Ace of Bases

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Saadam's capture comes just in time to ask him about the field unification theory of terrorism floated over the weekend, namely that Mohammed Atta fetched yellowcake from Niger for the bum of Baghdad via Libya and Syria while training under Abu Nidal.

Saddam reportedly already denied any WMD program and documents captured with him have yet to provide any new leads on that front. But what they have supplied is info used to arrest suspected terror cell leaders in and around Baghdad.

Now with Saddam in hand, the U.S. will doubtless double back to other top Iraqis in custody and tell them that they have nothing to fear by telling all. With luck, some will, and the great WMD parlor game can be retired.

NEXT: Living in a Material World

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  1. Do recall that many anti-war libs argued from the get-go that the WMD question is *completely irrelevant*, since (a) chem/bio weapons don’t merit the WMD label anyway and (b) even if Saddam had ’em in ton lots, he still wasn’t an invasion-worthy threat to the US. Gene Healy has been the best and most consistent expositor of this position. This is certainly my position, and it stands regardless of what we learn from Saddam.

  2. Want more examples?

    You posit that the document’s lack of authenticity was known to the presenters beforehand, i.e., a lie, as opposed to being proven incorrect afterwards, i.e., being incorrect. Your belief that it is one and not the other is your presumption of ill intent.

  3. Oh yeah, and as for the tautology, your statement would have be true if Bush was lying, but what you posit out of hand is, like WMD in Iraq, an indeterminate and heavily political issue. You’re hinging a counterintuitive statement on an unknown. Unless you have some actionable evidence to your claims, they are as baseless as the claim that Hussein definitely has WMD.

  4. invasion-worthy threat to the US.

    More or less so than Hitler was an invasion-worthy threat to the U.S.?

  5. Of course I can’t see into Bush’s mind but what is really “counterintuitive” is the idea that the administration could be so lax that didn’t investigate the validity of such a document. That would be ineptitude of a magnitude that is just not credible. Other whoppers:

    In January of this year, President Bush used the State of the Union Address to firmly tell Congress and the American nation that Iraq was a threat to peace in the world, and, specifically, a threat to US shores. President Bush cited evidence of Iraqi efforts to procure enriched uranium: ?The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.? The claim was repeated by several senior members of the Bush administration, including National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. It was later circulated that documents were in Coalition hands implicating that Niger was the country providing the uranium to Iraq.

    Proven Fact ? Subsequent research by the CIA, MI-6, UN weapons inspectors, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have revealed that Bush?s claim was simply unfounded. The documents linking Niger to Iraq were third-rate forgeries, according to the IAEA.

    US President George Bush repeated claims that Iraq was in possession of aerial drones fitted with chemical weapons delivery systems. This was also the basis of US Secretary of State Powell?s UN ?evidence against Iraq? presentation.

    Proven Fact – Subsequent intelligence and analysis from Iraq indicate the drones could not have possibly been designed except for reconnaissance missions. No chemical delivery systems were found. The Associated Press would later report that ?Huddled over a fleet of abandoned Iraqi drones, US weapons experts in Baghdad came to one conclusion: Despite the Bush administration?s public assertions, these unmanned aerial vehicles weren?t designed to dispense biological or chemical weapons?.

  6. “Proven Fact”

    Proven by what? The salient points of those findings has some probability of being disproven on closer inspection (and in the case of Niger, . It’s been proven to your satisfaction, and to those who agree with you. However, neither makes a compelling case for altering policy. It just means you have a slightly more informed opinion than the folks with protest placard cookie-cutter political beliefs. There is not enough evidence at this point to make the call either way. That you may jump to a conclusion is no testament to any insight, merely impatience.

    And by the way, if the document really is a forgery, that does not indicate that the shipment did not or was not going to occur. For more on that, read Sun Tzu.

    That you may find Bush’s actions counterintuitive does not negate the inherent fallacy in your original statement.

  7. damn, I was saying that in the case of Niger to some degree there is an irrelevance of the documen, referred to above by RCD, that was conveniently forgotten in the fray. Simple-minded people had a symbol to latch onto, and that was all they needed to form their customarily uninformed opinions about the world around them.

