February 06, 2004


Aiming to resolve the WMD debate, Ryan Boots concludes:

The question of the missing WMDs is indeed perplexing to intelligence experts and a major thorn in the side of the Bush administration. But rather than confront the issue head-on, Bush prefers to sidestep the issue. This prolongs the debate, worsens the political damage, and as I have articulated in the course of this writing, is quite unnecessary. The facts speak for themselves, and if they are framed properly, the political question of the missing WMDs can be answered conclusively for all who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

UPDATE. MSNBC reports that the panel to investigate prewar intelligence claims on WMD is likely to include John McCain.

Posted by Tim Blair at February 6, 2004 10:16 AM

I've incorporated John Keegan's column on intelligence in an item on Mangled Thoughts. Keegan is a rare thing in journalism today, an authority in his field, warfare and intelligence.

Posted by: d at February 6, 2004 at 10:33 AM

Wm. F Buckley laid out essentially the Bush position in an essay on 9/14/2001 Buckley see the last paragraph.

The media echo chamber wouldn't let that idea stay in view. The WMD it would, so that's what's remembered by the echo chamber.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at February 6, 2004 at 10:34 AM

For all those people who thought Iraq possessed WMDs capable of threatening countries.
What specific weapons did you think he had. Were you as badly informed as Tony Blair who thought erroneously Saddam was capable of launching an assult on Cyprus.

To threaten a country that said country must be vulnerable to Iraqi invasion and takeover like Kuwait in 1991. Which country was threatened?

If the missiles Iraq had would fall outt of the sky less than halfway to Israel how could Iraq be a threat to US or UK security?

I am just curious

Posted by: Homer Paxton at February 6, 2004 at 10:44 AM


9/11 demonstrated that if one can simply gain access to some form of air transportation, any possession of WMD becomes threatening. As the Japanese subway attack and the attacks on congress two years ago and this week demonstrate, simple possession of these items, then smuggled in through rather pourous borders, is a rather significant threat. Specifically with regard to Iraq, his previous willingness to use said chemicals appeared to be (at least in my mind) too great a danger to wait. I've always said that that we needed Saddam out not because he had WMDs, but because he might have them. After 9/11, certainty is no longer necessary when it comes to WMD and despots...

Posted by: Jerry at February 6, 2004 at 11:17 AM

I don't think you should enter any career that would require developing cunning plans.


Posted by: mark at February 6, 2004 at 11:21 AM

This is just in on the subscriber-only NYT site:

Tenet Says Analysts Never Painted Iraq as Imminent Threat
By David Stout
The New York Times

Thursday 05 February 2004

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 The head of the Central Intelligence Agency delivered a passionate and wide-ranging defense of the C.I.A. today, asserting that its analysts never claimed that Iraq posed an "imminent threat" and insisting that they never tailored their findings for anyone.


Thought you'd really appreciate reading that. Do have a good day.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at February 6, 2004 at 11:30 AM

Jerry - what the war ended up proving was that Iraq had been contained and deterred, and there was no reason to think that it would not continue to be contained and deterred.

You could sensibly argue that the cost of continuing the containment strategy indefinitely was higher than the costs of regime change, but arguing that Iraq posed a threat to the United States is just nonsense.

These are strange days, when people argue that that the criterion for action is their capacity to imagine an alarming scenario, rather than factual analysis.

Since when has paranoia been an essential component of patriotism?

Posted by: Mork at February 6, 2004 at 11:31 AM

This in not quite relevant to the subject above, but I don't know where else to post it where it will be seen. I have e-mailed Catherine Lumby and obtained from her a list of the "non-left" thinkers on her course. Most of them appear to me obscure to say the least. Further - Adorno is of the left, McLuhen is certainly not of the right, the rest, apart from Eysenk, I have never heard of - they are certainly not major political or economic philosophers or writers. Where are Edmund Burke, James Buchanan, Hayeck, Popper, Kolakowski ("Main Currents of Marxism') or other critics of leftism such as Solzhentizyn or Robert Conquest?

