June 3, 2003
Standard Operating ProcedureBy PAUL
he mystery of Iraq’s missing weapons of mass
destruction has become a lot less mysterious. Recent reports in major
British newspapers and three major American news magazines, based on leaks
from angry intelligence officials, back up the sources who told my
colleague Nicholas Kristof that the Bush administration “grossly
manipulated intelligence” about W.M.D.’s.
And anyone who talks about an “intelligence failure” is missing the
point. The problem lay not with intelligence professionals, but with the
Bush and Blair administrations. They wanted a war, so they demanded
reports supporting their case, while dismissing contrary evidence.
In Britain, the news media have not been shy about drawing the obvious
implications, and the outrage has not been limited to war opponents. The
Times of London was ardently pro-war; nonetheless, it ran an analysis
under the headline “Lie Another Day.” The paper drew parallels between the
selling of the war and other misleading claims: “The government is seen as
having `spun’ the threat from Saddam’s weapons just as it spins everything
Yet few have made the same argument in this country, even though “spin”
is far too mild a word for what the Bush administration does, all the
time. Suggestions that the public was manipulated into supporting an Iraq
war gain credibility from the fact that misrepresentation and deception
are standard operating procedure for this administration, which — to an
extent never before seen in U.S. history — systematically and brazenly
distorts the facts.
Am I exaggerating? Even as George Bush stunned reporters by declaring
that we have “found the weapons of mass destruction,” the Republican
National Committee declared that the latest tax cut benefits “everyone who
pays taxes.” That is simply a lie. You’ve heard about those eight million
children denied any tax break by a last-minute switcheroo. In total, 50
million American households — including a majority of those with members
over 65 — get nothing; another 20 million receive less than $100 each. And
a great majority of those left behind do pay taxes.
And the bald-faced misrepresentation of an elitist tax cut offering
little or nothing to most Americans is only the latest in a long string of
blatant misstatements. Misleading the public has been a consistent
strategy for the Bush team on issues ranging from tax policy and Social
Security reform to energy and the environment. So why should we give the
administration the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy?
It’s long past time for this administration to be held accountable.
Over the last two years we’ve become accustomed to the pattern. Each time
the administration comes up with another whopper, partisan supporters — a
group that includes a large segment of the news media — obediently insist
that black is white and up is down. Meanwhile the “liberal” media report
only that some people say that black is black and up is up. And some
Democratic politicians offer the administration invaluable cover by making
excuses and playing down the extent of the lies.
If this same lack of accountability extends to matters of war and
peace, we’re in very deep trouble. The British seem to understand this:
Max Hastings, the veteran war correspondent — who supported Britain’s
participation in the war — writes that “the prime minister committed
British troops and sacrificed British lives on the basis of a deceit, and
It’s no answer to say that Saddam was a murderous tyrant. I could point
out that many of the neoconservatives who fomented this war were
nonchalant, or worse, about mass murders by Central American death squads
in the 1980′s. But the important point is that this isn’t about Saddam:
it’s about us. The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat.
If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst
scandal in American political history — worse than Watergate, worse than
Iran-contra. Indeed, the idea that we were deceived into war makes many
commentators so uncomfortable that they refuse to admit the
But here’s the thought that should make those commentators really
uncomfortable. Suppose that this administration did con us into war. And
suppose that it is not held accountable for its deceptions, so Mr. Bush
can fight what Mr. Hastings calls a “khaki election” next year. In that
case, our political system has become utterly, and perhaps irrevocably,
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company |
Oh, I know, Cheney has no influence over awarding contracts to Halliburton,
and doesn’t stand to profit from it personally. What a wonderful and bizarre
coincidence then that Halliburton alone stands to earn billions in revenues
from its post-war contracts! How lucky for them. Too bad no other US
companies are going to get a shot at those
This article was pulled from the wires of that radical organization:
Cheney’s Former Firm Could Earn Billions in Iraq
By David Pace/Associated Press
WASHINGTON (May 30) – Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company already
garnered more than $600 million in military work related to the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq, and potentially could earn billions more without
compete with other companies.
As the Army’s sole provider of troop support services, Halliburton’s Kellogg
Brown & Root subsidiary has received work orders totaling $529.4 million
related to the two wars under a 10-year contract that has no spending
Rather than put the Iraq work up for bidding, the government has used the
2001 Halliburton contract to place the various work orders in Iraq,
criticism from some Democrats that Cheney’s former company is receiving
“The amount Halliburton could receive in the future is virtually
limitless,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who disclosed the troop
orders Thursday. “It is simply remarkable that a single company could earn
money from the war in Iraq.”
Halliburton, a Houston-based oilfield-services and construction company,
disputes those characterizations, noting it had to compete to win the
contract and that each of its work orders is covered by strict guidelines
“U.S. government contracts are awarded, not by politicians, but by
government civil servants, under strict guidelines,” company spokeswoman
said. “Government civil servants are well aware of and consistently abide
the requirements of the process. Privatizing this work allows the military
concentrate on its mission. “
“Any allegation that this contract is set up to encourage unwarranted
spending is unfounded and untrue,” she said. “The vice president has
nothing to do
with the awarding of contracts, the bidding process or task orders.”
