Yesterday’s Thoughts

March 16, 2006

Who knew there were no WMD in Iraq?

Last week Andrew Sullivan was raising the issue of ex post facto claims that the speaker/writer knew Saddam did not have WMD. Examples here,here, here, and here.

The central nugget:

I’m now overwhelmed by how many people say they now opposed the war all along because they could see that the WMD issue was invalid. It’s amazing so few made the case at the time.

Sullivan appears easily overwhelmed.

My perception is that the lack of proof for a threat from nuclear WMD was constant and everywhere. Salon (Sullivan’s employer at the time) ran daily updates on dubious claims of Nigerian Yellowcake Uranium, aluminium tubes destined for missile bodies, the improbablity of Condi Rice’s claims of missile attacks on the US, and the bizarre “evidence” that Colin Powell presented to the UN. In my terms, this means that the WMD issue was invalid. There was never a credible WMD threat on the US from Iraq.

Sullivan, or any other supporter of the war might have said, “Well the risks are so great, we need to be cautious.” The trouble was that this argument didn’t fly. North Korea was, and is a much greater threat based on all availible evidence. Iran was and is a much greater threat based on all available evidence. The administration wanted to take out Saddam because, … well I still don’t know, there have been so many reasons. Anyway, wanting to take out Saddam, they fabricated a story based on misinterpreted, discredited and obsolete infomation and sold it as a bill of goods. Oh, and the collection and distallation of this questionable information was also covered extensively.

The upshot was that the debate wasn’t, WMD, yea or nay. It was about is this evidence any good at all, and given the flimsy state of the evidence, should we be willing to flout international norms and go it alone in Iraq, and should we do it now. Anyway, that’s the part of the debate I was watching, reading and pulling my hair over.

But apparently, there were WMD deniers among us. The evidence was collected by the FBI, providing the first solid arguement for domestic spying. The dissidents are the one’s who could actually provide solid information.

As part of a complaint about the FBI pursuing domestic opponents of the war, the ACLU has published FBI investigation documents. One of those documents is an agent’s report on the activities of the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, dated November 29, 2002. A scan (pdf) is available here, The significant quote in the report,

TMC holds daily leaflet distribution activities in downtown Pittsburgh and is currently focused on its opposition to the potential war in Iraq. According to these leaflets, Iraq does not posses weapons of mass destruction and that, if the United States invades Iraq, Saddam Hussien [sic] will unleash biochemical weapons upon American soldiers.

I expect the Merton center folks, being people of faith, are certain of lots of things that I’m not certain of. Seems like they were right about WMD, although wrong about biochemical weapons.

Is this just another case of the FBI failing to act on information it was provided? I wonder if there will be a Congressional Investigation?

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