Weapons of mass obfuscation...
April 12, 2006 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Remember when US forces "found the weapons of mass destruction?" That announcement was made by President Bush on May 29, 2003 -- one day after this CIA Intelligence assessment was published. In the weeks following, reports emerged that disputed the CIA's findings. Now, three years later, the Washington Post says that the US Intelligence authorities already had "powerful evidence" that Bush's biological weapons claim was simply untrue.
posted by 327.ca (69 comments total)
 
ITMFA
posted by Zozo at 9:16 AM on April 12, 2006


The spin I heard on this on the radio was that the reports were only in their raw data form at the time. To me, if anything, that should be an argument for holding off the announcement.
posted by drezdn at 9:17 AM on April 12, 2006


At this point everyone realise the war was built on trumped up charges, the continual Bush bashing has gotten really old. Nothing will happen to him, there will be no impeachments, no nothing, he'll just run out the remainder of his term doing the same old.

What needs to happen now is for the Dems to offer a compelling new story for Americans, and rubbing in the fact that this guy is a lemon isn't helping anyone.

(I realise this has nothing to do with the post, but just throwing it out there)
posted by zeoslap at 9:22 AM on April 12, 2006


Zeoslap, who is "everyone"? Oh, i know, all the smart people. Excuse me for not getting it.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:25 AM on April 12, 2006


It would seem that the preponderance of evidence makes it harder and harder to refute some degree of culpability by this administration, specifically bush himself, in perpetuating falsehoods in starting this war.

One or two inconsistencies may be expected in anything this complex, but it looks like there have been fuckups all along the line. the thing that holds this administration together is apathy, religion and acceptance. The actual competence level is pretty low.
posted by edgeways at 9:27 AM on April 12, 2006


Oh, i know, all the smart people. Excuse me for not getting it.

You never get it anyway, Paris. We understand.

posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:28 AM on April 12, 2006


Did PP just admit to being stupid?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:30 AM on April 12, 2006


Yes, I'm stupid. I've known it at least since age 7.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:34 AM on April 12, 2006


A theory: does stuff like this get willfully released, NOT to change public opinion but to cement the opinion of the wingnuts, and hold off impending cognitive dissonance?

The "existence" of these trailers is made known, released in all forms of media, reliable media looks into it, discounts it when nothing backs it up, and so its not mentioned again in the MSM.

The wingnuts leap on it like starved mutts, and keep mentioning it as proof that makes their case hold. The fact that the MSM "willfully represses" this information that makes it so much the truer.
posted by stratastar at 9:35 AM on April 12, 2006


Ha! I knew I was stupid since I was 5! Beat you!
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:35 AM on April 12, 2006


See, I happen to believe that we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we set up the independent commission. I look forward to hearing the truth, exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden like the 50 tons of mustard gas on a turkey farm.
posted by Otis at 9:36 AM on April 12, 2006


I thought the talking point for this issue was "All the WMD are in Syria."
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:36 AM on April 12, 2006


Update: The White House is spinning like crazy...
posted by 327.ca at 9:38 AM on April 12, 2006


Now, three years later, ...

It was obvious FOUR years ago to anyone who bothered to look.
posted by three blind mice at 9:39 AM on April 12, 2006


Sure, Otis, that's right. And perhaps Saddam had a nuclear arsenal of ICBMs concealed in a parking garage.

In fact, if we suspect that a country has a massive arsenal -- perhaps hidden behind a pamphlet advocating open borders or a copy of the Quran -- we should commit trillions of dollars, and kill tens of thousands of people, to make damn sure it's not there.

Seems obvious to me.
posted by digaman at 9:41 AM on April 12, 2006


digaman,
Please see here and here.
posted by Otis at 9:51 AM on April 12, 2006


Tough day for Scott McLellan.

QUESTION: You can tell us if the President had this information. Did he have this information?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Jessica, this -- I just saw this report. I'll come back with more information if there is. But this is reckless reporting. And for you all to go on the air this morning and make such a charge is irresponsible.

