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April 12, 2006

How is a trailer like a smoking gun?
Posted by Teresa at 05:58 PM * 106 comments

Return with us (with the help of the Washington Post) to those thrilling days of May 2003:

On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile “biological laboratories.” He declared, “We have found the weapons of mass destruction.”

Iraq’s supposed stashes of more conventional WMDs hadn’t turned up. Joseph Wilson and others had long since made it clear that Iraq had not been buying yellowcake (an atomic weapon precursor) from Niger. It was increasingly obvious to everyone but Tony Blair that the supposed WMDs simply weren’t there.

The U.S. military certainly didn’t believe Iraq had WMDs. How do we know that? Because they massed their troops and supplies on the Iraq border, and left them there for months in known locations. Donald Rumsfeld may be a complete incompetent, but the military leaders responsible for those arrangements weren’t insanely stupid—which is what it would have taken for them to mass troops and supplies in a fixed location if they thought there were any chance that the other side had WMDs.

Since the conventional WMD claim wasn’t working out, the Bush Administration’s next best dodge was to claim that Iraq had instead been making biological weapons. They’re the poor man’s WMDs: smaller, cheaper and simpler to produce, and the equipment used to make them isn’t all that different from that used in a wide variety of other applications. This meant Bush & Co. could, for a while at least, point at captured equipment and claim it was being used to make bio weapons.

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq—not made public until now—had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president’s statement.

Odds that Bush didn’t know about that: approximately zero.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped “secret” and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.

The only reasons I can see why Bush hasn’t been brought up on impeachment charges are that (1.) the Republicans have a majority in both houses; and (2.) many of those Republicans love their positions and their power far more than they love their country.

The biolab claim is only one in a series of claims about terrorists and Weapons of Mass Destruction, many of which later proved false, that were used as justification for the U.S. war on Iraq. They were also used to justify the Bush administration’s demand that within the United States they be allowed to exercise extraordinary and unprecedented power without commensurate accountability.

Someone has to declare a dividing line. I’m doing it. After this, there are three reasons to publicly support Bush, or to insist there must be an excuse for his actions:

1. You’re stupid.

2. You know there’s no excuse, but you’re too dishonest and unpatriotic to say so.

3. You’re bound by solemn oath to make a public show of supporting him (i.e., you’re in the military, and your job requires it).

Pick one.

Addendum, from the comment thread:

Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 06:22 AM:

…there are three reasons to publicly support Bush, or to insist there must be an excuse for his actions…

Actually, I think there is essentially only one reason and that reason is: you think it is the duty of America to dominate the world. Pax Americana, and all that. You are a Realist with the heretofore unglimpsed courage to do whatever needs to be done. We owe it to (America’s) children. The lies and deceptions and so forth are only flathead screwdrivers in the Toolbox of Democracy. None of this would be necessary if America hadn’t been such a pussy in the past. You do what you have to do and trust that the world will eventually thank you for it. And even if it doesn’t, screw ‘em: the American Colossus will nevertheless bestride the world. We had to destroy freedom and prosperity in order to save them, but never you mind: we were man enough to do it when it needed to be done, and when the courage of others failed us.

We’d feel bad about it, I guess, except we don’t.

It’s all necessary, see. That’s what all you whiners don’t seem to understand.

Comments on How is a trailer like a smoking gun?:
#1 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2006, 11:16 PM:

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped “secret” and shelved.

Since Dubya is in the mood to "declassify" information lately, it's rather odd that this one didn't make the grade.

#2 ::: Ayse Sercan ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2006, 11:25 PM:

How about:

4. Given the current political atmosphere, given your citizenship and immigration status, you are afraid that showing a lack of support for the president might mean losing everything you have, up to and including your life.

I'm not in that position, but good family friends are. It's horrible.

#3 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2006, 11:26 PM:

You’re bound by solemn oath to make a public show of supporting him (i.e., you’re in the military, and your job requires it).

well, more accurately, that should say "you're in the military, and you're career goal is to work at the pentagon" or something along those lines.

I know some military folks who think the president lugs a trainload of shit behind him that could fertilize the Sinai. Why, they wouldn't buy an apple from the son of a bitch and they consider him a good, close, personal friend.

#4 ::: Things That Ain't So ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2006, 11:27 PM:

Or:

5) In spite of everything, you still watch Fox News.

Or was that Faux News?

#5 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2006, 11:54 PM:

hm, come to think of it, Dubya will respond to this by saying that he never said "those specific trailers" were the ones he said were WMD's. Yeah, that's the ticket. It was two other trailers they found, but they had to be immediately classified, well, because they were WMD's, and you can't just having them laying around in the open, unclassified.

#6 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 12:00 AM:

It was increasingly obvious to everyone but Tony Blair that the supposed WMDs simply weren’t there.

and Christopher Hitchens in Slate this week.

#7 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 12:02 AM:

It isn't only Congress and the media that need to grow spines -- it's us. I don't mean folks whose lives might be in danger if they cease to support George Bush. But I do mean s.o.bs. like Colin Powell, who knew that what he was saying was a load of crap and said it anyway; I mean those folks in the Pentagon who don't want to drop nukes on Iran; I mean all of us who could put "When Clinton lied, nobody died" bumper stickers on their cars, and haven't done it because we don't want to upset the neighbors... I mean me. I haven't figured out yet what I can do but I have figured out that I can't do nothing.

You guys outside the US are, in some ways, the lucky ones. We get to fck this goat. You get to watch.

#8 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 12:08 AM:

Reason 3 against impeachment: President Cheney

At this point, my nightmare scenario is Bush is impeached, Cheney is President, handpicks someone just as frightning for VP, rides into elected office as an incumbent against an inarticulate opponent and the imperial presidency continues when he keels over.

#9 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 12:30 AM:

For the record, I've chosen option two.

#10 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 12:40 AM:

6. You know you're "Right." Being "Right" trumps everything, and excuses anything, because civilization and everything that's good and right and proper is in the balance.

Being "Right" is easy; you just have to believe you're not one of them. You might be a dirt poor wage slave, or a college student facing poor employment prospects and years of crushing debt . . . you can still proudly fly the "Right" banner.

#11 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 12:46 AM:

There's a reason I seldom post on rasff anymore. This bit from a post of 6 Dec 2004 explains why:

"Unlike the large numbers of the general public who are kept ignorant by a compliant media, the people on this newsgroup who voted Republican did so in the full knowledge of this administration's attitude to torture. That they still did so is a de facto show of support for that attitude. For me, torture is *the* tripwire issue that separates civilized, decent people from barbarians. Even if I supported everything else a party stood for, I could not in good conscience vote for them if I knew they supported torture. Abstaining would be my only option. Not wanting to have anything to do with people who have demonstrated they are neither
civilized nor decent, I've mostly been staying away."

As far as I'm concerned, these people have put themselves beyond the pale. That an administration so casual about torture should be corrupt in so many other ways is not really surprising.

