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Charles Gibson Interviews President Bush:
The transcript is here. The most interesting part -- and also the part that has drawn the most press attention -- is the discussion of the role of intelligence failures in the invasion of Iraq:
GIBSON: You've always said there's no do-overs as President. If you had one?
BUSH: I don't know -- the biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that's not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.
GIBSON: If the intelligence had been right, would there have been an Iraq war?
BUSH: Yes, because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld. In other words, if he had had weapons of mass destruction, would there have been a war? Absolutely.
GIBSON: No, if you had known he didn't.
BUSH: Oh, I see what you're saying. You know, that's an interesting question. That is a do-over that I can't do. It's hard for me to speculate.
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
I kind of wish he'd said "Yes" just to really confound everyone.
12.2.2008 12:25pm
PeterWimsey (mail):
I suppose you can't take these kind of discussions too seriously, since there really aren't any do overs. But if a president had do-over powers, the hands-down best place to use it would be on 9/10/01.
12.2.2008 12:26pm
Seamus (mail):
Yes, because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld.

This is horseshit. On March 7, 2003, Hans Blix, the head of the U.N. inspection agency, reported that during the preceding month the Iraqi government had "displayed 'active' or even 'proactive' cooperation, which ha[d] allowed the inspection process to make significant progress." He said that it would take months to resolve the remaining disarmament tasks; that effort, however, was cut short when the U.N. inspectors left Iraq a couple of weeks later, rather than be blown to bits by the U.S. bombs that began falling on March 19.
12.2.2008 12:27pm
A Law Dawg:
I'm doubtful the country (or the Congress) would have been in favor of the invasion in the absence of the WMD argument.
12.2.2008 12:38pm
Sigivald (mail):
Seamus: Given Hussein's history of non-cooperation, would anyone have believed that his "proactive cooperation" was going to last a moment beyond the threat of imminent war for non-cooperation?

Horseshit, indeed.

The idea that that about-face was anything other than tactical is one that was very hard to believe at the time (even if we now know that Hussein's reason for non-compliance was most likely primarily to keep the Iranians nervous) - and one moment of "proactive cooperation" at gunpoint doesn't make up for years of stalling, game-playing, and sandbagging.

"But he was playing nice right then, for once!" is a sad excuse.

Given the knowledge available at the time, the President's call still seems correct. (Though in the interests of Iraq and its population I'd support removing a murderous dictator even if he'd gone along with the UN since 1991.)
12.2.2008 12:42pm
Franklin Bynum (www):
Right on, Seamus. I pity the poor fool who puts any stock in this whitewash, that the intelligence was wrong and that Bush was just doing what the intelligence said. Oh, if only the intelligence had said something different!

The truth is that the entire administration decided to go to war with Iraq immediately following 9/11/01, then manipulated intelligence to suit their agenda. If you still don't believe that, I've got a war to sell you.
12.2.2008 12:46pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
[Deleted by OK on civility grounds]
12.2.2008 12:49pm
Nunzio:
Why wasn't Saddam removed in 1991?
12.2.2008 12:49pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
I am baffled as to why the Bush administration thought WMDs were the best argument for going to war against Iraq. I suspect it was to create a legal justification on the basis of the UN resolutions on Iraq. Iraq's extensive and well-documented ties to terrorists would have been a much better sell. I never bought into Iraqi WMDs as a threat. Am I the only one who supported the invasion of Iraq as a way to slap down terrorists and the governments who support them?
12.2.2008 12:54pm
Ben S. (mail):
Query, Seamus, how you define "cooperation." Saddam had a pattern of cooperating, then resisting inspections, cooperating, resisting inspections, and so on. But this sort of thing can go on forever because just as the other party (the international community in this case) is ready to give up and force action, the delinquent will remit and feign "cooperation."

Thus, unless there is consistency, you cannot truly call it cooperation. The UN had already authorized military action against Iraq under Clinton's administration. The clear difference between Clinton and Bush's administrations, though, is that 9/11 made us quite unwilling to play around with hostile, unstable Islamic entities, be they state or rogue.

Indeed, people are often fond of pointing out that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. While that may be true, such a point fails to grasp the benefit of being proactive--rather than reactive--about threats to widespread loss of life.

Many individuals are critical of the Bush Administration for ignoring the murmurings that there was an imminent terrorist attack on the United States on 9/11, yet these same people turn around and chastise the Bush Administration for invading Iraq based on evidence that Saddam was harboring weapons of mass destruction that could be used against us or our allies either by Iraq itself or the many Islamic terrorist groups aside from Al Qaeda that Iraq dealt with regularly. You can't have it both ways.
12.2.2008 12:56pm
shakespeare101 (mail):
Seamus you are overlooking the repeated ejection of Un inspectors over the previous years, cherry picking Hans Blix quotes and ignoring the 82nd airborne et. al. sitting on the border with Iraq that was helping Saddam see the error of his ways. Without the threat of imminent violence, Saddam would have kept the inspectors out. IMO, he let them in to give leverage to France and Russia on the UN Security Council to justify any move on their part to veto any resolution authorizing force to remove him. This is the same UN we now know was complicit in the Oil for Food corruption scandal. Could the immediate post war handling have been done better? I think so, but given the international intelligence at the time (WMD), establishing democracy in Iraq and eliminating an additional terrorist safe haven were worthy goals. Ultimately I think removing Saddam, his family and cronies from power will give Iraq the opportunity to succeed and be a stable ally in the region. Time will tell.
12.2.2008 1:02pm
Houston Lawyer:
As I recall, the whole WMD argument was pushed in order to try to get the UN to sanction the invasion. It wasn't necessary for US approval because the Democrats basically dared him to put it up for a vote and he obliged shortly before an election.

Was Bill Clinton part of this conspiracy to manipulate intelligence?
12.2.2008 1:05pm
FantasiaWHT:
I'm with Cole, I never saw WMD as the best reason for the war.

The best reason in my mind is a very simple one. You lose a war, surrender, and in exchange for being allowed to stay in power of your government you agree to conditions. You break those conditions (repeatedly and flagrantly) then you have every reason to expect the people who showed you mercy the first time come back and wipe the floor with you.

There needs to be REAL consequences for violating peace agreements.
12.2.2008 1:05pm
FredC:
Ben S: Wouldnt it have been better and more effective to be proactive prior to 9/11 by enforceing immigration laws, and investigating suspicious flight school attendies, and having a modicum of flight security in US airports and airplanes, than to use premptive invasions of various and sundry countries
12.2.2008 1:09pm
Brian Mac:

The truth is that the entire administration decided to go to war with Iraq immediately following 9/11/01, then manipulated intelligence to suit their agenda.

The intelligence needed manipulation?
12.2.2008 1:12pm
shalca (mail):
"Many individuals are critical of the Bush Administration for ignoring the murmurings that there was an imminent terrorist attack on the United States on 9/11, yet these same people turn around and chastise the Bush Administration for invading Iraq based on evidence that Saddam was harboring weapons of mass destruction"

-BenS.

I am one of those individuals. I'll grant you, I never saw the intelligence, but it did not seem logical to me that a country under an active embargo for over 10 years, found the money and human capital to create weapons of mass destruction without anyone knowing about it. When you add that the main accusers were Iraqi dissidents with a vested interest in the removal of Saddam and who hadn't been in the country for decades in some cases, the entire story doesn't add up to an imminent threat to the United States. And lo and behold, it wasn't.

Contrast that with Al-qaeda who had SUCCESSFULLY attacked two embassies and a naval ship in recent years and had carried out an attack on the WTC in the past. It seems to me that they would be your main concern on your list of imminent threats.
12.2.2008 1:20pm
JB:
Nunzio,
"Why wasn't Saddam removed in 1991?"

Because George H.W. Bush knew that any attempt to topple him would have led to a bloodbath, extended occupation, and huge expenses, and he wanted to avoid that and give the country a peace dividend, and the military a dazzling victory, instead.

Read "The Generals' War" for further information on the decisionmaking process.
12.2.2008 1:23pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
It is not really something that is talked about in polite company, but it was basically a given that some muslim country besides Afghanistan was going to get taken out after 9-11. Iraq was just the most convenient target. Mainstream thought says I should be disturbed by this, but I am not. I am disturbed by the fact that Iran and Syria have not been subject to the same treatment.
12.2.2008 1:23pm
JB:
Sigivald,
"Seamus: Given Hussein's history of non-cooperation, would anyone have believed that his "proactive cooperation" was going to last a moment beyond the threat of imminent war for non-cooperation?"

While that is true, the fact is that under threat of imminent war, he was preparing to cooperate. Then the war happened anyway. Had we invaded in May, or begun with a strategic bombing campaign, your point would stand. As is, the invasion was too quick to achieve the desired effect.
12.2.2008 1:26pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
@JB The desired effect was to remove the Iraqi government from power. The US did pretty well on that front.
12.2.2008 1:27pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
It is not really something that is talked about in polite company, but it was basically a given that some muslim country besides Afghanistan was going to get taken out after 9-11. Iraq was just the most convenient target. Mainstream thought says I should be disturbed by this, but I am not. I am disturbed by the fact that Iran and Syria have not been subject to the same treatment.
12.2.


