Who is lying about Iraq?
November 9, 2005 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Who Is Lying About Iraq? A (thorough) editorial from Commentary Magazine by Norman Podhoretz examining the case for war, the allegations of Bush administration deceit, the yellowcake incident, Democratic party claims and backtracking, and Plamegate. Obviously partisan, obviously biased, but I've never seen such a clearly laid out rebuttal with citations of many of the allegations made against the Bush administration with respect to Iraq.
posted by loquax (102 comments total)
 
I don't claim to present this as the unadulterated truth, but I did find it interesting given the current climate, particularly the snippets bellow.

Hans Blix: The discovery of a number of 122-mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot 170 km southwest of Baghdad was much publicized. This was a relatively new bunker, and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions. . . . They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg. The discovery of a few rockets does not resolve but rather points to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for.

Lawrence Wilkerson:
I can’t tell you why the French, the Germans, the Brits, and us thought that most of the material, if not all of it, that we presented at the UN on 5 February 2003 was the truth. I can’t. I’ve wrestled with it. [But] when you see a satellite photograph of all the signs of the chemical-weapons ASP—Ammunition Supply Point—with chemical weapons, and you match all those signs with your matrix on what should show a chemical ASP, and they’re there, you have to conclude that it’s a chemical ASP, especially when you see the next satellite photograph which shows the UN inspectors wheeling in their white vehicles with black markings on them to that same ASP, and everything is changed, everything is clean. . . . But George [Tenet] was convinced, John McLaughlin [Tenet’s deputy] was convinced, that what we were presented [for Powell’s UN speech] was accurate.

People say, well, INR dissented. That’s a bunch of bull. INR dissented that the nuclear program was up and running. That’s all INR dissented on. They were right there with the chems and the bios.

Bill Clinton: If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons-of-mass-destruction program.

Madeline Albright: Iraq is a long way from [the USA], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risk that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.

Sandy Berger: He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.

Nancy Pelosi: Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons-of-mass-destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.

"a number of Senators led by Bob Graham": There is no doubt that . . . Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical, and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf war status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies.

Carl Levin: Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations, and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical- and biological-weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members.

Al Gore: We know that [Saddam] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.

Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.

John Kerry:
I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force—if necessary—to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.

posted by loquax at 9:09 AM on November 9, 2005


I don't know why no one ever seems to remember the fact we successfully put weapons inspectors into Iraq for months, where they were free to explore any intelligence pointers we were giving them.

For some reason the question of going to war is so often framed as the fuzzier "why did we have to 'go in there'" instead of "why did we ignore the UN inspectors and attack anyway?"
posted by johngoren at 9:32 AM on November 9, 2005


Democrats = corrupt lying imperialist warmongers.
Republicans = even worse.

Does that answer the question?
posted by cleardawn at 9:33 AM on November 9, 2005


To lie means to say something one knows to be false.

Uh...

Main Entry: 3lie
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): lied; ly·ing /'lI-i[ng]/
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English lEogan; akin to Old High German liogan to lie, Old Church Slavonic lugati
intransitive senses
1 : to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
2 : to create a false or misleading impression

posted by eddydamascene at 9:33 AM on November 9, 2005


The question was not, was Saddam working on weapons, did he have materials, etc. The question was: are they a threat. To us, to his neighbors, to anyone?

Those are two very different things.

And trotting out a bunch of pro-War Democrats, most of whom continue to be pro-War, doesn't show anything other then how attractive selling war to the people is.
posted by cell divide at 9:34 AM on November 9, 2005


It seems the president's defenders have fallen back on what has always been their argument of last resort -- cherry-picked quotes from Clinton administration officials arranged to give the misleading impression that the Clintonites said and thought the same thing about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as the Bushies did.

Not true.

But even arguing on this ground understates the full measure of administration mendacity in the lead up to the war since it ignores half the story. WMD was only half the administration equation for war. The other half was Iraq's alleged ties to Islamist terrorist groups like al Qaida and including al Qaida. On top of that, of course, was the big enchilada, the Cheney favorite, those frequent and intentionally ambiguous suggestions that Saddam Hussein played a role in the 9/11 attacks.

The administration has always been able to fall back upon the fact that as much as they hyped and exaggerated the evidence of Iraqi WMD, the folks in the intelligence community made plenty of mistakes on their own.

But the claims about Iraqi ties to al Qaida were always USDA-approved Grade-A crap.

Talking Points Memo

posted by y2karl at 9:35 AM on November 9, 2005


Jon Chait explains: "The Bush administration, like almost everybody else, made some honest mistakes. Unlike everybody else, it also made some dishonest mistakes. The Clintonites warned against Hussein's weapons, but they didn't bully intelligence analysts into suppressing contrary information, and they didn't pass on information they knew was false. That's what the [Fitzgerald] investigation is about. Everybody got it?"

The administration pressured analysts, and trumpeted allegations that they knew or should have known were false (ie re Iraq-al Qaeda connections) to the public. The worst rationale for war-- that Iraq posed a grave and gathering threat to the US and our allies-- was the one the Bush administration chose to push. For that, they will have to answer to history, if not to any investigations as long as the Republicans control Congress.
posted by ibmcginty at 9:38 AM on November 9, 2005


Now that I've read it, I fail to see anything new there. There are no new 'justifications' for the invasion, just the same tired rhetoric about how poor ol' Dubya was led astray and how if you quote-mine enough, *everyone wanted to invade Iraq.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:38 AM on November 9, 2005


Also, the Dem quotes listed above have been floating around as "Look, see? SEE?" fodder for quite some time now.

Of course their counter-arguement is that "We were fed a line of bull from an administration that knew it was such" (CIA intel known to be shaky/bad, but presented as "Slam Dunk" anyhow).

Although a bit of responsibility rests with the "rube", I think most would agree that the majority of blame should go to the (neo) con.
posted by numlok at 9:38 AM on November 9, 2005


Now that the war has turned out to be an astounding train wreck, it's incredible to see the supporters try to shift the focus like this--these talking points have been making the rounds.

No one defended Saddam as a boyscout. Many people thought he had weapons, which was, as john points out, the reason for inspectors. Very few people saw a compelling and *immediate* need to invade a soveriegn country. Perhaps you might remember the millions of people demonstrating all over the world? The fact that we were angry at France for saying that it was a bad idea?


We do have pretty specific evidence and personal recounts that at least some of the intelligence was misinterpreted so blatantly that choosing an explanation other than fraud or incompentence is very difficult.

If you make a mistake of this magnitude, when many, many people advised you otherwise, you don't get to go back and argue that others felt the same.
posted by allan at 9:40 AM on November 9, 2005


Here’s a short rap sheet on the man who the administration used to provide justification for the Iraq war:

PENTAGON FUNDED CHALABI TO PROVIDE RATIONALE FOR WAR: The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency paid the INC $335,000 a month in the lead-up to the Iraq war to gather intelligence. In all, the Bush White House has given the INC at least $39 million over the past 5 years. [IPS, 5/23/04; New Yorker, 6/7/04]

CHALABI’S IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS WAS MAJOR SOURCE OF DATA FOR PENTAGON OFFICE OF SPECIAL PLANS: According to a report in the New Yorker, analysts based in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans “relied on data gathered by other intelligence agencies and also on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, or I.N.C., the exile group headed by Ahmad Chalabi.” “You had to treat [the I.N.C.] with suspicion,” a former Middle East station chief said of Chalabi’s people. ‘The I.N.C. has a track record of manipulating information because it has an agenda. It’s a political unit-not an intelligence agency.’” [New Yorker, 5/12/03]

CHALABI ATTENDED PLANNING MEETING AT THE PENTAGON JUST DAYS AFTER 9/11 ATTACKS: On September 18, 2001, Richard Perle convened a two-day meeting of the Defense Policy Board, a group that advises the Pentagon. Chalabi, who was a guest speaker at this meeting, made a presentation on the Iraqi threat. [Vanity Fair, 5/04]


CHALABI STOVEPIPED INTEL TO BUSH; DISSENTING CIA AND STATE ANALYSES REMAINED SECRET: According to The New Yorker, “Chalabi’s defector reports were …flowing from the Pentagon directly to the Vice-President’s office, and then on to the President, with little prior evaluation by intelligence professionals.” State Dept. Intelligence expert Greg Thielmann said, “There was considerable skepticism throughout the intelligence community about the reliability of Chalabi’s sources, but the defector reports were coming all the time. Knock one down and another comes along. Meanwhile, the garbage was being shoved straight to the President.” The INC also takes credit for providing raw, unsubstantiated information directly to John Hannah, then-special assistant for national security in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. [The New Yorker, 10/27/03; Newsweek, 12/15/03]

CHALABI PROVIDED AGENT CURVEBALL TO AFFIRM SUPPOSED EXISTENCE OF SADDAM’S BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS LABS: “A U.S. official confirmed that defectors from Chalabi’s organization had provided suspect information to numerous Western intelligence agencies. ‘It’s safe to say he tried to game the system,’ the official said.” A discredited INC defector to Germany who was code-named ‘Curveball’ was the chief source of information on Iraq’s supposed fleet of mobile germ weapons factories. Curveball was the brother of a top lieutenant to Ahmed Chalabi, the group’s leader and now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. [LA Times, 5/23/04; Knight-Ridder, 4/3/04]

CHALABI PLANTED FABRICATED NEWS STORIES: Chalabi was the source for discredited news stories about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction which were penned by New York Times reporter Judith Miller. In 2001, Miller wrote a front-page story about claims that Saddam had twenty secrety WMD sites hidden in Iraq. The information turned out to be bogus. Chalabi’s group arranged Miller’s interview with the source and, according to the New Yorker, Miller’s exclusive story came just “three days after [the source] had shown deception in a polygraph test administered by the C.I.A. at the request of the Defense Intelligence Agency.” [New York Times, 2/26/04; The New Yorker, 6/7/04; Columbia Journalism Review, July 2004]


Sleeping With the Enemy: Chalabi’s Sordid History
posted by y2karl at 9:47 AM on November 9, 2005


Some of CTEG's material was leaked to the Weekly Standard, where it was published. In that form, the Feith "annex" achieved some renown as a classic in the genre of cherry-picked intelligence.

Dick Cheney was CTEG's patron. He had the group present its material at OVP and the National Security Council. He made frequent public remarks, drawing on CTEG conclusions, alleging an al-Qaida/Saddam connection. (Even after the 9/11 commission delivered its verdict that there was no collaborative relationship between the two sides, Cheney announced that the evidence of the Bin Laden-Baghdad ties was "overwhelming.") John Hannah, a Cheney aide who became the vice president's national security adviser after Libby's resignation, recycled some of the material into a draft of the speech Secretary of State Colin Powell was to give at the United Nations in February 2003—a draft that Powell threw out, calling it "bullshit."

The wide airing of CTEG material clearly irked George Tenet, who declared at one point when pressed by congressmen in 2003 that he would "talk to" Cheney about some of the claims he was making. Whatever passed between them, Cheney was not deterred. In January 2004, he told a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News that the Standard article was the "best source of information" on Saddam's ties to al-Qaida. In June 2004, Cheney was still claiming that 9/11 conspirator Mohammed Atta met an Iraqi agent in Prague.

Much is still to be learned about how intelligence was used and abused in CTEG and OVP. But one story gives a hint of what the historians may find: When I interviewed him several months ago, Powell's former chief of staff Larry Wilkerson recounted the story of a meeting in the White House situation room during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq when policymakers met with top intelligence officials from a number of agencies. After the intelligence officials made their presentations, Douglas Feith "leapt to his feet, pointed to a certain National Intelligence Officer and declared 'You people don't know what you're talking about.' "

Feith had worked for Cheney—together with Scooter Libby—when he was secretary of defense in the administration of George H.W. Bush and, according to former administration sources, was even closer to Rumsfeld than Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was. After that outburst, Feith held up a piece of paper and read aloud an account of al-Qaida's ties with Iraq in the early 1990s. Then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, a man well-known and well-liked in Washington for his gentlemanly manners, looked on, aghast at the scene. Wilkerson told me that after the end of the meeting, he got a copy of the paper and determined it was a newspaper clipping that had been retyped in the vice president's office to be presented as "intelligence."


President Cheney

posted by y2karl at 9:52 AM on November 9, 2005


Bush's constant shifting reasons for the invasion, lame rationalizations, etc., where more than enough to realize he wa bullshitting. Hell, it wasn't even artful bullshitting. Nobody with a brain believed him for a second, unless they really, really, really wanted to. He was like a frat-boy trying to convince a girl to go up to his room to look at his paintings.
Nobody was fooled for a second. Anybody who says they were is being disingenious.
posted by signal at 9:52 AM on November 9, 2005


A cop who plants evidence is a liar, even if he believes that the suspect is guilty.
posted by washburn at 9:56 AM on November 9, 2005


cue Dick Cheney:

"You don't have to take my word for it -- look right here in the New York Times! This 'Judith Miller' person has the inside story! WMD's are all over the place there in Iraq.

"Oh, and Mohammed Atta was partying, partying, I tell you, with Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague. For weeks. IT'S A FACT!"

on preview: beaten to the Cheney punch by y2karl. i think your work is cut out for you, loquax.
posted by Hat Maui at 9:57 AM on November 9, 2005


Who Is Lying About Iraq? A (thorough) editorial from Commentary Magazine...

Thorough? The article is a rehash of talking points about how we should be attacking Wilson for his supposed lies instead of Scooter Libby. The article is garbage. Nothing new. In the end it doesn't matter if Clinton thought all these lies were true or not, we went to war believing things that were complete bullshit. Maybe it was warmongering, maybe it was bad intelligence.

In the end, we're either evil or stupid. Take a pick.
posted by destro at 9:58 AM on November 9, 2005


A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.

The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading the debriefers’’ in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.

The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as “credible’’ evidence that Iraq was training Al 8Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.


Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Doubts

Smoking Gun on Manipulation of Iraq Intelligence? 'NY Times' Cites New Document
posted by y2karl at 10:00 AM on November 9, 2005


my take on the political dynamics of 2002-2003 was that (D) politicians had to bank on Saddam /not/ having this shit around when Bush eventually went in -- since the (D)s did not have the votes to stop the (R)s from going in, the 2002 war authorization vote became a crap-shoot on either trusting Saddam and making a pointless protest vote, or going with the flow.


I wouldn't put my seat in Congress on trusting that Saddam didn't still have sufficient stuff (for the admin to portray the regime's threat to the US as 'present') laying about.

