Get to Work

When you get done calling me an asshole in one of the earlier “Hanoi Jane” threads (that ought to get the party started- after all, us “Red State Racists” have to leave Dick Cheney’s bunker ever now and then to call a liberal a traitor), the hunt for WMD in IRaq has begun anew, and this time the administration wants you to look for them:

American intelligence agencies and presidential commissions long ago concluded that Saddam Hussein had no unconventional weapons and no substantive ties to Al Qaeda before the 2003 invasion.

But now, an unusual experiment in public access is giving anyone with a computer a chance to play intelligence analyst and second-guess the government.

Under pressure from Congressional Republicans, the director of national intelligence has begun a yearlong process of posting on the Web 48,000 boxes of Arabic-language Iraqi documents captured by American troops.

Less than two weeks into the project, and with only 600 out of possibly a million documents and video and audio files posted, some conservative bloggers are already asserting that the material undermines the official view.

On his blog last week, Ray Robison, a former Army officer from Alabama, quoted a document reporting a supposed scheme to put anthrax into American leaflets dropped in Iraq and declared: “Saddam’s W.M.D. and terrorist connections all proven in one document!!!”

Not so, American intelligence officials say. “Our view is there’s nothing in here that changes what we know today,” said a senior intelligence official, who would discuss the program only on condition of anonymity because the director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, directed his staff to avoid public debates over the documents. “There is no smoking gun on W.M.D., Al Qaeda, those kinds of issues.”

All the documents, which are available on fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/products-docex.htm, have received at least a quick review by Arabic linguists and do not alter the government’s official stance, officials say. On some tapes already released, in fact, Mr. Hussein expressed frustration that he did not have unconventional weapons.

So get to work- we need to find those WMD!

All snark aside, I think this is actually an interesting idea, but I can already see where it is heading. There is no such thing as a verifiable fact or a certainty anymore, and by the end of the week there will be 55,000 right-wing blogs stating something or other in the documents justifies the invasion. There will be no smoking gun found, yet someone wil misread or misinterpret something, and the blogosphere will ignite into a flurry of speculation.

Before that happens, let me remind you of one thing- we have been in Iraq for over three years, and we have not found one WMD.






89 replies
  1. 1
    Vlad says:

    This does seem like prime tinfoil hat material, especially since a lot of the docs are of questionable provenance, but I agree that it’s an interesting idea, and it’s nice to see the administration give transparency a try for once.

  2. 2
    don surber says:

    These documents have been out there for some time and Austin Bay and others commented months ago

    Considering the three-day wait between Erma Byrd’s death and your posting, I’d say you are overloaded with work

    Regarding FDL: Let it go. Red Dawn America was an embarrassment to all creatures large and small and

  3. 3
    Faux News says:

    Red Dawn America

    Wolverines?

  4. 4
    Steve says:

    Well, that’s exactly right, John, except they’re way ahead of you.

    This has been going on for years now. Every time a document turns up in some musty drawer that says anything about (1) WMDs or (2) ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda, it shoots at the speed of light around the entire righty blogosphere, confirming as gospel truth what they already knew all along.

    What is remarkable about this is the official disavowal. The White House wants absolutely nothing to do with making the case for any of this, even though you’d think that proving Bush was right all along would be an incredible coup. The reason is that they know they could never pull it off with this flimsy evidence.

    But they know the righty blogosphere has no problem swallowing anything that supports their pre-determined views, even if it has the approximate credibility of Ben Domenech’s excuses. It’s an article of faith – someday, 10 or 20 or 100 years from now, we’ll find those WMDs, and Bush’s face can go up on Mount Rushmore after all.

    My friends on the left have foibles of their own, of course. But I can’t think of an example where someone has consciously disseminated misinformation in the liberal blogosphere cause they know it would never be swallowed anywhere else.

  5. 5
    SomeCallMeTim says:

    John, I think Jane Hamasher’s wrong in her appraisal of you. But it’s equally silly to pretend that there’s no basis for inferring racism on the part of a Southern Republican – recall that LBJ knew he was giving away the South to the Republicans by pursuing the Civil Rights Act – who specifically attacks Coretta Scott King as a communist on the day of her funeral. Moreover, given his background, his citation to the (IIRC) Neuhaus piece, with it’s easy use of hypothetical African-Americans as proof of the speaker’s decency, is irritating and more than a little presumptuous.

  6. 6
    fwiffo says:

    It boggles the mind that there are people out there that think there will be a magical piece of paper that will somehow magically change what we found, or turn up that super-secret closet in Saddam’s hidey-hole that contains all the WMD.

    There’s probably some blustering Baathist general in there spouting about how “we must kill the infidels with our ultra-mega-laser orbital space platform!” It’s a smoking gun, ya know.

  7. 7
    BumperStickerist says:

    John, as a professor who teaches these things, might want to consider the post hoc, ergo propter hoc of his post.

    If the argument comes down to We didn’t find WMDS in Iraq after March 2003, therefore there were no WMDS in Iraq prior to March 2003 then there is no argument at all. Bush was correct to invade.

    In other, related, news – yes, John, the US military has found at least *one* WMD in Iraq, a couple, iirc, just not the warehouses and underground bunkers stuffed with the things.

    I’m not sure if that makes your point valid, but your factual basis for the point wrong. I’ll have to consult a Jane Hamsher of the Left and get back to you.

  8. 8
    John Cole says:

    Bumper- Regard PH, EPH, I don’t think that matters in this situation- the gray area created by that fallacy could theoretically provide the rhetorical cover to any behavior you want to construct.

