July 18, 2004

TPM's Continued Distortions

But the key point is that the authors of the earlier report felt free to be candid about what the Butler Report chose to keep hidden -- namely, that most of the British judgment about 'uranium from Africa' was based on the phony documents the Butler Report claims had nothing to do with their judgment. [emphasis added]

No, the key point is that Josh Marshall finally conceded that not all the intelligence related to the Niger/uranium saga was 'fruit of the poisonous tree' ("FOPT") tainted.

He did it reluctantly, to be sure.

He had to be dragged; kicking and screaming.

But the force of the evidence, as embodied in the Butler and SSCI reports, all but forced his hand.

Predictably, TPM's continued spinnin' would make Paul Begala blush.

For instance, how can Josh say "most of the British judgement about uranium from Africa was based on the phony documents"?

Take the September '03 UK Parliamentary Report Marshall is so enthused about.

TPM likes it so because it ostensibly makes plainer, as compared to the Butler report, that one of the British intel sources (assorted documentary evidence) was based on the forgeries.

But that very same report states unequivocally:

The SIS stated that the documents did not affect its judgement of its second source and consequently the SIS continues to believe that the Iraqis were attempting to negotiate the purchase of uranium from Niger. We have questioned the SIS about the basis of its judgement and conclude that it is reasonable.

So that's two sources; one ostensibly FOPT tainted and the other not.

From this, how does one divine that "most" of the British judgement was based on forgeries?

Depends on what the definition of "most" is, I guess.

But wait, there's more.

Josh neglects to remind us of the Congo finding in the Butler report:

Quoting, at section 499 :

There was further and separate intelligence that in 1999 the Iraqi regime had also made inquiries about the purchase of uranium ore in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this case, there was some evidence that by 2002 an agreement for a sale had been reached.

Recall, Bush's SOTU referenced Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from Africa generally--not just Niger.

So that's three separate sources of intel the Brits had regarding Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium in Africa.

One would appear to be FOPT tainted. Two weren't.

But, in TPM-land, where the spin is served up fast and furious, the take-away for this Sunday is that the Butler report was just another Hutton-like whitewash and rank cover-up.

Of course, the real take-away (well, aside from the fact that much of the Iraq intel was group-think FUBAR-fare but, relatedly, that POTUS didn't purposefully lie) is that Josh was forced to concede his FOPT thesis hasn't carried the day.

It has, instead, reached a pretty inglorious end.

Not all the Niger/uranium (let alone Africa/uranium) intel was FOPT-tainted.

To quote Josh again, from just a few days back on July 13th:

In other words, the British claim that there was other evidence beside the documents is given further weight....This is at best a very sloppy reading of the report.

This "sloppy reading" sin was allegedly being committed by FT journalists.

But, all told, who is really doing the sloppy reading here folks?

I'm sure Josh isn't being purposefully disingenuous, doubtless.

So it must be sloppiness....

Now, would I have been happier if Bush and Blair had occasionally caveated the intel rather than using the often weak intel as if they were compiling a lawyer's brief to make a more robust case for intervention?

Yep, sure.

But have I seen anything to date (some statement by Bush or Blair) that convinces me they were baldly lying to their publics?

Nope.

The 'literary flair' in this affair came from Joe Wilson--not Dubya.

More soon.

Oh, don't miss the WaPo ombudsman reining in TPM too:

Marshall takes issue with The Post's reporting that "contrary to Wilson's assertions . . . the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the African intelligence that made its way into the 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address." Actually, the CIA fought hard, and successfully, to keep the material about Africa, aspects of which were a matter of dispute, out of a major speech Bush gave in October 2002. But the Senate study points out that in January 2003, the CIA, which still believed Iraq was probably seeking uranium from Africa, did not tell the White House to take out those 16 words from the State of the Union address and that then-CIA Director George Tenet had not even read the speech beforehand.

MORE: Bill Safire, writing about "16 Truthful Words"

Posted by Gregory at July 18, 2004 07:48 PM
Comments

Of course, the real take-away (well, aside from the fact that much of the Iraq intel was group-think FUBAR-fare but, relatedly, that POTUS didn't purposefuly lie) is that Josh was forced to concede his FOPT thesis hasn't carried the day.

I'm beginning to wonder how much of this particular 'fact' isn't in itself an attempt at groupthink on the part of an uncoordinated marriage of spinmeisters and headline seeking media overpushing or getting stuck on the tern 'stockpiles'.

