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Impeach Bush

Why Utah's governor is Bush's pick to head EPA
The Christian Science Monitor
Todd Wilkinson
August 13, 2003 edition

The Bush administration may be moving to give state and local governments more influence over US environmental and conservation policies. That's a possible conclusion to be drawn from the White House's nomination of Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt to be the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Like Coloradan Gale Norton, current secretary of the Interior, governor Leavitt is a Westerner who has long chafed under federal regulatory power.

But Leavitt is also a low-key administrator who has worked to build a consensus between business and environmental groups on at least some issues. Thus the Bush team might also hope Leavitt provides them a measure of cover on the environment - one area in which the president is politically vulnerable, according to polls.

"There is no progress polarizing at the extremes, but there is great progress. There's great environmental progress when we collaborate in the productive middle," said Leavitt.

If confirmed by the Senate this fall, Leavitt will immediately face a number of burning issues. Among them: the development of new regulations intended to simplify power plant and refinery maintenance requirements, and pushing the administration's Clear Skies Act, a major Clean Air Act rewrite that environmental groups oppose.

But confirmation is by no means assured. Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D) of Connecticut, both presidential candidates, made it clear Tuesday that they will strenuously oppose Leavitt, and will use his confirmation hearings as a forum in which to denounce the administration.

"We aren't going to have a real commitment to the environment until we have a new president," said Senator Kerry.

The EPA post is notoriously difficult, as President Bush's first appointee, former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, found to her dismay.

Governor Whitman left in May following a high-profile resignation and reported clashes, behind the scenes, with the White House. Some high administration officials, and many in industry, found Whitman too tough for their liking. Environmentalists disdained her as the moderate face of what they considered immoderate policies.

Criminal pollution cases referred for prosecution by EPA have dropped 40 percent since the start of the Bush administration while civil pollution cases are down 25 percent, notes Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

"Based upon the conversations we're having with EPA employees, Whitman's legacy, which will now be passed on to governor Leavitt, is of agency professionals who feel demoralized and ethically compromised," Mr. Ruch says.

Though Leavitt's nomination attracted immediate scorn from environmentalists ranging from the Sierra Club to local conservation groups in Utah, others cheered Bush's selection.

Sen. Conrad Burns, (R) of Montana, who is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, predicts that Leavitt will bring "long overdue balance and common sense" to the way natural resources are managed in the West - in marked contrast, he suggests, to the preservation-dominated agenda of the Clinton administration that aimed to protect land from logging, mining, and energy development.

Leavitt, a three-term governor, is looked upon as a rising star within the GOP. A devout Mormon, he was born in Cedar City, in a southern corner of the state close to Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks and famous for its red slickrock scenery.

A strong ally of ranching, mining, and energy interests, and a leader among Western governors in shaping wildfire policy, resolving water disputes, and in seeking revisions to the Endangered Species Act, Mr. Leavitt in recent years has championed a concept of managing public resources he calls "Enlibra."

He believes that local people deserve a stronger voice in determining the management direction of federal forests, parks, and rangelands.

How he intends to transfer the philosophy to EPA enforcement of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, for example, is still unclear.

The issue looming largest for him is the administration's plans to assist energy companies in fast-tracking oil and gas development on a huge expanse of public and private land in five Western states, including Utah.

Already, environmentalists have expressed a number of concerns. Another worry concerns the use of coal. Although Governor Whitman earlier advocated taking a harder line on regulating coal-fired power plants, Leavitt, in attacking the Clinton Administration for creating Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in part to prevent coal mining in Utah, has indicated he would entertain both constructing new power plants and retooling old ones. Environmentalists say it could result in sullying the very air over the Grand Canyon that Mr. Leavitt boasts he once helped to clean up as governor.

According to Senator Burns, critics who suggest Leavitt will preside as a patsy for industry are mistaken. "Governor Leavitt's been a problem solver who believes government is there to serve the people, not become activist," Burns says. "But if anybody violates the law, he's going to be pretty tough."

Copyright © 2003 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
The Bush approach to governing seems to be clear now. At the beginning of he put in place what appeared to be moderates or centrists, only to have them resign after it became obvious they were only figureheads. After their resignations he appointed rapid anti-whatever to run agencies they hate.

The number of lawsuits the EPA filed under Bush proves the EPA is controlled by industry. Putting Leavitt in charge of this demoralized agency will only cause more problems.


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WMD: Intelligence Without Brains
CATO
June 12, 2003
Alan Reynolds

The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating whether intelligence assessments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were full of honest or dishonest mistakes, or whether temperate CIA reports were hyped by administration officials to gain support for the war.

I wrote about WMD in February, citing an October 2002 CIA report on "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction" that is readily available at www.cia.gov. This report contains no top secrets, but it illustrates very well the sorts of evidence later cited by Secretary of State Colin Powell, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and others.

The opening summary stated that "Baghdad has begun renewed production of chemical warfare agents." Later, this turns out to mean "Iraq has the ability of produce chemical warfare (CW) agents" and "gaps in Iraqi accounting and current production capabilities strongly suggest that Iraq maintains stockpiles of chemical agents." The report also said, "Chlorine and phenol ... have legitimate civilian uses but also are raw materials for the synthesis of precursor chemicals used to produce blister and nerve gas."

The report repeatedly relies on things "unaccounted for" such as chemical precursors and "about 550 artillery shells filled with mustard agent." But precursors are not weapons and artillery shells are of no use to terrorists -- particularly if filled with useless mustard gas left over from the war with Iran.

Iraq and Iran both used gas against each other from 1983 to 1988, but even information from that period is murky. The CIA wrote, "Although precise information is lacking, human rights organizations have received plausible accounts from Kurdish villagers of even more Iraqi chemical attacks against civilians ... in areas close to the Iranian and Turkish borders." Approximate casualties from the infamous gas attack on "his own people" at Halabjah in March 1988 are listed as "hundreds" in the CIA report and included Iranians, not just Kurds.

What about biological weapons (BW)? The summary said "Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles (and) aerial sprayers ..." As with CW, to be capable of making BW is not the same as having a stockpile anybody will ever find. What Iraq had, the report explains later, is "the capability to convert quickly legitimate vaccine and biopesticide plants to biological warfare (BW) and it may have already done so." Any country producing chlorine, pesticides or castor oil could thus be accused of plotting to produce precursors for WMD.

Even if Iraq actually had "some" BW, packing such living organisms into bombs or missiles would be an excellent way of killing the biological agents and little else. Besides, Iraq had only "a small force of extended-range Scud-type missiles and an undetermined number of launchers and warhead." So the CIA had to come up with some hypothetical "aerial sprayers" to dispense the hypothetical biological weapons Iraq was "capable of" producing.

"Before the Gulf war," said the CIA, "the Iraqis successfully experimented with aircraft-mounted spray tanks capable of releasing up to 2,000 liters of anthrax simulant over a target area." To be capable of releasing simulated anthrax is not the same as being capable of killing anyone that way. Most biological agents can't survive exposure to sunlight. Anthrax sprayed from aircraft would have to be mixed with water, which evaporates quickly, and only particles of an extremely precise size stand a chance of being inhaled in lethal quantities even at close range (like an envelope), much less after floating around in the wind.

"Before the Gulf War," said the CIA, "Baghdad attempted to convert a MiG-21 into an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)." One attempt, and it failed. In the summary, however, the CIA reported that "Iraq maintains ... several development programs, including for a UAV that most analysts believe probably is intended to deliver biological warfare agents."

That doesn't say Iraq has a UAV, only a program. In the opening summary, however, the report said, "Baghdad's UAV's ... could threaten ... the United States if brought close to, or into, the U.S. Homeland." This was as close as the report (and Powell) ever came to making Iraq appear to be a clear and present danger to the U.S. homeland. Yet the CIA did not really claim to have evidence that Iraq had even a single UAV. Little wonder we didn't find one.

The frequent claim that suspect weapons are too tiny to find does not work for UAVs or for entire factories that were supposedly producing germs and gas. The notion of mobile labs just came from one defecting Iraqi scientist who "admitted to U.N. inspectors that Iraq was trying to move in the direction of mobile BW production." The CIA report showed aerial photos of factories and named a few. The 150 most suspicious sites were surely among the first 300 that have been inspected. We are now playing the longshots.

Writing in the LA Times, Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations ponders why Hussein was so uncooperative "in light of the postwar failure to find any WMD stockpiles." He offers just two explanations: Either Saddam "destroyed his stockpile" or "we'll still find it."

A third explanation is that some weapons that were supposed to make Iraq a formidable military threat never existed, such as UAVs or missile warheads loaded with biological agents. Others, such as capacity to produce biological and chemical precursors, were never weapons. The rest, as the CIA put it, was based on "limited insight into activities since 1998," including speculations from private analysts (Tony Blair's dossier reportedly relied heavily on Jane's Intelligence Report). "All intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons," wrote the CIA. But seeking is not having, and intelligence experts are not necessarily intelligent.

I see no value in Senate committees "investigating" the WMD rationale for the Iraq war. The senators should have read the CIA report last October, and not just the summary. What remains vitally important today, however, is to understand that the hyping of WMD by the CIA and others has been dangerous to homeland security.

On Oct. 2, 2001, The Washington Post ran an important story by Joby Warrick and Joe Stephens, "Before Attack, U.S. Expected Different Hit." They said, "elaborate multi-agency planning exercises with flashy names such as 'Red Ex' and 'Dark Winter' focused overwhelmingly on biological and chemical threats, while experts urging preparations for a simpler, more conventional attack found it difficult to be heard. ... Lots of money poured into research on chemical and biological threats. Entire research institutes were created for it."

We are still focusing far too much on wildly implausible scenarios of biological and chemical terrorism, and too little on bombs and bullets and arson. That high-level WMD obsession is still just as threatening to homeland security as it was before Sept. 11.

Rather than wasting time on the easy task of debunking the CIA report on WMD in Iraq, the Senate should be investigating the whole concept of WMD. Everyone has been hyping WMD, not just the CIA. It reminds me of the folks who tried to sell my parents bomb shelters in the '50s. And I'm not buying this time, either.

This article originally appeared in Town Hall on June 12, 2003.

All Rights Reserved © 2003 Cato Institute

Commentary:
It's these pesky facts the media and Bush forgot to tell us before the war. Now the media and Bush try to justify their war with more lies. Americans have to take a lot of blame also. We allowed ourselves to be lied to, and allowed the media to use hyped nonsense to take us to war. The media is responsible for Bush's war based on lies since it's their job to uncover and expose the lies, not push the party line. The facts were out there, but the media CHOSE to ignore them.


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Rationalizing the Urgency of War
CATO Institute
Alan Reynolds
February 9, 2003

Top officials of the Defense and State departments have been busy on the lecture circuit, trying to rationalize the urgency of war. But their descriptions of "weapons of mass destruction" remain hazy. Secretary of State Colin Powell alluded to missing artillery shells and bombs "capable of" carrying chemical agents, and growth material which might be used to make "biological agents," saying these "terrible weapons put millions of innocent people at risk." But how could millions be killed by undiscovered warheads or surplus growth material?

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz provided the clearest answer in a talk to the Council on Foreign Relations: "Consider that in 1997, U.N. inspectors found Iraq had produced and weaponized at least 10 liters of ricin. In concentrated form, that quantity of ricin is enough to kill more than 1 million people. Baghdad declared to the U.N. inspectors that it had over 19,000 liters of botulism, enough to kill tens of millions; and 8,500 liters of anthrax, with the potential to kill hundreds of millions."

Mr. Wolfowitz's hyperbole about Saddam having the capability of killing "hundreds of millions" was surely intended to drum up support for quick action. But it seems more likely to provoke needless panic among those who don't know better and total disbelief among those who do.

One of the 1997 U.N. inspectors, Raymond Zilinskas, wrote about "Iraq's Biological Weapons" for the Journal of the American Medical Association. He noted that in 1990 "a few 155-mm caliber artillery shells were filled with ricin [but] tests did not go well." Iraq also loaded 100 small bombs with botulism, according to Zilinskas, and 50 with anthrax. But because about 90 percent of such agents would be destroyed on impact, he explained, "their effect would have been limited to contaminating a relatively small area of ground surrounding the point of impact and exposing nearby individuals."

What matters most is not how much ricin, botulism or anthrax Iraq may have, but how and where it could deliver such agents. A recent study by Britain's International Institute for Strategic Studies noted that "the magnitude of Iraq's biological weapons threat depends on its delivery capability, which appears limited... Assuming Iraq has retained a small force of 650 kilometer range al-Hussein missiles (the study guesses Iraq has a dozen), it could deliver BW warheads to cities in Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran." In that case, "casualties in an unprotected area could run in the hundreds or even thousands." A risk of "hundreds" is serious, but very far from Mr. Wolfowitz's claim of "hundreds of millions."

The same British study concluded that Iraq's "chemical weapons arsenal is better known and less threatening... Its ability to disseminate effectively [chemical] agent with missile warhead is extremely limited and unlikely to cause large casualties... Air force capabilities are very weak."

Mr. Wolfowitz's acknowledged sources consisted of hearsay evidence from Iraq defectors and old reports from U.N. inspectors. An October 2002 CIA report on Iraq's weapons likewise relied almost exclusively on past discoveries by U.N. inspectors. That CIA report is full of references to what "most analysts believe" and the words "suggests" and "probably" -- which suggests they probably believe much and know little. In any event, it is hypocritical to rely on past discoveries of U.N. inspectors as evidence for waging war while simultaneously claiming inspectors cannot possibly discover anything.

Tiresome gripes about how impossible it is to find anything in a large country -- even huge missiles -- are also inconsistent with satellite photos that the CIA reports showing supposedly suspicious factories (a castor oil plant might make poisonous ricin or brake fluid; a chlorine plant might make deadly gas or ordinary bleach). Since the location of these factories is known, why not simply insist they be inspected?

The administration may have painted itself into a tight corner. Defense officials moved thousands of U.S. troops into the Middle East because they imagined such a "credible threat" would persuade Saddam to help inspectors find illicit weapons or go into exile. Unfortunately, those ambitious objectives failed to allow for a graceful U.S. exit. The sheer presence of so many idle troops circling Iraq is what now makes it so difficult for the White House to be patient about inspections, or to decide against invasion. There may be plausible (though secretive) reasons to go to war, but saving face is not one of them.

Ever since September 11, I have had an uneasy suspicion that excessive fascination with biological warfare was largely to blame for the failure of national security analysts to anticipate the risk of airplanes being used as weapons, even though we had ample experience with kamikaze aircraft in World War II.

Terrorists in the United States and Japan have tried using anthrax, botulism and nerve gas, yet the total number of fatalities from such "mass destruction" remains below two dozen. Deaths due to terrorist bombs, bullets and jet fuel, by contrast, are obviously much larger. Yet most of the millions the government doles out in research grants to security analysts has been devoted to hypothetical scenarios involving exotic germs and chemicals.

Administration officials may not need a "smoking gun," but they do need credible evidence that Iraq's actual weapons pose a clear danger to the United States, not just a possible threat to Iran or Israel. Invading Iraq would not remove the need for such proof -- it would, in fact, make finding the assumed "weapons of mass destruction" even more essential.

U.S. leadership would be permanently discredited if U.S. occupation forces ended up discovering few if any weapons that are nearly as dangerous as administration officials have claimed. We have to uncover the assumed Iraq weapons before or after a war, and before would be better.

The administration does not need support from Germany and France to go to war with Iraq, but it does need support from the American people. A sizable majority of patriotic Americans is asking for less rhetoric and more proof. It is not an unreasonable demand.

This article was published in the Washington Times, Feb. 2, 2003.

All Rights Reserved © 2003 Cato Institute

Commentary:
This article is dated Feb 9, 2003, months before the war started. The evidence Bush was using was a sham, and the media helped him get away with it. The media has become as corrupt as the current regime. The Washington Post even went so far as to attack Al Gore for being wrong about WMD, when we all know Bush is the one who lied about WMD. In their small world, lies are truth and truth is a lie. When editorial writers are as uninformed as the Post writers they're no longer fit to do their jobs. We must expect opinion writers to have informed opinions, the days of making things up MUST come to an end. The Post and almost every other newspaper in the country simply believed the party line unquestionably. History will be their judge. In the mean time cancel subscription to any magazine or newspaper that lied to you about WMD in Iraq. Known liars are not a good source for news.


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The Great WMD Hunt--The Media's role
Fair.org
By Seth Ackerman
July/August 2003

By the time the war against Iraq began, much of the media had been conditioned to believe, almost as an article of faith, that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was bulging with chemical and biological weapons, despite years of United Nations inspections. Reporters dispensed with the formality of applying modifiers like "alleged" or "suspected" to Iraq's supposed unconventional weapon stocks. Instead, they asked "what precise threat Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction pose to America" (NBC Nightly News, 1/27/03). They wrote matter-of-factly of Washington's plans for a confrontation "over Iraq's banned weapons programs" (Washington Post, 1/27/03). And they referred to debates over whether Saddam Hussein was "making a good-faith effort to disarm Iraq's weapons of mass destruction" (Time, 2/3/03).

All of this came despite repeated reminders from the chief U.N. weapons inspector that it was his job to determine if Iraq was hiding weapons, and that it should not simply be assumed that Iraq was doing so.

So with much of southern Iraq in the hands of coalition forces by the weekend after the opening of hostilities, reporters naturally started asking where the weapons were: "Bush administration officials were peppered yesterday with questions about why allied forces in Iraq have not found any of the chemical or biological weapons that were President Bush's central justification for forcibly disarming Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government," the Washington Post reported (3/23/03).

Miraculously, the answer seemed to come that Sunday night (3/23/03), when military officials told the media of a "chemical facility" found in the southern town of Najaf. "Bob, as you know, there's a lot of talk right now about a chemical cache that has been found at a chemical facility," MSNBC anchor Forrest Sawyer told White House correspondent Bob Kur. "I underscore, we do not know what the chemicals are, but it sure has gotten spread around fast."

It sure had. Over on Fox News Channel (3/23/03), the headline banners were already rolling: "HUGE CHEMICAL WEAPONS FACTORY FOUND IN SO IRAQ.... REPORTS: 30 IRAQIS SURRENDER AT CHEM WEAPONS PLANT.... COAL TROOPS HOLDING IRAQI IN CHARGE OF CHEM WEAPONS." The Jerusalem Post, whose embedded reporter helped break the story along with a Fox correspondent, announced in a front-page headline (3/24/03), "U.S. Troops Capture First Chemical Plant."

The next day (10/24/03), a Fox correspondent in Qatar quietly issued an update to the

story: The "chemical weapons facility discovered by coalition forces did not appear to be an active chemical weapons facility." Further testing was required. In fact, U.S. officials had admitted that morning that the site contained no chemicals at all and had been abandoned long ago (Dow Jones wire, 3/24/03).

"First solid confirmed existence"

So went the weapons hunt. On numerous occasions, the discovery of a stash of illegal Iraqi arms was loudly announced--often accompanied by an orgy of triumphalist off-the-cuff punditry--only to be deflated inconspicuously, and in a lower tone of voice, until the next false alarm was sounded. In one episode, embedded NPR reporter John Burnett (4/7/03) recounted the big news he'd learned from a "top military official": "the first solid confirmed existence of chemical weapons by the Iraqi army." According to Burnett, an army unit near Baghdad had discovered "20 BM-21 medium-range rockets with warheads containing sarin nerve gas and mustard gas."

When NPR Morning Edition anchor Susan Stamberg asked Burnett, "So this is really a major discovery, isn't it?" he assented: "If it turns out to be true, the commander told us this morning this would be a smoking gun. This would vindicate the administration's claims that the Iraqis had chemicals all along." Of course, it turned out not to be true. A Pentagon official, Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, told reporters the next day (4/8/03) that he had "seen nothing in official reports that would corroborate that."

On April 26, ABC World News Tonight blared an "exclusive" report: "U.S. troops discover chemical agents, missiles and what could be a mobile laboratory in Iraq." Correspondent David Wright explained that the Army soldiers had found "14 55-gallon drums, at least a dozen missiles and 150 gas masks" testing positive for chemical weapons, including a nerve agent and a blistering agent. He added that an Army lieutenant "says the tests have an accuracy of 98 percent."

Perhaps somewhat self-consciously, ABC followed Wright's report with a short segment about previous weapons claims that turned out to be false alarms. But the network continued to pump the story the next day, with anchor Carole Simpson introducing it as the lead segment on World News Sunday (4/27/03): "For the second day in a row, some of the preliminary tests have come back positive for chemical agents."

But when the U.S. Mobile Exploration Team (MET Bravo) arrived on the scene to conduct its own tests, it "tentatively concluded that there are no chemical weapons at a site where American troops said they had found chemical agents and mobile labs," the New York Times reported the next day (4/28/03). A member of the team told the Times simply: "The earlier reports were wrong."

True believers

Some of the more gung-ho media weren't discouraged at all by the constant false alarms. According to Rush Limbaugh's website (4/7/03), "We're discovering WMDs all over Iraq.... You know it killed NPR to report that the 101st Airborne found a stockpile of up to 20 rockets tipped with sarin and mustard gas.... Our troops have found dozens of barrels of chemicals in an agricultural facility 30 miles northwest of Baghdad."

"The discovery of these weapons of mass destruction doesn't surprise me," Limbaugh explained on his radio show (4/7/03). "The only part of it that surprises me is that we discovered them in Iraq." If U.S. forces were to look in Syria, he proposed, they would probably find an additional "huge cache" of smuggled weaponry.

On April 11, a Fox News report, still posted to the network's website as late as July,

announced: "Weapons-Grade Plutonium Possibly Found at Iraqi Nuke Complex." Sourced to an embedded reporter from the right-wing Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the story was soon debunked by U.S. officials (AP, 4/15/03).

Fox didn't mention that the "massive" underground facility "discovered" beneath a military compound had actually been subject to continuous on-site U.N. monitoring for years. Instead, the network featured a soundbite from "former Iraqi scientist" George Gazi, who declared: "I think this demonstrates the failure of the U.N. weapons inspections and demonstrates that our guys are going to find the weapons of mass destruction."

But by the beginning of May, the administration gave up the ghost--apparently deciding that the day-by-day coverage of the weapons search, a slow drip of constant negative findings, was eroding the credibility of their prewar claims. In a series of interviews and off-the-record conversations, officials tried to talk down expectations, letting it be known that they now predicted no weapons would be found at all: An anonymous leak from a "senior Bush administration official" yielded a front-page article in the Financial Times (5/2/03): "The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he would be 'amazed if we found weapons-grade plutonium or uranium' and it was unlikely large volumes of biological or chemical material would be discovered." Condoleezza Rice speculated that Iraq's weapons programs might only exist "in bits and pieces" (Sydney Morning Herald, 5/1/03).

So how had the media come to be so convinced of the weapons' existence? And could they have seen past the White House spin had they chosen to?

"Parroting the so-called experts"

In part, journalists absorbed their aura of certainty from a battery of "independent" weapons experts who repeated the mantra of Iraq concealment over and over. Journalists used these experts as outside sources who could independently evaluate the administration's claims. Yet often these "experts" were simply repeating what they heard from U.S. officials, forming an endless loop of self-reinforcing scare mongering.

Take the ubiquitous David Albright, a former U.N. inspector in Iraq. Over the years, Albright had been cited in hundreds of news articles and made scores of television appearances as an authority on Iraqi weapons. A sample prewar quote from Albright (CNN, 10/5/02): "In terms of the chemical and biological weapons, Iraq has those now. How many, how could they deliver them? I mean, these are the big questions."

But when the postwar weapons hunt started turning up empty, Albright made a rather candid admission (L.A. Times, 4/20/03): "If there are no weapons of mass destruction, I'll be mad as hell. I certainly accepted the administration claims on chemical and biological weapons. I figured they were telling the truth. If there is no [unconventional weapons program], I will feel taken, because they asserted these things with such assurance." (Recently, Albright has become a prominent critic of the government's handling of prewar intelligence on Iraq.)

A similar case was Kenneth Pollack, the influential and heavily cited war advocate at the Brookings Institution. Before the war, Pollack had absolutely no doubt Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons. "Does he have the ability to attack us here in the United States?" Oprah Winfrey asked him on her talkshow (10/9/02). "He certainly does," Pollack explained. "He has biological and chemical agents that he could employ, but he'd have to use terrorist means to do so, which he's done in the past.... Right now, his capabilities to do so are fairly limited. The problem is that we know that he is building new capabilities as fast as he can."

As Pollack is a former CIA analyst who specialized in Persian Gulf military issues, many reporters no doubt took these as first-hand assessments. Yet in a post-war interview, when asked to defend his claims about Iraq's arsenal, Pollack demurred (NPR Weekend All Things Considered, 5/24/03): "That was the consensus of opinion among the intelligence community. It was hearing things like that that brought me to the conclusion that, you know, 'Boy, if this is the case, we've got to do something about this guy.' That was not me making that claim; that was me parroting the claims of so-called experts."

Some "experts" had a political axe to grind. Charles Duelfer, another former inspector, had been a State Department functionary for years before joining the UNSCOM inspection team. At the U.N. Security Council, critics of U.S. policy viewed him with suspicion as a Trojan horse. Once his U.N. tour of duty was over, he became a "resident scholar" at the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, appearing on TV news shows as an impartial authority. He answered technical questions on subjects like liquid bulk anthrax and aerial satellite photos, offering his considered judgment that Iraq unquestionably was hiding a huge arsenal.

But off-camera, Duelfer admitted he was a committed proponent of regime change whether Saddam was harboring illegal weapons or not (Endgame, Scott Ritter): "I think it would be a mistake to focus on the issue of weapons of mass destruction. To do so ignores the larger issue of whether or not we want this dictator to have control over a nation capable of producing 6 billion barrels of oil per day.... If you focus on the weapons issue, the first thing you know, Iraq will be given a clean bill of health."

"Inactionable intelligence"

The U.S. and British governments were proactive in managing the media on the weapons issue. Beginning in the fall of 1997, the British intelligence agency MI6 ran a disinformation campaign to promote the idea that Iraq was still hiding banned arms, according to sources cited by Seymour Hersh (New Yorker, 3/31/03). MI6 secretly arranged for an unidentified UNSCOM official sympathetic to Anglo-American policy to funnel false or unverifiable information--so-called "inactionable intelligence"--to the spy agency, which then planted the stories in newspapers in Britain and abroad.

"It was intelligence that was crap, and that we couldn't move on, but the Brits wanted to plant stories," a former U.S. intelligence official told Hersh. An unnamed former Clinton administration official said the U.S. approved the operation: "I knew that was going on," he told Hersh. "We were getting ready for action in Iraq, and we wanted the Brits to prepare."

Within the press, perhaps the most energetic disseminator of "inactionable intelligence" on Iraq's putative weapons has been the New York Times' Judith Miller. A veteran of the Iraqi WMD beat, Miller has accumulated a bulging clippings file over the years full of splashy, yet often maddeningly unverifiable, exposés alleging various Iraqi arms shenanigans: "Secret Arsenal: The Hunt for Germs of War" (2/26/98); "Defector Describes Iraq's Atom Bomb Push" (8/15/98); "Iraqi Tells of Renovations at Sites For Chemical and Nuclear Arms" (12/20/01); "Defectors Bolster U.S. Case Against Iraq, Officials Say" (1/24/03).

In May, an internal Times email written by Miller found its way to the Washington Post's media columnist (5/26/03). In the message, Miller casually revealed her source for many of these stories: Ahmed Chalabi, the former Iraqi exile leader (and convicted embezzler) who for over a decade had been lobbying Washington to support the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime: "I've been covering Chalabi for about 10 years," Miller wrote. "He has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper." Chalabi, with his network of defectors and exiles, is known in Washington foreign-policy circles as a primary source for many of the weapons allegations that career CIA analysts greeted with skepticism, but that Pentagon hawks promoted eagerly (UPI, 3/12/03).

Miller's most noted contribution to the postwar media weapons hunt was a widely criticized article (4/21/03) about an Iraqi scientist in U.S. custody who led soldiers to a batch of buried chemicals that he claimed had been part of an illegal weapons program. (He also testified that materials had been smuggled into Syria and that the Iraqi government was liaising with Al Qaeda.) Despite having been written under a bizarre set of military-imposed ground rules--barring Miller from talking to the scientist, visiting his home or naming the chemicals in question, and establishing a three-day embargo on the article's publication--the Times chose to run the piece on the paper's front page.

"While this reporter could not interview the scientist," Miller reported, "she was permitted to see him from a distance." She confirmed that he was "clad in nondescript clothes and a baseball cap" as he "pointed to several spots in the sand where he said chemical precursors and other weapons material were buried." The story quickly fizzled out as senior Pentagon officials told reporters they were "highly skeptical" of the scientist's claims about Al Qaeda (AP, 4/22/03) and analysts pointed out that most chemical weapons precursors also have widespread civilian uses. In subsequent weeks, the administration has let the matter drop, and never made public the types of chemicals that had been found.

A question of accounting

In short, the longstanding "consensus" in official circles that Iraq must have been harboring illegal arms has always had somewhat murky origins. Behind the thundering allegations issued at heavily publicized official press conferences, a careful observer might have noticed quiet signs of dissent: the "senior intelligence analyst" who anonymously told the Washington Post four days before the war started (3/16/03) that one reason U.N. inspectors didn't find any weapons stockpiles "is because there may not be much of a stockpile." Or Rolf Ekeus, the former head of UNSCOM, who told a Harvard gathering three years ago (AP, 8/16/00) that "we felt that in all areas we have eliminated Iraq's [WMD] capabilities fundamentally." Or, for that matter, UNSCOM alum Scott Ritter, whose publicly aired doubts about the alleged weapons led a raft of scornful newspaper profiles to scoff that he must be some kind of crank (New York Times Magazine, 11/24/02; Washington Post, 10/21/02).

Ultimately, the claims and counterclaims about Iraq's weapons boiled down to a question of accounting. In the early 1990s, Iraq had handed over thousands of tons of chemical weapons to the U.N. inspectors for disposal. But it hid the existence of other pre-Gulf War weapons programs, such as VX and anthrax, and the inspectors only learned the full details of these programs after the 1995 defection of Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel, Iraq's weapons chief. By 1996, the U.N. teams had destroyed Iraq's last remaining dual-use production equipment and facilities, rendering the regime incapable of making new weapons. All that was left unaccounted for were old quantities of biological and chemical arms that Iraq produced in the late 1980's but could not prove it had eliminated.

The regime claimed these materials had been hurriedly destroyed in secret in the summer of 1991 as part of an ultimately failed effort to conceal how far their weapons programs had gotten. Using forensic techniques, the inspectors confirmed that Iraq indeed "undertook extensive, unilateral and secret destruction of large quantities of proscribed weapons" (UNSCOM report, 1/29/99), but they were never able to measure exactly how much had been destroyed--leaving open the possibility that some remained hidden. This was the famous "26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulin, one-and-a-half tons of nerve agent VX, [and] 6,500 aerial chemical bombs" that administration officials spent the prewar period crowing about (Ari Fleischer press conference, 3/3/03).

With remarkable unanimity, former Iraqi scientists interviewed since the war about the status of the weapons programs--including VX specialist Emad Ani, presidential science advisor Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi, nuclear scientist Jafar Jafar and chief U.N. liaison Brigadier-Gen. Ala Saeed--have all maintained that the regime did, in fact, destroy these stockpiles in the early 1990s, as it claimed. "According to a U.S. intelligence official, the top scientists are all 'sticking to the party line, that Saddam destroyed all his WMD long ago,'" the Los Angeles Times reported (4/27/03).

But journalists looking for clues should not have had to wait for the end of the war to find evidence of this. "In my view, there are no large quantities of weapons," former UNSCOM chief Rolf Ekeus told Arms Control Today in March 2000. "I don't think that Iraq is especially eager in the biological and chemical area to produce such weapons for storage. Iraq views those weapons as tactical assets instead of strategic assets, which would require long-term storage of those elements, which is difficult. Rather, Iraq has been aiming to keep the capability to start up production immediately should it need to."

Given that no serious evidence of ongoing Iraqi production capability ever turned up--especially after inspectors returned last year and were given unfettered, no-notice access to suspected sites--there were few grounds for assuming that Iraqi retained a significant WMD capability.

Another clue reporters missed: Weeks before the war began, the transcript of Hussein Kamel's 1995 private briefing to U.N. inspectors was leaked and posted to the Internet (Newsweek, 3/3/03). The interview revealed a crucial fact that the Clinton and Bush administrations, which both promoted the defector's story as evidence of an ongoing Iraqi WMD threat, had long neglected to mention: Kamel told the inspectors that all the weapons had been destroyed. Coming from the head of Iraq's secret weapons industries, a source the Pentagon, CIA and U.N. had all praised for his intelligence value, the revelation should have been front-page news. Instead, it was barely covered (Extra!, 5-6/03).

Centerpiece or hot air?

Having suffered a series of public humiliations from the conspicuous absence of unconventional weapons, the administration made it known that it was pinning its hopes on two trailers found in northern Iraq, which they termed mobile biological weapons labs. On May 12, NBC News correspondent Jim Avila, reporting from Baghdad, declared that the labs "may be the most significant WMD findings of the war." Joining him was hawkish former U.N. nuclear inspector David Kay (now an "NBC News analyst"), who was flown to Iraq to perform an impromptu inspection for the cameras. Armed with a pointer, he rattled off the trailer 's parts: "This is a compressor. You want to keep the fermentation process under pressure so it goes faster. This vessel is the fermenter...." In his report, Avila didn't explain how and why Kay and the NBC crew obtained access to the trailers while the legally mandated U.N. inspection team, UNMOVIC, had been barred from looking at them.

The trailers quickly became the "centerpiece" (New York Times, 5/21/03) of the administration's argument that Iraq was indeed hiding a biowarfare program, and Bush himself used them to proclaim (5/31/03) that "for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them." No actual biological agents were found on the trucks, though; nor were any ingredients for biological weapons. In fact, no direct evidence linked the trailers to biological production at all.

U.S. officials said the trailers' equipment was capable of making such agents. Even then, the unconcentrated slurry that resulted could not have been put into a weapon: "Other units that we have not yet found would be needed to prepare and sterilize the media and to concentrate and possibly dry the agent, before the agent is ready for introduction into a delivery system," the CIA's report admitted (5/28/03).

Iraqi scientists who worked at the institute where one of the trailers was found offered a different explanation: They told interrogators that the labs were used to produce hydrogen for military weather balloons. "Even while conceding that the equipment could, in fact, have been used occasionally to make hydrogen" (New York Times, 5/21/03), the CIA report dismissed that explanation, reasoning that such a production technique "would be inefficient." (Yet the weapon-making technique imputed to the trailers was also "inefficient," an intelligence official admitted--New York Times, 5/29/03.) In fact, a technical analysis alone, they said, "would not lead you intuitively and logically to biological warfare" (New York Times, 5/29/03).

On the other hand, the trailer's equipment "appeared to contain traces of aluminum, a metal that can be used to create hydrogen." Yet that was discounted by U.S. officials, who said the aluminum "might have been planted by Iraqis to create the illusion that the units had made gas for weather balloons" (New York Times, 5/21/03).

A few weeks later, a front-page New York Times article by Judith Miller and William Broad (6/7/03) quoted senior intelligence analysts who doubted the trailers were used for biological weapons. "I have no great confidence that it's a fermenter," one WMD specialist said of a key piece of equipment on the trailer. (In his TV performance on NBC, David Kay had evinced total confidence that it was.) The CIA report, he said, "was a rushed job and looks political."

Analysts noted that the trailers "lacked gear for steam sterilization, normally a prerequisite for any kind of biological production." "That's a huge minus," said a U.S. government biological expert who had been quoted in an earlier Judith Miller article endorsing the administration's theory. "I don't see how you can clean those tanks chemically." A senior administration official was quoted admitting that "some analysts give the hydrogen claim more credence."

It's worth noting that in the 1980s, the British defense contractor Marconi received a government-backed loan to sell the Iraqi army an Artillery Meteorological System, an artillery radar system that uses weather balloons to track wind patterns (London Guardian, 2/28/03).

Commentary:
If you read or listen to any of the sources listed in this article, you must now decide if you can ever trust them again. Are they telling you the truth or pushing the party line? Like a lot of Americans I'm appalled that the US media has become so utterly worthless. Now months after the war very brief stories come out about how wrong the media and the government were. Not since McCarthyism has the media played a dominant role in a political scandal as they have in Bush's WMD and rush to war. If the media had integrity, they'd fire a good chunk of their staff, apologize to their readers and listeners and put in place new rules to stop wholesale lying in the future. So far I haven't seen one media outlet make the necessary changes.


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US tried to plant WMDs, failed: whistleblower
The Daily Times (Pakistan)

According to a stunning report posted by a retired Navy Lt Commander and 28-year veteran of the Defense Department (DoD), the Bush administration's assurance about finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was based on a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plan to "plant' WMDs inside the country. Nelda Rogers, the Pentagon whistleblower, claims the plan failed when the secret mission was mistakenly taken out by "friendly fire', the Environmentalists Against War report.

Nelda Rogers is a 28-year veteran debriefer for the DoD. She has become so concerned for her safety that she decided to tell the story about this latest CIA-military fiasco in Iraq. According to Al Martin Raw.com, "Ms Rogers is number two in the chain of command within this DoD special intelligence office. This is a ten-person debriefing unit within the central debriefing office for the Department of Defense.'

The information that is being leaked out is information "obtained while she was in Germany heading up the debriefing of returning service personnel, involved in intelligence work in Iraq for the DoD and/or the CIA. "According to Ms Rogers, there was a covert military operation that took place both preceding and during the hostilities in Iraq,' reports Al Martin Raw.com, an online subscriber-based news/analysis service which provides "Political, Economic and Financial Intelligence'.

Al Martin is a retired Lt Commander (US Navy), the author of a memoir called "The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran-Contra Insider,' and is considered one of America's foremost experts on corporate and government fraud. Ms Rogers reports that this particular covert operation team was manned by former military personnel and "the unit was paid through the Department of Agriculture in order to hide it, which is also very commonplace'.

According to Al Martin Raw.com, "the Agriculture Department has often been used as a paymaster on behalf of the CIA, DIA, NSA and others'. According to the Al Martin Raw.com story, another aspect of Ms Rogers' report concerns a covert operation which was to locate the assets of Saddam Hussein and his family, including cash, gold bullion, jewelry and assorted valuable antiquities. The problem became evident when "the operation in Iraq involved 100 people, all of whom apparently are now dead, having succumbed to so-called ‘friendly fire'. The scope of this operation included the penetration of the Central Bank of Iraq, other large commercial banks in Baghdad, the Iraqi National Museum and certain presidential palaces where monies and bullion were secreted.'

"They identified about $2 billion in cash, another $150 million in Euros, in physical banknotes, and about another $100 million in sundry foreign currencies ranging from Yen to British Pounds,' reports Al Martin.

"These people died, mostly in the same place in Baghdad, supposedly from a stray cruise missile or a combination of missiles and bombs that went astray,' Martin continues. "There were supposedly 76 who died there and the other 24 died through a variety of ‘friendly fire', ‘mistaken identity' and some of them—their whereabouts are simply unknown.' Ms Rogers' story sounds like an updated 21st-century version of Treasure Island meets Ali Baba and the Bush Cabal Thieves, writes Martin.

"This was a contingent of CIA/ DoD operatives, but it was really the CIA that bungled it,' Ms Rogers said. "They were relying on the CIA's ability to organise an effort to seize these assets and to be able to extract these assets because the CIA claimed it had resources on the ground within the Iraqi army and the Iraqi government who had been paid. That turned out to be completely bogus. As usual.'

"CIA people were supposed to be handling it,' Martin continues. "They had a special ‘black' aircraft to fly it out. But none of that happened because the regular US Army showed up, stumbled onto it and everyone involved had to scramble. These new Iraqi "asset seizures' go directly to the New US Ruling Junta. The US Viceroy in Iraq Paul Bremer is reportedly drinking Saddam's $2000 a bottle Napoleon-era brandy, smoking his expensive Davidoff cigars and he has even furnished his office with Saddam's Napoleon-era furniture.

Daily Times - All Rights Reserved

Commentary:
I don't believe everything I read, but it seems reasonably obvious by now that if WMD show up in Iraq there's a 100% chance the US will have planted them. The reader can do more research on the US planting WMD in Iraq.

It's worth nothing that the media reports deaths in Iraq from hostile fire on a regular basis and only seldom reports US casualties. In other words, friendly fire deaths were reported during the war but aren't reported during the occupation.

The number of deaths since the end of conflict is about 132 as of this writing, but the media reports the numbers as being around 61 (from hostile fire). Since the media and the military are inconsistent in the numbers they report, we should keep our eyes open for why they're inconsistent.


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Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence
By Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, August 10, 2003; Page A01 >

His name was Joe, from the U.S. government. He carried 40 classified slides and a message from the Bush administration.

An engineer-turned-CIA analyst, Joe had helped build the U.S. government case that Iraq posed a nuclear threat. He landed in Vienna on Jan. 22 and drove to the U.S. diplomatic mission downtown. In a conference room 32 floors above the Danube River, he told United Nations nuclear inspectors they were making a serious mistake.

At issue was Iraq's efforts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes. The U.S. government said those tubes were for centrifuges to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb. But the IAEA, the world's nuclear watchdog, had uncovered strong evidence that Iraq was using them for conventional rockets.

Joe described the rocket story as a transparent Iraqi lie. According to people familiar with his presentation, which circulated before and afterward among government and outside specialists, Joe said the specialized aluminum in the tubes was "overspecified," "inappropriate" and "excessively strong." No one, he told the inspectors, would waste the costly alloy on a rocket.

In fact, there was just such a rocket. According to knowledgeable U.S. and overseas sources, experts from U.S. national laboratories reported in December to the Energy Department and U.S. intelligence analysts that Iraq was manufacturing copies of the Italian-made Medusa 81. Not only the Medusa's alloy, but also its dimensions, to the fraction of a millimeter, matched the disputed aluminum tubes.

A CIA spokesman asked that Joe's last name be withheld for his safety, and said he would not be made available for an interview. The spokesman said the tubes in question "are not the same as the Medusa 81" but would not identify what distinguishes them. In an interview, CIA Director George J. Tenet said several different U.S. intelligence agencies believed the tubes could be used to build gas centrifuges for a uranium enrichment program.

The Vienna briefing was one among many private and public forums in which the Bush administration portrayed a menacing Iraqi nuclear threat, even as important features of its evidence were being undermined. There were other White House assertions about forbidden weapons programs, including biological and chemical arms, for which there was consensus among analysts. But the danger of a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein, more potent as an argument for war, began with weaker evidence and grew weaker still in the three months before war.

This article is based on interviews with analysts and policymakers inside and outside the U.S. government, and access to internal documents and technical evidence not previously made public.

The new information indicates a pattern in which President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their subordinates -- in public and behind the scenes -- made allegations depicting Iraq's nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support. On occasion administration advocates withheld evidence that did not conform to their views. The White House seldom corrected misstatements or acknowledged loss of confidence in information upon which it had previously relied:

Bush and others often alleged that President Hussein held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, but did not disclose that the known work of the scientists was largely benign. Iraq's three top gas centrifuge experts, for example, ran a copper factory, an operation to extract graphite from oil and a mechanical engineering design center at Rashidiya.

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of October 2002 cited new construction at facilities once associated with Iraq's nuclear program, but analysts had no reliable information at the time about what was happening under the roofs. By February, a month before the war, U.S. government specialists on the ground in Iraq had seen for themselves that there were no forbidden activities at the sites.

Gas centrifuge experts consulted by the U.S. government said repeatedly for more than a year that the aluminum tubes were not suitable or intended for uranium enrichment. By December 2002, the experts said new evidence had further undermined the government's assertion. The Bush administration portrayed the scientists as a minority and emphasized that the experts did not describe the centrifuge theory as impossible.

In the weeks and months following Joe's Vienna briefing, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and others continued to describe the use of such tubes for rockets as an implausible hypothesis, even after U.S. analysts collected and photographed in Iraq a virtually identical tube marked with the logo of the Medusa's Italian manufacturer and the words, in English, "81mm rocket."

The escalation of nuclear rhetoric a year ago, including the introduction of the term "mushroom cloud" into the debate, coincided with the formation of a White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, a task force assigned to "educate the public" about the threat from Hussein, as a participant put it.

Two senior policymakers, who supported the war, said in unauthorized interviews that the administration greatly overstated Iraq's near-term nuclear potential.

"I never cared about the 'imminent threat,' " said one of the policymakers, with directly relevant responsibilities. "The threat was there in [Hussein's] presence in office. To me, just knowing what it takes to have a nuclear weapons program, he needed a lot of equipment. You can stare at the yellowcake [uranium ore] all you want. You need to convert it to gas and enrich it. That does not constitute an imminent threat, and the people who were saying that, I think, did not fully appreciate the difficulties and effort involved in producing the nuclear material and the physics package."

No White House, Pentagon or State Department policymaker agreed to speak on the record for this report about the administration's nuclear case. Answering questions Thursday before the National Association of Black Journalists, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said she is "certain to this day that this regime was a threat, that it was pursuing a nuclear weapon, that it had biological and chemical weapons, that it had used them." White House officials referred all questions of detail to Tenet.

In an interview and a four-page written statement, Tenet defended the NIE prepared under his supervision in October. In that estimate, U.S. intelligence analysts judged that Hussein was intent on acquiring a nuclear weapon and was trying to rebuild the capability to make one.

"We stand behind the judgments of the NIE" based on the evidence available at the time, Tenet said, and "the soundness and integrity of our process." The estimate was "the product of years of reporting and intelligence collection, analyzed by numerous experts in several different agencies."

Tenet said the time to "decide who was right and who was wrong" about prewar intelligence will not come until the Iraqi Survey Group, the CIA-directed, U.S. military postwar study in Iraq of Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs is completed. The Bush administration has said this will require months or years.

Facts and Doubts

The possibility of a nuclear-armed Iraq loomed large in the Bush administration's efforts to convince the American public of the need for a preemptive strike. Beginning last August, Cheney portrayed Hussein's nuclear ambitions as a "mortal threat" to the United States. In the fall and winter, Rice, then Bush, marshaled the dreaded image of a "mushroom cloud."

By many accounts, including those of career officials who did not support the war, there were good reasons for concern that the Iraqi president might revive a program to enrich uranium to weapons grade and fabricate a working bomb. He had a well-demonstrated aspiration for nuclear weapons, a proficient scientific and engineering cadre, a history of covert development and a domestic supply of unrefined uranium ore. Iraq was generally believed to have kept the technical documentation for two advanced German centrifuge designs and the assembly diagrams for at least one type of "implosion device," which detonates a nuclear core.

What Hussein did not have was the principal requirement for a nuclear weapon, a sufficient quantity of highly enriched uranium or plutonium. And the U.S. government, authoritative intelligence officials said, had only circumstantial evidence that Iraq was trying to obtain those materials.

But the Bush administration had reasons to imagine the worst. The CIA had faced searing criticism for its failures to foresee India's resumption of nuclear testing in 1998 and to "connect the dots" pointing to al Qaeda's attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Cheney, the administration's most influential advocate of a worst-case analysis, had been powerfully influenced by his experience as defense secretary just after the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

Former National Security Council official Richard A. Clarke recalled how information from freshly seized Iraqi documents disclosed the existence of a "crash program" to build a bomb in 1991. The CIA had known nothing of it.

"I can understand why that was a seminal experience for Cheney," Clarke said. "And when the CIA says [in 2002], 'We don't have any evidence,' his reaction is . . . 'We didn't have any evidence in 1991, either. Why should I believe you now?' "

Some strategists, in and out of government, argued that the uncertainty itself -- in the face of circumstantial evidence -- was sufficient to justify "regime change." But that was not what the Bush administration usually said to the American people.

To gird a nation for the extraordinary step of preemptive war -- and to obtain the minimum necessary support from allies, Congress and the U.N. Security Council -- the administration described a growing, even imminent, nuclear threat from Iraq.

'Nuclear Blackmail'

The unveiling of that message began a year ago this week.

Cheney raised the alarm about Iraq's nuclear menace three times in August. He was far ahead of the president's public line. Only Bush and Cheney know, one senior policy official said, "whether Cheney was trying to push the president or they had decided to play good cop, bad cop."

On Aug. 7, Cheney volunteered in a question-and-answer session at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, speaking of Hussein, that "left to his own devices, it's the judgment of many of us that in the not-too-distant future, he will acquire nuclear weapons." On Aug. 26, he described Hussein as a "sworn enemy of our country" who constituted a "mortal threat" to the United States. He foresaw a time in which Hussein could "subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail."

"We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons," he said. "Among other sources, we've gotten this from firsthand testimony from defectors, including Saddam's own son-in-law."

That was a reference to Hussein Kamel, who had managed Iraq's special weapons programs before defecting in 1995 to Jordan. But Saddam Hussein lured Kamel back to Iraq, and he was killed in February 1996, so Kamel could not have sourced what U.S. officials "now know."

And Kamel's testimony, after defecting, was the reverse of Cheney's description. In one of many debriefings by U.S., Jordanian and U.N. officials, Kamel said on Aug. 22, 1995, that Iraq's uranium enrichment programs had not resumed after halting at the start of the Gulf War in 1991. According to notes typed for the record by U.N. arms inspector Nikita Smidovich, Kamel acknowledged efforts to design three different warheads, "but not now, before the Gulf War."

'Educating the Public'

Systematic coordination began in August, when Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. formed the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, to set strategy for each stage of the confrontation with Baghdad. A senior official who participated in its work called it "an internal working group, like many formed for priority issues, to make sure each part of the White House was fulfilling its responsibilities."

In an interview with the New York Times published Sept. 6, Card did not mention the WHIG but hinted at its mission. "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August," he said.

The group met weekly in the Situation Room. Among the regular participants were Karl Rove, the president's senior political adviser; communications strategists Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin and James R. Wilkinson; legislative liaison Nicholas E. Calio; and policy advisers led by Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, along with I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff.

The first days of September would bring some of the most important decisions of the prewar period: what to demand of the United Nations in the president's Sept. 12 address to the General Assembly, when to take the issue to Congress, and how to frame the conflict with Iraq in the midterm election campaign that began in earnest after Labor Day.

A "strategic communications" task force under the WHIG began to plan speeches and white papers. There were many themes in the coming weeks, but Iraq's nuclear menace was among the most prominent.

'A Mushroom Cloud'

The day after publication of Card's marketing remark, Bush and nearly all his top advisers began to talk about the dangers of an Iraqi nuclear bomb.

Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair conferred at Camp David that Saturday, Sept. 7, and they each described alarming new evidence. Blair said proof that the threat is real came in "the report from the International Atomic Energy Agency this morning, showing what has been going on at the former nuclear weapon sites." Bush said "a report came out of the . . . IAEA, that they [Iraqis] were six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need."

There was no new IAEA report. Blair appeared to be referring to news reports describing curiosity at the nuclear agency about repairs at sites of Iraq's former nuclear program. Bush cast as present evidence the contents of a report from 1996, updated in 1998 and 1999. In those accounts, the IAEA described the history of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program that arms inspectors had systematically destroyed.

A White House spokesman later acknowledged that Bush "was imprecise" on his source but stood by the crux of his charge. The spokesman said U.S. intelligence, not the IAEA, had given Bush his information.

That, too, was garbled at best. U.S. intelligence reports had only one scenario for an Iraqi bomb in six months to a year, premised on Iraq's immediate acquisition of enough plutonium or enriched uranium from a foreign source.

"That is just about the same thing as saying that if Iraq gets a bomb, it will have a bomb," said a U.S. intelligence analyst who covers the subject. "We had no evidence for it."

Two debuts took place on Sept. 8: the aluminum tubes and the image of "a mushroom cloud." A Sunday New York Times story quoted anonymous officials as saying the "diameter, thickness and other technical specifications" of the tubes -- precisely the grounds for skepticism among nuclear enrichment experts -- showed that they were "intended as components of centrifuges."

No one knows when Iraq will have its weapon, the story said, but "the first sign of a 'smoking gun,' they argue, may be a mushroom cloud."

Top officials made the rounds of Sunday talk shows that morning. Rice's remarks echoed the newspaper story. She said on CNN's "Late Edition" that Hussein was "actively pursuing a nuclear weapon" and that the tubes -- described repeatedly in U.S. intelligence reports as "dual-use" items -- were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs."

"There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons," Rice added, "but we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Anna Perez, a communications adviser to Rice, said Rice did not come looking for an opportunity to say that. "There was nothing in her mind that said, 'I have to push the nuclear issue,' " Perez said, "but Wolf [Blitzer] asked the question."

Powell, a confidant said, found it "disquieting when people say things like mushroom clouds." But he contributed in other ways to the message. When asked about biological and chemical arms on Fox News, he brought up nuclear weapons and cited the "specialized aluminum tubing" that "we saw in reporting just this morning."

Cheney, on NBC's "Meet the Press," also mentioned the tubes and said "increasingly, we believe the United States will become the target" of an Iraqi nuclear weapon. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, on CBS's "Face the Nation," asked listeners to "imagine a September 11th with weapons of mass destruction," which would kill "tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children."

Bush evoked the mushroom cloud on Oct. 7, and on Nov. 12 Gen. Tommy R. Franks, chief of U.S. Central Command, said inaction might bring "the sight of the first mushroom cloud on one of the major population centers on this planet."

'Literary License'

In its initial meetings, Card's Iraq task force ordered a series of white papers. After a general survey of Iraqi arms violations, the first of the single-subject papers -- never published -- was "A Grave and Gathering Danger: Saddam Hussein's Quest for Nuclear Weapons."

Wilkinson, at the time White House deputy director of communications for planning, gathered a yard-high stack of intelligence reports and press clippings.

Wilkinson said he conferred with experts from the National Security Council and Cheney's office. Other officials said Will Tobey and Susan Cook, working under senior director for counterproliferation Robert Joseph, made revisions and circulated some of the drafts. Under the standard NSC review process, they checked the facts.

In its later stages, the draft white paper coincided with production of a National Intelligence Estimate and its unclassified summary. But the WHIG, according to three officials who followed the white paper's progress, wanted gripping images and stories not available in the hedged and austere language of intelligence.

The fifth draft of the paper was obtained by The Washington Post. White House spokesmen dismissed the draft as irrelevant because Rice decided not to publish it. Wilkinson said Rice and Joseph felt the paper "was not strong enough."

The document offers insight into the Bush administration's priorities and methods in shaping a nuclear message. The white paper was assembled by some of the same team, and at the same time, as the speeches and talking points prepared for the president and top officials. A senior intelligence official said last October that the president's speechwriters took "literary license" with intelligence, a phrase applicable to language used by administration officials in some of the white paper's most emotive and misleading assertions elsewhere.

The draft white paper precedes other known instances in which the Bush administration considered the now-discredited claim that Iraq "sought uranium oxide, an essential ingredient in the enrichment process, from Africa." For a speechwriter, uranium was valuable as an image because anyone could see its connection to an atomic bomb. Despite warnings from intelligence analysts, the uranium would return again and again, including the Jan. 28 State of the Union address and three other Bush administration statements that month.

Other errors and exaggerations in public White House claims were repeated, or had their first mention, in the white paper.

Much as Blair did at Camp David, the paper attributed to U.N. arms inspectors a statement that satellite photographs show "many signs of the reconstruction and acceleration of the Iraqi nuclear program." Inspectors did not say that. The paper also quoted the first half of a sentence from a Time magazine interview with U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix: "You can see hundreds of new roofs in these photos." The second half of the sentence, not quoted, was: "but you don't know what's under them."

As Bush did, the white paper cited the IAEA's description of Iraq's defunct nuclear program in language that appeared to be current. The draft said, for example, that "since the beginning of the nineties, Saddam has launched a crash program to divert nuclear reactor fuel for . . . nuclear weapons." The crash program began in late 1990 and ended with the war in January 1991. The reactor fuel, save for waste products, is gone.

'Footnotes and Disclaimers'

A senior intelligence official said the White House preferred to avoid a National Intelligence Estimate, a formal review of competing evidence and judgments, because it knew "there were disagreements over details in almost every aspect of the administration's case against Iraq." The president's advisers, the official said, did not want "a lot of footnotes and disclaimers."

But Bush needed bipartisan support for war-making authority in Congress. In early September, members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence began asking why there had been no authoritative estimate of the danger posed by Iraq. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) wrote Sept. 9 of his "concern that the views of the U.S. intelligence community are not receiving adequate attention by policymakers in both Congress and the executive branch." When Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), then committee chairman, insisted on an NIE in a classified letter two days later, Tenet agreed.

Explicitly intended to assist Congress in deciding whether to authorize war, the estimate was produced in two weeks, an extraordinary deadline for a document that usually takes months. Tenet said in an interview that "we had covered parts of all those programs over 10 years through NIEs and other reports, and we had a ton of community product on all these issues."

Even so, the intelligence community was now in a position of giving its first coordinated answer to a question that every top national security official had already answered. "No one outside the intelligence community told us what to say or not to say," Tenet wrote in reply to questions for this article.

The U.S. government possessed no specific information on Iraqi efforts to acquire enriched uranium, according to six people who participated in preparing for the estimate. It knew only that Iraq sought to buy equipment of the sort that years of intelligence reports had said "may be" intended for or "could be" used in uranium enrichment.

Richard J. Kerr, a former CIA deputy director now leading a review of the agency's intelligence analysis about Iraq, said in an interview that the CIA collected almost no hard information about Iraq's weapons programs after the departure of IAEA and U.N. Special Commission, or UNSCOM, arms inspectors during the Clinton administration. He said that was because of a lack of spies inside Iraq.

Tenet took issue with that view, saying in an interview, "When inspectors were pushed out in 1998, we did not sit back. . . . The fact is we made significant professional progress." In his written statement, he cited new evidence on biological and missile programs, but did not mention Hussein's nuclear pursuits.

The estimate's "Key Judgment" said: "Although we assess that Saddam does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any, he remains intent on acquiring them. Most agencies assess that Baghdad started reconstituting its nuclear program about the time that UNSCOM inspectors departed -- December 1998."

According to Kerr, the analysts had good reasons to say that, but the reasons were largely "inferential."

Hussein was known to have met with some weapons physicists, and praised them as "nuclear mujaheddin." But the CIA had "reasonably good intelligence in terms of the general activities and whereabouts" of those scientists, said another analyst with the relevant clearances, and knew they had generally not reassembled into working groups. In a report to Congress in 2001, the agency could conclude only that some of the scientists "probably" had "continued at least low-level theoretical R&D [research and development] associated with its nuclear program."

Analysts knew Iraq had tried recently to buy magnets, high-speed balancing machines, machine tools and other equipment that had some potential for use in uranium enrichment, though no less for conventional industry. Even assuming the intention, the parts could not all be made to fit a coherent centrifuge model. The estimate acknowledged that "we lack specific information on many key aspects" of the program, and analysts presumed they were seeing only the tip of the iceberg.

'He Made a Name'

According to outside scientists and intelligence officials, the most important factor in the CIA's nuclear judgment was Iraq's attempt to buy high-strength aluminum tubes. The tubes were the core evidence for a centrifuge program tied to building a nuclear bomb. Even circumstantially, the CIA reported no indication of uranium enrichment using anything but centrifuges.

That interpretation of the tubes was a victory for the man named Joe, who made the issue his personal crusade. He worked in the gas centrifuge program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the early 1980s. He is not, associates said, a nuclear physicist, but an engineer whose work involved the platform upon which centrifuges were mounted.

At some point he joined the CIA. By the end of the 1990s, according to people who know him casually, he worked in export controls.

Joe played an important role in discovering Iraq's plans to buy aluminum tubes from China in 2000, with an Australian intermediary. U.N. sanctions forbade Iraq to buy anything with potential military applications, and members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a voluntary alliance, include some forms of aluminum tubing on their list of equipment that could be used for uranium enrichment.

Joe saw the tubes as centrifuge rotors that could be used to process uranium into weapons-grade material. In a gas centrifuge, the rotor is a thin-walled cylinder, open at both ends, that spins at high speed under a magnet. The device extracts the material used in a weapon from a gaseous form of uranium.

In July 2001, about 3,000 tubes were intercepted in Jordan on their way to Iraq, a big step forward in the agency's efforts to understand what Iraq was trying to do. The CIA gave Joe an award for exceptional performance, throwing its early support to an analysis that helped change the agency's mind about Iraq's pursuit of nuclear ambitions.

"He grabbed that information early on, and he made a name for himself," a career U.S. government nuclear expert said.

'Stretches the Imagination'

Doubts about Joe's theory emerged quickly among the government's centrifuge physicists. The intercepted tubes were too narrow, long and thick-walled to fit a known centrifuge design. Aluminum had not been used for rotors since the 1950s. Iraq had two centrifuge blueprints, stolen in Europe, that were far more efficient and already known to work. One used maraging steel, a hard steel alloy, for the rotors, the other carbon fiber.

Joe and his supporters said the apparent drawbacks were part of Iraq's concealment plan. Hussein's history of covert weapons development, Tenet said in his written statement, included "built-in cover stories."

"This is a case where different people had honorable and different interpretations of intentions," said an Energy Department analyst who has reviewed the raw data. "If you go to a nuclear [counterproliferation official] and say I've got these aluminum tubes, and it's about Iraq, his first inclination is to say it's for nuclear use."

But the government's centrifuge scientists -- at the Energy Department's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and its sister institutions -- unanimously regarded this possibility as implausible.

In late 2001, experts at Oak Ridge asked an alumnus, Houston G. Wood III, to review the controversy. Wood, founder of the Oak Ridge centrifuge physics department, is widely acknowledged to be among the most eminent living experts.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Wood said in an interview that "it would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges. It stretches the imagination to come up with a way. I do not know any real centrifuge experts that feel differently."

As an academic, Wood said, he would not describe "anything that you absolutely could not do." But he said he would "like to see, if they're going to make that claim, that they have some explanation of how you do that. Because I don't see how you do it."

A CIA spokesman said the agency does have support for its view from centrifuge experts. He declined to elaborate.

In the last week of September, the development of the NIE required a resolution of the running disagreement over the significance of the tubes. The Energy Department had one vote. Four agencies -- with specialties including eavesdropping, maps and foreign military forces -- judged that the tubes were part of a centrifuge program that could be used for nuclear weapons. Only the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research joined the judgment of the Energy Department. The estimate, as published, said that "most analysts" believed the tubes were suitable and intended for a centrifuge cascade.

Majority votes make poor science, said Peter D. Zimmerman, a former chief scientist at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

"In this case, the experts were at Z Division at Livermore [Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory] and in DOE intelligence here in town, and they were convinced that no way in hell were these likely to be centrifuge tubes," he said.

Tenet said the Department of Energy was not the only agency with experts on the issue; the CIA consulted military battlefield rocket experts, as well as its own centrifuge experts.

Unravelings

On Feb. 5, two weeks after Joe's Vienna briefing, Powell gave what remains the government's most extensive account of the aluminum tubes, in an address to the U.N. Security Council. He did not mention the existence of the Medusa rocket or its Iraqi equivalent, though he acknowledged disagreement among U.S. intelligence analysts about the use of the tubes.

Powell's CIA briefers, using data originating with Joe, told him that Iraq had "overspecified" requirements for the tubes, increasing expense without making them more useful to rockets. That helped persuade Powell, a confidant said, that Iraq had some other purpose for the tubes.

"Maybe Iraqis just manufacture their conventional weapons to a higher standard than we do, but I don't think so," Powell said in his speech. He said different batches "seized clandestinely before they reached Iraq" showed a "progression to higher and higher levels of specification, including in the latest batch an anodized coating on extremely smooth inner and outer surfaces. . . . Why would they continue refining the specification, go to all that trouble for something that, if it was a rocket, would soon be blown into shrapnel when it went off?"

An anodized coating is actually a strong argument for use in rockets, according to several scientists in and out of government. It resists corrosion of the sort that ruined Iraq's previous rocket supply. To use the tubes in a centrifuge, experts told the government, Iraq would have to remove the anodized coating.

Iraq did change some specifications from order to order, the procurement records show, but there is not a clear progression to higher precision. One tube sample was rejected because its interior was unfinished, too uneven to be used in a rocket body. After one of Iraq's old tubes got stuck in a launcher and exploded, Baghdad's subsequent orders asked for more precision in roundness.

U.S. and European analysts said they had obtained records showing that Italy's Medusa rocket has had its specifications improved 10 times since 1978. Centrifuge experts said in interviews that the variations had little or no significance for uranium enrichment, especially because the CIA's theory supposes Iraq would do extensive machining to adapt the tubes as rotors.

For rockets, however, the tubes fit perfectly. Experts from U.S. national labs, working temporarily with U.N. inspectors in Iraq, observed production lines for the rockets at the Nasser factory north of Baghdad. Iraq had run out of body casings at about the time it ordered the aluminum tubes, according to officials familiar with the experts' reports. Thousands of warheads, motors and fins were crated at the assembly lines, awaiting the arrival of tubes.

"Most U.S. experts," Powell asserted, "think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium." He said "other experts, and the Iraqis themselves," said the tubes were really for rockets.

Wood, the centrifuge physicist, said "that was a personal slam at everybody in DOE," the Energy Department. "I've been grouped with the Iraqis, is what it amounts to. I just felt that the wording of that was probably intentional, but it was also not very kind. It did not recognize that dissent can exist."

Staff writers Glenn Kessler, Dana Priest and Richard Morin and staff researchers Lucy Shackelford, Madonna Lebling and Robert Thomason contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
In the News article The Post lays out line by line some of the many lies Bush told the American people, but in the next editorial, also from the Post, written on the same day, the writers attack Gore instead of Bush. We must demand editorial writers base their decisions on information, not guesses and lies. The Washington Post Editorial Board has shown itself utterly incapable of inserting facts into their opinions. Therefore, they must be fired--along with the editorial writers of most major newspapers who continue to lie to us about WMD in Iraq and defend Bush's war based on lies about Iraq having WMD.


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Mr. Gore's Blurred View
Washington Post
Editorial
Sunday, August 10, 2003; Page B06

Editor's NoteThis anti-Gore Post editorial ran on the same day as the Post article above which proves Gore is correct.

"If you allow someone like Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, biological weapons, how many people is he going to kill with such weapons? He's already demonstrated a willingness to use these weapons. He poison-gassed his own people. He used poison gas and other weapons of mass destruction against his neighbors. This man has no compunction about killing lots and lots of people."

-- Al Gore, Dec. 16, 1998

THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL race seems to be carrying the Democratic Party in a dangerous direction on the issues of the Iraq war and national security -- dangerous for the nation and risky for the party too. Some of the candidates are more off course than others. If they listen to former vice president Al Gore, who took it upon himself last week to suggest a theme of attack for the nine candidates, they will all go off the cliff.

Mr. Gore, who not so long ago was describing Iraq as a "virulent threat in a class by itself," validated just about every conspiratorial theory of the antiwar left. President Bush, in distorting evidence about the Iraqi threat, was pursuing policies "designed to benefit friends and supporters." The war was waged "at least partly in order to ensure our continued access to oil." And it occurred because "false impressions" precluded the nation from conducting a serious debate before the war.

This notion -- that we were all somehow bamboozled into war -- is part of Mr. Gore's larger conviction that Mr. Bush has put one over on the nation, and not just with regard to Iraq.

You can see why he might want to think so. Mr. Gore believes, for example, that the Patriot Act represents "a broad and extreme invasion of our privacy rights in the name of terrorism." But then how to explain that 98 senators -- including all four Democratic senators now running for president -- voted for it? The president's economic and environmental policies represent an "ideologically narrow agenda" serving only "powerful and wealthy groups and individuals who manage to work their way into the inner circle."

But then why do so many other people support those policies? Mr. Gore has an umbrella explanation, albeit one that many Americans might find a tad insulting: "The administration has developed a highly effective propaganda machine to embed in the public mind mythologies. . . . "

Thus, Mr. Gore maintains, we were all under the "false impression" that Saddam Hussein was "on the verge of building nuclear bombs," that he was "about to give the terrorists poison gas and deadly germs," that he was partly responsible for the 9/11 attacks. And because of these "false impressions," the nation didn't conduct a proper debate about the war. But there was extensive debate going back many years; last fall and winter the nation debated little else. Mr. Bush took his case to the United Nations. Congress argued about and approved a resolution authorizing war. And the approval did not come, as Mr. Gore and other Democrats now maintain, because people were deceived into believing that Saddam Hussein was an "imminent" threat who had attacked the World Trade Center or was about to do so.

Here, for example, is what Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) had to say on the Senate floor last September: "It is interesting, if you look at the countries that the Bush administration designated as part of the axis of evil -- North Korea, Iran, and Iraq -- of the three, the military capabilities of North Korea and Iran far surpass the capability of Iraq. . . . We know this. We know what their capability is." The nature of Saddam Hussein's threat -- serious but probably not imminent, defiant of the United Nations -- is what made the debate so difficult. In the end, most members of Congress accepted the logic that President Clinton put forward in 1998: that, if Saddam Hussein was not stopped, he would "rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, some way, I guarantee you he'll use the arsenal."

It certainly would be fair now to argue that the logic was wrong. There was a cogent case to be made against the war, and even those who supported it might now say that the absence of any uncovered weapons of mass destruction, or the continuing violence against Americans, gives them, in hindsight, a different view. There's plenty to criticize in the administration's postwar effort too. What isn't persuasive, or even very smart politically, is to pretend to have been fooled by what Mr. Gore breathlessly calls the Bush "systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology."

Nearly at the end of his speech last week, almost as an afterthought, Mr. Gore allowed that "the removal of Saddam from power is a positive accomplishment in its own right for which the president deserves credit."

He's not the only Democrat who thinks he can have it both ways, pandering to anti-Bush passion while protecting his national-security flank. Sen. John Kerry has been trying something similar with, for example, this applause line, which he must know can only stoke isolationist sentiment: "We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad while closing them in Brooklyn." It would be possible to support firefighters in Brooklyn without questioning U.S. commitment to Iraq. Sen. Joe Lieberman has found plenty to criticize in the Bush administration foreign policy without abandoning his longstanding support of American strength and democracy promotion. It's an honorable position, and one that doesn't depend on portraying everyone else as poor saps duped by wizardly Bush propaganda.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
According to the Post it's dangerous to suggest Bush was wrong even though every one of us knows he was. Why is that?

This line is very offending to thinking people, "It certainly would be fair now to argue that the logic was wrong. There was a cogent case to be made against the war, and even those who supported it might now say that the absence of any uncovered weapons of mass destruction, or the continuing violence against Americans, gives them, in hindsight, a different view."

I don't need to harp over how many lies the Post the other media outlets gave us, nor do I have to list the endless lies of Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rich and Powell, but we need to look seriously at a media that was unable to use logic and fact when they supported war.

Did we figure out Bush was lying in hindsight? Not a chance. An informed person saw Bush give his best evidence to the UN inspectors and they couldn't verify a word he said. An informed person knew Bush lied about Saddam being six months away from having nukes, and an informed person knew Bush lied about aluminum tubes and uranium. This information and so much more was readably available to anyone seeking it. So to suggest it was in hindsight is a blatant lie (a lie to cover up how inept the Post is).

From the Post; "This notion -- that we were all somehow bamboozled into war -- is part of Mr. Gore's larger conviction that Mr. Bush has put one over on the nation, and not just with regard to Iraq."

Can the Post writers tell us of one example in which Bush told us the truth about WMD in Iraq? They can't. Every statement Bush made regarding WMD in Iraq was a lie. While we weren't bamboozled, the Post was and still is. They need to get their collective heads out their asses long enough to see that Gore was talking about fact, while Bush was lying to us.

The Post then attacks democrats for believing Bush's lies about WMD, even thought they too believed those lies. Isn't it more ethical to admit you were lied to, damn those who did the lying and then move on? Instead the Post damns anyone who believed Bush's lies and disavow's them today. Where's the logic in that? In the end the Post is attempting to protect Bush where he's most vulnerable--his inability to tell the truth. Shame on them, and shame on the rest of the media for not calling Bush a liar.


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Bush Plan Falls Short on Mercury
Sierrra Club
by John Byrne Barry

For the past 30 years, the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Superfund program have cleaned up our air, waters, and communities, and held industrial companies accountable for their pollution. But some toxins, like mercury, have slipped through the cracks and continue to poison the nation's air and waterways. According to a recent report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which analyzed EPA data, more rivers and lakes than ever before contain fish with unsafe levels of mercury. Under a Bush administration proposal deceptively titled "Clear Skies," many communities would be exposed to three times more toxic mercury from coal-fired power plants than if the Clean Air Act were simply enforced.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to reduce toxic emissions from power plants by making all power plants perform at the level of the cleanest plants, essentially making sure that all facilities use up-to-date air pollution controls and adopt the industry's best operating practices. In 2001, the EPA estimated that enforcing the law could cut power-plant mercury pollution from 48 tons today to about 5 tons by 2008. The Bush plan, by comparison, would allow three times more pollution. All but seven states have advisories in effect for mercury in fish. Only 27 did in 1993-that's a 60-percent increase. Kentucky leads the nation in the number of river miles under mercury advisory.

Once mercury is absorbed in water, it is ingested in small organisms, which are eaten by small fish that are in turn eaten by bigger fish. The concentration of mercury grows as the fish get bigger. Mercury is especially dangerous to children and pregnant woman, but it also poses a neurological risk to adults.

Even relatively tiny amounts can produce serious developmental delays in walking, talking, hearing, and writing. According to the EPA, approximately 8 percent of women of childbearing age have mercury levels in their blood that exceed 5.8 parts per billion. Children born to women with blood concentrations of mercury at that level are at risk.

People can be exposed to unsafe levels of mercury in two different ways. When objects containing mercury (like thermometers or fluorescent bulbs) break or leak, elemental mercury vapors are released into the air and can cause lung damage, nausea, skin damage, permanent nerve damage, and sometimes death. More commonly, however, people are exposed to mercury in fish. The mercury in fish, which may be a million times more concentrated than it is in the water they live in, comes from a variety of sources, the largest of which are coal-burning power plants.

Coal contains trace amounts of mercury that are released into the air as it is burned for energy. Raindrops absorb this airborne mercury and end up in our lakes, streams, and rivers. A typical coal-burning power plant emits about 250 pounds of mercury a year. That doesn't sound like much, but 0.0007 pounds of mercury a year-about 1/70th of a teaspoon-is enough to contaminate a 25-acre lake to the point that fish would be unsafe to eat.

Call the White House Council on Environmental Quality at (202) 395-5750, and urge strong enforcement of the Clean Air Act, not weakening of it.

Commentary:
In my home state of North Dakota, mercury is so bad there's a limit on the amount of fresh fish you can eat. Power plants spew mercury into the air, then from the air, it drops in the lakes and rivers where it contaminates everything it touches. Bush wants to make it easier for power plants to put more mercury in the air. The Bismarck Tribune, which is 100% republican had a front page article blasting Bush's attempt to destroy clean air and water in North Dakota-it's that bad. I'll try to post the Tribune article if it's still online.


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Point by point, a look back
SF Gate/AP
CHARLES J. HANLEY
August 9, 2003

Point by point, a look back at a `thick' file, a fateful six months later

CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent   Saturday, August 9, 2003   

(08-09) 09:12 PDT (AP) -- ^The most detailed U.S. case for invading Iraq was laid out last Feb. 5 in a U.N. address by Secretary of State Powell. Six months later, months of war and revelation, the Powell case can be examined in a new light, analyzed here by a journalist who watched from a nervous, skeptical Iraqi capital.

On a Baghdad evening last February, in a stiflingly warm conference room high above the city's streets, Iraqi bureaucrats, European envoys and foreign reporters crowded before television screens to hear the reading of an indictment.

In a hushed U.N. Security Council chamber in New York, Secretary of State Colin Powell unleashed an 80-minute avalanche of allegations: The Iraqis were hiding chemical and biological weapons, were secretly working to make more banned arms, were reviving their nuclear bomb project. He spoke of "the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world."

It was the most comprehensive presentation of the U.S. case for war. Powell marshaled what were described as intercepted Iraqi conversations, reconnaissance photos of Iraqi sites, accounts of defectors, and other intelligence sources. Since 1998, he told fellow foreign ministers, "we have amassed much intelligence indicating that Iraq is continuing to make these weapons."

In the United States, Powell's "thick intelligence file" was galvanizing, swinging opinion toward war.

But in Baghdad, when the satellite broadcast ended, presidential science adviser Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi appeared before the audience and dismissed the U.S. case as "stunts" aimed at swaying the uninformed.

Six months after Powell's Feb. 5 appearance, the file does look thin. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told U.S. senators last month the Bush administration had no "dramatic new evidence" before ordering the Iraq invasion. "We acted because we saw the existing evidence in a new light through the prism of our experience on Sept. 11," he said.

The U.S. military, since overrunning the country, has found no weapons of mass destruction, and President Bush's credibility has come under attack because his State of the Union address cited a British report that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. That allegation, which Powell left out of his own speech, has been challenged by U.S. intelligence officials.

How does Powell's pivotal indictment look from the vantage point of today? Powell has said several times since February that he stands by it, the State Department said Wednesday. Here is an Associated Press review of major elements, based on both what was known in February and what has been learned since:

^SATELLITE PHOTOS

Powell presented satellite photos of industrial buildings, bunkers and trucks, and suggested they showed Iraqis surreptitiously moving prohibited missiles and chemical and biological weapons to hide them. At two sites, he said trucks were "decontamination vehicles" associated with chemical weapons.

But these and other sites had undergone 500 inspections in recent months. Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix, a day earlier, had said his well-equipped experts found no contraband and no sign that items had been moved. Nothing has been reported found since. Addressing the Security Council a week after Powell, Blix used one photo scenario as an example and said it could be showing routine as easily as illicit activity. Norwegian inspector Jorn Siljeholm told AP on March 19 that "decontamination vehicles" U.N. teams were led to invariably turned out to be water or fire trucks.

^AUDIOTAPES

Powell played three audiotapes of men speaking in Arabic of a mysterious "modified vehicle," "forbidden ammo," and "the expression `nerve agents"' -- tapes said to be intercepts of Iraqi army officers discussing concealment.

Two of the brief, anonymous tapes, otherwise not authenticated, provided little context for judging their meaning. It couldn't be known whether the mystery vehicle, however "modified," was even banned. A listener could only speculate over the cryptic mention of nerve agents. The third tape, meanwhile, seemed natural, an order to inspect scrap areas for "forbidden ammo." The Iraqis had just told U.N. inspectors they would search ammunition dumps for stray, empty chemical warheads left over from years earlier. They later turned four over to inspectors. Powell's rendition of that third conversation made it more incriminating, by saying an officer ordered that the area be "cleared out." The voice on the tape didn't say that, but only that the area be "inspected," according to the official U.S. translation.

^hidden DOCUMENTS

Powell said "classified" documents found at a nuclear scientist's Baghdad home were "dramatic confirmation" of intelligence saying prohibited items were concealed this way.

U.N. nuclear inspectors later said the documents were old and "irrelevant" -- some administrative material, some from a failed and well-known uranium-enrichment program of the 1980s.

^ANTHRAX

Powell noted Iraq had declared it produced 8,500 liters of the biological agent anthrax before 1991, but U.N. inspectors estimated it could have made up to 25,000 liters. None has been "verifiably accounted for," he said.

No anthrax has been reported found. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in a confidential report last September, recently disclosed, said that although it believed Iraq had biological weapons, it didn't know their nature, amounts or condition. Three weeks before the invasion, an Iraqi report of scientific soil sampling supported its contention it destroyed its anthrax at a known site, the U.N. inspection agency said May 30.

^BIOWEAPONS TRAILERS

Powell said defectors told of "biological weapons factories" on trucks and in train cars. He displayed artists' conceptions of such vehicles.

After the invasion, U.S. authorities said they found two such truck trailers in Iraq, and the CIA said it concluded they were part of a bioweapons production line. But no trace of biological agents was found on them, Iraqis said the equipment made hydrogen for weather balloons, and State Department intelligence balked at the CIA's conclusion. The British defense minister, Geoffrey Hoon, has said the vehicles aren't a "smoking gun." The trailers have not been submitted to U.N. inspection for verification. No "bioweapons railcars" have been reported found.

^`FOUR TONS' OF VX

Powell said Iraq produced four tons of the nerve agent VX. "A single drop of VX on the skin will kill in minutes. Four tons," he said.

Powell didn't note that most of that four tons was destroyed in the 1990s under U.N. supervision. Before the invasion, the Iraqis made a "considerable effort" to prove they had destroyed the rest, doing chemical analysis of the ground where inspectors confirmed VX had been dumped, the U.N. inspection agency reported May 30. Experts at Britain's International Institute of Strategic Studies said any pre-1991 VX most likely would have degraded anyway. No VX has been reported found since the invasion.

^`EMBEDDED' CAPABILITY

"We know that Iraq has embedded key portions of its illicit chemical weapons infrastructure within its legitimate civilian industry," Powell said.

No "chemical weapons infrastructure" has been reported found. The newly disclosed DIA report of last September said there was "no reliable information" on "where Iraq has -- or will -- establish its chemical warfare agent-production facilities." It suggested international inspections would be able to keep Iraq from rebuilding a chemical weapons program.

^`500 TONS' OF CHEMICAL AGENT

"Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent," Powell said.

Powell gave no basis for the assertion, and no such agents have been reported found. An unclassified CIA report last October made a similar assertion without citing concrete evidence, saying only that Iraq "probably" concealed precursor chemicals to make such weapons. The DIA reported confidentially last September there "is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons."

^CHEMICAL WARHEADS

Powell said 122-mm chemical warheads found by U.N. inspectors in January might be the "tip of an iceberg."

The warheads were empty, a fact Powell didn't note. Blix said on June 16 the dozen stray rocket warheads, never uncrated, were apparently "debris from the past," the 1980s. No others have been reported found since the invasion.

^DEPLOYED WEAPONS

"Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons. ... And we have sources who tell us that he recently has authorized his field commanders to use them," Powell said.

No such weapons were used and none was reported found after the U.S. and allied military units overran Iraqi field commands and ammunition dumps.

^REVIVED NUCLEAR PROGRAM

"We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program," Powell said.

Chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei told the council two weeks before the U.S. invasion, "We have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq." On July 24, Foreign Minister Ana Palacio of Spain, a U.S. ally on Iraq, said there were "no evidences, no proof" of a nuclear bomb program before the war. No such evidence has been reported found since the invasion.

^SCUDS, NEW MISSILES

Powell said "intelligence sources" indicate Iraq had a secret force of up to a few dozen prohibited Scud-type missiles. He said it also had a program to build newer, 600-mile-range missiles, and had put a roof over a test facility to block the view of spy satellites.

No Scud-type missiles have been reported found. In the 1990s, U.N. inspectors had reported accounting for all but two of these missiles. No program for long-range missiles has been uncovered. Powell didn't note that U.N. teams were repeatedly inspecting missile facilities, including looking under that roof, and reporting no Iraqi violations of U.N. resolutions.

©2003 Associated Press

Commentary:
The Washington Post Editorial Board needs to read more articles like this, and fewer press releases from the Bush White House when it writes its opinions.


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US admits it used napalm bombs in Iraq
Independent
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
10 August 2003

American pilots dropped the controversial incendiary agent napalm on Iraqi troops during the advance on Baghdad. The attacks caused massive fireballs that obliterated several Iraqi positions.

The Pentagon denied using napalm at the time, but Marine pilots and their commanders have confirmed that they used an upgraded version of the weapon against dug-in positions. They said napalm, which has a distinctive smell, was used because of its psychological effect on an enemy.

A 1980 UN convention banned the use against civilian targets of napalm, a terrifying mixture of jet fuel and polystyrene that sticks to skin as it burns. The US, which did not sign the treaty, is one of the few countries that makes use of the weapon. It was employed notoriously against both civilian and military targets in the Vietnam war.

The upgraded weapon, which uses kerosene rather than petrol, was used in March and April, when dozens of napalm bombs were dropped near bridges over the Saddam Canal and the Tigris river, south of Baghdad.

"We napalmed both those [bridge] approaches," said Colonel James Alles, commander of Marine Air Group 11. "Unfortunately there were people there ... you could see them in the [cockpit] video. They were Iraqi soldiers. It's no great way to die. The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological effect."

A reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald who witnessed another napalm attack on 21 March on an Iraqi observation post at Safwan Hill, close to the Kuwaiti border, wrote the following day: "Safwan Hill went up in a huge fireball and the observation post was obliterated. 'I pity anyone who is in there,' a Marine sergeant said. 'We told them to surrender.'"

At the time, the Pentagon insisted the report was untrue. "We completed destruction of our last batch of napalm on 4 April, 2001," it said.

The revelation that napalm was used in the war against Iraq, while the Pentagon denied it, has outraged opponents of the war.

"Most of the world understands that napalm and incendiaries are a horrible, horrible weapon," said Robert Musil, director of the organisation Physicians for Social Responsibility. "It takes up an awful lot of medical resources. It creates horrible wounds." Mr Musil said denial of its use "fits a pattern of deception [by the US administration]".

The Pentagon said it had not tried to deceive. It drew a distinction between traditional napalm, first invented in 1942, and the weapons dropped in Iraq, which it calls Mark 77 firebombs. They weigh 510lbs, and consist of 44lbs of polystyrene-like gel and 63 gallons of jet fuel.

Officials said that if journalists had asked about the firebombs their use would have been confirmed. A spokesman admitted they were "remarkably similar" to napalm but said they caused less environmental damage.

But John Pike, director of the military studies group GlobalSecurity.Org, said: "You can call it something other than napalm but it is still napalm. It has been reformulated in the sense that they now use a different petroleum distillate, but that is it. The US is the only country that has used napalm for a long time. I am not aware of any other country that uses it." Marines returning from Iraq chose to call the firebombs "napalm".

Mr Musil said the Pentagon's effort to draw a distinction between the weapons was outrageous. He said: "It's Orwellian. They do not want the public to know. It's a lie."

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Marine Corps Maj-Gen Jim Amos confirmed that napalm was used on several occasions in the war.

© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

Commentary:
Not much new here. The US military lied to us, our president lied to us, the mediaw was aware they were both lying to us and now months later, when few people are still following this stuff the truth comes out. Almost no one will read this story--that's why I have it here.


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