    For example, I could have the police raid your house looking for stolen truffles. We could tear the place apart, look all over the place, and when you continune to insist after the fact that you never had the stolen truffles, I could say “Hey- just because we didn’t find them doesn’t mean you didn’t have them.”

    To carry the analogy farther, what is going on now is that I would be posting documents online for the general public to peruse to ‘prove’ that you actually had the stolen truffles.

    As to them finding WMD- link please. That is news to me.

  9. 9
    DougJ says:

    If the argument comes down to We didn’t find WMDS in Iraq after March 2003, therefore there were no WMDS in Iraq prior to March 2003 then there is no argument at all. Bush was correct to invade.

    Think about what you just said, withtout the Latin lead-up: “Bush was correct to invade because we haven’t found any WMDs.” No wonder your party can’t run a war, can’t even begin to balance a budget, can’t handle natural disasters, and can’t understand what science is. You’re a bunch of idiots.

  10. 10
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    That is news to me.

    IIRC, it was one rusted-out artillery shell, circa the Iran-Iraq War, designed to deliver a chemical/nerve agent.

  11. 11
    DougJ says:

    it was one rusted-out artillery shell, circa the Iran-Iraq War, designed to deliver a chemical/nerve agent.

    Yes, but imagine if it had been fired into a crowd in Times Square.

  12. 12
    BumperStickerist says:

    Fox News Cite mostly for the fun of citing Fox. ChristianScience Monitor and BBC have similar reports.

    In the interest of completeness, here are Scott Ritter’s thoughts on the matter:
    Ritter

    The problem with the Left/Anti-Bush/Isolationist argument is that it is solely based on PH,EPH.

    At the risk of beating a dead horse, here are Bush’s remarks to the United Nations in 2002, during the ‘run up’ to the war.
    Bush/UN Speech, 2002. The arguments are clearly made by Bush and they still hold.

    So, I wonder, where’s the mystery?

  13. 13
    zzyzx says:

    It’s not just the existence of WMD that’s important, it’s the willingness to use them. Saddam either lacked the weapons or he wasn’t willing to use them to save his regime (and his life). In either case, it’s obvious that he wasn’t a threat to the US.

    You could argue that we didn’t know that and it’s better to be safe so the war was justified, but I can’t see any way of arguing that Bush was correct in his analysis of the situation.

  14. 14
    BumperStickerist says:

    Hi Doug,

    Thanks for that insight.:

    “Bush was correct to invade because we haven’t found any WMDs.”

    Substitute ‘though’ for ‘because’ in the above and you’ll have shown a minimal grasp of the concept ‘post hoc, ergo propter hoc’.

    Then we can move on to the heavy lifting.

    cheers.

  15. 15
    DougJ says:

    Bumper Stickerist — can you really not see how illogical what you’re saying is? You’re saying that if the only evidence that Saddam had no WMD is that we haven’t found any, then Bush was right to invade.

  16. 16
    BumperStickerist says:

    I can’t see any way of arguing that Bush was correct in his analysis of the situation.

    Bush’s analysis of the situation is laid out point-by-point in the speech I linked above.

    It’s still correct.

    If the Left would stop reflexively bashing Bush long enough to read his words on the topic and resist the urge to parse each sentence to within an inch of its life, they might understand the case as presented rather than coming up with their own ‘real’ causes.

    Just read the damn speech.
    .

  17. 17
    BumperStickerist says:

    You’re saying that if the only evidence that Saddam had no WMD is that we haven’t found any, then Bush was right to invade.

    I’ll let John take this from here on out if he wants to.

    Briefly, no – I’m saying that the justification for the invasion does not rest solely on the presence of WMD being found after the invasion.

    And, fwiw, I’ll be gone for the balance of the day chaperoning a school field trip so please don’t interepret an absence of further replies as anything other than that.

    Cheers.

  18. 18
    DougJ says:

    And, fwiw, I’ll be gone for the balance of the day chaperoning a school field trip so please don’t interepret an absence of further replies as anything other than that.

    A likely story. Coward.

  19. 19
    Blue Neponset says:

    If the Left would stop reflexively bashing Bush long enough to read his words on the topic and resist the urge to parse each sentence to within an inch of its life, they might understand the case as presented rather than coming up with their own ‘real’ causes.

    I supported the invasion of Iraq at the time because I thought Saddam had WMD. No matter what you or Bush say now that was the only reason I thought it was OK to invade Iraq.

  20. 20
    Vlad says:

    “We could tear the place apart, look all over the place, and when you continune to insist after the fact that you never had the stolen truffles, I could say “Hey- just because we didn’t find them doesn’t mean you didn’t have them.””

    Now, I have the mental immage of Saddam answering the door, with his cheeks all puffed out like a chipmunk.

  21. 21
    zzyzx says:

    I supported the invasion of Iraq at the time because I thought Saddam had WMD. No matter what you or Bush say now that was the only reason I thought it was OK to invade Iraq.

    I won’t go quite that far – I was neutral on the war – but my beliefs are that wars are justifed for one reason only – self defense. Hussein obviously was pinned up. The WWII analogy at the time didn’t work because Iraq hadn’t so much as spit across the border since the attempt to invade Kuwait. The only way that Iraq could credibly be a threat to the US would be if they had a nuclear weapons program that was likely to produce a bomb. It turns out that that’s not the case.

