Democrats & Liberals Archives

The War on Memory

In the last weak we saw a resurgence in GOP spirits, at least briefly, as Rick Santorum and Pete Hoekstra announced the find of over 500 WMDs. This, they said, put paid to the Democratic Party accusations that we had invade Iraq in vain. I see it, I’m shocked. Did we really find them? Well, I know my Republicans, so I’m thinking there has to be a catch here. Why? Experience. As a veteran of the War on Memory, I can recall many occasions where shocking discoveries turned out to be hollow revelations.

The Case for War was the first among them, and not the last. So when it comes to shocking revelations, I'm skeptical by habit. Sure enough, closer examination reveals:

1) The shells are pre-gulf war.

2) They are basically unusable.

3) The deadliest of them have degraded to non-lethality, while the blister agents were not lethal to begin with and had also degraded in strength.

4) This is nothing that hadn't already been found by David Kay, who commented on the find on Keith Olbermann's Countdown.

...the former chief U-N Weapons Inspector and President Bush's Iraq Survey Group Chief -- David Kay -- telling Countdown that Senator Santorum's comments are -- quote -- wrong as to the facts and exaggerated beyond all reason as to the interpretation of the 'facts'."

He continued, "There is no surprise that very small numbers of chemical canisters from the Iran-Iraq War have been found. "The ISG found them and in my testimony in 2004 I said that I expected that we would continue to find them for a very long time. "These are in very small numbers and are scattered. The nerve agents have long since degraded to the point that they no long pose any substantial threat.

"In most cases the mustard agent has substantially degraded, but will burn you if skin comes in contact with it."

The segment was cheekily named Weapons of Minor Discomfort.

And yes, getting your skin burned is a bad thing, but there a number of household chemicals that could do the same to you. We didn't go to war over the potential for mass irritation.

But does this matter? The real trick here is not how much we've learned as a nation, but how much we've forgotten. And damn, have we forgotten a lot. I have quite strong memories of the Summer Bush spent stumping quite constantly for his GOP colleagues, in order to get the turnover necessary to wage his war. We needed to disarm Saddam Hussein, he said. Disarm, disarm, disarm. It was the same speech again and again. Any of you Republicans who are curious as to why I think the Iraq war was politicized should recall the trouble Bush went through to make sure he had the votes to pass his authorizations for force. We should also recall that the drumbeat for war in Iraq was strong quite some time before we ever got a case for war.

That should strike the reasonable among you as curious. Why not start with the case for war? Why not clear the table of any questions of why Iraq should be next, before you ask the people to back your play? Why was it important that people's blood be boiling for war before any cause was given for it? People like myself looked at these things as curious. Bin Laden was still not captured, the Taliban still not wiped off the face of the Earth, and here the president was deciding where to go next. That begged the question: why are we talking about what's next when the last fight isn't even over?

My answers run along these lines.

Why not start with the case for war? Well, you have to have one first. Bush was starting with the notion that an invasion was necessary and proceeding from there. From Spring 2002, when Bush downgraded Bin Laden as a threat to January 2003, when Colin Powell delivered that pivotal case for war, Bush had nothing to offer except additional rhetoric to paint the picture of the necessity to stop the next 9/11 This gives another answer about why he did not offer such a case: then he would have had to justify his invasion on the facts.

I'm not saying Bush necessarily believe there were no weapon. I just think he couldn't be bothered to justify something that he knew to be true. Why couldn't people just accept it. He knew the evidence was thin, but he had reasoned that it couldn't be anything but, given Saddam's secrecy. It made sense politically to get people emotional first, and perhaps to the exception of anything else.

Before we go any further, I should give my answer as to why I think Bush went to Iraq without finishing Afghanistan. I think Bush is somewhat like that officer in Gladiator who remarks that the barbarians should know when they're conquered. In Bush's mind, Bin Laden and the Taliban should crawl off to whatever corner of the ash-heap of history suited their tastes best. They had been defeated, they should realize this and submit. Additionally, Bush likes to do things and move on. He's not got the mentality for mopping up things. Combine these sensibilities, and it becomes possible that he simply thought he had already won, and that was the end of that. Besides, he was the leader, he was the decider, and the next step was to take care of things in Iraq. The unfortunate thing is that the president doesn't have much of a perspective on contingency, on how small things and seemingly needless safety nets can serve to make a big difference.

Continuing now, I think it's important to note that people were skeptical outside the GOP faithful were skeptical about Iraq from the beginning. Part of the 2002 push on Iraq in the political realm was meant to make sure the skeptics didn't have the initiative on the war. In essence, he wanted to make it to where those people would feel the political pressure to go along, to make sure they knew that if they broke ranks, they would become casualties in another election.

It wasn't enough, though. Polls at the time showed a clear preference among the American people that Bush take his father's path, and build a UN coalition. The signals were mixed on that, though, since Bush made it clear that he would go to war with or without them (be a rubberstamp or be irrelevant- great choice), and others among his cabinet competed to see how fast they could put their feet in their mouth on the matter. There seemed to be at least one jaw-droppingly offensive comment on the matter after another every week.

Still, we got the first resolution in place. That was a step forward. But serious doubts remained.

Ultimately, it was Colin Powell's presentation of the case for war that broke things in Bush's favor. Here, even many skeptics could find the reason to go to war. As I've said before, I was one of them.

The case for war laid the cards on the table. But in and of itself, it was a gamble for the Administration. The first part of the gamble was lost, perhaps not with a lot of grief on the administrations part. At least we tried to be reasonable, they would say. The second part of the gamble was this: we were going to fight a pre-emptive war on that evidence, making the war's entire justification in international law dependent on whether we found what we were claiming was there. Based on the confidence of the Bush case for war, many Americans joined the numbers of those who would support the war, or failing that, abstain from criticizing the course of action.

