Join 3,440 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

“There is no W.M.D.”
October 20, 2003 12:27 PM   Subscribe

But this doesn’t mean all W.M.D.? “How can you be certain?” His answer was clear: “I know all the scientists involved, and they chat. There is no W.M.D.” - Jafar Dhia Jafar in the new Seymour Hersh New Yorker article on pre-war intelligence. [ via dangerousmeta.com ].\
posted by specialk420 (44 comments total)

 
Meanwhile, the saga of the vial of botulinum continues: The botulinum B found in Iraq was probably bought legally and the bacterium has never been used to produce a weapon, scientists say.

Of course, we already know where the WMD really are.
posted by homunculus at 12:55 PM on October 20, 2003


They should be looking in the Baghdad fish and meat markets, where large hunks of botulinum and ptomaine are dealt openly over the counter.
posted by jfuller at 1:08 PM on October 20, 2003


Hersh mentions Joseph Wilson. According to TIME:
Security agencies all over the world are now quietly running Plame's name through their data banks, immigration records and computer hard drives as the White House leak scandal continues to percolate. Officials with two foreign governments told TIME that their spy catchers are quietly checking on whether Plame had worked on their soil and, if so, what she had done there. Which means if one theme of the Administration leak scandal concerns political vengeance — did the White House reveal Plame's identity in order to punish Wilson for his public criticism of the case for war with Iraq?--another theme is about damage. What has been lost, and who has been compromised because of the leak of one spy's name? And who, if anyone, will pay for that disclosure?
posted by homunculus at 1:08 PM on October 20, 2003


WMDs are where you find them. Any hospital pathology lab is full of potential biological weapons. Many industries use toxic chemicals that would make tolerable chemical weapons if poured into an artillery shell instead of HE.
Otherwise they just sit around in 55 gallon drums, looking benign.
Very easy and very quick, just like they did in the Iran/Iraq war.

Seriously, if you think about it, an argument could be made that depleted uranium munitions are WMDs--not from their direct use, but from their waste.

The US government bans all sorts of chemicals that could be used as WMDs. Most people think "bomb-making materials", but LOTS of other toxic chems are severely restricted. Many of the heavy metals, for example, such as mercury or arsenic.

And no, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to do this. A high school chemistry student could prolly whip you up quite a cocktail, if he applied himself.

And a special note to homunculus: Spies are compromised all of the time. Spy agencies have a standard procedure of what to do in all sorts of circumstances. In this case, maybe with a little extra care, she will do what she was doing anyway, that is, be retired.

Undoubtedly, everybody will double-check her activities when they were involved with her, hoping to catch some interesting poop, but by now, most of what she was involved with is so dated that it prolly doesn't matter.

So, while granted what happened was criminal, and serious, its overall effect will most likely be marginal. Heck, there might have even been a *real* reason, not just politics, for her to have been exposed. God knows what. Spooks are an odd lot.
posted by kablam at 1:30 PM on October 20, 2003


Oh, OK then. Nothing to worry about. Thanks for straightening all that out, kablam.
posted by soyjoy at 1:46 PM on October 20, 2003


Seriously, though, doesn't it hurt your back muscles to twist into pretzel shapes like that?
posted by soyjoy at 1:48 PM on October 20, 2003


does anyone else wonder why feith hasn't gotten shit-canned?
posted by specialk420 at 1:58 PM on October 20, 2003


specialk, why do you ask that? The linked TPM is about his 'former' firm, no indication that he's currently involved (even if he actually is).
posted by billsaysthis at 2:20 PM on October 20, 2003


"After he became Secretary of Defense, a separate intelligence unit was set up in the Pentagon’s policy office, under the control of William Luti, a senior aide to Feith. This office, which circumvented the usual procedures of vetting and transparency, stovepiped many of its findings to the highest-ranking officials." - is just the start of it... i'd suggest googling feith.
posted by specialk420 at 2:32 PM on October 20, 2003


