"Trailers of rumoured, vague threat?"
June 3, 2003 8:13 AM   Subscribe

"Trailers of Mass destruction" : By Wolfowitz Productions, starring Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw. A red hot tale of sex, intrigue and death. (scroll to bottom of page). Amidst the controversy over Wolfowitz's admissions in a Vanity Fair interview about the use of Iraq's alleged WMD threat as a pretext for war, Hollywood comes to the rescue!
posted by troutfishing (20 comments total)
Also of interest: A close friend of Don Rumsfeld with little intelligence experence set to take over search for WMD's in Iraq as the new Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (scroll down)

"What else do we know about Dr. Cambone? He is a 1982 political science Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School. He was the staff director of the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, also known as the "Rumsfeld Commission."
Here's the kicker: besides being "a protege of Donald Rumsfeld," he also was one of the authors of the Project for the New American Century's "Rebuilding America's Defenses", the radical, Strangelovian document that formed the basis for the Bush administration's National Security Strategy.

So, having failed, despite Judith Miller's best efforts, to find any evidence of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons in Iraq, the Pentagon is sending a new team of 1400 people, headed by one of Rumsfeld's closest buddies, a civilian political science Ph.D. with little intelligence experience, who also happens to be a neoconservative PNAC guy (a "Straussian," too, for those who think that matters). What are the odds that he will not claim to find something?"
posted by troutfishing at 8:38 AM on June 3, 2003

"excuse" is not the same as "reason."

Wolfowitz admits as much. He had plenty of reasons, and picked WMD as the excuse because he felt he had Saddam dead to rights: even if no weapons ever turn up, Saddam had still failed to prove his disarmarment as required by the 1991 cease fire.

Far from proving their disarmarment, they blocked, infiltrated, and spied on the weapons inspectors who were supposed to merely verify compliance. Far from actually disarming, there is plenty of evidence that the Iraqis maintained a number of incompetent, half-assed weapons programs after that time.

Letting Saddam off the hook because his programs were junk would be like letting an armed robber off because he stole from the register but forgot to look in the safe.
posted by ednopantz at 8:40 AM on June 3, 2003

I never thought I'd see the words "Kris Kristofferson" and "red hot"..."sex" in the same paragraph, in such close proximity.
posted by TreeHugger at 9:10 AM on June 3, 2003

If you say a war is needed because the enemy holds NBC weaponry, and then later say when those weapons fail to turn up that this justification was an "exaggeration" necessary to gain support for the war, it is neither an "excuse" nor a "reason"-- it is a lie.
posted by Cerebus at 9:17 AM on June 3, 2003

It is not a lie. A lie is when you know something and then falsely claim otherwise.

Here's a hypothetical.

Fact A exists on day one.

Person A is responsible for Fact A.

Group B says "Prove that Fact A is not true, as we know that it was true in the past, and this is punishment. The burden of proof is on you."

Person A hems, haws, thumbs her nose at the request.

On day 180, Person C says "Fact A is still true and has not been proven false and we're going to attack person A unless Fact A is proven false."

Person C then attacks.

Question - where is the lie?
posted by swerdloff at 9:45 AM on June 3, 2003

Question - where is the lie?

That corner Tony's being painting himself into is getting smaller by the hour, for a man who relies on trust and integrity he's in deep shit.

Matthew Parris in the Times has got Blair's number:

"There is, though, a question regularly asked at an Oxford college which encapsulates Mr Blair’s present dilemma over Iraq perfectly. The applicant is invited into the interviewing room and seated in front of a rectangular coffee table. He or she is asked “how many legs has this table got?” The student can only see three legs from where he is sitting but replies “four”. “How do you know”, the don says, “that there are four legs when you can just see three?” The poor student squirms and attempts to explain how sensory perception can be misleading and that it is possible to reach judgments in the absence of observable data. At the end of the discussion the teenager is invited to stand up and look once more from a different angle. He discovers that the table, despite its shape, has but three legs."

and here
"There are, on reflection, a handful of stations in life that may draw a speaker to make the integrity of his own conviction part of the argument. They include religious leader, insurance salesman, confidence trickster and politician. In each case the audience has a special need for assurance about the honesty of the speaker. All these speakers are claiming privileged information. Each in his different way must persuade us that he knows about or has personally seen a vital link in the chain of his argument, but which is not yet open to public inspection. For the time being we must, therefore, trust him.

We did, with Mr Blair, over weapons of mass destruction. Even I did. We did over that promised UN second resolution. The Prime Minister’s speech delivered in the critical Commons debate on the eve of war was one of the most effective he has made, and it hinged utterly on his powerful claims not only as to the existence of weapons of mass destruction, but the huge and immediate threat they presented.

He was emphatic. He was sure. We said: “He’s in charge; he says he knows; we must give him the benefit of the doubt.” By an act of trust we made ourselves vulnerable to being made to look not only wrong, but dupes. If that happens we will feel hurt in a rather personal way."

posted by niceness at 10:03 AM on June 3, 2003

Question - where is the lie?