If you want to know why WMD's and terrorists were so crucial to the political justification of the war, you have only to look at that fact. The distinctions of what terrorists we were after, and what WMDs we were looking for are important because they speak to whether there was a threat great enough to justify a first strike. With the President, Condi Rice, and others speaking of Mushroom Clouds over U.S. Cities not long after a cloud of pulverized concrete and insulation had settled over New York, it was quite important to Democrats like myself and others that this war be from beginning to end a necessary war.

We would consider such a war worth if we found Saddam hiding al-Qaeda terrorists, if we founding working WMD programs (or fresh stockpiles at least), and were able to shut them down. The Democrats were not prepared to engage in an unprovoked war just to rearrange the geopolitical map and force Democracy on the region. As already stated, our first priority was dealing with our security, dealing with al-Qaeda. At the time, we did not believe that the Taliban or the al-Qaeda terrorists were knocked down for good. The campaign in Iraq was only tolerable on the principle that Iraq had WMDs, and was in league with the terrorists, making Iraq part of the evil we wished to confront. It was this to which Democrats by and large agreed. This was how their consent for the war was gained. It was, in fact, how my consent was gained.

I see little sign from the Republican politicians that they understand this standpoint. Afghanistan is a distant memory to them, and even now they pronounce Bin Laden unimportant. Iraq, and the geopolitical conversion of the Middle East, has come to define their war on terror, and their objectives for it. This is the underlying faultine of the split, a split that was set in stark relief when weapons and terrorists failed to show up as they were promised to, and the Security situation in Iraq decayed.

We watched in horror as a place we had found to be relatively free from terrorist activity became a hotbed of it, and a nation we were supposed to have control of spun rapidly out of it. That sickening irony, more than anything else, can explain a great deal of the resentment we feel towards Bush.

For those who might not understand just how bad this seems, it goes a little like this: We gave our support to war on the grounds that the president had told us of a terrorist threat there. We find that it didn't exist, and now bad military planning has lead to Iraq becoming the very thing we were supposed to prevent it from becoming.

And now we're stuck there trying to just break even, and make Iraq a stable, secure country again. Elsewhere in the world, Bin Laden sits pretty, and watches us beat our heads against the war on the most problematic war we've fought in a generation. It leaves us Democrats asking "Is this the war we were signed on to fight?"

No, it is not. This is what Bush wanted, though he didn't really know what he was actually getting into, but it wasn't what most Americans envisioned in terms of fighting the terrorists.

Bush knows this, and so do the rest of the politicians and Pundits of the Right.

Their strategy is not to admit the truth, but to avoid admitting it long enough that people forget what the original claims were, or what happened this time or that. Politicians depend on people to be either ignorant or absent-minded about what they've done. They wait for people to forget and move on. Or maybe they forget themselves, out of self-serving bias.

The consequences of policy don't forget, even if we do. The point of invading was to halt a WMD's program and disarm a dictator. The chances for support and vindication depended on that. We can't undo the hit to our credibility, though future actions may restore it. Having shot this particular albatross, we're now wearing it. We may end up paying over a trillion dollars more for this war than we were told it would cost, over an insurgency that good planning could have prevented. In the end, the mistakes of the war may end up undermining everything we sought to achieve through it, and may end up ironically producing a real terrorist threat in the place of the false threat we reacted to. The more one remembers about how this war went down, the less there is to like about how we came to fight it, and how we've had to fight it ever since.

It is necessary to remember the past to know one's mistakes. It is necessary to know one's mistakes in order to correct them. Both those who presented the 500 degraded shells as a find in this situation, and those who are accepting it uncritically have forgotten what we started this war to confront, and have failed to learn the lesson of the case for war. We cannot change the past by forgetting it. We can only doom ourselves to be sucked into the same kind of problems again and again.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at June 25, 2006 11:13 AM
Comment #161691

Someone in another post stated that “Bush is fighting Bin Laden’s war”.
That has not been the case since we invaded Iraq. Had we invested our sole effort and fought Al Qaeda in Afganistan they would be kicking our ass by rolling rocks down on us from the mountain tops just like they did to the Soviet Union. Afganistan is Bin Laden’s playing field. Bush made him play the away game by fighting the conflict in Iraq.
The benefits of controlling Iraq are apparent if you look at a map of the area and consider it’s major rivers. Rivers are not only natural boundries but vital fresh water supplies highly valued in that region. Iraq has 2 major rivers, Afganistan’s Northern border is another of the major rivers and Pakistan controls another. Most of the area in the middle east consists of deserts and mountains.
Some say is was a mistake to go in with only 150,000 troops. They say a force of 450,000 was needed to secure the country. That may be another misconception of Our War on Terror.
Admitting to the mistake of not using enough manpower to end this battle quickly is better than to acknowledge that the borders were left open intentionally to draw Al Qaeda into Iraq. Drawing them into Iraq to make Iraq the battlefield. An admission like that would turn world opinion against this battle immediately and the opportunity to confront Al Qaida in the battlefield of our choosing would be lost. Iraq is more valuable than Afganistan. A War on Terror fought on the battlefield of Afganistan is pointless.
I am not saying the battle in Afganistan is pointless. The people who are fighting and who have died there are just as important as the firemen and policemen who moved into the fire. Their honor is intact and their mission is vital. Neither would be if this administration chose to stay in Afganistan and chase Bin Laden from mountain to mountain while that monster blew the legs off our soldiers every step of the way.
The battle for Iraq is a battle for the entire Middle East.

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 25, 2006 5:23 PM
Comment #161699


Thanks for clarifying things. I can see now that we’ve got them terrorists right where we want em… You mind if we let the generals in on our little secret?

