Fairy Tales

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Joshua Marshall, praised in this space two weeks ago for his coverage of that fictitious Nigerien uranium, continues to produce smart, incisive commentary about the intelligence scandal. What makes this especially valuable right now is that he's doing it while many Democrats are just interested in finding an easy way to score points against the president, and while many Republicans are more interested in dodging questions much deeper than whether one particular untruth was technically a lie.

"Again and again," Marshall writes, "we hear the refrain that this single instance of mentioning discredited intelligence about Iraqi uranium purchases pales in comparison in the much broader set of reasons why the United States invaded Iraq." The trouble, he notes, is that the administration has always been slippery about spelling out those reasons:

[I]t is almost as if administration war-hawks told the public a vastly simplified, fairy-tale version of the Iraq war's connection to stopping terrorism and justified this benign deception because the story contained a deeper truth, almost in the way we tell children similar stories because their minds aren't advanced enough to grasp or process all the factual details connected to the lessons or messages we're trying to convey….

Of course, one might also say that the public might have intuited that fighting this sort of war was too risky, improbable and costly than anything it wanted to get involved in.

The whole thing is worth reading.

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  1. Good link, worth a read. Here is the money quote:

    “But quite apart from partisan considerations on either side, we’re never going to figure out what we’re doing in Iraq, do it well, or accomplish anything good for the future security of the United States unless and until we start talking straight about why we’re there, what we need to accomplish, and how we’re going to do it. ”

    First, I totally agree with this. But if I may venture a potentially partisan question:Wwhen have the vast majority of anti-war folks ever taken such a position? Is this what Howard Dean is doing? Was this the point of mass protests by ANSWER?

    Second, how do we know that the public DIDN’T intuitivley understand the multitude reasons for the war. To say they didn’t you are making the assumption that the VAST public support for the war was based on 16 words in the SOTU. It is posible that Bush misunderstood the public’s capacity to “get it” and despite this miscommunication they still figured it out.

    Third, even if the neocons had this planned how does this mean it was incorrect or immoral strategy? Trouble was brewing in Central Asia for decades, and the existing geopolitical order was not in our favor. Apparently invading Iraq was a calculated strategic move. If anything, 9-11 just reinforced how bad things are over there and the immediate need for changes.

  2. Is there is a cigar involved in this “scandal” as well? And, if so, what was it used for?

  3. Burns: Who says the massive public support for the war was based on 16 words in a speech? Not Marshall (who was a hawk, more or less), and not I (who wasn’t).

    Massive public support for the war was based on the idea that Saddam Hussein was allied with terrorists who had attacked the United States, and that he was developing weapons that could make their next attack even more devastating than the last. If I believed those things, I might’ve backed the war too.

    Would most Americans have supported the war if they thought it was not a response to an imminent threat, but part of a long-range plan to remake the Middle East? Maybe, maybe not. We could have had a lot more fruitful debate, though, if the argument had been conducted on that level. One side could have talked about the importance of spreading liberty, while the other side warned that we would actually be spreading empire; one side could have made the case that we’d be draining the swamp of terrorists, while the other could argue that we’d just be feeding the fire.

    Instead we got scare stories. And while the other arguments certainly went on in the background, most political attention was focused on what weapons Saddam might have and whether he could be “contained.”

  4. Jesse is right in that most Americans supported the war because of the seemingly obvious link between Saddam?s terrorism and Osama?s terrorism.

    The link is not at all improbable and both have already been determined to be very bad people, so for safety?s sake, take ?em both out.

    People were not worried about Saddam launching missiles at us and the administration never attempted to paint such a picture. What the rank and file Americans were talking about however was the likelihood of Saddam sending us a biological nasty gram via Al Qaeda or whomever.

  5. Jesse, are you sure you want to concede the “massive public support”? I’d say there was massive public acceptance and willngness to go along, but otherwise the public was largely ambivalent, giving very different answers to poll questions based on slightly differing wording. But then, I suppose you could intend “support” to mean the shrugging “Well, okay if you say so…” attitude that I think the swing votes in the mushy middle had……?

