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June 13, 2005

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» NY Times: "Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn't Made" from The Unalienable Right
The NY Times reports: Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn't Made WASHINGTON, June 12 - A memorandum written by Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet office in late July 2002 explicitly states that the Bush administration had made "no political... [Read More]

» The Memo Conspiracy from Flopping Aces
but that wouldn't matter to them since their mindset is only on one thing: get Bush. They will not be successful, the lunatic left has been exposed for quite some time now and they are only making things worse for themselves. [Read More]

» Sanger On The DSM from CommonSenseDesk
Differing perspectives on David Sanger's NYTs article on the Downing Street Memo. ThinkProgress is not impressed with Sanger's interpretation.Sanger presumes that “political decisions” refers to the actual decision to go to war. Based on that presu... [Read More]

» This Is What I Love About Blogs from Decision '08
What are the odds that, in a world without blogs (this sounds like a bad sci-fi movie, doesn't it? - In a world without blogs, one man had the courage...and so forth...), you and I would have found out there's yet ANOTHER Downing Street Memo, this on... [Read More]

Comments

martin

Just read the DSM (they're online) in conjunction with these statements:

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.
-- George W. Bush, President
Address to the Nation, 3/17/2003

There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. And . . . as this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them.
-- General Tommy Franks, Commander in Chief, Central Command
Press Conference, 3/22/2003

One of our top objectives is to find and destroy the WMD. There are a number of sites.
-- Victoria Clarke, Pentagon Spokeswoman
Press Briefing, 3/22/2003

We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
-- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
ABC Interview, 3/30/2003

But make no mistake -- as I said earlier -- we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about.
-- Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing, 4/10/2003

jukeboxgrad

TM, you've apparently made no effort to explore the relationship between these two documents (as far as I can tell neither did Sanger), so let me help you out.

The briefing paper which includes the words "no political decisions have been taken" was written as a "briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002." It was "produced by the Cabinet Office" on 7/21/02 (link). The author(s) is unknown. The paper presumably reflects the views of certain cabinet staff at the time it was written. There is no indication of the basis for those views (at least with regard to the statement "no political decisions have been taken").

The DSM was written as minutes to a top-level meeting which occurred on 7/23/02. The author of the minutes is not anonymous, and the person who said "military action was now seen as inevitable" is also not anonymous. That statement was made by Dearlove, head of UK foreign intelligence, based on his "recent talks in Washington," presumably with his US counterparts.

Imagine the following (hypothetical, although based on the text that's available) exchange at the meeting:

Dearlove says "I'm reporting on my recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD."

Someone else says "How can that be? Didn't you see the briefing paper, produced by the cabinet office staff for the purpose of preparing us for this meeting, which said that no political decisions have been taken by Bush?"

Dearlove says "Yes, I have seen the briefing paper. Are you listening? That's why I said there's been a perceptible _shift_ in attitude. That's why I said military action was _now_ seen as inevitable. That was then, this is now. I'm here to tell you things have changed. I'm being careful to speak up about this, and speak up clearly, because I don't want anyone to be misled by that statement in the briefing paper. That statement is no longer operative. My talks in Washington are _recent_, and with my senior-level counterparts, so therefore I'm in a position to know."

By the way, aside from the DSM being subsequent and therefore more up-to-date, it's logical to expect that minutes of a top-level meeting would be more candid and more accurate than a briefing memo by an unknown staffer who might be trying to make sure he didn't offend anyone.

Rick

A well planned and conducted overthrown of Saddam's regime, one must say.

Cordially...

Rick

A well planned and conducted overthrown of Saddam's regime, one must say.

Cordially...

Rick

"overthrow," and damn the double!

Rick

"overthrow," and damn the double!

flenser

Which lying warmonger made the folowing statements?

Was it A) George W Bush B) Cheney C) Powell D) Wolfowitz E) Condi Rice

Once this stuff gets out, I'm sure it will below the lid off the Great Cover-Up.

Unlike South Africa, which decided on its own to eliminate its nuclear weapons and welcomed inspection as a means of creating confidence in its disarmament, Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance -- not even today -- of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace.
One of three important questions before us today is how much might remain undeclared and intact from before 1991; and, possibly, thereafter; the second question is what, if anything, was illegally produced or procured after 1998, when the inspectors left; and the third question is how it can be prevented that any weapons of mass destruction be produced or procured in the future.
For nearly three years, Iraq refused to accept any inspections by UNMOVIC. It was only after appeals by the Secretary-General and Arab States and pressure by the United States and other Member States, that Iraq declared on 16 September last year that it would again accept inspections without conditions.
Resolution 1441 was adopted on 8 November last year and emphatically reaffirmed the demand on Iraq to cooperate. It required this cooperation to be immediate, unconditional and active.
Paragraph 9 of resolution 1441 states that this cooperation shall be "active." It is not enough to open doors. Inspection is not a game of "catch as catch can."

Iraq has declared that it only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tons and that the quality was poor and the product unstable. Consequently, it was said, that the agent was never weaponized. Iraq said that the small quantity of agent remaining after the Gulf War was unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991.

There are also indications that the agent was weaponized. In addition, there are questions to be answered concerning the fate of the VX precursor chemicals, which Iraq states were lost during bombing in the Gulf War or were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.

The document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi Air Force between 1983 and 1988, while Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this period. Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs. The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tons. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for.

The discovery of a number of 122 mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot 170 kilometers southwest of Baghdad was much publicized. This was a relatively new bunker and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions.
I might further mention that inspectors have found at another site a laboratory quantity of thiodiglycol, a mustard gas precursor.

Iraq has declared that it produced about 8,500 liters of this [anthrax], which it states it unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. Iraq has provided little evidence for this production and no convincing evidence for its destruction.

There are strong indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than it declared, and that at least some of this was retained after the declared destruction date. It might still exist. Either it should be found and be destroyed under UNMOVIC supervision or else convincing evidence should be produced to show that it was, indeed, destroyed in 1991.

Two projects in particular stand out. They are the development of a liquid-fueled missile named the Al Samoud 2, and a solid propellant missile, called the Al Fatah. Both missiles have been tested to a range in excess of the permitted range of 150 kilometers, with the Al Samoud 2 being tested to a maximum of 183 kilometers and the Al Fatah to 161 kilometers. Some of both types of missiles have already been provided to the Iraqi Armed Forces even though it is stated that they are still undergoing development.

"In addition, Iraq has refurbished its missile production infrastructure. In particular, Iraq reconstituted a number of casting chambers, which had previously been destroyed under UNSCOM supervision."

"Iraq also declared the recent import of chemicals used in propellants, test instrumentation and guidance and control systems. These items may well be for proscribed purposes. That is yet to be determined. What is clear is that they were illegally brought into Iraq, that is, Iraq or some company in Iraq, circumvented the restrictions imposed by various resolutions."

Flenser

No takers yet?

To narrow it down, the above statements were made in January 2003, on the eve of war.

SteveMG

Flenser:
Okay, John Kerry.

Second guess: Hillary Clinton.

SMG

TM

Well, Google is my friend, and that is pretty funny.

As to the relationship between the two memos, now that I have actually read the "smoking gun" July 23rd memo, I see why no one in the MSM is impressed. Let me pull the highlights. From the OPENING sentences:

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action.

The JIC is the Brit Joint Intelligence Committee.

So, their spooks lead by saying military action looks to be the only way to achieve regime change.

Another Brit reports that in America, a similar sense is settling in:

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.

I have no problem with "Military action was now seen as inevitable", since that is the Brit assessment as well.

The next bit, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action", strikes me as a bizarre extrapolation, or a misleading summary.

I mean, did Bush really announce that nothing short of war would satisfy him? Saddam could not flee to a third country and flip the keys to Hans Blix on the way out?

I understand that Maureen Dowd thought only war could satisfy Rummy's war lust and W's relationship problems with his dad, but honestly - for the rest of us, the notion that a better summary would be "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through war if necessary..." is fine.

Later in the memo we see this:

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided.

Well, it that means "it seemed clear that Bush meant to see this through to a resolution, even if that required military action", again, fine.

Les Nessman

Ol' Hans 'Bloodthirsty' Blix.

How could he have lied to us like this? Clearly, the U.N. is in the thrall of the U.S.

Jor

TM, the reason the MSM didn't cover this is because every news junkie already knows this -- its not news in that sense. When Daniel Drezner was deciding who to vote on, he would give a p value (from 0 to 1) for a candidate. 1 meaning absolute certainity, 0 meaning no chance for voting for that candidate. I think the overwhelming amount of evidence (too much to go through in one post) clearly indicates Bush had made up his mind before hand. I would say that with 90% certainty. If I had to put a p-value on the Bush administration negligentyly botched pre-war planning, I'd put that at 95%.

So instead of playing clever litigous games, why not give us a guestimated synthesis in a number. So we have some idea how detached from the reality-based ommunnity you are :-P.

ed

Hmmmm.

Still pushing this eh? While you're at it give us an update on the whole GannonGate thing will you?

Josh

Now is the best time to place bets on the next target of liberal whining after Iraq recovers. The military will very likely be demonized by conceited anti-war crybabies (who by sheer coincidence I suppose, hate Bush/Republicans a lot).

Cecil Turner

"I think the overwhelming amount of evidence (too much to go through in one post) clearly indicates Bush had made up his mind before hand."

I don't see how that's different from TM's: Bush meant to see this through to a resolution, even if that required military action". Considering the 12 years of noncompliance with the GW I cease-fire (and various UN resolutions), and the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, I also don't see anything wrong with his conclusion: "Fine."

SteveMG

Okay, Hans Blix.

Blix-Kerry-Clinton, the same person.

Ever see all three in the same room together?

I'm sure Jukeboxgrad can cite some links proving my conspiracy.

Like The Nation, which still believe Hiss is innocent and didn't see Stalin slaughtering 30 million assorted kulaks, Ukrainians et cetera but is certain the neocons falsified intelligence on Iraq.

SMG

Lurking Observer

Cecil:

Thanx for putting your finger on the problem.

What, exactly, had Bush already decided upon?

The Left seems to believe that Bush had decided upon going to war.

But the memoes (and the contemporary coverage) would suggest that Bush had already decided to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

There is a world of difference between the two. If Bush had decided to go to war, then it mattered little whether Saddam was there or not. His last minute resignation would not have resolved the issue.

Conversely, however, if the decision was to topple Saddam (as per the 1998 Iraqi liberation law and others), then a range of possible options existed. Of course, sanctions were clearly not working towards this end (and it was also clear then and even more now that Saddam was going to succeed in loosening them), and the cat-and-mouse attacks on no-fly-zone aircraft and US-UK responses wasn't doing it, either.

I suppose an assassination attempt could have been engineered, yet somehow, methinks that the Left would not be any happier with that (and killing Uday and Qusay would've been even more problematic).

I suppose the Left really has little problem w/ leaving Saddam in charge, with all that implies....

Cecil Turner

"Thanx for putting your finger on the problem."

I'd love to take credit, but I think Tom is the one who made the critical observation.

ISTM the memos are very useful for someone claiming UK foreign policy was a tail being wagged by the US dog--which is a common complaint amongst liberal Britons. Release on the eve of a UK election makes it clear that's the main motive of the leakers, and also tends to lessen its impact.

It is much less convincing when it comes to a third-hand reading of US policymakers' mindsets. In fact, the revelation that efforts to shape public opinion were undertaken as a condition of our UK allies is something of an excuse for "overselling" the intelligence data. (If one happens to feel that's an issue.)

jukeboxgrad

TM, it's really quite adorable how sometimes you tell the truth despite yourself.

"Did Bush really announce that nothing short of war would satisfy him?"

Long before 9/11, Bush said "One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief ... if I have a chance to invade …. I’m not going to waste it." And "from the moment he took office, Bush has made noises about finishing the job his father started." (link)

So your sardonic question is, unintentionally, not far off the mark.

"Saddam could not flee to a third country and flip the keys to Hans Blix on the way out?"

There you go again, revealing the truth even though that's exactly the opposite of what you're trying to do. How amusing.

As far as I can tell, Saddam never offered to "flee to a third country," but there is reason to suspect that he offered a variety of other material concessions (link, link). Our apparent lack of interest in trying to solve the problem this way creates the impression that Bush was not really interested in disarmament, but rather was primarily interested in regime change via war. Trouble is, he kept suggesting the main purpose of regime change was disarmament (link, link).

Lurking Observer

So, Dubya continues the policy of the previous administration (remember Maddie Albright's interview w/ Lesli Stahl? Where she made it clear she would keep the sanctions on?), and this is viewed as somehow inappropriate? What was the aim of those sanctions, if not to topple Saddam (as Albright indicated)?

Except that, simply keeping sanctions on wasn't succeeding at anything except making it look like the US was vindictive. Oh, and giving time for Saddam to bribe a coalition of the buyable into existence.

jukeboxgrad

"Dubya continues the policy of the previous administration"

Wingnut strategy #14394. When all else fails, blame Clinton.

The policy of the previous administration was to achieve regime change via peaceful means, if at all possible, and to contain him until that time. This policy was a success.

"What was the aim of those sanctions, if not to topple Saddam"

See above.

"keeping sanctions on wasn't succeeding at anything except making it look like the US was vindictive."

Keeping sanctions on succeeded at preventing him from accumulating WMD. This despite the fact that folks like Cheney were perfectly happy to do business with him.

Lurking Observer

Who's blaming Clinton, jukeboxgrad?

Is it "blame," when one is pointing out that the same policy is underway?

This is like saying that because Reagan continued the policies of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon and LBJ in committing to the defense of Europe, that we're "blaming" LBJ for Reagan's defense policies.

Since 1991, the US policy focus on Iraq were to:

1. Isolate him
2. Prevent him from developing WMDs
3. Get rid of him.

This was true under Bush-I, after the decision not to go to Baghdad, this was true under Clinton, this was true under Dubya. If you want to consider that "blame," feel free. Somehow, I don't think saying that Clinton continued Bush-I's policies can be considered "blame."

As for "peaceful," I take it that Clinton's Operation Desert Fox was a peaceful operation? Somehow, firing several hundred cruise missiles doesn't strike me as being all that peaceful. And that codicil that it must be peaceful must've escaped notice among the planners trying to take down Saddam as authorized by the '98 Iraq Liberation Act.

Paul Zrimsek

If Bush was really intent on war whether it was needed to bring about regime change or not, wasn't he taking a hell of a risk in issuing Saddam the famous 48-hour ultimatum?

jukeboxgrad

"Who's blaming Clinton"

You are, when you suggest that Dubya's only finishing what Clinton started.

"firing several hundred cruise missiles doesn't strike me as being all that peaceful"

If you can't tell the difference between Clinton's cruise missiles and Dubya's "shock and awe," that's your problem.

By the way, I think the correct number is several dozen. Until you show me where you got "several hundred," I'll assume you're doing the usual exaggerating.

"wasn't he taking a hell of a risk in issuing Saddam the famous 48-hour ultimatum"

No. If Saddam had actually called, there are all sorts of ways Bush could have made sure he didn't happen to hear the phone ring. Not unlike the way various peace overtures seem to have been swept aside.

Lurking Observer

jukeboxgrad:

Well, lessee, General Shelton sez that it was 300 TLAMs and 100 ALCMs.

300+100, check the hundreds column, yup, that'd be "hundreds of cruise missiles."

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/1998/98121915_tlt.html

And if finishing what Clinton was doing is considered blame, yer right, I'm "blaming" Clinton. Oddly, this was one area where I actually generally agreed w/ him, that we needed to get rid of Saddam. You wanna term that "blame," feel free.

And the main difference? Saddam is gone as of 2003. Saddam was not gone after firing "several hundred" cruise missiles and several hundred air sorties.

And the Iraqi children are no longer suffering under the sanctions regime.

spongeworthy

Yes, I agree that we should have met the blood-thirsty murdering filth halfway on this. I mean, when you're involved in a global war on terror and you tell one of these shitheels to pack his bags and take his whelps with him, it makes perfect sense to come back and bargain with him, particularly if it means the shitheel stays in power. This will put the entire world on notice that nothing has changed, the US is a paper tiger. No doubt other Arab despots will just fall all over themselves trying to round up Islamo-loonies when they find out how reasonable we are.

Right?

Paul Zrimsek

The ultimatum I was talking about, having been issued by the president of the US rather than the president of France, did not give Saddam 48 hours to make a phone call-- it gave him 48 hours to leave the country. So when the bad man turns up in front of a press conference in Damascus, how does Bush overlook that?

jukeboxgrad

"300 TLAMs and 100 ALCMs"

Thanks for the citation.

"yer right, I'm 'blaming' Clinton"

One sure sign of how much trouble Bush is in is the way folks are working overtime to spread the blame around. Yes, it's true, lots of folks who should have known better (like most of the press and most of the Democratic party) went along for the ride. Does that let Bush off the hook? You wish.

"And the main difference? Saddam is gone as of 2003."

True. Trouble is, most folks think the price wasn't worth it, and that we're not safer as a result (link).

"This will put the entire world on notice that nothing has changed, the US is a paper tiger."

Instead, we've put the entire world on notice that the largest military in the history of the world somehow can't manage, after two years, to secure about 10 miles of road connecting Baghdad to the airport. No doubt this demonstration of our power (not) puts us in a stronger position to deal with the two other parts of the famous axis of evil, the two parts that are and were much more of a threat to us than Saddam ever was or would be.

As I said, most people think we would have been better off without this war. So much for Bush's man-date.

"The ultimatum I was talking about"

I understood which ultimatum you were talking about. My reference to a phone call was meant to be taken figuratively, not literally.

"when the bad man turns up in front of a press conference in Damascus, how does Bush overlook that?"

I think you're a bit naive. We can talk endlessly about hypothetical scenarios, and each one has an out for Bush. In your scenario, we would have hit him with a few TLAMs (or whatever) long before his motorcade got near the Baghdad airport (or near the Syrian border, for that matter). CNN: "War begins as Saddam is hit while on maneuvers to mobilize his troops."

Presumably you recall that the war started a bit early because we thought we suddenly had a chance to target him.

jukeboxgrad

Sponge, one more thing. Since you're so indignant about the idea that we might do business with "blood-thirsty murdering filth," let us know how you feel about this, this and this.

Cecil Turner

"No doubt this demonstration of our power (not) puts us in a stronger position to deal with the two other parts of the famous axis of evil, the two parts that are and were much more of a threat to us than Saddam ever was or would be."

This is a fairly common argument, but it's also obviously wrong. Try to gin up a plan to invade Iran without first securing a staging area in Iraq. (Hint: it can't be done.) The DPRK threat is a separate issue, but not aimed predominantly at the US. In short, not a very persuasive argument.

BTW, the probability of hitting a motorcade with a TLAM is remote.

Lurking Observer

Whenever anyone claims that we "should" have gone after North Korea, I know that they're uttering complete and utter BS.

Go after North Korea? When Seoul, the main population center of South Korea, is within artillery range of the DMZ? When consideration of the use of force in 1994 were deep-sixed because of the fear of a "sea of flames"? When North Korea has most of its armed forces literally on the DMZ?

If any of these voices suggesting we "should" have gone after North Korea first had uttered such an opinion in 1994, I might be more inclined to believe them now. But they didn't, so I'm not.

