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Invasion of Iraq: The Weapons That Weren't|
Posted on Wednesday, December 24 @ 14:52:34 UTC
Michelangelo Signorile, www.signorile.com
"So what's the difference?" a slightly flustered George W. Bush asked Diane Sawyer last week when she challenged him on whether Saddam Hussein actually had weapons of mass destruction, or just wanted to get his hands on some.
"The possibility that he could acquire weapons," Bush continued, now defending the invasion and occupation of Iraq based on Saddam's thoughts, desires and wildest dreams rather than his actions, "if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger. That's what I'm trying to explain to you."
With that logic, I should pay taxes on a brand-new BMW just for wanting one. Hell, I should be locked up–and, in Texas, given the death penalty–just for some of the ugly thoughts that have gone through my own mind in recent months.
Gone are those heady days of Colin Powell's maps and grainy photos of deadly trailers filled with diabolical scientists making poisons designed to knock off entire populations. "My colleagues," Powell told the U.N earlier this year, "every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence… We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels…[that] can produce enough dry biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people."
Not one of the mysterious trailers of mass destruction ever materialized, of course, nor did anything else that the Bushies promised us Saddam had. So now they're embarking on what we might call the clairvoyant defense: We just know he was thinking about getting these weapons. Next we'll be told that Condoleezza Rice had a prophetic vision, a la Angels in America. Or maybe Nancy Reagan's old astrologer was called in to the current White House–just in time for her own glamorous portrayal in the CBS-banned The Reagans–to chart the stars and see if Saddam would be acquiring toxic agents. ("The moon is in the seventh house: He must be getting sarin gas from Syria!")
It would all be laughable if it weren't so outrageous. From the moment the news of Saddam's capture surfaced two Sundays ago, the media went into 24/7 overdrive, ignoring other important facts and telegraphing the ridiculous notion that the capture justified the war. For a full week the pundits have been pounding out the message that finding Saddam was terrible news for the Democrats and, particularly, for Howard Dean.
When Dean responded to the capture by saying it was a triumph for the Bush administration, but that America was no safer with Saddam caught, you'd have thought, by listening to the media windbags, that he'd said we should throw small children into boiling cauldrons. I mean, can any of us actually say we feel safer now that a feeble, unkempt maniac has been pulled up from a hole outside a dirt hut thousands of miles away? While the men and women in the U.S. military might be safer (if it is true that Saddam was orchestrating the insurgency, which seems unlikely), it's increasingly clear that he was not an "imminent threat" to the U.S. even while in power. I feel less safe since the invasion, as the occupation and Saddam's removal from power have allowed al Qaeda and assorted other types to make Iraq a new plotting ground. And obviously Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge doesn't think we're safer, as he put the country on orange alert for the holidays.
But back to Saddam's hole. I saw so many renderings of it in the media last week that it bordered on obscene, including MSNBC's life-size recreation, in which they stuffed one of their anchors down inside of it. Meanwhile, a bit of scandalous news went uncovered amid the Saddam-fest: Florida Sen. Bill Nelson's revelation that someone in the Bush administration last year told him and 75 other senators that Iraq not only had WMDs but had the means to deliver them to cities on the East Coast, presumably including New York and Washington. The classified briefing, Nelson said, came just before he and the majority of senators voted last October to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq.
"Nelson said the senators were told Iraq had both biological and chemical weapons, notably anthrax, and it could deliver them to cities along the Eastern seaboard via unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones," reported the website Florida Today, one of only a few places that reported this news. Nelson, who declined to say who exactly briefed the senators, apparently made the comments in a conference call to reporters.
"They have not found anything that resembles an [unmanned aerial vehicle] that has that capability," Nelson said about the current search for weapons in Iraq.
With no deadly trailers, unmanned aircraft, nukes or vials of chemicals found, the Bushies are sounding more and more like "dead-enders"–to borrow a term from Rummy–when it comes to WMDs. And turning to the clairvoyant defense is not only despicable and desperate; it's in direct contradiction to their defense regarding intelligence prior to 9/11.
"I don't think anybody could have predicted... that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," Condoleezza Rice claimed in May of 2002. This, even though there had been clear and consistent intelligence that laid out exactly that type of attack.
"How is it possible we have a national security advisor coming out and saying we had no idea they could use planes as weapons when we had FBI records from 1991 stating that this was a possibility?" Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband died in the World Trade Center attacks, asked CBS News last week. In her new book Seeds of Terror, CNN's Jakarta bureau chief Maria Ressa–whose reports about al Qaeda's organizing in Southeast Asia run on CNN International but, she says, often aren't aired on American CNN–notes that documents seized from an al Qaeda cell in the Philippines in 1995 outlined, specifically, a plot to crash planes into buildings.
It's curious how Condi and the gang became fortunetellers when it came to Saddam–and justified a war based on their soothsaying–but claim they couldn't predict the 9/11 attacks, even with clear-cut intelligence staring them in the face. Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Thomas Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 commission that the White House has fought tooth and nail, confirmed last week that you most certainly didn't have to be psychic to predict 9/11.
"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done," he said of the findings to be released in coming months. "This was not something that had to happen."
|Average Score: 5|