It was a beautiful political campaign. As policy, $200B+ spent, 6000+ casualties, not so hot. Any sane person today would trade the present status quo for letting Saddam & Sons be in 2003, though I admit that backing down from the confrontation would have had its own costs and risks.

After all Qaddafy's regime actually killed US servicemen and civs through terrorist acts, but he's our pal now, for some strange reason.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:06 AM on November 9, 2005


There are so many problems with this commentary. The first is its long-windedness and rebutting it properly and thoroughly would take so much of my time that it would be a waste on the eardrums of people who don't ever seem to get it.

First, I have a problem with the definition of lying. When you pass along information from sources you know are at minimum suspect, and more commonly, serial liars, you are lying. Pushing to the forefront intelligence because it agrees with you is lying. You can transmit a lie by lying to yourself first. Podhoretz is transmitting a lie by passing along lies to justify lies. For example,

"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed, speaking in October 2002:

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical- and biological-weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members."

In the above example Clinton cites a truth "intelligence reports" certainly did say that. The intelligence reports were based on lies. Which means that the only reason Podhoretz gets his money quote is by quoting someone who was lied to.

There was a lot of truth out there for anyone willing to listen. Gannet was reporting it. A lot of people were not buying the weapon of mass destruction story. I was on the record as saying it was crap -- and I'm nobody. This was ultraflimsy evidence.

Bush didn't lie? Ask Colin Powell. He feels used. Ask anyone besides a mealy-mouthed apologist for liars like Podhoretz. And you might get an answer worth writing a commentary about.

There were no weapons of mass destruction. The claim that there were was a lie. We weren't lying. That is also a lie.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:13 AM on November 9, 2005


Wow. This kind of thing was counter-able, but still debatable, in 2003. In 2005? Give me a break.

Saddam was not, in any way, a threat to US security interests. Further, the Bush administration has never found anything to justify the fact that they said he was. It was not an honest mistake, and quite frankly the "but Democrats did it too!" defense, which is itself a lie, is totally irrelevant, and intellectually dishonest, to boot.

The war with Saddam was publicly justified on US national security grounds -- Saddam was a threat to the US. Mushroom clouds over New York were mentioned. Phantom uranium deals were touted (in spite of the fact that Iraq had no method of turning yellow cake uranium into bomb material, and it would have been impossible for Iraq to hide such a thing, especially with inspectors on the ground). Gas centrifuges were to be made of aluminum tubes that were quite obviously not up to spec. for that task (never mind that there was no facility in which to use these supposed tubes as gas centrifuges). There were fantastical claims of balsa wood drones being used as WMD distributors -- in the US! (in spite of the fact that these drones could carry no weaponry or cargo of any kind AND that their range wouldn't even allow them to hurt Israel, let alone the US). Fantastical (and bullshit) claims of al Queda /Saddam links were touted (in spite of the fact that almost no intelligence analysts took such claims seriously). Rummsfeld knew not only that Iraq had WMD, he knew where they were!. Bush said, on national TV, that we had found the WMD in Iraq! (did he, personally, ever retract that bullshit statement?). I could go on and on.

We have a word for this kind of thing: it's called a lie. A blatant, obvious lie. It's a facile word game to pretend it is anything but a lie.

There was no evidence of new activity by Saddam on the WMD front since the 1998 bombing. Sure, most Americans believed that the WMD we had given him pre-1991, and which Saddam had not proven that he destroyed, were still around. Democrats and Republicans alike believed that. But you know what? Saddam was still not a threat to the US, even if you assume he had the minor stockpiles of 15 year old chemical weaponry we gave him (and it was almost certainly these minor stockpiles that Bush and Cheney planned to use as cover for their many lies with respect to Iraq. Well, you came up snake eyes, boys. Tough luck on that one).

The people that continue to insist that, maybe, "mistakes were made" and "Democrats were part of it" live in a fantasy and so impenetrable that I wonder if they should have their right to vote revoked.

(That last bit is hyperbole).
posted by teece at 10:14 AM on November 9, 2005


My interest in posting this was not related to "justifications", as some have mentioned, but to the accusations that the entire case for war was predicated on lies spread by the Bush administration, and that everyone who supported the invasion was tricked into it by manufactured intelligence of varying degrees.

It seems quite clear that many Democrats believe that Iraq was a direct major threat to the US because of their existing weapons and their attempts to procure more weaponry far before Bush beat Gore. Not only that, other countries were convinced of the same things via their own analysis and intelligence services. Without specific evidence pointing to a massive worldwide conspiracy to invade Iraq for no reason (presumably if this were the case, they would have "found" something), you have to assume that the majority of those in the know believed in good faith that Hussein was a danger because of his weapons programs.

Whether or not the US should have invaded is a separate matter, in my eyes - the charge against Bush is that he and his people flat out lied as part of a conspiracy to invade Iraq. I don't think that's fair as it clouds the argument about justification, and I think this article and these citations show that, to a certain extent.

Most of the allegations of manipulation, embellishment and exaggeration are judgement calls, and seen through the all-knowing prism of hindsight, are simple to label as lies and fabrications. I'm saying that in a pre-war environment, where everybody, from Al Gore, to the New York Times, to Hans Blix and the UN were talking about how scared they were of Saddam Hussein (justifiably, in my opinion, regardless of the outcome), maybe it's a little understandable that neither the Clinton or Bush administrations were willing to give the Hussein regime the benefit of the doubt.

In the end, we're either evil or stupid. Take a pick.

Exactly my point. There's a huge and important distinction between those two choices. I vote "stupid" rather than evil. My feeling is that most would disagree.
posted by loquax at 10:19 AM on November 9, 2005


ALL THIS DIFFRENT SIZED TEXT IS GETTING IRRITATING

everything in moderation, folks.


Now that I've read it, I fail to see anything new there. There are no new 'justifications' for the invasion, just the same tired rhetoric about how poor ol' Dubya was led astray and how if you quote-mine enough, *everyone wanted to invade Iraq.


I like the term quote-mine. That's exactly what they're doing. It's interesting that none of the quotes are dated, as you know, things change.

It's entirely possible that saddam did have WMD in 1998 and then gave up after clinton bombed all the suspected WMD sites. Or maybe he never had them.

---

That said, all these democrats running around talking about how they were 'deceived' is idiotic. I wasn't sure if there were weapons or not, but what I did know is that, weapons or no, there would probably be a war if bush got the force authorization.

The democrats controlled the senate when that resolution passed. By one vote. Let's not forget that. If it passed by one or two votes (like Leiberman) that would be one thing. But there should have been restraints, there should have been requirements that the UN inspectors actually find something, but there wasn't. And the UN inspectors found nothing, and every day they operated, they undermined the presidents arguments for war.

The public has figured this out, finally, and the democrats are doing what they always do, read polls and do what they think 's popular.
posted by delmoi at 10:28 AM on November 9, 2005


Most of the allegations of manipulation, embellishment and exaggeration are judgement calls, and seen through the all-knowing prism of hindsight, are simple to label as lies and fabrications.

This is not a hindsight thing. Me, and many, many others, called the Bush admin. allegations about Iraq and WMD lies before we ever invaded. I was saying the Bush case was bullshit in the fall of 2002 -- because it was obvious that it was so.

The West seems to need a bad guy du jour. For whatever reason, Saddam became that bad guy. He was a threat in that sense -- in spite of the fact that the US had crippled him militarily. Other tin-pot dictators exist that are just as nasty as Saddam, but happen to have a military that was not recently crippled by a superpower. And yet, Saddam was the West's bad guy.

That is true. But it is not a justification for war, especially in a region as important as the Mid East, in in a country with such internal problems. The case for war in Iraq would have been a tough sell, if done honestly. Bush and crew made no attempt, from the very beginning, to sell the war honestly.

All of this was stated, by me and many others, before the war. This is not hindsight.

(And it is quite clear Bush made stuff up).
posted by teece at 10:28 AM on November 9, 2005


It seems quite clear that many Democrats believe belived that Iraq was a direct major threat to the US because of their existing weapons and their attempts to procure more weaponry far before Bush beat Gore.

Looks like you got your tenses mixed up. I fixed it for you. Now the question is when did they stop believing that? Did they stop after 1998, when Clinton bombed suspected WMD sites? Did they stop believing in 2003 when UN inspectors turned up nothing after nothing after nothing, disproving all of our intelligence? Or did they stop believing that after the Kay report, showing conclusively that nothing had been there?

The when does matter. Because we we had a chance to find out for sure before we went to war. I can't fuck stand it that people, including all these war-voting democrats claim otherwise. We didn't need to go to war; we didn't need to topple Saddam to stop this from happening. But we did.

The fact that these democrats acted a fool really doesn't change that fundamental aspect of the whole situation.
posted by delmoi at 10:34 AM on November 9, 2005


uranium deals were touted (in spite of the fact that Iraq had no method of turning yellow cake uranium into bomb material, and it would have been impossible for Iraq to hide such a thing, especially with inspectors on the ground)

Plus, iraq could mine yellowcake itself, if it wanted too. There's no reason to buy it from anywhere.
posted by delmoi at 10:35 AM on November 9, 2005




mmmm....
posted by delmoi at 10:36 AM on November 9, 2005


loquax: "My interest... you have to assume... is a separate matter, in my eyes... I don't think that's fair... judgement calls...

I vote "stupid"
"


No kidding!
posted by prostyle at 10:37 AM on November 9, 2005


It seems quite clear that many Democrats believe that Iraq was a direct major threat to the US because of their existing weapons and their attempts to procure more weaponry far before Bush beat Gore.

Maybe true. If not, then close enough.

Not only that, other countries were convinced of the same things via their own analysis and intelligence services.

Other countries were convinced that Saddam was a direct and major threat to the US? Please show evidence of this. Again, other countries believing that Saddam had some level of WMD materials or delivery methods, does not equate to direct and major threat to the US.
posted by cell divide at 10:41 AM on November 9, 2005


you have to assume that the majority of those in the know believed in good faith that Hussein was a danger because of his weapons programs

We weren't told about programs before the war. We were told, as statements of fact, that we knew that Iraq had WMD, and we knew where they were. It was only after we couldn't find any weapons that the Bush administration backpedaled, first to "programs" and then to the ridiculous "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

The administration rigged the system to only look at intelligence that supported the conclusion they wanted, and presented the intelligence as a consensus and absolute fact when there was actually doubt and dissent.

As Seymour Hersh wrote in The Stovepipe:
The point is not that the President and his senior aides were consciously lying. What was taking place was much more systematic--and potentially just as troublesome. Kenneth Pollack, a former National Security Council expert on Iraq, whose book "The Threatening Storm" generally supported the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein, told me that what the Bush people did was "dismantle the existing filtering process that for fifty years had been preventing the policymakers from getting bad information. They created stovepipes to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership. Their position is that the professional bureaucracy is deliberately and maliciously keeping information from them.

"They always had information to back up their public claims, but it was often very bad information," Pollack continued.

"They were forcing the intelligence community to defend its good information and good analysis so aggressively that the intelligence analysts didn’t have the time or the energy to go after the bad information."

The Administration eventually got its way, a former C.I.A. official said. "The analysts at the C.I.A. were beaten down defending their assessments. And they blame George Tenet"--the C.I.A. director--"for not protecting them. I've never seen a government like this."
Kenneth Pollack wrote in The Atlantic (original essay; subscription required):
For the most part, the problems discussed so far have more to do with the methods of Administration officials than with their motives, which were often misguided and dangerous, but were essentially well-intentioned. The one action for which I cannot hold Administration officials blameless is their distortion of intelligence estimates when making the public case for going to war.

As best I can tell, these officials were guilty not of lying but of creative omission. They discussed only those elements of intelligence estimates that served their cause. This was particularly apparent in regard to the time frame for Iraq's acquisition of a nuclear weapon--the issue that most alarmed the American public and the rest of the world. Remember that the NIE said that Iraq was likely to have a nuclear weapon in five to seven years if it had to produce the fissile material indigenously, and that it might have one in less than a year if it could obtain the material from a foreign source. The intelligence community considered it highly unlikely that Iraq would be able to obtain weapons-grade material from a foreign source; it had been trying to do so for twenty-five years with no luck. However, time after time senior Administration officials discussed only the worst-case, and least likely, scenario, and failed to mention the intelligence community's most likely scenario.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:48 AM on November 9, 2005


my take on the political dynamics of 2002-2003 was that (D) politicians had to bank on Saddam /not/ having this shit around when Bush eventually went in -- since the (D)s did not have the votes to stop the (R)s from going in, the 2002 war authorization vote became a crap-shoot on either trusting Saddam and making a pointless protest vote, or going with the flow.

Yeah yeah yeah. That's exactly what this is about, "political dynamics." And remember the democrats had 51 votes in the senate at the time. The vote happened early, before the 2002 elections.

Lieberman, if not a few others would have voted for the war anyway, though. So you're probably right that it would have passed. Still, it didn't need to pass by such a wide margin.

But the real point is, we didn't need to authorize the war before getting inspectors back in. Saddam invited inspectors in as soon as we started making noises, and we prevented them from going in until the UN security console was willing to authorize force (which they never ended up using, we went in without them)

The democrats could have changed the language of the force authorization to require U.N. approval of force, or at least solid proof that Iraq had WMDs from the inspectors. Despite rolling over, the democrats were massacred in 2002.

Their cowardice gained them nothing, and cost us everything.
posted by delmoi at 10:48 AM on November 9, 2005


It's interesting that none of the quotes are dated

The quotes are dated in the article (at least most of them are). Many from 1998 and 2002.

That said, all these democrats running around talking about how they were 'deceived' is idiotic.


Agreed, in spades.

This is not a hindsight thing. Me, and many, many others, called the Bush admin. allegations about Iraq and WMD lies before we ever invaded.

How on earth could you have *known* that as opposed to *believed* it. Why do you call them *Bush admin lies* when it's clear that many people, governments and other administrations believed the same things?

The case for war in Iraq would have been a tough sell, if done honestly. Bush and crew made no attempt, from the very beginning, to sell the war honestly.


For what it's worth, I agree with you here, and have stated so many times elsewhere. I always believed that the focus on "WMD" was a mistake, and the justification should have been focused on other reasons. To a large degree, I believe that the Bush administration is reaping what they've sown, but I don't think that accusations of lying are either true or productive. Much better to leave it at wrong (for the most part).

Looks like you got your tenses mixed up. I fixed it for you.

Thanks, honest mistake.