  8. Tom from Texas,

    Well for one thing you’re assuming that all anti-war opposition is somehow coming from from lefist-democrat types which is just not true. You conveniently seem to forget about the libertarian anti-war right and non-neocon conservatives.

    And second, those of us who are truly anti-war (as opposed to just anti-war when one president is in office and pro-war when another is elected) are not somehow joyful in seeing American soldiers and/or Iraqi civilians killed. That’s precisely why we’re against aggressive wars in the first place.

    Oh, and as soon as you’re done asking God to bless Bush, will you please take all those damn flags off you’re suv.

  9. rst writes: “More or less so than Hitler was an invasion-worthy threat to the U.S.?”

    Please learn some history.

    Germany declared war on the US, because they had a pact with Japan.

    That alone made them an invasion-worthy threat, in addition to the other considerations, like Germany had a navy (unlike Iraq), Germany had good technology (unlike Iraq), Germany had good industry (unlike Iraq), Germany had a skillful military (unlike Iraq).

  10. R. C. Dean writes: ” Certainly the Iraqis were geared up for tactical battlefield use of WMD”

    Apparently this “tactical battlefield” was in the fifth dimension, because these widely-deployed WMD aren’t anywhere to be found in Iraq here on Earth.

    Nor are they being used. Surely, if there were chem-loaded RPGs in Iraq, they’d be used against the Green Zone, the Palestine Hotel, and other facilities.

    Had these alleged WMD weapons existed, surely they would have been used in the rocket attack when Wolfowitz was in the Palestine Hotel?

    The insurgents are using car bombs, injuring and killing Iraqis. During the war, civilians were supposedly used as human shields. Why would they balk at using small WMD, especially since they could be fired at areas where there are lots of Americans, but few Iraqis?

    It makes no sense. It’s not consistent. The guy who provided this “intelligence” on the 45 minute launching of WMD was clearly lying.

  11. Germany declared war on the US

    Try some analysis instead of taking historical nuggets at face value. Germany declared a war which we could have taken or left but for our own alliances in Europe. Germany could not have sustained an Atlantic War – they did not have the means, man, or materiel to keep a front, a supply chain, and reserves in the water. By 1943 they were ALL about the Luftwaffe and the Messerschmidts. Containment was virtually guaranteed and the Allies knew it.

    Learn some history my ass.

  12. aren’t anywhere to be found in Iraq here on Earth.

    Because as we all know, Iraq is a point mass. Once you look directly at it, you’ve seen everything that is in it. If you have searched x% of the volume of land – above ground and underground – and you cannot find something that was once there, then no, it’s not that you missed it, or that it’s in some place that you haven’t looked, or that it is still actively being moved, but that it is neither there nor in the 100-x% of the volume of land yet unsearched. Obviously. Look if you people really think that, then don’t ever lose your car keys. You’ll run out of money buying new cars to replace the keys you “obviously” never had at all.

  13. Matt,

    Someone has to fly the flag when there are so many food animals/pacifists such as yourself offering their throats to the predators of the world.

    And I drive a one-ton pickup, not an SUV.

  14. Indisputable fact: The Iraqis did not use WMD against the US military in the 2003 invasion.

    Seldom-disputed fact: In the 1980’s Saddam Hussein used poison gas on his own citizens.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  15. So rst,

    If one wanted to believe in the existence of WMD as justification for an invasion and regime change, what standard of evidence would be necessary?

    Obviously not any tangible evidence, or reliable intelligence. Nor would one require any evidence of capability to deploy these alleged weapons against the US. A demsonstration of intent to do so seems unnecessary as well.

    The fact that no such weapons have been discovered in the many months that have elapsed since the US military rolled into Iraq, shouldn’t be used to assess the legitimacy of their existence.

    The fact that a very small amount of a chemical or biological substance could be overlooked, ignores the fact that the physical production facilities, logistical infrastructure, administrative paper trail, roster of employees and directors, and the tell-tale signs of years of operations should be tougher to conceal.

    Did Saddam ever have WMD? Sure.

    Did Saddam, in 2003, have the capability to attack the US with WMD? Not a chance in hell.