Les Nessman

juke
"The policy of the previous administration was to achieve regime change via peaceful means, if at all possible, and to contain him until that time. This policy was a success."

The previous admin (Clinton) achieved regime change? When?

(Oh, you mean when Bush took over instead of Gore. Gotcha.)

Jor

Cecil & TM, the statements you've accepted are fine, but they lead to only one logical conclusion.

1. it seemed clear that Bush meant to see this through to a resolution, even if that required military action",

2. Regime Change

3. This must be done SOON/NOW

These three premises only leave one possible conclusion/choice. If I'm not mistaken, these are three preimises you both agree that Bush accepted in July 2002. There is only one solution -- WAR. The decision follows directly from accepting those three premises.

IF I told a friend, lets get something to eat at the food court. And he said, well what do they got over there? And I said, "Thai, Pizza, Chinese, MCD -- we can decide when we get there". Then when we get there, everythin g is closed, but the Thai place. Obviously, my friend didn't make the decision. There was only one choice.

Anyway, I told you my betting odds. IF God was gonna tell us tomorrow, what the truth was, I'd say its 10:1 Bush decided in '02.

Cecil Turner

"If I'm not mistaken, these are three preimises you both agree that Bush accepted in July 2002. There is only one solution -- WAR."

Or Saddam could have started complying with the GW cease fire/UN resolutions (if he'd acted promptly) or abdicated right up to the last minute. I'm not sure how many more years you think he needed, but acting as if this is some sort of moral failure on the part of the US is unconvincing at best.

Paul Zrimsek

It kills me to admit it, but my example of the 48-hour ultimatum was not all that well-chosen. I'd forgotten Ari Fleischer's statement that the troops would be going in no matter what; my recollections notwithstanding, the President hadn't said otherwise.

On the other hand, I'm cheered by Jor's acknowledgement that only military force would have gotten Saddam out of power-- something we spent months trying to drag out of John Kerry. Though it's not true that this necessarily meant war; there was good reason to believe, ex ante, that the credible threat of war might have done it as well. (Just not in the final 48 hours.)

jukeboxgrad

"Try to gin up a plan to invade Iran without first securing a staging area in Iraq."

What a relief to finally find out why we're really there. The shifting rationales; makes my head spin. Only problem is, where do we get the troops? Maybe you'll be signing up to help out.

"The DPRK threat is a separate issue, but not aimed predominantly at the US."

Then I guess your guy was misleading us when he singled them out as part of the famous evil axis.

"BTW, the probability of hitting a motorcade with a TLAM is remote."

I thought by saying "or whatever" we could avoid the tangent into gratuitous milspeak. I should have known better.

"Go after North Korea?"

I realize in your world of binary thinking you either occupy a country or ignore it. Get a clue; there are other options. Look up "diplomacy" in the dictionary. Too bad that word isn't part of Bush's vocabulary, either.

"The previous admin (Clinton) achieved regime change?"

Nice job putting words in my mouth. Clinton achieved containment. The result was Saddam, finally, had no WMD. Maybe you haven't heard that news. Then again you might be confused because Bush said "we found the weapons of mass destruction."

"some sort of moral failure on the part of the US"

The central failure is that the threat Saddam represented was highly exaggerated, by folks who had him in their sights for many years, and who exploited 9/11 to do something they had been planning since long before 9/11. People are starting to figure this out, and that's reflected in the polls.

Cecil Turner

"The shifting rationales; makes my head spin."

Rationales? What does that have to do with your clearly erroneous claim that invading Iraq gave us less leverage on Iran? "Shifting" indeed.

"Then I guess your guy was misleading us when he singled them out as part of the famous evil axis."

Are you suggesting that only a threat to the US can be "evil"? The DPRK is plenty problematic in the far east . . . they just don't have much that can reach the US.

"I thought by saying "or whatever" we could avoid the tangent into gratuitous milspeak. I should have known better."

When you're accusing others of being naive, followed by a completely unworkable conspiracy theory, you should expect to be called on it. Even with the "whatever."

"The central failure is that the threat Saddam represented was highly exaggerated . . ."

Compared to the flights of fancy you engage in regularly, the intelligence on Iraq was downright understated. And again, his failure for more than a decade to abide by a cease-fire, 17 chapter VII UN resolutions, and his manifest intent to continue when sanctions were lifted were the proximate cause of the conflict. Each is a perfectly valid casus belli . . . pick one.

jukeboxgrad

"your clearly erroneous claim that invading Iraq gave us less leverage on Iran"

You're obviously entitled to your opinion (that by invading Iraq we now have more leverage over Iran), but maybe you'd like to offer some proof that it's more than just your opinion. You could start by explaining how our demonstrated inability to secure 10 miles of airport road has not signaled to Iran that we're in no position to take them on. You could also explain how the war has not proven that American troops on Muslim soil seem to inspire an apparently endless supply of suicide bombers (demonstrated by Rummy's admission today that Iraq is no safer than it was two years ago).

Speaking of providing proof to back up your statements, I notice the cat got your tongue after I proved you were wrong here.

"The DPRK is plenty problematic in the far east . . . they just don't have much that can reach the US."

As if Saddam did.

"the intelligence on Iraq was downright understated."

Interesting how you continue to make blanket statements on that subject, without even making a pretense of dealing with the proof I presented in the other thread I just mentioned.

"manifest intent to continue when sanctions were lifted"

I addressed this in the other thread, at 8:35 am. Not a peep out of you there lately. How tiresome that you repeat your same specious points as if answers haven't already been provided.

Cecil Turner

". . . but maybe you'd like to offer some proof that it's more than just your opinion."

Maybe if you glanced at a map of the mideast and tried (as I suggested above) to figure a way to put military pressure on Iran, you'd note the only feasible staging area is Iraq. Or maybe you wouldn't. But I'd also note that you came up with the contention that Iraq made us less able to deal with Iran, so the burden of proof is yours.

"Speaking of providing proof to back up your statements . . ."

I'm not sure which of your novelettes on that thread you're referring to, but I think folks adequately addressed most of your points while I was otherwise engaged.

"I addressed this in the other thread, at 8:35 am."

So you did. Here's a response to that one as well then (cunningly hidden in the opening paragraph of the Duelfer Report):

"He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted."
(BTW, the VP's reference to "reconstituted nuclear weapons" in a live broadcast followed twice referring to reconstituted "programs," and was in direct response to a question about Saddam's nuclear "program"--it was was fairly obviously a case of misspeaking. (After all, how do you "reconstitute" a nuclear weapon?) And that point, as you noted, was taken directly from the NIE.

Steven J.

CECIL: "this is some sort of moral failure on the part of the US is unconvincing at best."

"We know for a fact there are weapons there." - Ari Fleischer, Jan. 9, 2003

"But make no mistake -- as I said earlier -- we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about." -Ari Fleischer Press Briefing 4/10/03

No greater harm can be done than breaking the covenant of trust between the President and the people; between the three branches of our government; and between the country and the world.
CLOSING REMARKS OF THE HONORABLE HENRY J. HYDE
AT IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OF WILLIAM J. CLINTON
JANUARY 16, 1999
http://www.sentryoveramerica.com/issue5p5hydeclose011699.html

TIME TO IMPEACH BUSH

Cecil Turner

""We know for a fact there are weapons there." - Ari Fleischer, Jan. 9, 2003"

And of course, he was right. Refer to the link to the Duelfer report above:

  • "The most significant recovered munitions was a 152mm binary Sarin artillery projectile which insurgents had attempted to use as an improvised explosive device."
  • "ISG has also recovered 155mm chemical rounds and 122mm artillery rockets which we judge came from abandoned Regime stocks."
More troubling are the biological agents, previously acknowledged, for which we have no good information.

SteveMG

"We know for a fact there are weapons there." - Ari Fleischer, Jan. 9, 2003

And John Kerry made similar statements. And so did Gore, and Clinton (both of them), and Kennedy, and Daschle, and Gephardt and. . . .

What gets me in particular with the Left on this issue is they never seem to want to hold Kerry et al. to the same standard (as silly as it is) that they hold Bush.

If Bush lied, so did those folks. If Bush needs to be impeached, so do those folks.

Put up or shut up.

SMG

SteveMG

"If Bush needs to be impeached, so do those folks."

Figuratively speaking, of course. Members of Congress cannot be impeached.

But ethics charges can be brought against them.

SMG

Les Nessman

direct quote from juke:"The policy of the previous administration was to achieve regime change ...This policy was a success."

later on, he regrets his words....

juke:"Nice job putting words in my mouth."

Yikes. This is the best the Bush-haters can do?

TM, does this troll pay you for using so much of your bandwidth? Perhaps he should get his own blog?


jukeboxgrad

"He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction"

You're just repeating yourself, and not attempting to address how I responded to this in the other thread: the trouble with your argument is that Bush didn't promote the war by telling us that if sanctions ever ended, Saddam intended to use that opportunity to produce WMD. Bush promoted the war by suggesting, as if it were a proven and incontrovertible fact, that Saddam already had the imminent ability to place a mushroom cloud over Manhattan (and that was a lie).

"The VP's reference to 'reconstituted nuclear weapons' ... "

Nice job trying to assert that "nuclear weapons" means something other than "nuclear weapons." (This reminds me of when O'Neill's defenders explained that the words "in Cambodia," spoken to Nixon, didn't actually mean "in Cambodia.")

"After all, how do you 'reconstitute' a nuclear weapon?"

Good question, but I think you'd have to ask Cheney. Maybe it's something like "dissasembling."

"it was was fairly obviously a case of misspeaking"

If that's true, than please point out where he subsequently (in that program or at any other time) corrected himself, to avoid being misunderstood on this extremely important subject. As far as I can tell, he didn't correct himself until six months later, when Russert confronted him about it. This tends to create the impression that even if he did "only" misspeak, that he was perfectly happy to let people be misled in a direction he found politically useful. Otherwise, why not make a simple statement (in the next day or two) to correct the record?

"And of course, he was right"

So Duelfer found some old chemical shells, which were apparently so useless and obsolete that Saddam had "abandoned" them. And as far as you're concerned, this vindicates all the war-mongering hysteria, like Bush ominously invoking "the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." Am I understanding you correctly?

"More troubling are the biological agents, previously acknowledged, for which we have no good information."

More rehashing of material that I addressed in the other thread. You're suggesting that stuff is still out there somewhere. If so, how come no one has used it against us there? Is it that the suicide bombers are squeamish about using illegal weapons?

"If Bush needs to be impeached, so do those folks."

I addressed this at 1:16 pm.

Les quotes me as follows: "The policy of the previous administration was to achieve regime change ...This policy was a success."

My original statement was: "The policy of the previous administration was to achieve regime change via peaceful means, if at all possible, and to contain him until that time. This policy was a success."

I think it would be hard to find a more dishonest use of an ellipsis.

SteveMG

Jukeboxgrad:
Re Cheney's statement to Russert on Meet the Press.

Cheney corrected his mis-statement re reconstituting nuclear weapons versus nuclear weapons program that very day.

If you check the Washington Post the next day (Monday after the Sunday MTP), you'll see a story that quotes Cheney's staff as telling Russert that the V.P. meant "nuclear weapons program". Throughout the interview, Cheney referred to the "program". It was on two occasions that he said inadvertently said "nuclear weapons" and dropped the "program."

This is a non-issue. I can't believe you're repeating this silliness.

SMG

Cecil Turner

"Bush promoted the war by suggesting, as if it were a proven and incontrovertible fact, that Saddam already had the imminent ability to place a mushroom cloud over Manhattan (and that was a lie)."

Umm, no. What he said was:

"Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known."
Referring to Blix's assessment of missing anthrax, one kilogram of which, dropped over a major US city, could cause 123,000 deaths (according to a mathematical model). Prisoners at Guantanamo indicated Iraq trained Al Qaeda members, and that Al Qaeda was looking to Iraq for help with chemical/bio weapons. Considering the impossibility of tracking every 2.2 lb package entering the country, the threat was every bit as real as the Administration claimed.

"Good question, but I think you'd have to ask Cheney. Maybe it's something like 'dissasembling.'"

Puhleeze. Read the exchange. He has several references to Saddam's nuclear program:

  • "once again reconstituting his nuclear program"
  • "he’s reconstituted these programs"
  • "he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons"
  • "his pursuit of nuclear weapons"
    Then, in response to: "And even though the International Atomic Energy Agency said he does not have a nuclear program, we disagree?"
  • "And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." And later:
  • "it’s only a matter of time until he acquires nuclear weapons"
    In five references, on live national television, he leaves out the word "program" one time, and you're fixated on it. Give it up.

    "So Duelfer found some old chemical shells . . ."

    Which is pertinent only because some lefty was claiming he didn't. (Though that binary sarin shell wasn't all that old or ineffective.)

    "You're suggesting that stuff is still out there somewhere."

    I'm suggesting none of us, including you, know. And since we've already been on the receiving end of a bio attack for which we can't find the source, and the potential death toll for a successful attack is so devastating, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to claim it's a "threat."

  • jukeboxgrad

    "Cheney corrected his mis-statement re reconstituting nuclear weapons versus nuclear weapons program that very day."

    Really?

    "If you check the Washington Post the next day (Monday after the Sunday MTP), you'll see a story that quotes Cheney's staff ... "

    Really? I took your advice, and all I could find was a story (Monday, 3/17/03) that quoted Cheney as saying "nuclear weapons."

    Oddly enough, the next day (Tuesday 3/18/03) another story does the same thing. (This particular article points out that Cheney contradicted himself by also saying it was "only a matter of time before he acquires nuclear weapons," but the article carries no hint of any follow-up correction by Cheney that would reconcile this contradiction.)

    The closest I could come to finding what you said I should find is a column from 5/20/03, entitled "Energy Policy Spurs Affirmative Action Debate." Buried at the bottom of this article is a reference to Cheney's remark, followed by this note: "aides later said Cheney was referring to Saddam Hussein's nuclear programs, not weapons."

    Given that he was being misquoted practically on a daily basis, on such an important subject, at such a critical time, why is there no record (as far as I can tell) of Cheney speaking up about this until May? If Cheney informed the press promptly, and they continued to misquote him, why is there no earlier and/or clearer record of him complaining about this? Is it because he's reluctant to intimidate or offend the press? Was Mr. go-f***-yourself too genteel to make sure the press was not repeatedly misquoting him?

    As I said, the circumstances create the impression that Cheney was perfectly happy to let people misunderstand him in this particular way, at this particular time.

    Cecil seems to deny that Bush made a statement about a mushroom cloud. I already provided that citation.

    "Al Qaeda was looking to Iraq for help with chemical/bio weapons"

    Your link quotes Rice quoting unnamed detainees. Very solid. Surely none of these folks might have been motivated to tell interrogators what they surmised interrogators wanted to hear. Meanwhile, Powell said "I have not seen smoking-gun, concrete evidence about the connection [between Saddam and Al Qaeda]" (NYT, 1/9/04). I wonder why you and Rice are more impressed by those detainees than Powell was.

    "I don't think it's too much of a stretch to claim it's a 'threat.'"

    You're still dodging a simple question. You're suggesting Saddam had biological weapons. If so, what's your theory about why none of it has been used against us, especially in Iraq?

    Another simple question you're dodging is whether you think a few old shells found by Duelfer represent vindication of all the hyperpole (e.g., "mushroom cloud") the administration used to whip up support for the war.

    "he leaves out the word 'program' one time"

    As I've explained, what's especially remarkable is not just that he would make a "mistake" like that (although that is in itself remarkable, given that unlike his boss Cheney has a history of constructing sentences carefully), but rather that he would stand by silently (as far as I can tell) while his mistake is quoted repeatedly. Odd behavior, unless he was actually quite delighted to see this particular message disseminated.

    Cecil Turner

    "If so, what's your theory about why none of it has been used against us, especially in Iraq?"

    Bio agents are relatively difficult to use against soldiers . . . they're hard to hit, have protective gear, etc. Both bio and chem tend to kill lots more civilians than soldiers (one of the reasons their use is outlawed). But again, bio was used against us, here in the US. And in a very object lesson on how difficult this stuff is to track, we still don't know where it came from.

    "Another simple question you're dodging is whether you think a few old shells . . ."

    Again, it's only pertinent when people want to claim there were no WMDs in Iraq. There were.

    "Cecil seems to deny that Bush made a statement about a mushroom cloud. I already provided that citation."

    You said Bush claimed "Saddam already had the imminent ability" . . . which is not quite the same thing as "We cannot wait for . . . " a mushroom cloud. His statement of the threat was unequivocal, and not nuclear:

    Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.
    And again, you fixated on an ancillary point.

    "As I've explained, what's especially remarkable is not just that he would make a "mistake" like that . . ."

    Nobody reading the whole interview could possibly come away with that conclusion. And again, what's a "reconstituted nuclear weapon"? Do you add water to an old weapon? Ludicrous. Eugene Volokh effectively dismantles that argument here. And sorry JBG, but this barrage of nonsense isn't interesting. Cheers.

    jukeboxgrad

    "Bio agents are relatively difficult to use against soldiers"

    In case you haven't noticed, the "insurgents" are killing mostly civilians. So if there were bio agents anywhere in Iraq, how is it that two years later they still haven't managed to find their way into the hands of these people who will obviously use any means at their disposal to wreak havoc?

    "it's only pertinent when people want to claim there were no WMDs in Iraq. There were."

    You're glossing over the extremely pertinent fact that what we were told was there is collosally out of proportion with what was actually found.

    This is sort of like if I say "it never snows in Florida" and you say Liar! It did snow once in 1872!

    "You said Bush claimed 'Saddam already had the imminent ability' . . . which is not quite the same thing as 'We cannot wait for . . . a mushroom cloud.'"

    I think you're being obtuse if you don't grasp that "imminent" is a reasonable inference from "we cannot wait." And incidentally, by using the phrases "we cannot wait" and "mushroom cloud" in close proximity, I think Bush intentionally and successfully created the impression that Saddam had nukes ready to go. Obviously even the highly flawed NIE did not make this extreme claim.

    "His statement of the threat was unequivocal, and not nuclear"

    Please explain why you think anyone would interpret the phrase "mushroom cloud" as "not nuclear." I think the conventional understanding of the term is pretty obvious.

    "Nobody reading the whole interview could possibly come away with that conclusion."

    As you and Cheney are well-aware, the number of people who heard his selected quote ("nuclear weapons") is probably thousands of times greater than the number of people who read "the whole interview." Anyway, I notice you can't be bothered to address the simple question: why did Cheney apparently do so little to point out that he was being frequently and materially misquoted?

    "what's a 'reconstituted nuclear weapon'?"

    Since you're so interested in that particular question, here's an answer: a weapon Saddam created from old parts he obtained from disparate sources. I'm sure you could have thought of that on your own.

    "Eugene Volokh effectively dismantles that argument"

    Volokh does a good job of pointing out how frequently Cheney's remark was misquoted (or "misquoted," depending on your perspective). All the more reason to wonder why Cheney didn't speak up (or at least didn't speak up very early or very vigorously). It's interesting that Volokh seems unwilling to even consider this very obvious question. Likewise for you.

