T Nation

Bush, Cheney Concede Saddam Had No WMDs

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&u=/ap/20041007/ap_on_re_mi_ea/us_iraq_weapons_7

By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President Bush and his vice president conceded Thursday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, even as they tried to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue - whether the invasion was justified because Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.

Ridiculing the Bush administration’s evolving rationale for war, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry shot back: “You don’t make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact.”

Vice President Dick Cheney brushed aside the central findings of chief U.S. weapons hunter Charles ’ - that Saddam not only had no weapons of mass destruction and had not made any since 1991, but that he had no capability of making any either - while Bush unapologetically defended his decision to invade Iraq.

“The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions,” Bush said as he prepared to fly to campaign events in Wisconsin. “He was doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away.”

Duelfer found no formal plan by Saddam to resume WMD production, but the inspector surmised that Saddam intended to do so if U.N. sanctions were lifted. Bush seized upon that inference, using the word “intent” three times in reference to Saddam’s plans to resume making weapons.

This week marks the first time that the Bush administration has listed abuses in the oil-for-fuel program as an Iraq war rationale. But the strategy holds risks because some of the countries that could be implicated include U.S. allies, such as Poland, Jordan and Egypt. In addition, the United States itself played a significant role in both the creation of the program and how it was operated and overseen.

For his part, Cheney dismissed the significance of Duelfer’s central findings, telling supporters in Miami, “The headlines all say `no weapons of mass destruction stockpiled in Baghdad.’ We already knew that.”

The vice president said he found other parts of the report “more intriguing,” including the finding that Saddam’s main goal was the removal of international sanctions.

“As soon as the sanctions were lifted, he had every intention of going back” to his weapons program, Cheney said.

The report underscored that “delay, defer, wait, wasn’t an option,” Cheney said. And he told a later forum in Fort Myers, Fla., speaking of the oil-for-food program: “The sanctions regime was coming apart at the seams. Saddam perverted that whole thing and generated billions of dollars.”

Yet Bush and Cheney acknowledged more definitively than before that Saddam did not have the banned weapons that both men had asserted he did ? and had cited as the major justification before attacking Iraq in March 2003.

Bush has recently left the question open. For example, when asked in June whether he thought such weapons had existed in Iraq, Bush said he would “wait until Charlie (Duelfer) gets back with the final report.”

In July, Bush said, “We have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction,” a sentence construction that kept alive the possibility the weapons might yet be discovered.

On Thursday, the president used the clearest language to date nailing the question shut:

“Iraq did not have the weapons that our intelligence believed were there,” Bush said. His words placed the blame on U.S. intelligence agencies.

In recent weeks, Cheney has glossed over the primary justification for the war, most often by simply not mentioning it. But in late January 2004, Cheney told reporters in Rome: “There’s still work to be done to ascertain exactly what’s there.”

“The jury is still out,” he told National Public Radio the same week, when asked whether Iraq had possessed banned weapons.

Duelfer’s report was presented Wednesday to senators and the public with less than four weeks left in a fierce presidential campaign dominated by questions about Iraq and the war on terror.

In Bayonne, N.J., Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards on Thursday called “amazing” Cheney’s assertions that the Duelfer report justified rather than undermined Bush’s decision to go to war, and he accused the Republican of using “convoluted logic.”

Kerry, in a campaign appearance in Colorado, said: “The president of the United States and the vice president of the United States may well be the last two people on the planet who won’t face the truth about Iraq.”

A short time later, while campaigning in Wisconsin, Bush angrily responded to Kerry’s charge he sought to “make up” a reason for war.

“He’s claiming I misled America about weapons when he, himself, cited the very same intelligence about Saddam weapons programs as the reason he voted to go to war,” Bush said. Citing a lengthy Kerry quote from two years ago on the menace Saddam could pose, Bush said: “Just who’s the one trying to mislead the American people?”

You are, dickhead.

At first I thought they were going to sack up and admit they were wrong, but all they do is keep coming up with more stupid excuses and rationalizations.

The lack of stockpiles of WMD is not news. THe news in this report is why everyone thought they had them.

Some highlights from the report:

(1) Saddam had every intention of restarting his WMD programs as soon
as the sanctions were gone. The nuclear scientists were there, the
biological lab people were there, much of the infrastructure
was intact, or in pieces and hidden securely away.

(2) The sanctions were eroding as early as 1999, and likely would
not have lasted much longer.

(3) Massive bribery of government people in France and other countries,
including parts of Chirac’s inner circle, was the reason for (2).

(4) Bribery of journalists ensured coverage of the sanctions was
slanted in the way Saddam wanted it. I wonder why the mainstream media does not
want to highlight this part, eh?

