Saturday, October 09, 2004

On October 6, the definitive report from the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) was released, which concluded that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 2003 and, in fact, all had been dismantled and destroyed since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, during the following decade of U.N. inspections and sanctions. According to The Washington Post, these inspections (which, apparently, have in fact worked, no doubt much to the chagrin of the administration) "destroyed Iraq's illicit weapons capability and, for the most part, Saddam Hussein did not try to rebuild it," citing the report, which "contradicts nearly every prewar assertion made by top administration officials about Iraq. ... [Mr. Duelfer] said Hussein's ability to produce nuclear weapons had 'progressively decayed' since 1991. Inspectors, he said, found no evidence of 'concerted efforts to restart the program.'"

In addition, Hussein's chemical and biological weapons "stockpiles" -- sold to him by the United States under the Reagan administration -- "had been destroyed and research stopped years before the United States led the invasion of Iraq in March 2003."* (Dana Priest & Walter Pincus, "U.S. 'Almost All Wrong' on Weapons," 7 October 2004, A1) This deals a devastating blow to the primary justification of the war, and, I believe, proves that there was no actual threat emanating from Iraq. The
Post that day also ran an analytical article written by Glenn Kessler on how this new report "is only the latest in a series of damaging blows to the White House's strategy of portraying the war in Iraq as being on the cusp of success. ..." ("War's Rationales Are Undermined One More Time," A35) Moreover, on page A34, The Post ran a "chart ... compar[ing] findings from the Iraq Survey Group's investigation into Iraqi weapons programs and claims made by Bush administration officials before U.S. troops invaded Iraq" 19 months ago, demonstrating wholly divergent views of reality.

The Post's lead editorial ("Weapons That Weren't There," 7 October 2004, A38) reads that "the estimates by the CIA and most other Western intelligence agencies that Iraq held large stockpiles of dangerous weapons were wrong, as was much of what President Bush said about the threat. ..." The day's New York Times lead editorial declared: "Sanctions worked. Weapons inspectors worked. That is the bottom line
of the long-awaited report on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, written by President Bush's handpicked investigator. ... The authoritative findings of [Duelfer's] Iraq Survey Group have now left the administration's rationale for war more tattered than ever. It turns out that Iraq destroyed all stockpiles of illicit weapons more than a decade ago and had no large-scale production facilities left after 1996, seven years before the invasion. ... Even after U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998, a period when Western intelligence experts assumed the worst might be happening, the Hussein regime made no active efforts to produce new weapons of mass destruction. The much-feared nuclear threat - that looming mushroom cloud conjured by the administration to stampede Congress into authorizing an invasion - was a phantom. ... Since any objective observer should by now have digested the idea that Iraq posed no imminent threat to anyone, let alone the United States, it was disturbing to hear President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney continue to try to justify the invasion this week on the grounds that after Sept. 11, 2001, Iraq was clearly the most likely place for terrorists to get illicit weapons. Even if Mr. Hussein had wanted to arm groups he could not control - a very dubious notion - he had nothing to give them. ..."

Two days later, during the 2nd Presidential debate - in St. Louis, MO - President Bush declared, "Sanctions [against Iraq] were not working.
The United Nations was not effective at removing Saddam Hussein." To which, at the prompting of moderator Charles Gibson, Senator Kerry responded: "Mr. president, just yesterday the Duelfer report told you and the whole world, they worked. He didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Mr. president. That was the objective. ..." (The transcript of the debate can be found here.) So, in light of all of this, the question must be: Where the does the buck stop? Why is no one responsible for sending our soldiers into an unnecessary war, one which was 'justified' on a premise that now is known to have not existed? At present, 1,061 of our GIs have died and thousands are wounded. Where is the accountability? It's sickening, it really is.

*Just to add, the following correction was later appended: "An Oct. 7 article and the lead Page One headline incorrectly attributed a quotation to Charles A. Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq. The statement, 'We were almost all wrong,' was made by Duelfer's predecessor, David Kay, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Jan. 28 [2004]."

[The 'key findings' of the ISG report can be found here; as well, here the respective links to Volume 1, 2, and 3 of the report.]

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