    Without that argument, the case for war doesn’t do it for me. I don’t care about technical violations of the 1991 agreement. I care if Iraq was an actual threat to the US. We didn’t know the answer then but we do now. If we knew now what we did then, there’s no way the vote for the war passes. It was a mistake.

  22. 22
    Vladi G says:

    “Bush was correct to invade because we haven’t found any WMDs.”

    Don’t you get it, Doug? He sent them all to Syria. Because that’s what all rational people do before they get into a war. The first rule of prosecuting a war is to get rid of all of your weapons. I haven’t figured out how this works yet, but the Republicans seem pretty convinced that this is the case with Saddam.

  23. 23
    EL says:

    IIRC, it was one rusted-out artillery shell, circa the Iran-Iraq War, designed to deliver a chemical/nerve agent.

    I checked stickerist’s link – it was two shells from the Iran-Iraq war. Two!!!! A veritable storehouse! /snark

    Of course the article also mentions that the insurgents were unlikely to realize the shells contained the agents mentioned.

    To point out something that’s been mentioned many times – the American people would not have backed an invasion based only on chemical weapons that could not reach our shores. It was the threat of (non-existent) nuclear weapons that closed the deal.

  24. 24
    DougJ says:

    I was more or less neutral on the war at the time. I thought Saddam had WMD and I also thought that it would go more smoothly than it did. Not finding the WMD is a big deal, as far I’m concerned.

  25. 25
    Dave Ruddell says:

    Before that happens, let me remind you of one thing- we have been in Iraq for over three years, and we have not found one WMD.

    Geez, John, you are so far up Bush’s ass it isn’t even funny anymore. When are you going to stop being such an apologist/parrot for the administration?

  26. 26
    Edmund Dantes says:

    Just read the speech, and ignore anything else that came out of the Bush Adminstration’s mouths. This speech is the only controlling authority when it comes to Bush’s reasons for going to war with Iraq.

    P.S. The saddest part about the few old and degraded chemical weapons we did find? There’s a strong chance they were U.S. made and given to Saddam by the U.S. back when we supported a lying, murderous, torturing thug that killed his own people, and used Chemical weapons in battles. That BASTARD!!!!

  27. 27
    zzyzx says:

    For the record, by the way, I supported the Afghanistan war.

  28. 28
    tzs says:

    John, your analysis of the predicted right blogosphere reaction…well, I agree with every word.

    EX-cellent.

    That’s why I keep coming back here. We may disagree on certain issues, but you and certain other conservatives do demonstrate you keep you keep your feet on the ground.

    And can we please ask for a bunch of real reporters and commentators to take place of the verbal catfighting pundits on the talk shows?

    Pundit: an entertainer who imagines he’s an intellectual.

  29. 29
    Davebo says:

    If I were BumperStickerist I think I’d just fall back on the old “We had to invade because Saddam wouldn’t let the inspectors back in” excuse.

    It’s silly, but silly in a hilarious way.

  30. 30
    Jcricket says:

    I supported the war in Afghanistan both because getting rid of the Taliban seemed a good thing and because Osama was actually hiding out there. Seems good to go after the 9/11 guy (I actually have relatives who were in the WTC on 9/11 who made it out alive but lost 10-20 friends). I still support that war, and wish it had more troops so we could stabilize Afghanistan and find Osama.

    I supported the war in Iraq because I too thought Saddam had WMD. Turns out he didn’t. Turns out there was credible evidence Saddam didn’t, and “in-credible” evidence that he did. Turns out Bush & Blair shaded the evidence to suit their pre-determined beliefs, which is a pretty big no-no in my book if you’re the president committing a whole nation to war. And don’t get me started on Cheney “No I never said there was a 9/11 SADDAM (KILL YOU) TERRORIST AL QUEDA (KILL YOU) connection.” So yeah, I feel betrayed, and the price we’ve all paid is unbelievable.

    Now it’s all FUBAR in Iraq and I don’t know what we can do to make it any better for the Iraqis. Perhaps the right-wingers could get it through their heads that I’m not responsible for coming up with a plan? As DougJ pointed out on another thread, blog commenters need not be the source of military strategy and plans. Imagine, you have two children, one who is 5 and the other who is 15, and the 15 year old smashes all your plates in the kitchen. You watch it happen. Do you go into the kitchen and A) ask the 5 year old what he’s going to do to clean up the mess? or B) ask the 15-year old why he did it and what he’s going to do about it?

    (I compare us peons to 5-year olds only because we don’t have the access to the inside ‘intelligence’ someone like the President does, when making decisions to go to war)

  31. 31
    DougJ says:

    I supported the war in Iraq because I too thought Saddam had WMD. Turns out he didn’t. Turns out there was credible evidence Saddam didn’t, and “in-credible” evidence that he did. Turns out Bush & Blair shaded the evidence to suit their pre-determined beliefs, which is a pretty big no-no in my book if you’re the president committing a whole nation to war. And don’t get me started on Cheney “No I never said there was a 9/11 SADDAM (KILL YOU) TERRORIST AL QUEDA (KILL YOU) connection.” So yeah, I feel betrayed, and the price we’ve all paid is unbelievable.

    That’s a very good analysis there. I didn’t support the war per se — I was neutral, as I said earlier — but that’s pretty much how I feel too.

  32. 32
    Davebo says:

    On the upside John, apparantly Glenn Greenwald’s Mom is reading your blog.

    See! That’s true crossover appeal! Surely Byrd can’t live forever?

  33. 33
    Blue Neponset says:

    So yeah, I feel betrayed, and the price we’ve all paid is unbelievable.