Right here.

And here.

posted by Cerebus at 10:12 AM on June 3, 2003

Believing Saddam didn't have any WMD requires one to believe that a man obsessed with power and obsessed with unconventional means of promoting that power beggared his country in order to keep WMD he didn't have. While possible, I would take a lot of evidence to the contrary before I believe that. Our intelligence personnel should as well.

And not to take the focus off WMD, the Blair bashers would do well to read a piece from the Telegraph (which Safire darn near plagiarized in the NYT yesterday!)
posted by ednopantz at 10:16 AM on June 3, 2003

Coughlin is arguing that the ends (removing Hussein) justified the means (selling a war on a lie).

I applaud the ends; Hussein was a brutal dictator who threatened the region (but not the US). His removal is a good thing.

Selling the war to remove him on a lie is a bad thing. Contrary to Coughlin's assertion, I am not seeking to discredit Operation Iraqi Freedom, but rather the leaders who lied to me about their motivations in the first place.

I don't like being lied to. I hate being treated like a child that is incapable of understanding a moral argument. I absolutely despise being soft-pedalled a load of disingenuous crap about what will probably turn out to be the most important event in world politics this decade.

If my leaders will lie to me about something of that magnitude, how can I believe they won't lie to me about something less important-- like a stock dividend tax cut creating jobs?

Oh. Wait. Bad example.
posted by Cerebus at 10:36 AM on June 3, 2003

Err, you've ignored the hypothetical. Anyone wish to address it and engage the discussion, rather than pointing to media sources that state conclusions as headlines?

I'll state it more simply: if something was once true and has never been demonstrated or proven false, is it a lie to claim that it is still true?

And what if reporters are lying about the lie?

Here's the quote:
"For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Mr Wolfowitz tells the magazine.

Here's the full quote:
Wolfowitz: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but -- hold on one second --


Kellems: Sam there may be some value in clarity on the point that it may take years to get post-Saddam Iraq right. It can be easily misconstrued, especially when it comes to --

Wolfowitz: -- there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two. Sorry, hold on again.

[emphasis mine]

Here is the full version of the Wolfowitz Interview

Just in case you were interested in getting at the facts.

Of course "support for terrorism" and "treatment of the iraqi people" doesn't play well in Peoria for Vanity Fair.

(Please note: I have nothing against people from Peoria...)
posted by swerdloff at 10:54 AM on June 3, 2003

"if something was once true and has never been demonstrated or proven false, is it a lie to claim that it is still true?"

Tony Blair's primary reasons for going to war were thus :

Iraq poses a serious and immediate threat to the UK and its allies.

Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction/murder/distraction/minor annoyance that can be assembled and made ready within 45 minutes.

These assertions have never been verified as true. Or even vaguely accurate.
posted by influx at 11:50 AM on June 3, 2003

swerdloff, you're hypothetical is not very relevant to bush/blair's justification of the war.

we're going to attack person A unless Fact A is proven false.

you can't remove all context from Fact A and make it cause for 'attack.' maybe you could say "we're going to do X to person A..." but how useful is that to the discussion?

the fact is the politicians told us saddam had WMDs and that they had substantial proof of it. they just couldn't share the proof with us before the war because...well, because??? oh, some national security hoo haw. just "trust us" saddam has WMDs and he's gonna use them any minute!

so we spend $75 billion or whatever, kill untold 1000s...and yet still there is no proof that the WMDs existed. you can call it "not a lie" on whatever technical hypothesis you wish. i, for one, feel lied to. and i'd feel quite duped had i ever supported this war.
posted by danOstuporStar at 12:03 PM on June 3, 2003

After reading this I'm lead to ask,

"What do you mean by 'is'?"

Lots of equivocating here about the meaning of 'lie.'

Bush & Co. picked a story that they thought would sell. It can't be backed up now by NEUTRAL sources (UN) or by US military forces, so now the US wants to send in someone blatantly partisan to search.

It was a lie; the claims of Nuclear threat from reports they knew to have been disproved, affirmative statements of WMD existing as FACT when the charge hadn't been proven. That's a lie. Plain and simple.
posted by Red58 at 12:13 PM on June 3, 2003

After picking at my hypothetical, which was merely an exercise in logic, now you ignore the actual wolfowitz quote that this thread was premised upon.

Whether the outcome of the story Bush and Co gave us is what they said it would be depends on whether you think they're prescient or not.

and yet still there is no proof that the WMDs existed

There are many many Iranians and Kurds who would beg to differ.

I (heart) MeFi.
posted by swerdloff at 1:09 PM on June 3, 2003

Ok, so when I said "Whether the outcome of the story Bush and Co gave us is what they said it would be depends on whether you think they're prescient or not." I was unclear.

To clarify - If you believe that Bush and Company had perfect intelligence, like, James Bond went in and said "Holy smokes, that's Anthrax" then yes, you can say that Bush and company made up the story and do so with a clear (if deluded) conscience. Nobody, not even Rush Limbaugh, ascribes magical powers to Bush. Or Co.

