January 2004

Seems the Hutton report on the Kelly affair will exonerate Blair. That’s good news for GWB. The last thing he needs is for such an important ally to be undone on the WMD issue.


The Bush administration is taking heat for failing to find actual stockpiles of WMD in Iraq. So, the intelligence was wrong and the intelligence community overestimated Saddam’s WMD capability. But the same intelligence community made a far more dangerous mistake when they grossly underestimated Libya’s nuclear weapons program. According to the Washington Post:

Libya’s quest for atomic weapons was aided by a sophisticated nuclear black market that offered weapons designs, real-time technical advice and thousands of sensitive parts — some of them apparently manufactured in secret factories, according to diplomats and experts familiar with the probe of Libya’s weapons program.

The scale of the black-market operation — described by one expert as an “international supermarket” for nuclear parts — exceeds anything seen before, and it was undetected by Western intelligence agencies until recent months, the officials said. The same operation also is believed to have aided Iran, they said.

There is a certain irony in the fact that taking out Saddam, based on faulty intelligence, led directly to the exposure of a worse intelligence failure: the failure to detect a secret and highly advanced Islamic nuclear weapons program.

So far as the media is concerned, the Kay report boils down to “Saddam had no WMD.” According to AP, Bush said

“There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a grave and gathering threat to America and the world,” Bush said. “And I say that based upon intelligence that I saw prior to the decision to go into Iraq and I say that based upon what I know today. And the world is better off without him.”

What Kay actually reported is that inspectors had not found any stockpiles of banned WMD. Iraq did have a relatively advanced program for banned ballistic missiles and plans for the development of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Junkyardblog points to a significant quote from Kay:

“There were scientists and engineers working on developing weapons or weapons concepts that they had not moved into actual production,” Kay said. “But in some areas, for example producing mustard gas, they knew all the answers, they had done it in the past, and it was a relatively simple thing to go from where they were to starting to produce it.”

So, why isn’t the administration highlighting capability rather than stockpiles?

Way back when UNSCOM was active, it documented that Iraq possessed large stocks of anthrax and botulinum toxin: tens of thousands of liters. These stocks are still not accounted for yet just a few liters in the hands of a terrorist could kill hundreds of thousands of people. So why isn’t the administration highlighting the fact that Kay could not find evidence for the destruction or continued existence of these stocks?

Everyone knew that Saddam had used WMD against Iran and the Kurds. Everyone knew he sponsored terrorist groups. All the intelligence agencies, US and foreign, believed Saddam had WMD and WMD programs. Democrats and Republicans alike warned of the dangers posed by Saddam, WMD and terrorists. Resolution 1441 called for Saddam to come clean on WMD. It was up to Saddam to prove he had abandoned WMD programs and destroyed all his stocks of WMD. He failed to so.

But the Bush administration does control the agenda and this is an election year. One suspects the responses will be stronger and more pointed once the Democrats have selected a presidential candidate.

According to the venerable New York Times:

Dr. Kay said there was also no conclusive evidence that Iraq had moved any unconventional weapons to Syria, as some Bush administration officials have suggested. He said there had been persistent reports from Iraqis saying they or someone they knew had see cargo being moved across the border, but there is no proof that such movements involved weapons materials.

But the British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph gives a rather different perspective. It directly quotes David Kay:

“We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons,” he said. “But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam’s WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved.”

Which to believe? The NYT reporting or the Daily Telegraph’s direct quote?

Andrew Sullivan links to a fascinating piece by NRO’s Jay Nordlinger on British foreign secretary Jack Straw’s performance at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The British Labour party is generally to the left of the Democrats, especially on domestic issues. However, Blair, like Clinton, dragged the Labour Party to the center and won electoral success. On Iraq the leadership of the Labour Party is strongly supportive of Bush. Jack Straw’s robust defense of the coalition’s actions in Iraq stands in marked contrast to the performance of most of the Democrat leadership and erstwhile presidential candidates. The honorable exception is Joe Lieberman but he has no hope of winning the nomination. The least honorable is Clark who seems to have gotten even loonier than Kucinich. Roger L. Simon pegs him

The big loser: Clark. His weird evasive response to the question about his “supporter” Michael Moore calling Bush “a deserter” was a pathetic eye roller. And, no, Clark is not a Democrat. He’s barely a person.

NRO’s Byron York nails him. His subhead says it all.

The candidate for people who want a really bad candidate

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak my mind. I lost my job this past year. When Clinton was president I was secure and prosperous, but in the last year, we had to close our operations. We simply could not compete with foreign labor. This foreign labor worked for low pay under very bad conditions. They worked very long shifts, and many even died on the job. This competition could hardly be called “fair.” I was forced out of the place where I had worked for 34 years. Not a single government program was there to help me. How can Bush call himself “compassionate?”

Far worse, I lost two of my sons in Bush’s evil war in Iraq. They gave their lives for their country, and for what? So that Bush’s oil buddies can get rich.

My pain of losing my sons is indescribable. While it is trivial next to the loss of my sons, I regret to say that I also lost my home. I simply have nothing left.

How can Bush call himself a Christian when he neglects people like me? I am a senior citizen with various medical problems. I’m not in a position where I can begin a new career. I was reduced to the point where I had to live in a hole in a ground, all because of President Bush. And when the authorities found me there, did they have any compassion for my misfortune and ailments? No, I was arrested.

Mr. Bush, I dare you to look me in the face and tell me you are a compassionate man! I dare you to look me in the face and tell me you are a Christian! If I had any money left, I would donate it to the Democrat Party. If Al Gore had been elected in 2000 I would still have a job, a home, and most importantly, my dear sons!


Saddam Hussein

Jim Miller, a blogger I read regularly, links to a New Scientist article that strongly suggests that advancing ice sheets forced Neanderthals to extinction 40,000 years ago.

facing temperatures that plummeted to -10°C in winter (see map), Neanderthals retreated south from northern Europe 30,000 years ago, a migration which coincided exactly with the southern march of the ice sheets.

They eventually ran out of room and resources and died out, a fate nearly met by contemporaneous modern humans in the same region.

I sort of know how those poor old Neanderthals felt. My cube overlooks Lake Erie and I watched as the ice on the lake moved and opened up a clear water channel about 400 yards wide. Within a couple of hours it had frozen over. I walked the 2 miles home in a blizzard, hoping I had enough clothes on to ward off wind chill temperatures below 0°F. Memo to self: ski gloves aren’t warm enough and worn out running shoes are a very bad idea for such conditions. It was sobering to realize that within a mere tick of geological time my route home was buried under a mile thick sheet of ice.

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