Anyway, she writes:

Re non-Marxist thinkers - in our first year survey course students are taught the entire US history of
media and communications theory which famously begins with a falling out between Theodor Adorno
(Franfurt school scholar) and Paul Lazarzfeld (empiricist and certainly no Marxist). Other key thinkers
include Eysenck, Halloran, Hartley, McLuhan, Meyrowitz. In the US the field has been dominated by
scholars who have worked for the advertising and media industries and who certainly are not left wing. I
myself am no Marxist or even leftist in the conventional sense of that word. Indeed, I was recently
attacked by Clive Hamilton in the op-ed page for being not only right wing but "an ultra-libertarian"
Hal Colebatch wrote:

Following your recent article in the Age, I would be most interested to know which non-Left or conservative thinkers are on your course or reading-list. Yours sincerely Hal GP Colebatch

Posted by: Hal GP Colebatch at February 6, 2004 at 11:45 AM

Let me see what have the results of the invasion of Iraq? The war was won; the military and civilian casualties and refugee crisis predicted by the lefties didn't occur; a vicious, muderous regime has been ousted; the people of Iraq can now look forward to governing themselves; the nuclear programmes of several rogue states have been revealed through Libya's rulers' fears of following in Sadam's footsteps; and most of the countries in the middle East now know that the US and its real allies mean business. Against all that the WMD question is irrelevant! It is only being used by the spineless lefties who wouldn't have had the balls to take any action at all if they had been in control of US foreign policy. It must be a real downer Mork and Miranda knowing that underneath all the bluster the lefties are really against the war because they know that their leaders wouldn't have had the courage to act; pansies that they are.

Posted by: Toryhere at February 6, 2004 at 12:02 PM

Mork says, "but arguing that Iraq posed a threat to the United States is just nonsense"

I would have thought the same of a bunch of cave dwelling islamic extremists in Afghanistan. Seems we all got that wrong. Iraq may, or may not have posed a threat in a strategic military sense, but to say they didn't pose any threat at all is just nonsense.

Posted by: Gilly at February 6, 2004 at 12:07 PM

Miranda, the only people saying anything about "imminent threat" are the people who claim that's what Bush said about Iraq.

It's not true; get that through your head. Bush said we could no longer wait for such threats to become imminent - a subtle difference, apparently too subtle for you.

Posted by: Bob the Builder at February 6, 2004 at 12:12 PM


The statements you quoted by Tenet directly support Bush's, Blair's and Howard's story.

Tenet said he NEVER tailored intelligence to suit others - exactly as it should be, and exactly as Bush, Blair etc claim.

Bush NEVER said Saddam was an imminent threat, he said exactly the opposite. If you persist in claiming otherwise then fine - but you should know you are trawling around in a make-believe fairy-land at the bottom of the garden ... sigh, of course you are - I don't why I bother ...

You Miranda are a fantasist, a political fantasist. In this you are at one with Rosseau, Marx, Hitler, Pol Pot and Pauline Hansen.

Get a life Miranda - start dealing with the real world again, its not your fault you are what you are - people will accept you anyway, just give them a try ...

Posted by: Arik at February 6, 2004 at 12:19 PM

Hals e-mail reply from Catherine Lumby (above) is exactly the same as the reply I got. Anyone else get one ?

Must be she came from hols early to deal with this stuff.

Posted by: Robert Blair at February 6, 2004 at 12:22 PM

Blimey. The "imminent" debate is back. Yawn - who cares about this tired red herring anyway?

"45 Minutes!" Case closed.

Let's move on, shall we...? (But doubtless some boofhead is going to point out that this particular expression came from Blair, not Bush. As if that mattered one iota.)

Question for Jerry,

You claim above that 9/11 proved something about WMD. This is an unusual perspective, because of course it proved nothing of the sort. It did prove, of course, that WMD are not necessary in order for someone to be a threat.

But would you care to expand upon your theory?

Posted by: Nemesis at February 6, 2004 at 12:41 PM

Nice to see Miranda finally defending Bush -- citing a quote that says the exact same thing that Bush said. Well done, and welcome aboard!!

Mork -- Patriotism has nothing to do with it, and I continue to be perplexed by the knee-jerk defensiveness re: patriotism in the debate. Paranoia is by definition suspicious beliefs that are impossible in the real world. What would be nonsense would be to suggest that a belief, post 9/1, that Saddam MAY be a threat was unreasonable. Please, I respect the opinions of those like you, don't start feeding my lines that I'm paranoid or insane. It's simply this -- after 9/11, we cannot wait for certainty.

Posted by: Jerry at February 6, 2004 at 12:51 PM

Ha ha! Just read the Boots attachment. It's FUNNY!

It would be too easy to cut the whole things to shreds, but hell, who's got the time?

Here's just one of the Boots compelling reasons for war:

"4. Saddam Hussein publicly threatened to finish Hitler’s job by destroying the state of Israel."