  6. Jesse:

    “Massive public support for the war was based on the idea that Saddam Hussein was allied with terrorists who had attacked the United States, and that he was developing weapons that could make their next attack even more devastating than the last.”

    My point exactly. That was the Administrations understanding and apparently also the publics. Unless your point is that above is a falsehood?

    “Would most Americans have supported the war if they thought it was not a response to an imminent threat, but part of a long-range plan to remake the Middle East?”

    You have presented a false choice, as remaking the Middle East is the response to the imminent threat. The American people are acting very sensible.

    “One side could have talked about the importance of spreading liberty, while the other side warned that we would actually be spreading empire ”

    But this WAS what the debate degenerated into for the most part. But there were several hawks who presented clear arguments based on geopolitcal reality. I can’t think of ANY doves.

    “Instead we got scare stories.”

    Terrorists an immediate threat. Goverments that support terrorism are feeding this threat. The state of the Middle East is feeding this threat. A WMD be sold to terrorists will be used on a US city. Saddam is linked to all of above. Yes that is simplistic, but hardly a “scare story.” (and you are being dishonest or insane if above does not scare you).

    “And while the other arguments certainly went on in the background, most political attention was focused on what weapons Saddam might have and whether he could be “contained.”

    Yeah, that may been a mistake by Bush & Co. A PR blunder, but not much more than that.

  7. Fyodor: I’m not sure, in this context, what important difference there is between “support” and “acceptance and willingness to go along.”

    Burns: Yes, I think that was a falsehood. Saddam and Osama were natural enemies, and any ephemeral “links” between them are a product of a foreign policy that treated Saddam, an otherwise obscure thug, as a significant enemy with more to fear from us than from Al Qaeda. Saddam’s government had substantial connections with terrorists, but not with terrorists who attack the United States.

    Now, there’s an argument that the United States had to take out Saddam as part of a larger effort to remake the Middle East; among the results of this transformation, it is asserted, will be a long-term decrease in terror. I don’t buy that argument, but it’s a lot more sophisticated than the claim that Hussein was an imminent threat. I would have preferred to have seen an honest debate about it instead of a dishonest debate about UN resolutions and hidden arsenals.

  8. Mr. Burns,

    Yes, I for one will go ahead and say that the claim that Hussein was allied with terrorists who had attacked us is a falsehood based on there being scant evidence at best to support it. And it appears questionable at best that he had the means, much less the intent, to imminently arm Al-Qaeda.

  9. Fyodor lives in a cave. You didn?t even have to check the polls to see the overwhelming support for the war. It was everywhere, flags, billboards by private parties, cars decorated and so on.

    A few extremely liberal places had some small protests but main street America was red, white and blue, in your face for the war.

    I think we had one protest of around 100 people at its height for a few hours. Another 10 or 12 occupied the same space for the next few days to the jeers of Joe Sixpack driving by.

  10. Fyodor,
    Saddam lacked the ability to arm Al Qaeda? You?re kidding right?

    We?re not talking about putting them in the space shuttle. Most of the support is financial and a place to call safe harbor between gigs.

    That cave you?re living in needs a couple of more channels because you missed the report of those thousands of factory produced bomb vests. But of course those were just for self defense right?

  11. Hey Ray,

    The smog out there is clogging your brain! 🙂 People waving the flag were as likely to be “supporting our troops” as being for the war. And even if they did fall in line once the war started, it was often as much or more out of patriotism. Plus, don’t give me anecdotal evidence and claim it means anything. You haven’t refuted what I said about the polls cause you can’t. Fact is, leading up to the war, when it was still a possibility and not a fact, the public was divided.

  12. Jesse,
    Are you sure the uranium is fictional? Remember, Bush said “from Africa,” not “from Niger.” The forged documents certainly cast doubt on the claim that Saddam sought uranium from Niger, but they don’t disprove it. And they don’t have any bearing on cliams he may have sought uranium in other African counties.
    See the Daily Howler for more of this.

