June 23, 2006

Could We Start Again, Please?

Hatched by Dafydd

Is it Captain Kidd's treasure-hold or Al Capone's vault?

At last, the New York Times has finally deigned to notice that we found a huge bunch of chemical munitions -- WMD -- in Iraq... though only in the context of a story about "hobbyists" who keep alive the search for WMD. Amazingly enough, however, once you finish wincing at the patronizing theme, the story itself isn't half bad. Maybe only 0.25 bad.

Mr. [Dave] Gaubatz, an earnest, Arabic-speaking investigator who spent the first months of the war as an Air Force civilian in southern Iraq, has said he has identified four sites where residents said chemical weapons were buried in concrete bunkers.

The sites were never searched, he said, and he is not going to let anyone forget it.

The Times, they are a-changin'. But why now? I suspect the reasoning of "Pinch" Sulzberger and Bill Keller now embraces two points:

  1. As more and more WMD are found in Iraq, it becomes untenable to continue pretending not to see it. Eventually, the logo of the New York Times will have to encorporate the famous three monkeys.
  2. But -- if the Iraq Survey Group failed to find WMD that was there to be found, and if Bush ran the CIA (via his appointee, George Tenet), hence the ISG... then the "miserable failure" to find WMD can be laid at Bush's feet.

The Times has evidently arrived at the conclusion that the meme "Bush lied about Hussein having WMD" is pretty much played out... but there's still a vein of pure gold in the meme "Bush lied about Hussein not having WMD."

Admittedly, the second meme has more truth to it than the first; the only fly in the soup is that the Democrats, by pushing Meme 1 for so long and so stridently, have disqualified themselves from ever arguing Meme 2: they would have to denounce each other as liars before they could attack President Bush.

Still, that may be too subtle a point for young Pinch, as it requires a universe more than seven days wide, from three days in the past to three days in the future, with a day of rest every "today." (And Bill Keller is reportedly on vacation, ducking the angry response to the Times having outed yet another program to track terrorists.) Certainly, the Times manages both to disparage the WMD hunters while still embracing their main arguments:

Some politicians are outspoken allies in Mr. Gaubatz's cause. He is just one of a vocal and disparate collection of Americans, mostly on the political right, whose search for Saddam Hussein's unconventional weapons continues....

The proponents include some members of Congress. Two Republicans, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania held a news conference on Wednesday to announce that, as Mr. Santorum put it, "We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

American intelligence officials hastily scheduled a background briefing for the news media on Thursday to clarify that. Hoekstra and Mr. Santorum were referring to an Army report that described roughly 500 munitions containing "degraded" mustard or sarin gas, all manufactured before the 1991 gulf war and found scattered through Iraq since 2003.

Such shells had previously been reported and do not change the government conclusion, the officials said. [That is, discovering 500 unaccounted-for chemical munitions in Iraq does not change the conclusion that there were no unaccounted-for chemical munitions in Iraq. -- the Mgt.]

Even Fox News gets some favorable press in the press:

Such official statements are unlikely to settle the question for the believers, some of whom have impressive credentials. They include a retired Air Force lieutenant general, Thomas G. McInerney, a commentator on the Fox News Channel who has broadcast that weapons are in three places in Syria and one in Lebanon, moved there with Russian help on the eve of the war.

And they have even had some successes, at least in moving the administration off of its parrot-like repetition that there were no WMDs in Iraq:

The weapons hunters were encouraged in February when tapes of Mr. Hussein's talking with top aides about his arsenal were released at the Intelligence Summit, a private gathering in northern Virginia of 600 former spies, former military officers and hobbyists....

In March, under Congressional pressure, National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte began posting on the Web thousands of captured Iraqi documents. Some intelligence officials opposed the move, fearing a free-for-all of amateur speculation and intrigue.

But the weapons hunters were heartened and began combing the documents for clues.

Mr. Gaubatz, 47, now chief investigator for the Dallas County medical examiner, said he knew some people might call him a kook.

So let's consider the themes in this excerpt: there are bunch of sincere kooks and hobbyists, including retired lieutenant generals and CIA officers, who are still looking for WMD in Iraq -- the existence of which is being denied by the incompetent Bush administration. (Got 'em coming and going.)

But at least they are finally placing before the American people the fact that there was a lot more WMD in Iraq than we were ever told by the Iraq Survey Group -- run by the CIA, which is a child of the State Department. If the ISG could miss 500 artillery shells and rockets loaded with chemicals such as Sarin and mustard gas, couldn't they also have missed jugs of VX and vials of Smallpox and Anthrax?