    I don’t feel betrayed I feel stupid for supporting the invasion. After Powell’s UN speech my gut was telling me that something didn’t add up if the evidence Powell presendted was the best intelligence they had. As usual I should have trusted my gut feeling, but I trusted the President to exhaust all options before going to war and he didn’t do that.

  34. 34
    WyldPirate says:

    The bad thing is that there is an awfully large proportion of Americans that are just staggeringly stupid. Many of the loudest and mnost obnoxius ones reside on the right and they will believe anything based upon “their gut” or more specifically Dear leader’s gut. They are impervious to facts, evidence and reason. These people are the blithering morons that believe the earth and all of it’s creatures were created by God less than 7000 years ago. Evidence that falsifies their faith-based belief is, th them, simply the work of Satan or evil secularists (one in the same to many of the right wing loons).

    Charles Pierce wrote a good essay in Esquire back last fall called “Greetings from Idiot America”, that summarizes the stupidity infecting a large portion of Americans.

    Here’s a link to a bootleg copy:

    http://www.aboyandhiscomputer......erica.html

    An excerpt:

    “In the place of expertise, we have elevated the Gut, and the Gut is a moron, as anyone who has ever tossed a golf club, punched a wall, or kicked an errant lawn mower knows. We occasionally dress up the Gut by calling it “common sense.” The president’s former advisor on medical ethics regularly refers to the “yuck factor.” The Gut is common. It is democratic. It is the roiling repository of dark and ancient fears. Worst of all, the Gut is faith-based.

    It’s a dishonest phrase for a dishonest time, “faith-based,” a cheap huckster’s phony term of art. It sounds like an additive, an artificial flavoring to make crude biases taste of bread and wine.

    It’s a word for people without the courage to say they are religious, and it is beloved not only by politicians too cowardly to debate something as substantial as faith but also by Idiot America, which is too lazy to do it.

    After all, faith is about the heart and soul and about transcendence. Anything calling itself faith-based is admitting that it is secular and profane. In the way that it relies on the Gut to determine its science, its politics, and even the way it sends its people to war, Idiot America is not a country of faith; it’s a faith-based country, fashioning itself in the world, which is not the place where faith is best fashioned.

    Hofstadter saw this one coming. “Intellect is pitted against feeling,” he wrote, “on the ground that it is somehow inconsistent with warm emotion. It is pitted against character, because it is widely believed that intellect stands for mere cleverness, which transmutes easily into the sly or the diabolical.”

    The Gut is the basis for the Great Premises of Idiot America. We hold these truths to be self-evident:

    1. Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
    2. Anything can be true if somebody says it on television.
    3. Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.

    How does it work? This is how it works. On August 21, a newspaper account of the “intelligent design” movement contained this remarkable sentence: “They have mounted a politically savvy challenge to evolution as the bedrock of modern biology, propelling a fringe academic movement onto the front pages and putting Darwin’s defenders firmly on the defensive.”

    A “politically savvy challenge to evolution” is as self-evidently ridiculous as an agriculturally savvy challenge to euclidean geometry would be. It makes as much sense as conducting a Gallup poll on gravity or running someone for president on the Alchemy Party ticket.”

  35. 35
    gratefulcub says:

    They moved intelligence analysis from the CIA to the White House Iraq Group, and allowed people with no training or experience in analyzing raw intelligence to collect and interpret it.

    That worked out so well, that they have now passed on that job to the american people and the blogs.

    Of course, the solid intelligence that you need as a knowledge base is classified. The authenticity of these papers is unknown.

    But, they know, that someone will find something, that if taken alone, and interpretted correctly, will prove they had WMD. About one new story a week in which someone has found the smoking gun.

    When powerline proves the WMD were transferred to Iran, are we taking that argument to the UN or just invading by ourselves.

  36. 36
    SeesThroughIt says:

    This has been going on for years now. Every time a document turns up in some musty drawer that says anything about (1) WMDs or (2) ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda, it shoots at the speed of light around the entire righty blogosphere, confirming as gospel truth what they already knew all along.

    But they know the righty blogosphere has no problem swallowing anything that supports their pre-determined views, even if it has the approximate credibility of Ben Domenech’s excuses. It’s an article of faith – someday, 10 or 20 or 100 years from now, we’ll find those WMDs, and Bush’s face can go up on Mount Rushmore after all.

    I don’t think the nail could possibly be hit more squarely on the head than this.

    I’d also bet that John’s prediction of the right-wing onanosphere’s reaction will be on point. These people think that Iraq is a shining beacon of success and that WMDs have already been found, if only we could convince terrorist-coddling liberal traitors to stop helping swarthy Middle-Easterners make bombs long enough to realize this. There’s a whole army of useful little idiots who are oh-so-eager to become the FishUber-Patriot who Saved PittsburghDear Leader.

  37. 37
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    I supported the war in Iraq because I too thought Saddam had WMD. Turns out he didn’t. Turns out there was credible evidence Saddam didn’t, and “in-credible” evidence that he did. Turns out Bush & Blair shaded the evidence to suit their pre-determined beliefs, which is a pretty big no-no in my book if you’re the president committing a whole nation to war. And don’t get me started on Cheney “No I never said there was a 9/11 SADDAM (KILL YOU) TERRORIST AL QUEDA (KILL YOU) connection.” So yeah, I feel betrayed, and the price we’ve all paid is unbelievable.