With all the trouble we've had finding enough troops for a two front war, you're disturbed we didn't open two more fronts?
12.2.2008 1:34pm
Seamus (mail):
Seamus you are overlooking the repeated ejection of Un inspectors over the previous years, cherry picking Hans Blix quotes and ignoring the 82nd airborne et. al. sitting on the border with Iraq that was helping Saddam see the error of his ways.

Bush said that "Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld." That is an untrue statement, as is clear from the fact that UN inspectors were busy at work until immediately before the bombs started falling. And the fact that Saddam had ejected UN inspectors in the past, or that the 82d Airborne may have been sitting on the border of Iraq, doesn't make it any less untrue.
12.2.2008 1:34pm
FantasiaWHT:

but it did not seem logical to me that a country under an active embargo for over 10 years, found the money and human capital to create weapons of mass destruction without anyone knowing about it


Wasn't the point that they HAD WMD and hadn't adequately demonstrated that they got rid of them all (aside from the alleged attempts to acquire nuclear).
12.2.2008 1:37pm
Obvious (mail):
I was amazed as well by how poorly the President answered Gibson's next question: "Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?"
12.2.2008 1:38pm
Seamus (mail):
The best reason in my mind is a very simple one. You lose a war, surrender, and in exchange for being allowed to stay in power of your government you agree to conditions. You break those conditions (repeatedly and flagrantly) then you have every reason to expect the people who showed you mercy the first time come back and wipe the floor with you.

So when the South Vietnamese failed to negotiate seriously with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese over a political settlement leading to "genuinely free and democratic general elections under international supervision," as required by the Paris Peace Accords, it was OK for the North Vietnamese to invade and conquer South Vietnam?
12.2.2008 1:39pm
Seamus (mail):
Query, Seamus, how you define "cooperation."

Any cooperation, however grudging and half-hearted, would be sufficient to falsify Bush's claim that "Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in".
12.2.2008 1:40pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):

And the fact that Saddam had ejected UN inspectors in the past, or that the 82d Airborne may have been sitting on the border of Iraq, doesn't make it any less untrue.


@Seamus The presence of the American military does not make your point untrue, but it sure does make it irrelevant.


With all the trouble we've had finding enough troops for a two front war, you're disturbed we didn't open two more fronts?


@Syd I don't want to make these countries into stable democracies. I want to smash-up all their stuff and kill their leaders. That requires a lot less troops than nation building.
12.2.2008 1:41pm
Seamus (mail):
@Seamus The presence of the American military does not make your point untrue, but it sure does make it irrelevant.

My point is that Bush made a false statement (and, I might have added, one that shows he isn't even aware of what the situation was when he went to war). Are you saying that that's irrelevant?
12.2.2008 1:45pm
JB:

@Syd I don't want to make these countries into stable democracies. I want to smash-up all their stuff and kill their leaders. That requires a lot less troops than nation building.


Considering how effective failed states are as a source of regional instability, terrorist recruiting, and general political trouble, I question why you would inflict such damage on American interests by creating a band of failed states stretching from the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush.
12.2.2008 1:45pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
@Seamus

That statement is only false in a very literal and trivial way. Bush's point (expressed poorly) was that Iraq had a history of non-compliance with the inspections regime. Iraq consistently acted in bad faith. The fact that Iraq let inspectors in at one-minute-to-midnight at the point of a gun does not change their pattern of behavior.
12.2.2008 1:50pm
Seamus (mail):
Many individuals are critical of the Bush Administration for ignoring the murmurings that there was an imminent terrorist attack on the United States on 9/11, yet these same people turn around and chastise the Bush Administration for invading Iraq based on evidence that Saddam was harboring weapons of mass destruction that could be used against us or our allies either by Iraq itself or the many Islamic terrorist groups aside from Al Qaeda that Iraq dealt with regularly. You can't have it both ways.

Criticizing the intelligence agencies for false negatives doesn't disqualify you from criticizing them for false positives. Is it really too much to ask that they simply get it right?
12.2.2008 1:51pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
@JB They are already failed states. I just want to take away the things they can use to hurt us.
12.2.2008 1:51pm
Sarcastro (www):
Jerome Cole's well thought out plan of imperial conquest of the middle east will definitely end well.

It worked out in World War II, and nothing important has changed since then, so I see this as a well thought out scheme.

Clearly the only reason it hasn't worked yet in Iraq is because we didn't nuke or firebomb them.
12.2.2008 2:02pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
Oh, Sarcastro! You made my day. :-)
12.2.2008 2:03pm
Seamus (mail):
The fact that Iraq let inspectors in at one-minute-to-midnight at the point of a gun does not change their pattern of behavior.

It wasn't one minute to midnight. They came in two weeks after the Security Council passed Resolution 1441 and continued working for more than three months before they were withdrawn under the threat of war. And whether or not they came in because Iraq was being held at gunpoint is irrelevant to the question of whether Bush was wrong about the facts.
12.2.2008 2:03pm
Seamus (mail):
@JB They are already failed states. I just want to take away the things they can use to hurt us.

Because leaving Afghanistan as a failed state after the Soviets pulled out worked so well for us.
12.2.2008 2:07pm
David Schwartz (mail):
My point is that Bush made a false statement (and, I might have added, one that shows he isn't even aware of what the situation was when he went to war). Are you saying that that's irrelevant?
He explained a complex concept in a simple, but literally false, way. This is a common way to explain complex concepts to people when one is not a position to go into complete details. If you like, I can cite many examples of where Obama did exactly this during the campaign. (And there was nothing wrong with him doing so either.)
12.2.2008 2:15pm
Mark Amerman (mail):
shalca said,

...but it did not seem logical to me that a country under an active embargo for over 10 years, found the money and human capital to create weapons of mass destruction without anyone knowing about it.

Well yes except this is exactly what Hussein did have: human capital.

In the 1980s, Iraq mounted a massive effort to develop or more accurately replicate the development of the atomic bomb and came close to succeeding. The physical facilities of that effort were mostly destroyed in 1991 (or was it 1992?) but the most important part, the human capital, certainly wasn't.

Was it being used?

Well, yes, and I don't know why so many people miss this, they were. The project in Libya was a collaboration between Libya, Iraq, and North Korea. Iraq's contribution was the human capital and many if not most of the engineers and scientists working on the hidden effort to develop an atomic bomb in Libya were Iraqi.
12.2.2008 2:16pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
@Seamus

Afghanistan was a totally screwed up country long before it attracted the attention of the Soviet Union and the United States. It will be a totally screwed up country long into the future.

The only sensible policy towards such places is one of pre-emption and disproportionate response. In other words, if we get so much as an iota of information showing that they are harboring or supporting our enemies we blow up their sheep and kill anyone who looks sketchy. Word will get around pretty quickly that hostility to the US is suicidal.

Stop worrying and learn to love the bomb.
12.2.2008 2:18pm
PLR:
Seamus:Bush said that "Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld." That is an untrue statement, as is clear from the fact that UN inspectors were busy at work until immediately before the bombs started falling. And the fact that Saddam had ejected UN inspectors in the past, or that the 82d Airborne may have been sitting on the border of Iraq, doesn't make it any less untrue.

All of that is factual. The IAEA gave Saddam a clean bill of health as far as could be determined at that point in time. Cheney said he frankly believed Blix was wrong. And Bush invaded.
12.2.2008 2:31pm
Seamus (mail):
If you like, I can cite many examples of where Obama did exactly this during the campaign. (And there was nothing wrong with him doing so either.)

If they were anything like this misstatement by Bush, there was plenty wrong with his doing so. (But knowing Obama, any misstatements by him were probably the result of deliberate calculation rather than of being too sloppy to get the facts right.)
12.2.2008 2:36pm
Seamus (mail):
Afghanistan was a totally screwed up country long before it attracted the attention of the Soviet Union and the United States. It will be a totally screwed up country long into the future.

Sure, if by "totally screwed up country," you mean "typical third world country." By that definition, there are probably more failed states than normal ones in the world.
12.2.2008 2:38pm
hattio1:
Jerome Cole says;

Afghanistan was a totally screwed up country long before it attracted the attention of the Soviet Union and the United States. It will be a totally screwed up country long into the future.

The only sensible policy towards such places is one of pre-emption and disproportionate response. In other words, if we get so much as an iota of information showing that they are harboring or supporting our enemies we blow up their sheep and kill anyone who looks sketchy. Word will get around pretty quickly that hostility to the US is suicidal.

Stop worrying and learn to love the bomb.


Word will get around pretty quickly that trying to improve yourself (for example getting sheep) is really counter-productive because the US will take it all away from you and probably kill you. Then, they will have no problem becoming suicide bombers because they are likely to die young anyway and literally can't improve their lives. Oh, and they will have a great reason to hate the US and turn their suicide attacks on the US.
12.2.2008 2:43pm
Bpbatista (mail):
There has never been any evidence that Bush intentionally lied about WMD in Iraq -- in fact, it was Democrat Jay Rockefeller who called Iraq an "imminent threat" on national TV. Was the intel wrong? Yep. But who's fault was that? Not Bush's. If the intel had been right and he ignored it the critics would want him hanged for endangering the country. Bush is damned if does and damned if he doesn't. It will be 25 years before we are able to get a true appraisal of his presidency because of such hypocrisy.

In any event, I'm not sorry to see Hussein and his spawn wiped from the Earth. Humanity is better for it.
12.2.2008 2:48pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
@hattio1

I want to see them mount suicide attacks when they have no roads, no airports, no seaports, and no ability to refine, store, or distribute petroleum products.
12.2.2008 2:51pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
The real intelligence failures weren't about Iraq's weaponry. They were about moderate Islam (whether it exists) and the desire of Muslim Arabs to live in a democracy (whether they do).

