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October 04, 2004

Comments

Cecil Turner

"Some think we can scare the world into cooperating, but that has never worked for long."

Scaring them into cooperating is probably not possible. Scaring them out of cooperating with Islamist terrorists, however, seems perfectly reasonable.

"Cite me an example of him supporting al Quaida, a link between Iraq and 9/11."

There's a couple of links to Al Qaeda above (Zarqawi, and the stuff in the 9/11 commission report--none terribly strong), no significant ones to 9/11 I'm aware of. And I'd certainly agree that if you're aiming for vengeance for 9/11, Iraq would be a poor choice.

But if the focus is preventing a future terrorist attack, states who sponsor Islamist terror (of any brand name) and especially those who provide chem/bio expertise, top the list. And since we were still technically at war with Iraq--with cease-fire terms prohibiting precisely that--it was a particularly apropos case.

dai

Cecil, that was a truly pathetic attempt. Links to anti-Iranian groups? Can you really convince yourself that this administration is concerned with anti-Iranian terrorists?

But the important point is that Bush argued for this war based on the connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda, not Abu Nidal or Palestinian groups...and sure as hell not anti-Iranian militants. We know now that this was based on, in your own words, no hard evidence.

"The war on terror, you can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror." GW. Bush

"We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases." GW. Bush

"We need to think about Saddam Hussein using al Qaeda to do his dirty work, to not leave fingerprints behind." GW. Bush

"This is a person who has had contacts with al Qaeda" GW. Bush

"He is a man who would likely -- he is a man who would likely team up with al Qaeda. He could provide the arsenal for one of these shadowy terrorist networks. He would love to use somebody else to attack us, and not leave fingerprints behind." GW. Bush

And why is Rumsfeld claiming we haven't found any WMD? Maybe you should show him your evidence, that 10 year old artillery shell is oh so convincing.

Cecil Turner

"All Kerry did was re-state a common sense principle that has always been a key part of American foreign policy."

That you apply a "test" that will depend on later data? Sorry, not only is it not a key part of American foreign policy, it's nonsensical.

"The Bush administration didn't make an honest mistake in this, they knew all along that the information they had was unreliable."

Good mindreading. Obviously the incorrect intelligence estimates must have been dishonest as well . . . except every review so far has said exactly the opposite.

"No one has ever denied that Saddam had WMDs, chemical weapons anyway, at one time. We provided them to him back when he was our friend."

Ah, if the insecticide "precursors" we provided Saddam back in the day count as "chemical weapons," then we found plenty in Iraq after the war. For example:

At Karbala, U.S. troops stumbled upon 55-gallon drums of pesticides at what appeared to be a very large "agricultural supply" area, Hanson says. Some of the drums were stored in a "camouflaged bunker complex . . ."

"The fact that some guerillas found one old shell that may have contained Sarin (IIRC, it was never proved conclusively) is a far cry from the war justification."

The sarin was proved conclusively, and it was a binary mix-in-flight type which Iraq claimed to've had none of. And if you look at the intelligence estimates, you'll see the vast majority of the calculated "stockpiles" was taking Iraq's previously admitted stocks and subtracting what was certified destroyed. The "old" shells were precisely what we thought were still there. (Mostly incorrectly, as it happens.)

Cecil Turner

"'We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.' GW. Bush"

"We have credible reporting that al-Qaeda's leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al-Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs." George Tenet (9/11 commission report)

Hrubec

"That you apply a "test" that will depend on later data? "

NOOOOOO, Cecil. Do you even try to follow this, or do you just enjoy chasing straw men down blind alleys? The test is only that you will have ensured that you will be ABLE to justify it at a later date. NOT that you will need later data. Is this a reading comprehension problem?

Your argument about the one Sarin shell is so weak it almost looks like a joke. This whole thing is pathetic, but like I said, it has given Kerry a beautiful opportunity to take Bush to school again. These guys are really off their game. Too bad they blew all their smears so early on. Now all they have to rely on is phony terror alerts...Countdown to gridlock, New York! Can't they pull one of these bogus things in Atlanta or Dallas next time? You guys seem to enjoy it all so much more.