Posted by: Stan at June 25, 2006 5:59 PM
Comment #161701

Okay, if I understand Weary Willie, a new justification for invading Iraq was to lure the terrorists there? This is justification for invading a country?

And we purposely left the borders open so they could get there easier? Why did we leave the weapons caches and antiquities unguarded? Was that part of the strategy?

Posted by: womanmarine at June 25, 2006 6:06 PM
Comment #161713

Willie:” The battle for Iraq ia the battle for the entire middle east.” Damn right,Willie. What are those damn sandn—-ers doing with our oil under their sand anyway!

Posted by: BillS at June 25, 2006 7:17 PM
Comment #161716

Yes, it was.

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 25, 2006 7:43 PM
Comment #161717

—Weary Willi- You make some very good points but from all the mistakes that have been made by the Bush Administration, seems that you are smarter than they have shown to be. These People will continue to bury their mistakes or continue a very large scam on our country and the rest of the world.

Posted by: DAVID at June 25, 2006 7:45 PM
Comment #161721

Fantastic. And when Bush said “mission accomplished”he meant forign fighters were crossing the border. THAT was the mission he was talking about. It is all so clear now.Willie ,hows that toilet working now? You really should only use that pvc glue in well ventalated areas.

Posted by: BillS at June 25, 2006 7:49 PM
Comment #161723

Thanks, Al.

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 25, 2006 7:55 PM
Comment #161724
seems that you are smarter than they have shown to be.

Yes, it’s an infliction I’ve been battling all my life.

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 25, 2006 7:58 PM
Comment #161726

—Stephen*-* Your point of view is right on, although I can not see how some of the brightest people supposedly knowledgeable folks around the President could have bungled this war so badly with out actually planing just the way it’s going. This War is not logical in nature and just plain stinks.

Posted by: DAVID at June 25, 2006 8:09 PM
Comment #161728

Who in their right mind would fight a conventional war now. All rules are off because the opponent is not playing by any rules. They are setting off bombs where innocent people are. These people are criminals but you cannot treat them as criminals in the legal sense. It is a concerted effort to destroy our way of life. That is a war.

We don’t deserve this kind of treatment. We are not the bad guy no matter what the Al iquid people think. We are a good force in the evolvution of our species. Globle warming be damned.

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 25, 2006 8:20 PM
Comment #161729

First, the Republicans claimed that we were invading Iraq because it was a terrorist haven. Now they claim the we invaded Iraq to CREATE a terrorist haven. And they don’t understand why support for the war is falling? Amazing.


All rules are off because the opponent is not playing by any rules
When was the last time you let your child get away with a lame excuse like “all the other kids are doing it”? I quit letting mine get away with a lame excuse like that when he was eight. You’re an adult. You should know better than that.
We are a good force
Adolf Hitler claimed that he was a good guy. Pol Pot claimed that he was a good guy. Saddam Hussein claimed that he was a good guy. Were they? Hell, no. And how do we know that? Simple. They didn’t behave like good guys and follow the rules. Good guys play by the rules. If you want to be thought of as a good guy, you behave like one and play by the rules.

Posted by: ElliottBay at June 25, 2006 8:37 PM
Comment #161732

Weary Willi—I do not believe any one has said any thing about the military, I have two nephews over their in that godforsaken land I HAVE never condemned and military personal. I don’t think I recall any one else making disparaging remarks either. The military does exactly as there told. Therine lies my problem! With all the secrecies going on in our Government. I personally like to know what Right and Left hands are both doing.

Posted by: DAVID at June 25, 2006 8:47 PM
Comment #161733

My dad said, “You don’t fight. You walk away.”

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 25, 2006 8:48 PM
Comment #161735

But you can’t walk away when they follow you.

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 25, 2006 8:51 PM
Comment #161739

And they have been following us for 30 years!

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 25, 2006 8:56 PM
Comment #161745

Weary Willie who is following you?

Posted by: DAVID at June 25, 2006 9:08 PM
Comment #161747
Any of you Republicans who are curious as to why I think the Iraq war was politicized should recall the trouble Bush went through to make sure he had the votes to pass his authorizations for force

I’m curious. What trouble did Our President go through to make sure he had the votes to pass his authorizations for force?

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 25, 2006 9:16 PM
Comment #161749

Weary Willy-
The Flypaper Strategy? Don’t make me laugh. No military occupier in its right mind would invite an insurgency. It gives your opponents the offensive, and forces you onto the defensive. It doesn’t get better if you’re undermanned, it makes things worse, as you’re forced to play terrorist Whack-a-mole, to move your soldiers back and forth, securing one place only to have it fall into enemy control when you leave.

The expense and bloodshed, the failure of morale there in Iraq and here at home would not be worth the deaths of the terrorists. There are easier and smarter ways to take down the terrorists.

The Iraq war was a bad investment sold to us by a lousy businessman. Now we got to repay the strategic and financial debt he’s put us in, and that’s not going to be easy. Those are the facts. If you wish to spin fantasies to rationalize that, it’s your call, but as for me, I’ll just see this for what it was: bad planning.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 25, 2006 9:24 PM
Comment #161754

Stephen:Must be great when an opposition blogger proves your point inadvertantly. “If that reason is not good lets try this one” Isn’t that what pathological liars do?

Posted by: BillS at June 25, 2006 9:56 PM
Comment #161760

BillS— The term Pathological liar is a Psychiatric term applied to a person who lies to point where it becomes a mental disorder, is that really mean in your statement.

Posted by: DAVID at June 25, 2006 10:19 PM
Comment #161763

An excellent post. It seems that we’ve all gotten sidetracked by Weary Willie’s lunacy. Maybe he’s smarter than we’ve given him credit for.

