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September 22, 2003



So what if Bush did or did not use the actual word "imminent." He described in the SOTU and Powell described in his UN speech a capability to deploy chemical and biological weapons and an active relationship to terrorists. Isn't that describing an imminent threat? My point is that the administration claimed Saddam could attack us with chemical and biological weapons in 2002 if he just handed them to his terrorist buddies. Isn't that the definition of an imminent threat? If not could someone please tell me the difference between an imminent threat and what Saddam was supposed to be capable of last year? The main point is not the small phrase used to describe Saddam but the large picture painted of his capabilities to harm us. So get off the journalists who use the phrase 'imminent'. It may not be what the administration said but it's certainly what they described!

Brian J. Dunn (The Dignified Rant)

Given that the anti-war side essentially debated with itself on whether Iraq was an "imminent" threat, you'd think they'd be a little more worried about the implications of the Kay Report on their position.

The anti-war side said that we could only strike militarily when the threat is imminent. So, given the problems our intel people (and the world's intel people) had figuring out what Saddam had on the eve of war, how are we ever to be sure that the threat is indeed imminent?

It's the regime, stupid. We did the right thing in overthrowing Saddam. No doubt about it.

Richard Aubrey

If the anti-war types think we can only strike when the threat is imminent, what are they going to say when the threat is imminent. We know the fuss about the i-word is not made in good faith. It's simply to discredit the attack. Were the threat imminent, they'd think of something else. But on no account would they support an attack.
Cheesehead thinks that the description was of imminence. Fine. That should have been the argument all along. But he didn't bother with it until he got his cheesehead handed to him with the discovery that Bush didn't actually say it.
Now he's blaming Bush for his own misunderstanding.
Or pretending to.

Ian Wood

This is a case of missing the towering old forest for the imminent saplings.

The issue is not Iraq in particular, and never has been. All of this debating about how the argument was framed misses the point: it was framed that way to get the UN to agree to enforce their own professed codes of international morality after twelve dithering years.

The UN failed. They failed utterly. They proved themselves a useless stock of bleating sheep led by wolves, lacking any conviction, with no more purpose than leeches and biting ticks. We played the game by their own rules and they cheated, like spoiled children.

The pertinent questions are these: do we accept that the culture of militant Islam is unworthy of continued existence? If so, do we accept that the culture of militant Islam transcends national borders? If so, where do we start uprooting this culture?

I suggest that the answers are "yes," "yes," and "we start uprooting where victory is best obtained." I suggest that the detail-obsessed harridans are fools, devoted to irrelevant postmodern theory, which prohibits all moral judgment.

I wish that this fatuous game would end.

Evil exists.

Admit it.

Fight it.


I still think it may be a little early to claim that there is no imminent threat or that Iraq 'never had' Weapons of Mass Destruction. At some point someone needs to explain to me why we know he did not sneak them out of the country before the war.

In my opinion, the scariest scenario regarding Iraq was not that a bunch of foreign terrorists were going to start flocking into Iraq to fight the U.S. (which is what we have now) but that Saddam would sneak his Weapons out of Iraq into Iran and Syria. No one can tell me that has not actually happened.

Given that every intelligence agency and country in the world considered it certain that Iraq had Chemical and Biological weapons and even the UN inspectors believed that he was hiding them, this conclusion seems much more likely than to assume that Saddam was lying about having them.

The only way to prove this did not happen would require the Bush administration to prove that, of course it didn't happen, he never had WMD...even if they find some, did we get them all?

Cecil Turner

The "imminent threat" standard comes from article 51 of the UN charter: "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs . . ." (even though it says "occurs," most experts agree that "imminent" is good enough).

President Bush's position in the SOTU is clear:
"Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option. "

ISTM that if the UN charter is to be honored, the UN has a responsibility to enforce its resolutions. After 12 years and 17 tries, my allegiance to the UN charter was wearing pretty thin.

I'd also point out that if the same evidence that was found in Iraq were found in the FBI's searches of Steven Hatfilll's pond, he'd be in jail right now. One thing that's clear from David Kay's report is that Saddam was cheating on the WMD resolutions . . . just like the administration said.


A similar question is does Bush now think that Iraq was an imminent threat? I don't know, but his blog seems to want people to think it was. So maybe their position is "we never said Iraq was an imminent threat, but it was." (via Kos)


First of all, who are ya gonna believe, some right wing crank the Bush folks linked to, or me?

And we note her big finish, as presented at the Bush Blog (Is it a "Blush"?)

"Surely before the war, those circumstances posed a threat, perhaps even imminent, that if allowed to flower would have provided the incontrovertible proof we so crave -- too late.”



Since our national intelligence community mainly offers "probabilities" and we would be hard pressed to prophesize what Saddam would or would not do in the future, it comes down to risk analysis.

Here's the game: Prior to 9/11, you are playing a game, where Saddam, is being contained nicely. He is under sanctions. The risk of him directly attacking the US with a WMD is virtually impossible. He's more of a regional threat and to the oil supply. Let's translate the above scenario into a gambling game.

999 of 1,000 times you gamble, you will win 1 dollar. 1 out of a 1,000 times you will lose 500 dollars.

The risk of losing is low, and the penalty for losing is not so high either, so this game is worth playing.

Post 9/11, Tony Blair and Bush have to recalculate their risks. Say if the CIA advises that there is an even chance Saddamhas small pox (which they did) and he hands it off to Al Quaeda (not impossible) then the game has changed to the following:

999 of 1,000 you win a dollar, i.e. your policy of containment works, Saddam doesn't proliferate, etc. But the 1 in 1,000 chance of losing now has an increased penalty: the possibility of a terror attack on a major city that could kill 10,000 people. The cost for losing this game is now, say 10,000. Obviously you do not play this game. Because on the rare occurence you lose, you lose too big.

(I got this idea from reading Fooled By Randomness, an excellent book.)


I see your point, but I completely reject "Prior to 9/11, you are playing a game, where Saddam, is being contained nicely".

Sanctions were a humanitarian and political disaster which, as Madeleine Albright observed, were never meant to be a long term policy.

Regime change was the declared strategy of the US when Bill Clinton tok office, and was passed into law by Congress in 1998.

I think to re-model the game above, most of the time you have a small loss (US standing in the Arab world, friction with allies who want to abandon sanctions, bothered conscience), and sometimes you have a huge loss. But playing is losing.


Wow, and I thought I was alone in fighting against the "imminent" lie...

After a long round of discussions on a forum, the only thing the anti-war side could come up with was a July 4 interview of John Bolton, Under-Secretary of Arms, on Australian TV, where he said something to the effect that, "the threat was imminent enough for me!"

In other words, after the war, on a small interview in Australia. After a loaded question where the interviewer stated matter-of-factly that it was an imminent threat...

That was Anti-War Inc.'s best argument to prove that the US administration made the case that Saddam posed an imminent threat.

Simply ridiculous.

This continues to be one example of the many, examples of Anti-War Inc. propaganda lies by framing a quote on Bush, then proving that the quote is a lie.

Where will it end?

John Dunshee

The whole "imminent" thing is bullshit. Given the type of weapons (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) an "imminent" threat would be one that is assured of inflicting heavy casualties.

The people arguing that we should not have acted until the threat is "imminent" are, in effect, saying we should not have taken action until it was certain that there will be a lot of dead Americans.

Somehow I don't find that idea very creditable.

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