    I couldn’t agree more. Recently, I was re-reading my pre-war writing and found myself horrified at how easliy I took the “drain the swamp/fight ’em there so we don’t have to fight ’em here” bait. Odd thing is, I didn’t trust Bush even back then, so why did I accept his argument so easily? *sigh*
    One more thing: Once it was determined Saddam possessed no WMDs, the administration and its defenders brought out the “Well, everyone – including Clinton – thought he had them!” line. OK, fine, but then why did Bush reward George “Slam Dunk” Tenet with the nation’s highest civilian honor, instead of calling him on the carpet and demanding to know why the CIA had it so wrong?

  38. 38
    yet another jeff says:

    Now THAT’s a volunteer army! I wrote a sketch on the war based on that place in Texas where you can hunt via a broadband connection. http://www.live-shot.com/
    Shooting from the safety of your desk. Of course, since I wrote the piece, online hunting has been banned. Still, a great idea for the war, no? Just send your Special Forces in to mount cameras and weapons, then just let office geeks across America kill insurgents, or whomever crosses in front of the camera, while on the phone with customers.

    A great idea, this turning over the hunt for WMD to random people. Something Patriotic to do between reading Fark and putting covers on your TPS reports.

  39. 39
    DougJ says:

    POTD, jeff.

  40. 40
    TallDave says:

    Before that happens, let me remind you of one thing- we have been in Iraq for over three years, and we have not found one WMD.

    Well, we did find a few sarin and mustard shells, and it’s pretty obvious he was going to produce all kinds of WMD once the sanctions/inspection regime collapsed under the weight of his massive bribery, unless someone here is going to argue Saddam had turned over a new leaf.

    But really, what the docs show is that Saddam wanted people to THINK he had WMD. Mission accomplished! There was broad bipartisan, even global, support for the assertion. Nice work.

    The docs tend to show Saddam’s real miscalculation was that he never expected us to actually remove him, regardless of WMD.

  41. 41
    DougJ says:

    Jeff, could use that same technology to allow citizen journalists to search for “good news” in Iraq?

  42. 42
    TallDave says:

    Turns out Bush & Blair shaded the evidence to suit their pre-determined beliefs,

    It’s nice how that statement proves this one:

    The bad thing is that there is an awfully large proportion of Americans that are just staggeringly stupid.

    Even the French and Russians thought Saddam had WMD. No one was arguing against the war based on the idea Saddam had no WMD — until after the war. Of course, by then BDS had set in and all regard for the actual facts disappeared.

  43. 43
    TallDave says:

    no substantive ties to Al Qaeda before the 2003 invasion.

    OK, now that’s a bit misleading. Funding Abu Sayyaf isn’t a substantive tie?

    What they didn’t have was an “operational relatinship.” That means they didn’t plan joint operations, etc.

  44. 44
    jg says:

    The docs tend to show Saddam’s real miscalculation was that he never expected us to actually remove him, regardless of WMD.

    Of course not because removing him would create a shitty situation over there and would be real stupid. He was giving us props that we weren’t stupid. We sure showed him.

    would it be safe to say the John Coles of the right are searching for salvation in the 48000 boxes of documents? j/k

  45. 45
    TallDave says:

    jg,

    Hard to argue we or the Iraqis were better off with Saddam. Shitty is relative; Germany was a mess after we invaded too, but leaving Hitler in charge wasn’t better.

    Would it be safe to say the jgs of the Left are terrified of what might be in those documents?

  46. 46
    ImJohnGalt says:

    On the plus side, the righty blogosphere will all be taking Berlitz Farsi courses, so our military and intelligence will never be short of translators again.

  47. 47
    jg says:

    no substantive ties to Al Qaeda before the 2003 invasion.

    OK, now that’s a bit misleading. Funding Abu Sayyaf isn’t a substantive tie?

    What they didn’t have was an “operational relatinship.” That means they didn’t plan joint operations, etc.

    TD, the ultimate goal of the jihadi movement is a world where Saddam does not have a leadership role, he knows this. Why would he help to bring about that world? Is it possible his involvement with terrorism was just enough to maintain some type of muslim credibility? Just enough to get the ‘muslim street’ to back him if we ever came looking for him? Is it possible?

  48. 48
    TallDave says:

    jg,

    Sheesh, it’s like the whole Left has never heard the phrase “alliance of convenience” before.

  49. 49
    jg says:

    Hard to argue we or the Iraqis were better off with Saddam. Shitty is relative; Germany was a mess after we invaded too, but leaving Hitler in charge wasn’t better.

    Saddam isn’t Hitler. Its hard to say we’re better off when we weren’t in a bad position with him there. He was powerless. I’d argue its clear we are worse off now because of the way we went about our war on terror. We’ve made enemies where we previously had none.

  50. 50
    ImJohnGalt says:

    Sure we have – we usually just use it to describe the relationship betweem the Republicans and the Christian Fundamentalists.

  51. 51
    jg says:

    jg,

    Sheesh, it’s like the whole Left has never heard the phrase “alliance of convenience” before.

    Doesn’t that prove my point? He’s only doing it for cred. I find it hard to believe a man who is essentially staying in power based on the assumption he’s powerful would do anything to incite our wrath. He would want to stay as far from our enemies as possible until he was in possession of what he so badly wanted. If I was Saddam I certainly wouldn’t have pissed off america when I had no wmd to defend myself nor even an army that would fight for me.

  52. 52
    TallDave says:

    jg,

    We weren’t making enemies bombing Iraq every few weeks and keeping troops in SA? We were in a great position with having to enforce the no-fly zones for the next 50 years? Iraqis were fine with the mass graves and WMD attacks?