  16. Did Saddam, in 2003, have the capability to attack the US with WMD? Not a chance in hell.

    Hussein publicly and repeatedly declared himself the enemy of the United States, and as late as 2000 used the Salmon Pak camp for training the Fedayeen Saddam in hijacking planes and buses without the use of weapons. They had a Boeing 707 there, which UN inspectors saw. That Mohammed Atta also stayed in Baghdad (just north of Salmon Pak) for a few months receiving “training,” is interesting in this light.

    Your supposition that he had no capability to attack the US with WMD is based on your belief that he had no WMD. To deploy them in a warhead is only one means of doing so. The logically correct statement is that if he did not have them, then he could not have used them. It is, however, also possible that he had them and did not use them, or was not able to use them (for all we know, an informed refusal by his army to use them may be the “betrayal” Hussein was whining about on the telephone to his second wife), or he had his stockpile destroyed upon losing Baghdad to create exactly this political pressure. Given that there is no evidence that the fruits of the program were completely destroyed, only partially, and that Hussein preferred the continuation of hindered weapons inspections (and the resultant sanctions) over the proscribed conclusion to the inspections program, the belief that he had disposed of his WMD is less likely to be correct than the belief that he did not. The former ignores history in favor of the notion that a program “could not” be hidden for so long; the latter acknowledges that the program was indeed hidden to various extents for 12 years and thus could just as easily remain hidden today.

    should be tougher to conceal.

    If you have a stockpile, what need do you have for production facilities?

    shouldn’t be used to assess the legitimacy of their existence

    Neither should it be used to assess the illegitimacy of their existence, nor the legitimacy of their non-existence. The historical evidence is that they were there, they were used, and no accurate or reliable record exists of their destruction.

  17. rst: “Try some analysis instead of taking historical nuggets at face value. Germany declared a war which we could have taken or left but for our own alliances in Europe. Germany could not have sustained an Atlantic War – they did not have the means, man, or materiel to keep a front, a supply chain, and reserves in the water. By 1943 they were ALL about the Luftwaffe and the Messerschmidts. Containment was virtually guaranteed and the Allies knew it.”

    By 1943. In the meantime, we’re supposed to stand by for two years, and let them aid Japan, which would probably include U-boat strikes against US shipping?

  18. Jon H:

    By 1943. In the meantime, we’re supposed to stand by for two years, and let them aid Japan, which would probably include U-boat strikes against US shipping?

    I think you mean one year (Dec. 7, 1941).

    More generally, I think that Hitler’s declaration was a tacit admission that the U.S. had already been essentially at war with Germany for months, having been providing essential war materiel and credit to the Allies. Japan considered the situation to be similar, given the American embargo.

    I’m not defending either Axis power. They weren’t the victims of American aggression. Roosevelt was clearly tilting in the direction of the Allies, and war, for reasons that I find compelling (despite my disgust at much of the rest of his presidency, including the conduct of the war vis-a-vis the Soviets).

    Still, the underlying point remains: the U.S. could have probably stayed completely out of WWII by refusing to arm the Allies or interfere with Japanese imperial designs. I think that would have been a horrendous and disastrous decision for humanity and for freedom, including our own in the long run, but the Antiwar folks believe otherwise. Is this really the position that modern-day libertarians want to attach themselves and their credibility to?

    Some of us would like to persuade actual live Americans to adopt our philosophy and policies.

  19. By 1943. In the meantime, we’re supposed to stand by for two years, and let them aid Japan, which would probably include U-boat strikes against US shipping?

    You mean, they took preventative action? No way.

  20. rst: “Because as we all know, Iraq is a point mass. Once you look directly at it, you’ve seen everything that is in it.”

    If you’re talking about weapons, which have been widely dispersed, for rapid deployment, as is alleged to have been the case, then you’re not talking about things stealthily and carefully concealed. You’re talking about items, distributed to multiple sites, maybe dozens, and easily accessible along with other normal weapons.

    A weapon that is buried or locked in a bunker or disguised and stacked in an abandoned warehouse is not available for quick use during combat. If you have a pistol for home defense, you don’t keep it ready for use by putting it under a rock in the back garden.