Because we we had a chance to find out for sure before we went to war.


Well, that's a different issue, and very debatable. Does North Korea have nuclear bombs or not? Does Iran? Does Israel? How was the Iraq situation in 2002 really that different? UN weapons inspectors can never state conclusively that there is *no* chance that a country like Saddam's Iraq has nuclear weapons, and it's likely that if they did exist, they would never have been found.

Again, other countries believing that Saddam had some level of WMD materials or delivery methods, does not equate to direct and major threat to the US.

Matter of opinion. I believe that a totalitarian Iraq was a direct danger to the US even if all they had were some rusty old AK-47s. Same as any other totalitarian dictatorship. But, specifically, the French were convinced that Iraq was in the process of assembling a nuclear bomb. Iraq with a bomb was most certainly a direct and imminent threat to the US. For what it's worth.
posted by loquax at 10:49 AM on November 9, 2005


How on earth could you have *known* that as opposed to *believed* it. Why do you call them *Bush admin lies* when it's clear that many people, governments and other administrations believed the same things?

I personally wouldn't have claimed to know they had no WMD, but as the inspectors inspected, it became less and less likely that they had them, and more and more likely that our intelligence was wrong. I mean, if we were giving them all our Intel, and they found nothing, that meant our Intel was wrong. If we weren't giving them all of our Intel, then we were obviously up to something shady.

By the time we actually invaded, it seemed very unlikely that they had any WMD.


And loquax, this is a serious question. why did we have to go to war right away? Why couldn't we let the inspectors finish their inspection work? What was so pressing? Couldn't we have used our military force to back up inspectors, rather then invading outright? (i.e. if you don't let inspectors into a facility, we'll bomb it. We'll keep everything monitored so if you move something, we'll know where it was moved too).

That simple exercise seems like it could have prevented Iraq from getting WMDs. People frame this as an either-or situation when it wasn't even close.
posted by delmoi at 10:57 AM on November 9, 2005


Well, that's a different issue, and very debatable. Does North Korea have nuclear bombs or not? Does Iran? Does Israel? How was the Iraq situation in 2002 really that different?

North Korea does not let inspectors in.

Iran is not letting inspectors in (or at least it's not letting them do much inspecting).

Isreal does not let inspectors in (and no one has pushed for it, afaik)

In Iraq, inspectors had pretty much full reign before the war. That's a pretty big diffrence.
posted by delmoi at 10:59 AM on November 9, 2005


loquax: "For what it's worth, I agree with you here, and have stated so many times elsewhere. I always believed that the focus on "WMD" was a mistake, and the justification should have been focused on other reasons.

A systematic presentation of disengenous information is the same damn thing no matter what carrot you put on the stick. Why do you insist on playing word games that are completely inane? People can barely wrap their heads around the world as it is today and your priorities are whiping the mud off the ass-end of this trainwreck of an administration.

Since you like to assume so much, go ahead and assume the invasion was justified using other logical assesments that appeal to you on a more personal level. Would it have changed a damn thing? No, it would still be completely duplicitous BS and all of those lives would still have been lost for nothing. Apparently the scope is way over your head, as everything you say revolves around "your opinion" and what you think is fair and what is not. People are dead, and people are still dying and you still insist on trotting out the same apologist lines. Stellar.

To a large degree, I believe that the Bush administration is reaping what they've sown, but I don't think that accusations of lying are either true or productive. Much better to leave it at wrong (for the most part)."

Yeah, I'll tell that to the (insert authority figure here) when I get caught up for (insert covered-up war-crimes here) and I'm sure we'll pat each other on the ass and both walk our seperate ways into the sunset.
posted by prostyle at 11:03 AM on November 9, 2005


Let's frame the arguement in a different way: does N. Korean and/or Iran or China now have or soon may have WMD, and if so, should we invade? Are any of those countries less of a threat to us than Iraq?
posted by Postroad at 11:13 AM on November 9, 2005


I vote "stupid" rather than evil.

OK, let's work with your assumption that we are stupid, and so stupid that we've killed 10,000 Iraqis and 2,000 American troops with our stupidity because we couldn't figure out that a guy named "Curveball" might be lying to us.

So stupid that we still believed we were right after France, Germany, Iraq Weapons insepctors, the IAEA, a large section of the public, and select memebrs of the administration all told us we were wrong. So stupid that even after we've made the mistake we continue to believe it 2 years after the fact.

This is epic amounts of supidity. We are funcitonally retarded.
posted by destro at 11:14 AM on November 9, 2005


Does anyone know when it will stop being OK to blame Clinton for everything? 'Cause I've got some fuckups my g/f may find out about sooner or later...
posted by mkultra at 11:23 AM on November 9, 2005


In Norman Podhoretz's book Ex-Friends: Falling Out With Allen Ginsberg, Lionel & Diana Trilling, Lillian Hellman, Hannah Arendt, and Norman Mailer, he claims that the poet Allen Ginsberg "[became] a homosexual not out of erotic compulsion but by an act of will and as another way of expressing his contempt for normal life."

Let us take a brief pause and look at this statement. First off, I knew Ginsberg for 20 years, and Podhoretz's statement is, well, "false" would be the first word that comes to mind. (Let's not even get into NP's use of the word "normal" there.) How does Podhoretz back up his suspicion that Ginsberg was a closet heterosexual? I kid you not: "He always struck me as straight" [these refs are on page 36 of the book].

Consider the source, loquax.
posted by digaman at 11:26 AM on November 9, 2005


kirkaracha - Thanks for the links. I've seen this claim before, and I don't disagree with it, I just have no ability to judge it. In order to definitively know what the relationship was between *only* the Bush administration and the "intelligence community" (leaving aside the question of the democrats, the Clinton administration and other countries), we'd have to dig into policy and procedure going back 50 years, examine the chain of communication between the White House, the Pentagon, and any and all of the 15 or so intelligence agencies, look at every intelligence report that came across Bush's desk, then independently assess it's intelligence value


"They were forcing the intelligence community to defend its good information and good analysis so aggressively that the intelligence analysts didn’t have the time or the energy to go after the bad information."


Claims like these are essentially unverifiable. I'm not saying this is wrong, but how are we to know? Pollack says this. Rumsfeld say otherwise. Who knows? I am positive that good intelligence was ignored, and bad intelligence was acted upon, and vice versa at various points in time. The only way to judge what constitutes good vs. bad intelligence is with hindsight, absent smoking gun evidence of deliberate intent to conspire, lie, deceive and make war.

why did we have to go to war right away?

A very fair question. I can only speculate. First, I'm not sure it was right away. It was 13-odd years after Hussein had invaded Kuwait, and 12 years after the first Gulf War. Sanctions had been in place for a decade, and did little but hurt the population of the country, as Hussein had little if any interest in distributing what money was allowed to come in to them. It was five years after the last major bombardment of Iraqi installations by Clinton. It was also 2 years after 9/11, not that there's a direct connection, but that was when the population at large perhaps began to conceive of the possibility and the consequences of an attack on American soil. And it was about a year after the routing of the Taliban.

Inspections had been conducted before, and suspended before, and restarted, and sandbagged, and so on and so on. Personally, I don't believe that inspections alone would ever conclusively *prove* anything. As opposed to the IAEA program in North Korea, where the nuclear program was declared, and sealed. Those seals are infinitely more valuable that a group of UN employees traipsing across the desert from one site to another while Hussein has his entire government at his disposal to play shell games ad infinitum. My comment here is that I, for one, would never have been confident in the fact that Hussein was peacefully chilling in Iraq, no matter what the UN or anybody else said. I'm still certain that had the US not invaded, the sanctions would eventually have been dropped, allowing Hussein or his sons to rebuild in earnest, until the prospect of invading becomes out of the question, as it currently is in North Korea. That prospect was very unappealing to me.

In terms of waiting, I certainly have some issues with the way the war was conducted. If waiting had meant that more troops could be sent, or organization would have been improved, I would have been all for it. But in terms of waiting to know the truth about his WMD programs? I don't think that day would have ever come. Which is why I thought the focus shouldn't have been on them in the first place.

Couldn't we have used our military force to back up inspectors, rather then invading outright?


We'd been doing that for ten years. How much longer should the US and UK keep up no-fly zones and semi-regular bombing runs while letting the Iraqi people rot in their de facto prison? Even the bombing that Clinton did apparently did not convince him or his secretary of state that Hussein's capabilities were either seriously or permanently undermined. And I hate to say it, but with the Oil for Food stuff, Hussein may have had a lot more free reign than we know of.

In Iraq, inspectors had pretty much full reign before the war. That's a pretty big difference.


As I recall the inspectors hardly had free reign. A sample:

On January 27, 2003, UN inspectors reported that Iraq had cooperated on a practical level with monitors, but had not demonstrated a "genuine acceptance" of the need to disarm. Inspector Hans Blix said that after the empty chemical warheads were found on the 16th, Iraq produced papers documenting the destruction of many other similar warheads, which had not been disclosed before. This still left thousands of warheads unaccounted for however. Inspectors also reported the discovery of over 3,000 pages of weapons program documents in the home of an Iraqi citizen, suggesting an attempt to "hide" them from inspectors and apparently contradicting Iraq's earlier claim that it had no further documents to provide. In addition, by the 28th, a total of 16 Iraqi scientists had refused to be interviewed by inspectors. The United States reports that sources have told them that Saddam has ordered the death of any scientist that speaks with inspectors in private. Iraq insists that they are not putting pressure on the scientists.

I don't see how you could ever have an appropriate measure of confidence in these inspections when the issue is the existence of nuclear weapons.

Let's frame the argument in a different way: does N. Korean and/or Iran or China now have or soon may have WMD, and if so, should we invade? Are any of those countries less of a threat to us than Iraq?

Excellent question. If you're asking me, I think that both Iran and North Korea are less of a threat than Iraq was (though still threats all the same) for different reasons, and who knows how things will develop. China is also a threat, but again, in different ways, and obviously on a different scale than Iraq and the others. I don't know if you want to get into a whole discussion about it, but I don't think that any of them should be invaded, in the case of China because it's impossible, North Korea because of their strength and friendship with China, and Iran because of the lack of past directly aggressive behaviour (with the very notable exception of Israel), and the real possibility of change from within, Iran not being nearly as repressed and centrally controlled as Iraq was.

OK, let's work with your assumption that we are stupid, and so stupid that we've killed 10,000 Iraqis and 2,000 American troops with our stupidity

Stupidity of the argument, not of the action. I believe that the action was valid and correct regardless of the WMD justification on the basis of the other justifications.

So stupid that we still believed we were right after France, Germany, Iraq Weapons inspectors, the IAEA, a large section of the public, and select members of the administration all told us we were wrong.

About the course of action, not about the underlying assumptions.

Consider the source, loquax.

The same could be said about just about anyone. Sy Hersh has admitted lying and distorting the truth for effect. Doesn't mean I'll automatically dismiss anything he ever says again. I consider content, not the source. If anything in the article linked is a lie, or a misrepresentation, by all means, let me know.
posted by loquax at 11:37 AM on November 9, 2005


Claims like these are essentially unverifiable. I'm not saying this is wrong, but how are we to know? Pollack says this. Rumsfeld say otherwise. Who knows?

Discussions like this are essentially un-haveable, loquax, because you are meta-bullshitting to protect bullshitters. Feel free to say "Who knows?" in the face of years of reporting now by hundreds of reporters. But I know, and I suspect, deep down inside, that you know too. Eventually you'll realize that the lives of American soldiers, and the standing of this country, are more important than giving an administration with a grotesque record of miscalculation more wiggle room. Then we can chat.
posted by digaman at 11:44 AM on November 9, 2005


Sorry, I don't understand your point digaman.

in the face of years of reporting now by hundreds of reporters.

Which have reported what? That bad intelligence was acted upon? I agree. Does it mean that the administration lied or suppressed known good intelligence on purpose? No.

Eventually you'll realize that the lives of American soldiers, and the standing of this country, are more important than giving an administration with a grotesque record of miscalculation more wiggle room.


Obviously, I don't believe that that's what I'm doing. Sorry you think so.
posted by loquax at 11:49 AM on November 9, 2005


"Hard on the heels of 9/11, the universities began adding innumerable courses on Islam to their curricula. On the campus, 'understanding Islam' inevitably translated into apologetics for it, and most of the media dutifully followed suit. The media also adopted the stance of neutrality between the terrorists and ourselves that prevailed among the relatively moderate professoriate, as when the major television networks ordered their anchors to avoid exhibiting partisanship.

Here the great exception was the Fox News Channel. The New York Times, in an article deploring the fact that Fox was covering the war from a frankly pro-American perspective, expressed relief that no other network had so cavalierly discarded the sacred conventions dictating that journalists, in the words of the president of ABC News, must 'maintain their neutrality in times of war.'"


-- Podhoretz

Thank goodness for Fox News, and its discarding of outmoded "sacred conventions."
posted by digaman at 12:12 PM on November 9, 2005


Me:This is not a hindsight thing. Me, and many, many others, called the Bush admin. allegations about Iraq and WMD lies before we ever invaded.

loquax: How on earth could you have *known* that as opposed to *believed* it. Why do you call them *Bush admin lies* when it's clear that many people, governments and other administrations believed the same things?

I think you misunderstood my point. Firstly, I think it goes without saying that a lot of what I'm writing is opinion, unless I am point out facts, and opinions are qualified by default, at least to me. But, I wasn't saying I *knew* Saddam had no WMD or something (I'm not clear on what you are saying I knew, though). Rather, my main point was this: the idea that Bush's case for war with Saddam was very flimsy, and that his WMD talk was much more hype than fact, is most definitely NOT hindsight, as you claimed above (you: Most of the allegations of manipulation, embellishment and exaggeration are judgement calls, and seen through the all-knowing prism of hindsight, are simple to label as lies and fabrications.

The idea that Bush was telling a tall tale came out way before we had the actual independent verification that Saddam had no WMD of any kind. That was my main point: I disagree strongly with your assertion up-thread that calling this stuff lies was a product of hindsight. I think your claim that the idea that Bush was lying is only a product of hindsight is dead-wrong, and that it's pretty easy to build a very strong factual case that that is not so, regardless of whether or not you agree with Bush's war.

As to why I called Bush case lies: there were several key things that were obviously not true in the Bush case for war, before we even invaded. Things like yellowcake, mushroom clousds over New York, and al Queda-Saddam links. That was all crap, and it was obviously crap before the US dropped the first bomb.
posted by teece at 12:15 PM on November 9, 2005


First of all, excavating Norman Podhoretz is just cruelty. They should have left his crypt unsullied.

