Saturday :: Nov 5, 2005

The Everyone Believed Saddam Had an Active WMD Program Canard

by Mary

Yesterday Kevin Drum stated "...virtually everybody believed Saddam had an active WMD program in 2002" and claims the October NIE was proof of that fact. Thus he inferred that it was okay for people to support using the military against Iraq. Well, that statement is wrong. First of all, the only threat that would make Saddam a real danger was the threat that he was reconstituting his nuclear program. None of the other so-call WMD could be used to say he was an imminent threat deserving an preemptive invasion. Other voices - credible voices - besides Scott Ritter were saying that there was no credible evidence that supported that belief. Let's review what was known in 2002.

Feb 6, 2002: George Tenet testifies that Iraq is still a concern, but threat from North Korea or Iran is greater. He testifies that Saddam still wants to reconstitute its nuclear program, but there is no evidence that he is doing so right now.
Tenet testimony before Senate Intelligence Committee

July 2002: Senator Bob Graham requests report from the intelligence community about the threat from Iraq because no official report had been created that validated the numerous charges seen in the news.
This American Life (audio clip), Dec 20, 2002

July 23, 2002: DSM: Prime Minister's Meeting, 23 July, 2002. The minutes of a top-secret meeting reveal that Bush had decided to go to war against Iraq and Britain will help provide evidence to sell the war to the world.
The Secret Downing Street memo
Matthew Rycroft, Downing Street, foreign policy aide, Times, UK, May 1, 2005
It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

Late Sept 2002: Senator Bob Graham requests that the NIE report get declassified so it can be released to the public. He says that the report the committee saw made clear that Iraq was not an imminent threat based on all available evidence.
This American Life (audio clip), Dec 20, 2002

Oct 1, 2002: Tenet produces a declassified National Intelligence Estimate which does not contain any of the nuances or caveats included in original report.
Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs, CIA, October 2002

Oct 7, 2002: Tenet reports that the CIA can declassify further parts of the Iraq threat report but that still avoids providing the caveats or disputed points.
DCI Tenet Declassifies Further Information on the Iraq Threat
Letter from Tenet to questions from Bob Graham's committee, Oct 7, 2002

So let's look at this again: George Tenet testifies in early Feb that Saddam is not worth worrying about. Senator Bob Graham who was the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee does not hear any secret evidence coming before his committee that indicts Saddam is actively reconstituting a Nuclear program (the newspapers are full of these reports) and asks that the CIA produce that NIE Kevin discussed to provide the evidence that Saddam really is rebuilding a nuclear program. The classified NIE was filled with all kinds of caveats and disputed points that indicated the evidence was very bad. Graham asks that the CIA provide a declassified version that shows how shaky the evidence really is and they don't.

Meanwhile in the UK, surely Blair's cabinet had all the real evidence of how dangerous Saddam was, but what do we find out they knew? That Saddam was less of a threat than his neighbors. So much for the British also believing Saddam was an imminent threat.

In 2002, Clinton might have believed that Saddam had an active WMD program, but not because he was looking at the actual evidence that was available. If the news media had been doing its job and if the Bush administration had been straight and honest about the evidence, there would not have been a war.

I admit, I didn't know what Saddam had, but I knew by following stories from credible people that the evidence supporting the WMD story was a con. And I knew that even if Saddam had been a problem, Bush and his administration was not to be trusted to take this country into war.

Mary :: 10:02 AM :: Comments (39) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!