Now it's OK to go to war on the basis of threats, apparently. Especially threats which have less than zero chance of being carried through. Like I said - it's FUNNY STUFF.

Hitler and the State of Israel. Wow.

Ha ha!

Posted by: Nemesis at February 6, 2004 at 12:53 PM

Sorry, Jerry - the paranoia line was more a reaction to other arguments that I've heard that were similar but not identical to yours. I apologise for any offense.

I would be interested in hearing where you think the line should be drawn in terms of the liklihood of a threat necessary to justify an attack.

After all, all sorts of things are possible, but we tend only to take action to the ones that we believe are realistic.

I only take an umbrella to work on days when rain is forecast.

Posted by: Mork at February 6, 2004 at 01:13 PM

Dear Mark,
In addition to reading the forcast, I suggest a look out the window too. You don't have to be a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowing.

Posted by: The other mark at February 6, 2004 at 01:28 PM

any terrorist can get all the chemicals etc they need in the USA witness the attacks on Congress, you don't need to go to Iraq.
If he had the weapons and then sold them the said terorists would need sophiscated equipment to put them into the air ,assuming they are going to shoot them in the USA.

Any nation which unilaterally launched a missile with a WMD warhead at the USA would be a mushroom cloud in less than a hour.
Who is kidding who. Only a person with a deathwish would do that and as we have seen Saddam certainly nevr had that.
Appreciated your intellectual contribution Mark.

Posted by: Homer Paxton at February 6, 2004 at 01:33 PM

Mark, I'm pleased to see that someone else believes in basing one's actions on hard evidence.

Posted by: Mork at February 6, 2004 at 01:35 PM


What is your point? Or do you have one? Or will you ever?

Toryhere makes some very good points. Basically, the Coalition action has triggered a chain of events which have either exposed or begun the process of disrupting various segments of a WMD supply chain. Of course, any WMD aspirations entertained by Mr. Hussein have been quashed. And certainly, Al Qaeda operations in that respect have been disrupted. But now many more cockroaches are scurrying from the daylight: Khan's stage-managed fall-guy confession, Qaddafi's come-to-Jesus (so to speak, heh) after the successful intercept of WMD technologies with cooperation from the Italians and Germans, the exposure and isolation of North Korea (and Pakistan, as hinted at above) as an exporter of nuclear weapons technology, the exposure of other important links in the supply chain (Malaysian centrifuges being another example).

Nemesis, Miranda Devine, and others of their ilk don't appear to have the sophistication to understand the cascade of ancillary benefits to peace-loving democracies obtained from the prosecution of the War on Terror and the Iraqi campaign. A shame, really. I would have thought otherwise judging from the wit and snarkiness of their posts.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at February 6, 2004 at 01:36 PM

And Mork. Wouldn't want to forget *Mork* would we?

Posted by: Tongue Boy at February 6, 2004 at 01:37 PM

Homer - get a job you fool, and a real one this time.

Nemesis - Go down the hypermart, ask the boy with the mop where to look, and get yo'self a 2-pound bag of logic.

Cause you ain't got none otherwise nemo-boy. And stop takin up peoples time with your pathetic ramblings.

Posted by: Arik at February 6, 2004 at 01:57 PM

Jerry" WMD being used in things other then missiles has been explained so many time before to Homer , by the way he was in favour of defying the UN and taking out Saddam in 91 but not know because the UN didn't approve.

"It would be too easy to cut the whole things to shreds, but hell, who's got the time?"--Nemesis

And how many times have made that bold declaration. A total of five post and quitting rafter a week, WOW that's committed.

"And Mork. Wouldn't want to forget *Mork* would we?"-- Tongue Boy

Mork wont let anybody forget that's his goal in life. Its about Mork get it.

Posted by: Gary at February 6, 2004 at 02:23 PM

Shit, I was referring to Nemesis attempt at haveing a blog.

Posted by: Gary at February 6, 2004 at 02:26 PM

Mork, if you lived in Melbourne you would take an umbrella to work on days when no rain was forecast. Especially on those days. And there's a lesson there.

Posted by: ilibcc at February 6, 2004 at 02:48 PM

I think Andrew Bolt. sums this one up pretty well.

Posted by: Gilly at February 6, 2004 at 03:17 PM

Nemesis asks how Saddam could have been a threat to Israel. I suppose that's one of the things he wanted all those North Korean missiles for. He paid ten million US dollars for them as a down payment, and they would have been delivered by now if the US/British/Australian forces had been withdrawn from Iraq's borders like the peaceniks wanted.