    Saddam was “powerlessly” training thousands of terrorists and funding more. The sanctions regimes was about to collapse, besides being massively corrupted by the “powerless” dictator.

    Now we have a democratic ally in Iraq instead of a virulent enemy.

  53. 53
    TallDave says:

    Doesn’t that prove my point? He’s only doing it for cred.

    Oh yeah, I’m sure that will come as great comfort to the victims of the terrorist attacks he funds.

    “Don’t worry,” you can tell them. “Saddam didn’t really believe in terrorism, so there’s no reason to be angry with him.”

  54. 54
    SeesThroughIt says:

    If I was Saddam I certainly wouldn’t have pissed off america when I had no wmd to defend myself nor even an army that would fight for me.

    And unfortunately that’s the lesson a bunch of leaders, including Kim Jong Il–learned: if you don’t have some serious weaponry (such as, oh, say, nukes), the US will roll right over you. So now we have Kim Jong Il with nukes and adopting the Bush Doctrine of preemptively striking nations that look at you funny. Wow, it sure is a good thing our president is so good at fighting terror!

  55. 55
    TallDave says:

    If I was Saddam I certainly wouldn’t have pissed off america when I had no wmd to defend myself nor even an army that would fight for me.

    In case you haven’t noticed, Saddam wasn’t a great decision maker. He miscalculated and was removed.

  56. 56
    TallDave says:

    So now we have Kim Jong Il with nukes

    Which they developed under Clinton’s Agreed Framework. Bush had what to do with that again? Oh right, he cancelled it after he found they were making nuclear weapons.

    Sheesh.

  57. 57
    gratefulcub says:

    Now we have a democratic ally in Iraq instead of a virulent enemy.

    What?

  58. 58
    TallDave says:

    Aha, I knew someone would jump on that. I know, it must pain you greatly to acknowledge this, and most of you will refuse to, but messy as it is, we do have a democratically elected government in Iraq that is far friendlier than Saddam.

    Sorry. Deal with it. The Shrub’s stragery is a mission accomplished!

    I’m out.

  59. 59
    gratefulcub says:

    TallDave,

    From the terrorists’ perspective. Would they rather have:

    SH running iraq, tossing around a little money here and there, but not really supporting the cause

    or

    Zarquawi blowing up Iraq. US occupation of Arab land. Images of Abu Ghraib on the TV. Stories on the street about the disrespect Americans show their women (doesn’t matter if it is true). Stories about the US military invading a Shiite mosque (it was a mosque, it just doesn’t look like one) and killing people in prayer (doesn’t matter if it happened exactly like that).

    Which would the terrorists prefer?

  60. 60
    gratefulcub says:

    Sorry. Deal with it. The Shrub’s stragery is a mission accomplished!

    i now believe that TallDave is not real. Is he?

  61. 61
    SeesThroughIt says:

    Which they developed under Clinton’s Agreed Framework. Bush had what to do with that again? Oh right, he cancelled it after he found they were making nuclear weapons.

    Sheesh.

    OK, so Clinton’s bad for letting them develop nukes. And Bush thinks cancelling the framework ended the problem? He wants to fight threats to the US and instead of actually going after one, invades a country that had nothing to do with anything? What a fuckin’ genius.

  62. 62
    yet another jeff says:

    DougJ, wouldn’t finding evidence of WMD in the “rainy day, do it yourself document translation kit” be “good news?”.

    Otherwise, vandals keep stealing the cameras that film the schools being built…maybe if they had randomly shooting guns on them, that might help.

  63. 63

    Sorry, if you’ve been reading the Brits’ leaked memos from Downing Street on, they didn’t believe that there was enough meat in the sandwich to call it a meal. They just SAID it in order to push the war. And they said that Bush didn’t have the goods either.

    I wasn’t sleeping when Bush ordered out the weapons inspectors. And I knew that whatever meager weapons programs Saddam had he wasn’t going to hit London with it in 45 minutes.

    It was all a lie. When I was fourteen I believed the Gulf of Tonkin bullshit. After awhile you realize that it’s not separating the truth from lies, it’s finding out if there is any truth in the lies.

    My guess is that eventually we’ll find Ledeen’s fingerprints all over the Niger documents, which will fit nicely into his life’s work. The whole damned thing was a fraud.

    What can save the Repubs? Maybe a new Patty Hearst, a new Red Brigades. Time to start manufacturing more terror. Time is tight.

  64. 64
    Andrew says:

    TallDave, as I’m sure you know, the documents reveal that Saddam actually piloted one of the planes into the World Trade Center, but parachuted out at the last second. Then he walked up to Zabars for a rugelach.

  65. 65
    Slide says:

    ahhhh… I see Tall Dave has emerged from under his rock to tell us all how much better we are for having invaded Iraq. You know I was going to go into a long rebuttal but then I realized, there really is no need to is there? At this stage of the game its like arguing againt the flat earthers. Tall Dave is in an exquisitely tiny minority that would even say something as absurd and idiotic as that. Unfortunately our Moron in Chief is also in that select group of intellectual heavyweights.

  66. 66
    SeesThroughIt says:

    Then he walked up to Zabars

    Mmmmm…Zaaaaaaaabar’s. The chocolate croissants there are out of this world. I definitely miss ’em.

  67. 67
    kb says:

    “Even the French and Russians thought Saddam had WMD”

    Oh please.

    Putin said in October 2002

    “Russia does not have in its possession any trustworthy data that supports the existence of nuclear weapons or any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and we have not received any such information from our partners as yet. This fact has also been supported by the information sent by the CIA to the US Congress.

