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Dude, where's my WMD?
September 8, 2003 10:02 PM   Subscribe

So, how to explain the incorrect allegations about Iraqi WMD? Lies? Self-interest? Ideology? Clerical error?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly (29 comments total)

 
This weeks spin: clerical error. Last week: it was the exiles who tricked us. The truth: Yes! 9/11 will now let us enact our PNAC agenda!!! Well, they got their perl harbor, now the question will be who are the true war criminals. We'll have to wait till much after 2008 to get a clear answer to that.

Regardless, I'm surprised that havent found a cache of anything yet. I'm not expecting the nukes Bush and Condi both are quoted as talking about, the Al'Quada secret base, the ICBM aimed at NY, the neo-Scud full of anthrax aimed at tel aviv, the tons of nerve gas, the tons of sarin, etc. But nothing? Not even a few kilos of Anthrax? This is truly pathetic and we Americans were lied to blatantly and without a hint of remorse. Our soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civillians paid the price for the PNAC agenda and we cant even get that right. Iraq keeps on exploding, the Sunnis keep fighting the Shi'ites, its a terrorist convention, landmines for all, etc Who woulda thunk that? Hmm perhaps the billions of anti-war protestors?

I can't wait for next week's take on the spin game, eventually the neocons will be attacking their own. Rummy will oust Wolfowitz, Cheney will out Rummy, etc.
posted by skallas at 10:18 PM on September 8, 2003




Ignatius, please. They couldn't be found because the Sun was in their eyes. I'm sure you can understand...
posted by trondant at 10:50 PM on September 8, 2003


tragic fuck up/power grab
posted by specialk420 at 11:01 PM on September 8, 2003


"Clerical error?"

Call in the Supreme Court. We need a recount.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:02 PM on September 8, 2003



White House receptionist demonstrates
possiblity of accidental deletion of
the controversial missing WMD's.

posted by quonsar at 11:04 PM on September 8, 2003


"Under that sort of regime, you don't admit you got it wrong"
posted by 2sheets at 11:18 PM on September 8, 2003


Speaking of errors:
The White House acknowledged Monday that it substantially underestimated the cost of rebuilding Iraq and that even the additional $87 billion it was seeking from a wary Congress would fall far short of what is needed for postwar reconstruction.

Administration officials said President Bush's emergency spending request — which would push the U.S. budget deficit above the half-trillion-dollar mark for the first time — still left a reconstruction funding gap of as much as $55 billion.
posted by homunculus at 11:22 PM on September 8, 2003


Man, why doesnt Bush just give control to the UN and have others pay for this quagmire. Is this the "tough texan" attitude that will have us paying for his adventurism the rest of our days through 'war tax?'

Oh the irony of the example at dictionary.com is killing me.
posted by skallas at 11:55 PM on September 8, 2003


Interesting idea.
posted by rudyfink at 12:53 AM on September 9, 2003


fuck, I'd better clear up all those taco bell entries in quicken.
posted by condour75 at 1:24 AM on September 9, 2003


I love the way Bush calls the UN for help, then add the US will keep control over what's going on in Iraq.
To me, sounds like : "please, we want your soldiers to get killed too for our inability to sort things out".
posted by XiBe at 1:53 AM on September 9, 2003


Its also an expensive "clerical error." Interesting how the democrats are finally responding with something that may be, that might be, some kind of opposition or maybe a hint of asking politely for some kind of accountability.
On the Senate floor, Sen. Tom Harkin (news, bio, voting record), D-Iowa, said there isn't enough money to meet Bush's own education goals, "and yet we're going to ask the American taxpayers to keep coughing up money for this quagmire that we're in now in Iraq."

"This may not be Vietnam, but boy, it sure smells like it," he said. "And every time I see these bills coming down for the money, it's costing like Vietnam, too."

Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record) of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, is demanding that tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers be postponed — a proposal likely to face strong Republican opposition.

"Is this still a sacrificeless undertaking except those we send to Iraq?" he said in an interview. "Or is there actually something that Americans are going to be asked to do?"

Some lawmakers also said the $20 billion for Iraqi reconstruction would receive particular scrutiny. Levin said that money would be wasted if the Bush administration doesn't make a serious effort to secure help from other nations. Administration officials say they want international participation, but it's not clear how much authority they are willing to cede in Iraq to secure it.