    Given the way combat went, *some* unit that had them would have surely been killed and found with these rpg-like weapons in their posession. One or more units probably would have been routed, leaving these weapons behind, as they left other things behind, such as their clothes.

    The nature of the weapons, described as being like RPG rounds, implies that they are close range direct-fire weapons. Not stuff you pour from a 50gallon drum into an artillery shell and fire from 10 miles away. So that means they would have been widely distributed to units likely to see combat and be close to the invading US troops.

    It defies reason to think that these supposed weapons were distributed for rapid use, then utterly hidden by the various independent units, who were in the midst of being attacked by the US military.

    We should have found a crate of these weapons, at the very least, if they were distributed to combat units for use. Someone would have been careless, or would have been killed before being able to hide or dispose of them.

  21. The people who don’t believe there are WMD in Iraq don’t want to believe any other way, and no reports or news stories will sway their opinion. If they are found, it will be because they are “planted”. If they are confessed to, it will be because the confession was “coerced”. I think the search and recovery of Saddam underscores the key politically aggravating factor in the search for WMD: in total the materiel need not occupy a space any larger than that which Saddam was found in. WMD may never be found, because their existence can be plausibly denied until everyone involved has died.

  22. Before the war, I don’t recall a single advocate emphasizing how small was the quantity of WMD at issue.

  23. David, I would urge you not to confuse a “small” quantity of WMD in terms of spatial volume with an insignificant quantity of WMD in terms of destructive potential.

    I am sure there are lots of folks from Blix’s team on the record from before the final campaign of the war with Iraq, discussing how easy it is to hide and how hard it is to find.

  24. I don’t recall a single advocate emphasizing how small was the quantity of WMD at issue.

    I don’t think it would have made a difference. People will ultimately only believe what they want to believe, and to believe that there are WMD in Iraq is to admit that the Bush Administration is right about something, which many Americans have a hard time doing. It wouldn’t have mattered whether we were looking for a briefcase or a Mack truck…if you are convinced that there are no WMD, and that this whole endeavor was a ruse to scare up oil prices and strengthen the Illuminati’s grip on the world, then nothing that comes out of Saddam’s mouth is going to blow up your skirt.

  25. By the same token, rst, it appears many believe there are WMD in Iraq and don’t want to believe any other way….

  26. don’t want to believe any other way….

    The root of the problem. Whether WMDs are there or not remains indeterminate. The historical evidence however – SH having used WMD (Halabja), having admitted to an active program 6 years after 687 was passed (via Dr. Taha), and the general lack of cooperation given weapons inspectors, preferring instead to let “500,000 Iraqi children under five per year” die – indicates that the probability is greater that they are there, and that the assumption-turned-ardent belief that they are not requires a number of statistically unlikely events to have occurred.

    Wine about proof all you like…the “proof” didn’t convict OJ, but that doesn’t stop America from the blanket assumption that the man is guilty anyway.

  27. Remember that if we find them and Saddam admits he had them, that Saddam is a liar that was backed by Rummy and that the neocons will plant evidence like OJs glove.

  28. neocons will plant evidence like OJs glove.

    Of course, because in the battle of two “evils”, the more easily exculpable rationally is the least exculpable philosophically. The simplest explanation is simply not Hollywood enough for American consumption, so the credits cannot be allowed to roll until what were supposed to be the good guys are exposed as bad guys, giving way for the assumption that the previous “bad guys” are innocent pawns in a global power struggle on behalf of some Super Secret Society Of Evil CEOs. It all comes back to 2000 in Florida. Although they didn’t yet know it, the largest segment of the anti-war curve decided right then and there that there are no WMDs in Iraq. They have not looked back since.

  29. Is there any surprise that WMD haven’t been found, with all the whoppers the administration and the neo-cons concocted concerning their alleged existence when they were promoting the war? If they really had evidence there were any, fantastic lies wouldn’t have been deemed necessary.

    I remember the day after the attack started, an MSNBC reporter asked General Clark how we might defend ourselves if Saddam decided to retaliate with his WMD. Clark’s answer was that we shouldn’t worry because he was pretty sure Iraq didn’t have any WMD, and they couldn’t get them over here even if they did.

