democrats in DC so desperately need?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:42 PM on May 6, 2003


Oddly, last week's discovery of interactions between Saddam Hussain and Osama bin Laden - dating back to 1998 - haven't yet (as far as I'm aware) been covered by the NYT, or Salon, or the Nation, or Sy Hersh.

But naturally, it is far more important to accuse Bush than to talk about any minor details like that.
posted by MidasMulligan at 12:45 PM on May 6, 2003


If this indeed becomes an issue, it will be resolved like the Iran/Contra affair with a scapegoat taking the fall, and the people in charge and responsible claiming to be "out of the loop."
posted by Eekacat at 12:46 PM on May 6, 2003


score: first 7 posts... 7 sarcastic, worn out comments.
posted by Witty at 12:46 PM on May 6, 2003


HA! If that were really an issue Postroad, Congress should've started asking hardcore questions after Powell's "evidence" was shown to uh, somewhat out of date. Congress is too busy covering it's collective ass in case they do actually wind up having to kowtow to Emperor Bush after the '04 election is all. Or at least keeping their ear to the ground, hoping that the neocons screw up somehow.
The liberation of the Iraqi people just happened to be the expensive prosciutto tucked in a shit sandwich.
posted by black8 at 12:48 PM on May 6, 2003


Ignatius, I fear that you're going to get dumped on for overselling both the extent (it's just a short column in the NYT, with one new piece of information) and timeliness (Sy Hersh "chimed in" back in March) of this issue. But it still deserves discussion, as it will probably be seen in the future as the crucial moment in Bush's massive flimflam job.

Let's all remember that even though Bush & Blair had said March 17 was the deadline, by the weekend of the 14-16, all signs were that Bush would back off a little because there was so little "good" news coming in from the UN inspectors and the peace movement was getting louder and more numerous. What most of us didn't know (thank to a national media asleep at the switch) was that this forgery had already been publicly exposed, and Jay Rockefeller had called for an investigation on Friday, March 14.

Absent any Really Big News, this would have been a front-page story by Monday, putting a severe dent in the momentum for an attack, putting the Bush administration on the defensive on the now-very-current question "what WMDs?" and possibly destroying any chance for a pre-emptive war. So on Sunday afternoon, in order to take command of the news cycle, Bush issued his surprise ultimatum to the UN that their time was up, they had to be with us or agin' us, putting the "inevitable" war back on the front pages and steamrolling over this troublesome sidebar. As usual, I admire the cunning of Bush's handlers, even as it makes me sick.
posted by soyjoy at 12:54 PM on May 6, 2003


*yawn*
posted by reidfleming at 12:54 PM on May 6, 2003


Midas: Oddly, last week's discovery of interactions between Saddam Hussain and Osama bin Laden - dating back to 1998 - haven't yet (as far as I'm aware) been covered by the NYT, or Salon, or the Nation, or Sy Hersh.


And where would we find the documentation of these interactions?
posted by bshort at 1:10 PM on May 6, 2003


Oddly, last week's discovery of interactions between Saddam Hussain and Osama bin Laden - dating back to 1998 - haven't yet (as far as I'm aware) been covered by the NYT, or Salon, or the Nation, or Sy Hersh.

It was picked up by the Guardian, and debunked. The story goes like this, there was a meeting between some Al Qaeda, and some Iraqis, the gist of the meeting was talk of attacking a common enemy, the US, and Israel, but Osama wanted nothing to do with an infidel like Saddam, and Saddam was paranoid about doing business with a nutjob Muslim. No partnership was formed, so it's really not big news.

I am curious to see if the intelligence manipulation story gets coverage on the network news programs.
posted by jbou at 1:20 PM on May 6, 2003


Oddly, last week's discovery of interactions between Saddam Hussain and Osama bin Laden - dating back to 1998 - haven't yet (as far as I'm aware) been covered by the NYT, or Salon, or the Nation, or Sy Hersh.

Do you mean this story about the intrepid reporter who found documents that had apparently been missed by the CIA in several previous sweeps of the building?
posted by moonbiter at 1:22 PM on May 6, 2003


But it still deserves discussion, as it will probably be seen in the future as the crucial moment in Bush's massive flimflam job.

That's pretty much what I thought. I wasn't trying to oversell anything, and in my personal opinion I doubt anyone will care, I think Bush will be re-elected and that these blatant lies will not even be a campaign issue.

on preview:
bshort: And where would we find the documentation of these interactions?