Bush was dead wrong about both but seems not to have caught on.
12.2.2008 2:53pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I suppose the question would be, given the Kay and Duelfer reports and their references to the ending of sanctions, officially or not, the human capital, the anticipated floods of oil money, and SH's clear desires, what was the chance that SH would have WMD by, say, 2004?
It might have taken less time than that if we referred to chem and bio, longer for nuke.
So, given that what Kay and Duelfer reported was both correct and broadly known before the war, how does that count? We invade because SH has WMD or we invade because SH is going to have WMD within eighteen months.
What is the material difference?
12.2.2008 2:54pm
Sarcastro (www):
[Jerome Cole To point out one flaw in your pretty extremist plan, it seems to lead to the US destroying the world.

There are going to by individuals pretty unhappy about our destruction of their homeland that do not live there. Indeed many will live here. They will have the means to carry out revenge. So we may need to destroy ourselves for harboring anti-US terrorists.

On the upside, with everyone dead there will be no more racism.]
12.2.2008 2:57pm
KeithK (mail):

Criticizing the intelligence agencies for false negatives doesn't disqualify you from criticizing them for false positives. Is it really too much to ask that they simply get it right?


Actually, yes it is too much. Intelligence gathering is inherently difficult. Younever have as much information as you want. Interpreting it is difficult and subjective. You're never going to understand your enemies as well as you would like. There are going to be mistakes. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive to do better but don't pretend that you can actually get it right all of the time.

If we're talking intelligence mistakes I'd much rather we have false positives than false negatives. Going to war with one justification that turned out to be incorrect (the others remain valid) are better than smoking craters in American cities.
12.2.2008 2:59pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
Anyone who opposes me is Hitler!!!!!

I forfeit.
12.2.2008 3:05pm
Sarcastro (www):
[If you were being sarcastic, I sure fell for it.]
12.2.2008 3:07pm
Bama 1L:
What if the mistaken reaction to false positives leads to retaliatory true positives? See, e.g., Nena, 99 Luftballons (1983).
12.2.2008 3:08pm
Malvolio:
Criticizing the intelligence agencies for false negatives doesn't disqualify you from criticizing them for false positives. Is it really too much to ask that they simply get it right?
Actually, yes.

The task of intelligence is exacting, and it's being performed by government bureaucrats acting utterly without oversight. We should count ourselves lucky that the CIA didn't announce that Miley Cyrus was developing WMDs.
12.2.2008 3:14pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):

With all the trouble we've had finding enough troops for a two front war, you're disturbed we didn't open two more fronts?


To be fair, we didn't have any trouble fighting the wars -- it's how we dealt with the aftermath that was the problem. I don't see the Iraq War as a mistake so much as getting bogged down trying to prevent national reconciliation by way of civil war.
12.2.2008 3:24pm
abu hamza:
I've enjoyed every post I've read from Sarcasto.
12.2.2008 3:26pm
Seamus (mail):
There has never been any evidence that Bush intentionally lied about WMD in Iraq -- in fact, it was Democrat Jay Rockefeller who called Iraq an "imminent threat" on national TV. Was the intel wrong? Yep. But who's fault was that? Not Bush's.

All this tells me is that Rockefeller was as irresponsible as Bush. And he and other Dems can't excuse themselves on the ground that "Bush misled us." At the time, even when the front pages of the newspapers were trumpeting the supposed incontrovertibility of the case for Saddam's having MWDs, there were stories appearing in the back pages that indicated that the case was far from a slam dunk. People like Rockefeller were ignoring those publicly available stories just as decidedly as Bush was ignoring intelligence reports that didn't conform to the accepted story.
12.2.2008 3:33pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

The truth is that the entire administration decided to go to war with Iraq immediately following 9/11/01, then manipulated intelligence to suit their agenda.


Yes, it was important to attack an Arab country to show our enemies that we were serious this time. Iraq was the most convenient example. We already had fought one war with them and there were clear truce violations to exploit.

It did not matter that no Iraqi citizens were involved in 9/11. Think of the Arabs as one nation with separate administrative units (Eqypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya etc.) An Arab county was attacked with ease, their leader killed, the country wrecked. A Sunni Arab country. To encourage the others.

Blair wanted UN approval so we went along. WMD was the only way to perhaps get UN approval. It didn't work but then we were too far gone on that tangent.

The invasion was not a mistake but staying afterwards was. Protect the Kurds and let the Shites put the Sunnis
in their place was the correct way to go. Our presence there just delayed what basically happened anyway.
12.2.2008 3:52pm
LM (mail):
A Law Dawg:

I'm doubtful the country (or the Congress) would have been in favor of the invasion in the absence of the WMD argument.

In fact, it's clear that not only Congress, and not only the American people generally, but even Bush voters specifically, would have opposed the invasion had they known the truth about the WMD's and Saddam's limited contacts with Al Qaeda. Coincidentally, they (Bush voters) managed to continue believing that the WMD's existed and that the Bush Administration was vouching for their existence, even long after the Duelfer Report concluded otherwise.

Was that self-deception to avoid cognitive dissonance? Or was the Bush Administration mixing its messages to encourage those beliefs, while technically standing behind Duelfer's conclusions?
12.2.2008 4:17pm
ray_g:
"Why wasn't Saddam removed in 1991?"

The short answer is, because the USA promised it would not do that, as part of the negotiations to put together the alliance that threw his forces out of Kuwait. I remember well that at the time the critics of the war to free Kuwait were screaming that it was just a cover for the "real" goal, which was to remove Saddam and steal Iraq's oil.

Just another example of dammned if you do or don't.
12.2.2008 4:28pm
Anderson (mail):
Yes, it was important to attack an Arab country to show our enemies that we were serious this time.

War invariably kills a great many innocent people. It's a horrible, horrible thing.

But Bob says that war can be a good idea "to show our enemies that we were serious."

By "attacking an Arab country" regardless of its role (or not) in 9/11.

What a frivolous, non-serious idea. You wanna look serious, Bob? Carry a volume of Proust around.
12.2.2008 5:21pm
Sarcastro (www):
I think we should preemptively fly airplanes into the buildings of countries doing stuff against us. That'll learn 'em!
12.2.2008 5:36pm
SFJD (www):
I see the answer as telling of Bush's way of thinking. Gibson's question on the intelligence being "right" meant--to Bush--that it matched up with what he wanted to hear, which is how he responded to the question.

Only after did he see what Gibson meant, i.e. "right" intelligence actually means it is representative of the facts.
12.2.2008 6:30pm
Brian K (mail):
After reading these posts i hope, truly hope, that people like bob, cole, aubrey, etc do not have positions of power in our, or any other, government. i enjoy my life and do not want to be killed because of someone else's idiocy.
12.2.2008 6:37pm
Lawyer (mail):

Criticizing the intelligence agencies for false negatives doesn't disqualify you from criticizing them for false positives. Is it really too much to ask that they simply get it right?


@Seamus: being overly critical of false negatives comes very, very close to "disqualifying" people from criticising false positives.

Being critical of false negatives implicitly commands actors to be *more sensitive* and be *more apt to respond* to pieces of intelligence. This implicit command necessarily means that the probability of acting upon a false positive is increased.
12.2.2008 7:05pm
Guest 2L:
Maybe I missed this in the previous comments, but what struck me most was Bush's interpretation of the second question:

GIBSON: If the intelligence had been right, would there have been an Iraq war?
BUSH: Yes, because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld. In other words, if he had had weapons of mass destruction, would there have been a war? Absolutely.

On the one hand, Gibson's question is arguably ambiguous; "if the intelligence had been right" could mean intelligence says there are WMDs and in reality there are WMDs or that intelligence rightly says there are no WMDs and in reality there are no WMDs. So, Bush's interpretation isn't logically impossible. But why on earth would an interviewer ask whether there would have been a war if in reality there were WMDs? For anyone who had ever considered whether the war on Iraq was misguided, Bush's interpretation of the question seems ridiculous. My conclusion is that Bush has never questioned whether the war on Iraq was misguided.
12.2.2008 7:11pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
So let's presume that Bush held off. By 2005 at the latest, SH is flaunting if not using WMD, meaning bio and chem, and bragging about his upcoming nukes.
Now what?
Would Bush be getting blamed for letting it happened?
You bet your sweet aunt fanny, and by the same guys who are blaming him for starting it.
The war isn't the issue, except as a tool to bash Bush.
The arguments against it fall into two categories: Arguing for one or another ambiguity in the legal situation wrt UN resolutions, international law, etc. The other is strategic, which is to say that something else, whatever else wasn't tried, would have worked better and that's absolutely guarandamnteed.
Neither category is convincing, and some arguments are practically self-impeaching.
And none of them would be coming from the current sources if the pres were a dem.
12.2.2008 7:19pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
seamus:

On March 7, 2003, Hans Blix, the head of the U.N. inspection agency, reported that during the preceding month the Iraqi government had "displayed 'active' or even 'proactive' cooperation


Yes. Blix also said this (1/27/03):

Iraq has on the whole cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field.  The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt.


