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Friday, June 23, 2006

The New UFOlogists - Believers in Iraqi WMD

(Keywords & tags: , , , , , , the Loch Ness Monster, and Bigfoot conspired to hide 's )

It looks like Rick Santorum and Pete Hoekstra aren't alone in their belief - contrary to all evidence - that Saddam really did have WMD. The New York Times tells us, "Such official statements [as the Dept. of Defense' refutation of Santorum's and Hoekstras claims] are unlikely to settle the question for the believers, some of whom have impressive credentials. They include a retired Air Force lieutenant general, Thomas G. McInerney, a commentator on the Fox News Channel who has broadcast that weapons are in three places in Syria and one in Lebanon, moved there with Russian help on the eve of the war.

"'I firmly believe that, and everything I learn makes my belief firmer," said Mr. McInerney, who retired in 1994. "I'm amazed that the mainstream media hasn't picked this up.'"

According to NYT, other theories are that weapons had been moved to Sudan by ship, believed by Duane R. Clarridge, a retired CIA officer, or in unsearched, but not unknown, concrete bunkers in Iraq.

Notice the problem with all these hypotheses? None of them agree with each other. If there were any compelling evidence for any of these scenarios, doesn't it strike you as likely that people looking at it would come to roughly the same conclusion? As it is, the diehard WMD fanatics believe wildly different scenarios - they're in Syria, in Sudan, in Lebanon, and in Iraq itself.

Meanwhile, the man who had the final say on the WMD question remains convinced his conclusions were correct. The NYT, again:

The final report of the group, by Charles A. Duelfer, special adviser on Iraqi weapons to the C.I.A., concluded that any stockpiles had been destroyed long before the war and that transfers to Syria were "unlikely."

"We did not visit every inch of Iraq," Mr. Duelfer said in an interview. "That would have been impossible. We did not check every rumor that came along."

But he said important officials in Mr. Hussein's government, with every incentive to win favor with the Americans by exposing stockpiles, convinced him that the weapons were gone.

Mr. Duelfer said he remained open to new evidence.

"I've seen lots of good-hearted people who thought they saw something," he said. "But none of the reports have panned out."

Let's look at some common sense reasons why we can conclude there were no unconventional weapons in Iraq. The most obvious, in my mind, is that Hussein didn't actually use WMD in the war. He was fighting a lopsided war he had no hope of winning - wouldn't this be among the top ten reasons not only to have WMD, but to use WMD?

"Ah," the WMD moonies will say, "Saddam didn't use them, because he shipped them out before the war!" Sure. See the previous argument. Despite Bush's assurances that war would be a 'last resort', no reasonable person believed him. Why would you disarm yourself when you're about to face the fight of your life? Again, right when the situation WMD were designed for comes up, you put them aside.

In my opinion, the most convincing argument against WMD (besides the conclusions of the Duelfer report), is the fact that we did find illegal weapons in Iraq and they were destroyed. From a 2003 BBC article:

When chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix delivered his first report to the Security Council at the end of January, he drew attention to two Iraqi missile programmes, the al-Samoud Two and the al-Fatah.

Both of these, he said, had been tested to ranges in excess of the permitted 150 kilometres (93 miles).

In a move seen as key test of the Iraqi's willingness to comply with the inspectors Mr Blix demanded their destruction - a task which has now begun.

The missiles may not have been WMD, but they were illegal. If you knew the cops were coming to search your house for illegal weapons, would you get rid of the illegal ammunition and keep the illegal assault rifles?

In the end, all of this WMD theorizing is wishful thinking. In denial symptomatic of the right, they're so convinced of their own infallibility that they can't admit they were mistaken - even to themselves.

And so the ongoing hunt for WMD becomes as disconnected from reality as the search for the Loch Ness Monster.



Anonymous said...

Things we know:

Saddam never developed nukes.

After 1991, Saddam did not have the capability to produce chemical or bio weapons.

The chemical and biological weapons that he was capable of producing (back in 1991, and presumably if he had produced any in the latter half of the 90s) deteriorated into useless sludge within weeks of production.

The only exception is Mustard Gas, which has a longer shelf life. But this is relatively harmless, and he is known to have destroyed most or all of it in the 90s.

Retired Vietnam Vet said...

That anyone could REALLY believe what LTG McInerney says is nothing short of having one's head in the sand! He has been a FOX apologist for the administration every since Bush cherry picked the intelligence and led the nation into a trumped up war. McInerney is on FOX several times (at least) every week and on multiple programs (O'Reilly, Hannity, Gibson, etc.) spewing out all the "good news" from Iraq, despite he probably knows things are going badly. He is also one of those who believes that other retired generals have no right to express their opinions AGAINST the war, while he constantly plays up a false positive view, while playing down a true negative view. He is a hypocrite and a lap dog for the administration. One wonders how he ever rose to the high status of a General, when even a PFC can differentate between obvious fact and hyped up fiction!

Wisco said...

Nice info, folks. Thanks.

I should've given an example of what fresh sarin is capable of. In 1995, a religious cult, Aum Shinrikyo engineered a terrorist attack using sarin on a Tokyo subway train. According to Wikipedia, "On the day of the attack ambulances transported 688 patients, and nearly five thousand people reached hospitals by other means. Hospitals saw 5,510 patients, 17 of whom were deemed critical, 37 severe, and 984 moderately ill. The cases classified as moderately ill complained only of vision problems. Most of those reporting to hospitals were not in fact affected, but the "worried well" that had to be distinguished from those that were ill."

In the end, 12 people died. Compare that with the two soldiers who experienced direct exposure to sarin in Iraq and suffered a headache.

Mass destruction? I don't think so...