Your post deals with selective memory and, much as I hate to say it, the Dems have been guilty of the same. As an ardent opponent of invasion, and one who finds himself typically to the left of the Dems in Congress, I remember feeling very betrayed by our Democratic representatives for giving Bush a green light on Iraq without a fight. The go-with-the-flow mentality that they seem to have (as exhibited by the lack of a filibuster on Supreme Court appointments, failure to back Feingold’s censuring motion, failure to back Kerry/Feingold, etc. etc.) cannot be washed away with some convenient memory lapses.

Ask Kerry and other Dems now why they voted as they did on the war powers act and they give you the same argument you offered. We were being told by the White House that there were WMDs and a link to Al Queda in Iraq. They were just voting based on lies and faulty intelligence.

I don’t buy that they were being blindsided as they claim. They are hoping, just as the Republicans do, that we have short-term memory.

At the time that Bush started rattling his sabre, the UN had weapons inspectors in Iraq and they hadn’t found anything. When Colin Powell went before the UN and told them that Iraq has WMDs and we know exactly where they are, why didn’t he just tell the weapons inspectors so they could corroborate our assertions? That was what I was thinking at the time and you can’t convince me that our Democratic leaders were incapable of asking the same question. I am not terribly politically astute—better minds than mine should have been able to question the administration’s assertions.

Similarly, when our soldiers began the invasion I knew for a certainty that there were no WMDs. I did not need to wait to learn that they couldn’t find any. When they weren’t being used against our invading troops I asked myself, if they have WMD’s why won’t they use them when they’re facing total annihilation? If they won’t use them then, when will they use them?

No, I don’t believe they were blindsided with Administration lies and faulty intelligence. I feel now, as I felt then, that they voted as they did because it was politically expedient.
I hate the fact that elected leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, were playing politics with our soldiers’ lives, and with the billions, if not a trillion dollars that the American taxpayers have poured into Bush’s folly.

The problem is, the public does have a short memory, and both parties seem to be banking on that.

Posted by: Stan at June 25, 2006 10:26 PM
Comment #161767

Isn’t that what pathological liars do?

Posted by: BillS at June 25, 2006 09:56 PM

Maybe not, but pathological conservatives are up to their asses in it!

Posted by: expatUSA_Indonesia at June 25, 2006 10:54 PM
Comment #161770

I just hope this mess will bury the right for many years. They have proved to the world that they are nothing more than dangerous idiots. Your country used to hold a big stick and now you hold a peice of wet spaggetti that at times resembles a serpent.

Posted by: Tom at June 25, 2006 11:05 PM
Comment #161777

The primary fallacy in WWillie’s analysis as I see it is that it would be a valid (tho flawed) tactic only if there were a fixed number of al-Qaeda terrorists. However, since the US infuriated and inspired a continually growing number of terrorists, we would continue spending our own soldiers lives, and the US economy hemmorages, as we fight a constant influx of newly determined enemies from a growing number of countries around the world. Endlessly. And it assumes none of them are going to think that it is worth coming to this continent to make a bigger statement. ?

If Bush and company really thought as WW stated it would be even more foul an action than it already is, since it callously sets up our own soldiers as bait and considers them an expendable and sustainable resource, with no human value at all.

And of course, it sentences the people of Iraq to perpetual war.


Posted by: dana at June 25, 2006 11:31 PM
Comment #161807

Weary Willy: The strategy is working so well that 99.9% of the terrorists will be dead before the election and the president will be able to anounce major troop withdraws.

The republicans are working hard to keep the democrats right where they want them on the war. The democrats are helping them, except for Hillary, she is not worried about 2006 and she is set up well for 2008.

Posted by: jlw at June 26, 2006 2:54 AM
Comment #161817

One of the biggest flaws in the Flypaper Strategy, if it was real to begin with, is that the enemy can commit however many terrorists they want to to the battle. They don’t have to win, they just have to be a total pain in the ass. So have a few thousand Jihadis go into Iraq. Do they have to walk into American guns? Well, maybe some do.

The second problem would be that some don’t. Some merely learn how to kill people, and then leave to apply their lessons elsewhere.

The third problem, ultimately, is that the insurgents are mostly (as they’ve likely always been) Iraqi, and mostly just resistance fighters and folks fighting in the nascent civil war.

So, ultimately, it’s not very effective, though it might be tempting to think so.

The solution to terrorism in the world was never going to be “kill them all.” especially when death was already a given for many. No, the solution is going to be destroying the forces in Von Clausewitz style: breaking up the system that lets them organize, move around, recruit, etc. We’re not going to be able to bleed al-Qaeda, we’re going to have to strangle it instead.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 26, 2006 6:35 AM
Comment #161850

I just asked a question.”Isn’t that what pathological liars do?” I have noticed that people who lie often will sometimes make a statement of dubious credibility. When the initial statement is is not believed by others they then offer another statement about the same ciecumstance that sometimes contradicts the first in an attempt to gain more credibility. These people are clearly not to be believed. This administration and their apoligist often act that accomplished. That was not the real mission.Please fill in the blanks for whatever missiom you think justifies this mess. _______ _________ ________.

Posted by: BillS at June 26, 2006 11:26 AM
Comment #161854

BillS: We just heard another explanation. We invade Iraq and then invite the terrorists in so we can fight them there instead of here. In other words, We invite the terrorists into Iraq and fight them there with millions of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Sounds like an awfully cowardly thing to do.

Posted by: jlw at June 26, 2006 11:45 AM
Comment #161865

My comment asking “whatever mission” was
satirical. Oviously Iraq is about oil. No? Would we be there if there was no oil?