The Butler report, and to a lesser degree the Senate Report somewhat indicate a logic trail for reaching a lot of the WMD conclusions, but this isn't examined in the media. David Kay, and now today acting CIA chief McLaughlin both indicate that evidence uncovered since the invasion indicates that something was afoot, in fact McLaughlin flat out states that Saddam was in violation of 1441 - no caveats. Something he wouldn't say without hard evidence.

While everyone points to the fact that Joe Wilson's story isn't wearing any clothes, most folks have been satisfied at 'no stockpiles' and considered the subject of WMDs a cold case, with the verdict being that the intel stunk - when it may not have totally been in error...just wrong in amounts.

Posted by: Wind Rider at July 18, 2004 10:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

How come no one points out the fact that Wilson's assertions regarding whether or not his wife played a role in promoting/selecting him for the Niger mission have been corroborated by her superiors at the CIA?

Posted by: TT at July 18, 2004 10:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's so much fun to read about intelligent people dismissing logically reasonable connections. But enough about WMD. Let's hear more about how secularist dictators wouldn't want terrorist cutouts just because they're a little overreligious. That's my favorite bit of conventional wisdom.

Posted by: Osama bin Soup Ladle at July 18, 2004 10:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The whole FOPT idea was ridiculous in the first place. FOPT is a piece of legal jargon used to apply to *credible* evidence that must be discarded because it was found as a result of evidence obtained illegally; e.g., a murder weapon found because of a confession given under coercive conditions. The doctrine DOES NOT hold that the murder weapon is unreliable evidence, only that because it derives from illegal actions it cannot be used. This concept is obviously totally inapplicable to intelligence analysis, and TPM only used it because it makes him sound cool, and makes his argument sound like it has legal heft.

Posted by: Joe at July 18, 2004 11:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Remind me exactly which one of "Plame's bosses" is on the record claiming that they were the ones that sent Joe Wilson over? Are they mentioned in the Report or only off the record in the papers?

Hmm, was it one of the many friends Bush has at the CIA? Heh.

Also, I keep wondering what it was that Iraq was doing over there in Niger, meeting with trade officials. Does Dr. Marshall wonder? What did Wilson suspect? Does Wilson think he got to the truth just because he couldn't find any proof that the Iraqis were trying to buy uranium?

Posted by: thewiseacre at July 19, 2004 12:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For instance, how can Josh say "most of the British judgement about uranium from Africa was based on the phony documents"?

Given the extent of your sneering at this claim, Mr. Djerejian, it seems like the decent thing to do would be at least mention Marshall's explanation, since he states his reason quite clearly:

The second report came to them apparently only a week or so before they issued their public document with the claim about Iraq trying to buy uranium in Africa.

It would be even better if you not only mentioned Marshall's explanation but gave your argument as to why it doesn't apply.

But that assumes you're genuinely interested in discussing the validity of prewar intelligence, rather than issuing juvenile taunts. I grant this may not be the case.

Posted by: Swopa at July 19, 2004 01:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

On the other hand, Swopa, it's disingenuous of you not to note that, documents notwithstanding, there were multiple undercover investigations of uranium trading going on, as the Italians have made clear. Documents aren't the only sources of reliable info.

Posted by: rkb at July 19, 2004 01:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Further, Marshall's original reporting on this subject has been limited to...an interview with Joe Wilson. I'd say he's got a dog in the fight. And to accuse others of either sloppy reading or sloppy journalism or to use petty namecalling like he did with Schmidt (and he's done it countless times with others) isn't exactly the height of maturity. We can all see Marshall's partisan position here, and there's nothing wrong with that--as long as he owns up to it.

Consider reversing the names and political affiliations. Does anyone think that Marshall would be cutting a Bushie any slack if he would have "misspoke" or been "misattributed"

Posted by: thewiseacre at July 19, 2004 01:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"How come no one points out the fact that Wilson's assertions regarding whether or not his wife played a role in promoting/selecting him for the Niger mission have been corroborated by her superiors at the CIA?"

Because why let little things like facts get in the way?

Main rational for war - WMD.

No WMD found. Oops.

Posted by: kiret at July 19, 2004 01:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Or as my former Bush supporting buddy is fond of saying about not finding WMD ...

"Bush either lied, exaggerated the case or was incompetent. Doesn't really matter to me which."

Posted by: kiret at July 19, 2004 01:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

'No WMD found'

This is utter balderdash too. I believe, if you havn't gotten the memo yet, that the current meme is 'stockpiles' of weapons have not been found. This new formulation carefully overlooks the facts that a nuclear program was at least in hibernation, not dead, and that plenty of pre-cursors have been found, along with a binary Sarin shell, that if properly deployed would have generated two litres of the nerve gas. And surprise, surprise, it was marked just like a regular shell, which is why it got used in a roadside bomb.