    And the french view ?

    “Already we know for a fact that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs are being largely blocked, even frozen. We must do everything possible to strengthen this process.

    Both the french and russians thought Saddam would like to get WMD’s which is why they supported increased inspections.

    Of course they weren’t listening to whatever fantasies Chalabi & the INC were dreaming up and instead were relying on actual intelligence reports.

  68. 68
    Slide says:

    KB exactly. This is the common argument we always here… EVERYONE thougth they had WMD. What bull shit. We now are getting bits and pieces of intell information that was conveniently ignored showing that it was unlikely that Iraq had WMD. We had a goddamn spy in the inner circles of Saddam’s regime and he told us they had no nuke or bio weapons. Ignored. We had that group of 30 Iraqi scientists that we sent to Iraq to see what they could .. and EVERY ONE of them said that Iraq’s WMD prgrams were abandoned:

    In “The Hunt for WMD,” he reports on an ingenious CIA program, launched in 2002, in which the expatriate relatives of 30 Iraqi weapons scientists were persuaded to visit their family members in Iraq to find out what they could about Saddam Hussein’s chemical, biological, and nuclear programs. The brainchild of Charlie Allen, one of the CIA’s few living legends and a genius at finding unusual solutions to problems of intelligence collection, the operation produced startling results: Without exception, the scientists told their relatives that Baghdad had abandoned the weapons programs years earlier, and this news was reported back the CIA.

    Ignored.

    But, get an obviously FORGERY showing Iraq buying uranium from Niger and bango… gets into the SOTU speech. What a buch of lying scumbags.

  69. 69
    Slide says:

    oh… and as for that “democracy” in Iraq… this is interesting ain’t it?

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 28 — Senior Shiite politicians said today that the American ambassador has told Shiite officials to inform the Iraqi prime minister that President Bush does not want him to remain the country’s leader in the next government.

    It is the first time the Americans have directly intervened in the furious debate over the country’s top job, the politicians said, and it is inflaming tensions between the Americans and some Shiite leaders.

    The ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, told the head of the main Shiite political bloc at a meeting last Saturday to pass a “personal message from President Bush” on to the prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who the Shiites insist should stay in his post for four more years, said Redha Jowad Taki, a Shiite politician and member of Parliament who was at the meeting.

    Ambassador Khalilzad said that President Bush “doesn’t want, doesn’t support, doesn’t accept” Mr. Jaafari to be the next prime minister, according to Mr. Taki, a senior aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite bloc. It was the first “clear and direct message” from the Americans on the issue of the candidate for prime minister, Mr. Taki said.

    Haider al-Ubady, a spokesman for Mr. Jaafari, said the prime minister had heard of the ambassador’s verbal message through officials in his party, and accused the Americans of trying to subvert Iraqi sovereignty and weaken the Shiite ranks.
    “How can they do this?” Mr. Ubady said. “An ambassador telling a sovereign country what to do is unacceptable.”

    “The perception is very strong among certain Shia parties that the U.S., led by Khalilzad, is trying to unseat Jaafari,” he added.

    yes… democracy, Bush style.

  70. 70
    A Hermit says:

    Many people (not everyone) thought Sadam might have a few vintage unconvential weapons around, and had the capability of maybe producing a few more if he wasn’t kept on a leash.

    But only the Bush apologists thought he posed a threat to anyone. Big difference.

    Oh, and give up on the Hamsher argument Cole, you look dumber and dumber every time you go back to it.

  71. 71
    Pb says:

    Free Republic is on top of this–they’ve already uncovered Saddam’s alleged secret suicide camel brigade, what more do you want?!

  72. 72
    Pooh says:

    John,

    Glad to see your sense of humor has returned! (At least that’s how I read the intro graph).

  73. 73

    I had this dream last night. In my dream I imagined I was making an argument in favor of protectionist tariffs by saying that they were a good thing, as they’d force foreign companies to produce better/cheaper goods to compete.

    My dream sounds a lot like the arguments made here.

  74. 74
    Richard Bottoms says:

    Why in the world has this taken so long?

    “I have a question for President Bush,” said Clay, who voted against the resolution authorizing Bush to go to war in Iraq. “If you really believe that the war that you started in Iraq is a fight to defeat terrorism and to defend our freedoms, why haven’t your girls enlisted?”

    Clay said that during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt’s sons enlisted and added: “That is a perfect example of the difference between a truly courageous wartime president and an incompetent chickenhawk who prefers to risk the lives of other American’s children.”

    http://www.stltoday.com/stltod.....%22clay%22

    Smackdown on the smirking chimp why don’t you!

  75. 75
    Kazinski says:

    Ask the kids at Halabja whether Saddam ever had WMD.

    http://free_iraqi.tripod.com/halabja2.jpg

  76. 76
    Andrew says:

    Ask the kids at Halabja whether Saddam ever had WMD.

    With a strong program consisting of a poorly linked tripod-hosted image and a strawman argument, Kazinski scores a 0.0 in technical merit and a solid 0.0 in artistry.

  77. 77
    ImJohnGalt says:

    But he’s still #1 in our hearts!

  78. 78
    Kazinski says:

    Much better to talk about my inartful poorly linked picture than the substance. Here browse the thumbnails of the Halabja attack.

    Now lets talk about how Saddam never had WMD.

  79. 79
    Kazinski says:

    I screwed up the link to the thumbnails again, some thing else to distract you from the real issue.

  80. 80
    kb says:

    “Now lets talk about how Saddam never had WMD.”