But what always gets me, loquax, is this argument you present: "I wouldn't have invaded for WMDs, I would have invaded for other reasons." You're not the first to present it -- Christopher Hitchens is currently immolating what's left of his reputation by screaming this loudly at every opportunity -- but it carries with it the assumption that the removal of Saddam Hussein from power is inherently a Good Thing. Now, one may argue that totalitarians are Bad, and that getting rid of one and his penchant for murder, terror, and other horrible acts is always Good, and I'd be inclined to agree, but that's only assuming the removal of Saddam Hussein entails no consequences. It assumes -- just as Wolfowitz et. al. assumed -- that democracy would magically blossom because they'd be so overjoyed at being liberated. Or it doesn't even bother to assume any sort of aftermath, because it is a mantra: "The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power."

What if it's not?

I'm not suggesting this to be snarky. It's just...what if, even if the American public was solidly behind President Gore in his quest to ensure that Saddam Hussein was gone, with the full backing of the UN Security Council and half a million troops in a grand coalition, this was going to happen anyway? What if an invasion of Iraq just couldn't be done without unleashing the hell that we're witness to right now?
posted by solistrato at 12:16 PM on November 9, 2005


Does it mean that the administration lied or suppressed known good intelligence on purpose? No.

What was all that Fitzgerald noise about anyway? I forget. Was it something about suppressing intelligence from some guy named Joe Wilson, and then ruining his life? I forget. Maybe it's somewhere in that "indictment" thingie. Oh wait, I remember! Wilson's intelligence wasn't "good" intelligence, because of that Flame woman. Is that right?

Oh, it's so confusing living in a world of he-said-she-said relativism, with a serious case of selective amnesia.

After all, maybe Libby was pissed off at Flame for serving inferior hors d'oeuvres at one of those CIA parties.
posted by digaman at 12:24 PM on November 9, 2005


Stupidity of the argument, not of the action. I believe that the action was valid and correct regardless of the WMD justification on the basis of the other justifications.

Have you seen a newspaper lately? Iraq is a mess. It's getting to the point that things were better off with Saddam. We're torturing people. We're dropping chemical weapons on them. Things are blowing up everywhwere.

So why do you think this thing that we've done for stupid stupid reasons that's turned out to be a giant mess is such a good idea? where in this equation do you think a good idea was made that justifies all of this?

And we surely would NOT have been able to go to war with your reasoning, whatever it is. The population at large would not have bought it. That's why the term "WMD" was thought up in the first place.
posted by destro at 12:31 PM on November 9, 2005


Wasting words on a POS like Podwhorets, Norman.

Culpability on the part of Dems in no way absolves the Bush Administration of criminal acts and deception.

The Defenders Of Dubya are spinning harder than a ceiling fan these days!

Restoring honor and integrity to the White House, yup.
posted by nofundy at 12:44 PM on November 9, 2005


Look, let's be honest, the Iraqis were obligated in 1991 to submit a full declaration listing the totality of their holdings in WMD, and they didn't do this. They lied. They failed to declare a nuclear weapons program, they failed to declare a biological weapons programs, and they under-declared their chemical and ballistic missile capabilities. Saddam Hussein intended to retain a strategic deterrent capability, not only to take care of Iran but also to focus on Israel. What he didn't count on was the tenacity of the inspectors. And very rapidly, by June 1991, we had compelled him into acknowledging that he had a nuclear weapons programs, and we pushed him so hard that by the summer of 1991, in the same way that a drug dealer who has police knocking at his door, flushes drugs down a toilet to get rid of his stash so he could tell the cops, "I don't have any drugs," the Iraqis, not wanting to admit that they lied, flushed their stash down the toilet.

They blew up all their weapons and buried them in the desert, and then tried to maintain the fiction that they had told the truth. And by 1992 they were compelled again, because of the tenacity of the inspectors, to come clean. People ask why didn't Saddam Hussein admit being disarmed? In 1992 they submitted a declaration that said everything's been destroyed, we have nothing left. In 1995 they turned over the totality of their document cache. Again, not willingly, it took years of inspections to pressure them, but the bottom line is by 1995 there were no more weapons in Iraq, there were no more documents in Iraq, there was no more production capability in Iraq because we were monitoring the totality of Iraq's industrial infrastructure with the most technologically advanced, the most intrusive arms control regime in the history of arms control.

And furthermore, the CIA knew this, the British intelligence knew this, Israeli intelligence knew this, German intelligence, the whole world knew this. They weren't going to say that Iraq was disarmed because nobody could say that, but they definitely knew that the Iraqi capability regarding WMD had been reduced to as near to zero as you could bring it, and that Iraq represented a threat to no one when it came to weapons of mass destruction.


Scott Ritter and Seymour Hersh: Iraq Confidential
posted by y2karl at 12:54 PM on November 9, 2005


From the above link:
Mr. Hersh: There's always the argument that one virtue of what we did, no matter how bad it is, we've got rid of a very bad dictator. What's your answer to that one?

Mr.Ritter:That invokes the notion of the ends justify the means. I mean, that's basically what we're saying here is that who cares about the lie, who cares about the WMD. You know, we got rid of a bad guy. The ends justify the means. And I have to be frank. If there's anybody here who calls themselves a citizen of the United States of America and you endorse the notion of the ends justify the means, submit your passport for destruction and get the hell out of my country. Because this is a country that is founded on the rule of law as set forth by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution that the men and women who serve us swore an oath of allegiance to, the Constitution that our government, every government official swears an oath of allegiance to, and it's about due process. Democracy is ugly. Sometimes it doesn't work as smoothly as we want it to. But if you're sitting here and saying that when it comes to Saddam, that the ends justify the means, where do you draw the line? Where do you draw the line?

And you can't tell me that it's only going to stop here. It's about the rule of law, it's about the Constitution. And if we wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein, then we should have had a debate, discussion, and dialogue about the real reasons and not make up some artificial WMD.
posted by y2karl at 1:00 PM on November 9, 2005


loquax, what is your point with this post? Do you even have one? Is it your point that the administration are idiots for believing bad intelligence rather than liars for promulgating it? If so, how is that better?

Are you saying that Democrats are responsible for the Iraq war because they believed Iraq had WMD and voted to give Bush the authority to go to war? How can Democrats be in the minority in both houses of Congress, and (according to you and your Bush apologist buddies) "clueless, out of the mainstream", and so on, and still be at fault? Even if every single Democrat had voted against the war, it still would have happened. You can't have it both ways.

Are you even definitively claiming that the war was a mistake? You must be, else what's the point of trying to shift blame away from the Bush administration? But you still claim that the war was justified, even though you say that every Bush admin rationalization for it was "stupid" (as opposed to dishonest).

It seems like all you're doing is fighting a rhetorical rearguard action, purposely muddying the waters with counter-accusations that ultimately don't amount to anything, in order to divert attention away from the real bad guys - Bush and Co. They were either stupid or dishonest, and seriously, nobody could be that stupid.
posted by RylandDotNet at 1:03 PM on November 9, 2005


the idea that Bush's case for war with Saddam was very flimsy, and that his WMD talk was much more hype than fact, is most definitely NOT hindsight, as you claimed above

If you did believe this before 2003, then you were disagreeing with the UN, France, Germany, the UK, the Clinton administration, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Economist, the New Republic, and so on in addition to the Bush administration. I'm not saying that's not allowed, or invalid, just that I don't think it's fair to say that a reasonable person would have believed that Hussein *did not* have WMDs/pose a threat on the balance of probabilities. Why is it unreasonable to assume that Saddam has those capabilities when it's pretty much accepted that Iran and North Korea do? When Iraq built a nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons in 1980? When he'd waged aggressive wars twice with neighbours and had no qualms raining missiles on Israeli civilians in the past?

that it's pretty easy to build a very strong factual case that that is not so

Then I haven't seen it. I've seen speculations, assertions and allegation, but no factual case that Bush or anybody in the administration conclusively *knew* that they were lying and continued to do so anyways.

were obviously not true in the Bush case for war, before we even invaded. Things like yellowcake, mushroom clousds over New York, and al Queda-Saddam links.

I have no idea how you can say this was obvious. In my opinion it certainly was not.

What if an invasion of Iraq just couldn't be done without unleashing the hell that we're witness to right now?

Well, I disagree with your assessment of the current situation, and the level of imperative when it comes to dispatching regimes like his, but either way, you present valid questions. That's why planning and commitment are important, and that's why honest public buy-in is important, and that's why I objected to the use of WMD as the main justification for the conflict, as even if there were obvious stockpiles to be found, the public commitment to the effort would end as soon as the imminent threat was over, which it was either way in 2003. In order to ensure success, the public must be convinced of the long-term strategy, and the long-term benefits of a certain course of action. That's where I believe the Bush administration failed in their "selling" of the war, not in "lying" about weapons. That's also why I do think that it may well be time for another administration to take over, leaving these questions in the past so that Iraq can be dealt with directly, as a present-day problem rather than an argument that at this point is largely academic when it comes to the future prospects of success in Iraq. That being said, I think that the distinction between a lie and a mistake is important, and that assigning malice where it cannot be directly and factually proven hurts efforts in Iraq and skews the debate over continued participation in its recovery.

What was all that Fitzgerald noise about anyway?

I thought it was about administration officials revealing the identity of a CIA agent and lying about when and how they did so. Just because Wilson believed that the Yellowcake story was not true (read the article for another take on things), doesn't mean that everyone had to believe him on his say so. Mistake? apparently. Political infighting after the fact? Certainly. A deliberate use of known incorrect information? Maybe, but I have no idea how you would prove such a thing, beyond saying that the White House should have implicitly trusted Wilson over the other intelligence agencies and the governments of other countries. Picking the wrong piece of conflicting intelligence when the consequences of picking the other piece might be disastrous is unfortunate, but in my opinion, understandable.

And we surely would NOT have been able to go to war with your reasoning, whatever it is. The population at large would not have bought it. That's why the term "WMD" was thought up in the first place.

I don't disagree with you, for the most part, which is too bad.

y2karl: Well, that's the opinion of two very outspoken opponents of the administration and of the war. Both have been proven wrong on other occasions, and both have made very inflammatory claims in the past. They could very well be right, but if they are, they were disagreeing with the international community as a whole, and every article and op/ed piece I read before 2003. Look at those links I posted about UN weapons inspections post-1995: Certainly doesn't seem like they believed what Hersh and Ritter are claiming.

loquax, what is your point with this post? Do you even have one?

My point is, as I've stated, that an accusation of lying that cannot be backed up by absolutely damning evidence is extremely harmful in itself. There is plenty to take exception to that has a very strong factual basis, such as whether or not the administration was right or wrong in their beliefs or actions without claiming deliberate deceit that can't be substantiated. And substantiation consists of more than what I've personally seen.
posted by loquax at 1:11 PM on November 9, 2005


Repeated for effect:
If there's anybody here who calls themselves a citizen of the United States of America and you endorse the notion of the ends justify the means, submit your passport for destruction and get the hell out of my country. Because this is a country that is founded on the rule of law as set forth by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution that the men and women who serve us swore an oath of allegiance to, the Constitution that our government, every government official swears an oath of allegiance to, and it's about due process.
posted by destro at 1:23 PM on November 9, 2005


They could very well be right, but if they are, they were disagreeing with the international community as a whole, and every article and op/ed piece I read before 2003.

Did the international community as a whole think it was worth launching a war to remove Saddam Hussein? You keep referring to the fact that virtually everybody agreed he had WMDs, but not the fact that virtually nobody thought it was a good idea to invade.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:34 PM on November 9, 2005


You keep referring to the fact that virtually everybody agreed he had WMDs, but not the fact that virtually nobody thought it was a good idea to invade.

I'm not arguing that, only the accusations of deliberate deceit.

If there's anybody here who calls themselves a citizen of the United States of America

I certainly don't. And that statement falls flat. As far as I know, no laws were broken in going to war, due process was followed, and so was the constitution. Am I wrong? If I am, let me know. And in terms of the ends justifying the means, I don't think it's that simple, but the UN certainly seems to think so, judging be their recent advertisements lauding their crucial participation in the creation of the Iraqi constitution and the conducting of free elections.
posted by loquax at 1:40 PM on November 9, 2005


You're talking right past me, loquax. Don't ignore what I wrote.

France, Germany, et al. did not feel that Saddam posed the kind of threat that Bush said he did in 2003, and you damn well know it. Indeed, if they had believed Bush, they would have gone along with the plan to invade. They did not. You keep trying to turn this into a "did Saddam have WMD" argument. Oddly, you're employing that 20/20 hindsight that you have accused others of doing. The question was not: "did Saddam have WMD?" in 2003. Most thought he did: they thought he had fairly inconsequential ones. When asked, does Saddam have not only WMD, but active programs that justify invasion, most countries, and the UN in general, said "show us your evidence, and let's go find them." We never showed our evidence. The Powell UN speech was a joke. Everyone at the time knew it. More to the point, we were not able to point weapons inspectors to even one single, solitary place in Iraq where we could find evidence of these weapons programs. That should have given any rational person very serious pause about Bush' so-called intelligence on the matter.

me: were obviously not true in the Bush case for war, before we even invaded. Things like yellowcake, mushroom clouds over New York, and al Queda-Saddam links.

loquax: I have no idea how you can say this was obvious. In my opinion it certainly was not.

Oh, come on. Don't play dumb. Yellow cake was a scam -- the only public evidence was a blatant forgery. The supposed "other" evidence that the Brits have has never surfaced and is probably bullshit. More to the point, there was absolutely no motivation for Saddam to try and get yellow cake. He didn't need it (local supply), and he couldn't refine it (a very difficult, non-trival task. This is actually the barrier to entry to the nuke game outside of reactors). There was zero convincing evidence of an AQ-Saddam tie. There was zero convincing evidence of an active nuclear program -- it was all a sham. No motive or evidence for buying uranium. No facilities to purify yellow cake (a very tough, very energy intensive endeavor). Public evidence that kept falling apart (forged documents, aluminum tubes that were very much not for a centrifuge, etc.). Non of these refutations came out after the fact. Indeed, you could use Google and find me making the exact same arguments against Bush's case that I am making now way back in early 2003, pre-invasion. Other than being vindicated by the WMD search, no significant evidence has come to light to change the assessment I made back then.

I'm sorry, you're deluding yourself if you think any of those were solid, even before the war. They were shown to be vapor even before March 2003.

