23 November 2005

Who is Lying About Iraq? - Part V

If only al-Qaeda were the only terrorist group and Iraq the only rogue nation trying to acquire WMD in the world. Unfortunately, this is not the reality we live in. If it were, Afghanistan might have been both the beginning and the end of the war on terror.

9/11 woke the world up to the threat of terrorism. It shouldn't have taken that long. The bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut, the Pan-Am explosion, the attempted take-down of the Trade Towers--all of these and more should have shaken us from the post-Cold War day-dream we were in. But they didn't.

Rationale for invading Iraq never required and I never needed a point to point to point connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda. I still maintain that a connection exists, and a close reading of the actual report by Murray Waas does not refute coordination between key Iraqi officials and al-Qaeda. Unfortunately for us, Murray Waas does not identify a single source, and even contradicts himself as to whether or not the detailed CIA report on which President Bush's PDB (President's Daily Brief) was based was given to the Senate Intelligence Committee (it was).

Murray Waas, Joe Wilson, and other "Bush Lied!" history re-writers have some things in common. They re-hash the same ridiculous arguments about pre-war intelligence. They go back and forth between 2-3 different critiques, as soon as one is thoroughly answered they resurrect the other--giving life to Dr. Frankenstein's monster--in the form of Powell's former Chief of Staff, Joe Wilson, and now Rep. Murtha.

The key (and only) source in Waas' article is a "former administration official." Could this source be none other than the "irrefutable" Joe Wilson? Probably. If my only source were someone who has been shown here and elsewhere (note: this is a link to a "very" good article by Michael Barone) to have lied and contradicted himself on numerous occasions, I too would keep him anonymous.

Way to go Murray Waas for regurgitating an argument with evidence and sources that have already been refuted--and getting paid for it too.

Without further delay, Part V in "Who is Lying About Iraq?" by NORMAN PODHORETZ--a scholarly rigorous article with legitimate sources.
Liberal politicians like these were seconded by the mainstream media, in whose columns a very different tune would later be sung. For example, throughout the last two years of the Clinton administration, editorials in the New York Times repeatedly insisted that "without further outside intervention, Iraq should be able to rebuild weapons and missile plants within a year [and] future military attacks may be required to diminish the arsenal again."

The Times was also skeptical of negotiations, pointing out that it was "hard to negotiate with a tyrant who has no intention of honoring his commitments and who sees nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons as his country's salvation."

So, too, the Washington Post, which greeted the inauguration of George W. Bush in January 2001 with this admonition:

Of all the booby traps left behind by the Clinton administration, none is more dangerous--or more urgent--than the situation in Iraq. Over the last year, Mr. Clinton and his team quietly avoided dealing with, or calling attention to, the almost complete unraveling of a decade's efforts to isolate the regime of Saddam Hussein and prevent it from rebuilding its weapons of mass destruction. That leaves President Bush to confront a dismaying panorama in the Persian Gulf [where] intelligence photos . . . show the reconstruction of factories long suspected of producing chemical and biological weapons.

All this should surely suffice to prove far beyond any even unreasonable doubt that Mr. Bush was telling what he believed to be the truth about Saddam's stockpile of WMD. It also disposes of the fallback charge that Mr. Bush lied by exaggerating or hyping the intelligence presented to him. Why on earth would he have done so when the intelligence itself was so compelling that it convinced everyone who had direct access to it, and when hardly anyone in the world believed that Saddam had, as he claimed, complied with the 16 resolutions of the Security Council demanding that he get rid of his weapons of mass destruction?

Another fallback charge is that Mr. Bush, operating mainly through Mr. Cheney, somehow forced the CIA into telling him what he wanted to hear. Yet in its report of 2004, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee, while criticizing the CIA for relying on what in hindsight looked like weak or faulty intelligence, stated that it "did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence, or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities.

The March 2005 report of the equally bipartisan Robb-Silberman commission, which investigated intelligence failures on Iraq, reached the same conclusion, finding "no evidence of political pressure to influence the intelligence community's pre-war assessments of Iraq's weapons programs. . . . Analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments."

Still, even many who believed that Saddam did possess WMD, and was ruthless enough to use them, accused Mr. Bush of telling a different sort of lie by characterizing the risk as "imminent." But this, too, is false: Mr. Bush consistently rejected imminence as a justification for war. Thus, in the State of the Union address he delivered only three months after 9/11, Mr. Bush declared that he would "not wait on events while dangers gather" and that he would "not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer." Then, in a speech at West Point six months later, he reiterated the same point: "If we wait for threats to materialize, we will have waited too long." And as if that were not clear enough, he went out of his way in his State of the Union address in 2003 (that is, three months before the invasion), to bring up the word "imminent" itself precisely in order to repudiate it:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

What of the related charge that it was still another "lie" to suggest, as Mr. Bush and his people did, that a connection could be traced between Saddam Hussein and the al Qaeda terrorists who had attacked us on 9/11? This charge was also rejected by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Contrary to how its findings were summarized in the mainstream media, the committee's report explicitly concluded that al Qaeda did in fact have a cooperative, if informal, relationship with Iraqi agents working under Saddam. The report of the bipartisan 9/11 commission came to the same conclusion, as did a comparably independent British investigation conducted by Lord Butler, which pointed to "meetings . . . between senior Iraqi representatives and senior al-Qaeda operatives."

1 comment:

VoiceOfRaisin said...

Can anything that happens in Iraq convince you that this was a mistake? If the entire effort is a waste and nothing substantial is accomplished, will you claim that the motives and philosophy and blah blah blah were good, but the plan was just executed poorly? Give me a scenario in which you would concede the war was a mistake. I can give you plenty of scenarios in which I would call it a success. It just doesn't look like those scenarios are particularly likely right now.