This is without any doubt in my mind the most devastating expose of the feeble WMD case in Washington. All the dots seem to be joined up, including the only credible explanation for the disparity of accounts of Saddam's stockpile - he shot his wad on Iran:
Jafar [Jafar Dhia Jafar, a British-educated physicist who coördinated Iraq’s efforts to make the bomb in the nineteen-eighties] told his interrogators that the Iraqi government had simply lied to the United Nations about the number of chemical weapons used against Iran during the brutal Iran-Iraq war in the nineteen-eighties. Iraq, he said, dropped thousands more warheads on the Iranians than it acknowledged. For that reason, Saddam preferred not to account for the weapons at all.
I'd say that the Bush Administration has egg all over it's face, except the egg - death, destruction and despair - is all over Iraq. There are no precedents available with previous administrations that compare to the deceit and war-lust of the junta in the current White House.

What a crock. Kick 'em out, ferchrissakes!
posted by dash_slot- at 2:40 PM on October 20, 2003


amazing! this is a *brilliant* article. since this whole Iraq fiasco began cooking itself up, i've been completely blown away by the reporting of Seymour Hersh.

for those of you who didn't read it, this is a very detailed article that attempts to explain how the whole Niger yellowcake fabrication originated. very, very interesting.

thanks very much, specialk420.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:00 PM on October 20, 2003


Hersh does a good job of fleshing out the details. Cheney and his faith based intelligence is like your mother who just got an AOL account and is convinced that magnets will cure her arthritis because she read it on the internet. I hope someone has put a spam filter on Cheney's email account or else he has likely sent thousands of dollars to that fine gentleman from Nigeria who just needs some help transferring his four boxes of currency to the United States.
posted by JackFlash at 4:05 PM on October 20, 2003


Pretzel shapes indeed. Kablam, you sound exactly like Cheney and company.
posted by azazello at 5:47 PM on October 20, 2003


This article blew my doors off! I printed it out and was thinking of all of the people I know who should read it and that's when it hit me. It's 13 pages long. Most people won't even turn a couple of pages to finish a newspaper article that they disagree with, so what are the chances of someone who is thoroughly convinced that the intelligence was correct will go through 13 pages. My own state senator wrote an op/ed in todays paper about how the "media" are lying about there being no WMD's in Iraq. So anyone who would actually read this article is part of the choir. The people who thought this war was legitimate will never read and/or discuss it at any length.
posted by bas67 at 6:29 PM on October 20, 2003


bas67.

thats quite a bright junior senator your fellow georgians have elected. well informed fellow, only surpassed by whistleass himself. thanks for the link.
posted by specialk420 at 7:43 PM on October 20, 2003


What pretzel shape? I can actually claim inside knowledge of WMDs from a previous career in the US Army. I've known people on tech escort teams that ship the stuff around, as well as those brave civilian individuals who work in most major cities as HAZMAT. I also worked on what was then called a NAIC (Nuclear Accident and Incident Control) Team.

So what is your experience, other than being a naive political true believer?

Right now, if you live in a big city, you are within 5 miles of somewhere, most likely a railroad track or freeway, where lethal chemical agents could be spilled, just as deadly as most WMDs, if you're downwind.

Much of the insecticide used by the rest of the world can be called "nerve agent", and is not much different from military agent except in concentration.

And how about the handful of people in Pennsylvania who just died from *tiny* amounts of cadmium (my guess, kicked up in dust). If the Iraqis just sprinkled poison on the dust leading towards Baghdad, they could have killed hundreds of US soldiers. Why didn't they do it? They had any number of substances that could have.

So here is a major point, for all you pretzel people. What the US is looking for are not the WMDs themselves, with the exception of nuclear stuff, they are looking for modern, military "delivery systems", that can attack military units in the field, away from Iraqi populated areas.

You remember the SCUD missiles from Gulf War I? Those are WMD-capable delivery systems. Katusha rockets? Can be converted to delivery systems. Aircraft bombs. And, last but not least, the #1 WMD delivery system, the empty artillery shell.

