The Boys Who Cried Wolf


New at Reason: Ron Bailey continues the search for Iraq's WMDs.

NEXT: See You At the Pah-ty

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  1. Wouldn’t it be quite easy for the U.S. to just plant some WMD and then come back a few days later to “discover” them? I’m surprised this hasn’t been done already. Isn’t that the number one tactic of the Drug Warriors?

    Also you borrowed G. Beato’s “Have you seen me” icon from Thought I’d give credit where it’s due.


  2. It will be a shame when they DO find them, as everyone who said “Bush wuz a liar!” will have their credibilty destroyed. I personally don’t want to see Reason go out of business for sticking their foot in their mouths.

  3. “So, we’ve got Uday and Qusay. Now, how about the eapons-way of ass-may estruction-day?” – the onion

    I think the state of intelligence is hosed and the admin’s hands are tied in this situation. As someone more clever than I pointed out a while ago, on WMDs and pre-911 warnings the admin had maybe 50/50 intelligence. They failed to act on one and got screwed. They acted on the other and it turns out they may guessed wrong again.

  4. Yep, we sure are gonna look stoopid when all them stockpiles turn up. Heck, Vice President Cobain might not be able to succeed President Chelsea!

  5. Rusty barrels of gas and germs are not really what the WMD kerfuffle is all about, although the more dimwitted members of the press and the quagmiristas (and you know who you are) would like everyone to believe that this is the case.

    The real WMD game has to do with the capability to produce the damn things. For one thing, many WMDs have a relatively short shelf life – no reason to crank out a few hundred barrels if you have no reason to think you might need them soon. For another, it much easier to explain away dual-purpose technology that will be used to produce WMD on demand than it is barrels of actual bona fide WMD juice.

    I predict that we will not find much prefab WMD laying around Iraq, but that we will be able to produce a pretty impressive dossier about Saddam’s capabilities. The lack of a smoking bomb will be seized upon by the quagmiristas as evidence that Bushitler Lied!!! or whatever, but will be irrelevant to the actual danger posed by Saddam.

  6. “President Bush finally said yesterday, “I take personal responsibility for everything I say, of course.” What does that mean? It should mean, at the very minimum, that he order a searching and independent investigation into how the intelligence gathering and evaluation process went wrong and then clean house.”

    AMEN All too often there are no consequences associated with “taking responsibility”.

  7. Hold on, I was under the impression that dispite the fact that the famous 16 words were based on a fake document that there was still pretty good evidence that the Iraqis DID attempt to buy uranium from Africa – that they had send their trade minister to “discuss” possiblilities. Freakin’ … was that here on Hit & Run? I gottta go find that.

  8. I find it sad the Bush and Co. have no reason to even plant WMD in Iraq — the American people don’t care if they are found or not — while the threat of them was used to sway public opinion, their lack of them is not — now anyway — the economy will have to tank further to get Bush removed or we wake up tomorrow to some massacre of thousands of US troops — unlikely, and I’d prefer the economy tank — Blair on the other hand…hopefully his goose is cooked on this –0 too bad the Tories are a bunch of knob’ers

    pessimistic and cynical — yes…


  9. “The Bush administration’s newly released budget projections reveal an anticipated budget deficit of $450 billion for the current fiscal year, up another $151 billion since February.”

    Pretty good guaranty that the economy will continue to tank.

  10. Warren – take an economics course. A federal deficit is, if anything, a short term stimulus to the economy.

  11. When President Bush ordered a pre-emptive attack on Iraq, he stated that the Iraqi regime posed a “clear and present danger to the security of the United States.” It should be clear that he overstated the case.
    President Bush ordered the war even as UN inspectors were in Iraq, claiming that the inspectors were not competent to find weapons that US intelligence knew about. The failure to find weapons after being in control of Iraq for months undermines the Bush critique of the weapons inspectors.
    When Bush or his supporters ask for “patience” in the search for WMDs, we have to ask why he did not have patience with the inspection process that was going on.

  12. While I agree that the intelligence was insufficient to warrant a pre-emptive attack, I have to correct you slightly, Gene.

