Category Archives: WMD

Zombie WMDs

[UPDATE]:

And on NPR this evening, I heard national political correspondent Mara Liasson refer to Syria’s Bashir as “Saddam.” NPR is really harshing my post-vacation mellow.

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In the car this morning I caught about 10 minutes of On Point’s discussion of Syria. It’s a call-in show and if you were listening you heard an Ohio Teanut phone in to ramble something bizarre about “Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood” and advising John McCain to talk to Sarah Palin. But the kicker was when he said, I shit you not,

“Those Iraq WMD’s? Looks like they ended up in Syria.”

You gotta give ’em credit: there’s no true believer like a conservative true believer.

This idea that Saddam’s WMDs ended up in Syria has cropped up occasionally on wingnut websites over the past 10 years. It’s one of those zombie lies that just won’t die. I figured it was only a matter of time before some Breit Bulb suggested maybe there’s a connection between Iraq and Syria, and it looks like the chain e-mail FWDs have begun.

Iraq’s WMDs did not end up in Syria. It’s been debunked aplenty, but officially by the Iraq Survey Group. But the Breitbarts and Freepers have kept the myth alive because they need it to be true. Desperately and pathetically, they need to believe Saddam Hussein had WMD. It’s crucial to their entire worldview to believe our intelligence wasn’t faulty (or our Administration didn’t lie us into war). If the WMD thing is false, it all unravels — every bit of it. It is the worst institutional failure conceivable. That the mighty U.S. intelligence apparatus we’re always told rules the world like a master puppeteer is not just incompetent but irresponsible? Even dangerous? Not possible. We’re the good guys! We’re AMERICA, man! We’re Big Daddy and Big Daddy is not incompetent.

I get the need to hold onto this thing, I really do. So much of the conservative worldview has to be taken on faith anyway — evolution is false, peace through war, tax cuts create budget surpluses, feminism killed the American family. At least if the WMDs had been found there could be one tangible thing they could hold on to proving their worldview correct.

Now even a Republican Congress Critter is bringing this zombie lie back to life:

WASHINGTON — Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) said on Thursday that he is against military intervention in Syria, even though his “gut feeling” is that the Syrian government now possesses chemical weapons that came from fallen Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain.

“The theory then and the evidence was that Iraq was an enemy of the United States and had direct plans in either support of al Qaeda and/or with other weapons that we found out weren’t there — which I still think they were moved to Syria,” said Terry. “And it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the chemical weapons that have been used by Syria actually came from Iraq.”

There is no evidence that Hussein sent weapons of mass destruction to Syria. When Becka asked whether Terry’s claim about the transfer of weapons was based on information he had received as a member of Congress, Terry replied, “Gut feeling. Yeah, I have not had any classified briefing, but all we know that Iraq had … chemical and biological weapons and then they weren’t there. … It wasn’t that the U.S. was guessing; that was something that they had actually declared. But they went someplace.”

Hilarious. Rep. Terry has been in Congress since 1999, and was a gung-ho supporter of the Iraq invasion. Now he says he doesn’t support military intervention in Syria. Why, Rep. Terry? If having WMD was good enough to take out Saddam, why not Assad? Don’t bothering answering that one. We all know the difference: only Republican presidents are given their pet wars!

By the way, that On Point radio show I was telling you about? The Teanut caller’s comments about WMD and “Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood” were both completely ignored by Tom Ashbrook and the rest of the panel. Instead, they addressed the guy’s belief that President Obama wants to pass all responsibility/blame related to Syria onto the Republicans. Which is a heads-we-win-tails-you-lose proposition, since certain Tea Party Republicans have been yammering for President Obama to bring any action on Syria before the U.S. Congress for a full debate.

I guess it makes sense to ignore the truly nutty stuff on the air, but seriously: when even a member of Congress starts bringing back the Zombie WMD lie? Maybe y’all need to start paying attention to it. “We’re going to have to leave it there” on WMDs is kinda how we got into this mess in the first place, isn’t it?