Cheney headed Halliburton from 1995 until George W. Bush picked him as his
running mate in July 2000.
The Army Corps of Engineers, using a separate no-bid contract, has awarded
Kellogg Brown & Root $71.3 million in work orders to repair and operate oil
wells in Iraq. That contract has a two-year duration of a spending ceiling
Kellogg Brown & Root competed with two other companies in 2001 to win the
logistics contract that makes it the Army’s only private supplier of troop
support services such as housing, amenities and food over the next decade.
The initial logistics contract award carried no value. The Army negotiates
each task order with the company and then verifies the costs as they are
There is no ceiling on spending, because the contract is designed to provide
rapid troop support wherever and whenever U.S. forces move into action
Under similar contracts, the Army paid Kellogg Brown & Root $1.2 billion
1992 through 1999 to support U.S. troops, mainly in the Balkans. An
of that contract from 1999 through 2004 is projected to cost $1.8 billion.
Since March 2002, the Army has issued 24 task orders totaling $425.5 million
under the contract for work related to Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to
Army records provided Waxman. Eleven more work orders totaling $103.9
have been issued under the same contract for work related to the war in
Dan Carlson, spokesman for the Army Field Support Command, said the Army has
paid $42 million to Kellogg Brown & Root through April for work under the
contract related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Carlson said the more than $500 million in work orders under the logistics
contract represents the Army’s best estimate of the final costs of the
He said the company must justify its spending to Army contract officials
before it can be paid.
“Costs are verified as they are billed,” he said. “We may spend more or
may spend less.”
Much of a $60 million obligation to Brown & Root to provide logistical
line services and locations in Turkey was never spent because the Turkish
government refused to allow U.S. troops to launch an invasion of Iraq from
Turkey, Carlson said.
Interesting developments are under way…we have a new,
large team of “weapon hunters” going in to Iraq, CIA officials are starting to
break ranks with the administration, and the credibility of the US/Brit
assertions about WMD is crumbling. Unfortunately for Bush Co, the world really
does expect some justification to surface for the Iraq war…this one, they’re
not going to be able to dismiss, or throw us off the trail using their weapons
of mass distraction.
time has come when the British government needs to concede that we did not go to
war because Saddam was a threat to our national interests,” Cook wrote in The
Independent newspaper. “We went to war for reasons of U.S. foreign policy and
Republican domestic politics.”
“To announce that there must be no
criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or
wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the
American public.” — Teddy Roosevelt
Please note the below clarification on what Wolfowitz actually said, submitted by an alert reader.
Still, I don’t think this clarification changes much. All three reasons remain as weak as they were before.
1. WMD is a multiple standard and we are the worst offender. Next?
2. Support for terrorism? Largely unproven in Iraq’s case. Easily proven in the case of the Saudis, our friends. Next?
3. Criminal treatment of the Iraqi people? OK, then how about the equally bad dictatorial regimes that we have installed and continue to support in the rest of the world, especially in drug-producing nations? Next??
FYI, he didn’t actually say this. The quote was:
Q: Was that one of the arguments that was raised early on by you and others that Iraq actually does connect, not to connect the dots too much, but the relationship between Saudi Arabia, our troops being there, and bin Laden’s rage about that, which he’s built on so many years, also connects the World Trade Center attacks, that there’s a logic of motive or something like that? Or does that read too much into —
Wolfowitz: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but — hold on one second –
Kellems: Sam there may be some value in clarity on the point that it may take years to get post-Saddam Iraq right. It can be easily misconstrued, especially when it comes to –
Wolfowitz: — there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there’s a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two.
The Independent report left out the last paragraph of the quote, which undermines the thrust of their story.
Here’s a link to the transcript.
WMD just a convenient excuse for war, admits Wolfowitz
The case for war is blown apart
By David Usborne/The Independent
The Bush administration focused on alleged weapons of mass
destruction as the primary justification for toppling Saddam Hussein
by force because it was politically convenient, a top-level official
at the Pentagon has acknowledged.
The extraordinary admission comes in an interview with Paul
Wolfowitz, the Deputy Defence Secretary, in the July issue of the
magazine Vanity Fair.
Mr Wolfowitz also discloses that there was one justification that
was “almost unnoticed but huge”. That was the prospect of the United
States being able to withdraw all of its forces from Saudi Arabia
once the threat of Saddam had been removed. Since the taking of
Baghdad, Washington has said that it is taking its troops out of the
kingdom. “Just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going
to the door” towards making progress elsewhere in achieving Middle
East peace, Mr Wolfowitz said. The presence of the US military in
Saudi Arabia has been one of the main grievances of al-Qa’ida and
other terrorist groups.
“For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass
destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on,”
Mr Wolfowitz tells the magazine.