The same places where this non-story has been documented for months. They met, didn't reach any sort of synthesis, and went their own ways. That was already "decided" once, and now the same intell. is being dragged out again. It's not like UBL tried to sell him chemical or bio weapons for goodness' sake!
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:23 PM on May 6, 2003


Personally, I never thought this was about WMD (except perhaps tertiarily). I still believe it's about a long-term plan for greater mideast pacification, and more about denying large terrorist organizations safe zones for supply and support. Washington's recent dealings with Damascus seem to, in my mind, confirm this. But I also think that the administration believed that they couldn't sell this to the American public and the world at large, so they started promulgating the whole WMD thing as a scare tactic/marketing ploy. I wish they hadn't, because it does look like it's going to come around and bite them in the ass.
posted by UncleFes at 1:27 PM on May 6, 2003


Sorry, Witty... I'll run all my future posts through you to make sure they are not too sarcastic or overused.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 1:28 PM on May 6, 2003


In the famous words of Socrates: "I drank what?"
posted by ZachsMind at 1:31 PM on May 6, 2003


UncleFes: Well put.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:33 PM on May 6, 2003



Hey, the government never gave me syphillis


For the record, the government ( which I am sure I have less use for than almost all of you) never gave anyone syphilis. They did not treat people who had the disease, who came to them and could have been diagnosed. The wrong was via intentional inaction towards people who placed their trust.
posted by thirteen at 1:48 PM on May 6, 2003


Ignatius J. Reilly: The same places where this non-story has been documented for months. They met, didn't reach any sort of synthesis, and went their own ways. That was already "decided" once, and now the same intell. is being dragged out again.

Not to get off topic here, but where has this story been documented and "decided"? Just curious, any links?
posted by fishbulb at 1:51 PM on May 6, 2003


"Let’s fervently hope that tomorrow we find an Iraqi superdome filled with 500 tons of mustard gas and nerve gas, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 29,984 prohibited munitions capable of delivering chemical agents, several dozen Scud missiles, gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, 18 mobile biological warfare factories, long-range unmanned aerial vehicles to dispense anthrax, and proof of close ties with al-Qaeda. Those are the things that President Bush or his aides suggested Iraq might have, and I don’t want to believe that top administration officials tried to win support for the war with a campaign of wholesale deceit."

If no WMDs are found, then I certainly do hope there was a campaign of deceit, because the alternative is that the WMD exist but are missing, and I hate to think who might have possesion of them. Where WMD are concerned, I'll take deceit over incompetence (but what a sad choice that is.)
posted by homunculus at 1:53 PM on May 6, 2003


So, I gotta ask. Is it actually against the law to lie about intelligence like this?

As in, are there any actual laws that prohibit the submission of falsified intelligence documents?
posted by bshort at 1:55 PM on May 6, 2003


That has been my question bshort. Given that we impeached a President already for lying about getting a hummer or two I would hope that similar levels of action were available for lies that are used to start a war.
posted by aaronscool at 2:00 PM on May 6, 2003


UncleFes: I think you are right about the intentions of the W white house to pacify the middle east by dominating it by force, but that wasn't what they were selling. They were selling WMD and a immediate threat to American security, but now they only talk about "liberation" of the Iraqi people. They didn't find WMD, they didn't find Osama, they didn't capture Saddam and they didn't make the world any safer for Americans.

But it's still called a glorious success as our President plays pilot just to get a photo op. This is a President who ruined businesses, took part in shady and self-serving corporate accounting, has used drugs, was (is?) a drunk, went AWOL during wartime from a soft assignment he received through his father's influence. A president who was selected illegitimately by activist judges after a corrupted election. A President who has lied to America and the world community about Iraq. A President who is giving fat tax breaks to the wealthy while starving the states and people who aren't hard working enough to be born into upper-class families. A President who can go and fuck himself in Hell, for all I care.

Bah! Feh! /rant
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:01 PM on May 6, 2003


Not to get off topic here, but where has this story been documented and "decided"? Just curious, any links?

his was discussed on MeFi and on WaFi. Both threads have links to articles on this topic. Note that the meeting mentioned in the documents was in early 1998, while the meeting in Kandahar where relations probably broke down was in Decemeber 1998. I don't find the evidence very convincing, but I don't think anything has been decided once and for all either.
posted by homunculus at 2:03 PM on May 6, 2003


Er, 'This' not 'his.
posted by homunculus at 2:04 PM on May 6, 2003


It turns out this war was never about WMD ... it was about enforcing severe early withdrawal penalties
posted by ElvisJesus at 2:09 PM on May 6, 2003


Not to get off topic here, but where has this story been documented and "decided"? Just curious, any links?