QUESTION: But the President spoke very definitively --

SCOTT McCLELLAN: And I hope that ABC would apologize for it and make a correction on the air.

QUESTION: "We found" -- I'm quoting -- "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories." That's what he said. He didn't say, "The evidence that's coming in suggests." He didn't say that. He said it definitively.
posted by 327.ca at 9:52 AM on April 12, 2006


zeoslap, calling anything that doesn't paint the President in a positive light "Bush bashing" gets pretty old as well.
It isn't my fault that this administration churns out bad news for itself. I will concede on one thing though, I am a Bush basher... but that's different than viewing his actions as suspect and questioning his truthiness.
posted by grimcity at 9:53 AM on April 12, 2006


I distinctly remember this lie more than others, and I'm not sure why. I was watching CNN or something, and Bush was dressed up for what I guess was a White House dinner, and the press shot off a question, and he stood there and said pretty much "Well, we already found them [the WMD]." And I spoke out loud, probably too out loud, "Dude, you found a fucking sno-cone truck."

I feel vindicated, America.

That said, dealing with Bush is like dealing with being ripped off by a business--you'll probably never get your money back, but at least you can leave some kind of paper trail. Small comfort, but this is yet another nail in the coffin of any positive legacy the guy hopes to have.
posted by bardic at 9:59 AM on April 12, 2006


SCOTT McCLELLAN: And I hope that ABC would apologize for it and make a correction on the air.


QUESTION: Scott, just how big are your balls? Like, cantaloupe-sized? Could you perhaps make an approximate sizing with your hands right now?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:00 AM on April 12, 2006


McClellan asks like a snivelling child in this press conference. A mouthpiece of one of the most unrepentant, incurious leaders in history demanding an apology from the free press of the United States. Why do the journalists not take him to task for that?

Because they might be turned out of the room and not invited back? Would that be so bad? If the press corps stopped showing up to hear him lie and focused on investigative journalism the way Hersh does, would that be so bad?

Bush needs to have this forum in which to befuddle and humiliate the press taken away from him.

And McClellan needs a spanking or his bib taken away or something. Fucking child.
posted by jon_kill at 10:02 AM on April 12, 2006


Why does the media hang out with McClellan? Has the man ever spoken truthfully?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:09 AM on April 12, 2006


McClellan needs a spanking

From the current issue of Vanity Fair: Words Fail Him -- "Press Secretary Scott McClellan. Is he a victim, a pawn, or a P.R. disaster?"
posted by ericb at 10:23 AM on April 12, 2006


skallas, I have two words for you: "Nine" and "eleven."

The destruction of the WTC bought Bush an enormous amount of trust from Joe and Jane Sixpack, which the President and his rogues then proceeded to exploit like Jeff Skilling turning your granny's life savings into what became Enron. I don't blame granny much, though by this point, anyone who isn't praying for Bush's impeachment and a hearty round of indictments just isn't paying attention. But I do blame Enron.
posted by digaman at 10:31 AM on April 12, 2006


skallas, on a personal level, yes. I want to tell half the people I know who voted for Bush "you're all stupid morons who were too stupid to realize how fucking inept these people were and now the country's fucked up, you stupid fucking stupid fuck stupid fuck FUCK goddamn STUPID, Grandma."

That would certainly be more direct, and certainly not being restrained to "the elites." But it would be an unfair attack on people based on selfish emotion, and I don't really think it will win any elections. I'd also get less money on Christmas.

So I'm sort of confused how you start with "don't just blame the elites" and then end with "don't blame all the people who voted for him." The reason the "elites" are being attacked right now is because they're the ones who are lying.

As for the "everyone" thing, I just don't agree, because it's obvious PP and others are adhering to another fun game of parsing hyperbole instead of addressing the issue. "Bush didn't actually say 'imminent,' now..." blah blah blech.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:32 AM on April 12, 2006


McClellan is our Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Minister of Information.

http://www.welovetheiraqiinformationminister.com/
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:36 AM on April 12, 2006


Let me make that clickable.


http://www.welovetheiraqiinformationminister.com/
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:37 AM on April 12, 2006


Muhammed Saeed al-Shahaf back in 2003: "I can assure you that those villains will recognize, will discover in appropriate time in the future how stupid they are and how they are pretending things which have never taken place."

