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February 08, 2006

More on the WMD Questions

Today brings another couple of sources that say they know where at least some of Iraq's WMDs are, and one is Hussein himself.

Via Clayton Cramer comes a link to this NY Sun story.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is studying 12 hours of audio recordings between Saddam Hussein and his top advisers that may provide clues to the whereabouts of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The committee has already confirmed through the intelligence community that the recordings of Saddam's voice are authentic, according to its chairman, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, who would not go into detail about the nature of the conversations or their context. They were provided to his committee by a former federal prosecutor, John Loftus, who says he received them from a former American military intelligence analyst.

Mr. Loftus will make the recordings available to the public on February 17 at the annual meeting of the Intelligence Summit, of which he is president. On the organization's Web site, Mr. Loftus is quoted as promising that the recordings "will be able to provide a few definitive answers to some very important - and controversial - weapons of mass destruction questions." Contacted yesterday by The New York Sun, Mr. Loftus would only say that he delivered a CD of the recordings to a representative of the committee, and the following week the committee announced that it was reopening the investigation into weapons of mass destruction.

And (also from the NY Sun):
A former special investigator for the Pentagon during the Iraq war said he found four sealed underground bunkers in southern Iraq that he is sure contain stocks of chemical and biological weapons. But when he asked American weapons inspectors to check out the sites, he was rebuffed.

David Gaubatz, a former member of the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations, was assigned to the Talill Air Base in Nasiriyah at the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His job was to pick up any intelligence on the whereabouts of senior Baathists and weapons of mass destruction and then send the information to the American weapons inspectors gathering in Baghdad that would later become the Iraq Survey Group. For his intelligence work he received accolades and meritorious service medals in 2003 and prior years. Before the war he helped uncover a spy in the Saudi military. He also assisted with the rescue and repatriation to America of the family of Mohammed Rehaief, the Iraqi lawyer who helped save Private Jessica Lynch.

Since the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence reopened the case of the missing WMDs, I imagine we'll be hearing more about this in the coming weeks.

Posted by Doug at February 8, 2006 03:23 PM

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Pre-emptive ground rule: As the recent post on this topic turned into a re-fight of the Iraq war decision, I'd like to politely request that comments be primarly related to the post itself. Wide lattitude will be granted, and I'm not going to censor any comments. This is just a request, not a requirement.

With that, enjoy.

Posted by: Doug Payton at February 8, 2006 03:30 PM


Good ground rule.

It would be very interesting to consider the psychological mindset of those who be disapointed if WMD were actually found, per the intelligence reports. What, for instance, would possess somebody to pin their hopes on the WMD "lie," or on an American failure in this area? This goes beyond Democrat versus Republican politics--it is more deepseated than that. I think uncovering this mindset would explain much about the world we live in.

Posted by: PDS at February 8, 2006 10:20 PM

I never doubted for a day that at least a record of WMDs would be found and prove their existence. This is hot. To understate, this could untangle some big knots and resolve a few issues.

Posted by: Across The Flow at February 9, 2006 03:35 PM

PDS, are you suggesting that war critics would be disappointed if the WMD to which Bush referred were found? Because I can assure you that if I am wrong then I will humbly eat crow, and I will strive to understand the assumptions and mistaken conclusions that led me to doubt the President. However, I could just as easily ask you what it would take for those hoping to find WMD to admit they were mistaken. Would anybody here like to comment on that?

My main points have been that from the available evidence, Saddam has not proven to have been a credible threat to the U.S. and that means the Iraq war was a war of choice, not of necessity. Perhaps that distinction more than anything else troubles those who oppose the war compared to those who don't.

In any case, before you dismiss us for being critics (without debunking our criticism, I might add), please give some consideration to the substance of our comments in the previous WMD thread. As Dan has pointed out, our criticism has not taken the form of Bush-bashing. Keep in mind that I also explained that I supported the President's decision to depose the Taliban. In other words, I am selective in my opposition to Bush's policies, and I do my best to base my objections on the available facts. I find it moderately offensive that some people here equate my criticism with "spewing hate". If you equate the two, then you don't truly believe in free speech, and you don't believe that citizens should hold their government accountable for its mistakes.

If you don't equate criticism with bashing or hatred, then please consider the following. If further evidence emerges that Bush or Cheney deliberately misled the public, wouldn't you agree that they should be held accountable? Wouldn't that be worthy of our severest censure? Wouldn't that be far more serious than Clinton lying about having sex with an intern? That event is something I doubt that this crowd dismissed lightly. Does partisanship really run so deep that conservatives can't admit what it would take for them to criticize the leader of their own party? Before you toss that ball back to me, I will tell you that I do not approve of Clinton's personal behavior, and I think his lies damaged the public's faith in government. Can't conservatives see that some criticisms of Bush also supercede mere partisanship?

Your party has coopted the mantle of morality, life and death. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died and tens of thousands of Americans have been maimed as a result of this war. Isn't the morality of those wrecked lives worth discussing, not to dwell on the past but to avoid the possibility of similar suffering in the future? Or do we allow our fears to subjugate everything that matters except our own personal sense of security?

Posted by: dem at February 10, 2006 12:24 AM

Dem: I just noticed your response to my comment. I hope you are right about the willingness of the "Bush Lied About WMD Crowd" to eat crow. And, per the last couple of posts on this site, we may just have a chance to test your hypothesis soon.

As for the rest of your questions, in my comment, I explicitly rejected the idea that this is a Democrat versus Republican issue, so I'm not much interested in jumping into that fray, at least not on this topic. Also, you might note that I called the arguments in the other thread some of the more sane arguments on this topic I have seen, so I think you may have read abit too much into my remarks.