The comments suggest that, even for the US administration, the logic
that was presented for going to war may have been an empty shell.
They come to light, moreover, just two days after Mr Wolfowitz’s
immediate boss, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, conceded for
the first time that the arms might never be found.
The failure to find a single example of the weapons that London and
Washington said were inside Iraq only makes the embarrassment more
acute. Voices are increasingly being raised in the US – and Britain
- demanding an explanation for why nothing has been found.
Most striking is the fact that these latest remarks come from Mr
Wolfowitz, recognised widely as the leader of the hawks’ camp in
Washington most responsible for urging President George Bush to use
military might in Iraq. The magazine article reveals that Mr
Wolfowitz was even pushing Mr Bush to attack Iraq immediately after
the 11 September attacks in the US, instead of invading Afghanistan.
There have long been suspicions that Mr Wolfowitz has essentially
been running a shadow administration out of his Pentagon office,
ensuring that the right-wing views of himself and his followers find
their way into the practice of American foreign policy. He is best
known as the author of the policy of first-strike pre-emption in
world affairs that was adopted by Mr Bush shortly after the
In asserting that weapons of mass destruction gave a rationale for
attacking Iraq that was acceptable to everyone, Mr Wolfowitz was
presumably referring in particular to the US Secretary of State,
Colin Powell. He was the last senior member of the administration to
agree to the push earlier this year to persuade the rest of the
world that removing Saddam by force was the only remaining viable
The conversion of Mr Powell was on full view in the UN Security
Council in February when he made a forceful presentation of evidence
that allegedly proved that Saddam was concealing weapons of mass
Critics of the administration and of the war will now want to know
how convinced the Americans really were that the weapons existed in
Iraq to the extent that was publicly stated. Questions are also
multiplying as to the quality of the intelligence provided to the
White House. Was it simply faulty – given that nothing has been
found in Iraq – or was it influenced by the White House’s fixation
on the weapons issue? Or were the intelligence agencies telling the
White House what it wanted to hear?
This week, Sam Nunn, a former senator, urged Congress to investigate
whether the argument for war in Iraq was based on distorted
intelligence. He raised the possibility that Mr Bush’s policy
against Saddam had influenced the intelligence that indicated
Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction.
This week, the CIA and the other American intelligence agencies have
promised to conduct internal reviews of the quality of the material
they supplied the administration on what was going on in Iraq. The
heat on the White House was only made fiercer by Mr Rumsfeld’s
admission that nothing may now be found in Iraq to back up those
earlier claims, if only because the Iraqis may have got rid of any
evidence before the conflict.
“It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them
prior to a conflict,” the Defence Secretary said.
The US military said last night that it had released a suspected
Iraqi war criminal by mistake. US Central Command said it was
offering a $25,000 (315,000) reward for the capture of Mohammed
Jawad An-Neifus, suspected of being involved in the murder of
thousands of Iraqi Shia Muslims whose remains were found at a mass
grave in Mahawil, southern Iraq, last month.
As scepticism grows over the failure to find weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq, London and Washington are attempting to turn
the focus of attention to Iraq’s alleged possession of mobile
A joint CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency report released this
week claimed that two trucks found in northern Iraq last month were
mobile labs used to develop biological weapons. The trucks were
fitted with hi-tech laboratory equipment and the report said the
discovery represented the “strongest evidence to date that Iraq was
hiding a biowarfare program”.
The design of the vehicles made them “an ingeniously simple
self-contained bioprocessing system”. The report said no other
purpose, for example water purification, medical laboratory or
vaccine production, would justify such effort and expense.
But critics arenot convinced. No biological agents were found on the
trucks and experts point out that, unlike the trucks described by
Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, in a speech to the UN Security
Council, they were open sided and would therefore have left a trace
easy for weapons inspectors to detect. One former UN inspector said
that the trucks would have been a very inefficient way to produce
(c) 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this
material is distributed without profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information
for research and educational purposes.
may not be of interest to all of you, but I thought it worth sending around.
Those of us in CA are still taking it in the neck on energy prices, and if you
believe these guys, the media have gotten the story utterly wrong.
Krugman discusses an economic model to explain what happened during the
CA energy crisis. It’s a bit academic, but it makes a lot of sense, and the
punchline is great.
link at the end of Krugman’s article is a fine summary of the political
Meanwhile, has anybody heard a single whisper about a special prosecutor
assigned to “Kenny Boy”? Or even some basic attention from the press? Nah, I
haven’t either. I guess that kind of fervor for justice is only meted out on
is thought-provoking. I’d be interested in your feedback on it. Can this ‘war’
be won? Have we really done any good at all in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Remember the “War on Drugs”? This smacks of the same
THE FICTIONAL WAR ON TERRORISM
Add Op/Ed – Ted Rall to My Yahoo!
By Ted Rall
How Bush’s Smoke and Mirrors Endanger America
YORK–We’ve killed thousands of Muslims and taken over two of their countries.