  13. Ray,

    “Most of the support is financial and a place to call safe harbor between gigs.” Evidence that Hussein provided such, please?

    Jesse,

    “Support” seems to imply the public overwhelmingly wanted this war. I understand your point on the context, but when you say that there was “massive public support,” you’re helping to make the Rays of the world believe the vast majority of the nation was gung-ho for the war when it wasn’t, context or no.

  14. Find me a poll where support the war was a minority. You can’t.

    That you can look at red, white and blue decorated cars, flags hanging off of everything, radio stations holding rallys, huge rallys and so on and dismiss it all as inconsequential anecdotal evidence only proves my point that you are completely detached from reality. You are determined to believe what you want to believe, regardless of facts.

    And you can’t support the troops and oppose the war. Oh, I’m forgot, in your world such things are possible.

  15. Fyodor,

    Earth calling. Come in Fyodor. Hello, hello?

  16. Of course you can support the troops and oppose the war. Or at least you can wish the troops well and still be ambivalent about their larger mission.

  17. WIllie,

    I’ll buy that but Fyodor was implying that thousands of cars painted up, billboards and so on were for the troops despite their opposition/ambivalence to the war.

    We can talk about the merits of this action all day long but Fyo just isn’t wired for reality.

  18. Everyone with at least partially functioning rational processes acknowledges that Saddam was supporting terrorism i.e. the thousands of factory produced bomb vests, the aircraft fuselages in the desert training camps and so on.

    Even Jesse cedes this point. The fallout here then, is whether or not Saddam was directly sponsoring action against or intended to be against the US.

    Is it that improbable that Saddam and Osama were connected? Of course it is not and thus the overwhelming support for the war.

    If the existing evidence does not convince the likes of Jesse, then the point is near worthless to argue as only a photograph of Saddam and Osama sharing a big hug sitting on top of a barrel clearly marked ?Deadly Biological Stuff? will convince him.

  19. Yeah, I want to see a picture of Saddam shaking hands with Osama like the one of him and Rummy!

  20. I think there are several interesting points about the Uranium from Niger story that are not getting a lot of press. First is that while some documents were clear forgeries, the British still stand by their assertion that Saddam did seek to buy uranium from Niger. They have indicated that their information is from the French, who largely control Niger’s uranium mining, but will not allow the Brits to share the source information. The second point is that Saddam did send a senior official to Niger as a “trade representative” during the said time period. It is possible he was not going to buy Uranium yellowcake…but Niger doesn’t export anything else of any interest. Their top exports are: uranium ore 65%, livestock products, cowpeas, onions. I don’t think it likely that Saddam was interested enough in their livestock products, cowpeas or onions to dispatch a special trade envoy. And Iraq’s only real export was oil, which would be through the UN…and not going to Niger. Logic would indicate the trade representative went to Niger seeking uranium.

    While the CIA is unable to verify the British information and has doubts, several other American intelligence services do believe it, including the current national intelligence estimate. And at the end of the day, what the President said in the SOTU was indisputabley true…the British did (and do) say that Saddam tried to buy uranium from Niger.

    Overall, I think it is quite likely that Saddam’s special trade representative did try to buy Uranium from Niger, even if some documents suggesting it were forgeries. I could forge a death certificate for Elvis…but that won’t make him alive.

  21. I want to see a picture of Saddam shaking hands with Osama like the one of him and Rummy!

    So, Saddam is supporting the Bush administration. The Bush administration is evil. Therefore, Saddam is supporting evil and must be stopped. Therefore every Democrat should have been for the war, right?

    Makes as much sense as any arguments I’ve heard pro or con about the war. Everyone’s positions seem to have been taken as a basis of their positions after 9/11. If you thought 9/11 happened because the US was a bully, well, you’re against it. If you think that 9/11 happened because Godless Ragheads Are Out To Destroy Freedom, you were for it.

    I guess those of us who thought that 9/11 happened because some wacko radicals with ties to a specific group and some historical accidents had better planning and organization than we thought were ambivalent about the war but not sad to see Saddam go. But that may consist of me only, I don’t know.