But don't let the facts get in the way of your larger, Bush-is-Hitler, Bush Lied, truth.

Posted by: moptop at July 19, 2004 01:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey Kiret--name the superior who corroborated Wilson's story? What, you can't? Didn't think so.

And you certainly won't be able to find a name in SSCI to support this.

But right now, we're just supposed to believe unnamed sources at the CIA?

Who's facts are getting in the way right now--the CIA's on record in the SSCI or a newspaper account?

Posted by: thewiseacre at July 19, 2004 01:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

MOPTOP -- Actually in June another dozen of the Sarin shells were discovered. Sometime around June 24 Chalres Duelfer made the announcement.

Posted by: EGC at July 19, 2004 02:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Moptop & EGC,

Glad to see you're so dedicated to facts.

---------------------------------------------------
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001971485_iraqdig03.html

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Shells free of chemicals

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Contrary to preliminary reports, 16 rocket warheads found last week in south-central Iraq by Polish troops did not contain deadly chemicals, a coalition spokesman said yesterday.

The Coalition Press Information Center in Baghdad, Iraq, said in a statement that the 122-mm rocket rounds, which initially showed traces of sarin, "were all empty and tested negative for any type of chemicals."

The release also said that two other 122-mm rounds, found June 16 by the Poles, had tested positive for small quantities of sarin but were "so deteriorated ... (as) to have limited to no impact if used by insurgents against coalition forces."
---------------------------------------------------

Then again, those folks at the CPA in Baghdad were probably just a bunch of Chomsky-reading, terrorist-loving traitors, I suppose.

Posted by: Swopa at July 19, 2004 02:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Incidentally, rkb wrote:

"On the other hand, Swopa, it's disingenuous of you not to note that, documents notwithstanding, there were multiple undercover investigations of uranium trading going on, as the Italians have made clear."

Uhhh, yeah, just it's disingenous of you not to note that Barry Bonds hit a home run today. Non sequitur often, rkb?


"Documents aren't the only sources of reliable info."

Or unreliable info, in this case.

Posted by: Swopa at July 19, 2004 02:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"How come no one points out the fact that Wilson's assertions regarding whether or not his wife played a role in promoting/selecting him for the Niger mission have been corroborated by her superiors at the CIA?"

Uh, not to be difficult, but have you got some documentation on that? everything I've seen (including carefully reading all 500-odd pages of the SIC report) seems to say otherwise, that Plame "put forward" the name. Even Wilson is only claiming (now) that she didn't make the decision.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at July 19, 2004 02:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Swopa,

What was the Iraqi "trade" delegation doing in Niger back then?

I'll give you some choices (from the CIA factbook):

uranium, livestock, cowpeas, onions.

That's all that Niger exports.

Posted by: thewiseacre at July 19, 2004 03:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Geez. Fact-checking this blog could be a full-time job. Sadly, I don't expect Greg to pay me. :-)

To answer your question, Charlie, see Tim Rutten's column yesterday in the Los Angeles Times:

--------------------------------------------
http://www.latimes.com/features/lifestyle/cl-et-rutten17jul17,1,397000.column?coll=la-home-utilities

While the Senate report says that Plame "offered up" her husband's name for the mission, a senior CIA official this week told the Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus: "Her bosses say she did not initiate the idea of her husband going…. They asked her if he'd be willing to go, and she said yes."

As Wilson himself pointed out to the Senate committee in a letter sent Thursday, CIA officials have said precisely the same thing over the past year to Newsday reporters Tim Phelps and Kenneth Rogers and to CNN's David Ensor.
--------------------------------------------

There's also Wilson's interview with Wolf Blitzer today:

--------------------------------------------
http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0407/18/le.00.html

WILSON: There are a number of journalists who have gone to the CIA directly and asked about that, including David Ensor, who was told a different story about how that may have come about. In fact, my understanding -- and I don't want to put words in his mouth, so you better ask him -- is that he was told that somebody in that chain of command had asked Valerie to do my list of curriculum vitae. . . .

BLITZER: And I spoke to David Ensor, our national security correspondent, who says that a high-ranking CIA official does say the Senate Intelligence Committee report got it wrong on that specific point.
--------------------------------------------

Gee, maybe that Senate report isn't the holy document of final, absolute truth some people here treat it as ...

Posted by: Swopa at July 19, 2004 03:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let me get this straight--a number of journalists can just go to the CIA and get a different answer than the SSCI?