Check out the links in homunculus' post. I put "decided" in quotes because obviously there is no real consensus mechanism to use as a a gauge, but numerous posters on Mefi and wonks in the real world have shown this evidence to be scant and suggestive of a finite (i.e. already ended) relationship.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:10 PM on May 6, 2003


The reporters/commentators linked in the FPP have all been spectacularly and notoriously wrong on almost all they're written about Iraq.

Only Kristoff has made as much as a half-hearted to discuss this lack of accuracy/correctness.

Given the fact they they've been so wrong on their Iraq writing, and haven't in any way engaged in self-examination or explanation (mostly), what are the odds that they've suddenly become right?

You who seem to accept their work uncritically, what reason do you give for this, other than they are just telling you what you want to hear?
posted by Jos Bleau at 2:23 PM on May 6, 2003


You who seem to accept their work uncritically, what reason do you give for this, other than they are just telling you what you want to hear?

The only thing that I accept uncritically is a free drink. That being said, I am also compelled by how nicely these stories jive with reality, you know, the fact that the haven't found any WMD.

What makes you reject these people uncritically? Having had been wrong is still preferable to being a liar.

[/pooping all over own thread]
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:37 PM on May 6, 2003


What makes ya'all think Bush knows he's lying? The man is on a holy quest to do the right thing. His confidence comes from his relationship with Jesus. Those who might disagree with that quest obviously don't understand its holy nature. The guy in the WH will endorse, support, dictate any policy that will see the great work done. He thinks he's a fighter pilot, fer cryin' out loud.

This is like some bad Ronald Reagan movie.

Witty, I like you but I have to ask, do you have a take on the posted articles, or are you just that bitter towards MetaFilter? Just tryin' to understand, bud. What do you think the motive for the administration is here? Do you agree with Midas that some clearly debunked story of links between Al Qaeda and Saddam exonerates the lie we were told? Are our intelligence services really so bad that the President never conceived that we might NOT find WMDs? I really would like to know, what is the view from the right (those that think the president did the right thing)?

homunculus, I prefer WarFi to WaFi. Just my preference, with no official endorsement.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:01 PM on May 6, 2003


Uncle Fes has it right. But it is still annoying that the President and his advisors think the world and the country are not intelligent enough to understand the real motives and goals behind his actions. Either that, or they were afraid the public wouldn't line up behind those reasons, and how democratic is that?
posted by cell divide at 3:05 PM on May 6, 2003


It depends on what your definition of the words "WMD" is.

Actually, quite literally. Especially with chemical and biological weapons, where very legitimate commercial agricultural and industrial, and medical materials, equipment and infrastructure are *identical* to those used for WMD creation. So, industrial Iraq is loaded with "WMDs", *if* you choose to call them that.

So, the *obvious* question is NOT "Why haven't we found WMDs?", but "Why CAN'T we tell the world (i.e. the UN) that we HAVE found WMDs?"

THE ANSWER TO THIS is that as soon as the US "officially finds" WMDs, the door to Iraq is swung WIDE OPEN to the UN, something that the US DOES NOT WANT TO HAPPEN YET. By Previous UN Resolution, the US has already agreed to it, so we can't keep the buggers out.

So the argument is DEAD. Anybody and Everybody and the French can whine and complain and demand that the US "put up or shut up" about WMDs, and the US STILL WON'T FIND ANY UNTIL IT'S READY. End of argument.
posted by kablam at 3:07 PM on May 6, 2003


The only thing that I accept uncritically is a free drink.

So did Robert Johnson. /derail ;)
posted by notsnot at 3:14 PM on May 6, 2003


kablam, I read recently that rampant capitalization is a sure sign of someone going over the deep end in conspiracy theory ...

not that I disagree with you, of course.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:15 PM on May 6, 2003


See also Selective Intelligence by Hersh in this month's New Yorker - sample:

A former Bush Administration intelligence official recalled a case in which Chalabi’s group, working with the Pentagon, produced a defector from Iraq who was interviewed overseas by an agent from the D.I.A. The agent relied on an interpreter supplied by Chalabi’s people. Last summer, the D.I.A. report, which was classified, was leaked. In a detailed account, the London Times described how the defector had trained with Al Qaeda terrorists in the late nineteen-nineties at secret camps in Iraq, how the Iraqis received instructions in the use of chemical and biological weapons, and how the defector was given a new identity and relocated. A month later, however, a team of C.I.A. agents went to interview the man with their own interpreter. “He says, ‘No, that’s not what I said,’” the former intelligence official told me. “He said, ‘I worked at a fedayeen camp; it wasn’t Al Qaeda.’ He never saw any chemical or biological training.” Afterward, the former official said, “the C.I.A. sent out a piece of paper saying that this information was incorrect. They put it in writing.” But the C.I.A. rebuttal, like the original report, was classified. “I remember wondering whether this one would leak and correct the earlier, invalid leak. Of course, it didn’t.”

The former intelligence official went on, “One of the reasons I left was my sense that they were using the intelligence from the C.I.A. and other agencies only when it fit their agenda. They didn’t like the intelligence they were getting, and so they brought in people to write the stuff. They were so crazed and so far out and so difficult to reason with—to the point of being bizarre. Dogmatic, as if they were on a mission from God.” He added, “If it doesn’t fit their theory, they don’t want to accept it.”

posted by y2karl at 3:19 PM on May 6, 2003


Wow, kablam. You spin that fucker like it ain't no thang.

I especially like how you've integrated the old lefty argument that the notion of WMD's is fundamentally flawed (see the Model Airplane/ Botulin Toxin Distributor incident) and turned it into an argument that our leadership is smart and cunning. Pretty neat.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:42 PM on May 6, 2003


For those who may not know... notsnot is alluding to what became the oral history of the last days of Mississippi delta blues musician Robert Johnson. The legend has it that Robert Johnson requested some whiskey from the bar, and that the bottle came to him with a "broken seal" (indicating that it had been tampered with). An older and more experienced musician playing with him that night, Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller), slaps the whiskey from his hand as a warning against drinking such a suspicious drink. A drunk and belligerent Robert Johnson says something to the effect of "I'm old enough to know what to drink."

Johnson orders another whiskey, which again comes to him with a broken seal. He drinks it and ends up dying three days later "on his hands and knees, bellowing like a dog." The verdict was that he was poisoned by the husband of a woman he'd been having an affair with.

The "Robert Johnson poisoned by jealous husband" myth is an inviting one, but revisionist historians (notably Gale Dean Wardlow) have all but put the kibosh on the possibility that RJ was poisoned.

The new theory (after examining the obverse side of the death certificate, which had been overlooked for years) is "congenital syphilis." Though Wardlow allows that "undoubtedly many southern blacks of his era were pronounced dead of syphilis with gunshot wounds in their backs."

posted by cadastral at 3:54 PM on May 6, 2003


I still believe it's about a long-term plan for greater mideast pacification, and more about denying large terrorist organizations safe zones for supply and support.

I hacked whitehouse.gov and found the actual script (Python, of course) used to finally come up with something Amerika could get behind:

while public_support < 0.5:
      disseminate (random.choice (listOfRationalizationsHistoricallyUsedToInvadeWeakerCountries)
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:55 PM on May 6, 2003


That has been my question bshort. Given that we impeached a President already for lying about getting a hummer or two I would hope that similar levels of action were available for lies that are used to start a war.

Don't think this was a one party ploy with WMD. Because Clinton iirc, said Saddam had them to use against the world on the David Letterman. What stuck in my head about this was he was making reference that the general public did not know this and was sounding like a strong Bush supporter.[why I listened] Maybe the government is in co-hoots together.. .
Thinking now the party system is a ploy. How many in Congress voted for the resolution of war, yet the same voters whom put them in office opposed it.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:22 PM on May 6, 2003


actual NYtimes link, so you don't need to read it on that ugly ass site.
posted by delmoi at 5:15 PM on May 6, 2003


Wow kablam, Orwell never said it so good! That was double plus good!!!
posted by filchyboy at 6:58 PM on May 6, 2003


)

Sorry, had to close f&m's paren. Of course, I'm not even sure what language that's supposed to be, but all languages I'm aware of require parentheses to come in pairs.
posted by kindall at 7:29 PM on May 6, 2003


Python?!? That's an impeachable offense right there!
posted by kirkaracha at 8:10 PM on May 6, 2003


Python isn't all that bad. A little strange in places but not hammering the ';' key at the end of every line is kinda nice.