So Bush's statement ("Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in") is a falsehood. And he said the same thing on 7/14/03: "he wouldn't let them in." There seem to be only two possibilities:

a) Bush really doesn't know that Saddam did indeed "let them in." And Bush really doesn't know that Saddam "cooperated rather well" with the inspectors. And Bush really doesn't know that inspectors were there for a period of months, immediately prior to the invasion.

b) Bush lied intentionally in 2003, and he's still telling the same lie.
12.2.2008 7:55pm
Perseus (mail):
On March 7, 2003, Hans Blix, the head of the U.N. inspection agency, reported that during the preceding month the Iraqi government had "displayed 'active' or even 'proactive' cooperation, which ha[d] allowed the inspection process to make significant progress."

"Active" or "proactive" is not coeval with full cooperation "in all areas of relevance," which is what Hussein should have been providing all along. So, the president's claim is no more egregiously inaccurate than yours.
12.2.2008 8:00pm
Perseus (mail):
There seem to be only two possibilities:

Or perhaps you are telling yet another lie.
12.2.2008 8:02pm
shalca:
"So let's presume that Bush held off. By 2005 at the latest, SH is flaunting if not using WMD, meaning bio and chem, and bragging about his upcoming nukes."

- Richard Aubrey

From who? Where would he have gotten these biological and chemical weapons. HE HAD NONE in 2003. It takes a crapload longer than 2 years to constitute that type of weapons program in enough quantity to actually deploy on the battlefield.

Who is he using it against? The Iranians? Seems to me we had no problem with that in the 80's. Us? How, he's not going to use a shiite group like al-qaeda to deploy that type of WMD. They might turn around and use it against him.

If there is one thing we should learn from this Iraq debacle is that speculation is no substitute for cold hard facts. Upwards of a sixty-five thousand Iraqis have died because of American speculation.
12.2.2008 8:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
jerome:

Iraq's extensive and well-documented ties to terrorists would have been a much better sell.


The Senate Intelligence Committee (when it was still controlled by Republicans) concluded this (pdf):

Conclusion 1: ... Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qa’ida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qa’ida to provide material or operational support. ... Saddam distrusted Islamic radicals in general, and al-Qa’ida in particular. ... bin Ladin attempted to exploit the former Iraqi regime by making requests for operational and material assistance, while Saddam Hussein refused all such requests. ... Saddam issued a general order that Iraq should not deal with al-Qa’ida


It turns out that "Iraq's extensive and well-documented ties to terrorists" are a lot like "Iraq's extensive and well-documented" stockpiles of WMD. And if we were truly concerned about states with "extensive and well-documented ties to terrorists," we would need to start by crushing our 'friends' Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
12.2.2008 8:07pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
shakes:

This is the same UN we now know was complicit in the Oil for Food corruption scandal.


I guess you must be talking about the Oil-for-Food scandal that Bush helped facilitate:

the Bush administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the Saddam Hussein regime but did nothing to stop them ... the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together ... The United States was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein obtained from circumventing UN sanctions ... On occasion, the United States actually facilitated the illicit oil sales.
12.2.2008 8:23pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
houston:

Was Bill Clinton part of this conspiracy to manipulate intelligence?


1998 is not 2002. Things changed. Subsequent to Operation Desert Fox, we became confident that Saddam was not much of a threat. That’s reflected in what Powell and Rice said in 2001. This is what Powell said (2/24/01): “[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors” (video, text).

On 5/15/01, Powell said that Saddam had not been able to “build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction” for “the last 10 years.” Powell said we had succeeded in keeping Saddam “in a box.”

And this is what Rice said (7/29/01): “But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let’s remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.”

And even Cheney said essentially the same thing: "the focus is over here on al-Qaida and the most recent events in New York. Saddam Hussein's bottled up, at this point."

Clinton’s people thought Saddam was a serious threat in 1998. But Bush exaggerated the threat in 2002, even though his own people knew Saddam had become significantly weaker, not stronger, since 1998.
12.2.2008 8:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
brian:

The intelligence needed manipulation?


Yes. That's why it was manipulated, so that Bush et al could claim they knew things with "absolute certainty," even though the underlying intel was very far from absolutely certain. For example, Rice told us the tubes were "only really suited" for centrifuges. This was a lie, and she undoubtedly knew it was a lie, because her statement went beyond even the most extreme position taken by certain hawks in the CIA who were the ones promoting the centrifuge story. They consistently admitted that the tubes could be used for rockets.

This particular deception also involved telling an outright lie regarding DOE's conclusion about the tubes. Judith Miller promptly printed that lie, even though she had been warned that it was a lie.

So the intelligence was indeed 'enhanced' with lots of "manipulation" like this.

bpbatista:

There has never been any evidence that Bush intentionally lied about WMD in Iraq


Follow the link above for lots of proof.
12.2.2008 8:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
jb:

Why wasn't Saddam removed in 1991?


Because George H.W. Bush knew that any attempt to topple him would have led to a bloodbath, extended occupation, and huge expenses


Someone else also knew that:

it would have been a mistake for us to get bogged down in the quagmire inside Iraq


More good judgment:

For the US to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the struggle over who’s going to govern in Iraq strike me as a classic definition of a quagmire. (audio clip)


I wonder who said that.
12.2.2008 8:24pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Carry a volume of Proust around.


Too French.

If you object to "serious", then how about "to show them that the consequences of attacking us were more then they can handle". Think of it as bringing a gun to a fist fight.

My explanation of why we attacked Iraq is accurate. You don't have to like it but it fits the facts pretty well.


we would need to start by crushing our 'friends' Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.



You're right about putting "friends" in quotes, Friends of convenience as long as they are useful in some ways.

Our real friends the Indians will take care of Pakistan sooner or later. Looks like it might be sooner. They already have demanded extradition of various terrorists from Pakistan. That's straight out of our Afghan playbook from 2001.

Don't know about Saudi Arabia. I guess if and when we find alternatives to oil, their time will come too.
12.2.2008 8:26pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
perseus:

Or perhaps you are telling yet another lie.


Or perhaps you have nothing to offer except pure wind. In the typical style, you're presenting this many examples (of me allegedly telling a lie): zero.
12.2.2008 8:30pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bob:

to show them that the consequences of attacking us were more then they can handle


Except that's not what we accomplished by attacking Iraq. Here's what we accomplished: we replaced a secular thug with an Islamist thug. The former was an enemy of Iran, and the latter is a friend of Iran. We solved Iran's biggest problem, a problem they tried very hard to solve on their own, and could not.

By spending money we didn't have on a war we didn't need, we made ourselves weaker and Iran stronger. Therefore it was no surprise that AQ endorsed McCain:

Al-Qaeda is watching the U.S. stock market's downward slide with something akin to jubilation, with its leaders hailing the financial crisis as a vindication of its strategy of crippling America's economy through endless, costly foreign wars against Islamist insurgents.

And at least some of its supporters think Sen. John McCain is the presidential candidate best suited to continue that trend.

"Al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election," said a commentary posted Monday on the extremist Web site al-Hesbah, which is closely linked to the terrorist group. It said the Arizona Republican would continue the "failing march of his predecessor," President Bush.
12.2.2008 8:45pm
Waldo (mail):
Jerome Cole is half right.

BUSH: Oh, I see what you're saying. You know, that's an interesting question. That is a do-over that I can't do. It's hard for me to speculate.

Yes, we were going to invade Iraq after 9/11, and WMD was the excuse, not the reason. The Powell/Rice/Cheney quotes above show that WMD was not the deciding factor. Nothing changed about Iraqi WMD capabilities after 9/11. But sending a message to the Arab world by "breaking their stuff" wasn't the point, either. Nor did we need to invade Syria or Iran. Instead, we invaded Iraq to fight Al Qaeda.

But wait, Al Qaeda wasn't in Iraq in March 2003 you say. Correct. But I now increasingly believe that we expected them, actually intended them, to come to Iraq. Consider the problem. We are facing an enemy who's a non-state actor, operating in countries that are our allies (won't use quotes), but aren't willing to take action against them. We can't, feasibly or legally, invade Saudi Arabia or Pakistan to find them. So the problem becomes, how to get Al Qaeda to come to us, outside the United States? Occupying an Arab country does the trick. To ensure it works, send Paul Bremer to break any remaining social institution (i.e.-Iraqi Army). Then, let Al Qaeda obilge us by focusing most of their efforts on Iraq rather than here. If we're lucky (we were), they'll overextend and alienate the Iraqi people as well.
12.2.2008 9:10pm
Brian K (mail):
jukeboxgrad,

when you refer to "brian" i respectfully request that you add the last initial. there are 4 or 5 different brians on this site, and i don't want to be mistakenly confused for some of the people on this board...and the people i wouldn't mind being confused for generally don't use the moniker brian.
12.2.2008 9:31pm
Brian K (mail):
waldo,

that's a fascinating theory you got there...unfortunately it makes absolutely no sense. in order to prevent another attack on america and save several thousand lives, we should attack a country that had nothing to do with the group that attacked us, kill (directly or indirectly) several hundred thousand people, lose more troops in the ensuing war than were killed in the original attack, sacrifice our world standing and good will, train the terrorists in battle proven techniques and give half the world even more reason to hate us.

on second thought, it sounds like an excellent plan...from al-qaeda's perspective.
12.2.2008 9:36pm
bushbasher:
bush accidentally told the truth. "intelligence failure" not only describes iraq, but the whole bush presidency.
12.2.2008 9:40pm
Perseus (mail):
Or perhaps you have nothing to offer except pure wind.