The WMD we had actual reason to believe Saddam had were not the kind of thing to launch a war over. The kind of WMD we were told Saddam had were fictions, and there was no good evidence to support the claims (indeed, how the hell could there have been good evidence, when we know now such programs did not exist?).

I was not a dove on Iraq -- and I never once saw a single convincing piece of evidence on why we should invade. But more to the point, I might have gone along with an invasion based upon the reality (rather than the Bush fantasy), but when it became very clear in late 2002 and early 2003 that I was being lied to, there was no way I could support this war.
posted by teece at 1:48 PM on November 9, 2005


loquax, just because you have no idea how these "assertions" could be clarified, just because you insist on dismissing the research that some people have done in life-or-death circumstances to find out the truth, and just because you can't even tell the difference in inherent value between Podohoretz's collage of links and Hersh's reporting, or Podhoretz's "take" and Wilson's professional judgement, doesn't mean that the world is just a huge muddle and Oh Gosh we'll never know the truth, when the evidence is now piling up around our ears.

Your line of argument is very much like that of the Bush administration's "take" on global warming, which is to insist that the "jury is still out" after firing or marginalizing the scientists whose jobs it is to research these things. That's not open-mindedness, optimism, or anything else but intellectual dishonesty -- in Washington or here.
posted by digaman at 1:51 PM on November 9, 2005


I'm sure most Canadians would agree to a similar statement.

As far as I know, no laws were broken in going to war, due process was followed, and so was the constitution. Am I wrong?

YES!! Somebody get this man a newspaper.

And if you think outing an undercover agent isn't illegal, what do you think is?
posted by destro at 1:57 PM on November 9, 2005


Iraq cooperated with the inspectors

In the months prior to war Iraqi officials provided substantial cooperation to renewed UN inspections. The monitors had unfettered access to all sites and complete freedom of movement. Even Saddam Hussein's palaces, previously off limits to UN officials, were opened to inspection.

According to Blix, "the most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect." 8 Blix reported that "prompt access . . . has been given to inspection teams." This "open doors policy," as Blix described it, was "an indispensable element of transparency and a process that aims at securing disarmament by peaceful means."9

IAEA director ElBaradei reported that "Iraqi authorities have consistently provided access without conditions and without delay."10 ElBaradei reported on 27 January that "all inspection activities have been carried out without prior notification to Iraq, except where notification was needed to ensure the availability of required support."11

4. No weapons found

In his January 2003 State of the Union address President Bush referred to tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and botulinum toxin and hundreds of tons of sarin, mustard gas, and VX nerve agent. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell asserted in his February presentation to the UN Security Council that Iraq was concealing efforts to redevelop weapons of mass destruction. In more than 700 inspections prior to the U.S.-led invasion, UN investigators found no evidence of these alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Dr. Hans Blix, head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) told the Security Council on 14 February, "So far, UNMOVIC has not found any [proscribed] weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions. . . ."12

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declared that "no prohibited nuclear activities have been identified during these inspections."13 In his update to the Security Council on 14 February ElBaradei reiterated, "After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq." 14

Blix noted in his 27 January update to the Security Council that previous UN reports on Iraqi weapons "do not contend that weapons of mass destruction remain in Iraq." The reports showed inconsistencies and question marks but provided no hard evidence that weapons of mass destruction actually existed. "UNMOVIC, for its part, is not presuming that there are proscribed items and activities in Iraq, but nor is it . . . presuming the opposite." 15

5. No evidence of Iraqi nuclear weapons activity

In his State of the Union address President Bush stated that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." A December 2002 State Department "fact sheet" alleged Iraqi "efforts to procure uranium from Niger."

Investigations into these charges by the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that the supposed documents upon which the claim was based were crude forgeries. The signatures on the documents were fakes, and the letterhead belonged to a military government that no longer existed. CIA officials expressed skepticism about the assertion, but the president and senior White House officials nonetheless repeated the claim in their public remarks.16 Intelligence officials in the United Kingdom agreed subsequently that the documents were fabricated. 17

The Bush administration alleged that seized shipments of aluminum tubes proved that Iraq was actively developing nuclear weapons. In his State of the Union address the president described these tubes as "suitable for nuclear weapons production." The Powell presentation repeated the U.S. assertion that these tubes were for uranium enrichment purposes.

According to the assessment of UN inspectors, these aluminum tubes were intended for the reverse engineering of 81-millimeter rockets. IAEA director ElBaradei said on 27 January that the aluminum tubes were "not suitable for manufacturing [uranium] centrifuges."18

President Bush said in Cincinnati 7 October that aerial photos of the former Tuwaitha Nuclear Weapons Complex reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. UN inspectors visited Tuwaitha numerous times December 2002 through March 2003 and "found no signs of nuclear activity at any of these sites." 19

6. No evidence of an active chemical and biological weapons program

In his State of the Union address the president cited the large volumes of chemical and biological agents produced by Saddam Hussein and repeatedly declared: "He has not accounted for that material. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed it."

In fact, substantial amounts of the chemical and biological agents produced by Iraq were accounted for and destroyed by Iraq and UN inspectors during the 1990s.20

UNSCOM reported in 1997 that "considerable quantities of chemical weapons, their components and chemical weapons-related equipment have been destroyed by Iraq and UNSCOM." 21

During the 1990s UN inspectors destroyed 480,000 tons of live chemical agent. They also destroyed more than 3,000 tons of precursor chemicals.22 UNSCOM found that 3,915 tons of precursors existed in 1991; it accounted directly for 2,850 tons and confirmed Iraq's claim that 823 tons were destroyed during the Gulf War. 23

In the 1990s UN inspectors supervised Iraq's destruction of 12,792 of the 13,000 155mm artillery shells filled with mustard gas Baghdad had declared as remaining after the Gulf War ended. UNSCOM inspectors also accounted for or destroyed 337 bombs and 6,454 rockets containing sarin.24

The UN reported in 1999 that "UNSCOM ordered and supervised the destruction of Iraq's main declared BW [biological weapons] production and development facility, Al Hakam. Some 60 pieces of equipment from three other facilities involved in proscribed BW activities as well as some 22 tonnes of growth media for BW production collected from four other facilities were also destroyed. As a result, the declared facilities of Iraq's BW programme have been destroyed and rendered harmless."25

UN inspectors destroyed all of Iraq's known chemical and biological weapons production facilities. In the months prior to the war UN monitors conducted hundreds of inspections of possible chemical, biological, and missile sites in Iraq and found no evidence or documentation confirming the existence of the alleged chemical and biological stockpiles.

Sites that the U.S. and Britain alleged were involved in the production of biological or chemical weapons were repeatedly inspected by UNMOVIC. These included Falluja II, at which inspectors found a chlorine plant not even in operation, and al-Dawra Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Facility, which appeared to journalists as having not been reconstructed since its destruction in the mid-1990s. The inspectors reported no evidence of the production of proscribed agents at these sites.26

According to an investigative report in U.S. News and World Report, the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a classified assessment in September 2002 stating "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons." 27...


Unproven: The Controversy over Justifying War in Iraq
posted by y2karl at 2:02 PM on November 9, 2005


Thank you, y2karl.
posted by digaman at 2:04 PM on November 9, 2005


Oh, come on. Don't play dumb. Yellow cake was a scam -- the only public evidence was a blatant forgery. The supposed "other" evidence that the Brits have has never surfaced and is probably bullshit.

You say now. Probably. From the linked article:

That is, British intelligence had assured the CIA that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy enriched uranium from the African country of Niger. Furthermore—and notwithstanding the endlessly repeated assertion that this assurance has now been discredited—Britain’s independent Butler commission concluded that it was “well-founded.” The relevant passage is worth quoting at length:

a. It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999.

b. The British government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.

c. The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed to having sought, uranium, and the British government did not claim this.

...
The liar here, then, was not Bush but Wilson. And Wilson also lied when he told the Washington Post that he had unmasked as forgeries certain documents given to American intelligence (by whom it is not yet clear) that supposedly contained additional evidence of Saddam’s efforts to buy uranium from Niger. The documents did indeed turn out to be forgeries; but, according to the Butler report,

[t]he forged documents were not available to the British government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine [that assessment].7



France, Germany, et al. did not feel that Saddam posed the kind of threat that Bush said he did in 2003, and you damn well know it.

I do. You're right. So? They disagreed as to the level of risk, and the course of action, but they did not believe that the evidence that the US presented and relied upon was fabricated nonsense. And you know it.

More to the point, we were not able to point weapons inspectors to even one single, solitary place in Iraq where we could find evidence of these weapons programs. That should have given any rational person very serious pause about Bush' so-called intelligence on the matter.


Look at my links above related to weapons inspection activities:

On January 16, 2003 U.N. inspectors discovered 11 empty 122 mm chemical warheads ? components not previously declared by Iraq. Iraq dismissed the warheads as old weapons that had been packed away and forgotten. After performing tests on the warheads, U.N. inspectors believe that they were new. While the warheads are evidence of an Iraqi weapons program, they may not amount to a "smoking gun", according to U.S. officials, unless some sort of chemical agent is also detected. U.N. inspectors believe there to still be large quantities of weapons materials that are still unaccounted for. U.N. inspectors also searched the homes of several Iraqi scientists.

That should have given any rational person very serious pause about Bush' so-called intelligence on the matter.


Perhaps, but that's not what I'm arguing.

There was zero convincing evidence of an AQ-Saddam tie

Well, except for Zarqawi's presence in Iraq. Admittedly not overly convincing, but at the time, I found it (and still find it) easy to believe that such a link would not be past either party. Here's a bunch of stuff on the subject. There were things going on.

I'm sorry, you're deluding yourself if you think any of those were solid, even before the war. They were shown to be vapor even before March 2003.


I'm not saying they were solid, I'm saying that it was impossible to determine whether or not they were solid not being privy to all of the intelligence and evidence gathered.

Again, I'm not suggesting that anything I'm writing with respect to WMD's *justifies* or proves anything regarding the invasion, I am simply trying to draw a distinction between a deliberate attempt to lie and a mistake erring on the side of caution given the knowledge available at the time and the political environment. Disagreement regarding the significance of some evidence, or giving credence to certain reports over others may indicate flaws within the intelligence community, or incompetence on the part of the decision makers, but to call it a pack of lies is incorrect, I believe, without seeing all the source material. Where did Bush come up with his claims? Out of thin air? Did Powell make up his evidence in the bathroom at the UN? Did all of those people honestly believe that Iraq posed no danger whatsoever, but decide to embark upon this adventure anyways, for sport, knowing that nothing will be found and they'll be made to look like fools? If that is the case, if they spun an international web of lies, how difficult would it have been to plant the evidence after the fact? Does the fact that they didn't not indicate their good faith belief in the intelligence that they relied upon?
posted by loquax at 2:19 PM on November 9, 2005


Where did Bush come up with his claims? Out of thin air? Did Powell make up his evidence in the bathroom at the UN?

I can set your troubled mind to rest, loquax. Sy Hersh has already answered these admittedly tough questions for you, at least in part, and you can read it for free.
posted by digaman at 2:24 PM on November 9, 2005


For typing so much you say so very, very little, loquax.

loquax:I am simply trying to draw a distinction between a deliberate attempt to lie and a mistake erring on the side of caution given the knowledge available at the time and the political environment.

Delusional... that's an understatement. This whole thread is worthless, I hope you've enjoyed yourself.
posted by prostyle at 2:31 PM on November 9, 2005


Note: He stops in 2002. Weren't there weapons inspectors or something in 2003 before the war? I seem to remember something about them finding a few scuds with a range beyond that which was allowed, but no WMD.

Um and Zarqwai was hanging out with Ansar al-Islam, a group of terrorists opposed to our old buddy Saddam. Please, please give this up. There are no WMD and Bush was too dumb to fake them. Bush said there were. You're welcome to give him the benefit of the doubt loquax. The American people aren't--with 55% thinking he lied them into war.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:42 PM on November 9, 2005


In 2001, Colin Powell was saying "[Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." Condoleeza Rice was saying, "We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt." Dick Cheney was saying, "Saddam Hussein's bottled up."

As far as I know, no laws were broken in going to war, due process was followed, and so was the constitution. Am I wrong? If I am, let me know.

The United Nations Charter, which as a treaty is "the supreme Law of the Land" according to Article VI of the Constitution, only allows use of force in self-defense or if the Security Council has authorized use of force; neither condition applied to the invasion of Iraq. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the war was illegal.

The Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq required the president to determine that:
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and

(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
In early March 2003, Hans Blix said:
"One can hardly avoid the impression that after a period of somewhat reluctant cooperation, there has been an acceleration of initiatives from the Iraqi side since the end of January." To complete inspections properly "even with a proactive Iraqi attitude," he said, "would not take years, nor weeks, but months."
France, Germany, and Russia, proposed beefed-up inspections, but President Bush refused them. Sounds like "further diplomatic or other peaceful means" to me.

There is no evidence that Iraq "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the September 11 attacks. The 9/11 Commission reported that there was no "collaborative operational relationship" between Al Qaeda and Iraq, "nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States." In February 2002, the New York Times reported that:
The Central Intelligence Agency has no evidence that Iraq has engaged in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade, and the agency is also convinced that President Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda or related terrorist groups, according to several American intelligence officials."
The invasion didn't meet either requirement for the use of force, so it was illegal under US law.

Also, once we invaded, the administration didn't act like they believed Iraq had WMD. Depite having claimed that they knew exactly where the weapons were, they didn't rush to those sites, secure them, and produce evidence of their claims. They didn't secure tons of explosives.

Well, except for Zarqawi's presence in Iraq.

Zarqawi was in the Kurdish-controlled northern part of Iraq, in the no-fly zone, and out of Saddam Hussein's reach. The Bush administration passed on three opportunities to kill him before the invasion:
"People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president's policy of preemption against terrorists," according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.
I am simply trying to draw a distinction between a deliberate attempt to lie and a mistake erring on the side of caution given the knowledge available at the time and the political environment.

No, you're not. I've already presented two arguments that the administration didn't deliberately lie, but presented only the intelligence that backed their claim. They didn't err on the side of caution; they took information that was questioned both inside and outside the administration and presented it as fact.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:43 PM on November 9, 2005


Ah. I see that Norman Podhoretz has an essay in Commentary purporting to show that George Bush didn't lie about Iraqi WMD before the war. His basic case is that lots of people — including some liberals — believed that Iraq had WMD, so obviously the president did nothing wrong.