I say this having just finished a final project written entirely in Python . . . grad school can suck sometimes
posted by Fezboy! at 8:38 PM on May 6, 2003


Now you're all talking Egyptian.
posted by y2karl at 8:57 PM on May 6, 2003


N.B.: I did notice that everyone who commented on my post challenged me, not the content of the post. Not a single effort to question *my* question: "Why CAN'T we tell the world (i.e. the UN) that we HAVE found WMDs?"

If you think the US can a) declare the war is over, and/or b) announce the discovery of WMDs, without ramification, then say so.
posted by kablam at 10:19 PM on May 6, 2003


Kablam I will not dispute you on point a but what ramifications are there if we were to find WMD in Iraq? How could that possibly negatively impact the US? As far as I can see it the following would likely occur:

1. Sanctions against Iraq could be lifted allowing for much needed economic aid to enter and oil to be freely exported.

2. Our "cause" in this war would have a justification however tenuous. (remember this was why we had to invade so quickly...Iraq and their WMD posed some kind of immediate threat to the US).

I fail to see how the UN would gain any kind of upper hand if WMD were found in Iraq. If anything it would be the egg on their faces. I also fail to see a reason why the US would try and hide this kind of information seeing as how they were way to eager to incorrectly announce they had found chemical weapons during the war.

Personally I just don't see your logic on this and maybe that's why you've been ignored on it...
posted by aaronscool at 10:51 PM on May 6, 2003


Kablam, no one substantively answered your question because your post was idiotic. Don't worry about it much; this kind of thing happens to the conspiracy nutjobs all the time.

If it helps any, try reading about WMD. You'll find that a pesticide isn't a WMD and that even component biological and chemical parts aren't WMD unless they have a delivery system (a chemical payload SCUD) or are in a combined and constituted state (Sarin or Anthrax). Then think a bit and you'll see that aaronscool makes so much more sense than you do, and that it seemed so obvious that few besides aaronscool felt necessary to write it down.

I do agree with some of the things you say though. The U.S. probably won't find anything until it wants to (in other words - plants them). And I agree that they cannot declare an official end to the war (they didn't declare an official beginning, so I don't know how that would happen.) Even wrote an essay about it.

That being said, the rest of your argument is just south of Mars.

To borrow and twist:
Oh crap, who are these men in black knocking at my door?
Umm, go away, don't come 'round here no more.
Who has WMD now?
Who has it? Who has it? Oooohhhh, woah oohh...
posted by hank_14 at 3:48 AM on May 7, 2003


id like someone to look george bush in the eyes and ask him two questions- yes or no - do you or any members of your staff know where saddam hussein is right now?

and one more mr. president.

do you or any members of your staff know where osama bin laden is right now?
posted by specialk420 at 8:00 AM on May 7, 2003


Wulfgar!:

This is like some bad Ronald Reagan movie.

Except that Nancy Reagan belived in astrology and George W. Bush make George Bush look like a rabid progressive.

specialk420:

do you or any members of your staff know where osama bin laden is right now?

Osama Bin Who? Republicans are betting hardcore on the fact that the public is too fucking stupid to care. I don't think they are. If the Dems have any brains or balls left, they'll run this issue into the ground.

Dubya is still likely to be a one term wonder, despite the fact that the terrorist attacks were the greatest possible thing that could happen to his impotent presidency.
posted by mark13 at 5:59 PM on May 7, 2003


specialk420, who the hell cares where Saddam or Osama Bin laden is as long as the former is no longer in power and the terrorist group led by the latter is in such disarray that they couldn't even mount a decent assault ever since America was "woken up" by 911?
posted by VeGiTo at 9:09 PM on May 7, 2003


Because he killed a bunch of nice people and knocked over some buildings I liked and I want him brought to justice damnit!!!
posted by Ptrin at 9:26 PM on May 7, 2003


er, yeah... and also because this administration promised us after that happened that OBL would be captured, if not utterly, personally wiped off the face of the earth. I guess we were supposed to infer the second half "..unless, of course, he hides somewhere and we can't find him, in which case we don't care."
posted by soyjoy at 6:56 AM on May 8, 2003


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