    The inspectors were there to verify Iraq’s compliance with the ceasefire–their job was never to “find” weapons of mass destruction, simply to verify the destruction of the ones they had and to verify that facilities apart from those on the destruction list were not being so used. What is puzzling is that though it seems that Saddam didn’t have much to hide, he acted as though he did, delaying and denying access. But they were not there to find them and their competence for their mission was never called into question–only their ability to perform the inspection job with the restrictions Saddam had in place.

    So while I think Bush acted rashly, he did not call them incompetent to my memory, and under the terms of the UN resolutions and the ceasefire of 1991, he didn’t have to be patient for them to find anything, only to be allowed unfettered access. I still wonder why Saddam didn’t just let them go around at will. It would have totally undercut the US position and not even Colin Powell could have talked his way out of it.

    None of that excuses the fact that Bush asserted that WMDs and significant capacity to produce them were around but hidden, and yet neither have been found despite Saddam being out of power and the relevant scientists in our hands. So either Bush is lying or incompetent, and either way, deserves to be turned out next election.

  13. ?While I agree that the intelligence was insufficient to warrant a pre-emptive attack, I have to correct you slightly?

    This would be hubris coming from a Democratic law maker who just wasn?t completely in the loop. Coming from a private citizen who has no means of acquiring sensitive intelligence material it?s just pathetically delusional.

    Everyone knows that Saddam had WMD at one time. That is without question. Did Saddam pray through at the altar, did he get his soul right with his god and have a life changing epiphany of what a bad guy he has been?

    Not likely. So Saddam, the agrarian reformer, has all of the ingredients to either quickly implement a mobile WMD lab or to deliver on demand, made to order fertilizer to anywhere in the country via his nifty mobile fertilizer factories. My money?s on the former.

    On the supposedly flawed British intelligence; I have to again go with what seems logical. What we know of Blair doesn?t fit this role of war hawk, sacrificing his political career in order to assist in U.S. hegemony. I have to believe he (and therefore our govt. as well) knows something that they haven?t deemed ready to reveal yet. They still stand by there intelligence on the Niger story and that it rests on more than the forged paper.

  14. Blair is standing by the Niger report because his ass will be fried by his own party if he folds on it. You’ll note that the Bush administration is not even claiming the Niger report is true anymore. If Tony actually had anything, don’t you think he would’ve at least shown it to his soulmate Dubya?

  15. slap maxwell’s point seems to be that he would rather be sent more money to the Saudis so they could use our own money to terrorize us.

    Or is it slappy you would rather that money continued to grease the pockets of genocidal murderer-rapists?

    so which is it slappy?

  16. Sandy,

    You and everyone else are missing the point.

    We absolutely know that Saddam at one time had WMD and we have found mobile labs as well as material that were in all proabability the ingredients meant to be used in those labs.

    In light of Saddam’s record, this should be enough already to the objective mind.

    So, knowing of a surety that he has had them in the past, he has not changed his stripes and that we have found the material and facilities to quickly produce them, you have to put yourself in the tactical mindset of your opponent (Saddam).

    Regardless of the short shelf lives of most bio weapons, he would have kept some in ready to use just in case. With the way the war unfolded and what seems now to have been a predetermined plan for the army to melt into the populace and fight a protracted guerilla war, there is every reason to believe that what WMD were already manufactured are either still hidden or even in a neighboring country, where of course they will soon be for sale.

  17. “you have to put yourself in the tactical mindset of your opponent (Saddam).”

    If I was engaged in a decade long low grade war with the two most powerful militaries in the world, I would bluff and bluster and try to make them think my arsenal was scarier than it really was.

    If I actually had such weapons, and a war was inevitable, I would wait until the opposition’s forces were bunched together, and launch a chemical attack. I would also arrange for terror strikes on their homeland during the war to “bring the war home.”

  18. And if I were China I would be taking note that you don’t need much proof to do a pre-emptive strike when the matter of Taiwan comes up.

  19. Joe,

    You’re absolutely right about the bluff and bluster but don’t forget the salient fact that Saddam has in fact at one time possessed and used WMD.

    There’s good reason to think N.Korea is on the bluff and bluster program but Saddam’s record speaks for itself.

  20. Ray,

    There is much more evidence that North Korea has nukes than that Saddam had, at the time of Gulf War II, chemical or nucular weapons. Nukes are also a lot more dangerous than chemical or biological weapons.

