Tuesday, January 31, 2017


The Report of the Iraq Inquiry was published on July 6, 2016. Named the Chilcot Report after its chairman, Sir John Chilcot, it was a public inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq War. It is another view, quite unflattering towards Britain's leadership--and the Americans'.

So what should we think about Iraq, WMDs, Bush and the "coalition?"

Carne William Ross, former British diplomat, writing on Iraq and WMD: "The UK and US believed that Iraq may have had some residual stocks of WMD (in particular BW or CW, but not nuclear) but at no point from 1998-2002, during the years I worked on the issue, did we believe that there was anything like sufficient to constitute a threat to Iraq's neighbors, let alone to the UK or US.  The claim, repeated ad nauseam to this day, that Bush and Blair were "misled" by intelligence that there was a threat is not true."
Christopher Hitchens, writing in the Sept. 5, 2005 issue of the "Weekly Standard": "You said there were WMDs in Iraq and that Saddam had friends in al Quaeda...Blah, blah, pants on fire". I have had many opportunities to tire of this mantra. It takes ten seconds to intone the said mantra. It would take me, on my most eloquent C-SPAN day, at the very least five minutes  to say that Abdul Rahman Yasin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center attack in 1993, subsequently sought and found refuge in Baghdad; that Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, Saddam's senior physicist, was able to lead American soldiers to nuclear centrifuge parts and a blueprint for a complete centrifuge (the crown jewel of nuclear physics) buried on the orders of Qusay Hussein; that Saddam's agents were in Damascus as late as February 2003, negotiating to purchase missiles off the shelf from North Korea; or that Rolf Ekeus, the great Swedish socialist who founded the inspection process in Iraq after 1991, has told me for the record that he was offered a $2 million bribe in a face-to-face meeting with Tariq Aziz. And these eye-catching examples would by no means exhaust my repertoire, or empty my quiver. Yes, it must be admitted that Bush and Blair made a hash of a good case, largely because they preferred to scare people rather than enlighten them. Still, the only real strategy of deception has come from those who believe, or pretend, that Saddam Hussein was no problem". 
After U.S. forces failed to find Iraq's WMD stockpiles, administration sources told author Bob Woodward that Tenet had assured them on the eve of the war that finding such weapons would be a "slam dunk." In his 2004 book, Plan of Attack, Woodward wrote that Tenet made the "slam-dunk" comment while briefing Bush and Cheney in December 2002, three months before the invasion of Iraq began.
Former CIA director George Tenet says in an interview to be aired Sunday that the Bush administration made him the scapegoat for the Iraq invasion by twisting his words to make it seem he was certain Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Tenet says in a 60 Minutes interview that after no weapons were found, the administration planted stories that the United States invaded Iraq based on the erroneous intelligence Tenet provided.
Former CIA deputy director Mike Morell, in his book, “The Great War of Our Time,” write about Tenet, intel and WMD.“When we wrote pieces for the president, the analysts wrote with authority on the [weapons of mass destruction] issue,” Morell writes. “This is why I personally never found fault with George Tenet’s alleged “slam dunk” comment.”
“The way the [intelligence] analysts talked and wrote about their judgments,” Morell adds, “would have led anyone to think it was a slam dunk— that is, that Saddam definitely had active WMD programs. No one ever said to me, [agency analyst Jami] Miscik, [ex-director John] McLaughlin, Tenet, [Condoleezza] Rice, or the president, ‘You know, there is a chance he might not have them.’ Such a statement would have gotten everyone’s attention,”  Morell writes.
So many axes. So many grinders. A blizzard of contradictory opinions. And from intelligent and knowledgeable people. Inquiring minds want to know.
If you were to ask the single most disturbing question about Iraq and WMDs it would be this: How could they not find the WMDs--or at least report that they had. After all, that is what Intel agencies do; they create circumstances that benefit their nation. If they did not find WMDs, why did they not just say they did?

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