Posted by: doyne dawson at February 6, 2004 at 03:19 PM

Here's two possibilities that I never hear considered. 1) After the Gulf War, Saddam wasn't able to re-start his WMD plans to any significant degree. So, Saddam set up a plan to fool the world that he DID have WMD. This also involved elaborate Kabuki events of 'transporting' WMD and 'fooling' UN inspectors. 2) Kay reported that Saddam was funding a ton of WMD programs, but his scientists were fooling him, siponing off the funds to build their own palaces. So, world intelligence agencies uncovered Saddam's plans, but didn't uncover what the scientists were really doing, since the scientists were faking out Saddam too. Now, they fooled Saddam in his own country, I'm not too surprised the CIA was fooled too. 3) This is all irrelevant, because Saddam ain't gonna fund any more WMD. Ah, neither is Gaddaffy.

Posted by: Jabba the Nutt at February 6, 2004 at 03:21 PM


Kinda hard to say, this is where all that "nuanced" stuff comes in. However, I would suggest that the slack we cut on someone like Hussien should be much less than even the typical despot, in that he had already shown the propenisty to use such weapons in the past. (Best predictor of future behavior is past behavior). Secondly, somebody stated that Saddam did not have a death wish. Maybe, maybe not, but he certainly gambled far more than the average Joe. He refused to quickly withdraw from Kuwait in the face of tremendous military build-up, and failed to completely comply with inspections right to the end this time around, despite protestions by some to the contrary (though this might have been encouraged by the twelve years of empty threats by the UN, I would concede).

Nemesis, what I was suggesting in my first post was that one no longer needs ballistic missles in order to deliver a payload of any sort, convential, chemical, biological, or nuclear. All you need is the weapon, and some fool to board a plane, train, etc. The threat of a Saddam to obtain a significant nuclear device was serious not because I believe he could launch it -- I believe launching weapons is an outmoded way of thinking. A small, portable device, smuggled in but sponsored by someone with motive, means, and (thankfully not yet realized) opportunity is all that is now neccesary.

I guess this just depends on one's comfort level. Working in a prison system with high level psychopaths day in and day out has informed my opinion that when dealing with a guy who had WMD, used them, wanted more of them, and was universally considered to either have them, or at least be close to them, better safe than sorry. If that's "warmongering," well, we will have to agree to disagree.

There. No insults, no (my favorite) ad hominem attacks, etc. Just one dude's opinion.

Posted by: Jerry at February 6, 2004 at 03:42 PM

Hmmm ... the "prior convictions" argument.

I'm not sure that I understand how using poison gas against the Iranians and Kurds (neither of whom were in a position to extract much by way of revenge) suggests a propensity to launch a nuclear attack against the United States.

It's like you seeing a kid pulling wings off flies and deciding that that means he's about to punch you in the face. Doesn't necessarily follow.

Posted by: Mork at February 6, 2004 at 04:26 PM

Where I have difficulty is the approach of both George W. and Blair to the attacks on their credibility.

I believe pre-emption was fully warrented for any number of valid reasons, not least Saddam's failure to comply with UN resolutions.

Resolutions relating to a tyrant who had fought Iran, invaded Kuwait and gassed his own people.

If that be so, and polls indicate that the majority accept the neccessity of removing laughing boy, then the response to critics on the WMD should be more positive.

Instead of everyone blaming everyone else the following line should be adopted :

"When a dangerous man like Saddam Hussein refuses to co-operate on UN resolutions and come clean on WMD we are always going to be suspicious"

"Intelligence seemed to indicate that he was amassing WMD and his conduct heightened our fears that this may well be so."

"The upshot of this, as well as his ongoing support for causing instabilty in the region and beyond, meant we would err on the side of caution."

"OUR BONA FIDES are there for all to see in that up to now WE HAVE FOUND NO WMD. If we had wanted to COVER UP we would have "ensured" that WMD were found in Iraq."

"Instead we are allowing the truth, even where that goes against our beliefs and even where it could cause us embaressment, to unfold."

"If we are painted as liars and con artists then our conduct in NOT finding these WMD proves the contrary. We are bound to bring the truth to the world and the truth is that a very dangerous, mass murderer has been removed, on the basis of a valid causa namely the aggregate of his many lethal transgressions."

"If there are no WMD then our bona fides as leaders has been fully established ; as to create the opposite was within our power. That we did not, and stand accused of launching under false pretences, is the very essence of that which proves our honesty."