  22. Another interesting fact is that the uranium for the Osirak reactor that the Israelis blew up was from….drum roll please…..Niger.

  23. Doesn’t the fact that Saddam had one of his chief nuclear scientist bury a uranium centrifuge at his house show the intentions of Iraqui Baathist’s regarding nukes?

  24. Bush can make a very good case for the Iraq war being a necessary step in the war on terror, with or without WMD finds. All he has to is begin to pressure the Saudis, which will kill three birds with one stone- The critics who are complaining that the Saudis are the root and the Admin is ignoring them; the Saudis themselves, who are the often ignored root of the problem; and the opponents of domestic oil & gas exploitation, who will have a hard time explaining to soccer moms that it’s their own SUV driving fault that gas costs so much, and if only they’d decrease their standard of living…

    With that, it will be easy for people to understand that Bush invaded Iraq because he had to get their oil flowing in order to offset the loss of Saudi production, and that ending sanctions and leaving Saddam (hide this in your garden until the sanctions are over) Hussien in place would have been stupid.

    All Bush has to do is go on to the next step to prove his case. Even if it wasn’t his plan to begin with, who’s going to tell? Donald? Paul? Condi? Dick? Even if he does it for purely political reasons.. How will we know? Nigergate and censoring Saudi links in the 9-11 report will end up being the shovels that the Dems dug their graves with. Bush is playing the Dems, even if he doesn’t know it.

  25. “The trouble, he notes, is that the administration has always been slippery about spelling out those reasons”

    Now that’s funny. Has there ever been a more thorough public debate about anything in the history of mankind? And the opponents of the war still don’t seem to know what happened or why.

    For the last time – terrorism is bad, terrorism with state support is an unacceptable risk (even if fairly small) to the future of civilization.

  26. Time for the Republicans to purge the neo-cons. Considering the neo-con advocacy of deception of the public as appropriate policy, consistant with their embrace of Leo Strauss and even Machiavelli; the whoppers that Bill Krisall et al concocted for the war case shouldn’t come as a shock. Also, whatever they are, it is not conservative. Not even close. Besides being Wilsonian interventionists, especially in the Mid-East, they champion an enlarged and more muscular state in almost every realm of domestic life. They might as well be Democrats. Those Republicans who are persuaded by their big government philosophy aren’t much worth voting for.

  27. john hood: you missed the obvious example, being that the US has had high level links, in tbhis administration, to both OBL AND saddam.

    this is a situation where each party hates the other two and is as likely as not to collaborate in a fashion to even out the balance somewhat- al qaida and iraq are natural allies in a conflict b/w US and iraq b/c US needs no help and plus al qaida can’t really get the US much more pissed at them whatever they do at this point.

  28. Ray, if you’re still around,

    Polls in the months leading up to the war showed over 60% of respondents saying we shouldn’t invade Iraq without a UN mandate. Other wordings evoked other results, but I would say that indicates that the country was divided and that in order to find a majority of supporters, you need to count the support of many who were ambivalent, a state which I don’t think is correctly conveyed in the typical understanding of “massive public support.”

    Billboards, cars painted up…? People who go that far were likely in favor of the war, but it’s obviously not the majority of Americans who did that stuff. And folks who fly flags could just as easily be showing patriotism during war as support for the policy of preemptive invasion of Iraq.

    Thanks to all those who backed my position vis-a-vis this nut. Sheesh!

    JDM,

    Just because bloggers and journalists and such debated the issue ad nauseam does not mean there was ever a consistent and coherent explanation from the administration. Those are two different things.

    Re the possibility of a Hussein-al Aqaeda alliance, sure it was POSSIBLE, but was it LIKELY, and did we have any evidence that it was happening? I believe the answers to the last two phrases are no.