    It's also quite fascinating to note that Volokh himself didn't speak up until 6/30/03 (and I'm not aware of any other similar columns prior to this date). Oddly enough, this is right around the time folks were starting to wonder why we weren't finding what we had been told would be found. This tends to create the impression that Volokh et al were perfectly content for Cheney's misstatement to continue to be disseminated, as long as there still seemed to be a chance that we might find something remotely approximating a nuclear weapon. Then Cheney could say Fooled you! I was right all along!

    "this barrage of nonsense isn't interesting."

    I'm surprised you don't want to stick around and explain why Powell said (2/24/01) "(Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction." This is especially interesting in light of the UK memo of 3/22/02 which says "even the best survey of Iraq's WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years."

    Cecil Turner

    "In case you haven't noticed, the "insurgents" are killing mostly civilians."

    Saddam and his senior aides are in custody. There's no reason to assume the insurgency would have inherited any significant stockpiles, even if the capability still existed. Though they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs--and attempted more:

    ISG chemical weapons (CW) and counterterrorism experts uncovered and tracked down an active insurgent group that had been using former Regime CW experts to attempt to create and use CW for use against the Coalition.”
    It's possible some was hidden, but the most likely fate of whatever material remained was either destruction during the run up to war, or possibly transport:
    ISG was unable to complete its investigation and is unable to rule out the possibility that WMD was evacuated to Syria before the war.
    "You're glossing over the extremely pertinent fact that what we were told was there is collosally out of proportion with what was actually found."

    Again, that statement was specifically directed at Steven J's quote of Ari Fleischer, and the implication that it was false. In fact, Fleischer's statement was true (accidentally so, perhaps, but true nonetheless).

    "I think Bush intentionally and successfully created the impression that Saddam had nukes ready to go."

    Except he very expressly stated the exact opposite:

    Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don't know exactly, and that's the problem.
    "As you and Cheney are well-aware, the number of people who heard his selected quote ("nuclear weapons") is probably thousands of times greater than the number of people who read "the whole interview." "

    No doubt, as a veritable flock of liberals used it to beat up on him and Rumsfeld. Unconvincingly. Our esteemed host said it was a non-issue, and convinced Prof DeLong. Gotta admit the theory Cheney misspoke on purpose (presumably because he likes abuse?) is a new twist.

    "I'm surprised you don't want to stick around and explain why Powell said (2/24/01) "(Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.""

    Because on 2/24/01, we were worried about Saddam using his WMDs on his neighbors via rockets and artillery. After 9/11/01, we were worried about him using them on us (via terrorists). Bio stocks, relatively ineffective for the former purpose, are perfect for the latter.

    jukeboxgrad

    "There's no reason to assume the insurgency would have inherited any significant stockpiles [of BW]"

    Due to failures on our part, the country was thoroughly looted, including and especially major military/industrial installations (pdf,">http://www.iraqcoalition.org/regulations/20040420_CPAORD_75_Realignment_of_Military_Industrial_Companies__with_Annex_A.pdf%22">pdf, see Annex A). As a result, the "insurgents" appear to have "inherited" endless supplies of every other kind of weapon Saddam left behind. Why would BW be any different?

    "Though they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs--and attempted more"

    The link you cite says only that there was an "attempt" to create and use CW. How does this translate into "they have used?" Are you talking about the one sarin shell you mentioned earlier? This also was only an attempt, and it's not "at least a couple." Just wondering where you're getting your information, since the claims you're making go several steps beyond the facts you're presenting. Hmm, I wonder where you got the idea to do that.

    "the possibility that WMD was evacuated to Syria before the war"

    Ah, the old "we won't know for sure until we invade Syria" argument. Hey, wait a minute- what if after it moved to Syria someone Fedexed it to Iran? Pakistan? And then on to Indonesia? Venezuela? Cuba? Quick, go sign up: they need you.

    Last I heard, lots of folks were entering Iraq from Syria, intending to do us harm. Why wouldn't they be carrying some of those WMD that got stashed away across the border? Is there security at the border that only allows WMD to be carried in one direction?

    "Fleischer's statement was true"

    Let me make sure I'm understanding you correctly. You're claiming that Fleischer's statement "We know for a fact there are weapons there" is vindicated by Duelfer's discovery of one sarin shell. Is that it?

    If you have trouble grasping the absurdity of this, do the obvious substitution. Imagine if Fleischer had said "we know for a fact Duelfer will discover an old sarin shell."

    Along similar lines, I suppose you're also going to claim that Bush was telling the truth when he said "we found the weapons of mass destruction ... We found biological laboratories" (link). Note he didn't even say "some" or "a few." He said "the," as if every extravagant prewar claim had been vindicated. Also note how cleverly he elides (much as you do) the material difference between a weapon and the wish, intention or capability of building one (link).

    "Except he very expressly stated the exact opposite: 'Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don't know exactly, and that's the problem.'"

    Uh, sorry, no. Saying "we don't know exactly" is by no means "the exact opposite" of dropping a giant hint ("we cannot wait ... mushroom cloud") that it's going to happen the day after tomorrow. Something closer to the exact opposite would be "it may not happen for years, or it may never happen." By mixing his "we don't know for sure" statements with his "we cannot wait" statements, he's doing everything he can to create the impression that danger was imminent. This was definitely not supported by the underlying intelligence, and it wasn't even supported by the highly-flawed NIE.

    By the way, I notice you seem to have no interest in backing up your absurd suggestion that Bush's reference to a "mushroom cloud" is "not nuclear."

    "No doubt, as a veritable flock of liberals used it to beat up on him and Rumsfeld."

    All the more reason to be puzzled that Cheney didn't speak up, at least not early and/or vigorously. By they way, your various citations only seem to confirm what I've already pointed out, that it took more than two months (until 5/20/03) for there to be any sign of an attempt by Cheney to correct the record. (SteveMG made a claim materially different than this, but for the moment he's occupied elsewhere.)

    It's also interesting to note that all your citations, as far as I can tell, are dated after 5/20. I've already explained my theory about this.

    It's also interesting to note that your latest citations all fail to ask the obvious question: why didn't Cheney speak up? I also notice that you're still determined to dodge that very simple question. Or maybe you can find the mysterious missing WaPo article that Steve cited, proving that Cheney quickly issued a correction.

    "the theory Cheney misspoke on purpose (presumably because he likes abuse?)"

    I provided a very logical reason for Cheney's behavior, so it's highly disingenuous of you to suggest that "he likes abuse" is the only possible explanation. Anyway, I didn't just introduce the possiblity that he mispoke on purpose. I also introduced the possibility that he mispoke by accident, but then had very obvious political reasons to be perfectly happy to let the error be disseminated (until a couple of months later when he resigned himself to the reality that nothing remotely resembling a nuke was going to be found). Then again, Cheney is hardly the sort of fellow who would be so opportunistic, shrewd and calculating, right? It's hard to imagine him deliberately promoting a situation which sets him up to have his cake and eat it too.

    "Because on 2/24/01, we were worried about Saddam using his WMDs on his neighbors via rockets and artillery. After 9/11/01, we were worried about him using them on us (via terrorists)."

    Ah yes, the old "9/11 changed everything." Trouble is, Powell said "_any_ significant capability" (emphasis added). A plain reading of this is "without regard to means of delivery (by missile or by suitcase)."

    By the way, Powell's statement was made 6 years after the Tokyo subway sarin attack. It was years after the WTC had already once been attacked. It was barely four months after the attack on the USS Cole. These events, and others, should have been more than enough for us to take seriously any significant WMD in Saddam's hands as of 2/24/01, if we actually thought he had them. Powell stated otherwise.

    By the way, recall the famous PDB (8/6/01) which said "Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US ... FBI information ... indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."

    If on 2/24/01 we thought Saddam had the ability to hand a suitcase of WMD to a traveling terrorist, then Powell's statement was irresponsible, in the context of the events I mentioned (and other similar events). Long before 9/11 we had ample reason to understand that lots of people were trying to harm us. Then again, there are ample signs that Bush was asleep at the wheel (or maybe I should say asleep at My Pet Goat) with regard to terrorism, pre-9/11 (there are lots of other clues, aside from the aforementioned PDB).

    As the UK memo I cited pointed out, 9/11 didn't change Saddam's WMD capabilities (or his non-relationship with Al Qaeda, for that matter). All that changed was that PNAC et al had the "new Pearl Harbor" they had been imagining (pdf). And as indicated by O'Neill, Clark, and many others, they wasted no time taking advantage of it ("F--- Saddam. we're taking him out").

    Harry Arthur

    JBG - so boringly predictable - you do love to hear yourself talk. So what's the solution now that we're there? Or do we want to plow this ground again, and again, and again, etc?

    Cecil Turner

    "Why would BW be any different?"

    BW was run by their spooks, and presumably they had a bit better handle on it. And again, they did get some.

    "The link you cite says only that there was an "attempt" to create and use CW. How does this translate into "they have used?""

    Sorry, I thought you'd read the report. Here's the graphic on the two IEDs (and ten other mustard rounds discovered in the aftermath). The "attempt" was a separate, unsuccessful attempt by insurgents to generate their own.

    "You're claiming that Fleischer's statement "We know for a fact there are weapons there" is vindicated by Duelfer's discovery of one sarin shell. Is that it?"

    That would be "weapon" wouldn't it? However, they found just a bit more than that:

    • "Since May 2004, ISG has recovered a total of 53 chemical weapons from various sources and military units throughout Iraq."
    Now we're comfortably into "weapons."

    "It's also interesting to note that all your citations, as far as I can tell, are dated after 5/20. I've already explained my theory about this."

    Not really interesting. That's the week Tim Noah compared the statement with one by Rumsfeld, and claimed it was the Whopper of the Week. (Up to that point, it got zero play, which effectively rebuts your theory.) And again, fallacy files is on point. TM nailed it: non-issue.

    "Trouble is, Powell said "_any_ significant capability" (emphasis added). A plain reading of this is "without regard to means of delivery (by missile or by suitcase).""

    A 22 lb suitcase full of anthrax is not, in military terms, a "significant capability." It is, however, enough agent to cause tens of thousands of casualties in ten US cities, if delivered effectively--luckily, that last bit is not so easy. (Conversely, 50 Sarin-filled Scuds are a significant military capability, but essentially useless to terrorists.) And yes, 9/11 (and the subsequent anthrax mailings) changed everything.

    Harry Arthur

    JBG, and of course in the paragraph directly preceeding that cited in your link we have some context: "We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a ... (redacted portion) ... service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar 'Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists."

    I wonder if you know the difference between hijacking an aircraft for the purpose of using it and the passengers as bargaining chips as has been done repeatedly in the past and for which air crews had been trained prior to 9/11 and using it as a weapon which had never occured previously, for which air crews were totally unprepared and which NO ONE anticipated.

    You really ought to not try so hard to make your point that you have to misrepresent the facts and their context to do so.

    To suggest that in any possible way anyone from either the Bush or Clinton administration could have reasonably anticipated the events of 9/11 strikes me as pathetic. Whether either administration was adequately focused on the terrorist threat is a valid question that is open to discussion and disagreement but to suggest that Bush or anyone in his administration should have known what was about to occur is ridiculous at best. Furthermore, to fault the president for happening to be reading to some children at the moment of the attack is just irrational. It certainly doesn't qualify as civil discourse.

    TM

    Well, well - on the subject of Cheney, Tim Russert, and "reconstitued nuclear weapons", I happen to be a leading light, since I posted on this even before Eugene Volokh back in May of 2003.

    To very briefly turn the tables a bit - Jukebox wonders why it took Cheney two months to correct the record. My theory back then is my theory today - it took Cheney two months to realize he had misspoken.

    Put another way, review the context - one day before we are set to invade Iraq, the VP announces on national television that Iraq has nuclear weapons. Yet Tim Russert does not even blink, and moves on with his questioning. And the next day, instead of headlines blaring the news (US Set To Launch War Against Nuclear Power!), we get stuff buried in the want ads (and cites from March can be found in a few non-MSM outlets, if Google is your friend).

    Sure, that makes sense - every embedded reporter should have been waiting for The Big One, but no one mentions it?

    What really happened? In May of 2003, when folks were scratching their heads about "where are the WMDs", and Dems were doing their "Bush Lied!" googling, some sleuths (popularized by Dana Milbank at the WaPo) dug up this transcript and started popularizing it. Eugene V. (and I, and others, pushed back, a bit if buzz was created, and eventually someone asked McClellan at a press conference.

    SO, Theory 1 - Cheney announced it with a straight face in March, but no almost one in the press, the blogs, or amongst the Dems even noticed until May because they were all asleep - possible!

    Theory 2 - everyone knew he misspoke, as is clear from the transcript, and no on cared until a few opportunists tried to resurrect it months later.

    Some links - my first post, from May 2003 - I infer that the WaPo's Dana Milbank was incited by a statement Don Rumsfeld made on May 14, 2003, to wit: "I don't believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons." – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, May 14, 2003

    May 2003 - Brad DeLong accepts my point.

    June 2003 - Krugman, Time, CNN pick up the cry.

    July 2003 - Scott McClellan gets asked:

    Q: ... Vice President Cheney said flatly at one point that Iraq is reconstituting it's nuclear weapons.

    MR. McCLELLAN: He was referring to its nuclear weapons program. If you go back and look at that interview, I know which one you're citing. And repeatedly throughout that interview he was talking about reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. You're right about that one statement was said, but he was referring to reconstitution of a nuclear weapons program.

    SO, more questions - why did Slate, Time, CNN, Krugman, the WaPo, etc hod off until May/June to focus on what might have been viewed as a stunning announcement in March?

    Why did reporters hear this from Cheney in March and hold their questions for McClellan until July?

    Can we have a need a statute of limitations on these discredited attack memes?

    TM

    Now, I may as well trot out my other explanations for the DSM, which I will call "All Aboard" and "Says Who?".

    All Aboard: Team USA may simply have been trying to create some momentum with Team Brit. If the US side admits it is considering a path that may lead to war but is unsure whther we actually have the political will to take that step, well, the Brits may feel like they can duck out.

    So Team Bush shouts "ALL Aboard - the bus is leaving the station!". This makes it more likely the Brits will focus on war-planning rather than war-dodging.

    And of course, if we later decide *not* to go to war, well, the Brits will understand.

    Or, third choice, "Says Who?" - there were surely some very martial factions in Washington in July 2002. Maybe the Brits met with a Wolfowitz group, or a Cheney group, heard the growls, and figured that was the full story.

    Anyway, I am stumped as to the point. Folks intent on proving that Bush staged this war for political gain will need a lot more than this memo.

    Or, if this memo is being cited to show that Bush picked a course that was likely to result in war - well, no kidding. But *if* Saddam had fled, or been tossed in a coup, or had cooperated with the inspectors, I find it hard to beleive that we would still have gone to war, and this memo hardly proves otherwise.

    Harry Arthur

    TM, Cecil, flenser, SMG, et al, your problem is that you are looking at this issue in a reasonable, logic manner, willing, I presume, to let the facts and the historical and military context take you where they will. JBG and his friends are simply convinced that Bush is evil, that his motives are evil, and that he and his administration must be wrong 100% of the time to match their world view. They will simply make the facts match their preconceived notions no matter how ridiculous, illogical or strained the "connections" become.

    Of course in the real world it is often the simple explanation that is most reasonable but no amount of discussion will apparently suffice to convince them that there are simple, innocent explanations for each of these events that make logical, common sense. Nor do they understand the obvious and clear differences between lying or intentional deceit and simply being wrong because you've been provided bad or inaccurate intelligence information.

    They have become irrational to the point that any attempt at civil discourse is excruciatingly difficult if not impossible. In short they have bought into the whole bankrupt, Michael Moore, Howard Dean, conspiracy theory philosophy. And they must be right because, after all, they not only know what Bush and his associates did but how they thought about it and what their motivations were at the time.

    I do applaud your efforts at rational discussion.

    jukeboxgrad

    "BW was run by their spooks, and presumably they had a bit better handle on it."

    Such a good handle that the stuff remains invisible two years later? You've failed to show why this would be plausible.

    "And again, they [insurgents] did get some [biological weapons]."

    Where is this written? Maybe you've already answered this question, but I don't think so.

    "Here's the graphic on the two IEDs (and ten other mustard rounds discovered in the aftermath)."

    The graphic only shows that items were "recovered." There's no indication (in this graphic, at least) to support your statement "they have used."

    "ISG has recovered a total of 53 chemical weapons"

    53! Why didn't you say so? That changes everything. Why, that's only about 32 dead Americans for each shell recovered. Well-worth it, don't you think? Thank goodness we have leaders savvy enough to make a deal like that.

    Never mind that acccording to Duelfer, these items were apparently at least 12 years old, apparently forgotten by Saddam, and probably considered useless by Saddam or anyone else: "While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991" (link).

    Never mind that Powell told the UN "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets" (link). Note that this was his "conservative" estimate. Note that what we actually found was one-third of one percent of what his "conservative" estimate predicted (even if I assume that a shell contains as much as a rocket, which is probably a generous assumption on my part). If you claim this justifies the assertion WMD was found, that means you have a problem with the concept of materiality.

    Never mind that these items sat somewhere for at least 12 years without hurting anyone, as far as we can tell. Never mind that there is no sign Saddam ever gave any of this stuff to OBL, or ever would have. At least we gave up 32 US troops for each of these old, useless, forgotten shells!

    Most people have enough common sense to grasp the inherent absurdity of all this, which is why they believe the war wasn't worth it and hasn't made us safer (link).

    "Up to that point, it got zero play"

    As I cited earlier, Cheney's misstatement appeared in the WaPo the day after he said it, and then the day after that. This is what you call "zero play?" I notice you're still dodging the simple question: why didn't Cheney speak up?

    "And yes, 9/11 (and the subsequent anthrax mailings) changed everything."

    You're repeating yourself without even making a pretense of addressing what I said. In the aftermath of the Tokyo subway attack and many other incidents, some of which I cited above, there's no reason to assume that Powell's statement of "any significant capability" was meant to be interpreted only in terms of missile delivery, and not suitcase delivery.

    Speaking of dodging tough questions, I also notice you're still declining to explain why "mushroom cloud" does not connote "nuclear." Maybe you intend to wait a couple months before you correct your misstatement, kind of like Cheney.

    Speaking of dodging tough questions, I also notice you're not attempting to defend Bush's statement "we found the weapons of mass destruction."

    "using it as a weapon which had never occured previously"

    You're suggesting it was never attempted. Wrong: " ... crashing planes into structures is not new. The Israelis shot down a Libyan jetliner they said was headed for a building in Tel Aviv in the 1980s. A Cessna 150 fell 50 yards short of the White House in September, 1994. French commandos prevented a jumbo jet, hijacked in Algeria by the Armed Islamic Group, from crashing into the Eiffel Tower the following December. In the mid 1990s, terrorist Ramzi Yousef plotted to have his friend Abdul Hakim Murad fly a light plane loaded with chemical weapons into CIA headquarters at Langley, Va., or to have him spray the area with poison gas. A Turkish hijacker attempted to crash an aircraft into the tomb of former Pres. Kemal Ataturk in Ankara in 1998."

    I realize you think the PDB means nothing because it doesn't announce the precise time and location. I guess it's not enough for you that it mentions OBL, hijacking airplanes, and NYC.