    I thought; “great General, now you tell us”.

  30. If they really had evidence there were any, fantastic lies wouldn’t have been deemed necessary.

    What a tautology. If the evidence was indeed there of present possession (which you do not know) then the statements would not be lies. Given that you do not know the disposition of the evidence, nor do you know the extent to which the search of the country has been performed, bearing in mind that the evidence itself might occupy a volume no larger than 10 feet cubed, it is odd that you could make such a statement and expect to be taken seriously. You presume an ill intent and go from there.

  31. A reporter just asked Bush if Saddam might provide information about WMD and terrorist links.
    Bush answered that we should never mind about that because Saddam is a liar and what he says can’t be trusted. Bush’s attitude seems entirely to dismissive of what Saddam might divulge. His attitude is however consistent the belief that there is nothing, that Saddam has to disclose about WMD and his links to terrorists.

  32. The capture of Saddam puts an end to one of the anti-war crowd’s favorite jerk-off fantasies, along with the million Mogadishus awaiting US troops, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, unchecked worldwide terrorism, the Arab street hanging every westerner they can find from street lights, and the whole catalog of woes that were supposed to happen, but didn’t. Now, once we find evidence of WMD, the anti-wars will have to go back to flogging their bishops while they think back on the 2000 election, which, as rst so sagely pointed out, is their driving force.

    God bless the U.S. military, and God bless George W. Bush.

  33. Rick provides a great example of holding onto a belief despite evidence to the contrary. I have to ask “what whoppers” concerning WMD?

    The famous “Niger” scandal evaporates on close examination. The Brits still stand by their story, the trade visits by high-ranking Baathists to Niger (which exports chickpeas and uranium and not much else) have never been explained, and the “whopper” told by Bush was that Saddam was still seeking uranium in Africa, not just Niger.

    The “45 minutes” claim was apparently based on legitimate intel by actual Iraqi army insiders who were part of the tactical WMD team. No whopper there, as far as I can tell. Certainly the Iraqis were geared up for tactical battlefield use of WMD, which was all the 45 minute claim ever addressed. Contrary to the hysteria of the anti-war crowd, there was never any claim made that Saddam could deliver WMD in 45 minutes to the US or Europe.

    Those are the two major claims that BUSHITLER LIED!!! that come to mind, and both are spin with no substance.

  34. “What a tautology.” “You presume an ill intent and go from there.”

    Not a tautology at all. I don’t presume ill intent. I have evidence of ill intent. Just one example is the report that Powell trotted out at the UN and called “valuable intelligence”,that turned out to be an altered, plagiarised and dated grad student thesis! Want more examples?

  35. “and God bless George W. Bush.”

    Shame on George W. Bush. He’s a big spending liberal who doesn’t deserve conservative support!

  36. rst:
    “That you may find Bush’s actions counterintuitive does not negate the inherent fallacy in your original statement.”

    I didn’t say Bush’s actions were counterintuitive. I said, about the report Powell trotted out at the UN and called “valuable intelligence”,that turned out to be an altered, plagiarised and dated grad student thesis, that what is counterintuitive is the idea that the administration could be so lax that it didn’t investigate the validity of such a document. That would be ineptitude of a magnitude that is just not credible. So, they were very likley lying.

  37. matt wrote:

    Tom from Texas,
    “Well for one thing you’re assuming that all anti-war opposition is somehow coming from from lefist-democrat types which is just not true. You conveniently seem to forget about the libertarian anti-war right and non-neocon conservatives.”

    Good point matt!

  38. That would be ineptitude of a magnitude that is just not credible.

    This is the Bush administration we’re talking about right?

  39. “Please learn some history.

    Germany declared war on the US, because they had a pact with Japan.”

    The pact didn’t require Germany to declare war on someone ATTACKED by Japan; only on someone attacking Japan. Of course, this is irrelevent; Germany declared war on the US because they knew FDR would engage war with them in any case at this point, and because the US was effectively engaged in economic war with Germany already. Basically, declaring war on the US allowed U-boats to engage US shipping, with essentially no downside (post Pearl Harbor, nothing was going to stop FDR’s war plans).

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