Return with us (with the help of the Washington Post) to those thrilling days of May 2003:
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.
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.”
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.
Odds that Bush didn’t know about that: approximately zero.
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.
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 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 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.Pick one.
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).
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.