  29. John writes: ” the British still stand by their assertion that Saddam did seek to buy uranium from Niger”

    Yeah, and the British also issued dossiers which they claimed were from intelligence agencies which turned out to be full of plagiarized material, including material from a grad student’s thesis – a thesis which was based on data from the first gulf war, not recent information – and, the Brits changed the text from the thesis to make it sound more alarming. And, the dossier was not in fact a product of British intelligence, but rather of the Prime Minister’s political operatives.

    The Brits have spent their credibility. If Tony Blair asserts he has intelligence that says the sun rises in the east, I’d want to see what it is, and maybe do a Google search on it as well to see who they copied it from.

  30. Jacob Dreyer: That one was a new one on me. What are the links between this administration and OBL and Saddam, other than fighting them?

  31. Stephen: Yeah, I read that column when it turned up on InstaPundit. It reminded me of those conspiracy theorists who made a big to-do after 9/11 about whether Osama had met with a CIA agent in Paris — there’s the same focus on a scary-sounding but essentially inscrutable clue, the same absence of any larger pattern. The fact is, you can find several “links” between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and this alleged roladex may be one of them. There’s all sorts of reasons why they might interact with each other, especially on the lower rungs of the organizations. What has not been found is evidence that they collaborated in any substantial way, let alone on attacks against Americans.

    John: The point that I and many other doves have made was not that Osama and Sadam would never create an alliance of convenience; it’s that, in the absence of America’s obsession with Saddam, there would be no reason for such an unlikely alliance to emerge. As I put it earlier in this thread: “Saddam and Osama were natural enemies, and any ephemeral ‘links’ between them are a product of a foreign policy that treated Saddam, an otherwise obscure thug, as a significant enemy with more to fear from us than from Al Qaeda.”

    JDM: Part of me wants to point out that, yes, there have been more thorough public debates in the history of mankind. Part of me wants to note the difference between the online debate, which branched into many directions, and the Washington debate, which was much more narrow. Part of me want to observe that, far from claiming not to know what happened or why, the essay I linked to — which wasn’t written by a war opponent — actually posits a rather precise theory about what happened and why. Part of me wants to ask you whether you really think the US should be chasing down all the world’s terrorists, in every violent struggle, instead of focusing on those who have attacked (or intend to attack) the United States. And part of me thinks you were just trying to get a rise out of me, so I shouldn’t respond.

  32. If Nazis and Jews can work side by side towards a common goal (and we’ve seen recently that they can), anything can happen. Makes you feel good doesn’t it?

  33. Yeah, next thing you know, we’ll be pressuring the Sauds because they’re the root cause of the problems… just like OBL.

  34. “Jacob Dreyer: That one was a new one on me. What are the links between this administration and OBL and Saddam, other than fighting them?”

    well, donald rumsfeld famously met w/ saddam back when he was carters secretary of defense

    and OBL has gotten direct subsidies and help and support from the US government as a ujahideen, thughi have no direct links b/w him and current highlevel administation officials i am sure some exist and even if not, bush is friends w/ saddam and OBL, then, US has helped saddam and OBL

    and THAT is the really relevant aspect./

  35. “Part of me wants to point out that, yes, there have been more thorough public debates in the history of mankind.”

    Since I was seriously suggesting that it was actually, well and truly, unequivacally the most thorough debate in all of recorded history, rather than just pointing out that there was plenty of information and analysis on all sides for anyone who gave a damn to make a decision, I am thoroughly cowed by your rejoinder. I offer my apologies for muddying the otherwise clear waters of Internet messageboard thought with my extraodinary stupidity.

    “Part of me wants to note the difference between the online debate, which branched into many directions, and the Washington debate, which was much more narrow.”

    It seems clear to me that all thinking people understand that the only useful debate online (on any issue) comes from publications that are primarily available offline. You must then be pointing out that our erstwhile masters in Washington don’t read. A point I can hardly argue with. Again I apologize for overlooking the obvious and making such a ludicrously flawed argument. Is there a tonic you could suggest that might help my obviouly poor synaptic performance?

    “Part of me want to observe that, far from claiming not to know what happened or why, the essay I linked to — which wasn’t written by a war opponent — actually posits a rather precise theory about what happened and why.”