So, as I keep telling you, if they wanted to find WMDs in Iraq, they could have produced large quantities of low-tech junk that could be used as WMDs, or called WMDs.

But they don't want to find WMDs. So now you should ask the (rhetorical) question: "Well, GOSH, why wouldn't they want to find WMDs in Iraq? Uh-huh? Uh-huh?"
posted by kablam at 8:42 PM on October 20, 2003


So that's why they call ya kablam, eh? Ooooh, stop it, I'm all scared and stuff.
posted by sacre_bleu at 9:10 PM on October 20, 2003


Thanks specialk, but I didn't vote for him. Oh wait maybe I did, we had those new voting machines and the numbers they spit out sure didn't match the polls leading up to the election and with no paper trail.....well, I guess we'll never know will we?
posted by bas67 at 9:26 PM on October 20, 2003


hahaha...

it would all be much funnier if one lived in a place like canada or south of france.

kablam. please let us in on the secret - you might share it with mr. undisclosed location as well - his credibility is a little thin these days.
posted by specialk420 at 10:00 PM on October 20, 2003


Alright Kablam if what you say here is correct and not just pretzel logic:

So here is a major point, for all you pretzel people. What the US is looking for are not the WMDs themselves, with the exception of nuclear stuff, they are looking for modern, military "delivery systems", that can attack military units in the field, away from Iraqi populated areas.

Why then isn't the administration worried about this:

Pentagon officials said US forces had retrieved more than 100 metal barrels and five radiological devices possibly looted from Tuwaitha following the March 20 invasion.

The officials said radioactive material may have been stolen from Tuwaitha, and feared it could be used by terrorists for a "dirty bomb" to spread low levels of radioactivity over a large area. None of the Tuwaitha materials were of high enough quality to make a nuclear bomb.


Can't this be considered a battlefield loss in the "War On Terror"? This Bush administration has cynically tied the invasion and occupation of Iraq with the "War on Terror". Why then could the invasion have created more problems than before? Radioactive materials in the hands of an "unknown unknown" comes to mind.

Could it be true believing ineptitude? Hubris? Making shit up as they go now, now that their ludicrous plan to remake the world is spinning out of control? Hmmmmm. What could it be Kablam?

It certainly isn't that is an unnecessary war, fought for "fictional purposes" is it? Nahhh. Dear Leader wouldn't do that.
posted by crasspastor at 10:11 PM on October 20, 2003


kabalm you aren't making much sense. If the Bush Administration wanted to 'fake' WMD the way you describe (by describing various chemicals as WMDs) the press and the experts would be all over them and they'd look like jackasses. The delivery systems have to be found along with various chemical agents, otherwise they are not Weapons, the crucual W in the WMD.
posted by chaz at 10:11 PM on October 20, 2003


Or maybe they are worried about the radioactive materials looted during the chaos of invasion except they don't want to scare us about some fucking mushroom cloud every year of the Bush tenure.

On the bright side of things, they've certainly learned to tone down on the terrorizing of the American public in the last year.
posted by crasspastor at 10:18 PM on October 20, 2003


Now everything's just fine. Perfect and even improving. The occupation of Iraq just isn't getting a fair shake by the media (liberal) they say.
posted by crasspastor at 10:19 PM on October 20, 2003


Um... why the jump on kablam? Seems to me everything he's said is reasonable:

(1) biological/chemical weapons can be made simply

(2) delivery systems are the "Mass" part

(3) If Bush and co wanted to go all fakey-found on us, they could pick on a trivial #1, but haven't yet, probably because of some fundamental level of integrity.

Don't get me wrong. I think the Hersh article is a pretty damning and probably accurate assesment of what happened in the current administration: they just wanted to believe. But I can't see where kablam has said anything that the average critic of the administration would find problematic.
posted by namespan at 10:25 PM on October 20, 2003


(1) biological/chemical weapons can be made simply

(2) delivery systems are the "Mass" part


Oh, bullshit.