(5) The money for the bribes in (3) and (4) came right out of the
oil-for-food program. Wonder why the mainstream media does not want to highlight
this?

Some other things to keep in mind, care of John Hillen:

Irrespective of this report, this is what we knew in 2003, which has not been changed by this report:

  1. the history of using and seeking WMD,

  2. the clear intent to seek more with an eye towards mischief in the region, and

  3. the capabilities to deploy WMD (i.e. delivery systems, conventional complimentary capabilities, experienced hands, etc) when he got it

Now, the good strategist always acts against adversaries based on intent and capabilities (and informed by their track record). A lawyer waits for a smoking gun. In this world, a smoking gun means dead Americans. Bush understands this.

Ironically, the 9/11 report criticized the Clinton and Bush administrations for not attending to the gathering threat of Al Quaeda by acting pro-actively and thinking creatively about the manifestations of the threat. At the same time, the Democrats are trying to crucify the President for doing precisely that against Saddam Hussein.

[ADDENDUM:

I like this take from anti-Kerry yet proclaimed Kerry voter Mickey Kaus at slate.com, which I include in full despite a small disagreement with his last parenthetical:

  1. If a man says he has a gun, acts like he has a gun, and convinces everyone around him he has a gun, and starts waving it around and behaving recklessly, the police are justified in shooting him (even if it turns out later he just had a black bar of soap). Similarly, according to the Duelfer report, Saddam seems to have intentionally convinced other countries, and his own generals, that he had WMDs. He also convinced much of the U.S. government. If we reacted accordingly and he turns out not to have had WMDs, whose fault is that? Why doesn’t Bush make that argument–talking about Saddam’s actions in the years before the U.S. invasion instead of Saddam’s “intent” to have WMDs at some point in the future? (It wouldn’t necessarily make the Iraq war prudent, but it would make Americans feel more comfortable about it than what Bush has been telling them.)]

Some part of me is thinking that they were saving Osama’s head or some secret stockpile in Iraq for the elections. I guess one of these is out of the question, let’s just hope for the other one.

Here’s a link to the report so you can read it for yourself – of course, I think it’s 1000 pages or so, but it’s got a table of contents:

http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/index.html

However, if you don’t feel like reading 1000 pages of government-report-ese, here’s a link to the key findings of the report, as so characterized by the author of the report:

http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/Comp_Report_Key_Findings.pdf

You know what sucks, what if our troops actually catch OBL anytime between now and the elections. Our country is so polarised I don’t think it would sway one person. The Rights would hail it as a huge victory, and the lefts would cry that we were holding him for political gain just to show him right before the election. It would be a no win situation for bush if we did catch him now.

Vegita ~ Prince of all Sayajins

I think he’s dead – the guy was attached to a kidney dialysis machine, and there hasn’t been anything even purportedly from him for a long time – guess they ran out of pre-recorded stuff.

Either that or he’s hiding in a city along the Pakistani/Afghani border – there’s just very little chance someone in his medical state survived in caves this long.

Saddam had no WMDs.

So what?

Saddam bluffed - we called.

End of story.

Hahahaha. That sounds nice and pat doesn’t it. How did he bluff?

He claimed he had no weapons of mass destruction. He had no weapons of mass destruction. We didn’t believe him.

We told the world he had weapons of mass destruction. We invaded his country. We found out he had no weapons of mass destruction. Lunacy.

Although BB will claim otherwise, the issue of imminent threat was the rationale behind granting authority to invade Iraq. It was obviously either a mistake or a conclusion found because this was the conclusion that was wanted.

Vroom,

“Hahahaha. That sounds nice and pat doesn’t it. How did he bluff?”

From an AP piece I have bookmarked:

“A close aide to Saddam Hussein says the Iraqi dictator did in fact get rid of his weapons of mass destruction but deliberately kept the world guessing about it an effort to divide the international community and stave off a U.S. invasion…the strategy, which turned out to be a serious miscalculation, was designed to make the Iraqi dictator look strong in the eyes of the Arab world”

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001360413_bluff02.html

“Although BB will claim otherwise, the issue of imminent threat was the rationale behind granting authority to invade Iraq. It was obviously either a mistake or a conclusion found because this was the conclusion that was wanted.”

The WMD argument was indeed priviliged. Other reasons:

“In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities – which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.”

“Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights, and that the regime’s repression is all pervasive.”

“In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolution 687, demanded that Iraq renounce all involvement with terrorism, and permit no terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq. Iraq’s regime agreed. It broke this promise.”

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/09/20020912-1.html

Oh, and just for clarity’s sake, the ‘imminent threat’ remark was John Edwards’ - Bush didn’t utter it.

I’ll post Edwards’ interview with Hardball on a thread all its own.