Oil companies hwve warped our forign policy for years. Case in point: In order to give farmers in Equador an alternative to growing coco leaves for cocaine production the US waived import tafiffs for Equadorian agricultural products. It was successful to a large degree.It made it possible for growers of roses,artichokes etc. to prosper and employ thousnds without working for the drug cartels. We have stopped the program. Seems Occidental Petroliuem had an oil lease with Equador. In violation of their agreement they attempted to sell the lease to a Canadian company. The Equadorians canceled the lease in response. The US government,to punish them canceled the trade agreement. Apparently we are willing to increase cocaine addiction rather than reduce oil addiction. Also apparent is that big oil has more influence on our forign policy than common sense.

Posted by: BillS at June 26, 2006 12:41 PM
Comment #161870

—BillS- I made an error by miss reading your statement on path.lie, rushed to judgement, sorry! DAVID

Posted by: DAVID at June 26, 2006 1:07 PM
Comment #161876

-BillS In hindsight I also agree with your assessment, I guess I got caught up in the defencive mode from the spinning on the right of norms. Maybe a little self evaluation can help me! At ant rate no harm intended.

Posted by: DAVID at June 26, 2006 1:33 PM
Comment #161884


Nice post. I guess it is a bit of “beating a dead horse,” but it with the hope that we do not repeat mistakes too often I would agree with your point.

I also appreciate that you said that Bush believed the WMD were their. I can’t make a case for lying on Bush’s part. If he had lied, we certainly would have found planted WMD. Why lie about something that is certain to be found out?

One of the topics that I haven’t figured out yet is where we would be in Iraq today if Bush would not have pulled the trigger. The Bush/Clinton doctrine of containment was falling apart. Sanctions were leaking all over,and the UN was becoming more and more corrupt in the oil-for-food program.

Iraq certainly was becoming a more dangerous threat to the world. They had the motive to do us harm. They had the knowledge (previous weapons programs), and they were getting the means. (money via the UN).

I have a hard time believing that the status quo would have remained to today if we had not invaded.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at June 26, 2006 2:06 PM
Comment #161890

While big oil might have too much influence on our policy, it’s best to tackle such things in terms of facts and figures, rather than knowlege poor statements that might strike neutral or rival observers as vague or just paranoid.

We can call Bush a liar, but it’s easier to confront people about that lying if we are prepared to open up the box and show the clockwork gears running beneath the facade of that lie.

It’s important to demonstrate that people knew what they were saying was untrue. We can compare, for example, the Classified and unclassified version of the NIE that formed part of the basis for war, and see that a great deal of editing has gone into making all the statements more assertive. Footnotes and qualifications on evidence are eliminated.

It stands to reason that a person who reads the classified version knows the case wasn’t open and shut, knows that there were serious issues of dissent there. To provide a Declassifed version that does not include such facts is a prima facie deception.

Another example is the Presidential determination provided by Bush to kick off the war. John Dean, in his book Worse than Watergate oulines it as such:

The authorization to use force required Bush to provide a determination to Congress that the threat was real. Amidst the old facts that Bush provided in his determination were pieces of information he referred to as “A Congressional Determination” John Dean comments that they weren’t looking to have their own congressional determination handed back to them, but for Bush to come up with his own evidence.

However, that’s not that makes this egregious. What makes this egregious is that those “congressional determinations” (determination being a kind of report) are actually the legally worthless “whereas” clauses that opened the resolution to use force.

So, the president essentially handed congress material plagiarized from their own bill, represented as one of their reports, and used this in the place of the kind of material that was actually supposed to show up in his report, his determination, to congress.

If Bush did not know these things were going on, it doesn’t get better, because he should know. We cannot rely on people’s memories of years of dishonesty to make the case. We have to be more explicit, because today’s media floods us daily with information to compete with what people might remember.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 26, 2006 2:33 PM
Comment #161901

So if there are so many Americans who can see the obvious about the war in Irag and the oil companies dictating our foreign policy how come we still have these idiots in office? Is it not both parties that are to blame and why are we all just sitting still waiting for a change? I voted neither party line in the last election but yet I’m stuck with this group of mobsters who call themselves politicians. Seems like our system is due for an overhaul and it won’t come as a result of putting one party in over the other. Neither is capable of reform it’s all about money and the only way to affect the change is to hit their pockets in mass. Stop buying that SUV, stop shopping at Wal-Mart, stop supporting the same group of politicians that are always running for office.

Posted by: Vic at June 26, 2006 3:01 PM
Comment #161903

I would say Iraq, were the sanctions to be lifted, would be a shadow of whatever threat it use to be. Even if the sanctions and everything fell, his forces would not be back to normal overnight. Let’s also remember that even at their best, they were no match for us. Hell, they were no match for us in this war, at least when they were fighting us conventionally.

We could take advantage of the influx of business and other concerns to plant agents in Saddam’s facilities. A society opened to business is also opened to folks going in and out of the country. Were we to take such steps, we could put ourselves in a position to read his next move.

We could also take advantage of any real move towards actual terrorism or belligerents in the region to put him through the wringer again, were he that stupid.
We could also keep surveillance of multiple types from satellites and other vantage points.

One more thing: with the end of sanctions would come the end of the oil for food program. A real test of who was benefiting most would be the resistance to the end of sanctions!

It would also have been interesting to see how increased contact with the outside world, and the years of autonomy in the South and North would play out. We could have made up another excuse as to why we or the UN were intervening, and this time, we could have made it stick.

Our options did not begin and end with the end of the WMD inspections regime.

As for Beating the Dead Horse? The problem is, old Nelly keeps getting back up, proving that a few more kicks are deserved. This latest WMD media farce is an example. America doesn’t go after government because they lie or break resolutions. America gave Bush consent to take us to war based on the idea that we were faced with a threat there.