Well, har har har.
posted by digaman at 10:39 AM on April 12, 2006


McClellan: "No, no, I said they found Weapons of Ass Destruction... in Uday's porn stash!"
posted by Pollomacho at 10:39 AM on April 12, 2006


grimcity: I think you missed my point by focusing on the fact that I said used the term Bush bashing, which has connotations of unfounded criticism. My point was that these kinds of stories aren't swaying anyone at this stage of the game, the Parises generally like Bush's policies and the Grimcities don't. Perhaps if the Dems had something a little more compelling than 'hey look at this idiot' to say they'd be better placed come election time. It feels as though instead of extolling their virtues, they are still in the anyone but Bush mindset which is a recipe for disaster.
posted by zeoslap at 10:40 AM on April 12, 2006


My point was that these kinds of stories aren't swaying anyone at this stage of the game

Uh huh. That's why the polls keep plummeting as major neocons like Fukuyama are having public mea culpas about how they were wrong about Bush.

But I guess you mean, on MeFi.
posted by digaman at 10:42 AM on April 12, 2006


More cherry-picked quotes from the prophet Muhammed:

"We have them surrounded in their tanks"

"The American press is all about lies! All they tell is lies, lies and more lies!"

"I have detailed information about the situation...which completely proves that what they allege are illusions . . . They lie every day."

(I'm kidding, sort of. But the man made a few good points.)
posted by digaman at 10:45 AM on April 12, 2006


McClellan: "No, no, I said they we destroyed Weapons of Math Instruction...we bombed a school!"
posted by sfts2 at 10:52 AM on April 12, 2006


What digaman said about poll numbers, and the general insanity surrounding Bush's peope these days seems to be growing--a pedophile, a shoplifter, a VP who can't appear in public without being castigated, etc.

Maybe there isn't a tipping point, and that would say a lot about the state of democracy in my country. But if Bush and co. is going to continue to offer stuff like this up on a plate, there's no reason not to discuss it. Of course, you don't have to if you don't want to.
posted by bardic at 10:53 AM on April 12, 2006


My point was that these kinds of stories aren't swaying anyone at this stage of the game

More and more are being swayed --

Gingrich Criticizes President On Iraq War:
"'It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003.... We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it.'"
posted by ericb at 10:58 AM on April 12, 2006


Gingrich is going to run, IMHO.
posted by bardic at 11:03 AM on April 12, 2006


Maybe there isn't a tipping point, and that would say a lot about the state of democracy in my country. But if Bush and co. is going to continue to offer stuff like this up on a plate, there's no reason not to discuss it.

I'm not sure there is a tipping point. In fact, I'd guess that many of the people who are angry with BushCo (see digiman's comment about plummeting in the polls) are probably supporters of his positions and simply frustrated that he's such an egregious fuckup. If so, then getting rid of Bush would only clear the way for a newer, better neocon.

Ultimately though, I think it's important to keep the discussion going if only to document what people are thinking and saying. At some point in the future, it will matter that we didn't all just roll over and play dead.
posted by 327.ca at 11:06 AM on April 12, 2006


Gingrich is going to run, IMHO.

When did having an annoying smug look become one of the top five Presidential qualifiers?
posted by phearlez at 11:17 AM on April 12, 2006


The only pre-invasion source for the mobile weapons labs claim was a Chalabi-sponsored defector that the Defense Intelligence Agency had discredited in May 2002.

Cooperative Research timeline related to the trailers. One trailer was discovered in Mosul on April 19, 2003; the other one was discovered in al-Kindi on May 9. On May 27, 2003, a DIA fact-finding mission unanimously reported that the trailers didn't have anything to do with biological weapons. (A team member called the trailers "the biggest sand toilets in the world.") The next day, May 28, the CIA and DIA released a public statement calling the trailers "the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program." On May 29, the president said, "We found the weapons of mass destruction."

