What WMDs?

Why no bum's rush over bum data?


It is dogma on the Left that President George Bush lied about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. "The administration capitalized on the fear created by 9/11 and put a spin on the intelligence and a spin on the truth to justify a war that could well become one of the worst blunders in more than two centuries of American foreign policy," declared Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in a speech at the Center for American Progress last week He followed his charges up with a Washington Post op/ed entitled "A Dishonest War." The liberal Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report "WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implication" issued earlier this month concluded "Administration officials systematically misrepresented the threat from Iraq 's WMD and ballistic missile programs." So did Bush lie or did he get bum intelligence?

"We're seeking all the facts," declared President Bush in the State of the Union speech on Tuesday. "Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations. Had we failed to act, the dictatator's weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day."

"Programs" are a bit different and less immediately threatening than actual WMDs in the hands of a bloodthirsty dictator. I, like tens of millions of my fellow Americans, was persuaded by Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation on Iraq's WMD capabilities at the United Nations last February.

Doubtless the world is a better place now that Saddam Hussein is no longer torturing his people. And nobody now doubts that Saddam Hussein had made some efforts toward manufacturing some WMDs after the first Gulf War. But after months of concentrated searching, not a single operational biological, chemical or nuclear weapon has been found in Iraq. Taking President Bush at his word that he believed what his intelligence services were telling him—that Iraq had such terrible weapons at the ready—the Carnegie Endowment report's conclusion seems a bit understated, "In the Iraqi case, the world 's three best intelligence services proved unable to provide the accurate information necessary for acting in the absence of imminent threat."

The President told the world on Tuesday night that, "America is committed to keeping the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous regimes." And that's an admirable goal. But how can the United States achieve that objective, if its intelligence agencies are supplying our leaders with shoddy information? Unless President Bush calls the heads of our various intelligence services to account (in other words, fires them), Bush will be confirming what his enemies and even some of his friends suspect, that he is giving a wink and a nod to his spy services for a disinformation job well done.