Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Iraq Pre-War Intel, part 998

I couldn't have put it better myself...

Clearly, the important administration arguments are beginning to coalesce:
  1. Criticism of the war is not by itself unpatriotic
  2. Similarly, answering anti-war critics is not challenging their patriotism
  3. But opportunistic and cynical anti-war critics who are trying to walk back their own votes and level spurious charges at the Administration (they lied to take is into war) are themselves lying
  4. These lies are hurting the country and the troops.
  5. The burden of proof, in a post 911 world, was on Saddam Hussein to prove he’d disarmed; we could not wait for the threat to become imminent before acting
  6. The cause the troops are fighting for is just and right
  7. Iraq is moving toward freedom; and things on the ground are improving daily, regardless of what the MSM and prominent Dems would have us believe.

These points, taken together, form an easy, concise, and—most importantly—a factually correct counter-narrative . . . I think the narrative is a good one, but it needs to be repeated as loud and as often as the one the Dems have been peddling.

Also, check out "The Carnival of Prewar Intelligence", over at Open Source Media.

Hat Tip: Instapundit

If you've got some time on your hands, do read the Senate Intelligence Commitee's report on prewar intelligence: the conclusions, or the whole thing. (Caution: potentially long download time.)

Want still more? How about the Silberman-Robb report here.


Comments:

(Please keep in mind that each commenter's opinions are only his/her own.)



I completely agree with points #1 and #2.

I also agree with point #3, to an extent. Allow me to elaborate. As I recall - and yes, I do recall, I paid close attention to the events and what was going on as did many Americans - there was substantial political pressure to "support our leader" - to put our confidence in him and believe he would act in our best interests. As I've stated elsewhere, an elected official is obligated to act according to what he deems his (or her) constituants desire. At that point in time when we voted on decisions post-9/11 - I wanted to put my faith in our leader. So did many other Americans. Our politicians voted almost unanimously to do the same. To look at the information we have now and say "we shouldn't have gone to war" is not "walking back on a vote". Hindsight is always 20/20. There's a difference in realizing one made a mistake and admitting it and back-peddling. So, in light of those that are truly back-peddling, I agree with statment #3. However, in regards to those that are simply saying we made a mistake I disagree with statement #3. Namely, because I place myself in that category. If we, as a nation, can't admit when we've screwed up then we have bigger problems. And I fail to see how that is considered "lying".

Regarding statement #4 - again, contingent upon specifically what it's referring to. I don't believe that people who are stating that they think this country made a grave error are hurting our troops or the country. I refuse to be a "Yes" man.

I will neither disagree or agree to #5. I have no idea where the burden of proof lie. I will say, however, that I believe taking a country to war without concrete proof of a just reason is immoral.

Statement #6 is completely and entirely an opinion and in no way, shape or form can be called "factually correct". What is "just"? What is "right"?

As far as #7 goes, I like to think that it's true. If it is, great! However, I'm more than a little skeptical of anything that comes out of the mouths of our esteemed leaders in light of being told lie after lie. It is a fact that we were told Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. It is a fact that we were told that Saddam had links to Al-Qaida. It is a fact that both of those things were incorrect. Therefore, we were lied to. Whether intentionally or not (after all, it's not Dubya's or Cheney's fault that the intelligence was bad, right?), it was still a lie.

And now a question for you. How can we, as a people, hold big-wig muckety-mucks from our huge corporations responsible for things like misrepresented financial information or what have you (Enron, MCI, Tyco, etc.) and not hold our own leader of the entire country responsible? If some flunky who works for a CFO at a corporation provides said CFO with a bad income statement and said CFO signs his name on the dotted line, that CFO is liable and going to jail if he's caught. How can you Reps just hand-wave the whole intelligence aspect of the war like we can't blame Bush or Cheney? They acted on bad intelligence, so it wasn't their fault? Furthermore, why haven't these problems been fixed yet? As I keep reading this doc you pointed to me, it keeps stating that we STILL have these intelligence problems!
 


S: "It is a fact that we were told Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. It is a fact that we were told that Saddam had links to Al-Qaida. It is a fact that both of those things were incorrect."