Interesting. I suppose now we can just go over the SSCI line by line and go to the CIA to find out if they disagree with anything. That way, we'll finally know the truth.

And certainly, when Joe Wilson takes a break from campaigning for Kerry, we can get a vettable dose of facts any time we ask him.

Posted by: thewiseacre at July 19, 2004 03:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Swopa, what was the Iraqi 'trade' delegation doing in Niger back then?"

As I think Josh Marshall pointed out in a post this week, it's likely that Hussein was keeping lines of communication open in case the sanctions were lifted at some future date and he chose to restart his nuclear program.

Wilson has also said in interviews that he doesn't think Iraq was terribly interested in Niger's agricultural exports. But as he says, to take a single meeting in which uranium was NOT discussed and -- because if there had been more meetings, uranium might have come up -- stretch that into "has sought to acquire significant quantities of uranium" is ridiculous.

I'll leave it to Greg D. to split hairs over whether Bush "lied" or simply exaggerated, was misleading, or whatever. The basic point is, if instead of the 16 words he had said, "A trade delegation went to Niger three years ago and didn't discuss uranium, but might have if there had been more meetings," he would have been laughed out of the Capitol building.

Posted by: Swopa at July 19, 2004 03:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Swopa,
Since I was talking about the binary shell found in the roadside bomb, not the shells found by the Poles, I stand by my statement.

I don't see how discrediting another find has anything to do with that one, which has been confirmed, and which was not degraded. Of course, it does provide a succinct example of the kind of logical fallacies that you antiwar types make your stock and trade.

Any slight of hand is justified if the cause is peace? Even the denial of evil.

Posted by: Moptop at July 19, 2004 04:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"has sought to acquire significant quantities of uranium" is ridiculous."

So, what were they seeking then? They went to a country whose main export is uranium seeking something. And BTW, that is only the one piece of intelligence returned by Joe Wilson, not the basis of the claim, which came from other sources. And the fact is that it supports the other sources, not debunks them. There you go again conflating your opponants arguments.

This is your method, methinks. You tie one suspect claim to a claim that is not suspect, probably through sloppiness, or wishful thinking on your part. Then you shoot down the suspect claim and expect us not to notice that the other claim is still standing.

You are not very good at this, but that is understandable, you have a bad case, and you refuse to change your mind.

Posted by: Moptop at July 19, 2004 04:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Its OK, one of the reasons you are a liberal is your inability to keep uncomfortable facts in your head. You think that by ignoring them, they go away, and you never get the 'facts are stubborn things' saying. For you, belief in your being right is a stubborn thing, impervious to counterargument.

Posted by: Moptop at July 19, 2004 05:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"it's likely that Hussein was keeping lines of communication open in case the sanctions were lifted at some future date and he chose to restart his nuclear program."

Oh yes, that must be it.

Keeping lines of communication open.

You know, just in case.

What a convenient reality.

Taken in context, it utterly defies logic.

Then again, considering the partisan logic of the source--Wilson and his willing accomplice Josh Marshall--it all kinda adds up.

Marshall's defense of Wilson has been very, very gratifying.

Posted by: thewiseacre at July 19, 2004 05:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Even if we concede the dubious point of who recommended whom, what does it change. Wilson has admitted to lying on other things, or rather mispeaking, an out that you would never leave a Republican, or use of 'literary flair'. So even if you could prove beyond doubt that Wilson told the truth on this specific point, it does not change the fact that he lied on others. Nor does it change the fact that he is a partisan hack who made it his mission to defeat Bush.

Posted by: Moptop at July 19, 2004 05:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wisacre,
I did a spit take on that assertion myself. It kind of goes along with his keeping the centrifuges. His weapons program was supposed to be dead. Any attempt to keep it alive, even just by keeping lines of communication open, was a violation of the agreement he signed to end the first gulf war, and in fact constituded a justification for the war.

Unless what we are really talking about is the degree of non-compliance. And where does an argument like that end?

Posted by: Moptop at July 19, 2004 05:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmmmm.

Gotta love those anonymous CIA sources that so conveniently contradict an official Senate report.

Posted by: ed at July 19, 2004 07:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Moptop, you're sounding a little giddy. 'Methinks' even edged into your discourse along with oh-so-hothothot word 'meme.'

Before you blow a frontal lobe, I'd like to get back to the early part of this discussion where you began to realize you weren't going to be called on your crap and then accelerated into some kind of RNC talking points euphoria.

Which is to say, let's talk about that word 'stockpiles.' You weren't the first to harp on this, just the most, well, giddy about it.

The reason the media is stuck on 'stockpiles'? Because that's exactly what the Bush team said was there. Not one poorly made, outdated missile that would've been more dangerous if it was plain old HLE...stockpiles.

Here's Donald Rumsfeld on that subject:

"[Saddam] has amassed large clandestine STOCKS of biological weapons... including anthrax and botulism toxin and possibly smallpox. His regime has amassed large clandestine STOCKPILES of chemical weapons, including VX and sarin and mustard gas... [he] has at this moment STOCKPILES of chemical and biological weapons."
September 18, 2002, before the House Armed Services Committee.

I have about about a dozen more direct mentions of 'stockpiles,' along with less direct, yet equally dishonest WMD references. Here's a golden oldie, the last one I'll include in the interest of space:

"Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." -Colin Powell, February 5, 2003, presentation to the United Nations.

Sorry, the hangup on stockpiles is not an invention of the liberal media. It's simply holding our leaders to the standards they set for themselves. This is how they sold us on this war. This is how they dragged us into this mess. This is why half of America is foaming-at-the-mouth furious with this president.

Posted by: djangone at July 19, 2004 07:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In this country, (US) the pity of it is the news stories are all about how Joe Wilson lied, because of the Hutton report, and the Senate Intelligence Committee report, etc., and "accidently" fail to mention the fact Saddam was buying --or attempting to buy -- uranium for his atomic bombs, as in "now we know Saddam was trying to buy uranium for his bombs, as late as 2002." Joe Sixpack is primarily engaged in driving his car when this all washes over him, and fails to get the message. POTUS had excellent WMD reasons to invade Iraq. It is the Joe Sixpacks who matter on November 2nd, not the well-informed.

Posted by: exguru at July 19, 2004 08:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's fun to see our host stick his pate out at the forefront of the smear campaign, isn't it?

It'll be even more fun if the closely-held British source on Niger happens to be via Paris, and turns out to be from the poison tree, won't it? After all, those bilateral intelligence agreements leave a lot of room for noise amongst the signal.

Posted by: blah at July 19, 2004 11:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here are some of the points I highlighted from the Senate Intelligence Committee Report, section on uranium from Niger.

Visit by the 'former ambassador' (presumably Joe Wilson). His name was put forward by his wife, an employee of the CIA's Counterproliferation Division
(CPD). His report was seen as useful, 'but did not provide substantial new information'. It did not overturn previously established positions.

The State Department and its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) continued to take a different postion from the CIA and DIA. The CIA and DIA saw the significant point as that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Africa, whereas State stressed that Niger was unlikely to actually sell it.

There were also some discrepancies in Wilson's account. He seems to have 'sexed it up' a bit, a la Gilligan.

October 2002, an Italian magazine provided the US with documents on relating to a transaction between Iraq and Niger. State was sceptical about
these. In November France told the US that it believed it was true that Iraq was attempting to procure uranium from Niger. The documents were ssupplied to the IEAE, who concluded they were forgeries. The French then said their assessment had been based on these same documents.

The CIA tried to persuade the British not to include the references to Niger and uranium in the September dossier. When it came to the President's State of the Union speech, it was thought preferable to cite the information in the British dossier, which was already unclassified. So, this came out as 'The British government has learned...'. In fact, it was the same, fragmentary, information that the US and UK used, coming from a 3rd country's intelligence agency.

The blacking-out on the US document is far more efficient than on some released by the Hutton Enquiry, but even so you can see on page 44 that it's a fairly short word, so French, German or Swiss say, but not Australian.

Colin Powell, in his UN speech, did not mention uranium and Niger, nor was he pressured to do so. In the end, it was not seen as that important, not like aluminium tubes.

---
So, I would go along with Safire's analysis.

Posted by: DavidP at July 19, 2004 12:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent."

If you read the Butler report, you will see that 'conservative' is a synonym for 'worst-case'...

Posted by: DavidP at July 19, 2004 01:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And as Hitchens reminds us, Iraq was working on a WMD trade with North Korea, so the "no WMD found" trope is even more disingenuous...

Posted by: HH at July 19, 2004 04:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wilson's dissembling to Blitzer is already well-documented... these sources insisting that it depends on what the meaning of the term "recommend" is are likely not reliable.

Posted by: HH at July 19, 2004 04:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just on some of broader issues, on the aspect of 'dropping caveats', there are a few nuances in the Butler report that have not been remarked upon.

On the 45-minute claim, the doubts about the intelligence were not reflected in the JIC assessments.

On aluminium tubes, the doubts in the JIC assessments did not make it into the September dossier.

On uranium from Niger, both the assessments and the dossier are a fair reflection of the intelligence.

Posted by: DavidP at July 19, 2004 04:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And I'm surprised no-one's picked this up, to my knowledge :

'inter-departmental advice to Ministers in early March 2002.

our current objectives towards Iraq are:
- the reintegration of a law-abiding Iraq,which does not possess WMD or threaten its neighbours,into the international community. Implicitly, this cannot occur with Saddam in power; and
- hence, as the least worst option,we have supported containment of Iraq, by constraining Saddam’s ability to re-arm or build up WMD and to threaten his neighbours. (para 260).


A joint memorandum submitted by the then Foreign and Defence Secretaries to the Cabinet Ministerial Committee on Defence and Overseas Policy in May 1999 covered future strategy towards Iraq. That paper set out the Government’s policy objectives towards Iraq as being:

. . . in the short term,to reduce the threat Saddam poses to the region, including by eliminating his Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) programmes; and,in the longer term,to reintegrate a territorially intact Iraq as a law-abiding member of the international community.

The paper noted that the Government had sought to achieve these aims:

. . . by a policy of containment,through active support of UNSCOM/IAEA efforts to complete WMD disarmament in Iraq, diplomatic pressure and sanctions,backed by the threat and, as necessary, use of military force.

The paper made judgements on the success of that policy and its longer-term prospects:

Containment has kept the lid on Saddam. . . . But containment has disadvantages:
it does not produce rapid or decisive results; it is resource-intensive, requiring constant diplomatic effort and a significant military presence; and it is not always easy to justify to public opinion, as criticisms of UK/US air strikes and of the humanitarian impact of sanctions has shown.
...external monitoring has serious limitations . . . and would be less of a constraint on Saddam than an intrusive in-country regime. Moreover, it would be unable to pursue disarmament, and thus offer no realistic prospect of being able to give Iraq a clean bill of health as required by the UNSCRs before sanctions can be lifted.' (paras 214-6)

I cannot see how to highlight in bold these comments, but if I could, they would be : from 2002, 'Implicitly, this cannot occur with Saddam in power'; from 1999, 'thus offer no realistic prospect of being able to give Iraq a clean bill of health as required by the UNSCRs before sanctions can be lifted'. A subtle shift in the British position.

Posted by: DavidP at July 19, 2004 04:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This would put an interesting wrinkle in the story:

BBC News

Ex-Niger premier denies Iraq link

Niger's former prime minister has said that Iraq did not try to buy uranium, contradicting claims made in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Ibrahim Mayaki told the BBC that no Iraqi delegation went to Niger while he was foreign minister or prime minister.

An official report into UK intelligence supported the claims that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from Niger.

Although some documents backing up this claim were shown to be forgeries, the UK has not withdrawn the charge.

Last week's US Senate report on the intelligence leading up to the Iraq invasion said that Saddam Hussein's government may have tried to buy uranium from Africa.

Following the discovery of the forgeries, President George W Bush withdrew the charges.

'Easily verified'

Mr Mayaki denies allegations in the Senate report that he admitted meeting a delegation from Iraq in 1999.

The report says that he expected to discuss uranium with the Iraqi delegation but managed to steer the conversation in another direction.

But Mr Mayaki now says he has no recollection of such a meeting, while he was in government from 1999-2001.

"I think this could be easily verified by the Western intelligence services and by the authorities in Niger," he said.

Claims that an African country had supplied Iraq with uranium were first made in a dossier compiled by the British intelligence services on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, made public in September 2002.

The chair of the UK enquiry into the quality of British intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction said this information had come from several sources.

The forged documents were not available to the British government when it was making its case for the war and so did not undermine its conclusion, Lord Butler said.

Posted by: Matt at July 19, 2004 06:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bingo, 'ExGuru', well said.

This would explain the tireless work of the main media organs.

And cheer up moptop, wiseacre - when I read your antagonists here smuggly quibbling, I can't help but get the image from my head from Patton, when the German Commander's are hurriedly leaving their bunker, deep loud rumbles in the back-ground...and that one guy, almost off-camera, busily burning documents. Must be what it's like right now at the hovels of these self-defeating, nihilist losers.

Not in my name...What? freedom...liberty...justice? Is that what you don't want accomplished in your name?

veeeeeeew, boom..BOOM-BOOM.

Posted by: Tommy G at July 19, 2004 07:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

uh-oh!

The Guardian has more.

Posted by: praktike at July 19, 2004 07:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,1264124,00.html

Posted by: praktike at July 19, 2004 07:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Djangone,
While I appreciate your attempts at literary criticism, you should not quit your day job. Do you consider the text of your first couole paragraphs logical analysis? Methinks thou dost protest too much. Shakespeare said that, if it ok to use a little 'literary flair. '


I notice that you ignored my substantive points, such as the claim of 'no wmds' no longer holds up, so the goalpost has moved to stockpiles. I think that the find of the binary Sarin shell in the roadside bomb convincingly disguised as a conventional shell indicates that there is more to be found. Unless you take the improbably position that there was only one. It was in usable condition and certainly could have been launched in 45 minutes.

I didn't see an exculpitory explanation from any of you lawyers for Saddam on that one.
I notice that you continue with the ad hominems, always a sign of a weak argument. What was the quote? If it is ok to make another allusion without getting psychanalyzed. You are raising your voice when you should be re-inforcing your arguments. But in the position you are in, as I said before, re-inforcing your ever weakening argument is no longer an option, so raise your voice away.

Posted by: Moptop at July 19, 2004 10:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

LOL, you're a funny guy, Moptop.

Here's a little more on your binary shell:

---------------------------------------------
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A33082-2004May17?language=printer

Experts familiar with Iraq's chemical weapons program said the shell was likely a leftover from Hussein's pre-Gulf War stockpile. Iraq acknowledged producing nearly 800 tons of sarin and thousands of sarin-filled rockets and artillery shells between 1984 and 1990.

The experts, including David Kay, the Pentagon's former top weapons hunter in Iraq, said the discovery did not conclusively prove the existence of stockpiles of concealed chemical and biological weapons.

. . . Kay, the former leader of the Iraq Survey Group, said the shell was likely one of thousands produced for the Iran-Iraq war. While the Hussein government claimed that all leftover chemical munitions had been destroyed in accordance with U.N. Security Council requirements, it is possible that some were overlooked, hidden or stolen. Before the U.S.-led invasion last year, U.N. weapons inspectors found several empty chemical warheads for rockets and a small number of artillery shells filled with mustard gas.

"This shell may have been scavenged from one of the many munitions storage depots all over the country," said Kay. He said some munitions depots are still not adequately protected.

. . . Kimmitt said the chemical shell was "an old binary type requiring the mixing of two chemical components in separate sections of the cell before the deadly agent is produced." He said the shell, which reportedly was not marked as a chemical round, was designed to work as such a weapon after being fired from an artillery piece, which would cause two chemicals to mix together in flight. . . .

. . . Kimmitt said he believed that whoever rigged the shell as a roadside bomb did not know it contained chemicals. He said the bomb was "virtually ineffective as a chemical weapon."
---------------------------------------------

But let me guess -- Kay and Gen. Kimmitt are just Saddam-loving, terrorist-sympathizing members of ANSWER, right?

Posted by: Swopa at July 20, 2004 02:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Moptop, you're not worth replying to.

Now, sorry, rest of you, I'm gonna have to stay glib here. I have something I wonder if you've considered.

Here it is: Even if I grant you the yellow cake, which I'm not, will you not still be miles short of making a casus belli case re Iraq? Because even with it, Iraq was neither (1) the country posing us the most WMD threat nor (2) the country with anything like the most extensive Al Queda links. All this scrabbling and clawing for a centimeter of yellow earth, only to find yourselves still so far away, faced with all the other bad actors (Pakistan, NKorea, Iran, Sudan, Syria) who better fit the criteria the Administration set for itself on either WMD or AQ ties. And no, of course we couldn't invade Pakistan--unless you follow the President's suicidal 'pre-emption' criteria, that is.

In other words, get past 'yellow cake' and you'll still be faced with the aluminum rods, the 'mobile weapons labs,' Colin Powell's water trucks, the Czech 'connection,' the unaccounted-for VX, the unaccounted-for sarin, nuclear 'capabilities' and about fifteen other puffs of vapor. Seriously. Most Americans, and not just me, aren't going to settle for anything less than full proof of the things the Administration itself claimed. And nobody is going to let them forget those claims. Call the media liberal or call it Fred, no responsible media--or for that matter responsible citizen of any kind--can allow itself to forget the spectacle of exaggeration it witnessed with its own eyes during 2002. It's no wonder conservatives from W.F Buckley to Tom Clancy, from Bill O'Reilly to Colin Powell himself are saving face by dropping out of this hopeless game you're still scratching out.

Even the President himself, every time he uses the term 'weapons of mass destruction-related programs' shows himself to have deserted the party. What're you guys still doing hanging around the empty punchbowl when even your best friends are downstairs grabbing taxis to escape the stink?

Posted by: djangone at July 20, 2004 08:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Swopa,
All I see in your reply is a collection of opinions that it is probably nothing. Saddam never documented destroying his WMD, as he was required to do by the cease-fire he signed, yet you and your experts take it on faith that he did. Why do you take Saddam at his word, without evidence? Saddam is the only one who could have proved that he destroyed the weapons, yet he didn't. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I would like to KNOW where the shell came from, not somebody's opinion of where it came from.

Djangone,
That's very convenient, isn't it? You have a point though. It is probably foolish on your part to continue defending Joe Wilson, isn't that the point of this post? Because he is a liar, and all you are really accomplishing is providing entertainment to those of us that see he is a liar. I am sure you are much happier convincing those who already agree with you anyway, judging by YOUR STYLE.

But talk about hanging around the punchbowl when the party's over, there are fewer and fewer followers of TPM on this issue with each passing day.

And in the future, when you begin your rebuttal to an argument by assigning dispositive value in that argument to your judgements on the writer's literary style, expect to be made fun of again, because it is just silly.

Posted by: Moptop at July 20, 2004 01:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nope, because you're simply not worth replying to. There appear to be some thoughtful people here, and it's not worth another minute of my time after this post to address someone who clearly isn't on their level. Go back and read my post of Bush Admin quotes again and point out where the 'shifted goalpost' is. I'm starting to think you're a little hazy on the meanings of the trendy blogologisms (ad hominem! meme! shifting goalpost!) you're using.

Posted by: djangone at July 20, 2004 04:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Could you tell me what those mobile labs were actually for?

If you are going to say hydrogen generation for spotting artillery, I will say that the equivalent system in the US is mounted on the back of a hum vee. Why would you send an 18 wheel truck into a combat zone when a lighter and more mobile vehicle would do?

By the way, the US uses sophisticated software to refine the targeting of its artillery to account for the wind. The Iraqis us the Soviet style 'area weapon' approach which says you point several guns approximately at what you are trying to kill and make up for your lack of accuracy with volume. US is much more into one shot, one kill.

So even if the mobile labs were for making weather balloons, incompetantly placed on a large and vulnerable platform, why would the Iraqis use them? The only use I can think of is to more accurately target chemical weapons. If that is the case, they should have been destroyed, no?

Another use that I have seen put forward is the production of highly environmentally friendly pesticides, which need to be produced at the site where they will be used because they degrade so rapidly. So in this case, you might say that Saddam is a cutting edge environmentalist, to which I would reply: "Then why did he have pesticides, otherwise known as CW pre-cusors buried at ammo dumps?"

Of course you may know of a fourth possible explanation for the trucks, if you do, please fill me in.

Please feel free to call bullshit on any specific point I make and I will back it up with a link to a news source (not Fox) or a web site of a recognized expert in the field. Since my source for the pesticides is the UN, and my source for the Hum Vee hydrogen ballon thing is a manufacturer of such systems web-site. If you do call bullshit, you are then obligated to concede your error if I can prove it. Fair enough?

But that's right, you don't need to reply because I am not at your level.

I have an idea. Why don't you look at this link on grandiosity? It may explain how you believe that you can assign values to a person, and read into his arguments based on your keen insight into his use of language.

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal56.html

Of course, you could also simply be embarrased by your first overwrought reply.

Posted by: Moptop at July 20, 2004 08:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

'shifted goalpost': Position of your side a couple months back: "No WMD found" to "Every claim he made must be verified, even if the yellowcake claim was true, it doesn't matter, so the matter of Joe Wilson's credibility is irrelevant" That was your argument, no?

'meme' its a shorthand for each new argument professed by groupthink mindguards of the left, as your rationals against the war fall away. See 'Shifting Goalposts'

'Ad Hominem': "Then again, those folks at the CPA in Baghdad were probably just a bunch of Chomsky-reading, terrorist-loving traitors, I suppose" Did I somewhere say that?

"I'd like to get back to the early part of this discussion where you began to realize you weren't going to be called on your crap and then accelerated into some kind of RNC talking points euphoria. " What was the purpose of that sentence. Oh, I get it, its not ad-hominem because, through your intellectual hypertrophy, and preternatural perspicacity, you know it to be true!

But really, calling me an ally of the blowhard on Fox, puhleeze.

Posted by: Moptop at July 20, 2004 09:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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