And you have provided nothing except your usual partisan spin, which limits the "possible" interpretations of the president's remarks to the least flattering, namely, he was either an ignoramus or (more likely) a liar. But, of course, those hardly exhaust the possible interpretations of his remarks.
12.2.2008 9:51pm
Waldo (mail):
Brian K,

in order to prevent another attack on america and save several thousand lives

How many attacks have happened?

lose more troops in the ensuing war than were killed in the original attack

Yes, every casualty is one too many, but according to this Administration, we're in a war. Can you name a war where fewer troops were killed in the ensuing war than in the original attack?

train the terrorists in battle proven techniques and give half the world even more reason to hate us

How well has that worked for them? How much support does Al Qaeda have in Iraq today? You have an argument that going into Iraq unilaterally hasn't made the US popular, but, once again, that's not out of character for this President.
12.2.2008 10:17pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
brian k:

when you refer to "brian" i respectfully request that you add the last initial


Good point. My mistake.
12.2.2008 10:23pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
perseus:

those hardly exhaust the possible interpretations of his remarks


I see you're interested in discussing the meaning of "is." Bush said this:

he wouldn't let them in


And this:

Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in


Trouble is, Saddam did indeed "let the inspectors go in." And not just "in" Iraq. Blix specifically said "access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt." So hopefully you'll explain why a non-Kool Aid drinker should view Bush's statements as something other than brazen falsehoods.
12.2.2008 10:31pm
JB:
Jerome Cole:
@JB The desired effect was to remove the Iraqi government from power. The US did pretty well on that front.

You may have been sarcastic here, but I would like to point out that the desired effect was to have (1) a stable, pro-Western Iraq, or at least an Iraq that is not a threat to the US and its allies, (2) at a cost in lives and treasure lower than that of defending against an Iraq that is a threat.

Bush 41 got both; Bush 43 may get the first one, but almost certainly failed to get the second.
12.2.2008 10:32pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
waldo:

How many attacks have happened?


The WTC was first hit about a month after Clinton took office. We then went through the rest of Clinton's term without suffering another domestic attack (unless you want to claim that Timothy McVeigh is part of the vast Islamofascist conspiracy).

And somehow Clinton managed to achieve this without incurring over thirty thousand US casualties (dead and injured).

How much support does Al Qaeda have in Iraq today?


Anti-Americanism is growing. That ultimately costs us, in many different ways.
12.2.2008 10:40pm
Brian K (mail):
How many attacks have happened?

how many large meteors have hit the earth since i started medical school? by your logic, my having started medical school has saved the earth! but by normal logic, rare events happen rarely (this is the opposite of the maxim common diseases occur commonly that i hear all the time).

Yes, every casualty is one too many, but according to this Administration, we're in a war. Can you name a war where fewer troops were killed in the ensuing war than in the original attack?

i'd go with the first iraq war...we had very few casualties in comparison to the initial attacks. and your assuming that this war was inevitable and necessary. i would not rest my argument on a false assumption as it doesn't make for a very strong argument.

How well has that worked for them? How much support does Al Qaeda have in Iraq today?

you either 1) didn't read the sentence that you quoted or 2) you created a strawman to mask the fact that you have no actual counterargument.
12.2.2008 10:45pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
shalka.
It doesn't take much time to crank up bio or chem from dual-use facilities. Nukes, longer. But the question is, whether it was eighteen months or thirty-six months, Kay and Duelfer agree he had the capacity and the interest. So, whenever it was, then what?
Using them? I dunno. Where'd the terrorists who almost blew up downtown Amman get their nerve gas and other agents?
12.2.2008 11:06pm
John Skookum (mail):
I want to see them mount suicide attacks when they have no roads, no airports, no seaports, and no ability to refine, store, or distribute petroleum products.

Agree. More rubble, less trouble.

While we're on the topic of politically-incorrect common sense, imagine how much misery and bloodshed could have been avoided in the past fifty years by closing the borders of the West to Muslim immigration.
12.2.2008 11:18pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

It doesn't take much time to crank up bio or chem from dual-use facilities.


The bleach and ammonia under your kitchen sink can produce deadly chlorine gas. Why are you keeping WMD in your house?

We obviously can't be safe until we drop little nukes on kitchen sinks all around the world. What are we waiting for?
12.2.2008 11:31pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
skookum:

imagine how much misery and bloodshed could have been avoided in the past fifty years by closing the borders of the West to Muslim immigration


That's nothing compared with the "misery and bloodshed [which] could have been avoided" if the people who greeted Christopher Columbus had been able to exercise that option ("closing the borders").

I want to see them mount suicide attacks when they have no roads, no airports, no seaports, and no ability to refine, store, or distribute petroleum products


I thought 9/11 taught us that all the bad guys need are some box cutters. Has that meme been withdrawn? I hadn't heard.
12.2.2008 11:43pm
MarkField (mail):

My explanation of why we attacked Iraq is accurate. You don't have to like it but it fits the facts pretty well.


Your explanation is the Thomas Friedman theory. It may very well be the theory we followed. But it was stupid.


Agree. More rubble, less trouble.


You guys really need to get your stories (I'm being polite) straight. Did we go into Iraq to "make a desert and call it peace", or did we go in to bring the benefits of democracy and freedom to those who would welcome us with open arms? I'm just guessing here, but I suspect the two goals are mutually incompatible.
12.2.2008 11:50pm
Perseus (mail):
Blix specifically said "access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt."

Even a single instance of delay is evidence that the inspectors were not in fact being let in as required. Blix further said, "It is not enough to open doors. ...Inspection is not a game of 'catch as catch can,'" because he believed that the required arms declaration was incomplete, which hindered the ability of the inspectors to do their work. It was the functional equivalent of not letting the inspectors in.

As for his 3/7/2003 remarks about "active" and "proactive" cooperation in certain areas, Blix went on to say: "these initiatives three to four months into the new resolution cannot be said to constitute 'immediate' cooperation. Nor do they necessarily cover all areas of relevance."

So, I take the president's remarks as his personal shorthand for saying that Hussein failed to provide immediate, unconditional, and active cooperation. I realize that this might not satisfy the literal-minded, but that isn't always the best way to interpret meaning in any given context.
12.3.2008 12:04am
Harry Eagar (mail):
There was something in those trucks going to Syria. Possibly only Persian carpets, or possibly something more sinister.
12.3.2008 12:29am
ketchikan:
1. David Kay reported that Saddam "was even more dangerous than we thought."
2. Saddam was not far away from reconstituting his WMDs.
3. Summer 2008 the US completed a secret mission removing 550 metric tons of "yellowcake" from Iraq. The huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium was shipped to Canada.

Do a google search.
12.3.2008 1:20am
John Moore (www):
@shaika

From who? Where would he have gotten these biological and chemical weapons. HE HAD NONE in 2003. It takes a crapload longer than 2 years to constitute that type of weapons program in enough quantity to actually deploy on the battlefield.

Who is he using it against? The Iranians?


First, the issue is unrelated to the ability to "actually deploy on the battlefield." The issue is terrorism, and terrorists use weapons in smaller quantities and deploy them very differently than armies.

Saddam had the resources necessary to restart his biological and chemical weapons programs quickly. Iraq's Bacillus Thuringensis pesticide plant is an example. Bacillus Thuringensis is to close to Anthrax that it is used as a substitute for testing Anthrax dispersal. That plant could have been producing Anthrax in no time.

Saddam also had the people and the factory to produce nerve agents. His organophosphate pesticide facility could produce sarin easily. Nerve agents *are* organophosphates and the difference between a chemical weapon and a pesticide is merely a matter of degree. Troops who entered the suspiciously camouflaged bunker near that plant had to be treated for organophosphate exposure.

I once met a crop-duster who was suffering from exposure to Malathion (organophosphate insecticide), and was on his way to the hospital for his Atropine shot (the first line defense against nerve agents).

As for who Saddam would us it against...

Yes, he was afraid of the Iranians. Saddam told us, while in captivity, that he mislead the world into believing he had WMD's in order to deter Iran. Note both mislead the world and deter Iran.

Is it surprising that there was an intelligence failure when the intelligence target was doing his best to convince us (as he had successfully convinced his own generals) that he had the weapons and was ready to use them?

The terrorist danger was that elements of this disorganized and corrupt regime might provide those WMD's to terrorists, or that the scientists would sell to them. David Kay, in his post invasion report, stated that the situation was than he had thought before the invasion, because of the potential for WMD free-lancing.
12.3.2008 2:08am
Brian Mac:

Yes. That's why it was manipulated, so that Bush et al could claim they knew things with "absolute certainty," even though the underlying intel was very far from absolutely certain.

I agree that the intelligence was, ahem, selectively presented, but I don't think the CIA and their counterparts come out of this smelling of roses.
12.3.2008 7:42am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
juke. Your snark takes you to irrelevancy.
BTW, I can do better than that. Your, your parents', or possibly your grandparents' tax dollars at work.
Limiting factor in some of the possibilities is detonators, which are difficult to make in my basement. But they're only about half as big as pencil.
As I've said before, look at the antidote on your next can of Raid. Atropine. What the troops were to be issued, when I was in, at the suspicion we'd be going into nerve gas country. Perhaps there's something better now. Raid. Pesticide. Manufactured in your nearest dual-use facility. Adjust the valves....
12.3.2008 8:19am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
perseus:

I take the president's remarks as his personal shorthand for saying that Hussein failed to provide immediate, unconditional, and active cooperation


If someone is looking for "personal shorthand" in order to communicate the idea that "Hussein failed to provide immediate, unconditional, and active cooperation," I would recommend the following "personal shorthand:"

Hussein failed to provide immediate, unconditional, and active cooperation.