    By the way, your remark creates the impression that we would have no reason to be concerned about OBL "merely" hijacking airplanes; that we had no reason to pay attention to such a thing unless it was specifically his intention to fly them into buildings.

    By the way, it's not as if ignoring the PDB is the only failure during this period.

    "which NO ONE anticipated"

    Really? " Information obtained in August 1998 that unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the World Trade Center." More here.

    "You really ought to not try so hard to make your point that you have to misrepresent the facts and their context to do so."

    Heh.

    "to fault the president for happening to be reading to some children at the moment of the attack is just irrational."

    It's not what he did "at the moment of the attack." It's what he did (or more precisely, what he didn't do) in the minutes that followed.

    "it took Cheney two months to realize he had misspoken."

    I guess Cheney's attitude about reading newspapers is similar to Dubya's, then. Although haven't I heard that Cheney does the reading for Bush?

    Sorry, not plausible. Cheney has a staff. His remark was on a very important subject at a very important time. It was covered in the press. Two days after he said it, it was close to the top of this article. It makes no sense that no one on his staff had any idea what was going on.

    We already know Bush doesn't read the papers. Maybe Cheney doesn't either. But now you're saying no one in the White House reads the A section of the WaPo? Give me a break.

    "but no one mentions it"

    Only if you think of the WaPo as "no one."

    "Yet Tim Russert does not even blink"

    There are lots of things that should have made the press blink, but didn't. That darn liberal media.

    "Why did reporters hear this from Cheney in March and hold their questions for McClellan until July?"

    I'll be the first to tell you the press misses a lot. Exhibit A: DSM.

    By the way, since Cecil is AWOL on this point, maybe you'd like to explain how Bush's statement "we cannot wait ... mushroom cloud" is not an example of intentionally and successfully creating the impression that Saddam had nukes ready to go.

    "*if* Saddam had ... cooperated with the inspectors"

    "Iraq has on the whole cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field.  The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt." (link)

    Blix goes on to say there are unresolved issues with getting proof that old stuff was destroyed. But this report makes clear that Saddam was indeed cooperating with the inspectors.

    "Can we have a need a statute of limitations on these discredited attack memes?"

    Indeed.

    "Team USA may simply have been trying to create some momentum with Team Brit. If the US side admits it is considering a path that may lead to war but is unsure whther we actually have the political will to take that step, well, the Brits may feel like they can duck out."

    So not only was Bush misleading and manipulating us, but he was doing the same thing with the top people of his closest ally. Nice.

    "if this memo is being cited to show that Bush picked a course that was likely to result in war"

    The word that seems to come up over and over again is "inevitable," not "likely." Slight difference there. The other key point is that it's clear that inspections (or more precisely, the hope that Saddam wouldn't allow inspections) were seen as a justification for war, rather than as a way to avert it (link).

    Harry Arthur

    JBG, you continue to illustrate my point. Thanks.

    TexasToast

    “JBG and his friends are simply convinced that Bush is evil, that his motives are evil, and that he and his administration must be wrong 100% of the time to match their world view.”

    Harry

    You can read minds?

    JBG is rather passionate – is he not? But he does a better job than most at backing up his argument with citations (As does TM). Can you convince us he is wrong either with facts that refute what he is saying – or a competing analysis of those facts? Why does his motive make any difference? I have always thought that it was much more effective to attack the argument – not the person.

    Cecil Turner

    "The graphic only shows that items were "recovered." There's no indication (in this graphic, at least) to support your statement "they have used.""

    Note the "IED" notations. IED's do not create themselves. Not sure if you're disputing calling that a "use"--but if so, I don't have the energy to argue it with you.

    "Speaking of dodging tough questions, I also notice you're not attempting to defend Bush's statement "we found the weapons of mass destruction.""

    We found 53 of them, several IIS secret labs whose activities we still haven't nailed down, a concealment program that ran right up to the start of the war, and ample evidence of cheating on 1441 (et al). Seems to me his statement is a whole lot more defensible than "no WMD" is.

    "53! Why didn't you say so? That changes everything."

    Nice recovery from pretending there was only one. And it's a pretty good indicator he was too busy concealing and dispersing to bother with disclosure and destruction. The chem rounds were no danger to the US. The activities in the secret labs were another matter. (Remember, 1kg: 123,000 deaths?) And did I mention we still don't know where that post-9/11 anthrax attack came from?

    Cecil Turner

    " By the way, since Cecil is AWOL on this point, maybe you'd like to explain how Bush's statement "we cannot wait ... mushroom cloud" is not an example of intentionally and successfully creating the impression that Saddam had nukes ready to go. . . . Maybe you intend to wait a couple months before you correct your misstatement, kind of like Cheney."

    JBG, if you're going to continue to insist that these "impressions" are more important than plain statements (e.g., "Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon." [note: "how close" indicates he's not there yet] "Well, we don't know. . . " [note: "don't know" indicates not knowing how close]), I can't help you. "We cannot wait" also indicates futurity, all of which discredits your argument.

    Similarly, the idea that Cheney intentionally meant to leave a wrong impression, and yet contradicted himself multiple times--all on the eve of war and far too late to have any useful impact on public opinion--doesn't make any sense. And since all those points have been made several times now, I don't see any value in parsing "creating impressions" any more. If you do, feel free. But I'm really not interested in participating.

    jukeboxgrad

    "any attempt at civil discourse"

    Harry, I guess part of your concept of "civil discourse" is that you get to make ignorant, false statements ("had never occured previously ... which NO ONE anticipated") and then when proof of your error is presented to you, you pretend you don't notice. Nice. This seems to be a pattern here with some of your pals, too.

    Texas said "I have always thought that it was much more effective to attack the argument – not the person."

    That's only true when the facts are on your side.

    "IED's do not create themselves"

    You had said "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs--and attempted more." "Used" presumably means "used in an attack," not "assembled and filed away on a shelf somewhere." All I know from Duelfer is that someone attempted to turn two CW shells into IEDs. I don't know how you get from this to your assertion "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs--and attempted more."

    "We found 53 of them"

    We found no BW. Trouble is, that's what Bush said: "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories." In other words, as I've said, he's trying to elide the difference between having a weapon vs. having tools that might be used to build a weapon. Just one example of many, many misleading statements. LIke "mushroom cloud," which you still stubbornly refuse to address (and I'm not just talking about Bush's use of that phrase, but also your specious comment that it's "not nuclear").

    "Nice recovery from pretending there was only one"

    I wasn't "pretending" there was only one. I was under the impression there was only one. I'm happy to have better information now. By the way, nice job pretending that there is anything meaningful about this pitiful find, except that it tends to demonstrate that 99.7% of what we said was there isn't there. That's with respect to CW. With respect to the other big bogey-men (nuclear and BW), the answer is, for all practical purposes, 100%.

    "it's a pretty good indicator he was too busy concealing and dispersing to bother with disclosure and destruction"

    Like I said, I think if you went over there to help look, I bet you'd find some stuff that Duelfer managed to miss.

    "'We cannot wait' also indicates futurity, all of which discredits your argument."

    I have no idea what you're talking about.

    "and yet contradicted himself multiple times"

    Intentionally contradicting yourself can be an excellent propaganda tool. It can be a tool for being all things to all people, and it can be a tool to have your cake and eat it too.

    "far too late to have any useful impact on public opinion"

    Cheney and most other folks are well-aware that the battle for public opinion didn't end when the bombs started falling.

    Cecil Turner

    ""Used" presumably means "used in an attack," not "assembled and filed away on a shelf somewhere." All I know from Duelfer is that someone attempted to turn two CW shells into IEDs."

    JBG, this endless parsing of minute turns of phrase is tedious and unnecessary. Does rigging a WMD round as an IED and placing it near a convoy route qualify in your parlance as "used"? (It does in mine.) If so:

    The round was rigged as part of an improvised explosive device discovered by a U.S. forces convoy. The IED detonated before the IED could be rendered inoperable and produced a small amount of agent.
    "I don't know how you get from this to your assertion "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs--and attempted more.""

    Two rounds (one Sarin, one mustard) were used in IEDs. The "more" part is: "ISG chemical weapons (CW) and counterterrorism experts uncovered and tracked down an active insurgent group that had been using former Regime CW experts to attempt to create and use CW for use against the Coalition.”

    I'm not sure why it's necessary to provide this level of detail to support every statement, especially when you could easily verify it yourself by reading the Duelfer report. But if the point was to wear me out, it worked. Cheers.

    Harry Arthur

    TT, no I can't read minds, nor can you or any of the other commentators that routinely suggest motives for Bush and those in his administration. If you take my comments in context I clearly said "in the real world it is often the simple explanation that is most reasonable but no amount of discussion will apparently suffice to convince them that there are simple, innocent explanations for each of these events that make logical, common sense. Nor do they understand the obvious and clear differences between lying or intentional deceit and simply being wrong because you've been provided bad or inaccurate intelligence information." I stand by that statement based on the numerous extensive posts on this thread and others and logically conclude that to argue otherwise involves the assumption of motives. Read JBG's extensive comments - they are filled with the assumption of motives for Bush and his people that any reasonable person would view as characterizations of evil, sinister, calculating, bad, incompetent, etc.

    JBG routinely attributes motives in his arguments, both directly and by implication - and I might add that he is not alone. See the quotation immediately following for JBG’s suggestion that he knows that I am pretending not to notice something. Is he reading my mind? My motives? Perhaps I have simply been too busy to respond. The remainder of your comment is excellent advice. You should follow it. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck …

    Now let me get to something I know just a little about and that is hijacking and airline crew response to it. I was a military pilot for the better part of 25 years and am currently an airline crewmember and trainer with direct experience in this area for the last 11 years. JBG, you said "Harry, I guess part of your concept of "civil discourse" is that you get to make ignorant, false statements ('had never occurred previously ... which NO ONE anticipated') and then when proof of your error is presented to you, you pretend you don't notice. Nice. This seems to be a pattern here with some of your pals, too." Am I to understand that your characterization of my statement as "ignorant" should be taken to imply that you are more prepared to discuss civil and military aviation subjects than I am? If so, let's hear your background and I'll defer to your superior knowledge of the subject. Meanwhile I'll waste some of my precious time explaining why my statement is completely true in context and it is your reference material and understanding of how we do things in the aviation community that is faulty.

    First, John Scherer’s article that you cite states the following: "The U.S. was not defended on 9/11. As soon as the aircraft were hijacked, helicopters armed with missiles should have risen to protect coastal cities. Two F-16s dispatched from Langley and Otis Air Force bases in Virginia and New Jersey, respectively, were too distant to reach New York and Washington, D.C., in time." This statement is complete nonsense to anyone who is the slightest bit familiar with the capabilities of military fighters, helicopters and civilian airliners. Nor does it make logical sense. How was the FAA to know that the aircraft were hijacked? The crewmembers were likely dead and I don’t recall any cell phone calls to the FAA in the final moments. The hijackers certainly didn’t tell them anything useful. Based on an assumption that something was happening that had never happened before anywhere should they have requested that the planes be shot down immediately? Do you know how long it takes to fly from Dulles airport to the Pentagon in a passenger jet traveling in excess of 300 knots? Where were these "helicopters armed with missiles” supposed to come from? Given that the maximum speed of the most heavily armed attack helicopter in the Army inventory is less than 200 knots, how were they to accomplish this feat? I have several additional questions but perhaps you get the point. Your primary source for this reporting simply does not understand commercial or military aviation capabilities and contingency plans in effect on 9/11.

    Second, my statement about previous experience with this threat was explicitly in the context of aircrew action and its relation to the text of the PDB. I asked you the following: "I wonder if you know the difference between hijacking an aircraft for the purpose of using it and the passengers as bargaining chips as has been done repeatedly in the past and for which air crews had been trained prior to 9/11 and using it as a weapon which had never occurred previously, for which air crews were totally unprepared and which NO ONE anticipated." This was the complete context of the PDB and my statement and my clear and obvious intent was to contrast all previous hijackings with this particular coordinated action of at least four aircraft simultaneously which had never been done nor attempted previously as I correctly and accurately stated. The PDB clearly indicates that the threat was that airplanes would be hijacked for the purpose of using them as bargaining chips to secure release of hostages. There is not the slightest hint that they would be used as weapons. Nor at that time were aircrews trained or notified in ANY MANNER WHATSOEVER that hijackers would commandeer airplanes and use them as bombs – not one hint from the FAA, not one bit of training, not the slightest indication either in the intelligence assessment you quoted or in any literature available in the aviation community from any source. Hindsight is 20/20 – that’s where your argument originates – and that’s a cheap shot at Bush and his administration and it’s a cheap shot at the brave passengers and crews of these airplanes who were truly participants in a hitherto unique event.

    John Scherer indicates that "crashing airplanes into structures is not new" and you quote his examples at length. Fine, factually true, but irrelevant. Using airplanes as weapons in a coordinated attack WAS new, had not been successfully done, nor had it even been attempted, nor had it been done in the United States, nor with an American carrier. In short, it was not a credible threat in the United States where "no one had hijacked an airplane using a 'real' weapon in 15 years." Were there signs that the intelligence bureaucracy could or should have reasonably seen? Maybe. Mr. Scherer cites the example of Moussaoui wanting to learn to fly a 747, paying with cash and not being interested in learning to land. He was arrested just three weeks prior to the attacks. Mr. Scherer's sole example that provides some little hint of this magnitude of terrorist threat was the jet hijacked in Algeria in the mid 1990s with the Eiffel Tower as the probable (intended?) target. However, in this case it was the fact that the pilots escaped and the hijackers were not trained to fly the plane that resulted in their failure, not solely the action of the French commandos. Clearly Al Qaeda learned their lesson and subsequently sent their terrorists to flight schools. Unfortunately the intelligence communities in neither the Clinton administration nor the Bush administration connected those dots, nor was there any credible evidence developed by any of the intelligence agencies that the hijacking of airplanes for use as suicide weapons was in any way a credible threat, certainly not within the United States and certainly not in New York or Washington, D.C.. To suggest otherwise is simply to read your hindsight into PDB which suggests nothing of the sort if you read the simple language of the text.

    Next time you decide to call someone ignorant and assign motives to their response of lack thereof perhaps you ought to query whether that person might just know something you don't about a particular subject and attempt to learn something from them. That's what I'm talking about when I use the term civil discourse. The concept involves becoming curious about what you don't know and actually attempting to learn something from others who may just have a knowledge set that you don't. That goes for your "pals" also.

    jukeboxgrad

    Cecil said "Does rigging a WMD round as an IED and placing it near a convoy route qualify in your parlance as 'used'?"

    "Near a convoy route" doesn't really answer the question, because if the item is stored in my closet which is in my house which happens to be "near a convoy route," I wouldn't say the item was "used." On the other hand, "near a convoy route" could mean deployed under the carcass of a dog on the shoulder of the airport road, and detonated via cell phone or garage door opener as a Humvee drove by. That would certainly be "used." Obviously there's gray area in-between those two extremes I described.

    " ... an improvised explosive device discovered by a U.S. forces convoy. The IED detonated before the IED could be rendered inoperable"

    Thanks for this citation. Unfortunately, it's highly ambiguous. "Discovered" could mean they found it while searching my closet, or it could mean it found them when it suddenly detonated under their vehicle. "Detonated" could mean by the enemy, or it could mean while our sapper was trying to disarm it.

    So frankly, I don't think the citation is particularly helpful in the way I think you intend it to be. However, I do think this information is helpful: "The round was an old binary type that requires the mixing of two chemical components stored in separate sections of the shell. For the deadly agent to be produced, the two components have to be mixed. By design, the mixing occurs after the round is fired from an artillery piece. Mixing and dispersal of the chemical agent from such a projectile is very limited when used in an IED." (link)

    In other words, this old CW shell wasn't being used (by the insurgents) as a CW: it was being used as an ordinary IED. Which makes me wonder why you said this: "Though that binary sarin shell wasn't all that old or ineffective." As far as I can tell, it was no more effective (or barely more effective) than a conventional IED.

    Recall this started with you saying "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs." Given that the device was rigged as an IED, not as a CW, it hardly matters that the device was originally designed as a CW. It apparently has little or no effectiveness as a CW unless fired from an artillery piece, which is not what the insurgents did with it.

    The point of all this is not that I care that much about the story of one particular device. What interests me slightly more at the moment is whether you're making statements that have factual support. As far as I can tell, you don't have enough information to claim that this device was "used," and when you imply this was an instance of WMD used against us, in my opinion that's highly misleading, at best.

    "I'm not sure why it's necessary to provide this level of detail"

    It's only necessary to the extent you want to be believed, especially in light of the fact that (as I've just demonstrated) you're apparently inclined to stretch things.

    Of course another example of you doing this, which you apparently don't have enough integrity to address, is your assertion that "[Bush's] statement of the threat was ... not nuclear." What is the meaning of "mushroom cloud," if not nuclear?

    "if the point was to wear me out, it worked"

    Promises, promises. I think this is the third time you've made a statement along those lines.

    Harry said "Am I to understand that your characterization of my statement as 'ignorant' should be taken to imply that you are more prepared to discuss civil and military aviation subjects than I am?"

    If you were using your experience to show proof for the claims you made, that experience would be relevant. Since you're not, it isn't.

    You raise various issues that are interesting but don't address the point. You didn't start out by claiming 'hijackers determined to fly airplanes into buildings are hard to stop.' A lot of what you say seems designed to support that assertion, but that's not the assertion I complained about. The assertion I complained about was this: "using it as a weapon which had never occured previously ... which NO ONE anticipated" (actually two assertions).

    Now you're claiming you meant something else: "this particular coordinated action of at least four aircraft simultaneously which had never been done." Trouble is, that's not what you said. You simply said "using it [an airplane] as a weapon."

    "The PDB clearly indicates that the threat was that airplanes would be hijacked for the purpose of using them as bargaining chips to secure release of hostages. There is not the slightest hint that they would be used as weapons."

    It's true the PDB doesn't mention the idea of flying an airplane into a building. However, that idea is mentioned elsewhere: "Information obtained in August 1998 that unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the World Trade Center." That's pretty darn specific. Pretty much all that's missing are the flight numbers and seat numbers. (I also realize it doesn't indicate exactly which tower would be targeted, or which floor.) I cited this earlier, but as far as I can tell you've said nothing to address this. As far as I can tell, this reference indicates that your "which NO ONE anticipated" assertion is false.

    BumperStickerist

    JBG -

    Okay, since you're now picking the fly poop out of the pepper allow me to rephrase the the statement:

    "no one of consequence anticipated" using jets to fly into buildings dating back to, at least, 1998.

    This would account for, among other things, the following:

    1) A lack of Clinton-mandated air defense missiles atop tall buildings beginning in 1998 or, let's be charitable and give him 8 months, by mid-1999. This would be done as the threat was clearly established

    2) The general 'outward looking' nature of our military responses towards border incursions rather than responding to domestic flights. This goes back to, well, forever.

    An example of this is Payne Stewart's crash where it took the better part of an hour and half for the military to send an F16 over to investigate. Given the threat *Clearly Established the Previous Year* - the F16 should, by your reckoning JBG, have been on-station ready to shoot the thing down within, what, 6 minutes?

    http://www.airsafe.com/stewart.htm -

    3) The FAA would have mandated hijacker resistant doors about the same time as the threat was assessed. There's some question as to why Mrs. Senator Daschle, who for a time worked for the FAA in this capacity, or her successor resisted such measures - you could also look into the lobbying activities of Mrs. Senator Daschle on behalf of the airline industry and those of her husband, noted Republican Tom Daschle during the Time Since The Threat Was Assesssed.

    4) No offense, but carrying box cutters on flights was legal at the time. You could walk on board a flight with one, I could ... they did. Walking onto a plane with a pocketknife was no big deal either. The thought was to prevent guns from making it on board a plane. So I'm not sure what countermeasures Bush could have put in place during the 8-9 months he was in office that would have prevented this attack.

    5) Flight training takes more than a month or two. How is it possible that nobody took measures to investigate the flight school activities prior to January 2001.

    Were a report available from an intelligence agency entitled "Summary of Flight School Activities by Foreign Nationals with Active Ties to International Terrorist Organizations Indicating They Intend to Hijack and Control Large Commercial Aircraft and, Given the Lack of Training in Landing and Take-off, We Believe that the Hijackers intend to Crash The Aircraft into Buildings - so Do Something" you might have a point.

    Factor in the massive inconveniencing of America on a hunch - 9/11 hadn't happened yet - the civil liberties litigation that would have resulted as Americans are subjected to searches at airports, train stations, ports, Greyhound Bus stations - the cost of implementing these - again, within the first 8 months in office and it's clear that you've gone insane.

    Also, it's worth pointing out that Bush took office after a needlessly prolonged transition period (using your logic, we now know with absolute certainity that Bush won the 2000 election - therefore, the recounts and delays contributed to the decline of American security thus enabling the attacks ... so let's put the blame where it belongs, on the Gore/Christopher team!!!!!)

    There was an article that detailed all the other threat assessments and memos regarding terrorist attacks - they ranged from mini-subs in harbors to blowing up dams to tunnel attacks to guys in hang gliders dropping chaff on electrical power generating stations to disrupt the power grid.

    Obviously, as those were documented in memos, Bush should have taken steps to prevent all of those scenarios from becoming real.

    Obviously.

    /eyeroll

    Paul Zrimsek

    Note also that reinforcing the cockpit door is worse than useless unless accompanied by a policy of refusing to open the door no matter how many throats get slit back in the cabin. Can you imagine the political repercussions, pre-9/11, the first time that policy is carried out? The Clinton administration very well may have.

    jukeboxgrad

    "you're now picking the fly poop out of the pepper"

    I think being able to differentiate fact, opinion and fiction is always important, but especially when the subject matter is this grave. If you feel differently, that's your problem.

    "the F16 should, by your reckoning JBG, have been on-station ready to shoot the thing down within, what, 6 minutes?"

    Nice job putting words in my mouth. I'm not making any claim about what specific measures should have been taken, prior or during. I'm not even making the claim that 9/11 could have been prevented (although there's ample data to suggest that). I'm simply pointing out that the assertions "using it as a weapon which had never occured previously ... which NO ONE anticipated" are false. If you can prove I'm wrong, go ahead. I always welcome a chance to learn something new. Otherwise, please refrain from putting words in my mouth.

    "There's some question as to why Mrs. Senator Daschle ... "

    There's more than enough blame to go around. I'll be the first to point out that Bush's predecessors made lots of mistakes in this area. Nevertheless, this happened on Bush's watch. The PDB landed on his desk, not Clinton's or Mrs. Daschle's. And I thought the Republicans are the ones who are so good at keeping us safe. The circumstances leading up to 9/11 don't provide much support for that perspective. In fact, there's ample reason to believe that "the Bush Administration neglected counterterrorism in the face of repeated terror warnings before 9/11." (See also this.)

    By the way, Bush's Justice Dept recently issued a report indicating that "The inability to detect the Sept. 11 hijacking plot amounts to a 'significant failure' by the FBI and was caused in large part by 'widespread and long-standing deficiencies' in the way it handled terrorism and intelligence cases." Let me know if I missed something, but as far as I can tell, pre-9/11 Bush didn't lift a finger to address these 'widespread and long-standing deficiencies.' It's also not particularly clear that he's done much since then, either.

    BumperStickerist

    Technically, I posited a hypothetical based on logic I inferred from your previous posts. I did not 'put words in your mouth.'

    You take some sort of delight in refuting the 'no one anticipated' by pointing out that somebody did anticipate a domestic hijacking for the purposes of committing suicide by flying the jets into buildings. Well, swell. This would be why I added 'of consequence' to describe the pronoun.

    Regarding Richard Clarke, a quick site search using Google on, well, here counters most, probably all of your points about Richard Clarke and his status as Bell Wether of Al-Qaeda. I'd offer to cut and paste and cobble together a lenghty post, but I took the day off from work to clean and organize the basement, so my apologies. Most of the posts were dated back in April/May 2004. Tom managed to be witty and urbane, or something.

    As to the efficacy of Bush and his timeliness in overturning a long-entrenched bureaucracy to meet the new challenges. Well, Rumsfeld's Feb 2001 interview with ABC on what ever the hell the Sam and Cokie show is called is instructive.

    Also, it's worth posing this question - if the responsibility falls on Bush because 9/11 happened 'on his watch' - then what do you make of the absence of another large scale terrorist attack on the US since then?

    fwiw, and I give this only as an example and not as a complete tangent, I don't think the fact that North Korea coming out as a nuclear power on Bush's watch is Bush's fault.

    If the North Koreans got all the stuff in country that they needed during the Clinton administration, then there wasn't very much, if anything, Bush could have done to prevent North Korea from devleoping the bomb.

    If, however, it turns out that in 2002, the US Navy didn't interdict a Liberian flagged freighter that departed from France carrying mission critical equipment that allowed the North Koreans to finish hte project because the CIA was busy elsewhere, then I'd put the blame on Bush.

    jukeboxgrad

    "somebody did anticipate a domestic hijacking for the purposes of committing suicide by flying the jets into buildings"

    Not just any old "buildings." These exact buildings.

    "This would be why I added 'of consequence' to describe the pronoun."

    I made reference to this report: "In August 1998, the Intelligence Community obtained information that a group of unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the World Trade Center. The information was passed to the FBI and the FAA." (link)

    You're claiming my source for this is not "of consequence." The source is a Congressional inquiry. Care to explain why a Congressional inquiry is not "of consequence?"

    By the way, here's another warning about folks flying an airliner into buildings: "The Los Angeles Times reported on 9-27-01 that 'U.S. and Italian officials were warned in July that Islamic terrorists might attempt to kill President Bush and other leaders by crashing an airliner into the Genoa summit of industrialized nations, officials said Wednesday.  Italian officials took the reports seriously enough to prompt extraordinary precautions during the July summit of the Group of 8 nations, including closing the airspace over Genoa and stationing antiaircraft guns at the city's airport.'" (link)

    As I suggested earlier, your statement "which NO ONE anticipated" is simply irresponsible, ignorant nonsense and historical revisionism.

    "what do you make of the absence of another large scale terrorist attack on the US since then?"

    Bush deserves as much credit for that as Clinton deserves for achieving the same result during his own time in office.

    Harry Arthur

    Actually, JBG, the statement "which NO ONE anticipated" is MY "irresponsible, ignorant nonsense and historical revisionism" and I demand, I say demand, credit for it.

    I'm busy working now but as you might guess will have more to say on this subject later today. Needless to say I disagree strongly with both your characterization of my argument and with your version of the salient facts. Wouldn't want you to think I'm avoiding an answer, subjecting myself to your quick, rapier like wit and accompanying tongue-lashing. In the meantime you might be thinking of answers to some of the questions I posed.

    TM

    Well, I must have missed that WaPo cite of Cheney's mis-statement helpfully provided by JBG. However, the WaPo did not take it all that seriously, either, as they indicate a few paragraphs later:

    In his appearance Sunday, on NBC's "Meet the Press," the vice president argued that "we believe [Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." But Cheney contradicted that assertion moments later, saying it was "only a matter of time before he acquires nuclear weapons." Both assertions were contradicted earlier by Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who reported that "there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities."

    Anyway, there is something like a follow-up at the March 21 briefing (with war underway):

    Q And may I ask if the administration expects the allied forces to find evidence or remnants of chemical or biological weapons, or a reconstituted nuclear program?

    MR. FLEISCHER: Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly. This was the reason that the President felt so strongly that we needed to take military action to disarm Saddam Hussein, since he would not do it himself.

    As the military effort continues, I think you will see information develop for yourself, firsthand. This is one of the reasons that there are so many reporters present with the military. In many ways, you will have these answers yourselves. You are there, you are on the ground. And you will find the answers and they will speak volumes themselves.

    Eerily prescient. And a few days earlier, we get a glimmer suggesting that the press was following the story line, and not the odd mis-statement:

    Q The subsequent question I have for you is, the President in his speech two nights ago described the Iraqi threat as one that could be one to five years into the future to obtain either a nuclear weapon or something that could strike us, a non-imminent threat. In the President's mind, is he in this action, setting a precedent that the United States could now act, either preemptively or preventively, depending on how you define it, against a threat that is not an imminent one against the United States?

    MR. FLEISCHER: Well, here's how the President approaches this. He believes, number one, based on the reviews conducted by the attorneys, that there already exists a legal basis both in international law, as well as in domestic law, for the use of force to disarm Saddam Hussein. And that is also found in Security Council Resolution 678 and 687, as well as 1441. The President also believes that there is a gathering threat from Iraq, that with the failure by Saddam Hussein to disarm of his weapons of mass destruction presents a threat to the security of the United States. And therefore, he has come to the conclusion that after exhausting the diplomacy, that military force must be used if Saddam Hussein does not get out of the country.

    That summarizes it for him. In terms of precedents, et cetera, David, I think some people have made the case -- and different people will have different historical views of these things -- but you can look at the Cuban missile crisis, of course, where there was a decision made without the United States being "attacked" to conduct a quarantine or an embargo, which, of course, international lawyers will tell you is an act of war.

    And so I think you're going to find the historians, legal scholars will have differing conclusions about these matters. But the conclusion the President reaches is that Iraq's failure to disarm presents a threat to the people of the United States and, therefore, he is prepared to use force.

    I'll say this - I have no idea who on the staff is charged with reading the daily press, but I'll bet on the Tuesday the WaPo published that particular story, Cheney had many more things on his mind than whether Pincus could follow a transcript from a Meet The Press interview.

    Look, the theory that Cheney said that deliberately, was aware of it, and let a widely-noted error persist for several months does not have much support - what do we have, a WaPo story that rebuts the point a few paragraphs later, and a press briefings where the party line is clear?

    Here is Powerline writing about it in June - where were Atrios, the Kos, Josh Marshall, and everyone else in March?

    Silly. My official editorial position remains unchanged - the remark was not consistent with Cheney's other statements in that interview (as the Wapo noted), Russert ignored it, most of the press ignored it, and eventually, when asked, Cheney's office said it was a mis-statement.

    Ergo, it was a mis-statement that (to the extent it was noted at all) was perceived as a mis-statement..

    Harry Arthur

    JBG, glad to see that we are finally in agreement that "It's true the PDB doesn't mention the idea of flying an airplane into a building." Of course I would also assert that the concept of flying airplanes into buildings is not only explicitly not in the memo, it is also not implicitly in the memo.

    We'll address the other "sources" in due course.

    Harry Arthur

    TM, precisely my point earlier: "in the real world it is often the simple explanation that is most reasonable but no amount of discussion will apparently suffice to convince them that there are simple, innocent explanations for each of these events that make logical, common sense."

    jukeboxgrad

    HARRY

    "the statement 'which NO ONE anticipated' is MY 'irresponsible, ignorant nonsense and historical revisionism' and I demand, I say demand, credit for it."

    Fair enough. My mistake. You and Bumper sounded so in sync to me that I thought you were using an alternate name, not for reasons of deception but maybe for technical or other reasons that I didn't think about very hard. Now I know. Thanks for setting me straight.

    "Wouldn't want you to think I'm avoiding an answer"

    When you don't speak up for a while I don't assume it means you're "avoiding an answer." However, when you speak up with an inscrutable non-answer (e.g., 6/15, 1:59 pm), I'm inclined to think you're avoiding something.

    "In the meantime you might be thinking of answers to some of the questions I posed."

    I'm not aware of any questions you posed that I didn't answer. Maybe you can point out what I missed.

    "glad to see that we are finally in agreement that "'it's true the PDB doesn't mention the idea of flying an airplane into a building.'"

    Your "finally" is a snide way of implying that I ever claimed otherwise (i.e., that I ever claimed that the PDB mentioned the idea of flying an airplane into a building). Did I? Please show me where.

    Anyway, I think I've already pointed out that the PDB also doesn't indicate the exact date of the attack (although it does drop a couple of strong hints regarding the location). So what? There were lots of very strong clues, in the PDB and elsewhere, that were ignored.

    TM

    "the WaPo did not take it all that seriously, either"

    You're repeating what I already pointed out, and commented on (6/14, 10:25 pm).

    "there is something like a follow-up ... the press was following the story line, and not the odd mis-statement"

    You're pointing out that there were various settings where Bush et al said there is "only" a nuclear program, and not necessarily nuclear weapons (although they kept hinting the answer to that latter question was "maybe"). So what? This doesn't negate Cheney's misstatement (whether it was intentional or not), and it doesn't explain why it apparently took a couple of months for Cheney to get around to mentioning that he was being misquoted.

    "I'll bet on the Tuesday the WaPo published that particular story, Cheney had many more things on his mind than whether Pincus could follow a transcript from a Meet The Press interview."

    That might explain why a correction was not issued immediately. It doesn't explain why it apparently took another couple of months for a correction to be issued. If I was insane enough to put in the time, I could probably document how many times Cheney played golf in that two-month period.

    For an administration that seems to pay a great deal of attention to what is reported, and has done some remarkable things to influence and manipulate what's reported, it's implausible to suggest that the Pincus WaPo piece was just too low under their radar.

    "the theory that Cheney said that deliberately, was aware of it, and let a widely-noted error persist for several months"

    I didn't say he said it deliberately (although I think that's a possibility). By the way, it's not a "theory" that he "let a widely-noted error persist for several months." That's a fact.

    "a WaPo story that rebuts the point a few paragraphs later"

    Nice spin. The WaPo story "rebuts" nothing. It notes that he contradicted himself, and it makes no attempt to explain how we should reconcile the contradiction.

    "press briefings where the party line is clear"

    You have a funny idea of "clear." It's helpful that you provided this quote: "there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly." Is that what you call being "clear?" What is "particularly" supposed to mean? It can only be read one way: "we have evidence of all forms of WMD, but particularly of BW and CW." In other words, we have proof of nukes, but we're "particularly" sure about the proof of BW and CW. If he was trying to say we have evidence of BW and CW, but not of nukes, why not say that? He didn't.

    Cecil Turner

    "Promises, promises. I think this is the third time you've made a statement along those lines."

    I shouldn't do this, but after belatedly reading your post, I note you called me a liar about three times . . . and I don't particularly care for it.

    "It's only necessary to the extent you want to be believed, especially in light of the fact that (as I've just demonstrated) you're apparently inclined to stretch things."

    I'd note the last time you went on about that sort of thing it was related to my supposedly claiming Fleischer's statement about weapons was "vindicated by Duelfer's discovery of one sarin shell." I won't wait for an apology.

    "Thanks for this citation. Unfortunately, it's highly ambiguous."

    Placing an IED (or a land mine, or any other booby trap) falls under my definition of "used" (even if it never goes off). Your definition may vary . . . it doesn't make me a liar.

    "In other words, this old CW shell wasn't being used (by the insurgents) as a CW: it was being used as an ordinary IED. Which makes me wonder why you said this: "Though that binary sarin shell wasn't all that old or ineffective." As far as I can tell, it was no more effective (or barely more effective) than a conventional IED."

    Binary sarin is less "old" (than other Iraqi CW rounds) because it was developed later. It's less "ineffective" (than a unitary CW round) because each of the binary agents, by virtue of the fact that they aren't mixed in the shell, degrade less quickly, and thus the shell can make an effective chemical agent for much longer (i.e., it has a longer shelf-life). As chem rounds go, it's relatively sophisticated (especially the mix-in-flight types like the one in question).

    Unfortunately for the insurgents, the way it works is that when it's fired, a diaphragm inside the shell (that normally keeps the two chemicals separate) breaks, allowing them to mix. As the shell flies downrange, spinning, the mixing process is completed, and on impact, the then-mixed agent is dispersed, yielding an effective chemical round. Obviously if you just rig the fuse to blow open the cannister (as the IED did), the agents never mix, and it's far less effective than a normal IED . . . in fact, it does practically nothing besides creating a HAZMAT spill. As with all those chem arty and rocket rounds, they're really not very useful for terrorists (at least without extensive modification). Duelfer thinks the insurgents didn't know what they had:

    Since 2003, insurgents have attacked Coalition Forces with two CW rounds (not including attacks
    with riot control agents) that ISG judges were produced by Iraq prior to 1991. Neither attack caused casualties and ISG believes the perpetrators did not know the rounds contained CW agent
    My personal theory is that they didn't know how it worked . . . but none of that is remotely pertinent to the subject at hand.

    The point is that 12 years after Saddam supposedly destroyed them, these things are still floating around. And unlike the old mustard shells, binary mix-in-flight sarin is not something likely to be simply overlooked in a destruction scheme. (It was an experimental design at the end of the Gulf War, and either it was one of a very few prototypes--as Duelfer suggested--or a much newer production round . . . in either case it was not something the regime just "forgot" about.) And that, along with Duelfer's observation ("Variations in size, type, and agent fill raise the possibility that other, similar rounds remain at large"), relates directly to the larger issue about just how much WMD Saddam hid.

    "you apparently don't have enough integrity to address, is your assertion that "[Bush's] statement of the threat was ... not nuclear.""

    Except, of course, I didn't end that statement with a period--I ended it with a colon. And after the colon came the President's description of the then-current threat:

    Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists.
    Note "biological" is listed first, the absence of the word "nuclear," or any qualifiers about "waiting," "how close," or any other indications of futurity.

    Finally, ignorance is not an acceptable excuse for false allegations of duplicity. Nor is it reasonable to stop reading in mid-sentence and then claim the fragment is dissumulation.

    jukeboxgrad

    This is important, so I'm going to emphasize it (even at the risk of repeating and summarizing some earlier content).

    On 7/21/01, Bush was at the G-8 summit in Italy. During this event, Italy closed the local airspace because of warnings that "Islamic terrorists might attempt to kill President Bush and other leaders by crashing an airliner" into the buildings where world leaders were meeting.

    A bit more about this: "In an interview published Sept. 21 in the French newspaper Le Figaro, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said his government provided information to the United States about possible attacks on the Genoa summit by Saudi-born terrorist Osama bin Laden. 'There was a question of an airplane stuffed with explosives. As a result, precautions were taken.'" (link)

    16 days later, Bush was presented with a PDB (pdf) entitled "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US." This document said "Bin Ladin implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef ... Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of ... Omar Abdel Rahman ... FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."

    It's remarkable that Bush is able to see connections that don't exist ("You can't distinguish between al-Qaida and Saddam." [link]), but was apparently not able to imagine that there might be some connection between the information he was handed on 8/6 and the personal threat that he was subjected to barely two weeks earlier. As far as I can tell, there's no sign that he lifted a finger to look into this in any way. Instead, August 2001 was a time for his "month's vacation at his ranch" where he had his "working vacation," which meant "meeting with senior staff between time spent jogging and fishing" (link). As far as I can tell, not a moment of this time spent "meeting with senior staff" was devoted to considering possible connections between what Bush learned on 7/21 (when his Italian hosts were concerned that Bin Laden might use an airliner to assassinate him) and 8/6 (when he was informed that the FBI felt that Bin Laden was involved in suspicious activity with regard to preparations for hijackings). As far as I can tell, there was no discussion, for example, of whether these various clues suggested that maybe there should be a moderate tightening of airport security practices.

    I don't think it's 20/20 hindsight to call this a failure of leadership.

    By the way, also note this earlier report: "In August 1998, the Intelligence Community obtained information that a group of unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the World Trade Center. The information was passed to the FBI and the FAA." (link)

    By the way, earlier you (Harry) attempted to invoke the multiple-planes loophole. You said "this particular coordinated action of at least four aircraft simultaneously," suggesting that there was no reason to anticipate a multi-plane attack. Note this: "in 1996, a terrorist captured in Manila told Philippine police that Al Qaeda planned to hijack 11 U.S. airliners simultaneously and to fly a plane into CIA headquarters near Washington." (link)

    BumperStickerist

    I concede to Harry his claim regarding ownership of the "no one anticipated" point. This is due to a combination of my respect for Harry's rhetorical ability and the fact that it's an easily provable point within the context of this comment thread.

    I'd point out one flaw, among many, in JBG's argument. The fact that the memo pointed to a hijacked plane being flown in from another country, presumably not Canada or Mexico, changes the scenario. While we could bring up scenario after scenario, we could instead simply watch Kurt Russel in "Executive Decision" which was released in 1996. Here's the plot summary:

    -- Terrorists take over a 747 bound from Athens to Washington D.C., supposedly to effect the release of their leader. Intelligence expert David Grant suspects another reason and convinces the military that the 'plane should not be allowed to enter U.S. airspace. {note: because the plane is loaded with nerve agent and the terrorists want to blow the plane up on the Eastern Seaboard, committing suicide in the process -- Islam is, I think, involved.}

    An assault mission is devised, using a specially equipped 'plane designed for mid-air crew transfers, and Grant finds himself aboard the 747 with a team of military anti-terrorists who have to defuse a bomb and overpower the terrorists. --

    So, it's true - somebody thought of a situation that involved terrorists, commerical airliners and suicide. Harry, I suggest some fava beans and a nice chianti to go with that crow you're about to eat.

    As for the presence of a sorta/kinda 'planes being flown into buildings' scenario in a Congressional report - the relevance would depend on the volume of reports done by Congress and other scenarios contained within that report. Noting the difference between 'domestic' flights and 'international' flights would have been important.

    You're making a casual leap of thought that it is somehow intuitively obvious that a plane hijacked in London/Paris/Berlin/Munich ... everybody talking 'bout Pop Music ... pop . pop . pop music ... er, sorry ... that the domestic flights were as easily hijackable (using guns, btw) as foreign flights.

    That's a bigger leap than you might imagine and one too easily taken as obvious after the fact.

    The wonder, for me, is why the hijackers didn't park the rental cars in short term parking, rigged with explosives ... were they worried about an insurance claim?


    BumperStickerist nee Harry

    hmmmm ... JBG provides the link, which upon the clicking reveals an Andrew Sullivan-esque refutation of the point being made.

    hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm........................

    -- click ----


    These intelligence reports should be understood in their proper context. {note: cough-context-cough}

    First, they generally did not contain specific information as to where, when, and how a terrorist attack might occur and, generally, are not corroborated by further information.

    Second, these reports represented a small percentage of the threat information that the Intelligence Community obtained during this period, most of which pointed to the possibility of attacks against U.S. interests overseas.

    Nonetheless, there was a modest, but relatively steady, stream of intelligence information indicating the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the United States.

    Third, the credibility of the sources providing this information was sometimes questionable. While one could not, as a result, give too much credence to some individual reports, the totality of the information in this body of reporting clearly reiterated a consistent and critically important theme: Usama Bin Ladin's intent to launch terrorist attacks inside the United States.

    -----------------------------------------------

    Well, there you go: The Gestalt Theory of Terrorism- a the totality of the information available from questionable sources of a small piece of the total amount of terrorist information available is more than the sum of its parts.

    Interesting. I guess that leaves us with this:

    "Bush Failed to Recognize the Gestaltian Nature of the Islamofascist-Domestic-Commercial-Aviatory-Suicidal-Terrorist Threat, People Died."

    jukeboxgrad

    CECIL

    " ... my supposedly claiming Fleischer's statement about weapons was 'vindicated by Duelfer's discovery of one sarin shell.' I won't wait for an apology."

    Maybe you forget that I presented this (6/15, 7:35 am) in the form of a question: "Is that it?" The question was sincere. You could have simply answered the question by saying "no, I don't think Fleischer's statement is vindicated by the discovery of one forgotten, obsolete, useless shell, but I do think it is vindicated by the discovery of 53 forgotten, obsolete, useless shells." Now I know that is the case, but I didn't know before, so I was honestly asking.

    My confusion on this point goes back to 6/14 6:54 pm, when you said "[Fleischer] was right," and you supported this by quoting Duelfer as follows: "The most significant recovered munitions was a 152mm binary Sarin artillery projectile which insurgents had attempted to use as an improvised explosive device ... ISG has also recovered 155mm chemical rounds and 122mm artillery rockets which we judge came from abandoned Regime stocks."

    Not being very well-informed (as you are) about the status of this measly pile of old shells, I assumed this meant one, or a number not much greater than one. So I asked. If your post had instead said "Fleischer was right, and the proof is that Duelfer found 53 stinky old shells," this particular bit of misunderstanding would have been avoided.

    As I mentioned earlier, Powell's "conservative estimate" was that we would find the equivalent of 16,000 CW rockets. So all this fuss you're making (we didn't find one shell! we found 53!) is the difference between our WMD search being 99.99% unsuccessful (1:16000) as compared with it being 99.69% unsuccessful (53:16000). Stunning difference, eh? I guess that changes everything, right?

    By the way, this is putting aside the fact that he presumably meant current, fresh stock, not abandoned items at least 12 years old.

    "Placing an IED ... falls under my definition of 'used' (even if it never goes off)."

    Even if it was "placed" in my closet? In my safety-deposit box? The link you cited (6/15, 5:52 pm) doesn't say it was "placed," let alone how or where it was "placed." It only says "discovered by a U.S. forces convoy." if it was "discovered" in my closet, how does that fit any common-sense definition of "used?"

    I think you're assuming it was "discovered" at the side of the road. I'm pointing out this is an assumption, not a fact. By the way, you said "they have used at least a couple." Your citation refers to one. What about the others? How do you know they were "used?"

    I explained this all before. Are you being intentionally obtuse, or is it that you just can't help it?

    "it does practically nothing besides creating a HAZMAT spill"

    Exactly.

    "but none of that is remotely pertinent to the subject at hand."

    I disagree. This started with you saying "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs." In my opinion, this creates the impression they attacked us with WMD (real honest-to-goodness terror-inspiring let's-get-the-hell-out-of-here WMD). Given that they weren't in a position to do anything worse than "creating a HAZMAT spill," I think your statement is highly misleading. A "HAZMAT spill" is a long way from a weapon of mass destruction.

    "unlike the old mustard shells, binary mix-in-flight sarin is not something likely to be simply overlooked in a destruction scheme ... it was not something the regime just 'forgot' about"

    Then I guess you know more than Duelfer, who said "While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991" (link).

    You say (paraphrase) "intentionally set aside and hidden." Duelfer says "abandoned." What do you know that he doesn't?

    "I didn't end that statement with a period--I ended it with a colon."

    Let's start at the beginning.

    Bush said "Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

    I pointed this out, and suggested that "mushroom cloud" is an unmistakable reference to a nuclear weapon, and "we cannot wait" is an unmistakable hint that Saddam has nukes ready to go.

    Cecil responded (6/14, 10:57 pm) as follows: "You said Bush claimed 'Saddam already had the imminent ability' . . . which is not quite the same thing as 'We cannot wait for . . . ' a mushroom cloud. His statement of the threat was unequivocal, and not nuclear: 'Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."

    I took issue, and take issue, with your phrase "not nuclear." My point is that "mushroom cloud" is an unmistakable reference to a nuclear weapon. So what is "not nuclear" supposed to mean? You cite a different passage where Bush mentions BW and CW. So what? How does that show that "mushroom cloud" is "not nuclear?"

    This seems very similar to the Cheney issue, because in both cases the person delivered a reference to a nuclear weapon, which I guess you claim should be overlooked because elsewhere the reference is omitted, or expressed with less certainty. I don't buy that.

    BUMPER

    "somebody [Hollywood] thought of a situation that involved terrorists, commerical airliners and suicide"

    Good point. The fact that Hollywood has enough imagination to think of scenarios like this is all the more reason to understand that our intelligence community also was familiar with various scenarios like this.

    By the way, the citations I provided didn't just involve "terrorists." They specifically referenced Islamic terrorism in general and OBL in particular. And they didn't just reference "suicide." They referenced suicide by flying a plane into a building. And they also specifically referenced, in more than one place, this city and even this exact building. And they also referenced a plot involving multiple planes. So the claim "which NO ONE anticipated" is not supported by the facts.

    "As for the presence of a sorta/kinda 'planes being flown into buildings' scenario in a Congressional report"

    The report didn't say "sorta/kinda." It said "In August 1998, the Intelligence Community obtained information that a group of unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the World Trade Center. The information was passed to the FBI and the FAA." (link) I realize you think this isn't specific enough.

    "Noting the difference between 'domestic' flights and 'international' flights would have been important."

    Aha. You dismiss the report because it didn't say "watch out for a flight boarding at Logan." You argue the report should be dismissed as irrelevant because it said "foreign country."

    It's all the terrorists fault! We counted on them to board in Paris! Instead they boarded at Logan! That changes everything! Of course we could do nothing to stop them! How dare they change their plans without notifying us in advance! How dare anyone expect us to have enough imagination to realize their plans might evolve somewhat!

    I realize you probably think any clue that omitted the exact flight number can be safely considered not worth mentioning.

    "the relevance would depend on the volume of reports done by Congress and other scenarios contained within that report."

    I have no idea what you're talking about.

    "they generally did not contain specific information ... the credibility of the sources providing this information was sometimes questionable"

    I guess what you're looking for is Atta personally visiting Dubya and presenting the actual boarding pass and box cutter he was planning to use. But then you'd probably say the source wasn't credible, why should George take him seriously.

    Cecil Turner

    "Maybe you forget that I presented this (6/15, 7:35 am) in the form of a question: "Is that it?" The question was sincere."

    The question may have been sincere. The follow-ons obviously were not:

  • "You're claiming that . . . "
  • "If you have trouble grasping the absurdity of this . . .""As I mentioned earlier, Powell's "conservative estimate" was . . . "

    The intelligence was wrong. No sh**. The questions appear to be: 1) Did the Administration misrepresent the intelligence they had; 2) Did the Administration pressure the CIA to give them what they wanted; and 3) Was there a real threat (even if it didn't match the intelligence)? My opinion is: no, no, and yes--obviously yours differ--but I'm not even slightly interested in discussing this while you're calling me a liar.

    "I think you're assuming it was "discovered" at the side of the road. I'm pointing out this is an assumption, not a fact. By the way, you said "they have used at least a couple." Your citation refers to one. . . Are you being intentionally obtuse . . . ?"

    They "used at least a couple" because we found two IEDs (and perhaps they laid more we did not find). Did you miss the Duelfer quote above: "Since 2003, insurgents have attacked Coalition Forces with two CW rounds . . . "? Are you suggesting my use of the word "use" is a stretch when characterizing his statement ("attacked")? And again, why are you fixated on such a minor point?

    "So what is "not nuclear" supposed to mean?"

    Read the rest of the frickin' sentence, and you'll find out: the one place in the speech where he mentions a current threat, it's bio and chemical. Because, just as the NIE states, the only current threat was bio and chemical.

    Speaking of which, the point of the question about a "reconstituted nuclear weapon" was that it's nonsensical. Your eventual response: "a weapon Saddam created from old parts he obtained from disparate sources" just caused a head-shake (and giving it up as a lost cause). The central feature of a nuke is a nearly perfect sphere of plutonium or highly enriched uranium. Engineering that "pit" is the only really difficult part of a nuclear weapon. Pits are not available for sale, and they aren't pieced together from old parts. (I assumed you knew that--which is a fairly common theme here.)

  • jukeboxgrad

    "The follow-ons obviously were not"

    What you call "follow-ons" were phrases that preceded and followed the question in very close proximity. They were part of the presentation of the question, in other words.

    "1) Did the Administration misrepresent the intelligence they had"

    Multiple references to nukes ("we cannot wait ... mushroom cloud ... reconstituted nuclear weapons") are examples of going beyond even what was in the NIE, which was itself highly flawed.

    "2) Did the Administration pressure the CIA to give them what they wanted"

    Sen. Rockefeller: "there was a lot of pressure."

    "3) Was there a real threat"

    Sorry, "real threat" is just too vague to be useful, in my opinion.

    "Since 2003, insurgents have attacked Coalition Forces with two CW rounds"

    That quote does indeed answer my question about "use," and also my question about "how do you know it was more than one." By the way, unless I missed something, you didn't share that quote until quite recently (just one or two messages back in our exchange). Yes, I did miss it. By the way, you provided no link, and I'm failing to find it via Google. Can you help out?

    "Are you suggesting my use of the word 'use' is a stretch when characterizing his statement ('attacked')?"

    Definitely not. Trouble is, you said "use" ages ago, relatively (6/15, 3:54 am), and even though I asked repeatedly, you didn't come up with the Duelfer "attack" quote until 6/16, 5:54 pm, even though you posted several times in-between. Hence my reaching the conclusion that you were just dodging the question. I would still like to see the quote in context, which is why I'm asking you for a link.

    By the way, you still haven't addressed one of my major complaints (on this point). These CW shells weren't used as CW, but rather only as IED. Big difference. Therefore, I think it's misleading for you to suggest that WMD was used against us. When you say "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs," this tends to gloss over the fact that these IEDs weren't terribly more effective or dangerous than any other IEDs.

    "the one place in the speech where he mentions a current threat, it's bio and chemical"

    As I said, when he says "we cannot wait ... mushroom cloud," this is a sufficiently clear message that nukes are on the way in a few minutes, and we all better duck. I think this is true regardless of whether or not he repeats this point later in the speech. I realize you have a different interpretation, involving ten-dollar words like "futurity," which is not part of my vocabulary.

    "The point of the question about a 'reconstituted nuclear weapon' was that it's nonsensical ... Pits are not available for sale, and they aren't pieced together from old parts."

    I realize that was the point of your question. I think you're entirely missing the point of my answer. It's not a question of whether or not you or I know enough about nukes to evaluate whether the phrase "reconstituted nuclear weapons" sounds patently ridiculous. Maybe we do. Maybe we don't. That's not the point. The point is that most viewers/listeners know nothing about nukes having pits and spheres. In other words, they would not be in a position to easily dismiss Cheney's phrase. More likely they would say "I don't know what that means, and I never heard of such a thing before, but it sure sounds scary, quick, write a check to the RNC, and send Junior down to the recruiting office!"

    Cecil Turner

    What you call "follow-ons" were phrases that preceded and followed the question in very close proximity. They were part of the presentation of the question, in other words.

    Do you commonly phrase your "sincere" questions with clauses like "If you have trouble grasping the absurdity . . ."?

    "1),2),3)"

    Sorry. As above, not interested while you're calling me a liar.

    "you didn't come up with the Duelfer "attack" quote until 6/16, 5:54 pm, even though you posted several times in-between. Hence my reaching the conclusion that you were just dodging the question. "

    On 6/14, 06:16 PM, I posted a link to the Duelfer report. All that crap is in there. It's not my fault you can't be bothered to read it. BTW: I didn't use the "attack" quote because I think it overstates the case (i.e., is setting a mine/IED an "attack"?)--and so was rather nonplussed to be accused afterward of being "inclined to stretch things."

    " I realize you have a different interpretation, involving ten-dollar words like "futurity," which is not part of my vocabulary."

    If you need a link to a dictionary, or a definition, ask for one. In this case, the two that apply are:

    • The quality or condition of being in or of the future.
    • A future event or possibility.
    The President never claimed the nuke threat was current (or "imminent" as you claimed) . . . every reference had some qualifier to indicate it was an event to happen some time in the future. That's different from the chem/bio references, which were that he "had" the capability and could provide it to terrorists "on any given day." I think that's fairly clear, but yes, it's an interpretation . . . And I wouldn't even consider calling you a liar just for disagreeing.

    "By the way, you still haven't addressed one of my major complaints (on this point). These CW shells weren't used as CW . . ."

    Again, you're extrapolating something I never said. The point of "used" (in my statement) was that they weren't just lying in a forgotten hole somewhere (which again, goes to the point of Saddam having hidden weapons). As to whether those who set it meant to create a chemical cloud, either they didn't [Duelfer] or they were totally incompetent [me]. But that point seems totally irrelevant to me, and I'm not sure why you think it important. It certainly doesn't say anything meaningful about the threat Saddam posed pre-war.

    "The point is that most viewers/listeners know nothing about nukes having pits and spheres. "

    Anyone who's trying to evaluate Saddam's nuclear threat ought to. (And it's not that esoteric a point, as any decent WWII history will cover it.)

    jukeboxgrad

    "Do you commonly phrase your 'sincere' questions with clauses like 'If you have trouble grasping the absurdity . . .'?"

    It's true that I put a sharp edge on the question. But it was still a question. And your answer is (paraphrase) "it's not absurd because it was 53 out of 16,000, not 1 out of 16,000." And of course my response to that is, that's only infinitesimally less absurd. So I'm sorry to say I have to stand by my "absurdity" comment.

    So Fleischer said "We know for a fact there are weapons there," and you say "And of course, he was right," even though we were 100% unsuccessful in finding nukes, 100% unsuccessful in finding BW, and at least 99.7% unsuccessful in finding CW.

    (I say "at least" because Powell said his 16,000 number was only a "conservative" estimate, as if it could be much more, and also because Powell was presumably talking about fresh, new, powerful stuff, not vintage stock from the last war that was so useless Duelfer called it "abandoned." By the way, you still haven't explained why you think it's fair to claim that it was "hidden," when Duelfer made it clear it was "abandoned." Not the same thing.)

    This is sort of like if my wife says "I know for a fact that Junior will mow the lawn today" and then she says "see, I was right," even though 99.7% of the lawn was unmowed. It's true (but only in a dishonest, narrow, technical, absurd, useless sense) that we found WMD, just like it's true (but only in a dishonest, narrow, technical, absurd, useless sense) that Junior mowed the lawn. As I said, you have a problem with the important concept of materiality.

    By the way, you also haven't explained why it's OK with you that Bush said "we found the weapons of mass destruction." First of all, "the" is a tricky way of implying "all." This would be like if Junior said "I mowed _the_ lawn." No, Junior, you mowed _some_ of the lawn. Secondly, Bush was talking about bio, as if we found BW. We didn't. We only found labs. Why is it OK for Bush to pretend there's no difference between the two?

    "I posted a link to the Duelfer report. All that crap is in there."

    I have tried very hard to find the passage you referenced ["Since 2003, insurgents have attacked Coalition Forces with two CW rounds (not including attacks with riot control agents) that ISG judges were produced by Iraq prior to 1991. Neither attack caused casualties and ISG believes the perpetrators did not know the rounds contained CW agent"], using a variety of methods, and I can't. In particular, it appears to not be present here, which is the section of the Duelfer report entitled "Iraq's Chemical Warfare Program."

    Also, when I do a google on the phrase "Since 2003, insurgents have attacked Coalition Forces", I get nothing, anywhere (link).

    "It's not my fault you can't be bothered to read it."

    I really don't know why you would want to be playing a guessing game. Can you tell me how to find the passage you referenced?

    "every reference [to nukes] had some qualifier to indicate it was an event to happen some time in the future"

    As if that means something. Every event that hasn't already happened is "an event to happen some time in the future." If you wait long enough, everything will happen. Another example of your problem with materiality.

    "I wouldn't even consider calling you a liar just for disagreeing."

    Really? Gosh, I'm mighty impressed. What a relief. How magnanimous of you.

    I don't call you a liar when you disagree with me. I call you a liar when you make statements that are contrary to fact.

    "As to whether those who set it meant to create a chemical cloud"

    I think it's beside the point (at the moment, at least, with regard to my specific complaint that's on the table) whether they _meant_ to "create a chemical cloud." The point is that when you said "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs," this creates the false impression that they _did_ indeed "create a chemical cloud" (or a BW or nuke "cloud").

    "I'm not sure why you think it important"

    Because it's important to avoid creating the impression that certain things happened, given that they didn't actually happen.

    "Anyone who's trying to evaluate Saddam's nuclear threat ought to [be smart enough to know about stuff like pits and spheres]"

    Yes, and voters also "ought to" be able to find Iraq on a map. But many probably can't. So your comment, again, is beside the point. The point is that Cheney was able to mislead people with his phrase "reconstituted nuclear weapons," because the vast majority of people don't have the knowledge to recognize whether or not the phrase is a form of nonsense.

    Cecil Turner

    "But it was still a question. And your answer is (paraphrase) "it's not absurd because it was 53 out of 16,000, not 1 out of 16,000.""

    Oh, so a question makes it okay? Are you sure, or are you lying? (<--not, in my opinion, okay) Your paraphrase of my answer uses the number 16,000 twice . . . I never used it, nor referred to Powell's presentation. Does that make you a liar? (<-- still not okay)

    "Can you tell me how to find the passage you referenced?" . . . "I call you a liar when you make statements that are contrary to fact."

    Looks to me like you sling the accusation when you can't find something (Like Duelfer finding "weapons," or insurgents "using" WMDs in IEDs.) And though I'm no longer inclined to help, I can see the obvious effort it's taking you not to claim that I made that passage up. So here's a hint: it's in the same section as the bit about the possibility of evacuating weapons to Syria.

    jukeboxgrad

    "Oh, so a question makes it okay? Are you sure, or are you lying?"

    If you recall, the question about the one shell vs 53 shells isn't a matter of me calling you a liar. It's a matter of me claiming you're using an absurd basis to vindicate Fleischer for his statement "We know for a fact there are weapons there." And I explained why I stand by my claim, and why whether it's 1 or 53 makes hardly any difference.

    By the way, I've never called you a liar (although given the material below, maybe the time has come to finally do that). I've suggested you distort, manipulate and exaggerate (close to being a liar, but maybe not precisely the same thing). I stand by that claim, too. I cited various examples, and I'll gladly refresh your memory, if you've already forgotten.

    "Your paraphrase of my answer uses the number 16,000 twice . . . I never used it, nor referred to Powell's presentation."

    I never claimed otherwise (i. e., I never claimed you used the number, and I never claimed you referred to Powell's presentation). However, the number is exactly the relevant context, because it's what Bush told us to expect. The fact that 99.7% of what we were told was there was never found is an important historical fact (that's the number for CW; the number for BW and nukes is 100%). The fact that you think the number 0.3% is materially different from the number zero is an important thing to know about you.

    "I can see the obvious effort it's taking you not to claim that I made that passage up."

    I prefer to ask questions before reaching conclusions. What's remarkable is the way you're determined to play footsie with the question.

    "it's in the same section as the bit about the possibility of evacuating weapons to Syria."

    "Evacuating weapons to syria" is another one of those terrific phrases that returns no results in google (I guess google hasn't indexed this thread yet).

    Anyway, it's only in the last few minutes that I discovered the Duelfer report is available not just in the form of html (unwieldy for this purpose because there are so many sections), but also in a small number of large pdf files. The entire report is contained in pdf files here, here, here and here. These files in aggregate are about 200mb, 985 pages, and about 376,000 words. I'm impressed that you actually read all this (as you hinted in one of your comments).

    I can say with a pretty high degree of certainty that the phrase "coalition forces" appears about 50 times, but none of these are a reference remotely resembling the citation you posted at 6/16, 5:44 pm (["Since 2003, insurgents have attacked Coalition Forces with two CW rounds (not including attacks with riot control agents) that ISG judges were produced by Iraq prior to 1991. Neither attack caused casualties and ISG believes the perpetrators did not know the rounds contained CW agent"]).

    By the way, the word "riot" appears in the Duelfer report exactly once ("21 were in deteriorated condition with only one
    intact rocket with residual riot control agent present"), but this is obviously not the citation you provided.

    Speaking of other interesting words in your (apparently) bogus citation, Duelfer never uses the word "perpetrator."

    As far as "the bit about the possibility of evacuating weapons to Syria," searches for the strings "evacuat" "smuggl" and "conceal" turn up a small number of hits that are all totally unrelated to the subject of "evacuating weapons to Syria."

    By the way, the word "Syria" appears in the Duelfer report 355 times, but none of these are a reference to "the possibility of evacuating weapons to Syria."

    So not only have you falsely claimed that Duelfer said "insurgents have attacked Coalition Forces with two CW rounds," you have also falsely claimed that Duelfer said something about "evacuating weapons to Syria." You should have quit while you were ahead.

    So I still don't know for sure that you're making this stuff up (maybe you have a private memo sent to you by Duelfer himself), but I do now know for sure that none of this stuff you're citing can be found anywhere in the Duelfer Report (as the term "Duelfer Report" is commonly understood). So yes, the time has finally come to call you an out-and-out liar. When you show me I'm wrong, I'll apologize promptly. I'm not holding my breath.

    Cecil Turner

    "So not only have you falsely claimed that Duelfer said "insurgents have attacked Coalition Forces with two CW rounds," you have also falsely claimed that Duelfer said something about "evacuating weapons to Syria." You should have quit while you were ahead."

    I am surprised. If you'd googled on the "ISG was unable to . . . evacuated to Syria" quote above (6/15 03:54 AM), you'd have gotten several hits, including this one, which would have told you it was in the follow-up. Or you could have checked the first Duelfer page I posted above, under the second link: "Addenda to the Comprehensive Report (PDF, 705 KB)". You'll find the passage in question on the 15th page (page 1 of the section labelled "Residual Pre-1991 CBW Stocks in Iraq").

    The quote about Syria is on the first page of the addenda report (after cover pages i-iii):

    The investigation centered on the possibility that WMD materials were moved to Syria. As is obvious from other sections of the Comprehensive Report, Syria was involved in transactions and shipments of military and other material to Iraq in contravention of the UN sanctions. This indicated a flexibility with respect to international law and a strong willingness to work with Iraq—at least when there was considerable profit for those involved. Whether Syria received military items from Iraq for safekeeping or other reasons has yet to be determined. There was evidence of a discussion of possible WMD collaboration initiated by a Syrian security officer, and ISG received information about movement of material out of Iraq, including the possibility that WMD was involved. In the judgment of the working group, these reports were sufficiently credible to merit further investigation. ISG was unable to complete its investigation and is unable to rule out the possibility that WMD was evacuated to Syria before the war.
    "When you show me I'm wrong, I'll apologize promptly. I'm not holding my breath."

    Nor am I.

    jukeboxgrad

    Oh goody, you tricked me! I focused on the original report, published in 9/04, and I managed to overlook the Addenda, published six months later. Your little footsie game worked. So yes, I apologize for calling you a liar with regard to these citations from Duelfer, which turn out to not be bogus citations after all. My mistake.

    I've learned something important about you, which is that you like to play games. As I've said elsewhere, I'm always happy to have a chance to learn something.

    So it turns out I don't have a basis for calling you a liar. I only have basis for claiming, as I said before, you distort, manipulate and exaggerate.

    And now I understand more clearly why you were slow to provide this citation (I mean the text itself), why you at first provided only a truncated version of the text, and then were especially reluctant to share the link. The more complete passage is "Since 2003, insurgents have attacked Coalition Forces with two CW rounds (not including attacks with riot control agents) that ISG judges were produced by Iraq prior to 1991. Neither attack caused casualties and ISG believes the perpetrators did not know the rounds contained CW agent because the rounds were not marked to indicate they contained CW agent and they were used no differently than insurgents had employed conventional munition Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)." (The italics indicate the portion you omitted when you first offered this text.)

    As far as I can tell, this turns out to be your complete support for your assertion "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs." Since, as a full reading of the Duelfer citation indicates, the rounds were not marked as WMD, the attackers apparently did not know it was WMD, they were used no differently than any other IED, and had apparently no effectiveness whatsoever as WMD, in my opinion your statement "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs" is highly incomplete, distorted, and misleading. The fact that you have been so extremely coy about finally coming up with your "proof" of this assertion tends to create the impression that your distortion was intentional.

    I have a feeling you also didn't want me to see the sentence that immediately follows: "The mustard round used by insurgents as an IED near Abu Ghurayb Barracks on 2 May 2004 contained agent degraded to such an extent to be ineffective."

    Or the sentence that follows that one: "There continues to be reporting that indicates terrorists and insurgents possess chemical or biological weapons, although there is no evidence indicating that they have obtained 'functional' CBW weapons or agents from the former Regime’s programs. An insurgent captured in Fallujah stated, 'If we had chemical weapons, we would have used them.'"

    Or the sentence that immediately precedes the citation you offered: "Since May 2004, ISG has recovered 41 Sakr-18 CW rockets and eight Buraq CW rockets. Coalition military explosive experts doubted the rockets could be effectively launched because the physical state of the munitions was degraded from years of improper storage."

    In other words, your statement "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs" is a pretty dramatic distortion of what Duelfer actually said. This additional information from Duelfer also sheds light on your assertion with regard to "Saddam having hidden weapons." You have suggested that these measly old items found by Duelfer were "hidden" by Saddam. The only hiding that appears to have happened, however, is you hiding the full Duelfer citation, which gives us ample reason to understand that everything ISG found was obsolete, useless, forgotten and abandoned.

    As I said, you distort, manipulate and exaggerate. And then you play games to avoid being found out.

    PS: More interesting items from this addenda. "Iraqis seeking rewards have added toxic chemicals to unfilled pre-1991 chemical munitions to fool Coalition Forces into believing that they had found CW munitions." In other words, if there were real WMD out there, there's ample reason to believe that "Iraqis seeking rewards" would have long ago helped us find them.

    More: "ISG has not found evidence to indicate that Iraq did not destroy its BW weapons or bulk agents. However, even if biological agents from the former program do remain they probably have significantly decreased pathogenicity because Iraq never successfully formulated its biological agents for long-term storage." There's more like that. As Instahack says, read the whole thing.

    Cecil Turner

    "Oh goody, you tricked me! . . . So yes, I apologize for calling you a liar with regard to these citations from Duelfer, which turn out to not be bogus citations after all. My mistake."

    Handsomely done. I'd just point out that I "tricked you" by providing quotes and the page that linked to the source material. (And, later, a perfectly workable hint on how to connect the dots.) Your own lack of discretion did the real work.

    "So it turns out I don't have a basis for calling you a liar. I only have basis for claiming, as I said before, you distort, manipulate and exaggerate."

    The concept of devalued currency springs to mind.

    jukeboxgrad

    "The concept of devalued currency springs to mind."

    You're suggesting that since I made a mistake, which I promptly corrected, that this somehow casts a shadow on my credibility with regard to your numerous distortions which I've highlighted in detail (and with extensive supporting links, not coy "workable hint[s]"), and which you have utterly failed to explain, defend, or retract. Nice try. I realize that a glib blanket dismissal is much easier than trying to respond substantively, especially when the facts are against you.

    I also realize your concept of integrity revolves around the idea that the paramount principle is to never admit error, failure, or wrongdoing. Sounds familiar.

    jukeboxgrad

    Your extended trail of deception and evasion on this point is quite spectacular. It would be a shame for it to be overlooked in the complexity of this epic thread, because it's such an extraordinarily vivid demonstration of what a world-class weasel you are. So here's this summary:

    6/15, 3:54 am. You said "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs."

    7:35 am. I asked for a source.

    9:41 am. You could have simply offered a link to your source (pdf). For some peculiar reason, you didn't. Instead, you cited this jpg which most definitely did not answer the question.

    1:55 pm. I asked again for a source.

    2:57 pm. You could have simply offered a link to your source (pdf). For some peculiar reason, you didn't. Instead, you tried to claim the jpg answered the question, even though it didn't.

    3:45 pm. I asked again for a source.

    5:52 pm. You could have simply offered a link to your source (pdf). For some peculiar reason, you didn't. Instead, you cited this document, which is not at all related to the Duelfer report, and which also most definitely did not answer the question.

    6/16, 1:27 am. I asked again for the source.

    5:44 pm. You could have simply offered a link to your source (pdf). For some peculiar reason, you didn't. Instead, you offer a Duelfer quote from your source, taken out-of-context in a highly misleading manner.

    8:26 pm. I asked again for a source. I had not noticed the Duelfer quote you posted at 5:44. (My mistake, but quite minor and irrelevant.)

    9:42 pm. You could have simply offered a link to your source (pdf). For some peculiar reason, you didn't. Instead, you reminded me of the deceptively out-of-context Duelfer quote that you had posted at 5:44 pm.

    10:38 pm. I acknowledged the quote is helpful, but I asked for a link so I could see it in context. I was guessing (correctly, it turns out) that you were deceptively taking the quote out-of-context.

    6/17. 5:04 am. You could have simply offered a link to your source (pdf). For some peculiar reason, you didn't. Instead, you tell me it's in the Duelfer report: "All that crap is in there. It's not my fault you can't be bothered to read it." Never mind that it's roughly 1000 pages.

    7:35 am. I asked again for a source.

    8:52 am. You could have simply offered a link to your source (pdf). For some peculiar reason, you didn't. Instead, you coyly drop what you would later refer to as "a workable hint," as if we're conducting a treasure hunt.

    10:54 am. I find your hint doesn't work for me, so I decide (incorrectly) that your quote simply does not appear in the Duelfer report, and I call you a liar. Shortly after this I find out I was wrong, and I apologize.

    11:35 am. You finally offer a link to your source (pdf).

    12:46 pm. I point out that the context, which I was only now able to see, demonstrates clearly that your original statement was misleading at best, and also that the way you quoted Duelfer to support your statement was dramatically out-of-context. It finally becomes obvious why you've been hiding your source: it betrays you.

    To summarize, you declined to provide a straight answer to a simple question until after I had asked the question roughly seven times, over a period of roughly 48 hours. Along the way, in an effort at misdirection, first you tossed in two other links that were irrelevant, and then you tossed in a deceptively out-of-context quote from Duelfer. All this makes it quite obvious that when you originally said "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs," you never anticipated that anyone would be persistent enough to show that your assertion was a wild distortion of the underlying source. Hence all your pathetic ducking and weaving.

    "The concept of devalued currency springs to mind."

    Heh.

    Paul Zrimsek

    Cecil, remember the old proverb. I've seen people waste more time before, but I don't think I've ever seen a pig quite this annoyed.

    Dave

    JBG, any shadow being cast on your credibility is a direct result of your tendancy to accuse people of willful deception or falsehood when it is completely unwarranted. For all of your foofera about what the definition of "use" is in the context of improvised exposive devices, I still haven't seen anything that negates Cecil's central points: 1) rather than no chem/bio weapons, a very small number of weapons have been found, and 2) one of those weapons was a very particular piece of ordnance that was very unlikely to have simply been overlooked. It does not matter a great deal to the argument how the ordnance in point 2 was discovered (though I think the context is certainly interesting); what matters is that this particular piece of ordnance was something that was very, very unlikely just to be tossed in the bottom of a dusty bunker to be forgotten. Most, if not all of the rest of the ordnance discovered to this point can potentially be written off to a combination of imperfect Iraqi controls and a damned big pile of weapons to start with. This one piece of ordnance does not fit into that picture at all well, regardless of what definitions of "use", "discovered", or even "detonated" one might choose to accept.

    Harry Arthur

    JBG, "If you were using your experience to show proof for the claims you made, that experience would be relevant. Since you're not, it isn't." In a word, nice try, but wrong – I am and it is.

    My 36 years of direct aviation experience with this very subject is directly related to my argument whether you like it or not. You might even note that I directly challenged the credibility of your Scherer citation by challenging a number of his assertions and facts. If he got those basic essentials wrong, how is it that we should trust him to get the other details correct? This is often the case with the media on virtually any aviation subject. They are speaking and writing as laymen who have no direct experience with either flying airplanes, the training that goes with flying airplanes, the capabilities of airplanes or the threats to airplanes. In short they are often wrong about fairly important details, as is Mr. Scherer in the instant case.

    Secondly, you ARE "picking fly poop out of pepper" as BumperStickerist suggests when you assert that somehow airplanes had previously been used as weapons as I had asserted they had not. You are simply incorrect. Your examples were all provided in the Scherer article but they are all at best very long stretches at making your point so I'll waste some more time and discuss them from my viewpoint as an aviation expert:

    " ... crashing planes into structures is not new." Actually, yes it is, when done intentionally. It's fortunately rare even accidentally.

    "The Israelis shot down a Libyan jetliner they said was headed for a building in Tel Aviv in the 1980s." The Israelis SAID it was headed for a building in Tel Aviv. For sure? Did it actually crash into a building? No, it was apparently shot down first. Was it flown by pilot-trained hijackers? No, apparently the flight crew flew the plane until it was shot down. Have any flight crews ever flown airplanes into buildings anywhere in the world, except by accident? I'm searching without success for an example.

    "A Cessna 150 fell 50 yards short of the White House in September, 1994." Please. A Cessna 150 could fall with 50 yards of my house and cause no damage. Was it intentionally flown into the White House by a pilot-trained terrorist? No. Cessna 150s simply do not pose a credible threat no matter what you might see on TV or read in an article.