"If we don't get other countries involved, if we don't make a serious effort in the U.N., which other countries say is essential for their participation, then it increases the chances that the reconstruction money will be ineffective," he said.
source

The Vietnam line is sure to attract some attention. I really wish it was used more often. Kind of snaps you out your complacency for a moment.
posted by skallas at 2:38 AM on September 9, 2003


Speaking as someone who was once responsible for inventory control of weapons, I don't think most people understand what an insanely difficult task it is to keep records straight under any conditions short of pristine.

In my case, I took over as weapons officer on a ship off the coast of Haiti during the 1994 operations (full disclosure: the weapons I was responsible for were the non-mass destruction variety). The Marines had deployed before I arrived, and a great deal of ammunition had been issued to them before they hit the beach. However, our holds were still bulging with ammo, so conducting a physical inventory meant climbing around 8' to 10' tall stacks of pallets with 18" (or less) between stacks. Multiple types of ammunition were packaged together on pallets, with no clear labelling scheme. Each stack was attached to the bulkheads and decks with wire rope netting that prevented any of the materials from being moved around.

We had millions of dollars worth of inventory that had to be accounted for in 24 hours. I thought it was the worst nightmare I could imagine. Then the Marines returned from the beach and started turning in their ammunition. We got our ammo back in every container imaginable: bags, boxes, backpacks, nylon sandbag covers, paper sacks, etc. On top of that, they were all thoroughly mixed. We would open an ammo can for .50 caliber rounds and find 200 loose 5.56 mm rounds, a couple of frag grenades, a stick of C-4 and some flares. The SEAL team stuff was better organized, but they had a much wider variety of materials - all kinds of blasting caps, various rolls of various kinds of det cord (cut up into lengths when they were planning missions, now useless for retaining in inventory).

Trying to keep a solid inventory of this stuff was a psychotic task, even moreso because all the original packaging was gone, and we had to come up with ways to store this stuff safely below decks. We finally got it all cleared up, but it took months of work and a formal investigation, despite our obsession with keeping good records and an inventory control system designed specifically for the task.

According to the article, the Iraqis were notorious for lousy record keeping, as well as inventing numbers to make sure that the regime was happy, regardless of the actual amounts produced. It is very easy for me to believe that some or all of the "missing" weapons can be accounted for with bad record keeping.
posted by Irontom at 5:22 AM on September 9, 2003


Considering the MeTa thread we just had about this, hopefully if and when an opposing viewpoint on this cares to enter this thread we won't just directly up their ass about it?

That said, I'd like to hear a pro-war opinion on this because frankly I've dumbfounded as to what the excuse could be.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:25 AM on September 9, 2003


just=jump. I don't know what the hell is wrong with my grammar skills lately.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:27 AM on September 9, 2003


Trying to keep a solid inventory of this stuff was a psychotic task, even more so because all the original packaging was gone, and we had to come up with ways to store this stuff safely below decks.

Sure, Irontom, I expect mistakes. I know how inventory control goes in day-to-day life, add in a stack of grunts who do not care about the paperwork, but do care about not dying, and I expect problems.

But that's a handwave. Imagine this. You're back aboard. You're in charge of inventory, again. Your deck chief must hate you. (Don't they all?) You do the inventory, and report a couple of million rounds of 5.56mm ball, a few dozen cases of frag grenades and mines, 70 cases of C-4, a couple of hundred cases of 7.62mm and .50 ammo, and so forth.

Then, the ship docks, and they go below to unload, since the ship's going for refit, and there is no ammunition whatsoever.

Is this a clerical error? Or is this, in fact, cause for your court-martial?

If I was the QM when your ship docked, and you reported 2 million pieces of "Ammo, Rifle, 5.56mm NATO, Ball" and there were only 1.9 million, I'd work with you to write off the differences as "damaged and disposed, used in combat, destroyed as unfit" and other fun excuses. Shit, as they say, happens.

But come back empty, and tell me you've got 2 million rounds in the hold? That, son, is getting you a lifetime trip to the brig as an E-1, pay suspended.
posted by eriko at 6:51 AM on September 9, 2003


eriko - the only numbers that can be drawn from the article at hand come from this paragraph (and even here things are not exactly clear):

"Although UN inspectors in the 1990s verified destruction of 689 tonnes of Iraqi chemical warfare agents, including 2.3 tonnes of VX nerve gas, Iraq never came up with convincing evidence for its claim that it had eliminated a final, additional 1.4 tonnes of VX."

So, we're missing 1.4 tons out of 690.4 tons. That's a .2% variance, well below the 5% you're allowing me on the 5.56 mm stuff. I realize that these two things are very different from one another, but it's not just a handwave. The thing is, nobody (outside the administration) is saying there's none in the hold upon pulling in.