    Yes, Saddam had chemical weapons at one time. That was never in question. (How do we know? Because Rumsfeld still has the receipt in his wallet. Ha ha.) But that wasn’t the question; the question was whether the Iraqi arsenal posed an imminent threat, and whether the threat was so imminent as to require an immediate invasion, rather than keeping our options open and trying to resolve the situation in a way that didn’t involve killings thousands of people.

  21. Oh, I see. You mean “bluff and bluster” about using them, not just having them. I’m still more afraid of N. Korea than I ever was of Saddam. I think Bush and Powell are, too.

  22. Demise of the US Empire:

    Emmanuel Todd’s Apres l’empire (After the empire) looks at what the author calls the “decomposition of American hegemony”.

    Todd, a renowned social scientist who predicted the end of the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, bases his conclusions on the US dependency on foreign capital. Todd says that the US commercial deficit more than quadrupled during the 1990s. “In the period from 1973 to 2000, during which the US enjoyed its longest economic expansion, the commercial deficit went up from $100 billion to $450 billion,” Todd says.

    “To pay for this deficit, the US needs to keep importing foreign capital,” he says. “If this capital flow were to stop, the US economy would collapse. Despite the repeated claims about US power, the truth is that this country is both a beggar and predator. This cannot last very long.”

    Todd says that US militarism is nothing more than “fuss” aimed to impress the world. “When you think that the US government only dares to wage war against military gnomes such as Iraq, you have to realize that the whole thing is only to pretend that they are mighty.”

    Todd says that the US isolation in its war plans against Iraq (give or take a few not so might nations) is an indicator that the world has begun to see the US decline as a superpower. “The fact the Germany, for the first time since World War II, has dared oppose a US military project especially shows this awareness.”

  23. Joe,

    So if you’re more afraid of N. Korea, why would you want to “keep your options” open until Saddam had a more fully functionable arsenal?

    And we do have more evidence of Saddam’s capabilities than N.K.’s in that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Iraq has possessed and used WMD. We have no such concrete evidence against N.K. (though I don’t doubt they are a threat).

    Did Iraq’s arsenal pose an imminent threat? Did some scattered bunch of Arab flight students pose an imminent threat to thousands of New Yorkers? It only seemed so in retrospect.

    Saddam’s connection to world wide terrorism is not in doubt so a further connection to al Qaeda is only prudent.

    That and you gotta realize, we -the public – do not and cannot know all of the intelligence that the govt does.

  24. You’re a beauty. I can’t figure out if you’re a troll or Dick Cheney’s nephew.

  25. “A federal deficit is, if anything, a short term stimulus to the economy.”

    True, but you miss the point. The deficit isn’t causing a crummy economy; it’s the result of a crummy economy, which is reducing tax receipts. If BushCo is upping the projected deficit, that means they’re predicting continued low tax receipts, meaning they’re predicting a continued weak economy.

  26. Here’s the only “weapon” I’ve seen so far (on the government’s own website)…It concerns reserves/production ratios among the top oil producing nations of the world.

    Before you look, can you guess what country is on top, and who, amongst the top 5 oil producing nations, was arguably the weakest militarily (despite assertions to the contrary)? My, my….

    Better hurry, before they take it down like the terrorist futures stuff….

  27. Ray,

    The reasons you gave were why I supported, reluctantly, the war at the time. It was predicated on that intelligence being true. It’s not turning out that way. I’d be happy to be wrong, but I’m getting angry that I’m not. My patience is not unlimited. If we had this war to prevent their release and failed, that’s not a good thing.

    It’s not hubris when we’re there and in position to find them but don’t. Questions deserve to be asked and answers aren’t forthcoming other than “trust us some more.” Did that the first time, feelin’ kinda stupid for it.

  28. “slap maxwell’s point seems to be that he would rather be sent more money to the Saudis so they could use our own money to terrorize us.”

    Huh? Has your reading comprehension skills gone AWOL? Perhaps you might care to explain how you could infer such a thing from that post. If you’re able, that is.

  29. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/22/2004 01:58:13
    The function of the artist is to provide what life does not.

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