“The weapons do not exist,” was David Kay’s reply to the question, “What happened to the stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons that everyone expected to find in Iraq?”
Kay, a former top U.S. weapons inspector, endeared himself to the media as an invasion enthusiast. The evidence he now marshals to explain why no WMD were found in Iraq is the same old evidence those of us who opposed this war cited back in the dying days of 2002. So, no, not everyone was bullish about the Bush administration’s WMD balderdash. And, yes, Kay has done no more than validate some very old verities: There have been no WMD in Iraq for some time.
Kay’s official findings will doubtless be “withheld” until after the election. But having publicly fumed about the impotence of the U.N.’s Hans Blix, Kay now seemingly vouches for the effectiveness of the much-maligned inspection process.
What Kay now parrots, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei told the U.N. Security Council before the war: There were no nuclear-designated aluminum tubes in Iraq; no uranium was imported, and no nuclear programs were in existence. Between 1991 and 1998, the IAEA had managed to strip Iraq of its fuel-enriching facilities, tallying inventories to a T. Or in Kay’s belated words: “Iraq’s large-scale capability to produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced – if not entirely destroyed – during Operation Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of U.N. sanctions and U.N. inspections.”
According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Congress in 1999 was privy to intelligence reports which similarly attested to a lack of “any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox (1998) to reconstitute its WMD program …” Accounts of this nature have evidently been available to Congress for years. They reiterated, as one report from the Defense Intelligence Agency does, that, “A substantial amount of Iraq’s chemical warfare agents, precursors, munitions, and production equipment were [sic] destroyed between 1991 and 1998.”
Kay’s “news” ought not to have been new to the blithering boobs in Congress.
The CEIP further bears out that in October of 2002, Congress was apprised of a National Intelligence Estimate, a declassified version of which was released only after the war. Apparently, entire intelligence agencies disputed key contentions that the administration – its experts, and its congressional and media backers – seized on and ran with.
While clearly pandering to policy makers, U.S. intelligence reports were still heavily qualified by conjectural expressions such as, “we believe Iraq could, might, possibly, and probably will.” The State Department and the White House, however, cultivated a custom of issuing “fact” sheets with definitive statements from which all traces of uncertainty had been removed.
Condoleezza Rice (who had categorically denied she possessed the analytical wherewithal to connect the dazzlingly close dots between Arab men practicing their aeronautical take-off skills and terrorism) was suddenly doing nothing but connecting disparate dots. She, Powell, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush never stopped gabbling about a reconstituted Iraqi nuclear-weapons program, chemical and biological blights, Scuds and squadrons of unmanned aerial vehicles streaking U.S. skies, and traveling laboratories teeming with twisted scientists. The language they used – and still do to this day, unrepentant – ignored the deep dissent in the intelligence community.
The most immediate threat to Americans clearly came from their own leaders.
Bush could have abided by the Constitution of the United States. Instead, he chose to violate it, declaring war by executive order. Members of Congress could have honored their oath to support the Constitution. Instead, they flouted it, failing to debate the wisdom of going to war and blithely approving the president’s usurpation of power.
The official decision to go to war was declared around the time U.N. monitors were scouring Iraq, and, if we are to believe Kay, doing so effectively. It was announced not long after, having conducted hundreds of inspections between November 2002 and March 2003, ElBaradei reported, matter of fact, to a disinterested, jingoistic media what Kay claims today to have “discovered”: There were no WMD.
And the decision was made by the executive, not the intelligence community. The intelligence community is a causal link in the chain of culpability – it is responsible for propagating the lies that fed an unscrupulous executive. But it was not the intelligence community that made the final decision that turned Iraq from a contained “rogue” state to a chaotic “failed” state.
Kay and his Iraq Survey Group will be praised for their marvelous forensic efforts, even though they’ve done nothing but verify the veracity of existing evidence. These were the facts before a bloody and unnecessary war; these are the facts now that over 500 Americans are dead, close to 3,000 are disfigured and maimed, and thousands of Iraqis are similarly hurt and hobbled.
As the 19th-century American philosopher of liberty, Lysander Spooner, pointed out, “Guilt is an intrinsic quality of actions.” Judging by the actions they commanded, Mr. Bush and his privileged playmates are as guilty as sin.