    "French commandos prevented a jumbo jet, hijacked in Algeria by the Armed Islamic Group, from crashing into the Eiffel Tower the following December." I've already addressed this in detail. Read my response.

    "In the mid 1990s, terrorist Ramzi Yousef plotted to have his friend Abdul Hakim Murad fly a light plane loaded with chemical weapons into CIA headquarters at Langley, Va., or to have him spray the area with poison gas." Is PLOTTING to fly a plane the same as training pilot-hijackers to fly a plane, hijacking one or more planes, killing the crew, and actually FLYING the plane into a building? No. I'm sure Al Qaeda has PLOTTED to do all sorts of things, as BumperStickerist accurately points out. Were they all, or even any of them viewed as credible threats by the National Command Authority or the intel community? Some were, most were not. It is quite different plotting to fly a plane and actually piloting a plane into a building, even from a basic piloting viewpoint - ever tried it? Al Qaeda also apparently PLOTTED to use crop dusters to spray biological or chemical agents but were never able to either rent crop dusters to do it or figure out how to make it work.

    "A Turkish hijacker attempted to crash an aircraft into the tomb of former Pres. Kemal Ataturk in Ankara in 1998." Again we have the concept of ATTEMPTED, PLOTTED, thought about, dreamed about, wrote a poem about, etc.

    Your original statement on the subject ("By the way, recall the famous PDB (8/6/01) which said "Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US ... FBI information ... indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.") implied to any reasonable reader that you were suggesting that this memo should have given the White House satisfactory information on which to act. It just didn't.

    Was there other information available that the intel community might have or should have used to connect the dots. Sure. It includes the Phoenix memo and the PanAm/NWA training center reports as well as the Algerian incident. The entire country agrees that the CIA and the FBI did a terrible job coordinating intel and responses and that the terrible job rose to the highest levels of both agencies. Unfortunately in just over 6 months in the White House (after the delayed transition) Bush didn't figure this out. He actually trusted the intel community that, for example, pronounced the WMD information "a slam dunk."

    You can parse my sentences all you want. My primary point remains the same and it remains accurate. Up until 9/11 there was no history, NONE, of airplane hijackings by suicide pilots who subsequently killed the crew and flew the planes into buildings. Not one, nada, none, zip, zero - period. The FAA did not view domestic hijackings as a suicide threat, did not train air crews to view domestic hijackings as a suicide threat, and was taken completely by surprise because this was a unique event.

    We can agree or disagree but I have lived aviation for 36 plus years and from everything you've posted so far, you have not. You can read all the articles you want; you can quote them until the stars fall from the sky and the rivers all run dry; you can call me and any others here with whom you disagree all the names you want; you can question our intelligence, our sincerity, our integrity and our parentage if you want; when it's all said and done you'll still know nothing of substance about aviation. I'll let you in on another little secret from this ignorant hick: I've been called worse by better.

    JBG: "I've learned something important about you, which is that you like to play games. As I've said elsewhere, I'm always happy to have a chance to learn something."

    "So it turns out I don't have a basis for calling you a liar. I only have basis for claiming, as I said before, you distort, manipulate and exaggerate."

    And this, I suppose is your version of civil discourse? No ad hominem there. No mind reading there. TT should be happy. Your problem is that you talk when you ought to listen. To label someone you've never met with any of the labels you've used in this far-too-lengthy "discourse" indicates to me that you're apparently too smug, arrogant and condescending to agree to disagree agreeably.

    No need to reply with 700mb of quotations. I'm quite done arguing with you. I'm not going to convince you of anything and I'm quite certain you'll not convince me of anything other than that I've wasted sufficient time to regret it. I intend to enjoy a beautiful Virginia weekend planting trees on my palatial estate. If it makes you feel better - you win. I'll go BBQ some nice pork ribs, pop a nice bottle of Cabernet, sit on my patio and enjoy the wonderful life with which God for reasons known only to him has chosen to bless me. God bless our wonderful young men and women serving in Iraq and around the world, and God bless our wonderful nation and its leaders. Have a very nice day.

    jukeboxgrad

    Dave,

    "your tendancy to accuse people of willful deception or falsehood when it is completely unwarranted."

    I think I've been very careful to indicate the basis for the various conclusions I reach. If you have a substantive objection, you should describe it. Otherwise, your blanket dismissal is hollow.

    "For all of your foofera about what the definition of 'use' is"

    The point of the "foofera" is hopefully more clear in retrospect. Cecil's "use" was based on Duelfer's "attack." As soon as Cecil provided that quote, I readily conceded the point about "use." Trouble is, he took his sweet time coming up with that Duelfer quote (for reasons which soon became clear). Prior to that point, he had been throwing up smoke (like the Duelfer jpg and the centcom press release) that did nothing to address the question of "use." Cecil started playing games as soon as I first raised the question about "use," and I knew I would learn something interesting if I pursued that question. In the end, the word "use" was legitimate. That ended up not being the interesting part of the analysis, but it led to the interesting part of the analysis. The problem was elsewhere, in concealing Duelfer's context, which showed that these items were WMD only in the past tense.

    I stayed with the question not because I knew _what_ was being hidden. Only that I suspected _something_ was being hidden.

    "rather than no chem/bio weapons, a very small number of weapons have been found"

    I see you have the same problem as Cecil, that you consider the number 0.3% to be significantly different from the number zero. I see you're also determined to sidestep Duelfer's comments (particularly in the addenda that Cecil preferred to hide) indicating that what was found was generally old, obsolete, abandoned and free of effectiveness (as WMD). In other words, it's highly misleading to say "a very small number of weapons were found." A honest statement would be "a very small number of items were found which were once WMD, but which are now useless and ineffective (as WMD)."

    Let's say I happen to forget that I put my Peter Frampton CD in my glove compartment about 10 years ago, even though I like to leave my car out in the hot sun a lot. One day my wife says "I found your missing Frampton CD." Not exactly. What you found is a useless blob of plastic that once upon a time was a Peter Frampton CD.

    "one of those weapons was a very particular piece of ordnance that was very unlikely to have simply been overlooked."

    Duelfer said "ISG assesses that Iraq and Coalition Forces will continue to discover small numbers of degraded chemical weapons, which the former Regime mislaid or improperly destroyed prior to 1991. ISG believes the bulk of these weapons were likely abandoned, forgotten and lost during the Iran-Iraq war because tens of thousands of CW munitions were forward deployed along frequently and rapidly shifting battlefronts ... All but two of the chemical weapons discovered since OIF were found in southern Iraq where the majority of CW munitions were used against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war."

    Duelfer gives every indication that the stuff he found was simply abandoned. Yet you persist in claiming otherwise. On what basis?

    "This one piece of ordnance does not fit into that picture at all well"

    I'm not sure what "one piece" you mean. Is it this: "The most signifi cant recovered munitions was a 152mm binary Sarin artillery projectile which insurgents had attempted to use as an improvised explosive device"?

    jukeboxgrad

    Harry,

    Here's how you tried to dismiss the Algeria example: "However, in this case it was the fact that the pilots escaped and the hijackers were not trained to fly the plane that resulted in their failure, not solely the action of the French commandos."

    So what? The fact that the mission failed, and/or the reason why the mission failed are both entirely beside the point. You said "hijacking an aircraft for the purpose of using it ... as a weapon ... had never occured previously." You've failed to show how the Algeria case is not an example of "hijacking an aircraft for the purpose of using it ... as a weapon."

    There are many other things you say that don't make much sense, but what I've just said suffices to demonstrate that you made a false statement, and you lack the integrity to take responsibility for it.

    By the way, this is your original statement, to which I objected: "hijacking an aircraft for the purpose of using it ... as a weapon ... had never occured previously"

    Here's your latest version of that: "airplane hijackings by suicide pilots who subsequently killed the crew and flew the planes into buildings."

    Notice that version one suggests that there has never even been an attempt (i.e., no one has ever hijacked a plane for the purpose of using it as a weapon, without regard to whether or not they succeeded). Version two moves the goalposts by excluding attempts; now you're looking for examples where they actually succeeded and "flew the planes into buildings." Moving the goalposts this way is sneaky. Please don't waste my time.

    By the way, here's something I said earlier: You're claiming my source for this [an intelligence report about Arabs planning to fly a plane into the WTC] is not "of consequence." The source is a Congressional inquiry. Care to explain why a Congressional inquiry is not "of consequence?"

    Either you innocently overlooked that question, or you're intentionally sidestepping it, which also indicates a lack of integrity, in my opinion.

    "Your problem is that you talk when you ought to listen"

    The irony of you saying I "ought to listen" is that you also say "you can parse my sentences all you want," which is obviously a kind of complaint. The fact is that when I'm parsing your sentences, I'm simply showing that I have in fact paid very close attention to your words, maybe closer attention than you paid to them yourself.

    "To label someone ... "

    If you pay attention to my words, you'll notice that I ask many questions and indeed listen very carefully. And I only say what someone is after they've presented a great deal of information to indicate that my characterization is appropriate. I also go to a lot of trouble to describe the basis for the characterization. If you have a specific and substantive disagreement with any of that, you should describe it. So far you haven't.

    Dave

    "I think I've been very careful to indicate the basis for the various conclusions I reach. If you have a substantive objection, you should describe it."

    While you've been careful to cite the basis for those conclusions, those conclusions are completely erroneous and are, in my opinion, the result of inadequate knowledge about the two issues most central to the debate: munitions and the post-invasion chronology of events in Iraq.

    "The point of the "foofera" is hopefully more clear in retrospect. Cecil's "use" was based on Duelfer's "attack."

    Certainly the nature of the foofera seems clear to me – you don't appear to understand the necessary implications of rigging a munition for use as an IED. I daresay that Cecil's use of the word "use" is based on an understanding of those necessary implications, not Duelfer's use of the word "attack" – the latter's simply the first source that you accepted.

    "Trouble is, he took his sweet time coming up with that Duelfer quote (for reasons which soon became clear). Prior to that point, he had been throwing up smoke (like the Duelfer jpg and the centcom press release) that did nothing to address the question of "use." Cecil started playing games as soon as I first raised the question about "use," and I knew I would learn something interesting if I pursued that question."

    As an external observer, I look at the sequence of posts and I see Cecil trying to explain a rather simple set of facts to someone who obdurately misses the significant points of the argumentation and focuses on largely irrelevant minutia. Cecil, in fact, specifically cites his argumentation regarding the significance of the 152mm binary sarin shell quite concisely and clearly – as well as being quite clear where he diverges from Duelfer in the interpretation of that shell and its significance.

    "The problem was elsewhere, in concealing Duelfer's context, which showed that these items were WMD only in the past tense."

    Such matters of context were concealed only to you. You made much of this:

    "Since, as a full reading of the Duelfer citation indicates, the rounds were not marked as WMD, the attackers apparently did not know it was WMD, they were used no differently than any other IED, and had apparently no effectiveness whatsoever as WMD, in my opinion your statement "they have used at least a couple WMDs in IEDs" is highly incomplete, distorted, and misleading."

    However, Cecil was very upfront about how irrelevant that was to his argument:

    "My personal theory is that they didn't know how it [the 152 mm binary sarin shell - added for clarity] worked . . . but none of that is remotely pertinent to the subject at hand.

    The point is that 12 years after Saddam supposedly destroyed them, these things are still floating around. And unlike the old mustard shells, binary mix-in-flight sarin is not something likely to be simply overlooked in a destruction scheme.

    "I see you have the same problem as Cecil…"

    You seem to be presuming that I agree with Cecil in all respects – in fact, that isn't true; we probably disagree more than we agree on the significance of WMD in Iraq. I am simply unwilling to remain silent while you accuse someone that I have learned a good deal from and believe to be a generally good guy [tm] of uttering deliberate falsehoods when I believe that accusation not to be true.

    "In other words, it's highly misleading to say "a very small number of weapons were found." A honest statement would be "a very small number of items were found which were once WMD, but which are now useless and ineffective (as WMD).""

    Actually, saying that "a very small number of weapons" was found is a lot less misleading than making any reference at all to WMD, IMHO (unless you have tons of it, generally you don't have a WMD – the fact that I said "weapons" there probably reflects this bias of mine). That said, Cecil did use the phrase "WMD," something which I attribute to trying to use the common vernacular that's grown up around this issue – certainly everything that he posted was very upfront about the small number of munitions found (and differentiated between that and stockpiles in other contexts). As it pertains to the original argument, Cecil originally stated that a couple of WMD were used in IEDs in Iraq (i.e., there have been two) – one of those was obsolete and ineffective for its design purpose and one (the 152mm binary sarin shell) was emphatically not.

    "Duelfer gives every indication that the stuff he found was simply abandoned. Yet you persist in claiming otherwise. On what basis?"

    With the vast majority of stuff that ISG found (i.e., 52 of 53 pieces), I agree with Duelfer – I am uncertain about the 152 mm binary sarin shell. On that point, I agree with Cecil – it's very unlikely that that specific munition got overlooked.

    I'm not sure what "one piece" you mean. Is it this: "The most significant recovered munitions was a 152mm binary Sarin artillery projectile which insurgents had attempted to use as an improvised explosive device"?
    Yes, that is exactly the piece of ordnance that I mean, the functioning and relevance of which Cecil described at some length above. The fact that you're still unclear on that after all of this debate is symptomatic of why it is that you see attempted deception where none exists.

    To borrow your Peter Frampton analogy, imagine that instead of putting a CD in the glove box, presume that you put your ipod in there – would a reasonable observer believe that you had just misplaced such a substantial and valuable piece of technology? Probably not – it's reasonable to misplace a small percentage of a once-vast CD collection, but it's not reasonable to misplace a piece of technology which in the specific Iraqi context is either a) a quite valuable demonstration prototype for a munition (if produced pre-'91), or b) a production munition produced in violation of international resolutions (if produced post-'91). In either eventuality it's a worrying possible indicator of a desire to maintain the ability to reconstitute a WMD production capacity after the international community got tired and went away.

    jukeboxgrad

    "While you've been careful to cite the basis for those conclusions, those conclusions are completely erroneous"

    You've failed to demonstrate that.

    "you don't appear to understand the necessary implications of rigging a munition for use as an IED."

    Please explain what that has to do with anything.

    "I daresay that Cecil's use of the word 'use' is based on an understanding of those necessary implications, not Duelfer's use of the word 'attack' – the latter's simply the first source that you accepted."

    It's the first source I accepted because it's the first and only source Cecil provided that indicated the item was actually used in an attack, as compared with just rigged (or semi-rigged) and stored away somewhere. One doesn't have to be a munitions expert to understand this very elementary distinction. I don't understand why you would claim otherwise.

    "misses the significant points of the argumentation and focuses on largely irrelevant minutia."

    For Cecil to assert the item was "used," in the absence of information to support that assertion, is not something I consider "largely irrelevant minutia." Likewise for Cecil to suggest it was WMD, since it was WMD only in the past tense.

    "Cecil, in fact, specifically cites his argumentation regarding the significance of the 152mm binary sarin shell"

    I'm familar with Cecil's "argumention regarding the significance of the 152mm binary sarin shell." The trouble is, as I've already pointed out, it appears that Duelfer has a different persepective. You're repeating Cecil without addressing this.

    "as well as being quite clear where he diverges from Duelfer in the interpretation of that shell and its significance."

    Neither you nor Cecil has answered the question I've already asked: why should we think Cecil is smarter than Duelfer?

    "Cecil was very upfront about how irrelevant that was to his argument: 'My personal theory is that they didn't know how it [the 152 mm binary sarin shell - added for clarity] worked . . . but none of that is remotely pertinent to the subject at hand.'"

    It's true that Cecil admitted that "they didn't know how it worked." In other words, he didn't omit all of the balancing context provided by Duelfer. He only omitted the vast majority of it (as I've already documented). I think intentional deception is the most parsimonious explanation for this behavior, as I've explained in some detail. You haven't offered any alternate explanation, let alone one that's more parsimonious.

    "The point is that 12 years after Saddam supposedly destroyed them, these things are still floating around. And unlike the old mustard shells, binary mix-in-flight sarin is not something likely to be simply overlooked in a destruction scheme."

    As I've said, that's a matter of opinion. You've failed to explain why your opinion is more credible than Duelfer's. Among other things, you're glossing over this: "An insurgent captured in Fallujah stated, 'If we had chemical weapons, we would have used them.'"

    "You seem to be presuming that I agree with Cecil in all respects"

    Nice example of a completely unwarranted assertion on your part. I was painstakingly clear in describing what I see as an area of agreement you share with Cecil.

    "certainly everything that he posted was very upfront about the small number of munitions found"

    I never claimed he exaggerated the number (and I quickly acknowledged my error in minimizing the number). I claimed he exaggerated the importance of the number. I stand by that claim.

    By the way, suggesting that WMD was used against us, when in fact the items had value as WMD only in the past tense, does not fit my idea of "very upfront."

    "one of those was obsolete and ineffective for its design purpose and one (the 152mm binary sarin shell) was emphatically not."

    As I think Cecil has already acknowledged, the sarin shell is only effective as WMD if it's fired as artillery. It is not effective as WMD when used as an IED. The insurgents are not doing the former. They have done the latter. Therefore I think your statement "emphatically not" is highly misleading.

    "On that point, I agree with Cecil – it's very unlikely that that specific munition got overlooked."

    Again, you're entitled to your opinion, but you've failed to explain what makes you smarter than Duelfer. Also, do you really find it implausible that Saddam lost stuff? Do you think our army doesn't lose lots of stuff? Our folks there managed to lose track of 9 billion dollars, by the way. Anyway, if all this fuss on your side is about one measly shell, then it's odd that words like "foofera" are being directed at me.

    "Yes, that is exactly the piece of ordnance that I mean, the functioning and relevance of which Cecil described at some length above. The fact that you're still unclear on that after all of this debate is symptomatic of why it is that you see attempted deception where none exists."

    I was "unclear" because there was (and still is) a remarkable absence of explanation of why you're making more of a fuss about this shell than Duelfer did.

    "it's not reasonable to misplace a piece of technology which in the specific Iraqi context is either a) a quite valuable demonstration prototype for a munition (if produced pre-'91), or b) a production munition produced in violation of international resolutions (if produced post-'91)."

    As I said, it's a shame that Duelfer is less knowledgable than you on this point.

    "In either eventuality it's a worrying possible indicator of a desire to maintain the ability to reconstitute a WMD production capacity after the international community got tired and went away."

    The trouble with that particular meme is that Bush didn't build hysteria for the war by telling us that Saddam had "a desire to maintain the ability to reconstitute a WMD production capacity after the international community got tired and went away." On the contrary. Bush built hysteria for the war by convincing us that Saddam was holding a gun to our head, with WMD as bullets. That was false.

    By the way, nice job acknowledging that sanctions were working, despite the fact that folks like Cheney were happy to do business with Saddam. [link, link]

    Incidentally, there's a collosal irony in all this fuss about a handful of old shells that were once WMD, that as far as I can tell have done no harm to us. Folks around these parts don't seem terribly concerned about the mountain of conventional explosives that are now in enemy hands, on account of our failure to secure them. Those are the items that have done great harm, not the items that folks like Cecil seems to be obsessed with.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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