    Strawman.

    No one says Saddam didn’t have (and use) WMD’s in the 1980’s.

    After all,Rumsfeld rushed to baghdad in the 80’s after saddam used them, in order to reassure saddam that he’d still get help from the reagan government.

    Did Saddam have WMD in 2003 ?

    No. Clearly he didn’t despite what Bush, Blair et al were claiming at the time.

  81. 81
    Steve says:

    “Strawman” might be too weak a term. I would like Kazinski to cite to one person, anywhere in the universe, who claims Saddam never had WMD.

  82. 82
    Richard Bottoms says:

    BAGHDAD, Iraq — Gunmen lined up 14 employees working at an electronics trading company in Baghdad Wednesday morning and shot them all, killing eight and wounding six, police said.

    The motive of the attack at the al-Ibtikar trading company in the upscale Mansour neighborhood was not immediately clear. According to survivors’ accounts to police, the assailants first asked for the company’s manager, who was not there, before firing on the employees.

    The survivors said the assailants, some of whom were wearing police uniforms, identified themselves as intelligence agents from the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,189430,00.html

    We seem to be great at finding bodies. Maybe those folks should be the ones looking for Saddam’s WMD’s?

  83. 83
    Richard Bottoms says:

    BAGHDAD, March 28 — Sectarian violence has displaced more than 25,000 Iraqis since the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine, a U.N.-affiliated agency said Tuesday, and shelters and tent cities are springing up across central and southern Iraq to house homeless Sunni and Shiite families.

    The flight is continuing, according to the International Organization for Migration, which works closely with the United Nations and other groups. The result has been a population exchange as Sunni and Shiite families flee mixed communities for the safety of areas where their own sects predominate.

    “We did not fear the Mahdi Army,” Sadoun said, referring to the militia loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, “because we’ve lived in Sadr City for 20 years, and everyone knows us and knows how we love the Shiites. But the Interior Ministry commandos arrest any Sunni. They don’t just arrest them; they kill them.”

    Police in Baghdad discovered 17 corpses Tuesday, all men who were handcuffed and shot in the head, the Associated Press reported. Most had been dumped under a bridge.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....01963.html

    Hi John.

    Just a reminder that even though you’ve washed you hands of the Republican party, the war you voted for is turning thousands into refugees.

    Good news is summer is comming so they’ll be nice and warm.

    Until next winter.

    Sleep well.

  84. 84
    Kazinski says:

    How about this for a strawman: cite one major political figure who in 2003 didn’t think Saddam had WMD’s. And in any country, US, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, anywhere in the Middle East, China?

    Other than George Galloway and Bagdhad Jim McDermott, who definately aren’t major, you’ll come up dry. Yet I can come up with scores of quotes from all across the political spectrum that refer to Saddams WMD’s as a given.

  85. 85
    kb says:

    “How about this for a strawman: cite one major political figure who in 2003 didn’t think Saddam had WMD’s. And in any country, US, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, anywhere in the Middle East, China?”

    From this very thread :-

    Putin said
    “Russia does not have in its possession any trustworthy data that supports the existence of nuclear weapons or any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and we have not received any such information from our partners as yet. This fact has also been supported by the information sent by the CIA to the US Congress.”

  86. 86
    TTT says:

    Which do you think is smore likely?

    A) We find WMD in Iraq tomorrow

    or

    B) The elitist Bushevik personality cult ever admits it was wrong to start this war

  87. 87
    TTT says:

    mmmm, smores

  88. 88
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    Can we talk? The biggest reason by far for opposing the Iraq War is that it’s bleeding off our military strength from higher priorities — specifically, dealing with the REAL WMD crises revolving around the fact that Iran really is about to acquire the Bomb, and North Korea and Pakistan already have it. (As George Will — who’s been pretty sensible on this issue –points out, lately we’ve been hearing much more about Denmark than about North Korea.)

    Now, just about everybody really did honestly think that Saddam had some biological and chemical weapons (although even there we had the Curious Affair of the Nonexistent Germ Warfare Trailers) — but, danger-wise, those don’t even begin to compare with the menace of nuclear weapons. (Bioweapons will do so after another couple of decades of genetic engineering; but not yet.) And, since Saddam would certainly never have given up hoping to acquire the Bomb himself at some point when the world’s attention was distracted, there’s an excellent chance we would have had to deal with him at SOME point — but he was NOT our top priority. He was our third or fourth priority; and if Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair hadn’t convinced themselves that the occupation and reform of Iraq would be that “cakewalk”, they themselves wouldn’t have decided to attack Iraq first — or trump up the evidence that he was close to getting the Bomb. We are now living with the consequences of their combination of stupidity and dishonesty.

    Last but definitely not least: as Brad Delong keeps pointing out, thank God Saddam DIDN’T really have any CBWs, because — given the fact that Rummy and Tommy Franks made absolutely no preparations for us to secure the sites where they were likely to be stored even WEEKS after the invasion — if he HAD had any, they would now be safely in the hands of You Know Who.

  89. 89
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    It should be added that, thanks to the NY Times’ release of the full contents of the latest Downing Street memo, we now have absolute proof that Bush and Blair were determined to invade Iraq whether Saddam had WMDs or not, and indeed were discussing ways to trump up grounds for the invasion if WMDs never DID turn up., thanks to their “absolute confidence” that the war, occupation and reconstruction would all be extremely easy. Which makes it a bit more understandable why Bush didn’t wait until the UN inspectors were done checking out the country before he invaded.

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