Posted by: PDS at February 10, 2006 02:01 PM


I had noticed your comments on the last thread, just as I noticed your supposed rejection of the partisan aspect of this debate. That is why I was suprised when you asked your question. Because it presumed that anti-war opponents would, in fact, be disappointed if WMD were found. I see nothing in any of the discourse in the last thread to lead you to conclude that. Wouldn't it be more productive to debate the substance of war opponents' arguments rather than impugning their character? Understanding the mindset of those who question the motives of Bush critics might also explain much about the state of our country and the inability of the two sides to carry out productive discourse.

If I am misinterpreting the gist of your question then I apologize. In your last comment you didn't explain why you asked your original question. I'd be interested in hearing your explanation.

In the meantime, I'd like to ask you to consider a few other things. Sada has now met with Senators Inhofe and Sessions. How long do you think we can reasonably expect the Bush administration to take to make an announcement about those missing WMD? It shouldn't take more than what... two weeks? A month?

Since I posted my earlier reply to your comment, two more people have accused the administration of planning to attack Saddam regardless of whether he had WMD. One is a British author that bases his claim on a memorandum by Sir David Manning, former security advisor to Tony Blair and now the British ambassador in Washington.,1,1146602.story?track=mostemailedlink

The other is Paul Pillar, the CIA's former chief of intelligence for the Middle East during the runup to the Iraq War. As stated in the article in the link I provide, Pillar "accused the Bush administration of ignoring or distorting the prewar evidence on a broad range of issues related to Iraq in its effort to justify the American invasion of 2003."

Their views of the Bush administration's policies toward Iraq echo those of other former Bush administration officials. These include the following men:

Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism coordinator, who said that immediately after 9/11 Bush encouraged him to try to find anything that could make Saddam look like a threat and that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld wanted to bomb Iraq at that time, despite both men being informed that Saddam had nothing to do with Al Qaeda and the attacks on the U.S.

Paul O'Neill, Bush's first Treasury Secretary, who accused the administration of planning to attack Saddam prior to 9/11, a time when Colin Powell said Iraq was not a threat to its neighbors;

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff, who accused the administration of allowing its foreign policy to be hijacked by a "cabal" of neocons that "produced a series of disastrous decisions".,0,7455395.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

These are not partisan critics. These men were high-ranking members of the Bush or Blair administrations. Their views, in turn, echo that of Richard Dearlove, the head of British Intelligence, who was the source of information for the Downing Street Memo, which said of the Bush administration's policy toward Iraq during the runup to the war: "The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

There is a wealth of evidence suggesting the Bush administration misled the public about the threat that Saddam posed to the U.S. If I am wrong, it is a simple matter of finding the troves of weapons we were assured we would uncover in Iraq. That hasn't happened. So I'm asking people here again: what evidence would be required to convince you that those WMD do not exist?

Posted by: dem at February 13, 2006 01:04 AM

p1. I'm still not seeing any evidence of a nuclear weapons capability, which was the principle justification for the invasion of Iraq.

p2. The NY Sun is not reporting anything of substance on the subject. It's all merely speculation and wishful thinking.

p3. The NY Sun is not a source of objective journalism.

Posted by: s9 at February 13, 2006 02:42 AM

"So I'm asking people here again: what evidence would be required to convince you that those WMD do not exist?"

Since you can't prove a negative, I suspect the very fact that they haven't been found is all the evidence some need that they exist.

It's all in how much you want to believe, I reckon.

I think there's more than enough evidence to not trust this administration. Thanks, dem and s9 for so thoroughly proving that point.

[silly disclaimer: I do not hate Bush, nor the Republican party. I do not love the Dems. This is my own objective opinion as a Christian, a US citizen and a reasoning adult. Thank you.]

Posted by: Dan Trabue at February 13, 2006 09:22 AM

Dem: I'm afraid you protesteth too much.

I take you comments at face value, so there is no need for you to worry about your character being impugned. As for my broader point, if you don't think there will be people disappointed if/when WMD's are found and your assumption turns out to be correct, (1) I will be perfectly willing to eat crow, and (2) you and I may be living on different planets, as I have had this conversation with such persons (at least two of whom happen to be family members and another, believe it or not, an Iranian immigrant) who have admitted as much. I am not alone in this experience.

Perhaps, despite their candid words, I am wrong about the deep-seated mindset of some who wish ill of this country, no matter the consequences. I hope I am wrong. Alas, I doubt I am wrong.

Posted by: PDS at February 13, 2006 12:20 PM

PDS, do you honestly think that there are a great number of US citizens - especially in the Left-er Wing - who actually wish ill for this country?

Wouldn't it make more sense that some of us are every bit as concerned about our country, every bit as patriotic, every bit as concerned about oppression, as you are and yet who have a different set of opinions about how best to deal with the problems that confront us?

For my part, I do not doubt the sincerity or nobleness of mind of those on the Right who support the president's policies. I question greatly the wisdom and morality of said support, but rarely or never do I suspect they wish ill for our country or for other countries, for that matter.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at February 13, 2006 12:44 PM

Dan: you just moved the goalposts on me. I am not interested in the straw man that there are "a great number of US citizens..." That is not what I said.

As my comment stated, apparently not all that clearly, there are "some" who hold this view. I know this because I have met them. I cannot figure them out. I know I am not alone in this. Most of the individuals I refer to would, I think, be appalled to call themselves Democrats. That is why this is not a Rep v. Dem issue. It is the mindset of those people who interest me.

Thus, my initial comment on this thread. Fair enough?

Posted by: PDS at February 13, 2006 01:49 PM