We’re spending billions of dollars to make it easier for our government to spy
on us. But we haven’t caught Osama, Al Qaeda is doing better than ever and
airport security is still a sick joke. So when are Americans going to demand a
real war on terrorism?
Recent suicide bombings in Riyadh and
Casablanca proved with bloody eloquence that Al Qaeda and similar extremist
groups are anything but “on the run,” as George W. Bush puts it. Bush’s tactics
are a 100 percent failure, yet his band of clueless Christian soldiers continues
to go after mosquitoes with shotguns. “So far,” Bush furiously spun after the
latest round of attacks, “nearly one-half of Al Qaeda’s senior operatives have
been captured or killed,” promising to “remain on the hunt until they are all
brought to justice.”
Can Bush really be this stupid? All underground
organizations, including Al Qaeda, employ a loose hierarchical structure. No
individual member is indispensable, so the capture of even a high-ranking
official cannot compromise the group. Each lost member is instantly replaced by
the next man down in his cell. It doesn’t matter whether we catch half,
three-quarters or all of Al Qaeda’s leadership–hunting down individual
terrorists is an expensive and pointless game of whack-a-mole. Only Allah knows
how many eager recruits have sprung up, hydra-like, to fill Khalid Sheikh
Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bob
Graham caught heat for calling the war on Iraq ( news
-web sites ) “a distraction” from the war on
terrorism, but he was far too kind. The invasions of Afghanistan ( news -web sites ) and Iraq have
replaced a real war on terrorism, and they’ve vastly increased the
likelihood of future September 11′s. Bombing Afghanistan scattered bin Laden,
his lieutenants and their foot soldiers everywhere from Chechnya ( news -web sites ) to Sudan to
China’s Xinjiang province; fleeing Talibs spread new anti-American seed cells
while the Taliban and other radical groups retain their pre-9/11 Pakistani
headquarters. With radical Shiite clerics like the Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer
al-Hakim poised to fill the post-Saddam power vacuum, Iraq could become a Shia
version of Taliban-era Afghanistan: an anarchic collection of fiefdoms run by
extremist warlords happy to host training camps for terrorist organizations.
“We’re much safer,” Tom Ridge claims. If this is safety, give me danger.
Taking over Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t score us any new fans among
Muslims. We could have won them over with carefully crafted occupations, but
chose instead to allow the two states to disintegrate into chaos and civil war.
Rarely have incompetence and cheapness been wed with such impressively
disastrous results. In Afghanistan, we paid off warlords whom we should have
dropped bombs upon. Puppet president Hamid Karzai is threatening to abdicate his
Kabul city-state because “there is no money in the government treasury.” One of
Karzai’s ministers warns The New York Times : “Very soon we will see
As USA Today reported on May 7, “Iraqis say they
view the U.S. military with suspicion, anger and frustration. Many even say life
was in some ways better under the regime of Saddam Hussein ( news -web sites ): the streets,
they say, were safter, jobs more secure, food more plentiful and electricity and
water supplies reliable.” That’s not the message we want on Al Jazeera TV–whose
Baghdad correspondent, in the ultimate case of PR gone bad, we assassinated in
“Governance is a long-term process,” says Bush Administration
reconstruction official Chris Milligan, but that’s just another lame excuse. The
truth is that we haven’t even tried to restore law and order, much less
govern. The Pentagon ( news -web
sites ) plans to leave just two divisions–30,000 men–to patrol Iraq.
That’s significantly fewer than the 50,000 peacekeeping troops NATO ( news -web sites ) stationed in
Kosovo–a nation less than one-fifth the size of Iraq. 95 percent of
Afghanistan has no peacekeepers whatsoever, with fewer than 8,000 in Kabul.
We’re sleeping soundly– do you think Scott Peterson ( news -web sites ) really did it?
–but the guys who hate us so much they’re willing to die to make their
point are industriously exploiting our stupidity to sign up new jihadis. “Since
the United States invaded Iraq in March,” the Times quoted top
Administration honchos on May 16, “the [Al Qaeda] network has experienced a
spike in recruitment. ‘There is an increase in radical fundamentalism all over
the world,’ said a senior counterterrorism official based in Europe.”
Ariel Sharon ( news -web
sites ) offers living proof that hard-ass tactics strengthen, rather than
weaken terrorist groups. Each time Israel assassinates a Palestinian leader or
demolishes an Arab home, moderates angered by those actions become radicalized.
Israelis and Palestinians have suffered through this endless
attack-retaliation-attack cycle for decades. Surely we can learn from their
It’s still early in this game. Shut down the bloated and pointless
Homeland Security bureaucracy–since it doesn’t include the CIA ( news -web sites ) and FBI (
news -web sites ), it
didn’t stop interagency squabbling–and apply the money we’ll save into a
fully-funded rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan. Stop squandering money and our
civil rights on boneheaded data-mining schemes like Total Information Awareness
(now renamed Terrorism Information Awareness), and recruit some old-fashioned
spies to infiltrate extremist groups. Charge the Guantánamo detainees with a
crime or send them home; their legal limbo is an international embarrassment.