Fair enough. Lots of people did believe that Iraq had WMD before the war. The problem Podhoretz doesn't bother wrestling with, however, is that after the war concluded we discovered that there were also a fair number of people who had been skeptical about Iraqi WMD. INR, for example, thought the African uranium was bogus. DIA thought our prime witness for Iraqi-al-Qaeda WMD collaboration was lying. The Air Force found the evidence on drones to be laughable. DOE didn't believe in the aluminum tubes. None of these dissents was acknowledged by the Bush administration.

Nor does Podhoretz apply himself to the entire period before the war. He stops his investigation at the end of 2002. But that's not when we went to war. We went to war in March 2003, and by that time UN inspectors had been combing Iraq for months with the help of U.S. intelligence. They found nothing, and an increasing chorus of informed minds was starting to wonder if perhaps there was nothing there. In response, President Bush and his supporters merely amped up their certainty that Saddam was hiding something.

And of course there's the nukes. As Podhoretz surely knows, the evidence for an Iraqi nuclear program was always weak, and once the inspections started the evidence rapidly fell to zero. That kind of thing is just too hard to hide. The warnings of mushroom clouds, however, continued unabated.

Unless you think that going to war is no more serious than planning a marketing campaign for a new brand of toothpaste, all of this contrary evidence should have been publicized and acknowledged along with all the evidence that went in the other direction. It wasn't. Given this, the fact that so many people believed that Saddam had an active WMD program simply doesn't perform the analytic heavy lifting that Podhoretz thinks it does.

In any case, if it's really true that the Bush administration did nothing to spin, exaggerate, or lie about WMD before the war, why are war supporters so relentlessly trying to suppress any congressional investigation into this? You'd think they'd welcome it instead. For a bunch of innocent bystanders, they sure are acting awfully guilty.


Political Animal
posted by y2karl at 2:43 PM on November 9, 2005


You cherry picked your Hans Blix quote loquax. The inspectors were as suspicious as anyone before they got in to look. But after months of searching, Blix had this to say:

"As I noted on the 14th of February, intelligence authorities have claimed that weapons of mass destruction are moved around Iraq by trucks, in particular that there are mobile production units for biological weapons...Several inspections have taken place at declared and undeclared sites in relation to mobile production facilities. ... No evidence of proscribed activities have so far been found."

"How much time would it take to resolve the key remaining disarmament tasks? While cooperation can -- cooperation can and is to be immediate, disarmament, and at any rate verification of it, cannot be instant. Even with a proactive Iraqi attitude induced by continued outside pressure, it will still take some time to verify sites and items, analyze documents, interview relevant persons and draw conclusions. It will not take years, nor weeks, but months.


Note two things: He mentions that "intelligence agencies" made accusations, which they were endeavouring to verify. And that they expected to resolve the question within months. Now ask yourself, who were those "intelligence agencies", and why was urgent war declared when their claims were about to be disproved?

Still not suspicious? Well a month later, after the war began, Blix was a little more explicit: American officials tried to discredit the work of inspectors in Iraq to further their own case for war.:

"The US was very eager to sway the votes in the Security Council, and they felt that stories about [weapons stores allegedly missed by UNMOVIC] would be useful to have, and they let it out,"..."And thereby they tried to hurt us a bit and say that we had suppressed this .. It was not the case, and it was a bit unfair, and hurt us."

"He also reiterated his disquiet at how documents the International Atomic Energy Agency "had no great difficulty finding out were fake" managed to get through US and UK intelligence analysis."

If every politician and journalist in your country was making weapons charges before the war, it was because they were all parroting the same source. The inspectors on the ground had the facts in front of them, and were telling the world so. But instead of checking their accusations against independant evidence, the administration launched a smear campaign against Hans Blix.

You can't rewrite history, it's a matter of public record. "Everyone" did not think the weapons were there. Stop saying it.

I HATE HOW MUCH TRACTION THIS TALKING POINT IS GETTING!
posted by Popular Ethics at 3:08 PM on November 9, 2005


If nobody else is going to say it, I will: this thread is a blatant troll. loquax's entire premise is "You don't know! You weren't privy!"

Well, it's actually quite simple:

1) WMDs were the reason for the war.
2) We now know that there are no WMDs and never were.
3) We now know that the evidence indicating there were WMDs is laughable, ranging anywhere from questionable to outright fabrication.

So the question, which loquax won't answer, is this: when the Bush administration acted upon faulty intelligence and took us to war, were they lying, or were they stupid? Either the administration unwittingly accepted laughably faulty intelligence reports, or they willfully accepted laughably faulty intelligence reports for political reasons. Given the speed and determination with which the Bush administration acted to take us to war, there's no other alternative.

And the answer, to my mind, seems obvious: it's simply not plausible, given what we know now, that every member of the Bush administration was dim enough to accept intelligence reports indicating a stockpile of WMDs in Iraq without question. And since we also know, out of PNAC's own mouths, that an invasion was planned out before Bush even took office, it's even less plausible that they were merely duped.

That leaves only one alternative: the Bush administration knew full well that Iraq had no WMDs, either to use themselves or to distribute to terrorists, and chose to go to war anyway. Not only that, but they deliberately misled the American people by constantly hyping the threat of Iraq's non-existent WMDs.
posted by RylandDotNet at 3:32 PM on November 9, 2005


That leaves only one alternative: the Bush administration knew full well that Iraq had no WMDs, either to use themselves or to distribute to terrorists, and chose to go to war anyway.

If they had found stockpiles of any significance, nobody would care much about whether they cooked the books to get there. Isn't it a more likely scenario that they were confident they'd find something somewhere, so they weren't particularly concerned about how they built the case?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:39 PM on November 9, 2005


I agree with Ryland. I do think that even the neocons were probably surprised that there was nothing, nothing, nothing -- not even a few jars of old Soviet ricin that they could get some hack to declare was "enough to kill millions!" But it's obvious that all of their "stovepiping efforts" (cf. the Hersh link I posted earlier) were designed to make mountains of bogus molehills, so they could then attack the molehill and plant the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED flag on top.

The fact that this particular molehill was floating on a sea of oil -- and the fact that Cheney could line all of his friends' pockets by first demolishing the molehill and then turning it into a shopping mall -- couldn't have hurt their desire to overlook the insistent intrusions of fact regarding WMDs.
posted by digaman at 4:08 PM on November 9, 2005


for me, this raises another question:

why didn't they fake some WMD evidence?

sure, it would have been difficult to do this in convincing fashion, but with all the other malfeasance at work on an entire-administration-wide level, one would think that dummying up some pretty elaborate fake WMD evidence would be within the administration's (and pentagon's) capabilities. especially after they deposed saddam and controlled all traffic in the country -- no one would have been looking over their shoulder, they could have had unfettered access to any site, to create any scenario, without any supervision from any other entity.

it's not like they'd have needed to keep them around for inspection, nor would they have needed to explain where they came from -- they could have said "see! we told you!" and then promptly destroyed them for obvious reasons, case closed. especially if they had timed it right, when people were more inclined to believe it (say, april of 2003). get a couple of judith miller types to report the story, spoonfed by chalabi and rummy, and then it becomes true and people stop exploring it. then, when the sy hershes and scott ritters of the world start saying "preposterous!", they can be dismissed as tinfoil hat wearers (much as they are now) and making such an allegation would be so serious, the admin could throw up an outrage smokescreen of industrial strength.

the failure to cover their asses (when people seemed to care less about the lack of WMD than they do now) is the kind of gross incompetence for which they should be kicked to the curb. i mean, if you're going to be all evil and deceitful, then do the fucking job right.

and on preview, what Armitage and digaman said. EXACTLY.
posted by Hat Maui at 4:12 PM on November 9, 2005


Let me amend that a bit. These neocons are human, obviously. I'm sure they had a kernel of authentic idealism inspiring them to use means that they knew were wrong to achieve an end that they felt would redeem them. In this, they were the one thing that Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz et. al. are probably rarely accused of being: terribly naive. A fusion of that kind of naivete and that kind of bullheadedness and subterfuge is terribly dangerous in people who have the power to make war. Ask Hitler's henchmen -- or Mayakovsky, a poet who supported the Bolsheviks at first and eventually committed suicide.
posted by digaman at 4:14 PM on November 9, 2005


Sy Hersh has already answered these admittedly tough questions for you

"The point is not that the President and his senior aides were consciously lying. What was taking place was much more systematic—and potentially just as troublesome."

Agreed. Grounds for questioning their competence. Grounds for questioning the entire intelligence establishment. Not proof of bad faith deceit. Maybe I'm wrong that this is a major distinction, but I feel that it is.

Um and Zarqwai was hanging out with Ansar al-Islam, a group of terrorists opposed to our old buddy Saddam.

Well, read the long list of suspected contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq, proven, unproven and uncertain. I'm not saying that there was enough evidence to justify the pre-war rhetoric, but nor was it an outright "lie".


In 2001, Colin Powell was saying "[Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."


More from Powell, indicating the mentality wrt Iraq.

. And even though we have no doubt in our mind that the Iraqi regime is pursuing programs to develop weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological and nuclear -- I think the best intelligence estimates suggest that they have not been terribly successful. There's no question that they have some stockpiles of some of these sorts of weapons still under their control, but they have not been able to break out, they have not been able to come out with the capacity to deliver these kinds of systems or to actually have these kinds of systems that is much beyond where they were 10 years ago.

So containment, using this arms control sanctions regime, I think has been reasonably successful. We have not been able to get the inspectors back in, though, to verify that, and we have not been able to get the inspectors in to pull up anything that might be left there. So we have to continue to view this regime with the greatest suspicion, attribute to them the most negative motives, which is quite well-deserved with this particular regime, and roll the sanctions over, and roll them over in a way where the arms control sanctions really go after their intended targets -- weapons of mass destruction


Condoleeza Rice was saying, "We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt." Dick Cheney was saying, "Saddam Hussein's bottled up."


Conventionally, militarily, yes, as long as the no-fly zones and the sanctions were enforced. We now know that the sanctions were not effective in preventing Hussein from having access to large sums of money, and it will never be known how long public patience with the status quo would have existed. Neither of these two quotes claims that Hussein is not a danger, just not an immediate danger in a conventional military sense. Bush himself said in speech after speech that he was not willing to wait until the danger was imminent to act. For what it's worth.

There is no evidence that Iraq "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the September 11 attacks.


I don't disagree.

The invasion didn't meet either requirement for the use of force, so it was illegal under US law.

Well, you have to admit that there's a lot of wiggle room in all of the statements you made.

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and


This can easily be argued. You may disagree, but certainly it's vague enough that just about any argument can meet its criteria for application.

(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Trickier - it doesn't predicate that Iraq must have been involved in 9/11, only that the action is consistent with the actions against terrorists in general. Again, you may disagree with the rationale, but the flypaper argument, as well as the "Iraq the model" arguments both satisfy this requirement.

only allows use of force in self-defense


Obviously, the administration and the US government in general felt that this requirement was met. If WMD's were found, would the war have been 100% legal? If so, you can't say that the absence of WMD coupled with the good faith belief that they existed made it illegal.

France, Germany, and Russia, proposed beefed-up inspections, but President Bush refused them. Sounds like "further diplomatic or other peaceful means" to me.

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq


That was the administration's judgment. Unprovable, either way. I don't think it makes the war "illegal".

but presented only the intelligence that backed their claim. They didn't err on the side of caution; they took information that was questioned both inside and outside the administration and presented it as fact.

But what do you expect them to do? Take all of the intelligence gather by the CIA over the last 15 years and create a powerpoint presentation for the American public to vote on? Yes, they appear to have changed the filter process that had been in place in the intelligence community and filtered information in a way that bolstered their case for war. Does that mean that they knowingly lied about it? No. Even Hersh seems to agree. If we're going to call this a lie of omission, then we have to indict every government on earth for not going public with every scrap of evidence that casts doubt on government policy. This is not a court of law, evidentiary and procedural rules don't apply to foreign policy. It's not fair to judge the Bush administration though that prism. Again, I have no objection with objections concerning Bush's methods and actions, all I meant to point out is the inaccuracy of the term "lie".

that there were also a fair number of people who had been skeptical about Iraqi WMD

Skeptical is fair. Doesn't mean that they knew the truth, just that they were, well, skeptical. I was too, to be honest.

INR, for example, thought the African uranium was bogus.

DOE didn't believe in the aluminum tubes

From the article:

Going on to shoot down a widespread impression, Wilkerson informs us that even the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was convinced:

People say, well, INR dissented. That’s a bunch of bull. INR dissented that the nuclear program was up and running. That’s all INR dissented on. They were right there with the chems and the bios.

In explaining its dissent on Iraq’s nuclear program, the INR had, as stated in the NIE of 2002, expressed doubt about

Iraq’s efforts to acquire aluminum tubes [which are] central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program. . . . INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors . . . in Iraq’s nuclear-weapons program.

But, according to Wilkerson,

The French came in in the middle of my deliberations at the CIA and said, we have just spun aluminum tubes, and by God, we did it to this RPM, et cetera, et cetera, and it was all, you know, proof positive that the aluminum tubes were not for mortar casings or artillery casings, they were for centrifuges. Otherwise, why would you have such exquisite instruments?


all of this contrary evidence should have been publicized and acknowledged along with all the evidence that went in the other direction


Well, again, I don't recall when a government has ever done such a thing. That's what we pay them the big bucks for, to analyze the data, come to a conclusion, and act on it. The data here was bad, the conclusion was wrong, and the action was wrong (for the sake of argument) - doesn't mean that it was incumbent on the administration to fully disclose every piece of contradictory intelligence, nor does it mean that the administration lied.

why are war supporters so relentlessly trying to suppress any congressional investigation into this?

I have no problem with this. Hey, if I'm wrong, and Bush and Cheney sat around giggling about how they were playing everyone for fools, knowing full well that they were spouting lies, I fully support their impeachment. I wouldn't even necessarily argue that what they've done is not impeachable, just that it's a far cry from lying. I wouldn't care if they got impeached anyways, so long as the incoming president continued efforts in Iraq.

You can't rewrite history, it's a matter of public record. "Everyone" did not think the weapons were there. Stop saying it.


I didn't say that. I said that many people did. Many respectable newspapers, government officials, foreign countries. There was little reason to believe that everyone was wrong or lying (of course, subject to debate). Hans Blix seemed dead set against both the Americans and invaded. I fully admit that I believed that he was lying and stonewalling, and that I've been proven wrong by events. It doesn't mean that I was lying when I said I believed that Iraq had weapons and was actively developing more on the balance of the information I had and the balance of probabilities before the war.