    Since it is inconceivable to reasonably contrue what I wrote as anything other than “Josh Marshall is claiming not to know what happened,” I must again say that you’ve really embarrassed me here. What the hell was I thinking? I must need some sleep.

    “Part of me wants to ask you whether you really think the US should be chasing down all the world’s terrorists, in every violent struggle, instead of focusing on those who have attacked (or intend to attack) the United States.”

    Since you’re just asking, I would say no – just states that support terrorism. The terrorists themselves are relatively harmless.

    “And part of me thinks you were just trying to get a rise out of me, so I shouldn’t respond.”

    When I was younger, I was much enamoured of Buddhism. Then I figured out what they were talking about. There is plenty of time to be dead after you die.

  36. In short, you’re just being an asshole. Thanks for the clarification — I won’t bother replying to you again.

  37. yeah, if only Jesse Walker was running out foreign policy, we wouldn’t have that “obsession” about killing bloodthirsty dictators

  38. So you’re a Buddhist?

  39. I was a Buddhist, but then I found the love of Christ.

  40. Jon H writes: “And, the dossier was not in fact a product of British intelligence, but rather of the Prime Minister’s political operatives.”

    Actually investigations have shown that the “political operatives” did not “sex up” the intelligence dossier. Does this mean you have spent your credibility and we should not believe anything you ever say again?

    The forgeries were forgeries…everyone acknowledges that. The British say they have other information, and strongly suggest it is from the french, but that the french won’t authorize its release. You can be cynical and not believe the Brits but then you have to answer the question: So what trade do yo think Saddam’s trade representative to Niger was trying to drum up?

  41. Jesse:

    “Now, there’s an argument that the United States had to take out Saddam as part of a larger effort to remake the Middle East; among the results of this transformation, it is asserted, will be a long-term decrease in terror.”

    1) I maintain that was the Admin’s talking points all along and the public got the message, even if the anti-war pundits didn’t.

    2) Yes they did choose to play up one aspect – that Saddam possesed WMD – when in hindsight no one is sure where he was at in his WMD program. But that was just one of MANY reasons.

    3) It seems to me like common sense that the MULTITUDE of reasons and sophisticated reasoning makes this policy seem even more correct. However, the public and pundits wanted dumbed down simplistic answers.

    Cutting the Sauds off of our protection and oil money, having armies in striking distance of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria, encouraging liberalism in the ME, shaking the ME from its fantasy that it can fight us, ending a WMD program, stopping Saddam’s blood money — all of this is too complex for ten second soundbite. But the public intuitively knows the immediate threat – a WMD attack on a US city, followed by a redeployment of US troops to every American streetcorner and Police State USA.

    Bush’s mistake was both underestimating the IQ of the American public AND overestimating the maturity and sophisication of mainstream pundits, all of whom hate his guts and can spin a dumbed downed truth into a “lie.”

  42. The taped interview with Dr Kelly (the source of the “sexed-up” scandal) does indeed imply that the intelligence was hyped up. It states that politicians latched on to key phrases and blew them up out of all proportion, even against the wishes of the intelligence community.

    The UK voted for war based on this exaggerated information.

  43. Because Bush withheld judgement and failed to act on 50/50 intelligence prior to 9/11, he ought to be impeached.

    Because Bush looked at 50/50 intelligence on Niger/Iraq, and then acted on it, he ought to be impeached.

    Clear?

  44. “main street America was red, white and blue, in your face for the war”

    Ray, are you out of your cotton-pickin’ mind??

    Maybe in bum coitus Indiana “main-street America” they were, but in the cities where people actually live, they certainly were more divided than you make them out to be.

    I know that New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Settle, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle are all puny little liberal enclaves that hardly anyone knows about or even cares to live in, but in each one of those cities there were several protest marches just 4 months ago, the likes this country hasn’t seen since the 70’s (give or take a million-man march here and there).

    Also, it’s not quite accurate to describe main street America as in your face red-white-and-blue when the decorations were mostly put up by municipal governments and not by most citizens on their own personal property. Loads of houses flew the flag starting on 9/12/2001, and most of them had been taken down long before the Iraq war and did not go back up.