On the other hand, if someone is looking for personal shorthand to communicate the idea that Saddam didn't even let inspectors enter the country, I would recommend the following "personal shorthand:"

Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in


Trouble is, Bush used the latter statement, not the former. And do you notice that the number of words is precisely the same? And do you notice that the meaning is materially different? And do you notice that even the former statement is highly distorted? Blix said "access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect." That is indeed "unconditional." And Blix said this:

the numerous initiatives which are now taken by the Iraqi side, with a view to resolving some long-standing open disarmament issues, can be seen as active or even proactive


So your claim alleging a lack of "active cooperation" is yet another falsehood.

If your kid was caught making the same kind of bogus statement that Bush made, would you teach your kid to apply the same kind of feeble, convoluted rationalization that you've offered? Are your standards really that low?

I realize that this might not satisfy the literal-minded


English translation: 'please pretend that Bush said something other than what he actually said.'
12.3.2008 8:30am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
harry:

There was something in those trucks going to Syria


For some strange reason we said nothing about this at the time, and didn't lift a finger to stop them. Even though we had satellites that could ostensibly spot a mobile bio-weapons lab from miles in the sky. Very logical.

And for some strange reason, none of those weapons have surfaced since, even though Syria helped Hezbollah fight a war against Israel. And even though the border between Syria and Iraq is highly porous, and Iraq is full of people trying to kill each other. I guess someone is saving those weapons for a rainy day. Even though WMD tends to degrade over time. Very logical.

Here's something else that's very logical: at the exact moment he needed them most, Saddam would send his best weapons to a place where they would be useless to him. Because even though Iraq is the size of California, Saddam couldn't think of anywhere to hide them.

It all makes perfect sense!
12.3.2008 8:43am
Brian Mac:

when you refer to "brian" i respectfully request that you add the last initial.

I second Brian's appeal.
12.3.2008 9:58am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
juke.
What interests me about the Amman near-bombing is the, at least public, utter lack of interest in the source of all that stuff. Complete lack of interest. The dog that didn't bark in the night.
Problem for SH with his WMD is that, had he used them, he'd have been in worse shape than he thought he might otherwise be. Dirty little secret about chem weapons is that, although they can kill the unprotected, the protected can keep operating, albeit at a much reduced level of efficiency. So unleashing chem weapons on technologically savvy and prepared troops does nothing to change the outcome of the war in his favor and much to change it against him. The only way to use this stuff is if it's guaranteed to win the war. Otherwise, it makes losing a whole lot worse.
The Americans have said, for example, that they would use nukes against nations deploying chem and bio. It may not be true. Rumors about the delaying of Gulf War Syndrome acknowledgment are that acknowledging it would mean acknowledging the use of chem weapons and the subsequent lack of nukes in response, thus signaling there was no nuke deterrent. Is no nuke deterrent. Howsomever, SH, for all his lack of strategic vision, must have been smart enough to withhold use of chem for the reason that he knew it wouldn't win the war.
Keep in mind that he was actively trying to fool people that he had the stuff. That was why, even if you accept Blix' view that the inspections were getting someplace, the whole thing was arranged to look like hide and seek. The inspectors would try and find the factory closed. WOuld come back and find it torn up inside and being repainted. Would see aerial photos of trucks emptying the place. Not the active and pro-active cooperation the UN required. IOW, to neighbors, he might have been faking out the UN and still have the stuff.
Sure fooled us.
12.3.2008 11:01am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ketchikan:

Summer 2008 the US completed a secret mission removing 550 metric tons of "yellowcake" from Iraq.


A few important facts:

this uranium a) was not weapons grade and b) was well known to the UN and IAEA and was being stored legally by Saddam’s government. It was legally in Iraq according to international law … Saddam Hussein couldn’t do anything with this uranium because he lacked the equipment and technology to enrich it. So it had been sitting around for years in drums sealed by the IAEA. No nuclear program … Here’s an extensive listings of IAEA Key Findings on Iraq’s Nuclear Program, listing extensively the materials we knew about before the invasion. … There was no evidence of any yellowcake dating from after 1991.


This is old material that we knew about before the invasion. Bush never claimed we should be concerned about this material. In fact, I believe he never even mentioned it. Why? Because it casts doubt on Bush's claim that Saddam was trying to get 500 tons of yellowcake from Niger. Saddam already had 550 tons of yellowcake, which was useless to him because the lacked the means to enrich it. Why would he be trying to get another 500 tons?

Can you find any instance, pre-war, where anyone in emm-ess-emm asked this obvious question? I can't. That darn liberal media.
12.3.2008 11:13am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

Is it surprising that there was an intelligence failure when the intelligence target was doing his best to convince us (as he had successfully convinced his own generals) that he had the weapons and was ready to use them?


Yes, it is indeed "surprising that there was an intelligence failure," because there is nothing surprising about his motivation to conduct such a deception. Not everyone who puts up a "beware of dog" sign actually has a dog. Likewise for "protected by alarm" stickers that you put on your house or car. This is not brain surgery. But for some reason, this very obvious possibility was never mentioned. I wonder why.

Saddam had the resources necessary to restart his biological and chemical weapons programs quickly.


And that has something to do with the fact that Reagan and Rummy assisted Saddam with lots of useful goodies, like cluster bombs, anthrax, bubonic plague and deadly pesticides (deadly against humans, that is). And of course Reagan and Rummy did this right around the same time that Saddam was gassing civilians. We were helping a war criminal, but that was OK, because he was our war criminal.

By the way, in another thread you falsely claimed that we only provided materials that were available to anyone. Wrong. We gave him materials that required licensing by the Commerce Dept:

When United Nations weapons inspectors were allowed into Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, they compiled long lists of chemicals, missile components, and computers from American suppliers, including such household names as Union Carbide and Honeywell, which were being used for military purposes.

A 1994 investigation by the Senate Banking Committee turned up dozens of biological agents shipped to Iraq during the mid-'80s under license from the Commerce Department, including various strains of anthrax, subsequently identified by the Pentagon as a key component of the Iraqi biological warfare program. The Commerce Department also approved the export of insecticides to Iraq, despite widespread suspicions that they were being used for chemical warfare.

The fact that Iraq was using chemical weapons was hardly a secret. In February 1984, an Iraqi military spokesman effectively acknowledged their use by issuing a chilling warning to Iran. "The invaders should know that for every harmful insect, there is an insecticide capable of annihilating it . . . and Iraq possesses this annihilation insecticide."
12.3.2008 11:35am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
brian mac:

I don't think the CIA and their counterparts come out of this smelling of roses.


But for some strange reason Dubya decided to hand the boss a medal. Maybe that's because the CIA did plenty to give Bush exactly what he needed.
12.3.2008 11:35am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

Not the active and pro-active cooperation the UN required


Except that you are, as usual, simply making shit up. Blix explicitly said the cooperation "can be seen as active or even proactive."
12.3.2008 11:35am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
juke
As usual, you are pretending to be on point. It matters not what Blix said. What matters is what happened. There's a difference and SH had the inspectors chasing around playing hide and seek.
What is the ME to think when SH has an inspection team delayed while trucks go in and out the back? That he's hiding something from the inspectors? That he's playing childish games? That he has nothing but is trying to keep you guessing?
Remembering that being too good a fooler looks like being a violator and that could cost him big, so he must have something valuable going on to take the risk. Did cost him big, now that I think about it.
12.3.2008 12:36pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

It matters not what Blix said.


Naturally. We should pay no attention to his version of events, even though he was in charge of the inspections. Instead, we should accept your version of events, even though, in your usual style, you're offering no proof whatsoever, and even though you have a track record of inventing your own facts. Makes perfect sense.

Remembering that being too good a fooler looks like being a violator and that could cost him big…Did cost him big, now that I think about it.


What it cost him is infinitely less relevant to us than what it cost us. And here's what it cost us: "big."
12.3.2008 12:59pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
jukeboxgrad sez: 'Here's something else that's very logical: at the exact moment he needed them most, Saddam would send his best weapons to a place where they would be useless to him.'

Yeah, he would never, ever send his air force to his deadliest enemy, Iran.
12.3.2008 1:29pm
Perseus (mail):
So your claim alleging a lack of "active cooperation" is yet another falsehood.

No, you quote selectively as usual, which is why I included the part of the quote that suggested that the cooperation did not extend "to all areas of relevance" such as producing complete documentation, etc. And Blix never said that Hussein was providing immediate, conditional, and active cooperation all at once as he was required to do. As was his wont, Hussein was playing cat and mouse. In any event, it is obvious that given your view of the war and BDS, you'd be chanting the same "Bush lied, people died" mantra regardless of precisely how the president expressed himself about how he viewed the situation.
12.3.2008 2:10pm
Fury:
jukeboxgrad:

"Therefore it was no surprise that AQ endorsed McCain:"

That's not what the article says. The article states there was a posting on a forum at the al-Hesbah web-site by a poster going by the name of Muhammad Haafid. The Washington Post categorized the posting as "And at least some of its supporters think Sen. John McCain is the presidential candidate best suited to continue that trend." That hardly qualifies as an Al-Qaida endorsing McCain.

And there are uncertainties about Haafid's connection to Al-Qaida as noted here:

"The message is credited to a frequent and apparently respected contributor named Muhammad Haafid. However, Haafid is not believed to have a direct affiliation with al-Qaida plans or knowledge of its operations, according to SITE."
12.3.2008 2:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
juke
SH was presuming his neighbors would be more impressed with what they know happened than what Blix said.
He was probably right.
Yeah, SH had yellow cake but no refining capacity. Which is available at Nukes'r Us for a price. And after the sanctions were officially over, there would be no reason to either search for the refining capacity and no legal reason to stop him. See arguments over Iran.
12.3.2008 2:57pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
harry:

Yeah, he would never, ever send his air force to his deadliest enemy, Iran.


He had no other choice. Airplanes are hard to hide. We expected him to send them to Jordan, and we were prepared to prevent that. We did indeed believe that "he would never, ever send his air force to his deadliest enemy, Iran." So we weren't prepared to stop him from doing so. As a result, it was his only option. And he never got them all back.

I notice you're not even making a pretense of trying to address the various other ways in which your theory makes no sense.
12.3.2008 5:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
perseus:

Hussein was playing cat and mouse


If that was true, then this is what Bush should have said: "Hussein was playing cat and mouse." Trouble is, that's not what Bush said.

you'd be chanting the same "Bush lied, people died" mantra regardless of precisely how the president expressed himself about how he viewed the situation


Your opinion about my hypothetical reaction to some hypothetical statement that Bush didn't make has no relevance whatsoever. What's relevant is what Bush actually said. And the problem with what he said is that it's false.
12.3.2008 5:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury:

That hardly qualifies as an Al-Qaida endorsing McCain.


I see this:

the comments summarized what has emerged as a consensus view on extremist sites


Sounds like an endorsement to me. Then again, you might be inclined to adopt an extremely narrow and literal interpretation of the word "endorsement," while also being quite broad and flexible in your interpretation of what Bush said ("he wouldn't let them in"). Interesting how that works.
12.3.2008 5:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

SH was presuming his neighbors would be more impressed with what they know happened than what Blix said.


You're being quite incoherent, as usual. What Saddam was "presuming" has nothing to do with the fact that Bush said Saddam didn't let the inspectors in, even though Saddam did indeed let the inspectors in.

And as usual, you're not lifting a finger to document your claims regarding what allegedly "happened."
12.3.2008 5:25pm
Fury:
jukeboxgrad:

Sounds like an endorsement to me. Then again, you might be inclined to adopt an extremely narrow and literal interpretation of the word "endorsement," while also being quite broad and flexible in your interpretation of what Bush said ("he wouldn't let them in"). Interesting how that works.

I'm not comfortable of one posting to a site frequented by Al-Qaida supporters/sympathizers and the comment of "the comments summarized what has emerged as a consensus view on extremist sites" leading to the conclusion of an endorsement of McCain by Al-Qaida, and I'm trying to not take a narrow and literal view. The comments of one poster whose links to Al-Qaida are not known and in doubt do not make an endorsement. There are many extremist groups and they are not all affiliated or associated with Al-Qaida.
12.3.2008 5:48pm
roystgnr (mail):
Over a hundred comments about how cooperative Saddam was or wasn't with UN inspectors, and nobody's yet mentioned that Saddam knew UN inspection teams were being used by the CIA to assist a coup attempt? How much cooperation did we seriously expect after that?

Not to say that getting Saddam out of power wasn't a good idea, but discrediting nuclear non-proliferation efforts in the attempt was like trying to swat a wasp with a handgun: an idea more likely to cause serious collateral damage than to work.
12.3.2008 6:30pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Richard Aubrey:

I don't doubt for one moment that we would eventually have to move troops into Iraq. This is why I am reticent to address humanitarian costs of the war. The fact was (according to the International Crisis Group, whose intelligence had actual predictive value) that Iraq was unstable, and composed of lots of small groups which were fighting eachother. Furthermore, that this was exploited by Saddam in order to maintain control (keep your enemies fighting and they can never threaten you).

I looked at various publicly available reports an concluded three things:

1) Iraq was fundamentally unstable
2) Al Qaeda in Iraq was there to further the instability an eventually try to oust the Baathists
3) The no-fly zones etc while protecting the Kurds allowed AQ and other groups to move into position.

I therefore concluded that an intact Iraq would not survive much beyond Saddam and that we and other countries would have a strong peacekeeping mandate after the aging dictator would pass away.

I also looked at as many reports as I could get my hands on, and concluded that the international consensus (outside the US and UK, but including Israel) was that Iraq had no WMD's.

However at the time, the question then becomes, given the extreme likelihood of eventual action and the lack of a clear an present threat, is it better to wait for international consensus on the matter? I concluded that it was.

Bush seems to be saying that the goal of invading Iraq was so important that the substantive questions didn't really matter. I suppose this is fair enough. The goal IMO was to get US troops out of Saudi Arabia and this mission was in fact accomplished. However, I think that substantial harm has been done to ou country in the process.
12.3.2008 6:30pm
Perseus (mail):
If that was true, then this is what Bush should have said: "Hussein was playing cat and mouse." Trouble is, that's not what Bush said.

Ok, in his remarks on 7/14/2003 where he used the "he wouldn't let them in" line, the president also said the following:

We worked with the United Nations -- as Kofi mentioned, not all nations agreed with the decision, but we worked with the United Nations. And Saddam Hussein did not comply.

Surely that was a better choice of words.
12.3.2008 8:06pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
ein.
What international consensus? Germany, France, and Russia had contracts with SH. Before anything happened, Schroeder said Germany wasn't going to help. "International consensus" means, for libs' purposes, those members of the UN Security Council who can be anticipated to oppose us.

Iran is a neighbor of Iraq. They know the IAEA runs around like the Three Blind Mice, and the EU negotiators are useless. So they know that what the IAEA says, and what the EU negotiators say have nothing to do with reality. This is demonstrated on a daily basis in their own country. So why should they believe Blix when he goes on about Iraq, which is doing the same runaround number?
SH was in a position to know his neighbors were in a position to wonder if Blix was correct. Since they, especially Iran, knew how easy it was to fool the ignorant foreigners.
He was just a bit too convincing for his own good.
12.3.2008 10:28pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury:

I'm not comfortable of … the comment of "the comments summarized what has emerged as a consensus view on extremist sites" leading to the conclusion of an endorsement of McCain by Al-Qaida


That remark ("the comments summarized what has emerged as a consensus view on extremist sites") was made by Site Intelligence Group (SITE). Very recently you cited them as an authority. So basically what you're telling us is that you take them seriously, but only when they're making statements that support your argument. Interesting how that works.

There are many extremist groups and they are not all affiliated or associated with Al-Qaida.


SITE "monitors Islamist Web pages." Therefore their remark ("the comments summarized what has emerged as a consensus view on extremist sites") is not just about generic 'extremists.' It's about Islamists. SITE said this:

The idea in the jihadist forums is that McCain would be a faithful 'son of Bush' -- someone they see as a jingoist and a war hawk … They think that, to succeed in a war of attrition, they need a leader in Washington like McCain."


By definition, people posting in "the jihadist forums" are supporters of AQ. And according to the report, the analysis was based on comments posted "by Taliban or al-Qaeda-allied groups."

I'm trying to not take a narrow and literal view


Taking "a narrow and literal view" is precisely what you're doing. You're whining about the fact that I said "AQ" endorsed McCain, instead of saying 'Taliban or al-Qaeda-allied groups, and other jihadists who support AQ.' As if there's any meaningful difference, in this context. And as if AQ issues a public membership roll, so we can state with clinical accuracy that a given jihadist making a statement is or is not a card-carrying AQ member. Or authorized spokesperson.
12.3.2008 10:53pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
perseus:

"Saddam Hussein did not comply." Surely that was a better choice of words.


It's false to flatly say "Saddam Hussein did not comply." Blix said "access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect." So "did not comply" is simply not an honest way to describe what happened. The honest statement would be 'did not comply in a manner I found adequate.'

But it's also true that "he wouldn't let them in" is a more egregious falsehood than "did not comply." The former statement is more specific and more obviously false.

And this is not some trivial, irrelevant 'gotcha.' The inspections are a key event which preceded the war. There was an explicit understanding of "the need to wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors." In other words, Blair and Bush expected Saddam to keep doing what he had been doing: reject inspections. As a result, it was expected "that a number of countries could come on board." Why? Because "renewed refusal by Saddam to accept unfettered [weapons] inspections would be a powerful argument."

Trouble is, Saddam undermined this plan by finally accepting inspectors. This was a big problem for Bush. That's why Bush was in a hurry to chase the inspectors out. And that's why it's important to him to spread the bogus message he's been spreading: that Saddam "wouldn't let them in." In other words, Bush is recounting the history as if Saddam had done what Bush was counting on him to do.
12.3.2008 10:53pm
Perseus (mail):
It's false to flatly say "Saddam Hussein did not comply."