On June 7, New York Times (Judy Miller [!]) reported that, "American and British intelligence analysts with direct access to the evidence are disputing claims that the mysterious trailers found in Iraq were for making deadly germs." On June 17, the Observer reported that, "an official British investigation into two trailers found in northern Iraq has concluded they are not mobile germ warfare labs." On June 26, the New York Times reported that, "the State Department's intelligence division is disputing the Central Intelligence Agency's conclusion that mysterious trailers found in Iraq were for making biological weapons." The CIA and DIA stood by their statement in August 2003.

In an NPR interview on January 22, 2004, Vice President Cheney cited the trailers as "conclusive evidence" Iraq had "programs for weapons of mass destruction." (Useful tip: Cheney likes to say "in fact" when he's lying.) In April 2004, Colin Powell said, "it appears not to be the case that [the intelligence on the trailers] was that solid."

And McClellan needs a spanking
Too bad, Jeff Gannon doesn't come to the White House anymore.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:22 AM on April 12, 2006


Now he tells us:
"The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote," Powell said. And the Niger reference in Bush's State of the Union speech? "That was a big mistake," he said. "It should never have been in the speech. I didn't need Wilson to tell me that there wasn't a Niger connection. He didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. I never believed it."

When I pressed further as to why the president played up the Iraq nuclear threat, Powell said it wasn’t the president: "That was all Cheney."
posted by kirkaracha at 11:24 AM on April 12, 2006


I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
posted by I Love Tacos at 11:27 AM on April 12, 2006


More on Judy Miller's trailer trash, plus a more detailed timeline. The draft of the May 28 CIA/DIA white paper was prepared in April 2003. The inspection team arrived in Iraq on March 25 and unanimously concluded the trailers weren't weapons labs within the first four hours. Rumors of their conclusion reached DC on March 26.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:37 AM on April 12, 2006


Why does the WH press corps even show up? Why bother?

Be a helluva statement to see Scottie sweating at the microphone in front of an empty room...
posted by deCadmus at 11:37 AM on April 12, 2006


CIA and DIA released a public statement calling the trailers "the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program."

Well, that's not exactly a false statement. Can anyone point out any stronger evidence?
posted by Crash at 11:52 AM on April 12, 2006


Be a helluva statement to see Scottie sweating at the microphone in front of an empty room...

Nah, all those planted "reporters" would be in there, anyway.
posted by interrobang at 11:55 AM on April 12, 2006


It is a false statement, since the day before the investigative team had conclusively reported that the trailers weren't weapons labs.

The British probably could have told us they weren't weapons labs:
The revelation that the mobile labs were to produce hydrogen for artillery balloons will also cause discomfort for the British authorities because the Iraqi army's original system was sold to it by the British company, Marconi Command & Control.
Be a helluva statement to see Scottie sweating at the microphone in front of an empty room...

But then we'd miss all his stammering about the trailers. Apparently the president couldn't tell us about the DIA team's conclusion because a report "derived from highly classified information takes a substantial amount of time to coordinate and to run through a declassification process." Unless, of couse, your're smearing Joe Wilson.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:04 PM on April 12, 2006


Heh. Howard Dean is calling for Bush to declassify information regarding the mobile labs:

Given that the President has been willing to de-classify information for political purposes, he should de-classify this report so that the American people can know if they were misled. We'll call today for de-classifying the report. I certainly hope the President or his Administration don't de-classify something else to try and discredit this report or this story before we can get to the real facts.
posted by bardic at 12:10 PM on April 12, 2006


Eschew Obfuscation (bonus points if you can tell me who said that first).

