June 3, 2003

WMD's and the Media

So, where are they? You know, the WMD's. The reason we invaded Iraq. The latest attempt by the Democrats and the liberal media to discredit or embarrass George Bush involves suggesting that the administration lied about the nature and extent of Saddam's weapons programs in order to justify their presumably preordained invasion. The Wall Street Journal provides some background on this distortion. An excerpt:

selective moralists are leaping on a distorted report about comments by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on WMD. An advance press release from Vanity Fair magazine spun as news the fact that Mr. Wolfowitz had said the following during an interview in early May: "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason."

Bill Kristol clears up what it was that Paul Wolfowitz actually said.

The occasion of Bush arriving in Europe for the G-8 meetings has provoked a feeding frenzy in the European press, as documented by Denis Boyles.

Those who opposed the war seem intent on portraying Bush and/or Blair as "liars". Another WSJ excerpt:

But who's trying to deceive whom here? That Saddam had biological or chemical weapons was a probability that everyone assumed to be true, even those who were against the war. U.N. inspections in the 1990s had proved that Iraq had such weapons, including 30,000 liters of anthrax, and Saddam had used chemical weapons against Iran and Iraq's own Kurds. The French themselves insisted that disarming Saddam of WMD, as opposed to deposing him, had to be the core of U.N. Resolution 1441.

Andrew Sullivan makes clear that the lack of evidence "in hand" doesn't make our invasion of Iraq any less justified:

What mattered was not whether at any particular moment Saddam had a certain specifiable quantity of botulinum toxin. What mattered was his capacity to produce such things, his ability to conceal them, and his links to terrorists who could deploy them. No one can doubt that he had had them at one point, was capable of producing them, and was linked to groups who would be only too happy to use them. That was and is the case for getting rid of him. It's as powerful now as it was in January.

As Rich Lowry points out, five years ago it was President Clinton and his administration that were warning of the dangers of Saddam's weapons programs. Were they part of the same "conspiracy" that concocted this threat to the U.S. that the Bush administration is supposedly now exploiting?

In a piece on NRO, Hussein Hindawi and John Thompson speculate on the likely disposition of Saddam's WMD's, and point out many of the absurdities of the claims by Bush opponents that the threat was somehow contrived by U.S. and British intelligence services. An excerpt:

Those who wish the United States harm, whatever the cost, created a monstrous myth.... It is beyond all logic to think any organization could put up such a complex case, without there being at least one person of the hundreds involved who would leak "the true story." Those who would use any pretext to denigrate America have put forth a thoroughly improbable and patently unprovable theory, as virtually all serious analysts have concurred from its first being floated.

So we've been searching a country the size of California for weapons that are small in volume and extremely easy to conceal, and we've been at it for about seven weeks since the end of the war. We have found mobile labs and banned missiles. We have scientists and regime officials in custody and presumably under interrogation. My guess is that we already know far more about Iraq's WMD programs than we have yet made public. Virtually nothing has been released by the administration, and frankly I think it's high time we got a report. Those who supported the administration's policy of regime change in Iraq deserve to know just what we do know to this point.

Supporters of Bush's Iraq policy, looking for a plausible explanation for the lack of concrete evidence of WMD's other than the notion that Bush, Cheney, Powell, and Blair lied straight-faced to the entire world, are asking the tough questions that beg to be asked. William F. Buckley is among them:

We do need to have a much better explanation than any we have had. Going to war to abort Husseinism is justified. But we are nevertheless entitled to know: How was intelligence information, presented as conclusive, so apparently illusory? Who was it, on the assembly line between the first man who spotted what he took to be WMD activity in Iraq, and the Defense Intelligence Agency and the President of the United States who beamed out to the world, not suspicions of WMD activity, but affirmations of it, who screwed up? Who deceived, or was carried away? And what vaccines have our leaders taken to guard against other deceptions of like character?

Posted by dan at June 3, 2003 12:03 PM