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Saddam had WMDs
National Review Online ^ | June 9, 2003 | Stanley Kurtz

Posted on 06/09/2003 12:42:54 PM PDT by hchutch

The United States has discovered weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I know this because I read it on the front page of the very liberal New York Times. Of course, the Times was only trying to hurt the administration. In the rush to Baghdad during the war, our troops bypassed and failed to secure one of Saddam's key nuclear facilities. That facility was looted by local villagers, who ransacked vaults and warehouses looking for anything of value. Many of the villagers took home radioactive barrels, and are now suffering from radiation poisoning. According to the Times, the looted nuclear facility, "contained ample radioactive poisons that could be used to manufacture an inestimable quantity of so-called dirty bombs."

So in the course of trying to embarrass the administration, the Times has inadvertently raised a very important point in the administration's defense. Saddam's nuclear-weapons program contained sufficient material to pose a serious threat to the United States. In the hands of terrorists, nuclear dirty bombs supplied by Saddam could have rendered landmarks and key sites in American cities uninhabitable for the foreseeable future.

And why did Saddam have a nuclear facility in the first place? It was, of course, part of his effort to produce a nuclear bomb. In fact, the nuclear site reported on by the Times was connected to the facility bombed years before by the Israelis, who had become convinced that Saddam was attempting to build a nuclear weapon. Thank goodness the Israelis acted. Thank goodness we did too.

Now it's true that this was a site that the inspectors knew about. That, however, might not have prevented Saddam from transferring the small amount of nuclear material necessary for a dirty bomb to terrorists. And the Iraqis may well have been carrying out other critical tasks in pursuit of a nuclear bomb at secret facilities. And there was always the danger that, in the absence of regime change, the Europeans would have tired of sanctions and inspections — as they'd done before — and let Saddam complete his nuclear work. The Europeans' renewed interest in sanctions was only prompted by America's preparations to invade, and we could not have kept our troops at the ready forever.

Another serious danger was the possibility that, at a propitious moment some time down the road, Saddam might simply have kicked the inspectors out. After all, that's what the North Koreans did. They waited till we were tied down by our struggle with Iraq, booted the inspectors out, and powered up their nuclear program. Had we failed to invade, Saddam could have waited until a weaker president was in power, and/or until the U.S. was tied down in a war (perhaps with Korea), and simply thrown the inspectors out. After all, he'd done it before.

Prior to the war, it was impossible to tell how close Saddam was to building a nuclear bomb. We hoped and believed that he was still at least a year or two away from success, although the possibility that he might be even closer than that had to be reckoned with. After all, our intelligence had once before proven wrong. We had underestimated the progress of Saddam's nuclear program, as we eventually learned from defectors. But even if Saddam was a couple of years away from a bomb, the need to invade was urgent. The point was precisely to stop Saddam before he got close enough to a bomb to exploit our uncertainty about his capacity and blackmail us. That, after all, is exactly what the North Koreans have been doing for some time.

All of this was publicly discussed before the war. Opponents of invasion emphasized that Saddam was probably at least a couple of years away from building a bomb. And they argued that conventional deterrence could in any case keep a nuclear-armed Saddam under control. Proponents of the war argued that Saddam might be closer to a bomb than we realized, and that, in any case, it was necessary to strike him quickly, when he was (we hoped) too far from a bomb to blackmail us.

Drawing on Kenneth Pollack's powerful case for invasion, proponents of the war argued that, once in possession of a bomb, Saddam could not be deterred in the way the Soviets once were. Opponents of war asked why we were not invading North Korea, which was so obviously close to having a bomb. Proponents of the war countered that we were invading Iraq to prevent it from becoming a North Korea — which was, by all accounts, far too close to having a bomb to safely invade.

In two pieces published in the run-up to the war, "Brave New World" and "Why Invade," I explained that the administration had not been able to fully and frankly emphasize the connection between Saddam's nuclear ambitions and the war. Both the president and the vice president did, of course, talk about the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Saddam. But to emphasize that, and especially to spell out the danger scenarios outlined explicitly by Kenneth Pollack, would have been difficult and awkward. It would have harmed American power to note in too much detail just how vulnerable we were to nuclear blackmail. The same dynamic helps explain the administration's relative silence about the barrel over which the North Koreans now have us. We do our best to pretend that Kim Jong Il has not got us in as difficult a situation as he in fact does.

But, again, this dynamic was by no means a complete secret before the war. The administration did include the danger of nuclear blackmail from Iraq in its publicly stated reasons for the war. And pundits did argue about all this. In particular, the war's proponents made the point that, Saddam's being perhaps a year or two away from a nuclear weapon (if we were lucky) made this exactly the moment to strike.

So the failure of the administration to turn up any chemical or biological weapons in Iraq is, from my perspective, not the key point. As I said repeatedly at the time, we were going to war to prevent Saddam from eventually producing nuclear weapons. That fact was known and even announced by the administration, but for reasons inherent to the nuclear game, could not be fully emphasized and spelled out.

Did the Iraqis have chemical and biological weapons? No one doubts that they did. Did they destroy or move them out of the country prior to the inspectors' arrival to prevent their discovery from justifying an invasion? Quite possibly. If so, in an effort to preserve the deterrent effect of our belief that he still possessed chemical and biological weapons, Saddam evidently decided not to give us evidence of their destruction. That was a very dangerous game to play — a game Saddam lost.

But the New York Times report on Iraq's pillaged nuclear facility reminds us that Saddam did in fact possess weapons of mass destruction — nuclear materials that could easily have supplied terrorists with "an inestimable quantity of so-called dirty bombs." And that very real danger was only the promise of a full-fledged nuclear bomb a few years down the road. We are all in debt to President Bush for acting, while there was still time, to prevent that disastrous outcome.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iraq; smokinggun; wmd; wmds
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Gee, looks less and less like Saddam was an innocent victim.
1 posted on 06/09/2003 12:42:54 PM PDT by hchutch
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To: Poohbah; dighton; Miss Marple; Howlin; Grampa Dave; BOBTHENAILER; Chancellor Palpatine; Dog; ...
Gee, could this explain a few things as well?

And any bets as to how long before the paleos come in with their usual blather?
2 posted on 06/09/2003 12:44:37 PM PDT by hchutch ("If you donít win, you donít get to put your principles into practice." David Horowitz)
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To: hchutch
No bets.
3 posted on 06/09/2003 12:45:28 PM PDT by Poohbah (Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women!)
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To: Poohbah
LOL!
4 posted on 06/09/2003 12:45:49 PM PDT by hchutch ("If you donít win, you donít get to put your principles into practice." David Horowitz)
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To: hchutch

5 posted on 06/09/2003 12:47:25 PM PDT by Grampa Dave (Evil Old White Devil Californian Grampa for big Al Sharpton and Nader in primaries!)
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To: colorado tanker; Congressman Billybob; Mo1
FYI ping.
6 posted on 06/09/2003 12:47:48 PM PDT by hchutch ("If you donít win, you donít get to put your principles into practice." David Horowitz)
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To: hchutch
With the media and RATS in full whine about the WMD......you know what is about to turn up???

WMD.

7 posted on 06/09/2003 12:49:52 PM PDT by Dog
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To: hchutch; sheltonmac
LOL!! And all the while the editor of the other neocon publication is questioning Bush. So the question I guess now is which neocon publication to believe? The Frummites at NRO or Kristol and the PNAC/Weekly Standard? Decisions, decisions....
8 posted on 06/09/2003 12:51:52 PM PDT by billbears (Deo Vindice)
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To: Dog
And ... without trying to be toooooo cynical ... the next statements from the libs/dems will be - THEY PLANTED THEM!!
9 posted on 06/09/2003 12:54:26 PM PDT by CyberAnt ( America - You Are The Greatest!!)
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To: hchutch
This is just plain silly. "Dirty bombs" are not weapons of mass destruction. They are more like weapons of mass annoyance. The main damage and loss of life caused by setting off a radiological bomb would come from the impact of the conventional explosives involved. The radioactivity would probably not kill anyone, or at worst would cause a slight increase (which was statistically questionable) in cancer 20 or 30 years down the road. The real impact of a radiological bomb would be to cause large portions of the affected city to be evacuated and/or abandoned (at a cost of tens or hundreds of billions of dollars) due to public hysteria over anything containing the word "radiation".

Let's save the term "Weapons of Mass Destruction" for weapons which truly kill large numbers of people, and not devalue our language for the sake of political expediency.

10 posted on 06/09/2003 12:56:28 PM PDT by dpwiener
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To: billbears
Never believe Kristol, even when he agrees with you. Always find another source. That's what I do.

Mr. Kristol wants nothing better than to divide Republicans and embarass the President. If he had been sure Bush would have invaded Iraq, he wouldn't have supported it. He accidentally, due to his misreading of the President, found himself on the same side.

Now he is doing his best to cause mischief, which is his usual goal. If Kristol is echoing your ill-founded suspicion that there are no WMD's, feel free to believe him and trumpet it everywhere. I, myself, wouldn't be so confident of his being correct.

11 posted on 06/09/2003 12:59:10 PM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: dpwiener
Well, let's see... a WMD would kill alotta people.
Use the right radioactive substance in a dirty bomb, and you kill alotta people with cancer later, or radiation sickness quickly.
Depends on where in the resultant particle cloud you are, and if you stir up contaminated dust and inhale it after the explosion.

So yes, it could be termed a WMD.
12 posted on 06/09/2003 1:00:50 PM PDT by Darksheare (Nox aeternus en pax.)
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To: billbears
And all the while the editor of the other neocon publication is questioning Bush.

Why on earth do you seem to think that National Review is a "neocon publication"?

The Frummites at NRO or Kristol and the PNAC/Weekly Standard? Decisions, decisions....

Delusions, delusions....

13 posted on 06/09/2003 1:02:24 PM PDT by Dr. Frank fan
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To: billbears
Apparently, the author of this piece did not get the talking points memo. The new story is: 'no WMDs have been found, but WMDs may yet be found, but even if their not found, it doesn't matter.'

http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1116
Iraq's Weapons & The Road to War
by Daniel Pipes
New York Post
June 3, 2003
Two oddly similar searches are underway in Iraq these days, one for Saddam Hussein and another for his weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Neither has yet been found.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/925665/posts

Bill Kristol: "We have interrogated a lot of people and we haven't found a single person who said he participated in disposing, destroying the stock of weapons of mass destruction. Or in hiding them."

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/925696/posts
James Lileks "It would be nice to find the weapons of mass destruction."
14 posted on 06/09/2003 1:02:43 PM PDT by JohnGalt (They're All Lying)
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To: billbears; sheltonmac
LOL!

You sure made it pretty quick.

And Kristol is only saying that they COULD have been made, nor did he even say the misstatements were intentional. Newsmax misquoted him, which is why I stopped really taking it seriously as a source a while ago.

Furthermore, I am sick and f***ing tired of hearing so-called conservatives who sound more like Michael Moore than Ronald Reagan. We did not apologize to Japan, nor back down, after Pearl Harbor, and I'll be damned if I am going to put up with ANYONE who think we ought to apologize or back down from ANY terrorist group or state sponsor of terror.

Go ahead, keep whining about PNAC. I'll proceed to write a check to them tonight, so they can keep up the good work!
15 posted on 06/09/2003 1:03:27 PM PDT by hchutch ("If you donít win, you donít get to put your principles into practice." David Horowitz)
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To: dpwiener
"Dirty bombs" are not weapons of mass destruction.

Okay boss so that means you wouldn't mind one bit if one went off near you. Suit yourself. Me, I'd rather not.

16 posted on 06/09/2003 1:03:38 PM PDT by Dr. Frank fan
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To: hchutch
And why did Saddam have a nuclear facility in the first place?

Goos question, but I would ask the question this way

Why did Saddam have a nuclear facility in the first place when Iraq is blessed with an over abundance of oil and hydro electric power?

There can be only one reasonable answer to this question.

17 posted on 06/09/2003 1:04:06 PM PDT by Pres Raygun
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To: hchutch
And any bets as to how long before the paleos come in with their usual blather?

A uncomfortable as it may be for many here to accept, sometimes the paleos are right. Kristol's preformance yesterday on FOX was close to a tribute to the paleo logic that brought them to conclude he is an untrustworthy and slippery little sneak.
18 posted on 06/09/2003 1:06:06 PM PDT by mr.pink
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To: mr.pink
FWIW, this "neo-con" has never been a fan of Kristol's. Yes, he's an untrustoworthy sort, and his recent move comes as no particular surprise, since he's still a raging McCainite.
19 posted on 06/09/2003 1:07:49 PM PDT by Poohbah (Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women!)
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To: Miss Marple
In this case, he was misquoted by Limbacher.

Kristol has his faults, but from the actual quotes, he was only raising a possibility. I've found the Weekly Standard's foreign policy to be pretty much on target, particularly after 9/11, and the maneuverings in the UN probably DID give Saddam enough time to ditch a portion of the evidence or to pass stuff along.

His comments were more along the lines of, "Bush and Blair made an honest mistake, assuming the worst-case scenario, which one cannot blame leaders for making after 9/11."

This article, by the way, renders his concerns moot in a big way, if you want my opinion. We've got materials that could be used in a dirty bomb. We have what is quite probably the basis for a nuclear weapons program.
20 posted on 06/09/2003 1:09:40 PM PDT by hchutch ("If you donít win, you donít get to put your principles into practice." David Horowitz)
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