That's only the case if the criterion is merely "access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect." Full compliance would have meant immediate, unconditional, and active cooperation, which he did not provide. If he had, there would have been no delays whatsoever, full arms documentation (which Hussein never provided), a full list of personnel involved in WMD programs, no prohibited missiles, no attempts to place restrictions on U-2 flights, etc. As Blix himself put it, Iraq "appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance - not even today - of the disarmament which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out." There would have been no remaining "unresolved disarmament issues" if Hussein had in fact complied in full, something that Blix never claimed. So I find nothing inaccurate in the president's claim that Hussein did not comply.
12.3.2008 11:31pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
jukeboxgrad, please try to be consistent at least within the compass of one short blog comment.

If it made sense for Saddam to send his stuff to Jordan, and the Americans expected him to do it in 1991, why didn't it make sense 12 years later?

Especially if, as you say yourself, sending it to Iran didn't work out so well for him.
12.3.2008 11:58pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
This argument is, in part, due to the fact that SH was allowed to reframe the inspections as inspectors vs. him and his weapons establishment. Hide and seek became the default position.
Instead, by terms of the resolution, he was required to, speaking figuratively, haul all the paperwork to the hotel.
Put up with inspectors saying they wanted to go to site X and then, surprise, switching to site Y as they got into the cars.
The simple fact that the inspectors had to be detectives meant he was not in compliance and, moreover, the methods of his non-cooperation were designed to imply he really had something to hide.
12.4.2008 12:01am
Fury:
jukeboxgrad:

"That remark ("the comments summarized what has emerged as a consensus view on extremist sites") was made by Site Intelligence Group (SITE). Very recently you cited them as an authority. So basically what you're telling us is that you take them seriously, but only when they're making statements that support your argument. Interesting how that works. "

SITE was not the one who made the definitive statement of "AQ" endorsed McCain" - you were. I raised an objection to the conclusion you were making based on the available information.

"Taking "a narrow and literal view" is precisely what you're doing. You're whining about the fact that I said "AQ" endorsed McCain, instead of saying 'Taliban or al-Qaeda-allied groups, and other jihadists who support AQ.' As if there's any meaningful difference, in this context."

Characterizing my comments as whining does not materially contribute to the discussion we are having. I believe that it's a stretch to make the claim that Al Qaeda endorsed McCain. I respect your comments, and ask you respect my comments that I don't agree with that assertion.
12.4.2008 7:52am
Fury:
jukeboxgrad:

And as if AQ issues a public membership roll, so we can state with clinical accuracy that a given jihadist making a statement is or is not a card-carrying AQ member. Or authorized spokesperson.

There's probably three people that if they made statements, I would have a high confidence that they were speaking on behalf of Al Qaeda: Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Adam Gadahn (regarding messages specifically to the United States).
12.4.2008 8:00am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
perseus:

Full compliance would have meant immediate, unconditional, and active cooperation, which he did not provide.


It's clear that you're determined to distort the facts, no matter how often you're reminded that you're distorting the facts. It is false to claim that Saddam "did not provide … active cooperation." Blix explicitly said the cooperation "can be seen as active or even proactive."

And it is false to claim the cooperation was not "unconditional." Blix said "access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect." In other words, access was indeed "unconditional." This is a key point, because the central issue was to allow inspectors into the country, and to allow inspectors access to all sites. Saddam did indeed allow inspectors into the country, and did allow inspectors access to all sites. Bush is claiming the exact opposite of this when he says, repeatedly, that "he wouldn't let them in."

You have some limited basis to make a claim regarding "immediate," but you're going way beyond that (by also making claims about "unconditional" and "active"). In other words, you're roughly as honest as Bush.

full arms documentation (which Hussein never provided)


It is probably the case that he provided the documentation he had. Just like he could not show weapons he did not have, he could also not show documentation he did not have.

And this point is ironic. You're essentially complaining that Saddam didn't have "documentation" explaining what happened to all his old WMD. Your implied premise is that Saddam should be expected to have accounting systems that are better than ours. Saddam lost track of some weapons. We lost track of hundreds of tons of cash, totaling billions of dollars (pdf). Explaining the former is a lot easier than explaining the latter.

There would have been no remaining "unresolved disarmament issues" if Hussein had in fact complied in full, something that Blix never claimed. So I find nothing inaccurate in the president's claim that Hussein did not comply.


Please consider the following two statements:

A) He didn't comply fully
B) He didn't comply at all

You are obtusely pretending that you don't understand that A and B are materially different. You are in a weak position to claim A. Trouble is, Bush's statement (he "did not comply") can easily be interpreted as B. Especially in the context of Bush's other statement ("he wouldn't let them in"), which is an outright falsehood.

There would have been no remaining "unresolved disarmament issues" if Hussein had in fact complied in full, something that Blix never claimed.


That was something "Blix never claimed" because Bush decided he couldn't afford to let Blix get that far. Blix said this (3/7/03):

How much time would it take to resolve the key remaining disarmament tasks? While cooperation can and is to be immediate, disarmament and at any rate the verification of it cannot be instant. Even with a proactive Iraqi attitude, induced by continued outside pressure, it would still take some time to verify sites and items, analyse documents, interview relevant persons, and draw conclusions. It would not take years, nor weeks, but months.


Blix said verification of disarmament "cannot be instant." He said he needed more time to accomplish that. But Bush couldn't afford to let Blix accomplish that, because then there would have been no war. So Bush pulled the plug on the inspections. That was Bush's decision, not Blix's or Saddam's. And Bush's strategy for dealing with this problem is to rewrite history by making a false claim: "he wouldn't let them in."
12.4.2008 9:38am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
eagar:

please try to be consistent at least within the compass of one short blog comment. If it made sense for Saddam to send his stuff to Jordan, and the Americans expected him to do it in 1991, why didn't it make sense 12 years later?


The irony is rich. Please try to be consistent. First you said this:

There was something in those trucks going to Syria.


Are there two Harry Eagars? Could the two of you get together and decide which story you want to run with? Jordan and Syria are two different countries. At the moment, those mysterious trucks are lost in the desert and they're waiting for you to decide where you want to send them.

By the way, questions regarding his possible motivation and willingness to exile the stuff are separate from the question of why the stuff has stayed hidden, so many years later, given all the events of the last few years. I realize you're going to keep ducking this latter question.
12.4.2008 9:38am
Seamus (mail):
Full compliance would have meant immediate, unconditional, and active cooperation, which he did not provide.

And if Bush had said that "Saddam failed to give immediate, unconditional, and active cooperation," I'd have had less of an objection. But that's not what he said. He said, "Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld." And you know why? Because it sounds a lot better to say we launched a war because Saddam refused to let the inspectors in at all than it does to say we launched a war because his cooperation was not immediate, unconditional, and active.
12.4.2008 1:41pm
Perseus (mail):
A) He didn't comply fully
B) He didn't comply at all

You are obtusely pretending that you don't understand that A and B are materially different. You are in a weak position to claim A.


I am in very strong position to claim A for all the reasons aforementioned. Do you seriously expect us to believe that Hussein, for example, simply lost track of those prohibited missiles? That it took several weeks until Hussein provided some active cooperation was itself a failure to comply immediately. And a single instance of failing to comply in any way meant that Hussein did not comply. Driving one mile per hour over the speed limit, no matter how trivial it may seem, still means that you did not comply with law. As others have already pointed out, the onus was entirely on Hussein to come clean, not the inspectors to find incriminating evidence.
12.4.2008 6:21pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
perseus:

Driving one mile per hour over the speed limit, no matter how trivial it may seem, still means that you did not comply with law


I see that you believe in applying a strict and literal view of such things. Since you understand that "driving one mile per hour over the speed limit … means that you did not comply with law," then surely you also understand that Bush (by saying "he wouldn't let them in") did not "comply" with his duty to be truthful.
12.4.2008 10:20pm
Perseus (mail):
Since you understand that "driving one mile per hour over the speed limit … means that you did not comply with law," then surely you also understand that Bush (by saying "he wouldn't let them in") did not "comply" with his duty to be truthful.

That presupposes that the POTUS has a legal duty to be perfectly and literally accurate in his use of language in response to a question asked by a reporter. I'll be waiting to see if the Anointed One measures up to that standard when he assumes the office of president.
12.4.2008 11:44pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
perseus:

I'll be waiting to see if the Anointed One measures up to that standard when he assumes the office of president.


I'll be waiting to see if you grant Obama the kind of leeway you're granting Bush. Since you seem to think the relevant standard is "legal duty," then presumably you won't mind being reminded that Obama has no "legal duty" to be honest with us. Because can you honestly say that Bush's statement was honest? It didn't just fail to be "perfectly and literally accurate." It failed to be honest.
12.5.2008 7:27am
Perseus (mail):
Because can you honestly say that Bush's statement was honest?

I personally can honestly say that. You, on the other hand, have at most proved that the statement about "not letting them in" was not perfectly and literally accurate (though not the phrase "did not comply"). That by itself does not prove that the statement was outright dishonest since it would require much more proof than the speculation that you have provided.
12.5.2008 7:56pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
perseus:

That by itself does not prove that the statement was outright dishonest since it would require much more proof than the speculation that you have provided


Saddam allowed inspectors into the country, and allowed inspectors access to all sites. In other words, he let them in. Trouble is, Bush said "he wouldn't let them in." Bush's statement is exactly contrary to reality.

None of this is speculation. All of this is fact. You have difficulty understanding the difference between speculation and fact, and this goes hand-in-hand with your difficulty in grasping the difference between honest and dishonest.
12.5.2008 11:38pm

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