Stop fingerprinting Muslim tourists–it’s insulting and does nothing to prevent
terrorists from entering the country. Quit supporting brutal anti-American
military dictators like Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf, whose oppressed subjects
rightly blame us for their misery.
“The only way to deal with
[terrorists] is to bring them to justice,” Bush says. “You can’t talk to them,
you can’t negotiate with them, you must find them.” He couldn’t be more
mistaken. We’ll never find them all. And while we shouldn’t negotiate with those
who call us the Great Satan, we must talk to the millions of Muslims who
watch the news every night. Their donations keep Al Qaeda going. If we want them
to stop financing the terrorists, we’d better stop acting like a Great Satan.
(Ted Rall is the author of “Gas War: The Truth Behind the American
Occupation of Afghanistan,” an analysis of the underreported Trans-Afghanistan
Pipeline project and the real motivations behind the war on terrorism. Ordering
information is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.)
an interesting one. Is anybody else waiting for the NYT to change its slogan to
“All The News That’s Print To Fit”?
me to cut ‘n paste from another exchange I had with a reader about this today:
I don’t think Iraq ever had nearly as much in the way of WMDs as we’ve been made
to believe. Clearly, there was a huge inflation of the Iraqi threat in the
the WMDs that they did supposedly have…I think the relevant question is
“when?” If we’re talking about the weapons they admitted to having, that was
several years ago. They could be anywhere by now.
WMDs they may have actually possessed at the start of the war are another
matter. It’s utterly preposterous to say that they were transported to Syria in
the early days of the war…that’s just another deceitful innuendo to lend
credence to the overall assertion that Iraq was a clear and present threat.
Under so many watchful eyes from space and aircraft, that could never have
agree, if they’re anywhere, they’re somewhere in Iraq, probably buried.
for now, I’m calling the whole thing a big, fat, lie. We went to lengths to
discredit Blix and the rest of his team because their findings didn’t line up
with our agenda. We have flown in the face of international opinion about the
credibility of the Iraqi threat. We have manufactured ‘evidence’ and Powell
presented ‘facts’ about their WMD to the UN that were drawn from a kid’s term
paper. The Administration’s claim at this point is demonstrably and utterly
empty. As far as I’m concerned, the onus of proof rests with them…and dammit,
the proof they produce better stand up to scrutiny this time.
O villain, villain, smiling damned
My tables, my tables,–meet it is I set it down!
That one may
smile, smile, and be a villain!
Hamlet in _Hamlet_ 1.5.106-8–C
That Story: Deep MillerIs the New York Times
breaking the news—or flacking for the
By Jack ShaferPosted Wednesday, April
23, 2003, at 3:52 PM PT
On Monday, Press
fastballed a couple of bricks at New York Times
Judith Miller for the rococo—and somewhat creepy—sourcing behind her Page One
scoop about the search for unconventional weapons (“Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi
Scientist Is Said To Assert
,” April 21).
The story chronicles the exploits of Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha—a U.S.
military team searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq—and a scientist
who alleges that he worked on Iraqi chemical weapons programs. The scientist,
say Miller’s military sources, led them to chemical precursors used to
manufacture biological and chemical weapons. This scientist claims that Iraq
destroyed unconventional weapons and equipment before the war and sent other
“unconventional weapons and technology to Syria.” He also maintains that in the
years before the war, Iraq had shifted its R & D to making illegal weapons
that can’t be detected easily.
Quite a story. But Miller provides no independent confirmation for any
of her blockbuster findings, though she described her news as “the most
important discovery to date in the hunt for illegal weapons.” Furthermore, the
deal she made with her sources prevented her from interviewing the scientist or
even visiting his home. Her military handlers asked that she not identify the
scientist or name the uncovered chemicals, that she hold her story for three
days, and that she let the military check it prior to publication.
Miller’s passive wording—”the copy was then submitted for a check by military
officials”—obscures whether the military required her to submit it or if she
volunteered. But according to New York Observer reporter Sridhar Pappu, the
Times‘ decision to accept military censorship has caused an internal
uproar at the paper. Pappu writes, “One source inside the
Times called it a ‘wacky-assed piece,’ adding that there were ‘real
questions about it and why it was on page 1.’ “
The facts in Miller’s Monday story appear to have flowed directly from the
mouths of her MET Alpha military sources. Her copy reads more like a government
press release than a news story—all the more so since MET Alpha tied Miller up
one side and down the other with elaborate sourcing rules and limited her
ability to independently confirm the facts. The MET Alpha team’s one concession:
They allowed her to view the scientist, dressed in “nondescript clothes and a
baseball cap … point[ing] to several spots in the sand.” Gee thanks, guys!
On Tuesday, the day after the big story, Miller discussed it on The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.
Miller attempted to advance her own story with new, salacious allegations, but
she didn’t add any sorely needed independent verification to her account. And
her language indicated that she knows—or thinks she knows—more than the
Times allowed her to write.