Cecil Turner

"The test is only that you will have ensured that you will be ABLE to justify it at a later date."

Whatever. If that seems sensible to you, great. The only "justification" provided for in our Constitution is a subsequent election. Obviously you guys think this will help you . . . I think you're wrong. We'll find out before too long. Cheers.

Brian

"First, it is if you want to claim there were "no WMDs in Iraq," or that Saddam was complying with 1441. Second, it depends on content."

Do you really believe that we found was anything significant?

Ally

That you apply a "test" that will depend on later data? Sorry, not only is it not a key part of American foreign policy, it's nonsensical.

That you only go to war when there's a credible threat, and you have sound intelligence that makes you believe you'll be able to prove (to your people and the world) that there really was a credible threat after the fact. Bush can't do that with Iraq. That he believed there was a credible thread is not enough --- a belief is not a fact.

"We have credible reporting that al-Qaeda's leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al-Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs." George Tenet (9/11 commission report)

Sought contacts does not equal contacts made. I can seek a job with NASA as a rocket scientist, but I'm not likely to get one. Yes, there are a few indicators that Iraq perhaps provided some aid to some al-Qaeda members, but it was quite some time ago, not recently, and therefore, nothing that neccesitated current action. Sadaam Hussein was not a threat.

Whatever. If that seems sensible to you, great. The only "justification" provided for in our Constitution is a subsequent election.

Nobody said the global test was in the Constitution, but it was the practice of many Presidents throughout modern history, such as Eisenhower and Kennedy. It's not a legal matter per the Constitution, it's both an ethical and practical matter. Ethical because it assures you don't fight wars in the wrong way for the wrong reasons, and practical because it's a hell of a lot easier on your nation to only fight ethical wars. Ethical wars don't come along too often --- warfare is very rarely neccesary. Extracurricular wars, like this one, are disgraceful.

Ally

Cecil Turner

"Do you really believe that we found was anything significant? "

What do you mean by significant? Could even the paltry amounts found, if used correctly in a terrorist attack, have killed thousands of Americans? Yes. Would they have been? No, very unlikely (unless, as Kay suggested, the chaos allowed a terror group to get one by accident).

But the fact that guerrilas, looking for a normal artillery shell, mistakenly used a chem round for a roadside bomb in an incompetent attack (and nothing else makes sense, since a mix-in-flight round is completely useless as an IED) is a very good indication that a certain dictator had no intention of shutting down his weapons programs. It also tells us:

1) Saddam was hiding his weapons, to the point of using nondescript markings on special weapons, and he lost track of some of them.

2) Unless that particular insurgent won the lottery, there's more adrift out there.

3) The programs were hidden, not eradicated. Which suggests they'd be reconstituted five minutes after sanctions were lifted.

The "we could have waited" camp assume we could just keep an army on their border for as long as it took. Which is wrong for a bunch of reasons. We were going to get to "use-it-or-lose-it" fairly quickly. If there was a reasonable likelihood Saddam would have eventually given up WMDs and terror sponsorship, there might have been a way out that didn't involve war, and the "no justification" camp would have a credible argument. But in my opinion, that's pure moonshine.

(BTW, this thread is getting impractical for me to scroll through. Since Tom's got another more recent version open, I'm giving up on this one.) Cheers.

Ally

One more time:

"A new CIA assessment undercuts the White House's claim that Saddam Hussein maintained ties to al-Qaida, saying there's no conclusive evidence that the regime harbored Osama bin Laden associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi."

And...

"He added that there are now questions about earlier administration assertions that al-Zarqawi received treatment at a Baghdad hospital in May 2002.

"The evidence is that Saddam never gave Zarqawi anything," another U.S. official said.

A congressional official said members of Congress had received an intelligence report in late August containing similar findings."