Without active collaboration with terrorists, even with existing weapons, the threat is diminished. If the weapons don’t exist in useable form, if there is no longer a production capacity, even after years of being unmolested by inspectors, then there is no threat there, much less a reason to attack pre-emptively. We didn’t go to war because there were a bunch of leaky, expired chemical weapons on the Iranian border, long forgotten. We went to war out of fear of seeing a nuclear 9/11, or a gas attack on one of our cities.

One thing for sure: there was no nuclear weapons program running in Iraq at all. The Nuclear Mujihadeen that Bush spoke of in his 2003 SOTU address were not exactly the most fervent warriors, it would seem.

That’s something you should do: research what the President and everybody else was saying before we went to war.

As for Bush lying about WMD? I think it comes down to this: He might have believed there were WMD in Iraq, like everybody else suspected, but he knew the evidence was thin (saying as much to Tenet when he recieved his report) and he didn’t share that fact with us. He did not allow the debate in his administration, in the Legislature, or in the public sphere to open up properly. He discouraged questioning of his policy with knowingly exaggerated evidence, political pressure, and a very secretive approach to deliberations on issues. He gambled our country’s future on this military adventure, and the uncertainty he failed to admit existed turned out to exist for a reason.

In essence, my point would be that Bush lied where he did because he wanted control of the situation. The cost of his lies were the loss of necessary checks and balances that could have halted the progress of his unchecked claims and beliefs. that could have kept America’s policy more firmly founded on what was right and true in reality, rather than just between the ears of him and his advisors. That’s part of the reason for having a Democracy, having the constitutional checks and balances- to make sure there are always other folks around to pull people like the president back to Earth.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 26, 2006 3:15 PM
Comment #161919


We might have different takes on what Bush did/didn’t do on the run up to the war.

I believe Bush and company blew it. They believed their were WMD and they were wrong. Connecting the dots there have been three huge intelligence blunders in my lifetime.

1. Missing the Soviet Union’s collapse.

2. Missing the events running up to 9/11.

3. Being wrong about WMD in Iraq.

Connecting the dots tells me that either intelligence if of limited value, or that we have a serious problem with intelligence in our country.

This also makes me very wary of preemptive war. We are just too often wrong!! In that sense, (Not in the Bush is bad sense, but that we get our intelligence wrong sense), we are a danger to the world because we believe our own intelligence!!

I think you are overplaying the recent flap over WMD. That seemed to be pretty minor. Some congressman overreacted and was set straight. I certainly didn’t think it was a big deal.

At this point there would have to be a huge overwelming find of some sort to registar on my “give a hoot” meter. And if it did, I would add it above as “failure to find WMD in Iraq after three years of searching.”

I also think the next administration will do a much better job on terror whether they be republican or democrat. They will now own Bush’s decisions, and will be much more flexible.

I also think the congressional elections will be closer than the dems hope. Talk about mistakes and errors. Here the Democratic party has been handed the greatest opportunity in a generation to regain congress, and still five year, (that’s five years!!) after 9/11 the party is hopelessly divided, and fighting with each other. In general I think the voters will be disappointed that no matter what happens one of these parties is going to win in congress!! I think the Senate stays (R) and it’s a coin toss in the House. I find it hard to believe that America will elect a San Francisco liberal to Speaker of the House.

That’s part of the reason for having a Democracy, having the constitutional checks and balances- to make sure there are always other folks around to pull people like the president back to Earth.

I couldn’t agree more with this. It would be so nice to see the Democrats united with a clear plan of what they stand for in Iraq. I might vote for them!!


Posted by: Craig Holmes at June 26, 2006 4:15 PM
Comment #161923

Here are your Weapons of Minor Discomfort. Chemical weapons may be a little discomfort for you but it is murder to these people. I challenge anyone here to click on the URL below and then come back and post your heartless dribble how we are not talking about the same deadly Weapons you refer to as Weapons of Minor Discomfort.

You people could care nothing about the suffering and pain these people went thru so go ahead and make fun or people who suffered such a terrible death just so you can minimize the event of finding WMD and calling it Weapons of Minor Discomfort.

The attack, said to have involved mustard gas, nerve agent and possibly cyanide, killed an estimated 5,000 of the town’s inhabitants. The attack on Halabja took place amidst the infamous al-Anfal campaign, in which Saddam brutally repressed yet another of the Kurdish revolts during the Iran-Iraq war. Saddam is also said to have used chemical weapons in attacking up to 24 villages in Kurdish areas in April 1987. The same Weapons you are now making fun of.

The weapons may be old and they may be from a stockpile of weapons that Saddam did not need to use because he kill everyone in Halabja Iraq but they are not Weapons of Minor Discomfort.

You took the words right out of Saddam’s mouth Weapons of Minor Discomfort.

Posted by: Mr. Right at June 26, 2006 4:24 PM
Comment #161929

—Mr. R - That being the case, to defend the Iraqi people, why than did the same reasons apply to the Africans who were slaughtered by the millions. An no spin need apply.

Posted by: DAVID at June 26, 2006 4:41 PM
Comment #161931

-Mr. Right- I suppose those stock piles from time past with United States Gov. written on them, were supplied to Iraq to fight the Irina war only, maybe they also said please return all unused mustard gas bombs to the USA.

Posted by: DAVID at June 26, 2006 4:51 PM
Comment #161933

Did not apply to one million African people got lost in transfer, sorry

Posted by: DAVID at June 26, 2006 4:54 PM
Comment #161939

David did you look at the URL, death by chemical weapons got to be one of the most brutal and painful ways to die. In the story on the URL it said that those people were massacred with the same weapons that everyone is making of and laugh at the catch phrase Weapons of Minor Discomfort. It is belittling the pain and suffering of those people just to coin a catch phrase for political posturing. That is not right.