On the NewsHour, the singular “scientist” described in the Times
story becomes “scientists” plural, indicating either that a) MET Alpha has
more than one scientist/informant or b) she was mistranscribed twice. The
transcript reads as follows:
[The Bush administration has] changed the political environment, and
they’ve enabled people like the scientists that MET Alpha has found
to come forth. …
But those stockpiles that we’ve heard about, well, those have either been
destroyed by Saddam Hussein, according to the scientists, or they
have been shipped to Syria for safekeeping. [Emphasis added]
Miller calls the mystery scientist a “silver bullet” who has “led MET Team
Alpha people to some pretty startling conclusions that have kind of challenged
the American intelligence community’s under … previous understanding of, you
know, what we thought the Iraqis were doing.”
The “previous understanding” was that investigators would find “stockpiles”
of WMD in Iraq. The new understanding is that Saddam Hussein destroyed
all the weapons of mass destruction, right up to the date of the invasion, or
shipped them to Syria. All that remains in Iraq today are the chemicals and
means to fabricate WMD, surmise the MET Alpha boys. Miller let loose with
another disclosure not included in her Times piece. She states:
And the scientist who has been cooperating with MET Alpha has actually said
that he participated in … he kind of watched, you know, a warehouse being
burned that contained potentially incriminating biological equipment.
Participated in, or kind of watched? There’s a difference. Is Miller holding
something back? What did he see? When did he see it? What does it really
Miller expresses, without any substantiation, the “rather clear” finding that
the Iraqis intended to keep anyone from finding a WMD “smoking gun” by
distributing “dual-use equipment” at armories throughout the nation. Miller says
further searching in Iraq would reveal no more than “a little bit of the
program. You would find a program very much, these days, in the research and
development stages.” But if the Iraqis made illegal weapons so supremely
undetectible, why wasn’t Saddam more hospitable to the inspections process? If
MET Alpha hasn’t unearthed the hidden program so far, surely the inspectors
would never have found it.
Miller doesn’t say.
Miller retreats from the candor of her NewsHour discussion with
another piece in today’s New York Times: “Focus Shifts From Weapons to the People Behind
Them” (April 23). If the April 21 story was about “the most important
discovery to date in the hunt for illegal weapons,” today’s story is about
reducing the inflated expectations created by that scoop—and never mind that
cheerleading NewsHour proclamation that a “silver bullet” has been
Miller quotes an unnamed MET Alpha source who says the “paradigm has shifted”
in the search for weapons of mass destruction. At first, the United States was
trying to locate the vast stores of WMD that were described in Secretary of
State Colin Powell’s presentation before the U.N. Security Council. Finding none
in 75 of the 150 suspected sites, it pared back its search to WMD precursors.
Now, says the MET Alpha source, the investigators are concentrating on
finding scientists who worked on WMD programs. She writes:
Based on what the Iraqi scientist had said about weapons being destroyed or
stocks being hidden, military experts said they now believed they might not
find large caches of illicit chemicals or biological agents, at least not in
Paradigm shift, my ass! Powell’s intelligence report insisted there were tons
of WMD and now the military—and Miller—are preparing us for their complete
absence. That’s what I call the most important discovery to date in the hunt for
We can assume today’s dispatch wasn’t reviewed by military censors
because Miller is silent on that score. But we can also safely assume Miller has
been told a lot more than she’s writing and is actively self-censoring. What
isn’t she telling us? That some Iraqi Dr. Evil found a way to convert George
Foreman grills into WMD machines that transmogrify Bisquick and toluene into
sarin, and the ubiquity of this technology makes the Iraqi WMD program invisible
to military investigators?
And a final note on Miller’s sourcing: On NewsHour, Miller confides
for the first time I’ve seen that she’s embedded with the unit searching for
WMD. But, since the embedding rules specifically freed reporters from direct
military censorship, inquiring minds want to know: Why did Miller agree to their
Investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein suggests a more
elegant way to uncover WMDs or a WMD program than MET Alpha’s barnstorming.
Award $1 million in gold plus safe haven in the United States or United Kingdom
to the first person (and his nuclear family) who leads investigators to a cache
of chemical or biological artillery shells, mines, unmanned aerial-vehicle
bombs, or other weapons. The offer would set off a gold rush if Iraq issued tens
of thousands of WMD to battle units or even stockpiled them. If no one claims
the prize, there would be only two possible conclusions: No Iraqi was motivated
sufficiently to come forward, or U.S. intelligence may have seriously erred in
Send $1 million via PayPal—or your e-mail comments—to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article URL: http://slate.msn.com/id/2081905/
interesting compilation here.
I’m going to jump you straight to the punchline. This has to be the most honest
statement about the Iraq war that I’ve ever heard made by anyone in the
reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification
for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree
May 28, 2003
What a Tangled Web We Weave . .
. . . when first we practice to deceive!
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has
weapons of mass destruction.
August 26, 2002
Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were
used for the production of biological weapons.
George W. Bush
September 12, 2002
If he declares he has none, then we will
know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.
December 2, 2002
We know for a fact that there
are weapons there.
January 9, 2003
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the
materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve
George W. Bush
January 28, 2003
that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is
determined to make more.
February 5, 2003
We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently
authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons — the very weapons
the dictator tells us he does not have.
So has the strategic decision been made to disarm Iraq of
its weapons of mass destruction by the leadership in Baghdad? I think our
judgment has to be clearly not.
March 8, 2003
Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt
that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal
weapons ever devised.
March 17, 2003
Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information
that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical
particularly . . . all this will be made clear in the course of the operation,
for whatever duration it takes.
March 21, 2003
There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses
weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will
be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who
Gen. Tommy Franks
March 22, 2003
I have no doubt we’re going to find big stores of weapons of
Defense Policy Board member Kenneth Adelman
March 23, 2003
One of our top objectives is to find and
destroy the WMD. There are a number of sites.
March 22, 2003
We know where they are.
They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad.
March 30, 2003
Obviously the administration intends to
publicize all the weapons of mass destruction U.S. forces find — and there
will be plenty.
Neocon scholar Robert Kagan
April 9, 2003
I think you have always heard, and you continue to hear from
officials, a measure of high confidence that, indeed, the weapons of mass
destruction will be found.
April 10, 2003
We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with
Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he
destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them.
April 24, 2003
There are people who in
large measure have information that we need . . . so that we can track down
the weapons of mass destruction in that country.
April 25, 2003
We’ll find them. It’ll be a matter of time
to do so.
May 3, 2003
I am confident
that we will find evidence that makes it clear he had weapons of mass
May 4, 2003
believed that we’d just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that
May 4, 2003
surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein —
because he had a weapons program.
George W. Bush
May 6, 2003
U.S. officials never expected that “we were going to open garages
and find” weapons of mass destruction.
I just don’t know whether it was all destroyed years ago
— I mean, there’s no question that there were chemical weapons years ago —
whether they were destroyed right before the war, (or) whether they’re still
Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, Commander 101st Airborne
May 13, 2003
Before the war, there’s no doubt in my mind that
Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical. I
expected them to be found. I still expect them to be found.
Michael Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps
May 21, 2003
Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we’re
interrogating, I’m confident that we’re going to find weapons of mass
Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
May 26, 2003
They may have had time to destroy them, and I
don’t know the answer.
May 27, 2003
For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass
destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason
everyone could agree on.
May 28, 2003
I don’t think I’ll be running
short of material on the “WMD? Where?” question any time soon, so
I’m going to make a series out of it. I’m kind of suprised that
somebody in Hollywood hasn’t already done it. It would surely be a
lot funnier than That’s My Bush.
To their credit, Dr.
Strangelove, Ari, and the rest moved on pretty quickly from
squirming over the utter lack of WMD evidence uncovered, to a
dismissive posture spinning all kinds of Freedom Lies around the
question. Man, they are good. And yes, I did see Ari’s statement
today about the trucks that were discovered which reportedly have
no other use than the making of biological weapons. But we shall
see if that bears up under scrutiny. I’m going to consider it a
ruse for the time being, as pretty much all of the Adminstration’s
statements about WMD so far have been proven false.
Hey, War Supporters
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
There’s no delicate way to say this, but to supporters of the
Iraq war I have a little message.
All together now, people: you were scammed .
No “weapons of mass destruction” have been found. None.
Some of us figured as much, since the rationale for the war kept
changing so frequently. And when the search for these weapons was
carried out in such a lackluster manner, one had to assume the
administration wasn’t really worried about them. (We were
casually told that perhaps seven suspected Iraqi nuclear sites had
been looted. Nice planning there.)
Some people will believe administration propaganda no matter what.
In reply to an article I wrote for SeattleCatholic.com , one person
wrote to the editor : “Contrary to Dr. Woods’ reference to
the lack of Al Qaeda–Iraqi links, we have all read of the
proof of links dating to before 9/11.” Have we? That’s funny,
because every news article one reads these days concedes that the
link has not been made, and that experts prior to the war insisted
the alleged link was a mere fantasy. I wonder what special
intelligence briefings this critic received.
Some supporters of the war will doubtless plead, “But,
but…that’s what Hannity and Limbaugh told me to
Well, it’s time now to start doing your own thinking, since
Hannity and Limbaugh wouldn’t know conservatism if it punched
them in the face.
The automatons who send you angry emails when you write an article
like this condemn you for not wanting to “liberate the Iraqis.” ( I
dealt with that one in an earlier piece .) They’ll point to
the toppling of the statue of Saddam as a glorious moment of
liberation. They somehow missed the news items informing us that
that spectacle was entirely staged: 500 Iraqi National Congress
goons were flown in by the Pentagon to put on that display for us.
A wide-angle camera shot of the incident shows American tanks
patrolling a completely deserted square (apart from the 500 goons).
Moreover, the likelihood increases with each passing day that Iraq
will, whether we like it or not, wind up an Islamic state. (The
idea that enfranchised Iraqis would vote for feminism and its
allied ideologies was, in retrospect, a little ridiculous.)
That’s just one of the answers to the veritable army of
propagandized automatons who spend their time telling atrocity
stories from the days of Saddam’s regime. “Nothing could be
worse than Saddam.” Well, Woodrow Wilson didn’t think
anything could be worse than the Kaiser in Germany. A decade after
the President’s death, intelligent men longed for the old
I’ve already explained on this site why crusades for
democracy are in no sense “conservative”; the very fact that this
needs to be pointed out is something of a barometer of conservative
thought at the moment. The neoconservatives, not exactly known for
their knowledge of history, point to Japan and Germany as
democracy-at-gunpoint success stories, but Japan’s
intellectuals had been acquainted with and increasingly interested
in Western ideas for nearly a century by 1945, and Germany had been
at the heart of Western civilization for millennia. Neither is true
of Iraq, to say the least.
It is in the nature of the state to want to keep its people
permanently mesmerized by some terrible dictator somewhere.
(“Ethel, did you hear he used weapons of mass destruction against
his own people ?”) Saddam may well have been a monster.
There are plenty of monsters ruling African nations right now.
Anyone care to depose them all? To the brainwashed among us, of
whom there are many, try to think: do you suppose that would lead
to more stability or less?
To peddle this silly campaign of installing democracy by force, you
would have to impugn the patriotism of every early American leader,
from Washington to Jefferson to Hamilton to John Quincy Adams to
Henry Clay. Every one of them considered it dangerous utopianism to
suggest that the United States should right the wrongs of the world
(as if the matter were that simple in the first place, a point
which the aftermath of the most recent conflict should be bringing
home if anyone were paying attention). Anyone criticizing opponents
of the Iraq war should have the integrity to condemn these great
Americans as well, and be explicit in their repudiation of the
American tradition. Now who’s “anti-American”?
Meanwhile, Afghanistan, another example of goodness and light being
brought to a benighted people, continues to degenerate into chaos.
But for people even to remember Afghanistan, they’d have to
have an attention span longer than ten minutes.
Just think about how this is going to go over in the history books,
or in history classrooms. The neocons had better enjoy themselves
now. History doesn’t look kindly upon those who asked no
questions about the alleged Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, and
the prospects for the present boondoggle don’t look much
“Didn’t people know that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11?”
“Yes and no. The easily suggestible among us were carried away by
the carefully worded insinuations of the Bush Administration.”
“So you mean the patriotism of many decent Americans was exploited
and taken advantage of by government officials whose motives
couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with ‘weapons
of mass destruction’ or any of this other nonsense?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“So let’s see. We alienated some of our oldest allies, often
gratuitously. We made accusations based on cooked evidence (e.g.,
the forged documents ‘proving’ an Iraqi nuclear
program, the 12-year-old student term paper plagiarized to produce
a dossier on Iraqi activity in 2003). We destroyed our credibility
in the world through our reckless statements and our transparent
desire for war throughout the inspections process, thereby making
it less likely that other countries would cooperate with us against
real terrorists. Some countries, including some of our friends,
even suspected we might plant weapons in Iraq if we couldn’t
find any. That’s a new low.”
“Then we invaded and found no weapons at all – none of the
allegedly huge stockpiles of anthrax and whatever else was
supposedly on the verge of being used against us. Meanwhile, order
collapsed in the country, and enormous demonstrations favoring an
Islamic state broke out.”
“And hatred of the U.S. grew to an all-time high.”
“And there were people foolish enough to denounce as
‘unpatriotic’ those who had warned that this would
“Believe it or not, there were.”
“And people who called themselves conservative considered this a
glorious event? They think conservatism means ignorant, bungling
belligerence, and that considerations of diplomacy or their
country’s image around the world are the stuff of carping
Good thing the neocons have no sense of history, or they’d
worry about this: in the decades to come, fewer and fewer people
will be able to hear about the Iraq war without snickering and
shaking their heads.
May 21, 2003
Professor Thomas E. Woods, Jr. holds an AB from Harvard and a PhD
from Columbia. He teaches history, is associate editor of The Latin
Mass Magazine, and is co-author (with Christopher A. Ferrara)
of The Great Façade: Vatican II and the Regime of
Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church (2002). The book (as well
as a sample chapter) is available at greatfacade.com .
This article is really something. I’m still trying to assimilate it. Is a
semi-secret Jesus cult really the puppetmaster here? Frightening.
Disturbing. Bizarre. I highly recommend printing this one out and reading it
Jesus plus nothing / Undercover among America’s secret theocrats
Harper’s, April 2003
A reporter goes undercover to learn about the Ivanwald “Family,” an
“invisible” group of Jesus-worshippers in government and business.
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