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Sure Hussein could - and did - hide weapons (aircraft etc.) in the desert. Certainly he could have had a WMD program and hidden it somewhere and certainly he could have moved everything to Syria. There are several reasons that we should act as though he did not however.
Firstly -it’s been said that other intelligence agencies world wide also believed there were WMDs. Whether they did or did not, their
governments did not act on that information. They did not commit troops, they did not join the US in attacking Iraq. It is irrelevent what someone believes unless that belief affects action. It didn’t. End of story.
Secondly - no weapons were used. A weapon is useless without the will to use it (ask a Marine boot) no matter how destructive the weapon itself is.
Third - the weapons cannot now be used without risking other countries engaging.
And of course finally - since we’ve been on the ground the primary objective of anyone securing the area would be to find and neutralize the WMDs. Since they might find the will and use them. That ain’t happened either.

This all quite apart from the lack of evidence for WMDs. I don’t see - given what we now know about what was actually known then, how any reasonable analysis that could conclude there were any.

“And I will take that argument on any day in this room, if people want to suggest that we are not better off with Saddam Hussein removed from power. The world is better off with him removed from power.”

- er, what? McClellan is nuts. You read what was going on in WWII - the American people we’re lead by the hand as to exactly how the war was being prosecuted, what was being done and why.
Oh sure there was racist inflamatory propaganda, but even that wasn’t as purile as “Hitler is bad. The world is better off with him out of power.”

Insipid dolts.

...speaking of being cogently led by the hand - nice one(s) kirkaracha.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:31 PM on April 12, 2006


I never said we shouldn't discuss the ongoing revelations of a job poorly done; I was just lamenting the fact that all I hear about is how crap Bush is and not how great so and so's new idea about anything is. I feel as though the left is relying on Bush's poor ratings to get them elected instead of good ideas with regards the next steps to getting the US back on track.
posted by zeoslap at 12:32 PM on April 12, 2006


my god, that was an asshorrible press briefing, I'd feel bad for Scott if I didn't have such an already low opinion of him.
posted by edgeways at 12:35 PM on April 12, 2006


zeoslap, there's plenty of debate going on as to whether a "stopsign strategy" is worth it for the Dems, or if it makes them look worse. Personally, I'd say it's fine in the short-term--someone lit the house on fire, and to stand outside and shout "Get the hell out and arrest the idiots who did it" seems fine to me, for now. It'll be more than enough for major gains this November. For the presidential election in 2008, however, I think you're absolutely correct. But the contrast argument should be a major part of the platform--not just "they suck," but "they suck and this is why we'll do a better job."
posted by bardic at 12:43 PM on April 12, 2006


Nah, all those planted "reporters" would be in there, anyway.

Reporter: Hi, Scott, John Smith, Washington Times, just what would you say is the greatest aspect of President Bush's flawless leadership record, his undying devotion to America's family values or his unwavering commitment to strengthening America's economy?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:50 PM on April 12, 2006


What's really scary here is how politicized the CIA has become. Everybody focuses on Bush, but Bush could only make that claim because he got the agency to bend over.
posted by nixerman at 12:56 PM on April 12, 2006


The inspection team arrived in Iraq on May 25, not March 25. I screwed up the dates.

Thanks, Smedleyman.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:43 PM on April 12, 2006


That's because, nixerman, the Bush administration destroyed the CIA.
posted by Malor at 1:52 PM on April 12, 2006


That's because, nixerman, the Bush administration destroyed the CIA.

Oh, I thought it was those guys that flew those planes into those buildings that they didn't stop that did that. Same with the INS and the FBI brass.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:55 PM on April 12, 2006


I miss Ari Fleischer:
Q Understood, but unless it's absolutely confirmed that those were bio weapons labs, was my characterization not correct?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think your characterization does not apply to the weapons labs which we know have no other purpose other than for the production of biological weapons.

Q So you're saying that there's no chance that they do produce hydrogen for weather balloons used in artillery?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think that theory is full of hot air.
Hot air! Get it? More administration mentions of the trailers.

Powell's claiming now that he didn't believe the CIA's aluminum tube argument, but that didn't keep him from making it to the UN.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:11 PM on April 12, 2006


ITMFA> . .
. . .& what happened to phase 2 of the investigation? Where they'll look at the administration's politicization of the intelligence? Supoenas! I want Supoenas!
posted by ahimsakid at 2:38 PM on April 12, 2006


What I remember of the W claiming the WMDs had been found was everyone averting their eyes and pretending they hadn't heard anything because it was just another instance of that moron talking nonsense.