The entire edifice of "Bush lied about WMD" is crumbling. I doubt that many Americans will be mollified by the Democrats, the antique media, and the State Department (through surrogates in the CIA) saying, "It's all right, Saddam's WMD was from before the Gulf War and is only 80% or 75% as deadly as it was back then... so it doesn't count."

Naturally, the Times continues the charade that weapons of mass destruction were the only reason we went to war with Iraq; lost down the memory hole are all the other casus belli:

  • Repeated violations of the truce agreement that suspended (not ended) the Gulf War;
  • Failure to disclose disposition of WMD (this is different from merely having it; Iraq lied again and again what they did with it);
  • Defiance of multiple U.N. resolutions, most especially United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, but also Resolutions 660, 661, 678, 686., 687, 688, 707, 715, 986, and 1284;
  • Repeated attacks on United States military forces -- including firing upon American aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone;
  • The attempted assassination of a former president of the United States;
  • Ongoing crimes against humanity -- mass murder, ethinic cleansing, and environmental crimes;
  • Harboring international terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda, wanted for committing murderous acts against America (triggering the Bush Doctrine);
  • And most important, that Iraq was an illegitimate military dictatorship whose replacement by democracy and rule of law will start to drain the swamp of jihad in the heart of the ummah.

But the same Times story also touts several impressive achievements of these "hobbyists": not only did they get the NID, John Negroponte, to start putting on the web captured Iraqi intelligence and military documents; not only did they force the release of the report we talked about here; but recently, Gaubatz also got a meeting with officers of the Defense Intelligence Agency to try to persuade them -- at long last -- to start searching sites where residents claim WMDs were buried.

There is no question that most of such claims will fail to pan out. That is the nature of such a hunt... and if David Kay and Charles Duelfer were not in such a blasted hurry to declare defeat and head home, they would have understood that.

We should never have stopped purposefully looking; look how much we've found completely by accident. It's my understanding that the National Ground Intelligence Center is primarily tasked with investigating possible hazards to our troops; when soldiers or Marines stumble across a find that they think might be dangerous -- chemical, radiological, or biological -- they call the NGIC to come out, investigate, and dispose of the dangerous materials.

The NGIC is not out combing the hills and sand dunes, looking for WMD. That was the job of the ISG, which quickly disbanded itself after just a few months in the field.

What if they had they been sent out with a mandate to stay so long as our troops were in Iraq, searching continuously; would they have found these shells? Would they have found the other stuff that Iraq claims but cannot prove to have destroyed? Could they have investigated new claims of Syrian or Sudanese complicity in moving WMD out of Iraq?

Would the CIA have been so quick to dismiss all the WMD we found as "the wrong kind," as Mark Steyn put it, if that attitude were not a ticket to get them back home almost as fast as John Kerry's bogus Purple Hearts?

We'll never know... unless we bite the chemical shell and restart the search. But this time, leave the pathetically political CIA out of the loop. This search is a military matter, and it should be conducted by the Pentagon, using whatever military intelligence or force assets they need.

Mr. President -- could we start again, please? And this time, do it right: no time limit, no geographical limit, and without starting from the assumption, as the ISG did, that "there's no there there."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 23, 2006, at the time of 5:46 PM

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Tracked on June 23, 2006 6:47 PM


The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2006 6:22 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

I can help but think that it was easier for Saddam to move the stuff than it was for all those people, from Chirac to Clinton to Blair to be wrong.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2006 6:38 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye


I don't understand the thinking of the left here. After screeching Bush lied and people died like loons for years they suddenly seem completely uninterested in the entire wmd issue.

I take it you like Harman think this is about as dangerous as window cleaner.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2006 7:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA

Monk--this one's for you.

The above hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2006 10:04 PM

The following hissed in response by: Davod

Notice we now have 20,000 killed or wounded instead of 2500 dead.

It is to late to start up the search. Iraqi sovereignity will impinge on any effort.

The above hissed in response by: Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 24, 2006 5:16 AM

The following hissed in response by: Davod

Notice we now have 20,000 killed or wounded instead of 2500 dead.

It is to late to start up the search. Iraqi sovereignity will impinge on any effort.

The above hissed in response by: Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 24, 2006 5:16 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

monkyboy, gore's arguments must not have been too effective, since not only did he have to lie to make them, was wrong, and more importnatly, lost the election of 2000 and has not been able to effect the outcome of any election since.
And his new religion, climatology, wil not have any greater success.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 24, 2006 5:21 AM

The following hissed in response by: Infidel

The above hissed in response by: Infidel [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 24, 2006 9:32 AM

The following hissed in response by: Infidel

Hey, Hunter! Don't feed the (utterly clueless) troll.

The above hissed in response by: Infidel [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 24, 2006 9:37 AM

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