HOWEVER. If you believe that instead they got a lot of puzzle pieces, such as a history of having WMDs and no clear demonstration that they'd gotten rid of them, reports from former scientists saying "yes, the program is up and running" and possible disinformation for the Chalabi gang, then you should consider the possibility that in good faith the Bush clan went in actually expecting WMDs.

If I have a rock, and it's in my pocket, are you sure I've got the rock? I could have a hole in my pocket.

If I've got a gun, or something that looks like a gun, and I've had it for a long time, and I don't let you search me, and later it turns out I wasn't actually carrying it, can I later say that your search wasn't in good faith because after the fact it turns out I didn't have the gun? I could just as easily have hidden it, or thrown it out, or destroyed it, or had it. How should you know?

If you have a better answer than "I can't possibly know" please, let me hear it.
posted by swerdloff at 1:29 PM on June 3, 2003

Let me just add that I would bet the intelligence dossiers don't say:"Iraq definitely has no WMD." They probably list the circumstantial evidence in favor: the networks of front companies for buying military goods, lots of money skimmed from oil for food and such, the unaccounted for precursor chemicals, the use of chemical weapons in the 1980s, the repeated denials that have in the past been disproven, spying on weapons inspectors, sigint intercepts talking about nerve agents, etc., and then conclude that absent evidence to the contrary, (of which there is none), the weapons are there.

Notice that the complaints from the intelligence community come after their analyses are starting to look wrong and not before. If this was all based on a sinister conspiracy and not on wrong (?) intelligence don't you think we would have heard the CIA complaining before and not after?

Oh, and despite running one of the most incompetent wars in recent memory, Iraq did attack a British ally by lobbing missles at Kuwait.
posted by ednopantz at 1:42 PM on June 3, 2003

endopantz: I agree that your probably right when it comes to the kind of facts that Bush/Blair received prior to invasion i.e. lots of circumstantial evidence indicating that Iraq might be in possession of WMD production facilities, precursors, or older stocks of weapons provided to it by the West. I really don't think anyone here would disagree with that.

However that is a far cry from, "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

I think the question is, where are those weapons that there was no doubt existed? Heck, I'll even settle for a little bit of the intelligence that made us so sure. The President obviously isn't omniscient. Hussien was definitely oppressing Iraq and a destabilizing factor in the region, and if we honestly had intelligence that showed he was an immediate threat to the United States, even if that evidence was later shown to be inaccurate, then this war was justified. However, if this evidence never existed then the premise for the war was a lie, and the President lied to the American people and to congress.

All we as patriotic Americans ask for is accountability.
posted by betaray at 2:37 PM on June 3, 2003

betaray: Of course, on one level, it is silly to ever assert that there is "no doubt" in matters like this because of course there is always doubt. Ultimately this is a matter of opinion. If there weren't a single dissenter in the western intelligence agencies, then they ought to get some new analysts. If the consensus view was that the WMD were there, than the statement seems good enough.

Would "Intelligence...leaves the President with no doubt" be better? Probably, but this is political rhetoric we are talking about.

I would also note that a quick google of "immediate threat" + Iraq on the White House site does not show the phrase being used by the administration. Ari, whom I generally despise, in fact corrects a question that uses the phrase. The hawkish consensus has always been that the Iraqi regime was a long term regional threat that was best dealt with sooner rather than later. The claim of immediate threat to the US is largely an invention of critics. I haven't been watching Blair very closely so I can't speak to that.
posted by ednopantz at 3:46 PM on June 3, 2003

endopantz: First your right about the "immediate threat" text. I should have said "was in possession of WMD" instead of "was an immediate threat to the United States". That's more accurate because the justification for the attack was based on the UN resolution forcing Iraq to disarm exactly because no one believed that he was an immediate threat to anyone. If he was there would have been a second UN resolution.

You can't make the argument that "no doubt" means "some doubt", sorry. Sure I believe that somewhere in the government that some people were dissenting, but that's not the issue here. The issue is that the President of the United State said that there was no doubt in his mind that Saddam was in possession of WMD. That statement lead many people to support the war because they trust their representatives in government. I want to know why he had no doubt now that we've seen that there really aren't any of the most lethal weapons ever devised in Iraq.

I don't know how to argue this point any more. I mean, basically your telling me that you have no interest in finding out if the President lied to us, was deceived, or just received faulty information.

Also, you cannot just dismiss the words and actions of the President as "political rhetoric". These words and actions has life and death consequences. I'm not comfortable with my country going to war if our reasons are exaggerations and lies. The only way we can keep that from happening is to hold our representatives accountable.
posted by betaray at 2:37 PM on June 4, 2003

Even the UN thought Saddam had WMDs. That's why they agreed to 1441. Why is this even an issue?
posted by swerdloff at 2:46 PM on June 4, 2003

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