Statements like this: "when told to produce 'X amount' of a weapons agent, 'they wrote down what their superiors wanted to hear instead of the reality' " and this: "After the mid-1990s, 'hardly ever did (inspectors) find hidden weapons,' Mr. Blix reminded one audience. 'What they found was bad accounting.' " make it easy for me to believe that the "missing" 1.4 tons may never had existed at all.
posted by Irontom at 7:14 AM on September 9, 2003


Actually, the clerical error is more of a typo: They were really looking for illegally downloaded WMAs (Windows Media Audio files). The RIAA put them up to it.
posted by MediaMan at 7:29 AM on September 9, 2003


what exactly is this money being spent ON? and how much of it is going to bechtel and halliburton... when it could be going to iraqi's for pennies on the dollars?
posted by specialk420 at 7:45 AM on September 9, 2003


Y'all just hang on. Sure, we were wrong before, but David Kay is gonna flood the zone. Then we won't need this lame 'clerical error' excuse.
posted by soyjoy at 8:07 AM on September 9, 2003


I'm just amazed that with all this time alone in Iraq, the US hasn't yet "found" some weapons. We've got our own VX, surely it wouldn't be hard to bring it into Tikrit and then say "look what we found!"
posted by Nelson at 8:41 AM on September 9, 2003


Man, why doesnt Bush just give control to the UN and have others pay for this quagmire.

What a joke that is. This mess is the responsibility of the American voters - who didn't react with anything more than fussy outrage to Bush's appointment by the supreme court, who didn't bother to vote, or who were willfully stupid enough to vote for someone as transparently stupid as Bush. Democracy entails responsibility, and statements like these suggest an unwillingness to accept that Bush and his mess are America's mess. Grow up.
posted by holycola at 9:04 AM on September 9, 2003


AP Staffer Fact-Checks Powell's UN Speech A summary of Charles J. Hanley's analysis of Powell's 5 Feb. presentation from Editor and Publisher. (BTW, soyjoy's post led me to this).
posted by micropublishery at 9:04 AM on September 9, 2003


It is very easy for me to believe that some or all of the "missing" weapons can be accounted for with bad record keeping.

Personally, I don't doubt that that could be a big part of the story. It's just kind of (horribly, tragically) funny, is all.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:12 AM on September 9, 2003


Skallas - Perl Harbor. Heh heh.

This story reminds me a little of the beginning of Terri Gilliam's Brazil, in which a bureaucrat's maniacal pursuit of a fly - piling up furniture to reach the offending bug in his tiny office - has tragic consequences as the swatted fly drifts down to land on a document being typed up. The dead fly transforms a "b" into a "t" (or something like that) and results in a SWAT team raid on the wrong person.

" According to the article, the Iraqis were notorious for lousy record keeping, as well as inventing numbers to make sure that the regime was happy, regardless of the actual amounts produced. It is very easy for me to believe that some or all of the "missing" weapons can be accounted for with bad record keeping." Irontom - I imagine that the folks over at the CIA knew this quite well. I'd also guess that the more scrupulous analysts there would have been inclined to heavily discount the Iraqi WMD threat for this reason. The Bush administration wanted an inflated figure, accurate or not. What they didn't expect, though, was to find no WMD's at all in Iraq.

Oh wait. They must be holding out 'till October '04 to then produce the evidence, with a grand flourish and just in the nick of time for the election.
posted by troutfishing at 10:16 AM on September 9, 2003


Xibe: To me, sounds like : "please, we want your soldiers to get killed too for our inability to sort things out".
If only. No, what Bush is actually saying is this: "Please, we want your soldiers to get killed INSTEAD OF OURS for our inability to sort things out." Never mind the growing financial cost, the increasing number of American bodybags are costing Bush dearly. Most American voters don't seem to worry nearly as much when it's somebody elses' countrymen getting deceased on a daily basis. Human nature, I guess.
posted by kaemaril at 11:35 AM on September 9, 2003


>Democracy entails responsibility, and statements like these suggest an unwillingness to accept that Bush and his mess are America's mess.

The UN has already expressed a want to help with control and what makes you think milking the tax payer and letting ideologues guide Iraq into more of a mess has anything to do with democracy. If Bush is so idiotic, then there should be nothing wrong with the international community stepping in to help, all Bush has to do is concede control.

"Unwillingness to accept Bush" is my middle name. His politicies are destroying the US and other parts of the world. Best to declaw that clueless kitten.
posted by skallas at 2:43 PM on September 9, 2003


Excuse the self-link, but I broke this story two months ago, and nobody cared.
posted by wendell at 12:22 AM on September 10, 2003


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