"If our caution in not allowing the tyrant to continue was perceived as incompetence and our willingness to act, as hawkishness, then let the mass graves of the Iraqi people answer your claims."

"Then start to look at Zimbabwe and North Korea and understand that inaction kills, and it kills in the millions."

Posted by: Traps at February 6, 2004 at 04:37 PM


The word "nuance" and its permutations are allowed only when in conjunction with references to European diplomacy.

"Nuance" is not allowed to be used with Bush as he is an inarticulate chimp who has a cunning and intricate plan of world domination and resource extraction. Strident black and white terms are the only rhetorical devices allowed when discussing Bush.

Posted by: Steve in Houston at February 6, 2004 at 04:54 PM

Steve is right.

Bush is the idiot leader of a brilliant plan to enslave the planet via free-markets. This secret plan, known only to millions, is being rolled out as we speak. By paying only 80Billion the US can secure 3Billion in oil supplies a year! This short term tinking means the war will pay for itself within only 26 years.


Go demoncrats!

Posted by: Rob Read at February 6, 2004 at 10:09 PM


you left out the ten billion a year price tag it cost to keep Saddam neutralized. Patrolling no fly zones isn't free.

Posted by: Papertiger at February 6, 2004 at 11:11 PM

Dear Mr Paxton, Ms Divide & SS Nemesis,

Morky supported the liberation of Iraq.
Stupid Bush.
Here Boy, Here Boy. Good Morky.

Posted by: Haliburton Hal at February 7, 2004 at 12:50 AM

"It's like you seeing a kid pulling wings off flies and deciding that that means he's about to punch you in the face. Doesn't necessarily follow.

Posted by: Mork at February 6, 2004 at 04:26 PM"

Rarely have I been so transfixed by a statement of utter moral stupidity. And usually I am transfixed by Miranda Divide, but I have gotten used to her moral idiocy.

Mork, good lord, read what you typed. Read it. If you saw a child pulling the wings off flies, wouldn't you immediately attend to the problem? My God, that's an indicator of serious mental defect. You wouldn't wait for the child to grow up and become a murderer. Would you?

Apropos WMDs: Oh, just ignore the anthrax over yonder. If you don't breathe it, it won't hurt you.

Hey, some crazy sadistic bastard wants NK missles. Let's let him have some! I'm sure he won't attack anything we'd miss, like an ally or anything...

Posted by: ushie at February 7, 2004 at 02:40 AM

Ushie: Hey, I pulled wings off of flies as a kid. These days I smash them with flyswatters and toss their mangled bodies in the trash. Sometimes, I even laugh. I hate flies.

'Course, I don't know how "killing flies:punching people" relates to "gassing Kurds:gassing Westerners". I'm sure Mork doesn't think Kurds are insignificant flies, but still... -_- He implies that Saddam's fear of retaliation would prevent him from using WMDs against us directly. But that's why states support terrorists; so they don't have to attack directly. They can even pal up to us in the open while winking at their assassins. Iraq was not an imminent threat--and the case was that we should not wait for them to become one.

Say it together everyone: "Democracy in the Middle East." I can't think of a better place to start than Iraq.

Posted by: Sortelli at February 7, 2004 at 05:57 AM

Sortelli, despite your disgusting fly-related phobia, you make a good point: Why is democracy in the Middle East, rather than dictatorship, especially of the Kurd-gassing type, reviled by Mork and Miranda?

Shudder. TV flashback.

Posted by: ushie at February 7, 2004 at 06:05 AM

Because containment feels better?

I don't think Mork reviles the idea of democracy. And Miranda doesn't comprehend ideas, she just tries to negate them.

Anyway, you can rest assured that I do not pull the wings off of people or smush them or anything. =D

Posted by: Sortelli at February 7, 2004 at 06:15 AM

It has been reported that one reason Saddam thought he could get away with his bluff was because France & Germany had assured him that they could prevent the US from taking military action and he believed, as Osama does, that US had become a toothless tiger.

Posted by: nashville cat at February 7, 2004 at 07:20 AM

I have been known to use chemical weapons against flies. Bloody nanny state won't let me buy nukes at the supermarket.

I've got biological weapons to use against rats and mice, though. One qualifies as a "weapon of mass destruction", too.

Posted by: Bob Bunnett at February 7, 2004 at 08:00 AM

Bob, stop braggin' on your cat.

Posted by: ushie at February 8, 2004 at 12:22 AM

You guys are all a bunch of grave and gathering threats.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at February 10, 2004 at 06:45 AM