Friday, October 03, 2003


Why Preemption Was Such A Good Idea

David Kay gave his long awaited interim report from the Iraq Survey Group, explaining that none of the chemical and biological weapons that were a primary justification for the war against Iraq had been found.

Kay's report is likely to intensify the debate over whether the administration intentionally misled the public on the threat posed by Iraq's weapons programs.

``We have not yet found stocks of weapons, but we are not yet at the point where we can say definitively either that such weapons stocks do not exist or that they existed before the war, and our only task is to find where they have gone,'' Kay said in an unclassified version of his testimony released by the CIA.

Members of his Iraq Survey Group, Kay said, have discovered weapons ``activities'' and equipment that were concealed from U.N. inspectors when they returned to Iraq late last year. Those include apparent biological weapons research and Iraqi attempts between 1999 and 2002 to import technology for 900-mile range missiles from North Korea, he said.

Reaction from intelligence committee members ranged from support for Kay's work to frustration over the limited findings, to dismay that one of the central justifications for war had not been proved.

``This raises real questions about the doctrine of pre-emption,'' said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, of West Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee. ``You just don't make decisions like we do and put our nation's youth at risk based upon something that appears not to have existed.''

The committee chair, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., declared himself ``not pleased with what I heard today.''

``Everybody involved in this effort would have hoped by now there would have been a breakthrough,'' he said.

Jay Rockefeller is on to something. If you are going to employ a doctrine of pre-emption, you had better have confidence that the threat you are facing is real and worth the risks of war. If you go to war on the basis of bad intelligence, or, even worse, if you engage in wishful thinking and employ trumped up intelligence reports to justify your support for war, you may cause yourself a great deal of trouble in the long run. For example, you may get stuck in a costly occupation with no end in sight, and instead of being hailed as liberators, you may find yourself bogged down in a lengthy guerilla war.

Nah, couldn't happen.

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