    If you want to be delusional about the mythical “main street America”, I can’t stop you. But take away federal farm subsidies, main street America becomes the main street of the urban population centers.

  45. Is it that improbable that Saddam and Osama were connected? Yes, it’s improbable. That would be like Pat Robertson teaming up with the New Black Panther Party. Hey, both hate the DLC, so they must be in bed together.

    There were a lot of us who’s opinion was “No War Yet.” Perhaps Saddam would become a threat at some point in the future, and he certainly needed to be contained and watched, but there was no imminent threat to justify the killing of many thousands of people right now. The response to this position from pro-war quarters was to gin up nightmares of mushroom clouds over American cities. And now you give me, what? A piece of equipment that’s been buried under a tree for a decade? Forged documents? Tony Blair’s word?

    The forthrightly stated policy plans of the PNAC are a much more credible explaination for why this war happened than what we’re hearing now, and what we heard this winter, from the President and his apologists.

    I want my 200 soldiers back.

  46. “Is it that improbable that Saddam and Osama were connected? Of course it is not”

    WHO’s not wired for reality? Everyone who paid attention knew that this was highly IMprobable and that our own intelligence services had said as much.

  47. Andy, and Dr. Kelly was so proud of his allegations that instead of standing up when he was outed as the source he promptly killed himself. That and the hostile parliamentary investigation concluded that the reports were not “sexed up”

    Yes, they highlighted what they felt was relevent…but they didn’t add anything to the reports.

  48. Was Saddam currently tied with Al Qaeda? Probably not. Was he in deep with other terrorists? Yes. Is it probable that he would give them WMD? Yes…he apparently did help Ansar-al-Islam in northern Iraq with their ricin. Is it conceiveable that those terrorists groups would use those WMDs against us and/or our allies? Yes…ricin Britain for example. Is it conceivable that they would have passed material or knowledge onto Al Qaeda? Yes, but irrelevent….our President declared war against terror…not against Al Qaeda. Saddam was in with all sorts of terrorist organizations, although probably not with the one in particular that attacked us on a particular date.

  49. from: http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit/archives/2003_07_22.html#000992

    >>The objection is immediately raised, why not just lay out this case to the world? Why go through all the other (also true) justifications of Saddam’s butchery, spreading democracy as a moral matter, chemical, biological, and nuclear threats, Saddam’s aggressive history, etc?

    The problem is that the Middle East culture (if such a large place can be said to have a monolithic culture) is generally a shame culture. If you are seen to be acting in your own interest, that’s one thing but be seen as doing so under pressure, as a lackey of a foreign power, and you must change course or fall even if changing course profoundly risks your position anyway. You cannot be shamed and survive.

    This leaves the Bush administration in a tight spot. Democrats need to dirty up the Iraq triumph using any means necessary and the surface reasons are not surviving the effort without damage. That damage will continue for partisan reasons.

    Politically, if the Bush administration doesn’t repair their case for war they’re in trouble in 2004.

  50. I don’t understand the matter-of-fact statements from several posters that al Qaeda and Hussein couldn’t possibly have had a relationship, that the very idea is inane. I thought this issue was settled long ago, somewhere in the middle where the truth likely lies. First, it is silly to suggest that because Bin Laden is a religious nut and Saddam is a secular fascist, the two could never been allied, even on a temporary “enemy of my enemy basis.” That’s a debating point of someone who has poked around long enough to confirm such superficial conclusions but not long enough to grasp the geopoliticial realities.

    History provides countless examples, over thousands of years, of such alliances. Hitler and Stalin, colonial America and absolute-monarchy France, democratic Athens and the Scythian hordes, etc. Stay with the Americans for a moment. In no way did the French leaders support the ultimate ends of our revolution. But they saw it as useful in combatting their enemies. It turns out that they likely made a serious miscalculation, given the inspiration that the American Revolution gave to the French one. But they did make the decision to aid the Americans. In the real world, people and regimes make strange alliances, they place risky bets, they make decisions separate from pristine ideology.

    In the modern context, there are plenty of examples of secular communist governments giving significant aid to nutcases of various sorts, as long as those nutcases were against the free West and not likely to end up ruling any territory.

    On the specifics of al Qaeda and Saddam, there is persuasive evidence of some contacts, particularly in the mid to late 1990s in Africa, as well as the much-debated contacts in Prague. No rational person would argue that al Qaeda was some kind of Iraqi cut-out operation. But that the two shared some common hatreds and at least some common short-term goals is undeniable. Nor is it deniable that Saddam cheered al Qaeda’s attacks over the years. Nor is it deniable that, if he had wanted to, he could have aided al Qaeda in a number of ways, including with technical information, temporary shelter, money-laundering, and at least some precursors for biochem agents. Again, some believe this was already occuring, though the evidence is fragmentary at this point. Patience is wise on this, given the information still not digested and released out of Iraq.

    It’s way to early to pretend that Iraq and Hussein had no connections to al Qaeda. Naturally, it is too early to conclude that these connections were real, significant, and ongoing. This was not the decision rule for waging war, anyway, though Saddam’s overall embrace of terrorism — and thus the risk that he might choose to aid al Qaeda in future attacks — certainly was part of the calculus, and should have been.

  51. Jacob, to paraphrase your answer about links…there are none, but earlier administrations did cooperate with them against other threats in different situations. That is not what you originally posited.

  52. Judge Merritt, of the 6th U.S. Circuit, is in Iraq working on building a judiciary system. He is writing regular dispatches back to his hometown paper.

    A couple weeks ago, he wrote a column discussing a list of Saddam’s inner circle – his rolodex, if you will – with about 500 or so close contacts. It included all the important Iraqi intel operatives across the globe, along with various Ba’athist henchmen.

    One of the things the Judge found peculiar was the listing of liaison officers to Al Qaida, including one intelligence service major who was in Pakistan, with the responsibility of training Al Qaida members.

    The Judge’s column the next week said that a nice man from the U.S. government came by, said “gimme the list and don’t talk about it any more”, so that’s what he did.

    The Judge also pointed out that as a liberal democrat appointee, he had distrusted the allegations of Iraq/Al Qaida links, but what he saw made him change his mind.

    I don’t have the links; for that you’d have to search Instapundit.

    Suffice to say, I’m not writing off the possibility of strong ties between Iraq and Al Qaida just yet. Federal appellate judges tend to be pretty honest and reliable, at least with respect to questions of fact…

  53. I think during the 90’s the US had some contacts with the PLO, too. Clinton was undoubtedly collaborating.

  54. lefty is already up to quota today on retarded comments.

    as a matter of fact, the US and PLO were/are collaborating…on a peace process.

    your braindead snipe would have actually made sense had you said “the US had contacts with HAMAS…” — which would be untrue but at least make sense!

  55. Geez, I take a swipe and Clinton and still can’t please anybody.

  56. Bush started this war for 1, and only 1 reason. The govt was humiliated and needed a way to regain some self respect. Wiping out the Taliban and OBL was nothing on the geopolitical stage. They needed to do something big to remind our enemies what will happen if you attack us. It was the same as a judge over punishing someone,”We need to make an example out of you. To send a message.” Iraq was a convenient target, after all, we’d been bombing them for 12 years or so, and had all the necessary bases, etc. already in place. Plus, most Americans already didn’t like Saddam. All they then needed was some seemingly plausable reasons to do it, and since the masses are sheep and believe what they’re told by our ‘leaders’, it didn’t matter what those stated reasons were. Iraq was attacked to say to the rest of the people that wanted to follow OBL, “Mess with us and you will be deleted.” Time will tell if that’s the right strategy. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. But I think we’ve begun a period of endless war.

  57. EMAIL: nospam@nospampreteen-sex.info
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    DATE: 05/20/2004 04:55:42
    In his errors a man is true to type. Observe the errors and you will know the man.

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