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Filed under Iraq War, Media, NPR, WMD

Bush Knew Saddam Lacked WMD Before Invading Iraq

Salon.com has quite a shocker today: according to this exclusive interview with two former CIA officers, President Bush knew Saddam had no WMD’s months before the invasion. Not only did he know, but he squelched the information, called the “Sabri intelligence,” dismissed it as irrelevant, and didn’t share it with Colin Powell, Congress, or even Britain’s MI6.

Sabri was Saddam’s foreign minister, also working as a CIA informant:

Both the French intelligence service and the CIA paid Sabri hundreds of thousands of dollars (at least $200,000 in the case of the CIA) to give them documents on Saddam’s WMD programs. “The information detailed that Saddam may have wished to have a program, that his engineers had told him they could build a nuclear weapon within two years if they had fissible material, which they didn’t, and that they had no chemical or biological weapons,” one of the former CIA officers told me.

On the eve of Sabri’s appearance at the United Nations in September 2002 to present Saddam’s case, the officer in charge of this operation met in New York with a “cutout” who had debriefed Sabri for the CIA. Then the officer flew to Washington, where he met with CIA deputy director John McLaughlin, who was “excited” about the report. Nonetheless, McLaughlin expressed his reservations. He said that Sabri’s information was at odds with “our best source.” That source was code-named “Curveball,” later exposed as a fabricator, con man and former Iraqi taxi driver posing as a chemical engineer.

The next day, Sept. 18, Tenet briefed Bush on Sabri. “Tenet told me he briefed the president personally,” said one of the former CIA officers. According to Tenet, Bush’s response was to call the information “the same old thing.” Bush insisted it was simply what Saddam wanted him to think. “The president had no interest in the intelligence,” said the CIA officer. The other officer said, “Bush didn’t give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up.”

We’ve known for a long time that intelligence showing Saddam lacked WMD was shoved aside, ignored, and suppressed, while fake intel showing the opposite was “stovepiped” straight to the top. We know they were aware that the whole “yellow cake from Niger” story was a fairy tale. We’ve suspected that President Bush knew he was selling the country a bill of goods when he made his case for war, but now President Bush himself has been said to have personally ignored intelligence showing Iraq lacked WMDs. Not his aides, or the CIA, or someone who wrote a report, or an advisor, but the President himself.

Even worse, the intel was twisted and changed to make the case for war:

The CIA officers on the case awaited the report they had submitted on Sabri to be circulated back to them, but they never received it. They learned later that a new report had been written. “It was written by someone in the agency, but unclear who or where, it was so tightly controlled. They knew what would please the White House. They knew what the king wanted,” one of the officers told me.

That report contained a false preamble stating that Saddam was “aggressively and covertly developing” nuclear weapons and that he already possessed chemical and biological weapons. “Totally out of whack,” said one of the CIA officers. “The first [para]graph of an intelligence report is the most important and most read and colors the rest of the report.” He pointed out that the case officer who wrote the initial report had not written the preamble and the new memo. “That’s not what the original memo said.”

The report with the misleading introduction was given to Dearlove of MI6, who briefed the prime minister. “They were given a scaled-down version of the report,” said one of the CIA officers. “It was a summary given for liaison, with the sourcing taken out. They showed the British the statement Saddam was pursuing an aggressive program, and rewrote the report to attempt to support that statement. It was insidious. Blair bought it.” “Blair was duped,” said the other CIA officer. “He was shown the altered report.”

Of course, we all know what happened. Warnings from German authorities that “Curveball” was an unreliable source were ignored; French intelligence supporting the Sabri intel was suppressed and ignored. George Bush and Dick Cheney had their hearts set on war. Commander Guy wanted to be a “war president,” even if it meant the wrong war for the wrong reasons.

But the question remains: why hasn’t this come out before? Well, here’s one thought:

In 2005, the Silberman-Robb commission investigating intelligence in the Iraq war failed to interview the case officer directly involved with Sabri; instead its report blamed the entire WMD fiasco on “groupthink” at the CIA. “They didn’t want to trace this back to the White House,” said the officer.

The only question I have is, will this be enough to impeach the President? Or is impeachment just for blow jobs?

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Filed under CIA, Iraq War, President Bush, WMD