Also,

"There's no dispute that al-Zarqawi spent time in Iraq before the U.S. invasion, but virtually all that time was in a portion of northeastern Iraq that wasn't under Saddam's control."

No links.

Quotes are from:

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/9836140.htm

Ally

Ally

But the fact that guerrilas, looking for a normal artillery shell, mistakenly used a chem round for a roadside bomb in an incompetent attack (and nothing else makes sense, since a mix-in-flight round is completely useless as an IED) is a very good indication that a certain dictator had no intention of shutting down his weapons programs. It also tells us:

Actually, all it tells us is that he once had weapons and some got left behind. There's unsecured nuclear and chemical materials in so many places; it's an issue, but not the same one you're making it.

If there was a reasonable likelihood Saddam would have eventually given up WMDs and terror sponsorship, there might have been a way out that didn't involve war, and the "no justification" camp would have a credible argument.

First of all, how do you get him to give up WMDs he didn't have. Just because they were in the area doesn't mean they were under his control (what little evidence you've given does not suggest they were --- actually, it suggests carelessness). And how exactly was he sponsoring terrorists? Any specifics there?

The real issue we actually faced was getting Sadaam to cooperate with the U.N., and the threat of force was likely the leverage required to make him do so (incidentally that is one of the reasons Bush gave in his speech for the Congress authorizing that force) since many signs indicate that he was grudingly allowing inspectors in.

Ally

Cecil Turner

"Just because they were in the area doesn't mean they were under his control (what little evidence you've given does not suggest they were --- actually, it suggests carelessness)."

Ally, 12 years after the Gulf War, we were finding various banned missiles, chemical shells and rockets (minus agent), and this unmarked binary shell. There's also the little matter of clandestine labs and records showing the programs were still being funded, and Kay's report on: "dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002." None of that squares with an innocent explanation. Added to the fact we know he played us through 1998, and your attempt to portray Saddam as an innocent victim is just laughable.

The intelligence estimates about ongoing production were clearly wrong. But the latter claim he was complying with 1441 is just as clearly bogus. And it's hard to see why he'd go to the effort of deceiving the last round of inspectors if he had any intention of changing.

Flash

I said:

"The Bush administration didn't make an honest mistake in this, they knew all along that the information they had was unreliable."

Cecil said:

Good mindreading. Obviously the incorrect intelligence estimates must have been dishonest as well . . . except every review so far has said exactly the opposite.

Now I say:

I'm talking about things such as the fact that many experts were saying the aluminum tubes were probably not intended to be centrifuge parts. While Rice and Cheney and others were claiming the tubes had no other possible use, they already knew that many experts believed otherwise.

The same thing happened with the UAVs, which the administration insisted were intended to spread chemical weapons. The Air Force was telling them that they could not be used for that purpose.

I'm not saying the Bush administration was just making things up. They had information to support their claims. But they also had information to raise questions and doubts about the way they chose to see things, and they didn't bother to mention those publicly.

And none of this is "mind reading." It's all been reported in the press, after the fact. I'm not surprised that you are not aware of that.

Cecil Turner

"I'm talking about things such as the fact that many experts were saying the aluminum tubes were probably not intended to be centrifuge parts."

Do yourself a favor and read the declassified intelligence estimates. (Like this one.) It's shot through with qualifiers, including the "alternate view" that: "INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors." But the "expert" opinion is in the body of the report:

Most agencies believe that Saddam's personal interest in and Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotors--as well as Iraq's attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools--provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program.
Using precisely the same logic proffered by the administration. It's also worth pointing out that even the "minority view" included:
(INR) believes that Saddam continues to want nuclear weapons and that available evidence indicates that Baghdad is pursuing at least a limited effort to maintain and acquire nuclear weapons-related capabilities.
Attempting to characterize this as the experts on one side, and the Administration on the other, is nonsense. Yes, there were some dissenting voices. But the preponderance of the expert opinion was consistent, in broad agreement, and wrong.

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