#12 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 12:57 AM:

There seems to be a lot of sound and fury on newsgroups that's down to unthinking Bush supporters, the sort of people who think that the situation in Florida 2000 required that the votes not be counted.

And it's getting worse.

I find I'm getting more fannishness here than in rec.arts.sf.fandom, even though this is a horribly structured medium. RASFF is notorious for thread-drift, but the information built into the message headers on a newsgroup lets you follow the chain of replies. And you don't have to rely on your hosts to start something off.

Plus, there are killfiles.

It's all very well talking about standing up to recapture the political public space, and overcoming the failings of the mass media. And fighting the dead hand of corporate America is not going to be easy. But it's hard for me to look at RASFF today and not think that nobody is willing to fight. Nobody, and that includes me.

#13 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 01:47 AM:

HIGH TREASON
Crimes against Humanity
Malfeasance
Gross negligence resulting in massive losses of life (Katrina, invasion of Iraq and misadministration after the invasion)
Geneva Convention violations (failure to protect museums, libraries, archives, archaeological sites, power distribution systems, water and sewage facilities, hospitals, military records which may have had records of crimes against humanity committed per order of Saddam Hussein gassing not only military combatants but civilians and otherwise committing atrocities on civilians; failure to capture and in an orderly fashion outprocess the Iraqi military to separate out the commissioners and committers of atrocities from soldiers who did not engage in crimes against humanity... failure to protect international historical heritage....
Lying under oath (oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America)
Cruel and unusual punishment
Presiding over a whole series of illegal activities

HUBRIS

#14 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 02:09 AM:

Lizzy L - The luck of those outside the US is confined to those we aren't actively bombing right now.

Mark DF - President Cheney isn't such a bad idea - at least it would reveal the man behind the curtain.

---

Generally, aside from voting religiously, I'm not sure what I can do. Especially since support for the president seems to be based on belief, and not on evidence.

That said, I've actually found myself thinking of contingency protest/action plans should this band of scoundrels actually use a tactical nuclear weapon. And to think, I used to be worried about the Russians.

#15 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 02:10 AM:

At the young adult Seder I went to tonight, we named Dubya the fifth plague.

#16 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 02:12 AM:

actually, I meant the eleventh. Too much manischewitz.

#17 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 06:22 AM:

...there are three reasons to publicly support Bush, or to insist there must be an excuse for his actions...

Actually, I think there is essentially only one reason and that reason is: you think it is the duty of America to dominate the world. Pax Americana, and all that. You are a Realist with the heretofore unglimpsed courage to do whatever needs to be done. We owe it to (America's) children. The lies and deceptions and so forth are only flathead screwdrivers in the Toolbox of Democracy. None of this would be necessary if America hadn't been such a pussy in the past. You do what you have to do and trust that the world will eventually thank you for it. And even if it doesn't, screw 'em: the American Colossus will nevertheless bestride the world. We had to destroy freedom and prosperity in order to save them, but never you mind: we were man enough to do it when it needed to be done, and when the courage of others failed us.

We'd feel bad about it, I guess, except we don't.

It's all necessary, see. That's what all you whiners don't seem to understand.

#18 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 07:51 AM:

shorter Michael Weholt's summary of the mindset of the PNACkered:

"Not kennt kein Gebot"

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 08:44 AM:

One turns to the poets, and finds:

The Fall of Rome

The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
Agents of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax-defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.

Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend.

Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.

Caesar's double-bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
Writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK
On a pink official form.

Unendowed with wealth or pity,
Little birds with scarlet legs,
Sitting on their speckled eggs,
Eye each flu-infected city.

Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.

-- W.H. Auden

#20 ::: suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 09:48 AM:

I've long said that the only three possible reasons anyone could support Dubya are ignorance, greed, and mental illness.

I hadn't considered the working-for-the-military angle (or Ayse's point #4), but I guess if you add "coercion" to the list I can't think of anything that doesn't fall into one or more of those categories.

#21 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 09:52 AM:

Personally, I think that the odds of W not knowing about anything are always far greater than zero.

#22 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 10:07 AM:

Richard --

Given his oath and his duty, that is in him a sin unto the ashes of his fathers and the host of the forerunning dead, who strove and fell and died that great things might not perish.

#23 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 11:21 AM:

Rebecca - I think that George II is, with regard to plagues, multiplicative, not additive. If they were still alive, the assorted Rabbis in the Haggadah would be multiplying plagues not only by George, but by each member of his cabinet.

#24 ::: Sanya ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 11:53 AM:

Hosted at Wonkette, by way of Andrew Sullivan, in response to the idea that Bush MUST have known anything at all:

Rules of Engagement for Mercenaries

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 11:55 AM:

Larry B: Surely the current president is George III?

#26 ::: Sanya ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 11:55 AM:

http://www.wonkette.com/politics/funny-videos/bush-urges-nation-tip-your-waitress-166267.php

Sorry, the link failed, my bad.

#27 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Fragano, I think of Washington as George the zero-th. He's so far above the incumbent in quality that they can't be compared.

And I vote for impeaching Cheney first. That way we might get someone honestly competent - or competently honest - as VP.

#28 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 12:24 PM:

Good heavens! Like a late-model Honda on a Brooklyn back street, I done been boosted!

Jeez. I'm honored. Thanks.

#29 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 12:50 PM:

Michael: Being in the service doesn't mandate support (public or private). It constrains, to some degree, how one voices one's dislike, but doesn't force one to pretend shit is shinola.

There may be consequences for one's lack of support (viz. the shameful method used to sack Eric Shinseki for the crime of being publically willing to disagree with Rummy's war plan).

Anyone who wants to see disagreement with the policies of this administration can wander to my blog.

Yes, I can't say everything I might want to, because I am required to show some respect for the Office (and I don't choose to hide my military affiliation), but no one who reads it, for long, will think I support Bush.

Mark: I don't think (and the performance of the crowd at the home game opener for the Nationals is cited as evidence) a man with an approval rating in the upper-teens/low twenties can get re-elected, as the incumbent who replaced the incompetent boss he supported, or was seen as the string-puller managing the puppet show.

#30 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 01:03 PM:

PJ: I take your points! Of course, the possibility that if Cheney were to be removed from office, die, or quit the substitute would be Don Rumsfeld is something to be considered.

#31 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 01:13 PM:

Terry Karney: Michael: Being in the service doesn't mandate support (public or private).

If you are responding to what I wrote, which I assume you must be since so far as I can tell I am the only Michael whose comments precede yours, I wasn't actually talking about attitudes of people in the service at all. I think I helped defend you once before on this point -- when somebody in here was suggesting that people who served in military were somehow co-conspirators with Bush, I believe.

I actually think people in the military are in the best position to not subscribe to the sort of attitude I was "voicing" above, their asses being the ones on the line and such, as opposed to all those asses with the Requisite Courage who've never worn a uniform in their lives.

#32 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 02:12 PM:

A while back (during the last election, I think) Janeane Garofalo was on The Daily Show, and something she said stuck in my mind:

At this point, I think the only thing that voting for Bush indicates is a major character flaw.

At the time, I thought it was funny but a little harsh, but as more time has passed and the situation has gotten more and more surreal, the sentiment seems pretty damn close to the truth.

#33 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 02:20 PM:

Rebecca --

I sort of liked the fifth plague, between flies and boils. Traditionally the fifth was a murrain, or cattle disease, sometimes identified as anthrax.

Dubya or anthrax -- some choice considering the context.

#34 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 02:41 PM:

PJ Evans: Regarding impeaching Cheney...

Remember the line of succession. IF you successfuly impeach Cheney and Bush, the next in line to be President is the Speaker of the House, then the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and then the line goes down through the Cabinet.

(Frankly, at this point I'd be inclined to impeach a good number of the Cabinet as well...that is IF they're impeachable.)

Lori

#35 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 02:44 PM:

Larry: True. But I think on the Republican side, those who believe Cheney pulls the strings don't care and on the Democratic side, those who do either always thought so or later became convinced. In other words, no one would be surprised.

Terry:After 2004, I don't believe logic works at all any more. Heck, even in 2000, I thought how could anyone vote for a mediocre thinker who's obviously buying the election with daddy's money and connections. But they both happened. Chalk me up as an exhausted paranoid!

#36 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 02:58 PM:

Michael:

It seems to me, in trying to understand why 50% of U.S. voters went for Bush, last time, that the "Pax Americana" worldview can account for only some of them.

If you buy into the idea that Making Light readers are exemplars of people who will be tasked with campaigning for Democrats in the 2006 and 2008 elections, then I think we owe it to ourselves to develop a broad understanding of the attitudes we'll be campaigning against.

My guess is that a number of Bush voters didn't think things through to the point where they voted for the principle that "the U.S. has the responsibility to rule the world." They may only have gotten as far as "Really bad people want to hurt us. I want someone who says he'll stop (or kill) them, now!"

We won't win those people over by telling them that they're actually unconscious hegemonists -- even if they are. But we might win some of those votes by asking them to consider whether Bush's methods are really stopping (or killing) the bad guys.

From there, expand the discussion into consideration of how many "non bad guys" are having their lives ruined by actions that aren't stopping the *small* gang of bad guys, either.

On the other hand, it may not be the mission or duty of Making Light readers to go out and campaign for erstwhile Republican votes -- in which case, we can just continue to agree among ourselves about how illogical they are, and how much evil they're voting to support.

#37 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 02:58 PM:

Re: George III: I sometimes call the man in the White House by that epithet, because well, think of the symbolism!

#38 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 03:12 PM:

You want to know the single most common remark I ran into? Nothing about Iraq, nothing about taxes, nothing about terrorism:

"If Kerry is elected he'll ban guns."

#39 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 03:13 PM:

Lenny Bailes: Michael: It seems to me, in trying to understand why 50% of U.S. voters went for Bush, last time, that the "Pax Americana" worldview can account for only some of them.

I agree with you, but the question wasn't why 50% of U.S. voters went for Bush last election; the question concerned the reasons why there is a percentage of the population that still publicly supports him. That brings us down to about 30% or so, I think, which if Bush were running again would hardly merit campaigning him against at all since he's already done most of the work for us.

#40 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 03:26 PM:

Michael: It's true that Bush wouldn't be reelected, but where I live, Democrats still aren't trusted. So we'd end up with yet another Rethug/Pharisee in charge.

OTOH, Cheney was just here campaigning for somebody. Organizers claimed 150 people paid to get in, the local fishwrap estimated fewer than 100 showed up, and there were about 25 protesters outside.

OTGH, I have no idea what to do about any of this.

#41 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 03:32 PM:

TexAnne: Michael: It's true that Bush wouldn't be reelected, but where I live, Democrats still aren't trusted. So we'd end up with yet another Rethug/Pharisee in charge.

Right, I didn't mean to imply that next election was going to be a cake-walk. I don't think it will be at all, unfortunately, and in that regard I think everything Lenny said is both correct and useful.

#42 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 03:36 PM:

A shorter summary of the "Pax Americana" viewpoint seems to be "you're drunk on testosterone", which might fit into the "mental illness" category.

Although I never heard the "But Kerry will ban guns" argument, I did hear repeated several times the argument that Theresa Heinz-Kerry isn't classy enough to deserve to be First Lady. But that's probably because I know more people who care about owning a complete china set than people who care about owning a handgun.

#43 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 03:38 PM:

Michael: After rereading your comments, I think my conditioned flinch won out over my brains.

Everyone: I welcome any and all suggestions about what red-state liberals can do, especially since many of us are reluctant to speak up for fear of what would happen if our employers found out.

#44 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 04:07 PM:

Daniel Martin: A shorter summary of the "Pax Americana" viewpoint seems to be "you're drunk on testosterone", which might fit into the "mental illness" category.

Possibly, but in my opinion it doesn't have to do with testosterone so much. At least not in the way you'd normally think. That is, it isn't about being macho so much as it's about being tough-minded. Americans love tough minds (also known sometimes as "thick skulls").

Being tough-minded is manly, and there's your testosterone for you, but the problem is a lot of Americans can't always figure out what they want their minds to be tough about. Guys like Bush are perfect for that sort of thing. All tough and no mind. He's like a piece of USB hardware. You plug him in, the machine automatically detects a new device, and starts the install.

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 04:15 PM:

Sanya, could you try that again?

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 04:21 PM:

Jim McDonald: How many of them realised how absurd that statement was?

#47 ::: Rob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 04:31 PM:

4. Benighted Self-Interest

Everyone talks about how much the 'war' and 'reconstruction' costs, but they ignore where the money is going: flag-waving American companies. God forbid the corporations that got W 'elected' donate anything to the effort.

#48 ::: murgatroyd ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 04:34 PM:

"secret fact-finding mission"

Doesn't that say it all? Fact finding must be conducted in secret.

Truthiness for peeance and freeance, however, is perfectly public.

#49 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 04:49 PM:

There has to be some place of common ground between the red state and blue state people. Despite all the cultural differences, we all still share some core "American" values. Don't we? Liberty would be one. How about the pursuit of happiness?

To their benefit, the Republicans have been able to play off the cultural differences by fear mongering: "Don't vote for them. They'll ban guns." Why can't the Democrats do the opposite and emphasize the shared values? Just what those are I'm not certain about (the ones I mentioned above are pretty general), but I know they must exist. They're whatever it is that makes people want to immigrate here.

I don't know. Someone smarter and more experienced could probably say better than me. I do know that division is doing us nothing but harm. There's hope in unity.

#50 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 04:51 PM:

Joe J, there's a huge amount of shared ground. The far right had to demonize the word "liberal" to obfuscate that fact.

#51 ::: Patrick Weekes ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 04:56 PM:

I brought this up with a conservative friend of mine, asking what the conservative response was. I consider him a good friend and a good person, and I'm always interested in how he and I seem to be reading radically different newspapers.

His responses were:

1) This story isn't being discussed right now in conservative forums or blogs. It's a non-issue. They're all talking about immigration. He hadn't even heard it -- and this is someone who reads a lot of the conservative blogs and watches Fox News. He is well-informed within the conservative arena. That struck me as slightly scary.

2) After giving it a quick read, he said that his first impression was that this wasn't proof that Bush used this information as a lie to start a war under false pretenses, since it came out after the war was already underway. My friend readily admits that Bush's prewar assertions have been wrong so far, but he didn't see this as proof that Bush was lying -- since it was possible that Bush might not have read a report filed just two days before Bush made his statement. (And when I say that he admits Bush was wrong, I mean that he admits that we haven't found the weapons. He still believes that Saddam was dangerous enough that it's good for him to be out of power.)

Again, my friend has no objections to the truth. If I can show him a timeline, with links to each stage of that timeline, he's willing to look. He might come up with a justification (like, "He might have had to lie because giving out the real information on why they had to go to war would have strengthened the terrorists,"), but I'd like to take that as it comes.

So, here's what would really help me in continuing this dialogue with my friend:

1) A link to Bush's original statement that those trailers were used for biological weapons, complete with the date and where he made that statement. My google search came up with bupkus, and the Washington Post article (and the others like it) didn't have helpful links to the articles regarding Bush's original statement.

2) A page with a solid timeline, so that I can show logically when the invasion began, when the trailers were found, when the report was made, and when Bush made the report, all on one page.

While I understand the need to vent, and I really like Making Light is a great place in that regard, just telling me that my conservative friend is an evil person who's given up his humanity isn't going to help me convince him of anything. He's not socially conservative, and he's got no worries about gay marriage -- he's the strong-defense conservative, the kind that we really need to bring into the fold if the country is going to move away from Bush-and-friends in the coming years.

#52 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 05:00 PM:

Teresa: We need to save that word, then. It's time to re-educate the county on what it means to be "liberal." I believe it is a good thing to be. I don't see why other people can't see it the same way, eventually. At least, it's a place to start.

#53 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 05:06 PM:

Michael Weholt wrote: "when somebody in here was suggesting that people who served in military were somehow co-conspirators with Bush, I believe."

Again, for the record, that's not what I meant to suggest, and I was mortified to learn that was how I was interpreted. Once more, I ask to be forgiven for causing anyone to take offense.

#54 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 05:30 PM:

Lenny Bailes wrote:

If you buy into the idea that Making Light readers are exemplars of people who will be tasked with campaigning for Democrats in the 2006 and 2008 elections, then I think we owe it to ourselves to develop a broad understanding of the attitudes we'll be campaigning against.

That's a good point. For what it's worth, my family's positions seem to me to be fairly representative.

1. My mother supports Bush because she believes the Iraq war has something to do with fighting terrorism. She really believes--to this day, as far as I know--that the Iraq war is being conducted in response to 9/11. I believe that's a fairly common position. If so, we're in trouble--to whatever degree a person still thinks the Iraq war is related to 9/11, they're probably not reachable through rational discourse.

I did, however, make some slight progress with her when I approached her from the torture angle. IMHO, the Abu Ghraib pictures and the administration's subsequent response to them are our single strongest weapon in 2008.

2. My father voted Republican largely out of a deep and personal hatred for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Bill's more or less out of the picture, but hatred of Hillary still seems to be a strong motivator for a lot of men. I personally have nothing against her, but I am convinced that the Democrats are flat-out screwed if she's on the ticket in '08. She's as much a gift to the GOP as the torture issue is to the Democrats.

3. On a happier note, I did have some success in convincing my grandmother that Bush was bad. She was totally appalled to find out the degree to which he's running a budget deficit. People of her generation aren't big into buying on credit. That might be a good place to start.

#55 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 05:52 PM:

Patrick Weekes writes: So, here's what would really help me in continuing this dialogue with my friend: 1) A link to Bush's original statement that those trailers were used for biological weapons, complete with the date and where he made that statement. My google search came up with bupkus, and the Washington Post article (and the others like it) didn't have helpful links to the articles regarding Bush's original statement. 2) A page with a solid timeline, so that I can show logically when the invasion began, when the trailers were found, when the report was made, and when Bush made the report, all on one page.

We're probably gonna have to built it ourselves. It's not easy.

tristero at Digby's Hullaballoo posted a timeline on what little of the bioweapons trailer story appeared in the press, showing how it was publicly debunked in early June 2003. Administration officials continued flogging it for months afterward. The rest we still need to produce.

One of the problems you have with finding primary documentation about the President's claim is that he made it in an interview for Polish television. He said, "for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them." It was widely understood and non-controversial at the time that he was talking about the recently discovered trailers.

Another problem is that the press pretty much regarded this as a total non-story at the time. The reason you can't find much in the web archives is that there wasn't much written about it. There was some, but not much.

So here's a starting point for your timeline— invasion begins in March 2003. We have just learned about the secret report on May 27 showing how the trailer story was known to be bogus. President ignores it and goes on Polish TV two days later, saying "we found them [the banned manufacturing devices]." The story is publicly debunked in the following weeks. President Vice President and other members of the administration continue flogging the story— Cheney repeated it as late as January 2004. In September 2004, the Iraq Survey Group formally reports that the trailers were not mobile biological weapons manufacturing systems.

Did the President read the report? Maybe not. Did the White House stop flogging the story when it was their own professionals were telling them it wasn't true and it had been publicly debunked in the NY Times and the UK Guardian? Well, no— they didn't. Was that lying? We prefer to call it aggressively carrying the narrative.

Your friend can rest easy. There is no proof here the President lied. (The story about the aluminum tubes, on the other hand...)

#56 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 06:14 PM:

Patrick Weekes
I brought this up with a conservative friend of mine, asking what the conservative response was. .....

His responses were:

1) This story isn't being discussed right now in conservative forums or blogs. It's a non-issue. They're all talking about immigration. He hadn't even heard it -- and this is someone who reads a lot of the conservative blogs and watches Fox News. He is well-informed within the conservative arena. That struck me as slightly scary.........

This set of pointers from Glenn Reynolds - who in some circle is called conservative as though it be a pejorative like unto liberal:
ED MORRISSEY CHARGES FRAUD http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/006736.php on a Washington Post bioweapons story. ("Instead of simply reporting that the Pentagon didn't have consensus on this issue and that the minority report wound up being the most accurate, Joby Warrick turns the story into a Geraldo Rivera my-life-is-actually-in-danger type of journalism that substitutes cheap sensationalism for accuracy.") Bob Owens agrees. http://confederateyankee.mu.nu/archives/170315.php Related thoughts here. http://corner.nationalreview.com/06_04_09_corner-archive.asp#094788 links not linked to avoid exceeding a magic number

This from Mark DF:
how could anyone vote for a mediocre thinker who's obviously buying the election with daddy's money and connections
Connections yes, money no. Although undeniably upper class by American standards - Andover and Yale - Bush father didn't have a lot of money in terms of buying elections - the last financial statement I remember for Bush father

(and I'd take it there has been no requirement for public statements in recent years, I don't doubt the presidency was good for the Bush family as it seems to be for every ex- these days, no more Grant writing through the pain to provide for his family)

the bulk of his net worth was in the Maine home. I'd go along with the notion that by being first out of the gate looking for contributions and getting them Bush son was first past the post. Personally I blame Bob Dole for running when it was too late for Dole and so foreclosing a generation of Republicans that might have included somebody decent. It's interesting to look at current campaign war chests as of today.

It would seem to me perfectly simple for the Democratic Party - not for individuals who answer to their own beliefs and believe taxing bullets is the answer to crime - but for the Party - to take gun grabbing out of the platform and offer convincing appeal on the issue. Something like reopening registration for newly made Thompsons and other true assault weapons to be sold with the same permitting and taxing requirements as grandfathered aging legal Thompsons are today.

The Democrats could clean up state and local governments in places like Northeastern Illinois and New Jersey and Washington DC and fill in the blank then sweep on to clean up national government.

#57 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 06:36 PM:

j h woodyatt: Again, for the record, that's not what I meant to suggest, and I was mortified to learn that was how I was interpreted. Once more, I ask to be forgiven for causing anyone to take offense.

Sorry, I was working it from memory just to establish I didn't have anything against -- nor was I saying anything against -- military service personnel. I accept, and I think others accept, that you didn't mean to slag members of the services in general.

#58 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 06:45 PM:

Scott H:

Although I think the Iraq invasion would have been immoral and a mistake, even if conducted competently, the answer I'd make to your mother, is this:

"Look what a mess they've made of it." Support this with quotes and statistics:
a) Many U.S. Army professionals are speaking up about the incompetence -- no post-war reconstruction plans, consistent resource mismanagement since the initial invasion, terrible strategic (not just tactical) military and political errors

b) Look at the corruption and theft that's occurred in the management of post-War reconstruction.

Don't start by accusing the Bush administration of deliberate theft and mismanagement -- just present instance after instance that leads the reader from "they made some mistakes" to "they created chaos that invited large-scale theft and led to the opposite of what they told you they hoped to achieve."

First get your voter over to "they may have meant well, but they don't have a clue about managing the consequences they created." *Then* work on converting "they may have meant well" to "they may have thought they could some good by *playing at war* while helping their friends to accumulate personal wealth."

Once you raise sufficient doubt about the competence of Bush and his supporting Republican base, you have to deal with the "Democrats are just as bad, or worse" meme.

Kerry, a member of the NRA, would ban all private gun sales?

Be honest in argument. A Democratic president might favor adding more Federal and State oversight to the process of buying and registering weapons. Gore, and other Democrats, support the position shared by many Police Departments: that the sale of semi-automatic and automatic weapons to private consumers should continue to be illegal.

But put that in context. Which party is demonstrating a daily belief that "the ends justify the means." Who is sanctioning the use of torture as a military tool? (Apply selected Dick Cheney quotes, here, as needed.) Which party leaders are demonstrating willingness to break the system of checks and balances established by 200 years of American government? Which party leaders are telling you to discard the legislative process and replace it with one executive's personal interpretation of right and wrong?

Encourage your voter to read actual speeches delivered by Kerry, Gore, Feingold and other Democrats. Compare them with speeches delivered by Bush, Cheney, DeLay, and Frist. Who's showing respect for the listener and who's trying to tell you what you *must* believe?

#59 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 06:48 PM:

"could some good" -> "could do some good"

#60 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 06:55 PM:

Lenny Bailes: Once you raise sufficient doubt about the competence of Bush and his supporting Republican base...

I heartily endorse the notion that from the very beginning the issue has been one of incompetence. I've been harping on it for ages, along with a good many other people. It has a couple of advantages: (1) it's provable, and (2) if you just stick with it, and you are dealing with people with honest minds, you never have to get to the part about intentions (which may be obvious to some of us, but are pretty hard to sell to people who aren't already buying).

#61 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 07:28 PM:

To add to Lenny Bailes's and Michael Weholt's very good advice, pay attention to the criticisms of Bush being raised by conservatives. One can create a powerful anti-W, anti-neocon argument by simply beginning a sentence with "Here's what others in the Republican Party are saying...."

Of course, the problem with this tack is that it doesn't necessarily move someone over into the Democratic column. But hey, first things first.

#62 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 07:43 PM:

The trouble with running on competence:

1. It personalizes the issue too much. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld are not going to be running for election ever again. It's too easy for a Republican candidate to agree that Bush is incompetent and say: So what? Sure, Bush is incompetent, but I'm not Bush. Bush and I agree on goals, but I'll carry them out correctly.
2. If your sole argument is that the other guy is incompetent, then you'd better be prepared to prove that you're more competent. That's hard, especially when you can expect that you'll be the target of a negative ad campaign.

The basic problem is that Bushism without Bush will not be an improvement. It's the ideology that's evil. We need to convince the country to repudiate this crowd's goals, not just their skill at carrying out those goals.

#63 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 07:45 PM:

Michael Weholt: I don't think the phrase, "duty bound" leaves a whole lot of wiggle room. If I am duty bound to never diminish the public image of the president, then the things I have written and said are offenses punishable by time in prison.

But I wasn't completely awake (late night, with Passover) and confused your comment with the sentiment Teresa expressed.

Which was a pair of errors on my part. 1: You didn't say that, 2: I know that she was addressing the public face one must put on any official statements about the CinC. I probably ought to have extended the same understanding to you. I'm sorry.

TexAnne: Write letters to the editor. If you are worrried about your job, set up a proxy e-mail account and treat it as though you were writing an open letter in the manner of the Federalists.

The more letters which are sent to papers, the more likely they are to publish those on our side of the debate. The more letters from our side of the debate they get, the more they will believe our side isn't the marginal gasps of holdovers from the sixties, who are out of touch with, "the heartland."

Lenny: Semi-automatic weapons aren't illegal. Other than that I'm not going into what is, fundamentally, a religious debate.

#64 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 07:47 PM:

Lenny Bailes
Kerry, a member of the NRA, would ban all private gun sales?

More specifically all private ammunition sales -
Senator Kerry: "[R]egulating only weapons is naive." 141 Cong. Rec. S2826 (daily ed. Feb. 16, 1995) (statement of Sen. Kerry).

Senator Kerry noted:
[N]o gun works without a bullet. Yet for no good reason, Congress in the early 1980's repealed laws that regulate ammunition. And while a background check is required to stop felons from purchasing guns, no such background check is required to stop them from buying ammunition for the guns they may already have. 141 Cong. Rec. S2826 (daily ed. Feb. 16, 1995) (statement of Sen. Kerry).

"Felons who want to kill will always find guns, but have to come out of the woodwork to purchase ammunition." 141 Cong. Rec. S2826 (daily ed. Feb. 16, 1995) (statement of Sen. Kerry).

See also Ammunition Safety Act of 1997, S. 553, 105th Cong. Ammunition Safety Act of 1995, S. 433, 104th Cong. (Sen. Kerry's own personal suggestions for controlling ammunition under Brady rules);

Kerry really does have a long and visible record as a gun grabber -


#65 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 07:55 PM:

Clark E. Myers said:
It would seem to me perfectly simple for the Democratic Party - not for individuals who answer to their own beliefs and believe taxing bullets is the answer to crime - but for the Party - to take gun grabbing out of the platform

Ahem. From the 2004 Democratic platform:

"We will protect Americans' Second Amendment right to own firearms, and we will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists by fighting gun crime, reauthorizing the assault weapons ban, and closing the gun show loophole, as President Bush proposed and failed to do."

This is the only mention of gun control in the platform, and that doesn't look like "gun grabbing" to me. There's other stuff in there about crime, too.

Although Instapundit may be trying to spin the trailers revelation, a quick check of rightnation.us and freerepublic indicates that there's no associated thread on the top page. The revelation that sensible people realized that canvas-sided bioweapons trailers were unlikely even before this administration pimped them for a year just doesn't seem as interesting as immigration, Iran, or how evil liberals/democrats are.

I do agree that it's more correct to say that W relied on his father's connections rather than his money. Throughout his business career, his father's friends have bailed him out and helped him fall upward.

#66 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 07:56 PM:

Matt Austern: The basic problem is that Bushism without Bush will not be an improvement. It's the ideology that's evil.

The only change I would make in that would be: "It's the ideology that's incompetent."

If I thought Bushism would preserve freedom, increase prosperity, secure justice for all, and keep me safe, I'd pretty much be a Bushite.

I'm not a Bushite.

Bushism, as the evidence abundantly shows, is an incompetent ideology. Evil doesn't enter into it (at least for the purposes of persuading the unpersuaded).

That's my feeling, anyway.

#67 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 07:59 PM:

Chad E Myers continues: Kerry really does have a long and visible record as a gun grabber -

Might I ask - what is the acceptable level of firearms legislation below "gun grabbing"?

Is it OK to regulate private ownership of nuclear weapons? Automatic weapons? What if citizens are convicted felons? Mentally ill? Untrained in firearm safety? How about non-citizens?

#68 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 08:42 PM:

!Refusal to be drawn on this thread. !Suggestion to view all by.

#69 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 08:55 PM:

Terry: I thought that the California ban against "Assault Weapons" (which includes a number of semi-automatic designs) was still in force. I'm sure you and almost everyone here knows more about this subject than I do. I shouldn't subsume California into the rest of the country, where the Federal "Assault Weapons" ban was repealed in 2004. (Not to mention the issue of whether lumping semi-automatic weapons into an "Assault" category is/was a bad idea to begin with.)

I tend to look to pronouncements of law enforcement officials as to what should and shouldn't be legal -- because I personally prefer not to be around any firearms, period, and not to think about them much. I'll certainly concede that this isn't an informed point of view.

In terms of the more strategic issue of myths about Democrats: I may fit the stereotypical profile of what irritates private firearm rights advocates -- except that I don't support "grabbing" any currently-legal private weapons without new acts of a legitimately-elected Congress, which I would hope would be more informed on the subject than I am.

I'm not up on what Gore has said on the subject, recently. It will definitely be an issue, if he runs again -- and I would hope that he's capable of crafting a more political statement to address it.

In terms of trying to persuade a firearms rights advocate to vote for Gore, I'd stress the point of candidates respecting the democratic process and living with legislative consensus, rather than trying to overthrow the system to impose a personal, subjective point of view on everyone as "the law."

#70 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 09:56 PM:

Lori C: The line of succession doesn't come into play if Cheney is taken out - remember, we got Jerry Ford because Agnew resigned midterm. Appoint new VP with consent (or hopefully the strong advice) of Congress, swear him or maybe her in, then you can impeach Shrub and have a VP who is presumably competent and honest (if Congress does its job for a change), all ready to step in.

#71 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 10:15 PM:

I shouldn't subsume California into the rest of the country....

"shouldn't subsume the rest of the country into California ...."

#72 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 10:25 PM:

Lenny, you mean everything loose doesn't end up in California when things go tilt?

#73 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 10:35 PM:

Lenny: Calif. has a ban on certain specific guns, one of the properties of which is being semi-automatic. With a very small amount of work I could convert a WW1 British Rifle into a weapon that probably fit the requirements, and was bolt action.

As for the pronouncements of, "law enforcement" the rank and file (of whom I know a lot, we have a huge number in the National guard, from DEA, to podunk) have a generally more liberal policy on what people ought to be allowed to own than the people who run the associations of police chiefs and such, so appealing to cops as arbiters of what ought to be allowed to citizens is sort of like appealing to specific verses of the Bible to decide what it is God hates. One can find any answer one wants.

I have a philosophical outlook, a personal one, which I use to inform my position on the matter. I may make reference to outside sources to support my opinion, but neither Wayne LaPierre, nor James Madison is the authority I appeal to.

The merits, or not, of my opinion are the fruit of my thinking.

TK

#74 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2006, 11:26 PM:

Patrick,

The problem I see is that the sequence of events as reported maintains a hole regarding: "Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president’s statement"

The hole is that you not only need to prove the timeline of the reports and what they contained, but you also need to prove that Bush saw these reports and that they weren't stopped somewhere in mid-bureaucracy.

You don't have to prove this for me, but for someone on the more conservative side of things, this will probably be the first response: Prove Bush knew about the report when he made his statement to the contrary.

#75 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2006, 12:27 AM:

This discussion of guns is fascinating to me. I live in Massachusetts and in my circle the general perception is Kerry lost because of abortion, the intense identification of MA with liberal Democrats and mushy message. I don't think I've ever even heard guns mentioned! Frankly, before 2004, if you asked most people here about Kerry the response would have been "You mean the guy who's not Kennedy and not a Republican?"

Let's not forget how important image and perception is in politics. Bush as a man is deeply resonant with a lot of people and his handlers were able to paint Kerry as that fusty boring uncle at family gatherings--look how hard the Swift Boaters worked to undermine his "manliness."

This country elected Bush just four years after Clinton, not because the entire country did a 180 but because Bush was a better messenger than Gore/Kerry. And part of being a good messenger is getting people to believe *your* message it *their* message, even when it necessarily isn't. The Republicans are quite good at that and the Democrats seem to fumble.

The Democrats have a good message. They need a good messenger.

#76 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2006, 01:04 AM:

Greg London writes: "Prove Bush knew about the report when he made his statement to the contrary.

I keep telling people the aluminum tubes story is the one that makes the best case for Administration deception regarding the use of intelligence-like "product" prior to OperationIraqiSomething™.

#77 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2006, 08:17 AM:

Terry, your thought about a WW1 British rifle being potentially in breach of the Californian assault weapons ban is intriguing.

I'm guessing that the bayonet attachment would be part of it. Would the bit that would need a bit of work be the magazine?

[Sidenote for the less firearms familiar: The Lee-Enfield rifle has a ten-round detachable magazine. Normally. it was reloaded with a charger clip, like other rifles such as the Mauser family; the magazine was almost never removed, and one magazine was issued per rifle.]

It doesn't seem difficult to fit a Lee Enfield with a bigger magazine. I've seen exploded drawings, and a folding stock would also be quite possible. Am I thinking on the right lines?

(There's some bits and pieces here, on this website devoted to shooting Lee Enfields.)


#78 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2006, 10:00 AM:

What one would need to re-work is the stock. Give it a pistol grip, and a folding butt.

That would give it enough of the "bad" features to cross the threshhold into bannable.

Since the list is prescriptive, it wouldn't actually be illegal, but it would have four of the five feature (removeable magazine; though I don't know of magazines larger than 10 rds), pistol grip, folding stock, bayonet lug.

The only thing missing would be the semi-automatic function.

#79 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2006, 10:16 AM:

Mark DF -- every time the Democrats get a 'good messenger' somebody shoots him...

And if they can't locate an assassin, they find a way to ruin the messenger's reputation or discredit his message.

#80 ::: Niels Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2006, 11:35 AM:

The U.S. military certainly didn’t believe Iraq had WMDs.

Really? Why do you suppose that soldiers had to wear protective suits and gas masks during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003?

#81 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2006, 12:16 PM:

Hi Niels

I did a "View all by" on your past postings. Based on that I'm going to assume that you're a supporter of the Bush administration and the Republican party in general.

If that's so, and if you don't mind my asking, why? Serious question.

#82 ::: Patrick Weekes ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2006, 12:48 PM:

Thanks for the pointers, folks. I'll bring that up, and see what else a little digging can produce. Much appreciated... and yeah, it's an uphill battle.

#83 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Really? Why do you suppose that soldiers had to wear protective suits and gas masks during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003?

For the benefit of the embedded reporters and the folks back home.

#84 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2006, 01:18 PM:

The U.S. military certainly didn’t believe Iraq had WMDs.

Really? Why do you suppose that soldiers had to wear protective suits and gas masks during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003?

Interesting how you collapse two different items into meaning the same thing.

First, there is the question of whether the military thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that made it worthwhile to go to war. If you're not a neo-con-moron, then going to war has an actual, real-world cost, whereas neo cons apparently would think nothing of having the US military invade Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Iran in a brief six year period, as if war were something similar to the Superbowl.

The military did not think Iraq had WMD's to risk the massive costs that happen when nations go to war, people die, billions of dollars are wasted, and any mistakes made generally lead to your allies distancing themselves from you and your enemies from actively attacking you.

On the other hand, once the military has been given the order to invade, the cost/benefit of WMD's-versus-war becomes a sunk cost. It's in the past. There's nothing they can do about it. Then the question becomes, What do we do to reduce the risks of americans dying? The cost of issuing gas masks then becomes reletively small compared benefit of possibly having tens of thousands of american military personel dead in the desert. Gas masks are a minor military expense when compared to, say, the 200 Billion dollar price tag of this whole fiasco from start to finish.

That you present the cost/benefit analysis of WMD's-versus-War to be the same thing as GasMasks-versus-AmericanMilitaryDead shows a willingness to ignore common sense in order to show allegiance to your Idiot-In-Chief. Congratulations. Please pick up your armbands and copy of Mein Kamph on the way out.

#85 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2006, 01:23 PM:

The cost of issuing gas masks then becomes reletively small compared benefit of possibly not having tens of thousands of american military personel dead in the desert. (from a gas attack, if that wasn't clear)

#86 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2006, 09:35 PM:

If you think the iraqis don't have poison gas, you won't wear a full chemical suit in 90+ degree heat.

Not wearing a chemical suit is a giant benefit in the heat, provided you don't get gassed.

A lot of the troops wore them. It reduced their effectiveness. Sometimes the possibility of gas delayed attacks. There was a published account of an officer who found a bunch of dead sheep beside the road. He was worried about gas, so his column stopped. He posted a question about it on a sort of military-only blog and some officer who knew a lot about iraq told him that it was normal to see a bunch of dead sheep beside the road that time of year, and it didn't mean anything. So he drove on.

If the top military guys knew that Saddam didn't have enough gas to matter, they didn't tell the lower officers.

#87 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2006, 11:02 PM:

it was normal to see a bunch of dead sheep beside the road

There are places in this country where dead cattle are dragged over to the edge of the road and left for the collectors to come by - there are rendering plants, and people will come by with a truck and pick up the deaders to take in. It's disconcerting the first time you see a dead animal of that size at the side.

#88 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2006, 11:13 PM:

J Thomas,

If you think the iraqis don't have poison gas, you won't wear a full chemical suit in 90+ degree heat.

No. Putting on a seatbelt doesn't mean you think you're going to get in a car accident that morning.

It simply means that the cost of putting on a seatbelt is neglible, and if 5 seconds can save my life, what kind of moron would want to roll those dice?

Gas masks and mopp gear are something that the military has been training to use for a century. Gas warfare was a huge hit in World War One, and the US has been training ever since to know how the seatbelts and buckles work so troops can protect themselves. The cost of ordering masks and suits on is negligle. Yeah, there is a distinct pain-in-the-ass cost to individuals humping it out with a rubber suit on, but the miltary trained to do this long before Iraq, with the intent that entire divisions could operate near full capacity for strength and speed while in full protective gear.

Which means the commander will view gas masks more like a seat belt than the awesome heavy burden you portray them as. so ordering gas masks donned doesn't mean the commanders think Iraq had gas. It means they know their men and women have trained to get their mission done wearing the equipment.

#89 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2006, 08:28 AM:

Greg London, I've seen you present a lot of extremely good ideas. This is not one of them.

Sure, the intention is that entire divisions can operate at full capacity in protective gear. It doesn't work.

You try it. Dress up in a rubber suit and exercise in 95-100 degree weather. Your efficiency will be down.

One of the reasons the attack could not be delayed was that soon temperatures were going to rise to 100-110 degrees, and the troops would not be able to fight in protective gear. They'd have to wait for fall, which would have been expensive. I don't have links for that and I'm not clear how to google for them, and I suppose it's possible it was disinformation anyway, but I believed it when I saw it.

#90 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2006, 10:18 AM:

J Thomas --

It's much more "let's not take stupid chances".

Teresa's point, that the troops would not have been massed in fixed, known locations for lengthy periods of time if the threat assessment included meaningful risk of chemical or biological attack, is a sound one.

Nor did the troops remain in protective gear; the pictures from everything post jump-off have them in normal armor. (Which is heavy and hot enough by itself to present a significant heat casualty risk.)

#91 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2006, 10:43 AM:

Oops! You guys are right. I saw a couple of things from embedded reporters about the troops having to wear their JSLISTs (except the hoods). But it looks like they mostly didn't.

So Greg London is right. Troops cook in protective gear in 110 degrees, but they didn't have to wear it, and it's no big deal to have it. Just one more piece of gear.

#92 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2006, 06:33 PM:

Well, actually, I kept mentioning MOPP gear and rubber suits, but MOPP gear is actually a fabric type of suit with charcoal liner. It's still hot, but it was designed to allow for airflow. So, it shouldn't be as hot as a rubber suit.

The gasmask is all rubber and the hood that goes with it goes over the head and over the tops of your shoulders, so that in itself can be a bit of a pain.

There are levels of MOPP gear usage
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOPP
from having everything nearby and readily accessable to having everything on.

JSLIST entered service in 1997, but I'm less familiar with it. There's no wikipedia entry, but a quick google found this site

http://www.army.mil/fact_files_site/jslist/

In either case, the "rubber suit" was a misnomer on my part. Only the gas mask and the hood that goes with it is rubber, as far as I know.


#93 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2006, 06:33 PM:

oh, and boots/gloves

#94 ::: Celine ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2006, 01:03 AM:

There has to be some place of common ground between the red state and blue state people. Despite all the cultural differences, we all still share some core "American" values. Don't we?

Yes, and one of them is "being able to support your family." This is one place where the current Administration is demonstrably failing big-time, in ways that are immediately obvious to the casual observer. Unemployment is at an all-time high, more and more American jobs are being sent over to India and China, and someone working 40 hours a week at minimum wage (note that I don't say "full-time" -- that 40 hours probably represents at least 2 different jobs) can no longer afford to rent a 1-bedroom apartment at market rates anywhere in the country.

If there's one flag the Democrats can wave against the "War Against Terrorism", it's a commitment to letting Americans make a living wage again. We need a soundbite along the same lines as "It's STILL the economy, stupid!" but without the Clintonian echoes.

#95 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:17 AM:

500 canisters of cerin gas (enough to kill thousands) makes every Bush hater in previous posts a fool. The only reason a truth of that nature never is spoken is the bitter hatered disallows it. Hundreds of thousands killed by Hussain in mass graves proves the desire and ability of the guy to use the stuff, what else could you want for truth? A Bush impeachment will never happen. Anybody screaming liar liar continuosly all day long will never be heard, try the truth once or just go back to the screaming fool Rany Rhodes. Model yourself after her and you too can go unheard, bankrupt and a fool.

#96 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:21 AM:

Celine (94) would rather lie in a post than give the current administration ANY credit. Unemployment is NOT at an all time high.

#97 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:38 AM:

Not that the ability to spell ("cerin" = "sarin"?) is a requirement here, but who let the above boor in the door?

#98 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:53 AM:

Raven:

It's a free internet, I reckon. If he sweetens up, he stays, if not, only his consonants do.

Mike:

Could you provide a link to a reputable news source for the finding of the 500 canisters of cerin gas? (As Raven asked, is cerin gas anything like Sarin gas?) I would be interested to read about it, because I've missed any mention of it and Google is proving unhelpful. (If you're positing a liberal conspiracy to keep any mention of it out of the media, then could you at least explain where you heard about it, with links?)

About Hussein: I would point out that a past record of doing something does not prove that you're still doing it. Like all people, I assume you were once not toilet trained, but I don't therefore conclude that you're still messing your underpants now. Likewise, just because Saddam Hussein used poison gas in the past does not constitute proof that he had WMDs when Bush claimed he did, and used that claim as the basis for an invasion.

By the way, I do find the contrast between your two comments interesting:

#96
Celine (94) would rather lie in a post than give the current administration ANY credit.

#95
Anybody screaming liar liar continuosly all day long will never be heard

Physician, heal thyself.

#99 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 08:33 AM:

...the screaming fool Rany Rhodes...

That would be Randi Rhodes, actually.

I suggest checking out Randi's Your Homework page if you would like to learn how to include facts with your opinions. Of course, if you start trying to deal with facts, your right-wing echo-chamber rants will reveal themselves to be merely The Vapors so you might want to be careful about that.

There's something pretty desperate and panicky about your posts. What's that about?

#100 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 09:42 AM:

I believe that what Mike is talking about is this:

Sarin, Mustard Gas Discovered Separately in Iraq


It's a Fox News (admit it, who's surprised?) story from May, 2004. Just like Fox intended, Mike's conflated the report of a field test that showed Sarin might be present in one IED with the report (same story) that 450 mustard gas shells were unaccounted for, to make 500 canisters of Sarin.

Let's move over to the BBC for a moment. Talking about the same incident:

However, a senior coalition source has told the BBC the round does not signal the discovery of weapons of mass destruction or the escalation of insurgent activity.

He said the round dated back to the Iran-Iraq war and coalition officials were not sure whether the fighters even knew what it contained.

And that's where is stayed. One shell (for all anyone knows a dud round left over from the Iraq/Iran war that someone found in the desert) in May of 2004, and not even Bush and Rumsfeld shameless enough to use it as a talking point.

The claim of mass quantities of Sarin found in Iraq makes every Bush lover in previous posts a fool.

#101 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 12:20 PM:

The claim of mass quantities of Sarin found in Iraq makes every Bush lover in previous posts a fool.

Hmm, "makes" might be an exaggeration. Most Bush lovers were fools already, after all.

#102 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 01:37 PM:

And all of that is damaged further by the less than truly effective (as a weapon) results of Sarin.

The Tokyo subway attacks were as close to textbook as one could get for a chem attack, and they didn't kill more than a few dozen (though a larger number did need to be hospitalised, and might have died without such intervention).

So even if there were 500 shells (which are a far less effective means of delivery) and they had been used, the odds of that being enough to make every one who hates Bush a fool (much less those who merely think him wrong) is slim.

That's enough for a couple of attacks, on troops in the field (who have the means and training to react, which means it would do what it's actually meant to do [hinder troop movement/deny avenues of approach] and not much more).

Anyone who think the Army really believed the idea of WMD didn't attend the briefings I did, and certainly wasn't paying attention to the fact that wearing protective gear wasn't done, at least not after April 1st, even at the most forward of units. The order requiring it was rescinded.

Being in theater at the time (and the NCO in Charge of Enemy Order of Battle for the HumInt company of V Corps... sounds a lot more important than it was) I'd have been aware of any real finds of WMD (esp. since a Co. of my Bn was a specialise unit, meant to find just such things) and nothing, and I mean nothing, was turned up.

The closest thing I saw to anything useful was some old, Russian, research, in the public domain, on rocket design. That was fun to translate, you betcha.

#103 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 02:05 PM:

Mike at #95: responding to you is probably a waste of time and energy, but I don't hate George Bush. I despise his policies and think they have harmed the country and the Constitution. But Bush would never have been able to do what he has done to the Constitution without the support of Congress.

Calling me and others who post here names ("Bush-hater") is not a rational or useful contribution to the conversation.

I agree with you, Bush will not be impeached. Having watched what the Clinton impeachment process did to the country, I believe that is a good thing. There are many here who will disagree with me on that.


#104 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 06:03 PM:

Hmm, a noxious Yuletide Carol * puts a talking piss in a half-year long Dead Thread.

* See Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson, for where I picked up the reference from... turned out not to translate where Holger had landed, though...

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