So the question, which loquax won't answer, is this: when the Bush administration acted upon faulty intelligence and took us to war, were they lying, or were they stupid?

I'm loathe to respond to you because of your attitude, but I already answered that question. Way up above. I voted stupid. And careless, and taking it on faith that Iraq was up to no good. I don't think they were lying. So there.

Isn't it a more likely scenario that they were confident they'd find something somewhere, so they weren't particularly concerned about how they built the case?

Agreed.

the failure to cover their asses (when people seemed to care less about the lack of WMD than they do now) is the kind of gross incompetence for which they should be kicked to the curb. i mean, if you're going to be all evil and deceitful, then do the fucking job right.

A fusion of that kind of naivete and that kind of bullheadedness and subterfuge is terribly dangerous in people who have the power to make war.

Agreed with all of that too, to an extent.
posted by loquax at 4:18 PM on November 9, 2005


Sorry, my post is too long and messy. Italics are quotes from either commenters or sources, anything non-italics is me.
posted by loquax at 4:20 PM on November 9, 2005


Frankly, all of this rhetorical machinery seems to boil down to: "they might not have been lying." Who is "they"? What is "lying"? If one official knowingly lied (as certainly seems the case with Cheney, who probably knew the real story more than most people, but made the most outrageous claims, and sent Libby after anyone who said different, with obsessive intensity), but another didn't (I could certainly believe that Bush thought he was telling the truth, because let's face it kids, he's a terrible slacker in way over his head who'd rather be snorting and downing a few at the local BBQ house rather than reading all those dreary memos about "planned attacks" and whatnot), then I doubt the question "Did they lie?" could ever be answered with a single yes or no. But that's not the question, and we're angels dancing on the head of a pin here.
posted by digaman at 4:38 PM on November 9, 2005


why didn't they fake some WMD evidence?

Man, I don't know. The only thing I can think of is that it is the one thing they could have lied about and had 80% countrywide support, and Karl Rove took a look at that number and said we can't have that can we.

I would give them sort of a benefit of the doubt that they were just completely floored when they didn't find any old sarin stockpiles lying around, but remember they didn't spend the month afterwards looking very hard. It was Come Loot the Ba'ath Ammo Dump Month.
posted by furiousthought at 4:44 PM on November 9, 2005


It's been touched on here, but it bears repeating:

If you think the Iraq war was an innocent mistake, the Bush administration's action in the months of March to May 2003 should give you very serious pause, loquax. Bush's crew in Iraq made almost no effort to find or secure anything in Iraq, be it museums, ammo dumps, or the public welfare. If they really believed there was a nuclear program in Iraq, why did they not secure it? The places that the UN had marked that had dual-use items with regard to WMD were left completely untended. The dual-use items were stripped off, and are now god knows where.

And yet, we not only knew Iraq had WMD, we knew where they were. Maybe that's not an indicator of deceit, but if it's not it is incompetence on such a grand scale that I don't think it makes much of a difference. And given how complicated it is to win a national campaign in America, and that Rove and Cheney could (more or less) do that, and that they run the show in the White House, the incompetence dodge doesn't work for me.

But if you really think that it was just an honest mistake, I want you to justify the whole situation. How do you justify the reports that this had been in the work since 2000? How do you justify the completely non-existast nuclear program evidence, on the one hand, but the very scary administration nuke talking points on the other? How do you justify the willful ignorance of contradicting evidence that destroyed key pieces of the Bush rationale for war: nukes, AQ links, bio weapons? How do you rationalize the fact that it has been recently been revealed that Rove was willing to wait until 2004, for the Brits, if need be, with the fact that Iraq was such an imminent nuke threat?

I could go on, but why? Bush et. al did believe that Iraq had WMD. They also knew that the reports that they were selling with regard to WMD were very, very suspect. They just assumed that Saddam had been hiding a few tons of mustard gas, and couple the discovery of that with the idea that it would all be over in Iraq in 3 months, and they just assumed their fibs wouldn't matter in the end.

They fucked that one up, pretty badly.

It is interesting to see where Bush is now, though. The defense of Bush's Iraq has come down to this: I didn't lie to you, America. I'm just such an incompetent leader, and I'm so fucking stupid, that I managed to completely and irrevocably fuck up the single most important thing a president can do in office.

Heh. It'd actually be more comforting to assume they lied.
posted by teece at 5:27 PM on November 9, 2005


That arguments in favor of war in Iraq are quickly shifting from "reasons" to "excuses".
posted by clevershark at 5:44 PM on November 9, 2005


But in terms of waiting to know the truth about his WMD programs? I don't think that day would have ever come. Which is why I thought the focus shouldn't have been on them in the first place.

Well, I disagree with you about this. You're essentially trying to prove an existential (what most people mean when they say 'prove a negative'). In theory Iraq could have had one or two nukes buried deep under some sand. They could still, but you can't hide a nuclear program. That takes a lot of infrastructure, and it's not easy to hide. So do chemical and biological programs, to a certain extent.

Those seals are infinitely more valuable that a group of UN employees traipsing across the desert from one site to another while Hussein has his entire government at his disposal to play shell games ad infinitum.

All you have to do is put up a couple-three U2 spy planes up in there to track any vehicle movement around suspected sites. You declare 'no drive zones' around places you think nukes might be.

When that's done, you can be reasonably sure after that there were no WMDs at a particular site.

We'd been doing that for ten years. How much longer should the US and UK keep up no-fly zones and semi-regular bombing runs while letting the Iraqi people rot in their de facto prison?

That's a good question. Long before the Iraq war, I thought that it might be a good thing for the US to invade, just to end the sanctions. I mean, if the sanctions are really that bad, there would be a higher utility in invading and disposing of saddam. Interestingly, I've never heard a single war-supporter make this argument.

In hindsight, however, it does seem like the war has been worse for Iraq the sanctions ever where.

If we think of this as an exercise in minimizing human suffering, I think not going to war wins out. Remember, there's a gradient here, it's not a question of

We ought to hand this was off to the UN Sure, the U.N. Is horrible, you say. But so are we

Are you saying that Democrats are responsible for the Iraq war because they believed Iraq had WMD and voted to give Bush the authority to go to war? How can Democrats be in the minority in both houses of Congress,

THEY WERE NOT A MINORITY IN THE SENATE WHEN THEY AUTHORIZED THE WAR. Don't ever forget that, please. One republican flipped to the democratic side, and the democrats had 51 votes.

If they could have held their coalition together, they could have put in language that would have required concrete proof of WMDs, or a UNSC recommendation before going to war.

If you did believe this before 2003, then you were disagreeing with the UN, France, Germany, the UK, the Clinton administration,...

So no only do you have access to classified information (and not just selected quotes) from the US, but also France, Germany, and the UK? Pretty impressive, Mr. Super spy. Yet, just a few posts ago you were saying it was impossible to know what went on in the upper reaches of government. Which is it? By the way, do you have any direct citations for this?

the New York Times, the Washington Post,

Being in disagreement with Judy Miller is and the WP is not exactly a bad thing...


The liar here, then, was not Bush but Wilson. And Wilson also lied when he told the Washington Post that he had unmasked as forgeries certain documents given to American intelligence (by whom it is not yet clear) that supposedly contained additional evidence of Saddam’s efforts to buy uranium from Niger.


In other words, even though Wilson told the truth, he's still a liar. That makes no sense at all. It's just a bunch of misdirection.

The entire Niger uranium mines are run by the French and the international community. Niger could not have sold uranium to Iraq because they do not control their own yellowcake supply, that's why Wilson was able to make his statements.

Again, are you trying to justify pre-war Intelegence? We know the pre-war Intelegence was wrong. Simply and absolutely. Everything else is hand-waving. No amount of text will ever change the fact that Iraq had no WMD.

All the hand-waiving in the world won't change the fact that if the bush administration really believed Iraq had WMDs they are to stupid to be left in power another day.
posted by delmoi at 6:07 PM on November 9, 2005


People, the fine points of how much Bush knew and when he knew it are moot.
He was lying, he is lying. This is obvious to anybody with more than a passing acquaintance with human beings. He contradicts himself, he mumbles content-free platitudes, his rationalizations shift and turn like dirty laundry in a desert storm. He is as credible as little boy with one hand in the cookie jar and crumbs on his lips.
He was lying. He is lying.
posted by signal at 6:16 PM on November 9, 2005


Loquax the basic problem with all of these arguments is that they are, for the most part meaningless. Assertions based on what government knew what, what beliefs were reasonable based on the available evidence, and so on... it's totally worthless.

Here is what I know for sure.

1) There was a question as to weather Iraq had weapons of mass destruction
2) U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq, and they found nothing, indicating that Iraq probably had no WMD program.
3) The US ignored the UN weapons inspectors, and invaded anyway.
4) It was proven that Iraq had no WMD program.

---

Now, let's restate all of that a little bit.

1) There was a question about weather Iraq had WMDs. Given the null hypothesis, we can state that the probability of Iraq having WMDs was = 0.5. Let's call that number X

2) If Iraq had WMDs, there is a chance they would have used them in a terrorist attack against the USA. Let's call that probability Y.

3) If Iraq did launch an attack on the US, they would have killed a certain number of Americans. Let's say, that number is Z.

4) If we went to war with Iraq, a certain number of Americans would die. Let's call that number A.

We can therefore surmise that if X*Y*Z is greater then A, the Iraq was a good idea. Today we know that A is 2,000, and that Z is zero. Therefore the Iraq was a bad idea.

(and if you compare the war in economic terms, or in terms of total human life, it's much, much worse)

As the U.N. inspectors were running around Iraq, they were reducing the estimated value of X. X was becoming very small, and the war was becoming a worse and worse idea. Rather then trying to find out the true value of X, the bush administration went to war right away.

None of this hand waiving bullshit means anything. It doesn’t change any of those facts. Sorry.
posted by delmoi at 6:21 PM on November 9, 2005


Bush himself said in speech after speech that he was not willing to wait until the danger was imminent to act. For what it's worth.

It's not worth anything. We were bound by the UN Charter not to use force against Iraq unless it was either in response to an actual or an imminent threat, or if it was authorized by the Security Council. In summary:
  1. The UN Charter only allows use of force:
    1. In self-defense
    2. If authorized by the Security Council
  2. Neither condition applied.
  3. The invasion was illegal under the UN Charter.
  4. As a treaty, the UN Charter is the supreme law of the land. In other words, it is US law.
  5. The invasion was illegal under US law.
Trickier - it doesn't predicate that Iraq must have been involved in 9/11, only that the action is consistent with the actions against terrorists in general. Again, you may disagree with the rationale, but the flypaper argument, as well as the "Iraq the model" arguments both satisfy this requirement.

I already posted the CIA's prewar assessment that Iraq hadn't "engaged in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade," and you already agreed that Iraq wasn't involved in the September 11 attacks. So the attack was also illegal because it didn't meet the authorization's conditions for the use of force.

The flypaper argument and the "Iraq the model" argument are irrelevant because they aren't mentioned are requirements in the authorization for use of force; they're immoral post-invasion rationalizations for the war that only started being widely circulated once no WMDs turned up. (And the post-invasion increase in terrorism worldwide and the bombings in Madrid and London invalidate the flypaper theory in my opinion.)
posted by kirkaracha at 7:55 PM on November 9, 2005


Great article, which, again just underlines what horrid liars are many of our politicians, and what pathological liars are most of the critics of President Bush.

The War was completely justified on the basis of what the US, and all the powers of the West knew. We didn't go into the War lightly. We thumbed our national nose at the UN, which, admittedly in retrospect, has turned out to have been the right thing to do.

Reading this article wants to make me vote for President Bush again. I hope the nation can find a worthy successor to this brave, prinicipled man.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:03 PM on November 9, 2005


ParisParamus, April 29th 2003, at 8:57pm PST: If WMDs are not found in Iraq, and in large quantity (or at least objective evidence that they were destroyed), then, in terms of American politics, the war was a sham, and the President should be indicted.

Paris, you have completely lost all credibility on this issue. Don't even bother.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:15 PM on November 9, 2005


Ah, it makes sense now. PoDo is firing the first shot in this campaign.

This is the beginning of the Republican marketing effort to disavow responsibility for their colossal fuck up.
posted by teece at 9:45 PM on November 9, 2005


If they could have held their coalition together, they could have put in language that would have required concrete proof of WMDs, or a UNSC recommendation before going to war.

They thought they did...

The resolution requires Bush to declare to Congress either before or within 48 hours after beginning military action that diplomatic efforts to enforce the U.N. resolutions have failed.

Bush also must certify that action against Iraq would not hinder efforts to pursue the al Qaeda terrorist network that attacked New York and Washington last year. And it requires the administration to report to Congress on the progress of any war with Iraq every 60 days.


Bush sure weaseled out of his "Show Yer Cards" posture...

As for holding together the 51-member (D) coalition in the Senate, these guys:


Carnahan (D-MO) (lost)
Cleland (D-GA) (lost)
Harkin (D-IA)
Johnson (D-SD)
Landrieu (D-LA)


were up for reelection in Red states and could not vote against the President. Other (D)s knew this and decided to cover their bets.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:57 PM on November 9, 2005


They just assumed that Saddam had been hiding a few tons of mustard gas, and couple the discovery of that with the idea that it would all be over in Iraq in 3 months, and they just assumed their fibs wouldn't matter in the end.

bingo. When even that story started falling apart, they thought they could bullshit us with the hydrogen trucks, but even that didn't fly. PP and his scumbag ilk are left to pointing to a single incident of a suspect CW shell repurposed as an IED.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:03 PM on November 9, 2005


According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, "fifty-seven percent believe he deliberately misled people to make the case for war."
posted by kirkaracha at 11:03 PM on November 9, 2005


great find, teece.

that cnn article teece links to describes the contents of podhoretz's article almost verbatim. knowledge that the administration is undertaking such an endeavor ("hitting back" at those who question their veracity) obviates any so-called debate about the merits of loquax's position -- the administration said were going to "hit back" (jesus christ on a bizarre conveyance of some kind!!) and here is the opening salvo. this is not journalism or provocative commentary, it's propaganda in service of a rovian comeback strategy.

so loquax, what do you make of this article in light of teece's link?
posted by Hat Maui at 11:18 PM on November 9, 2005


New York Times (registration required), Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Suspicions:
A high Qaeda official in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.

The document [PDF], an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda's work with illicit weapons.

The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi's credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi's information as "credible" evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.

Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that "we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases."
The document also says:
"Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control."
Also in the Los Angeles Times.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:34 PM on November 9, 2005


so loquax, what do you make of this article in light of teece's link?

Everybody else: "My logic is impeccable! Dare you respond to my points?"

Loquax: "I believe Bush. Here are my talking points."

Everybody else: "But here's this link! And here's this news story! And here's my chain of logic and facts that proves you're wrong! What do you say to that?"

Loquax: "I believe Bush. Here are my talking points."

This is the same constituency that would rather believe in Intelligent Design than evolution, that gay marriage will destroy society, just about any comforting lie rather than a disquieting truth.
posted by RylandDotNet at 12:28 AM on November 10, 2005


Nothing more enjoyable than p'ing off the Metafilter I Hate Bush Cabal.... ;- )
posted by ParisParamus at 4:36 AM on November 10, 2005


Thank you Ryland, and others, for pointing out the basic tenents of loquax and the underlying reasoning behind his seriously deflated attempts to control the conversation.

As for Paris, you are a reprehensible human being. I don't even know why I'm typing this, as Popular Ethics popped this asshats bubble the instant he trolled this thread, but it's just so goddamn infuriating.

This isn't even about politics, or the "I Hate Bush Cabal". How about the "We Love Life and Hate to See It Wasted" cabal or the "Fuck You Warmongering Corrupt PNAC Soulless Cocksuckers" cabal. This is about human life (or lack thereof) and extreme suffering, not about your ability to feel smug on a messageboard in the most ridiculously convoluted fashion possible. I know this would never possibly occur, but maybe for once you could have an honest reflection on what war and death really means and then maybe you'd shut your fucking mouth and grow a spine.
posted by prostyle at 6:44 AM on November 10, 2005


so loquax, what do you make of this article in light of teece's link?

What am I supposed to make of it? I fully acknowledged at the beginning that the article was biased and from a partisan source. It doesn't make it factually incorrect. Either way, I barely paid attention to Podhoretz's words, and focused far more on the quotes he provided. If any of those are fabricated or taken out of context, I'd love to hear about it. Many of you make excellent points, I'm not saying that I disagree with your facts, just the interpretation of those facts. And I suppose it's the same the other way.

Accusing those you disagree with of being shills and trolls does nothing for your argument or position. If you honestly believe I'm writing in bad faith, why are you bothering to respond? Kind of sad really.
posted by loquax at 6:57 AM on November 10, 2005


Kind of sad really.

That was obviously directed only to a small number of people, not the majority in this thread.
posted by loquax at 7:14 AM on November 10, 2005


Loquax, if you honestly thought you 'had an argument' to begin with I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree. From the beginning this post was not intended to be a dialogue, and it has flourished in much the same fashion. This thread is entirely pointless, and to hear you deride those who, in your opinion are not 'advancing their argument or position' with their posts is absolute comedy. Once again, I really hope you enjoyed yourself, because you'd be the only one.
posted by prostyle at 7:14 AM on November 10, 2005


Carnahan (D-MO) (lost)
Cleland (D-GA) (lost)
Harkin (D-IA)
Johnson (D-SD)
Landrieu (D-LA)


were up for reelection in Red states and could not vote against the President. Other (D)s knew this and decided to cover their bets.


I don't know about the rest, Iowa is not a 'red' state, we went for Gore in 2000 (by 10,000) votes, and bush got a similar margin in 2004.

And Harkin would have to rape a baby in order to get voted out.
posted by delmoi at 7:43 AM on November 10, 2005


(Harkin was standing right behind dean during his infamous 'scream', by the way. He was in frame. Not exactly someone who shies away from looking liberal)
posted by delmoi at 7:47 AM on November 10, 2005


But that's not the question, and we're angels dancing on the head of a pin here.

Well, I disagree with that. While there are a lot of questions to be answered, one is whether or not the administration was directly lying. The reason I brought this up, and the reason I think it's important is that if they were directly lying (the way I understand the term, in its most narrow definition) to the American public in the casus belli for war, then I think that revolution and all that starts to become more and more justified. In this case, all credibility is gone, and they cannot be allowed to continue to govern. It's one thing to make a mistake, or even to believe doubtful intelligence, quite another to deliberately lie concerning such an important subject. If they didn't lie, then by all means, pursue impeachment, pursue democratic means, but the level of outrage must be several notches lower than if they'd lied. My opinion only, that's why I find this significant.

If you think the Iraq war was an innocent mistake, the Bush administration's action in the months of March to May 2003 should give you very serious pause, loquax.


Well, I think there's a hefty dollop of poor planning mixed in there. Some sites were secured, some weren't. I'm not capable of analyzing the plans in their entirety, but clearly there was an effort to investigate the suspected sites, and find other weapons wherever they might be. For all I know, those reports that they were transported to Syria might be accurate.

I "justify" the things you mention by bringing up the prevailing environment. Again, from everything I had read and heard over the last 15 years, I was fully expecting to see something. Again, I didn't care for the WMD argument in the first place, but I was shocked when they found nothing, no serious evidence of weapons programs, nuclear programs, etc. I did not think that was possible. Given Saddam's track record, given his access to funds from oil sales, I assumed it was a given. I'm sure that the administration and others felt the same way, and that's why intelligence indicating as such was believed, while intelligence claiming that he was simply playing ping pong in his bunkers was ignored.

with the fact that Iraq was such an imminent nuke threat?


As far as I know, the administration was saying two things concurrently, one was that there was an imminent threat, and two that they didn't want to wait until the threat was imminent. Then there's the question of the imminence of the threat against the US, versus the threat against other allies. I can't speak for the administration, but at the time, given that it was assumed that there was a nuclear program underway by at least some people, and that he had attempted to build nuclear weapons in the past, and that he had used chemical weapons in the past, and it was assumed he had more, even according to the UN, and that he'd been paying families of suicide bombers in Israel, it wasn't difficult for me to believe that he was an imminent threat in a variety of ways, as well as being a long term threat should he or his sons be allowed to continue running the country. Now, it seems apparent that the imminence of the threat was overstated, but not the long term threat. I don't know. It boils down to a judgment call. If he had had Soviet ICBM's pointed at Washington and ready to fire, we'd all be praising Bush for his wisdom and foresight. As it happened, Bush deserves full punishment for being wrong.

That arguments in favor of war in Iraq are quickly shifting from "reasons" to "excuses".


I agree, in terms of the official party line, but I think the other reasons for war in Iraq were always more valid, and continue to be valid today. Too bad that they have no traction with the public given the fallout from the WMD justification.


When that's done, you can be reasonably sure after that there were no WMDs at a particular site.


I suppose, but the margin for error is razor thin. If the assumption is that Hussein will use nukes the second he has them, which in my opinion is at least plausible, then you can't really afford to be reasonably sure. Hence the motivation for Israel to bomb Osirak back in 1981. I almost liken this to civil court as opposed to criminal court - instead of having to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, all you require to justify actions is the benefit of the balance of probabilities. I wish it weren't so, and that the luxury to be *certain* always existed, I just don't think it does. That being said though, I still wish WMD was not the main justification for war.

In hindsight, however, it does seem like the war has been worse for Iraq the sanctions ever where.

I totally disagree, but that's neither here nor there I guess.

So no only do you have access to classified information (and not just selected quotes) from the US, but also France, Germany, and the UK? Pretty impressive, Mr. Super spy. Yet, just a few posts ago you were saying it was impossible to know what went on in the upper reaches of government. Which is it? By the way, do you have any direct citations for this?

Just going by what I remember, the quotes from the article, and the wiki stuff that I've posted. The disagreement was not whether or not Iraq had WMD's, but to what degree, and as to what action was appropriate.

Being in disagreement with Judy Miller is and the WP is not exactly a bad thing...

Again, just trying to highlight what the mainstream thinking was at the time, as opposed to what it appears to be today. If you thought Iraq had WMD's back then, even before Bush and his distortions, you were comfortably in the vast majority.

All the hand-waiving in the world won't change the fact that if the bush administration really believed Iraq had WMDs they are to stupid to be left in power another day.

I am not disagreeing with you.

We can therefore surmise that if X*Y*Z is greater then A, the Iraq was a good idea. Today we know that A is 2,000, and that Z is zero. Therefore the Iraq was a bad idea.


Interesting way of looking at it, but you don't account for time in the equation. Or, moving beyond just WMD, the lives of Iraqi civilians, the threat of another Iraq-initiated aggressive war, and so on. Of course, part and parcel with that is the risk of a failed state, or Islamic fundamentalist state arising, civil war, and so on. Obviously, since I believe the war is a good thing, my calculus results in a different sum based on the assumptions I made. Although yes, when it comes to specifically the WMD question, you are right, and it's again why I didn't like the argument. But it still doesn't mean they lied about it.

kirkaracha - I fully admit to playing semantic games with you, but only because that's what these "laws" and "requirements" are - they're designed to be easy to rationalize and justify so that no action is ever seen as "illegal". I'd be willing to bet that any court of law in the US would see the war as nothing but perfectly legal and constitutional. I'm just trying to provide some basis for them to do so without being a constitutional lawyer.

We were bound by the UN Charter not to use force against Iraq unless it was either in response to an actual or an imminent threat

Define "actual", "imminent" and "threat". Let's assume a reasonable person test - would a reasonable person in 2003 have believed that these three words applied to Iraq? How about an expert? Given the massive amounts of intelligence about everything Iraq was up to, both credible and doubtful, was there enough evidence to justify the use of those words, even if in the broadest sense? I bet there was.

The flypaper argument and the "Iraq the model" argument are irrelevant because they aren't mentioned are requirements in the authorization for use of force;

The flypaper argument and the "Iraq the model" argument are irrelevant because they aren't mentioned are requirements in the authorization for use of force;

But these arguments aren't irrelevant - in lieu of evidence of Iraq's direct involvement in 9/11, these arguments fit the condition for war perfectly - "acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations,". Iraq the model will discourage terrorism by presenting a wonderful counter-example of how democracy can flourish, plus it will act as flypaper for all those terrorists so that they don't blow anything up in the US. Semantics, yes, debatable, sure, but I think both can be used to fit the criteria for use of force, making the war legal even without ties to 9/11 or Al Qaeda.

(And the post-invasion increase in terrorism worldwide and the bombings in Madrid and London invalidate the flypaper theory in my opinion.)

Maybe, but that wouldn't change it's validity as a justification for a legal war to start with.

so loquax, what do you make of this article in light of teece's link?

By the way, if you're asking if I knew about the Republican plan to change strategies and address this, no, I didn't. But I don't blame them for trying to manage the political fallout. That's what political parties do, right?
posted by loquax at 8:34 AM on November 10, 2005


loquax, you've conducted yourself admirably in this thread. Your practice of engaging your opponents in thoughtful, respectful debate is an example to the others here of your political leaning. I don't agree with most of your findings or reasoning, but at least you're engaging people who challenge you, and putting serious thought into your responses. Thanks.

Also, y2karl: you continue to rock my world.
posted by squirrel at 9:23 AM on November 10, 2005


those reports that they were transported to Syria might be accurate

We had the north and south of Iraq covered by the no-fly zone, and the entire country covered by satellites. Where is any evidence that they magically transported the "massive stockpile of biological weapons" that we claimed they had out of the country?

Define 'actual', 'imminent' and 'threat'

An actual attack, according to Article 51 of the UN Charter, would be "if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations." In international law, imminent threats are "cases in which the necessity of that self-defense is instant, overwhelming and leaves no choice of means and no moment of deliberation." It doesn't matter how you or I might define "imminent threat," those are the definitions in the context of the UN Charter. There's no provision for attacking someone you think might be a long-term threat.

Iraq was not a military threat to the United States, and they didn't have WMD. And there's evidence that we knew before the war that they didn't have WMD:
Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect from Saddam Hussein’s inner circle, told CIA and British intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors in the summer of 1995 that after the gulf war, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them.
The administration cited Kamel's 1995 accounts of past weapons programs as current evidence that Iraq had weapons, but left out that he'd said everything had been destroyed. (I know, you'll say that's not a lie, just a sin of omission.) And he was a major source of our WMD argument, along with Curveball, who Germany had described as unreliable before the war.

I think the other reasons for war in Iraq were always more valid, and continue to be valid today.

Those reasons were not the central part of the political argument for going to war, and were not at all part of the legal requirements for using force.

We were told that we knew for a fact that Iraq had weapons, and the only way to defend ourselves was to invade them. That was the only legal justification for going to war, and it wasn't true.

If he had had Soviet ICBM's pointed at Washington and ready to fire, we'd all be praising Bush for his wisdom and foresight.

Well, we've had Soviet ICBMs pointed at Washington and ready to fire before, by the Soviet Union, and managed to avoid invading them for 45 years without getting attacked. ICBMs are a red herring anyway, because no one claimed that Iraq had them.

Iraq the model will discourage terrorism by presenting a wonderful counter-example of how democracy can flourish.

Why couldn't we have finished the job in Afghanistan and make it "a wonderful counter-example of how democracy can flourish," instead of doing a half-ass job, not finishing off Al Qaeda and letting the Taliban retake part of the country? And I think it's profoundly immoral to invade a country to remodel it into an example for others.

it will act as flypaper for all those terrorists so that they don't blow anything up in the US

Only 4-10 percent of insurgents are foreigners.
The authors also point out that the "fly paper" theory about the Iraq war - that a limited global number of Islamic militants would be lured to Iraq and destroyed - is probably incorrect. Instead, they estimate that many of the foreigners fighting in Iraq were peaceful before the US invasion.
Most of what few foreign fighters there are weren't terrorists before the war and were radicalized by the invasion. Serious international terrorist incidents more than tripled in 2004. Al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for last night's bombings in Jordan. The July 7 suicide bombers in London were radicalized by the Iraq war, and the Iraq war is identified by a British Home Office and Foreign Office dossier as a key cause of young Britons turning to terrorism.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:33 AM on November 10, 2005


This just in from Newsweek:
A CIA document shows the agency in January 2003 raised questions about an Al Qaeda detainee's claims that Saddam Hussein's government provided chemical and biological weapons training to terrorists--weeks before President George W. Bush and other top officials flatly used those same claims to make their case for war against Iraq.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:44 PM on November 10, 2005


This just in from Newsweek:

Ahem.
posted by y2karl at 11:44 AM on November 11, 2005


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