Go back and look. There was no reaction.
posted by wrapper at 7:54 PM on April 12, 2006


Someone is Full of it.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:14 PM on April 12, 2006


Someone is Full of it.

Former Air Vice Marshal in Saddam’s Iraq, Georges Sada --

"Georges Sada may have faced down Saddam Hussein, but now he's facing Jon Stewart" [embedded video].
posted by ericb at 8:25 PM on April 12, 2006


Hysterical Republicans think Iraq moved WMD's to Syria
"If you want to know where the hotbeds of hysterical Republican activity are, you need look no further than Free Republic. Their site is a 24/7 hotbed of mass hysteria, where the screaming never stops. Their latest screamfest is over a recent New York Sun article quoting an Iraqi general under Saddam as saying that Saddam shipped WMD's to Syria in 2002 under guise of flood relief.

The Iraqi general's name is Georges Sada, who has written a book about it named 'Saddam's Secrets.' He says that Saddam managed the shipment by taking out all of the seats of two Boeing civilian aircraft and smuggling the WMD's to Syria."

[Daily Kos | January 26, 2006]
posted by ericb at 8:28 PM on April 12, 2006


Someone is Full of it.

True indeed...

AMMAN, Jordan — After the warehouse raid in northern Jordan, the word from authorities horrified the people of Amman.

Terrorists linked to al-Qaeda had assembled a fearsome array of chemicals and planned a bombing that would send a 2-mile-wide "poison cloud" over this Middle East capital, killing as many as 80,000 people, military prosecutors said.

Osama bin Laden's foot soldiers had finally concocted a weapon of mass destruction.

A year later, in the hard light of scientific scrutiny, that sinister scenario looks more fictional than factual.

"Eighty thousand! That would have been like Hiroshima. And that was an atomic bomb," says Samih Khreis, one of the alleged plotters' lawyers.

The defense attorneys aren't alone in scoffing at the "WMD" claim. International experts checking the suspects' supposed list of chemicals — from the industrial compound ammonium to the explosive nitroglycerin — say either the defendants or the Jordanian authorities, or both, had little inkling about the makings of a chemical weapon.

The compounds "may generate some toxic byproducts, but they're unlikely to result in significant deaths by poisoning," said Ron G. Manley of Britain, a former senior U.N. adviser on chemical weapons.


Helluva stretch from that, to some defector suggesting that it was 20 tons of sarin gas...and it originated in Iraq. Helluva stretch there Paris.

Don't believe every sensationalist story that says what you want it to say.

Al Queda is very serious about obtaining NBC weapons, Paris. There is no need to cry wolf, and make up scary stuff...there's plenty of valid evidence to suggest that al Queda is seeking and has potentially obtained these weapons. Your Jordan story ain't it.

Here's a shortcut...basically if your story involves a connection to Saddam's Iraq...you can chuck it. There's no there there. It's been examined again and again and again. It's. Just. Not. There.
posted by edverb at 8:34 PM on April 12, 2006


Edverb, sorry. Not time to chuck anything. Not even Schumer.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:25 PM on April 12, 2006


Republicans think Iraq moved WMD's to Syria

So, where does the Bush administration (i.e. the White House, the CIA, etc.) and the world press/media stand on this alleged movement of WMD from Iraq to Syria? Any official reports or findings been releases (and/or "leaked")? Fill us in, please.
posted by ericb at 11:08 PM on April 12, 2006


*been released*
posted by ericb at 11:09 PM on April 12, 2006


DIANE SAWYER: (You) stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still--

PRESIDENT BUSH: So what's the difference?
posted by kirkaracha at 10:10 AM on April 13, 2006


[reads kirkaracha's link; cries]
posted by five fresh fish at 2:45 PM on April 13, 2006


Yeah, I get that a lot.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:39 PM on April 13, 2006


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