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    World Focus: David Kay leaving empty handed
    Posted on Friday, January 02 @ 01:11:36 UTC
    Topic: New Iraq
    New Iraq By Matthew Riemer, yellowtimes.org

    The man the Bush administration put in charge of finding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, David Kay, announced this week that he is stepping down from his post sometime early in 2004. Kay heads the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), which is currently scouring Iraq for signs of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. The former U.N. weapons inspector cited the duration of the inspections as one of his reasons for leaving; Kay had originally believed that the entire procedure would be completed in six months time, putting the completion date around the first of the year.

    When evaluating the post-war inspections process in Iraq and the by now cliché saga of the weapons of mass destruction story, it is instructive to look deeper and ask what other factors may be forcing David Kay to step down as the ISG head.

    Is Kay's departure a rolling back of the administration's focus on WMD as one of its primary points of vindication in its defense of its decision to go to war, especially now that President Bush has declared their existence irrelevant?

    Saddam Hussein has now been captured and President Bush's approval ratings -- at least temporarily -- boosted. As one might imagine, war advocates are portraying the apprehension of Saddam as an event somehow critical to the overall war in Iraq and the "war on terror" in general, that somehow the capture of Saddam in and of itself was one of the main goals of the war. As it stands now, the WMD issue had faded in recent months as one of the pivotal points in debates over the war simply because the Bush administration buried it. Now that Saddam has been found, it is even less likely that the issue will ever be center stage again, unless, of course, massive stockpiles of weapons are found.

    Is Kay leaving because he's becoming increasingly frustrated with the inability of his team to find any WMD evidence remotely congruous with pre-war Bush administration claims?

    To better understand the dynamics at work here, it must be noted that Kay himself is a fervent believer in the Bush administration's policy of dealing with Iraq and very badly wants -- for his own ideological purposes -- to find vast underground facilities bursting with the deadliest weapons ever dreamt of even though he argued six months before the inspections began that it didn't even matter if "smoking guns" were discovered because you can't play hide and seek with totalitarian regimes.

    In a January 19, 2003 opinion piece in the Washington Post, Kay writes, "The only evidence of Iraq's weapons program we need has been clear since early December, when it filed yet another weapons declaration that was anything but full, final and complete. Iraq continues to ignore its international obligations. Let's not give it more time to cheat and retreat."

    What Kay essentially says in his article is that no evidence at all is needed, either as a justification itself or as corroboration for Bush administration claims. Even though at the time, the White House, especially Vice President Dick Cheney, was detailing the extent of Saddam's programs and stockpiles, Kay sees no reason to confirm this. In the end it is ironic, then, that Kay was Bush's pick for a mission to find something that he believed was unnecessary to locate.

    In any case, if after six months -- despite the fact that some of his team is being pulled away from weapons inspections to aid in combating insurgents -- Kay has been unable to amass damning evidence, then it is safe to say that none exists. That's not to say that none can exist in areas unexplored by Kay's team, but that up to this point if something were there, he would have produced it regardless of how minor.

    With current trends as indicators, it's more than likely that the WMD story will continue to drift even further off the radar screen. This is just one of the many issues the Bush administration wants "wrapped up" by election time. The last thing they want as 2004 proceeds is lively and public debate over the lack of WMD -- the primary reason for launching preemptive war.

    At this point, they are content to live with the spin put on Kay's first interim report in October -- that evidence of "programs" is good enough and constitutes a "threat" even though no actual weapons have been found. This is combined with the idea that a country the size of Iraq is impossible to conclusively search and that small canisters could be hidden in any hole in the ground. Yet this argument is thoroughly unconvincing because it could still be made if weapons inspectors are in Iraq 50 years from now and haven't found anything.

    As discussion of Kay's departure ensues, the Bush administration will do everything it can to make this transition seem insignificant, a practice Ari Fleischer used to be and Donald Rumsfeld is a master of -- turning the provocative and newsworthy into something which one should feel shame for even expressing interest in. However, for those wishing to look, Kay's departure and the failure of his team to do the White House's bidding by finding Saddam's weapons points once again to the distortions and outright lies sold to the American people.

    [Matthew Riemer has written for years about a myriad of topics, such as: philosophy, religion, psychology, culture, and politics. He studied Russian language and culture for five years and traveled in the former Soviet Union in 1990. In the midst of a larger autobiographical/cultural work, Matthew is the Director of Operations at YellowTimes.org. He lives in the United States.]

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