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.