This story function it to laugh at the destruction power of these weapons. If anyone finds it funny then use the URL to get a good laugh. It is insulting to say muster gas just causes little blister of discomfort. The photos speak for themselves about the discomfort level these poor people experienced.

I do not care if they find a nuclear bomb in Iraq tomorrow the Liberal democrats will just raise the bar and proclaim some other reason why the weapon does not qualify as WMD. For heaven sake we must keep the Bush lie alive for political reasons.

Posted by: Mr. Right at June 26, 2006 5:03 PM
Comment #161948

—Mr. Right As in all wars the good and the bad are killed, The reasons why sometimes are unknown and when some of believe these deaths were from unacceptable reasons, Sometimes it takes unexceptable means for preventing more death and destruction.

Posted by: DAVID at June 26, 2006 5:20 PM
Comment #161952

Mr. Right-
You haven’t been paying attention.

I understand quite well the horrible effects of Sarin and Mustard Gas. If you think I wrote this post in ignorance of that, you’re mistaken.

If you think I’m having fun at the expense of Saddam’s chemical attacks, you can again count yourself mistaken.

My targets for derision are the people who are pushing the munitions found as being the WMDs we were looking for. We were looking for the fresh kind of stuff that Saddam used on Halabja, Weapons weeks, months, and years old. We’re not looking for stuff that has been buried and/or exposed to the elements for such a long time that the chemicals in those weapons are no longer the same deadly substances.

That old, decrepit, chemically degraded stuff is what Santorum and Hoekstra are peddling as the weapons we were looking for. The Rugburn and Weapons of Minor Discomfort remarks that Olbermann gives are meant to humorously highlight the extent to which these weapons are unusable. The blister agent no longer has it’s old strength, the Nerve gas is simply nonlethal now.

That is why it’s fully appropriate to joke about the use of these weapons for political propaganda. These are not the weapons that would have justified this war. These are relics of that sad time, and nothing else now.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 26, 2006 5:25 PM
Comment #161956

Mr. Right-
Bush set the bar, and set it high. He alleged active production programs, of which we found none. He alleged Saddam was working on a bomb. Nothing of the sort was the case, political posturing aside. He was alleging huge stockpiles. No stockpiles with weapons of military value have been found, only the decayed remnants of weapons used in the 1980’s Iran/Iraq war. Bush wanted Saddam disarmed. The great irony is that is exactly how he found him.

P.S.- that doesn’t means Saddam wasn’t a bastard and a liar and all that. It simply meant we were successful in our efforts before.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 26, 2006 5:33 PM
Comment #161957

David: No problem

I just mentioned Ecuador as one of many examples.In defference to your critiqe my source was The Los Angelus Times6/25,under US PULLS ECUADORS’S FREE TRADE STATUS.
I wish I had your faith the oppositions ability to sort fact from fancy.There seems to be an unwillingness,fear based at some level,to honestly evaluate any information that might cause them to re-asess their position. Of course on this blog we are not dealing with average Republicans. A recent example was the creation of a new improved theory for the invasion of Iraq that not even the White House thought of yet. Anything to avoid admitting there is any truth to the overwhelming evidence that Bushco is incompetant.

Craig:”It would be so nice to see the Democrats united ….” You are too used to the Republican lockstep I am afraid. I come from a long line of yellow dog Democrats. The Democrats will have long debates and break into factions over what time of day it is. If it was not like that we would not be Democrats. Sometimes that is a weakness,more often it is a strength. Devergent views are brought in,other ways of solving a problem are discussed. Its what keeps the Dems dynamic. All we can agree on are a general set principles and they evolve over time. It is a beautiful thing at times. Hope we get your vote anyway.

Posted by: BillS at June 26, 2006 5:35 PM
Comment #161967

Our aim should be first and foremost to provide rational alternatives to the GOP’s theories and doctrines. Simply cursing them out is not useful.

First, We need to give our fellow Democrats alternative to arguments that may be ill-informed, invalid, cliched, or ineffectively presented.

Second, we need to appeal to moderates, and do so in such away that we successfully occupy the niche that a Republican’s argument might otherwise fill. That takes appealing to people outside of the circle that will simply accept an argument formatted to Democratic tastes (such as Bush is an idiot)

Third, if we are to convince Republicans of the facts, we must give them the chance to be rational, and not start off nasty and ad hominem. Remember your audience.

Fourth, we want our opponents and not ourselves to come across as having lost control. If we can come across as more reasonable, even when we are conveying strong feelings, that will benefit us greatly.

We will not win by trying to convince Republicans of their irrationality, especially if we’re trying to appeal to its opposite state in their personalities.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 26, 2006 5:51 PM
Comment #161993

Stephen Daugherty - such remarks like the one that Olbermann gives that are meant to be humorously highlight the extent to which these weapons are unusable is the kind of remarks that end of backfiring. If the democrats widely use such phrase like Weapons of Minor Discomfort it will be pounded over there head in TV add campaigns. All they got to do is show democrats making fun of WMD laughing and saying Weapons of Minor Discomfort then show gruesome pictures of dead Iraqis and say that these are same weapons that Saddam used that kill these people in these photos. The Republicans can say that because it is true, they are the same chemical weapons. Yes those weapons are unusable but it is a lot harder to convince the American people that those chemical weapons are unusable than to convince them that no WMD weapons were found in Iraq.

It is not Bush that is making a big deal out of those chemical weapons because he knows they are unusable, it is people like Santorum and Hoekstra who are in a political battle and they will use it to there advantage and the last thing democrats need is the image of them making fun or weapons the did such terrible things. Those are probably from the same batch of weapons the Saddam used to commit mass murdered of those Kurds in 1988.

People need to stop making jokes about gruesome things. It is not right.

Posted by: Mr. Right at June 26, 2006 7:01 PM
Comment #162013

Anyone have anything solid linking the US to the creation of these weapons,technology or supply etc. I know that we did not do much when Saddam used them in the war with Iran or when he used them on the Kurds for that matter. Back then he was our friend. Also anything solid on US stockpiles of same. Just curious.

Posted by: BillS at June 26, 2006 8:15 PM
Comment #162036

Mr. Right
Thanks for the url.

Some body mentioned the Africans slaughter. Now thats really UNs responsability to get going on it. US governement has been trying to get involved in Darfur genocide for instance for a long time but they can’t do it without the UN “yes-yes”.

Posted by: Lovvy Dovvy at June 26, 2006 9:21 PM
Comment #162094

Lovvy dovvy—- I have a trick question for you ! Did The UN go into Iraq- (no) can you answer this question? Those poor defenceless 0ne Million African People were asking for help, the Iraqi people did not ask for help. The UN did not help either of of these countries to speak of. So why did America go to war with Iraq but did not help the Africans who were being slaughters?? What is the question? And Can you answer it.

Posted by: DAVID at June 26, 2006 11:18 PM
Comment #162122

—BillS- How the U.S. Helped Create Saddam Hussein—You may find this a good read! Newsweek| beginning 23 years ago a short history. About as accurate as it gets.

Posted by: DAVID at June 27, 2006 12:42 AM
Comment #162140

Let me see if I get this. The Bush administration has finally found the wmd’s that Bush senior and Rumsfield gave Iraq in the 1980’s. Golly gee wilikers I’m sure glad Iraq did’t use them all against Iran during their little tiff.

Posted by: dave at June 27, 2006 2:32 AM
Comment #162142

—dave—to bad you can’t comprehend what you tried to read, otherwise take your spin elsewhere

Posted by: DAVID at June 27, 2006 2:47 AM
Comment #162221

Mr. Right-
Maybe you should call yourself Mr. Wrong, if you are so intent on favoring image over reality. It’s the worst kind of Demagoguery, and you folks have become far too reliant on it.

The reason why Bush did not make the claims Santorum did was because he at the very least knew that he would not win the argument in the end, that the rationalizations against would be stronger than the rationalizations for.

Even if one succeeds at this, it means never being able to fairly deal with the truth again, which means that the real facts of the case will become a splinter lodged in your political career, which you cannot admit to without taking damage and vindicating your critics.

It’s stupid stunts like this, over time, that have put the Republican Majority at the risk it stands in today. To be unable to admit to the truth, is to lack the flexibility to deal with it properly.

Besides, you miss something: a smart candidate can reply by an equally vivid demonstration of what the WMDs were trully capable of in their degraded state. Political theater can run both ways.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 27, 2006 11:15 AM
Comment #162234

I poked around a little and found a cronology of US involvement with Iraq. I reccommend it or not,
Just a cronolgy(sourced).
Some highlights: April 1988 US Department of Commerce approves shipment of chemicals used in manufacture of mustard gas after chemical attacks on the Kurds have started!
Seems that mustard gas we found should indeed be labeled Made in USA.

Posted by: BillS at June 27, 2006 11:53 AM
Comment #162293

Stepehen Daugherty,

It’s stupid stunts like this, over time, that have put the Republican Majority at the risk it stands in today.
Speaking the the emerging Republican minority, have you seen this?

Posted by: ElliottBay at June 27, 2006 2:03 PM
Comment #162388

Very interesting. I’d say, though that how this shapes up in November in the individual districts and state legislatures is just as crucial. We can only hope there are enough angry Republicans out there to counterbalance the gerrymandering.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 27, 2006 4:47 PM
Comment #162497

Censorship is wrong.

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 27, 2006 7:59 PM
Comment #162545

Weary Willie-
“Censorship Bypassed?” How about facts that don’t fit your hypothesis.

First and foremost that the Weapons inspectors, after finding out all these neat things concluded that the weapons weren’t there. Now you might call it censorship that this doesn’t get mentioned too much again, but what it really is is that all these finds were explained in one way or another by pre-Gulf War stockpiles. These weren’t useable weapons, these weren’t the secret substances bush was saying he was working on. So, these wouldn’t qualify as your big stories for all that long. Reporters wouldn’t repeat these things because the editor would come back and say “David Kay and Charles Duelfer looked at this shit and said it was old and worthless.”

You don’t get far by revisiting settled issues like this. The Report is out there, the people who made that report are out there, and if you think that they didn’t know about all these things, then you’re sadly mistaken.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 27, 2006 10:33 PM
Comment #162583

Willie: Does it matter to you at all that the age of those munitions means they were made from components supplied by the US? To me that is akin to the police planting dope in someones house,kicking the door in,making arrest and claiming a victory in the war on drugs.

Posted by: BillS at June 28, 2006 12:26 AM
Comment #162945

I’m wondering if the stuff that was found was such a Weapon of Minor Discomfort, would any of you (or Keith Olberman) be willing to enter an area where these items were being destroyed without a chemical weapons suit?

Posted by: Arellius at June 28, 2006 8:06 PM
Comment #163040

Whether we supplied them or not these weapons did not have military value.

According to this article, Iraqi nerve agents at their best were only 1-5% effective after one year. Care to figure how effective they would be after 15?

As for being around a chemical weapons being destroyed? I guess you have something to learn about what makes these weapons effective. You’d have to get exposed to a lot of either weapon in its current degraded form for it to be unhealthy, much less lethal.

As far as quality goes, there’s a difference between being able to mist the contents of a weapon over a large area to kill and inflict harm, and having to basically pour the contents on them to give them a chemical burn.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 28, 2006 10:02 PM
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