The phrase "weapons of mass destruction," then, obscures more than it clarifies. It lumps together a category of truly terrible weapons (atomic bombs) with two other categories that are either less dangerous than conventional weapons (chemical arms) or largely an unknown quantity (biological agents). This conflation, moreover, muddies the American rationale for military action against Iraq. That rationale should be to prevent Saddam from acquiring atomic weapons. This alone is reason to go to war...

Yet in debates about Iraq, and about global terrorism, everything that isn't a bullet or shell is lumped together under the rubric of "weapons of mass destruction"... Endlessly referring to "weapons of mass destruction" in this way distracts us from focusing on the one weapon we can be certain causes mass destruction: the atomic bomb.


Term Limits by Gregg Easterbrook--now available only to subscribers at The New Republic Online but here provided courtesy of why-war.com--makes a point implicit to the rationalizations above: the means of delivery minus atomic weapons equals zero, zip, nada.

Atomic weapons, guys, atomic weapons: There is no there there without atomic weapons. Chemical and biological weapons are for hairsplitters and moral equivocators who come up with crap like So, while granted what happened was criminal, and serious, its overall effect will most likely be marginal.
posted by y2karl at 12:54 AM on October 21, 2003


(3) If Bush and co wanted to go all fakey-found on us, they could pick on a trivial #1, but haven't yet, probably because of some fundamental level of integrity.

Integrity? You don't go to war for purposes that must somehow all come out in the wash once thousands have been killed, millions made mentally unstable and hundreds of billions of US taxpayers dollars needlessly spent and then say "they must have had some fundamental level of integrity" for chrissake.

It doesn't happen that way in a democracy. Representatives are held accountable. If a representative feels he must be not held accountable and can get away with it, it is no longer a democracy in which you live. Simple-as-that.

If that's what you're willing to support namespan, well then, there you go. Poof. You no longer, yourself, live in a democracy any longer. A democracy by its very definition only exists as far as enough people think and act as though they live in one.

Since the deaths of humans seem to no longer effect anyone. (Notice how we're supposed to be more up in arms about the already 3000 WTC dead, than the preventable attrition in Iraq that the Bush administration calls positive news. WTF!!!!)

Perhaps the cost financially and global reputation is enough.

And even still, if that gets your goat, 2+2 is still equalling 5. Let's just hope we have enough room to have buyers remorse and still be able to switch streams in time.
posted by crasspastor at 2:02 AM on October 21, 2003


Advantage: crasspastor.
posted by squirrel at 2:33 AM on October 21, 2003


But they don't want to find WMDs. So now you should ask the (rhetorical) question: "Well, GOSH, why wouldn't they want to find WMDs in Iraq? Uh-huh? Uh-huh?"

Isn't it because "they must all be in Syria then"?
posted by walrus at 3:47 AM on October 21, 2003


No, it is because "WMDs never mattered. This war was about the freedom of the Iraqi people."

Haven't you been following along?

In all seriousness, I've been wondering what it would take for a majority of Americans to mind that the fundamental reason our nation was given to go to war apparently does not exist.
posted by sacre_bleu at 5:19 AM on October 21, 2003


why the jump on kablam?

Perhaps it was this that set off the bullshit detectors:

there might have even been a *real* reason, not just politics, for her to have been exposed. God knows what.

Oops, you really meant to say this?

probably because of some fundamental level of integrity.

Ha ha ha ha ha!
Oh, OK, it's a joke, huh?
posted by nofundy at 5:23 AM on October 21, 2003


KABLAM:

WMDs are where you find them. Any hospital pathology lab is full of potential biological weapons. Many industries use toxic chemicals that would make tolerable chemical weapons if poured into an artillery shell instead of HE.
Otherwise they just sit around in 55 gallon drums, looking benign.
Very easy and very quick, just like they did in the Iran/Iraq war.

