ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Apparently the St Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Staff doesn't read ARC

Or the Wall Street Journal for that matter. The St Louis Post-Dispatch manipulates the facts themselves in an editorial today about Bush's counter to increasing hysteria by the Dems (I rebut each point made by the Post-Dispatch with quotes from this post yesterday):


WAR AND INTELLIGENCE: It's patriotic to ask questions
Tuesday, Nov. 15 2005

IN A VETERANS DAY speech in Pennsylvania, President George W. Bush said this about criticism of the war in Iraq: "While it is perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." Then the president promptly rewrote history.
Actually, Bush said it was okay for people who voted against the war to remain critical. However, he asserted that it's irresponsible for those that supported the war (based on information they had at the time) to rewrite history of how the war began. Bush didn't say that questioning was unpatriotic - he was attacking those that have flip-flopped on the issue purely for political gain.
Mr. Bush's version goes like this: Before the war, Democrats in Congress and allied intelligence agencies agreed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction; after the war, bipartisan inquiries concluded the administration did not misrepresent that intelligence.

Mr. Bush must be counting on short memories because both claims are inaccurate.

There was general agreement across party lines and among intelligence services that Saddam had tried to develop weapons of mass destruction. But in the months before the war, there were multiple challenges to the accuracy of the administration's intelligence claims:
As is known to most 4th graders, intelligence is never rock-solid and there are always competing views about what intelligence information actually means. Thus, Wilson says his report on Niger refuted Bush's 16 words in the State of the Union speech from 2003. But the CIA actually says that his report supported the sentence.
The administration claimed that Iraq had imported high-test aluminum tubes for making nuclear bombs; U.S. Energy Department officials believed the tubes were for rockets, not nukes.
As stated above, this claim and counter-claim is in dispute. The French actually believe that the aluminum tubes were for a nuke program. Here's a quote from Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell's underling and current critic of the Bush admin:

"The French came in in the middle of my deliberations at the CIA and said, we have just spun aluminum tubes, and by God, we did it to this rpm, et cetera, et cetera, and it was all, you know, proof positive that the aluminum tubes were not for mortar casings or artillery casings, they were for centrifuges. Otherwise, why would you have such exquisite instruments?"
The administration claimed that Saddam was trying to import uranium from Niger for its nuclear weapons program; U.N. officials said the Niger documents were
forgeries.
Yes, the documents were determined to be forgeries. However, the claim that Saddam was seeking uranium from Niger predates the discovery of the documents. The government of Niger confirmed that Saddam did send a delegation to Niger to discuss the possibility of procuring uranium.

"Britain's independent Butler commission concluded that it was 'well-founded.' The relevant passage is worth quoting at length:
  1. It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999.
  2. The British government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger's exports, the intelligence was credible.
  3. The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed to having sought, uranium, and the British government did not claim this.
As if that were not enough to settle the matter, Mr. Wilson himself, far from challenging the British report when he was 'debriefed' on his return from Niger [...], actually strengthened the CIA's belief in its accuracy. From the Senate Intelligence Committee report:

"He [the CIA reports officer] said he judged that the most important fact in the report [by Mr. Wilson] was that Niger officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Niger prime minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium.

And again:
The report on [Mr. Wilson's] trip to Niger . . . did not change any analysts' assessments of the Iraq-Niger uranium deal. For most analysts, the information in the report lent more credibility to the original CIA reports on the uranium deal."
Secretary of State Colin Powell told the United Nations that satellite photos of a chemical weapons site showed deception by the Iraqis; U.N. officials saw
"routine" activity.
Here's Larry Wilkerson's asssessment of this instance:
"I can't tell you why the French, the Germans, the Brits and us thought that most of the material, if not all of it, that we presented at the U.N. on 5 February 2003 was the truth. I can't. I've wrestled with it. [But] when you see a satellite photograph of all the signs of the chemical-weapons ASP--Ammunition Supply Point--with chemical weapons, and you match all those signs with your matrix on what should show a chemical ASP, and they're there, you have to conclude that it's a chemical ASP, especially when you see the next satellite photograph which shows the UN inspectors wheeling in their white vehicles with black markings on them to that same ASP, and everything is changed, everything is clean. . . . But George [Tenet] was convinced, John McLaughlin [Tenet's deputy] was convinced, that what we were presented [for Powell's UN speech] was accurate."
The president warned that Saddam would turn over WMDs to his al-Qaida allies; the CIA found that Saddam and al-Qaida did not have close ties and that Saddam would not turn over WMDs unless backed into a corner by the United States.
I believe the Senate committee actually said that while Saddam did not have a direct tie to the 9/11 attacks and did not have "operational ties", his government and Al Qaeda certainly had a relationship and were not enemies of each other. From yesterday's post:

"Contrary to how its findings were summarized in the mainstream media, the committee's report explicitly concluded that al Qaeda did in fact have a cooperative, if informal, relationship with Iraqi agents working under Saddam. The report of the bipartisan 9/11 commission came to the same conclusion, as did a comparably independent British investigation conducted by Lord Butler, which pointed to 'meetings . . . between senior Iraqi representatives and senior al-Qaeda operatives.'"
It was partly because of these pre-war weaknesses in the intelligence case that the United Nations refused to approve the U.S.-led invasion.
[...]
Actually, a resolution to invade Iraq was never sought. Yes, it was primarily due to the fact that the US did not believe it could win the vote (thanks to the some of the Security Council member states being on the take from Saddam's Oil-for-Food program), but also because the US did not feel that it was absolutely necessray for the UN to authorize something which it had already authorized under resolution 1441 - namely, the imposition of "serious consequences" on Saddam's regime.

The dissembling continues from there... What the Post-Dispatch and the Left are failing to recognize (in addition to the numerous quotes from Democrats authorizing war with Iraq) is that after 9/11, we were not in a position to allow a ruthless dictator like Saddam (who had used WMDs in the past and was apparently in the process of re-establishing those WMDs) to continue to exist and (as Harry Reid put it) "[thumb] his nose at the world community." In addition, the cesspool that the Middle East had become was a clear danger to the US, as radical Islam had been at war with the West since the 1970s and the West had failed to recognize that fact. After 9/11, we finally entered the war.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler