Tuesday, June 03, 2003

If Saddam didn't have WMDs, why didn't he prove it? We should all be outraged by the Bush administration's untruths as to whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Saddam's alleged chemical, biological, and nascent nuclear capabilities were, after all, the principal argument offered by the White House for going to war in the first place.

Still, this is a bit more complicated than some elements of the antiwar left would have it. Last night, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff appeared on The David Brudnoy Show, on WBZ Radio (AM 1030), to talk about his latest article, regarding the way US officials bent intelligence to suit their needs. That's how the phony stories about the aluminum tubes and the uranium from Niger made their way into the public consciousness.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman today goes hyperbolic, writing, "The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history -- worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra."

I usually am delighted with Krugman's heated Bush-whacking. But, in this case, he and other critics are forgetting about one key fact. Last December, Iraq submitted a 12,200-page, UN-mandated report on its weapons program that chief weapons inspector Hans Blix denounced as worthless.

Weapons inspectors knew for a fact that Saddam had an active program for producing WMDs at one time. Yet, when faced with invasion and overthrow, Saddam refused to say whether he still had those weapons -- or, if he didn't, what he had done with them. Nor was he particularly cooperative with Blix and nuclear-weapons inspector Mohammed ElBareidi.

Thus, if Iraq didn't have WMDs, Saddam refused to take the opportunity to prove it and thus stave off the end of his brutal, bloody regime.

President Bush now has a chaotic mess on his hands -- a mess that was predicted by those of us who opposed going to war without an explicit UN mandate.

Nevertheless, given that it now seems clear that Iraq's WMD capability was, at the very least, nowhere near as great as the White House had claimed, it is a mystery as to why Saddam didn't do more to save his worthless, evil ass.

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