Seriously, if you think about it, an argument could be made that depleted uranium munitions are WMDs--not from their direct use, but from their waste.

The US government bans all sorts of chemicals that could be used as WMDs. Most people think "bomb-making materials", but LOTS of other toxic chems are severely restricted. Many of the heavy metals, for example, such as mercury or arsenic.

And no, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to do this. A high school chemistry student could prolly whip you up quite a cocktail, if he applied himself.

If this was the case then Bush would have found WMD's a long time ago using your defination. The administration defined WMD's for us in the selling of the war as complete atomic, chemical, and biological weapons. Things were said like:

"We know where they are, they are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north of that," he said.


"that Iraqi forces had the ability to deploy chemical weapons within 45 minutes of receiving an order to use them."


Bush parroting the statement above.

Unless the administration produces something that roughly resembles these remarks they don't have jack.

And a special note to homunculus: Spies are compromised all of the time. Spy agencies have a standard procedure of what to do in all sorts of circumstances. In this case, maybe with a little extra care, she will do what she was doing anyway, that is, be retired.

I don't think you could sugarcoat the situation any more. How do you know she was retired? I would appreciate a qualified source to support this statement that comes from someone who would be in the position to know this. I.E. someone in the CIA. What has Pappy Bush said about this situation? Oh wait, we can get a sample of his feelings right here. As the former head of the CIA I'd say his opinion carries some weight.

Undoubtedly, everybody will double-check her activities when they were involved with her, hoping to catch some interesting poop, but by now, most of what she was involved with is so dated that it prolly doesn't matter.

Again, I would appreciate a source that supports this statement from within the CIA. Surely someone in the CIA supports this administration and is interested in the truth coming out. You do know that the front company that she worked for has been outed as well and that anyone connected with that company is now assumed to be a spy.

So, while granted what happened was criminal, and serious, its overall effect will most likely be marginal. Heck, there might have even been a *real* reason, not just politics, for her to have been exposed. God knows what. Spooks are an odd lot.

How are you assessing the effects of this as marginal? Have any CIA analysts come out and said the effects of her outing will be marginal? It sounds like your saying that we should suspend the rule of law in this situation because you believe no one was hurt and that this is a non issue. So by your standards we should have let Clinton off the hook for lying under oath right.
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 6:15 AM on October 21, 2003


So, as I keep telling you, if they wanted to find WMDs in Iraq, they could have produced large quantities of low-tech junk that could be used as WMDs, or called WMDs.

Pretzel-shaped indeed.
posted by magullo at 6:34 AM on October 21, 2003


meanwhile the liberal media ignores protests of thousands in iraq with shots fired over their heads by "coalition" troops. who's "liberated" now?
posted by specialk420 at 7:23 AM on October 21, 2003


Wong, I got no disagreement with anything you say, but a word to the wise: Putting your opponent's words in regular and yours in bold makes you look like the guy at a party who doesn't realize how loudly and obnoxiously he's talking - it makes you look less calm and rational than the person you're arguing with.
posted by soyjoy at 8:03 AM on October 21, 2003


Hi Soy,

Thank you for the advice. I can definately see how you would see it that way. If you don't mind taking it one step further, how would you distinguish your speach from the person you are quoting in a post? (Besides Using Italics?)

Thanks,

Wong
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 8:38 AM on October 21, 2003


Well, see the advantage of italics is that it makes the quoted person look a little - slanted, if ya know what I mean. Then you come in all regular and set things "right."

Try it, you'll like it.
posted by soyjoy at 8:51 AM on October 21, 2003


Wow, here's what Hitchens has to say about it... Boy, who would have thought Hitch would come to his senses about all this, huh?

Oh, wait, he's not talking about WMDs, is he? (classic Atrios)
posted by soyjoy at 9:34 AM on October 21, 2003


What's Wrong with the CIA?

