Monday, June 09, 2003


Weapons versus Weapons Programs

The President has begun to backtrack, according to this Washington Post report:

"Iraq had a weapons program," Bush told reporters after a meeting with his Cabinet at the White House. "Intelligence throughout the decade showed they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced with time we'll find out they did have a weapons program."
. . .

In a subtle shift, some U.S. officials have begun to talk of finding weapons "programs" or "capabilities."

"Programs in and of themselves give rise to tremendous concern with the weapons themselves," [White House spokesman Ari] Fleischer said.

In accordance with its general policy that the best defense is a good offense, the Administration has begun to accuse its critics of writing "revisionist history:"

Fleischer, and other U.S. officials, including National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, accused critics of "revisionist history" in questioning whether Iraq had banned weapons.

"What the president has said is because it's been the long-standing view of numerous people, not only in this country, not only in this administration, but around the world, including at the United Nations, who came to those conclusions," Fleischer said. "And the president is not going to engage in the rewriting of history that others may be trying to engage in."

Very nice, Ari, but I'm pretty sure that it is the Administration that is engaging in revisionist history here, by asserting that what it was after all along was merely a "weapons program" rather than the possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, the President changed the subject when asked about the WMD problem and American credibility:

Asked whether U.S. credibility was at stake in the search for weapons of mass destruction, Bush shifted the focus to the ouster of Saddam.

"The credibility of this country is based upon our strong desire to make the world more peaceful and the world is now more peaceful after our decision," he said. "History and time will prove that the United States made the absolute right decision in freeing the people of Iraq from the clutches of Saddam Hussein."

Again, inquiring minds want to know, is the world truly more at peace now than it was last year?

The most disturbing possibility, which the Administration has failed to respond to, is that there was no intelligence failure. Saddam did have the weapons, but they are now missing because they were smuggled out of the country during the chaos caused by the war. If that is so, then President Bush has made America less safe, not more safe by starting the war. And this is a fear, by the way, that was continually voiced by critics of the war like myself: If we attacked Saddam, we might win, and win easily. But we might make ourselves less safe, not more safe through causing chaos and upheaval in the Middle East and contributing to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Until the Administration addresses that possibility, its credibility deserves to be placed in question.


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