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February 1, 2004

A year ago, Colin Powell went to the U.N Security Council to present a seemingly "bulletproof" case that Saddam was well armed, had massive stockpiles of chemical weapons, and was an imminent threat.The NY Times has printed a long, 7-page article summarizing his statements along with those of Dr. Kay, until recently the head of the group searching for the WMD in Iraq. While interesting, it didn't really shed any surprising new info on the whole affair. It shows some faults in intelligence gathering, but it doesn't really blame anyone in particular.To me, it appears that there were lots of tidbits of information, tidbits that could be interpreted in a number of ways. According to some, "they took every piece of information that proved their point and listed it." However, one official says that "for us to have concluded that he didn't have weapons and he wasn't prepared to use them would have required us to have essentially concluded that all these other pieces of activities had to be explained by other kinds of phenomena." I agree with that analysis, and I'm sure I would have sided with the those that decided Saddam had the WMD. It would have seemed the most likely, albeit unproven, conclusion.They followed several assumptions, ones that I would admit seemed fair at the time. For instance, "nearly all evidence revolved around what Mr. Powell described as suspicious activities at sites Iraq had used before the Persian Gulf war of 1991 to manufacture chemical weapons. There was little question that huge amounts of Iraqi chemical weapons remained unaccounted for — the United Nations inspectors listed their whereabouts as a mystery in a final report after leaving Iraq in 1998 — and the prospect that those chemicals could be unleashed was a major concern as the Pentagon made final plans for war." Following that assumption, Powell concluded that "Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent," enough "to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." Another assumption they followed was "an analysis of Saddam that if he didn't have something to hide, he wouldn't have been behaving the way he did."Other assumptions were made as well, in regards to analyzing information. For instance, in the case of some suspicious covered trucks and other "abnormal activities" found by satellite in a place that was formerly known to be a manufacturing plant of chemical weapons sites.In conclusion, it appears there were lots of maybes, and given the known fact that Saddam was ruthless, aggressive, and perhaps a bit crazed, these "maybes" were interpreted to fit the conclusion he was a threat. I don't think they can be blamed for heading down that road, rather just that the evidence they followed was guessed and assumed, rather than proven. Of course, if they truly believed Saddam was an imminent threat, then that would make these conclusions all the more biased but believed.

Posted by charr at 10:48 AM
Reader Comments

Wow... no one's ranted yet? No ensuing debates? I think we've found the key to world peace: Super Bowl Sunday.

Posted by Heather at February 1, 2004 10:14 PM

I think it's more that everyone's still recovering from the last one. Plus, the whole issue over evidence doesn't push any of my buttons.

Posted by Jan at February 2, 2004 5:57 AM

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