In fact, the Iraq al-Qaida links are well-founded. I'm astonished that you're not better informed. Or perhaps you could point me to where these have been refuted:
* From the 9/11 Commission Report
* The Mother of All Connections
* Senate Prewar Iraq Intel : Conclusions 90 - 100, though critical of how little we learned pre-Iraq, conclude that the assessments were justified.
* An entire book: Stephen F. Hayes' "The Connection"

Now according to your definition of "lied" (intention doesn't matter), your sources have lied to you. Let us know who you're holding responsible so we can too.

According to the dictionary definition of lie (2), unless it's loosely applied to an inanimate object (e.g., "appearances"), it qualifies as a lie if it's false and deliberate.

S: "If we, as a nation, can't admit when we've screwed up then we have bigger problems. And I fail to see how that is considered 'lying'."

But it's not about admitting we've screwed up. It's about Senators who saw the same intelligence and drew the same conclusions before the war now saying THEY were lied to by Bush. That's dishonest revisionism--false and deliberate.

S: "...yes, I do recall, I paid close attention to the events and what was going on as did many Americans..."

Good! Then you can point me to some concrete evidence of this. A Bush opponent on the public record at the time stating that (s)he feels political pressure, and what difference that makes.

I see that as a brief moment of clarity and sanity: when Bush's opponents actually opposed terrorism more than Bush.

The focus on WMD stockpiles neglects the bigger picture on Iraq, too, but that's probably a separate thread.
 


Anyone supporting the war, one might think, has an obligation to do as much as they can to bring about a US victory i.e.,insure Mission Accomplished. Since supporters already prop up the reasons to go and stay the course, they can patriotically facilitate this. They merely need to put their ass where their mouth is. To insure we dont remain in this quagmire, we need all of them to enlist so that the war can end. Sounds like Nam all over again (which President AWOL and Vice President 5 deferments)avoided. Its very easy to support and back war when you've never been remotely near one.
 


I am equally astonished by how naive you are.

I've discussed elsewhere the certain level of futility of this on both our behalves because both of us can pull sources that look at the same information with our particular color-shaded sunglasses, but since you ask, of course, I'll be happy to point you to some places where weapons of mass destruction and links to Al-Quaida are refuted.

Oh, and I'm not going to break out the discussion on Al-Quaida from WMDs because the justifaction for going to war with Iraq from DAY ONE was WMDs, but once again, nice try...

On WMDs:

First, there's this senator you might have read about - Joe Wilson. He is openly critical of the Bush administration's claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In fact, he goes so far as to allege that certain documents were false. His wife is/was a CIA operative. Oh, and he wrote a book, too.

Second, Hans Blix - the actual inspector assigned to look for the alleged WMDs. Here's a report for you. I'm sure you'll pull some equally compelling evidence from here that you'll see as supporting your side of the argument, but it can't be refuted that he states "So far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions, which should have been declared and destroyed." Furthermore, I pose this question, if there were such weapons, why wouldn't we have heard about them? Dubya and you Reps could quash all the Dems criticizm of the WMDs if he simply said, "Hey, we found some! Here they are! See, I toldja so". So, why hasn't that happened?

Third, the Downding Street Memo

Fourth, new German information has recently come to light.

Finally, here's another story regarding that uranium in Africa again - you know, the uranium Dubya used in his own State of the Union address.

For links to Al-Qaeda:

Here's an old story

Here's another story that only touches on the lack-o-links, but it's good anyway.

In your own link to the nationalreview site, it states that Bin Laden and Hussein had relations over the years - sure, that's true. It also states that the 911 commission "goes on to say that no evidence was unearthed of a "collaborative operational relationship" or Iraqi cooperation in the 9/11 attacks". Huh. You know, France and Germany had relations once. Maybe they're terrorists! No...wait...WE had relations with Saddam once too, didn't we? I think we did.

Wow. And that's a fact, too.

Now, if you're gonna whip out your Webster's on me, fine. I'll give you that. By the strictest definition of the word, if it was not deliberate, it wasn't a lie. Know what my next question is? Prove that it wasn't deliberate. Now, I'm not saying that it was, and I acknowledge that one might interpret that as such. What I'm saying is I don't trust the guy. What possible reason can you give me to trust him? Trust is proven and earned. Even if everything you're using as proof to support your arguement were true, the biggest thing you'd be proving to me is that he's incompetant.

Finally, in response to your statement that I need to provide you with a quote or something that illustrates an elected official said that they were uncertain - that's bullshit. The absence of such a quote does not negate the fact that at the time of voting to go to war, EVERY news channel was discussing the politicians and the issue of supporting the President. The simple fact that those two things were synonomously discussed is proof that there was political pressure.

But even that doesn't negate my point - which is the way I felt about it. I was for it. I wanted to support the President. I wanted to believe what I was being told. And in retrospect, I feel like we royally messed up! If I felt that way at the time, isn't it reasonable to assume that others did as well - including the people MAKING the vote? THAT'S what I'm saying about the vote to go to war.

I'm still wondering what constitutes having second thougts vs. walking back on a vote.

I'm also still wondering how we can hold big-wig muckety-mucks of corporations liable for getting bad data, but not our own President.

And most importantly, I'm wondering WHY IN THE HELL THESE SECURITY ISSUES AREN'T BEING RESOLVED! I want to pick up my coffee mug one morning and newspaper and have it read INTELLIGENCE HOLES PLUGGED across the front page!
 


S: "...because the justifaction for going to war with Iraq from DAY ONE was WMDs..."

That's your hyper-focus. Iraq's failure to prove it had disarmed is the crux of WMD piece.

Former ambassador Joe Wilson, and his orwellian-titled book, debunked by the document you're supposed to be reading. Ouch. Embarrassing. No wonder you're confused. Hold that liar responsible, right? ("Liar" used deliberately here.)

Hans Blix reinforces where the burden of proof lies. He mentions documents S/1999/94 and S/1999/356. They make more interesting reading, since they're from before the UN's bribe-taking members started pressuring him. The votes on UN resolution 1441 get the entire security council fired, by your standard.

S: "911 commission goes on to say that no evidence was unearthed of a "collaborative operational relationship" or Iraqi cooperation in the 9/11 attacks".

True. The 9/11 Commission's scope was the 9/11 attacks only, and more has come to light since their report. See my other references.

Your old story really is out of date.

Downing Street Memos smell very fishy and don't say much. (Re-typed on an old typewriter and shredded?)

I don't think the new German info went into your decision-making, or anyone else's. Why couldn't they get a single vote against 1441?

The globalsecurity.org story doesn't align with all the facts, like a report from London's Financial Times as late (or long ago) as June 27, 2004.

S: "Prove that it wasn't deliberate."

Keep reading. It's there.

S: "Trust is proven and earned."

If you applied that standard to Joe Wilson, you might get somewhere. I smell a double-standard.

S: "The simple fact that those two things were synonomously discussed is proof that there was political pressure."

Bologna.

S: "I feel like we royally messed up!"

Based on Joe Wilson "proving" and "earning" your trust? Huh.


Plugging intel holes is important, and apparently difficult. How many administrations have we been through, and they're still what they are. Which foreign intel service should we take lessons from?

Second thoughts are fine. Rewriting history isn't. Hyper-focusing on one piece to the exclusion of others isn't either. But it's a free country.

The big-wig muckety-mucks question deserves its own post (coming soon).
 


I'll give you that I'm not through reading a lot of the stuff you have linked here. The thing that is glaring, however, is that you're opporating under the assumption that your sources are better than mine. Why should I trust your conclusions any more than anything else? Because it came from our own government? The same government whose leader, in a January 2003 state of the union address stated specifically, that Iraq had a certain number of biological weapons that we never found. Here's the transcript, but the part I'm referring to is:

"The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons materials sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax; enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin; enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them, despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them."

So, where are all these chemicals? Where are the mobile biological weapons platforms? Surely, you don't suggest that they're SO well hidden that now that Saddam's regime is toppled, we still can't find them.

These are the words of our own President. Given what we know now, why should I believe anything he says.

You're references are every bit as suspect as mine. At least I acknowledge mine are suspect. I mentioned in the very beginning of my previous post that we can both site references with our own color-shaded glasses of the truth. You seem to be in denial.

You speak of double standards and yet one minute you say the proof is there and the next you say that the bad information isn't Bush or Cheney's fault. Which is it?

I'm starting to think you're a lost cause my friend. It's one thing to fight back and defend oneself. Just be careful when you start sanctifying war. And before you deny it, I refer you to point #6 in your original post.
 


S: Why should I trust your conclusions any more than anything else? Because it came from our own government?

The Senate Intelligence committee is bipartisan, has full access to all the raw intelligence and analysis, can subpoena, require sworn testimony and prosecute perjury.

Joe Wilson has, um, his uncorroborated self. (And eager publishers.)

If there are rebuttals for my other sources, I'd love to consider them. The MSM seems not to refute them, but ignore them.

The 2003 State of the Union is an important speech. I'm glad you brought it up. It's before the war (and the WMD brouhaha), and it's on the public record.

Note each WMD paragraph: "[Saddam] hasn't accounted for that material. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed it." This is true and very important. That's where the burden of proof lies, and that mattered, even when WMDs were a "slam dunk."

Bush: "The 108 U.N. inspectors were ... not sent to conduct a scavenger hunt for hidden materials across a country the size of California. The job of the inspectors is to verify that Iraq's regime is disarming. It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened."

The crux of the WMD issue.

Bush: "And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: ... the day [Saddam] and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation. ... we will bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies and freedom. ... America is a strong nation and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers. ... Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world; it is God's gift to humanity."

So liberation was part of the agenda from "day one." (To your credit, you haven't claimed otherwise.)

S: "Where are the mobile biological weapons platforms?"

Found, in fact. That's the CIA's final analysis, after weighing other possibilities.

S: "Surely, you don't suggest that they're SO well hidden that now that Saddam's regime is toppled, we still can't find them."

I'm certainly open to the idea. It's not hard to imagine the CIA botching it, but every single intelligence agency in the world? Saddam had several months to prepare as we dawdled at the UN. Regarding the WMD hunt, I haven't read the reports. (Final and interim reports.) It would be an interesting exercise see if they have gaps. Do they adequately answer all the outstanding questions?

It seems we're not going to see eye-to-eye. I'd like you to go back and re-think your conclusions from Joe Wilson forward, but I realize that's a difficult request. My prodding was intended to sting just enough to get you to stop and look closer--I hope I didn't cross the line.

I'm celebrating the little things that have come to light, though. A sharper definition of lie. Joe Wilson's fraud. Iraq's ties to terrorism.

I still intend to answer your over-arching trust/responsibility question directly in its own post, but with the holidays and all, it won't be as soon as I thought.

I don't intend to "sanctify war," but I do think this war has accomplished a number of important things, including revealing our intelligence failures.
 


Hmmmm...I thought I had made a lengthy post to this yesterday, but it doesn't seem to be here...

At any rate, I don't care that the Senate committee is bipartisan, we'll never know if they did, in fact, have full access to all of the information, and, even if they did, their reports made available to the public are blackened out. I know they're blackened out for good reason, but I still have a really hard time taking anything that's been censored in any way at all as given fact.

My point here is this - that the trick is not to find more references than the other guy, but rather to read all of the references with a certain amount of skepticism and discern for yourself what you believe to be true. I freely accept my sources and references as suspect. You seem unable to do so. This is where we stop seeing eye-to-eye.

In regards to burden of proof - at the risk of sounding...redundant...I don't care where the burden of proof lay. For me, it doesn't enter into the equation. I can chuck all of my references to the wind and stick by the President's own words in the January '03 State of the Union address. Granted, I now see that we did find two trucks (although in a February address the President said there were six), there's still upwards of a thousand tons of chemicals unaccounted for. (side note: I do appreciate the link regarding the trucks - I'm not sure why this isn't more newsworthy)

Additionally, it's one thing to say or put into writing where the burden of proof lay, but when was the last time you were asked to prove that something DIDN'T exist? The simple physics of such a task are not nearly as easy.

You are correct. I have not refuted the liberation of the Iraqi people as one of our goals. I don't like Saddam any more than the next guy. I think he is an evil man. Regardless, however, I maintain that to invade another country required concrete proof of why we should do so. It was bad enough that we so easily dismissed the rest of the world and went in on our own. Now, to think that we did so without real proof of WMDs or links to Al Qaida well...that infuriates me.

Rethink my Joe Wilson conclusions? That's easy. Going back and reading my post I can see that I never made any. You asked me to give you references that contradict your references and that's exactly what I did. Again, we can both easily find sources that support the view of the truth that we each maintain.

Maybe you did cross the line in some of your comments, but no offense was taken. I enjoy healthy debate. ;)

I find your thoughts on the intelligence failures curious. I agree completely with what you say. What I don't understand is that you post all these things that seem to support the argument that there were WMDs and links to Al Qaida, but then you say there were intelligence failures? If there were WMDs and links to Al Qaida, then what failures are you referring to? ;)

Oh, and before I go, allow me to *thump* whip out my Webster's on you:

sanctify - To give social or moral sanction to.

Sounds an awful lot like what statement #6 is doing to me. I believe you when you say that it isn't your intention to sanctify war. But, you walk a very thin line. When I read something like statement #6 shortly followed by "factually correct", it makes my skin crawl.

I look forward to reading what I presume will be your justification for the profiteering gluttons of corporate America. ;)

Peace.
 


S: that the trick is not to find more references than the other guy, but rather to read all of the references with a certain amount of skepticism and discern for yourself what you believe to be true.

Agreed. That's what "Look closer. Think harder." is about. This has grown into too much of a link-fest, but it seemed appropriate.

S: I freely accept my sources and references as suspect. You seem unable to do so. ... You asked me to give you references that contradict your references and that's exactly what I did.

I disregarded your USA Today article because my NRO article directly refutes it with information learned in the two years between them. Had yours done that to mine, it would have made a big difference. I don't think you've looked at both carefully enough.

Skepticism's goal isn't to conclude we can't know anything for sure, but to be wary of each claim. At some point, after weighing everything, one can conclude one knows the truth beyond a reasonable doubt, or see the most likely candidate. I believe the objective observer would agree with me.

I saw no hint of skepticism in your reference to Joe Wilson. Further, you said earlier, "...in light of being told lie after lie," not, "...in light of being told what I think might possibly be lie after lie." Your skepticism was lacking here. (Wilson got people using the word "lie.")

S: Maybe you did cross the line...

Please forgive me.

S: What I don't understand is that you post all these things that seem to support the argument that there were WMDs and links to Al Qaida

Sorry I didn't make that clear enough.
* Stockpiles of WMD = intelligence failure. (Or our failure to find them.)
* Advanced WMD programs = intel failure.
* Intent to develop WMDs = accurate.
* WMD-related activity = accurate.
* Links to al Qaida = accurate.
* Other links to terrorism = accurate.
I think each should be considered. Re-read my posts with that in mind.

You say, "I don't care where the burden of proof lay," then, "I maintain that to invade another country required concrete proof of why we should do so." Seems like a contradiction to me, or at least a very fragile argument.

S: but when was the last time you were asked to prove that something DIDN'T exist?

Difficult, yes, but Libya proved it disarmed and ended its sanctions, so it can be done. (Much bigger intelligence failure here: we DIDN'T know that they DID have stockpiles.)

S: When I read something like statement #6 shortly followed by "factually correct", it makes my skin crawl.

Statements 1, 2 and 6 don't deal with facts. Statements 3, 4, 5 and 7 do. "Factually correct" meaning correct where the facts are concerned.

S: allow me to *thump* whip out my Webster's on you

Granted. I believe *this* war was just, sanctioned if you will, even in retrospect. "Sanctifying war" is a little too broad.
 

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