"When convincing and bludgeoning failed, our last resort was to go two ways at once: Casey would permit the analysts to say whatever they wanted in their report or estimate. Then, very quietly and often with no paper trail to be found later, he would authorize one or another member of his inner circle – the OSS he had built within the CIA – to produce an alternate memo that reflected their, and his own, judgment. He would allow the official report to be published and distributed, so no one could accuse him of “interfering with the intelligence professionals.” But he would put a few copies of the unofficial memo in his briefcase and head down to the White House to hand them out personally to President Reagan and other key members of the administration, all the while suggesting – with Bill’s version of a wink and a nod – that when they had finished reading the official CIA version, they take a moment to read this, too. It wasn’t elegant or pretty. But it was legal (really, it was), and it reduced the chances of President Reagan being blindsided by a CIA whose career analysts weren’t as good as they should have been or embarrassed by a bureaucracy that disliked him and his policies and just plain hated to give him any ammunition."
posted by jacobsee at 9:57 AM on October 21, 2003


walrus got it right. I was NOT defending W or Dick Cheney or that lot on the bogus search for WMDs. My point is that, even if they stumbled across an underground bunker full of it they wouldn't say so.

So, to answer my own (last) question: if they DO find WMDs in Iraq, at any point, it opens the door to the kind of UN involvement in Iraq that the US doesn't want. Ergo, by NOT finding WMDs, they keep out the UN involvement they don't want.
This is NOT to say that they don't want ANY UN involvement, just the kind THEY want, under the resolution THEY have written, which will support THEIR objectives.

Is that a level of guile that makes sense? Does anyone still think that this means I am saying they are nice people?

And as far as the CIA woman is concerned, I don't take anything I hear in the press as honest, straightforward news about spies or spy agencies. They employ lots of people whose sole job is to *stop* "real" information from getting out, and to distort it in any way possible. Even what she or her husband says in public we must assume has been vetted by the CIA, even if she is retired.
I can even vouch for the journalists. Who knows how many of them might be beholden to the CIA, or were selected for a reason to "spill" the story.
So all told, my opinions on the matter are neutral. The only suggestion I can give is treat all information on this matter as suspect.
posted by kablam at 2:16 PM on October 21, 2003


So all told, my opinions on the matter are neutral.

As if...

--and, judging from the Jr. John LeCarre spy story blah blah woof woof fairlytale bullshit, not particularly well informed, either.
posted by y2karl at 2:51 PM on October 21, 2003


The current US government being concerned about the UN strong-arming its way into Iraq, and the CIA asking for a justice department investigation into a white house leak being intentional misinformation are both quite picturesque and novel concepts. But my fav is the one about the US hiding WMD findings found in Iraq.

"That's right, weapons have been found, but we're keeping quiet 'cause we don't want the UN hands all over the country".

This will catch, mark my words.
posted by magullo at 3:10 PM on October 21, 2003


we had those new voting machines and the numbers they spit out sure didn't match the polls leading up to the election and with no paper trail.....well, I guess we'll never know will we?

I'm sure this PR campaign will settle any doubts.
posted by homunculus at 3:49 PM on October 21, 2003


Even what she or her husband says in public we must assume has been vetted by the CIA

kablam, read the article and you'll see why this assertion is funny.

Perhaps I erred, though, in describing you personally bending into pretzel shapes to explain something away. Now what it seems you're doing is trying very earnestly to explain something that is bizarrely pretzel-shaped: Some kind of everything-they-say-is-BS-so-anything-might-be-true cynicism that, unfortunately, leads nowhere but complete nihilism.

Really, if we take it for granted that we can form no conclusions about what's going on because they're all so devious and crafty, why bother paying attention?

Conversely, Hersh's piece lays out the dismantling of the traditional intelligence-assessment system in a lucid way that makes perfect sense. Maybe it's just that internal-logic aspect that makes his description of the situation seem more compelling.
posted by soyjoy at 7:30 PM on October 21, 2003


follow up with hersh.
posted by specialk420 at 8:37 AM on October 22, 2003


« Older The times...  |  How old are you? The Ageless P... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments