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Category Archives: Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Bush Economic Record
President George W. Bush came into office with a recession and left with one, but his overall record is admirable. For 24 quarters we had steady growth, a record not matched by any other President. The Bush tax cuts rescued the economy and provided the nation with low unemployment and continued growth for 5½ straight years. The Dow Jones reached an all time high, and the tax cuts got America out of the dot com recession. Continue reading
The two lions of the Senate are gone now, but their unfortunate legacy in national security policy remains. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) would have been shocked to see today’s Boston Globe which reports his GOP successor holds not only his Senate seat, but also his decades long claim to be the most popular politician in the Bay state. Continue reading
Thanks to President Obama, we have just found Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and George W. Bush’s legacy is being rescued. The President today nominated Lt. Gen. James Clapper USAF (Ret) to be Director of National Intelligence. Clapper is now the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.
Clapper says Saddam Hussein’s WMD and supporting documents were sent to Syria in the weeks before the 2003 U.S. invasion. Satellite images released in 2004 by the Pentagon show Russian vehicles loading materials at Iraqi factories. Clapper was present at a meeting of East European intelligence officials who disclosed Russia’s role in moving the Iraqi material out of the country. Senior Israeli military officers have said their country snapped line of sight photographs of convoys leaving Iraq for Syria before the war.
Nothing was suppressed. Gen. Clapper discussed the satellite imaging photos in 2004. He was head of the agency that reviewed those photos from 2001 to 2006. The media just ignored his comments.
Now the Obama administration’s senior intelligence expert is saying the WMD stockpile was sent to Syria. Saddam had no reason to ship conventional weapons out of Iraq. His government was allowed to have those weapons, and they were never subjected to the UN sanctions. According to George Piro, Saddam’s FBI interrogator, Saddam admitted Iraq continued to maintain the ability to produce WMD. So, being in the WMD business does not require that it’s made and ready to go, but just ready to be made.
The Bush administration was never able to convince people that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. However, the over 75,000 Kurdish people in the town of Halabja never had any doubt. Over 5,000 of them died in a WMD attack. Saddam tried to blame the attack on the Iranians, but it was Iran’s TV station that brought the attack to world attention.
On a related topic, the position of DNI is set up for fail. Directors McConnell, Blair and now Clapper are all stuck with the same laws that prohibit the DNI from directing operations of the 16 intelligence agencies. They all report frustration in trying to get the 16 intelligence agencies to share information. The Intelligence Community is best at protecting itself from itself. Each agency does not trust the other.
The approval ratings of President George W. Bush never recovered from the Iraq War. For six years over half the U.S. population believed Bush was lying about the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq, and many believed oil was the sole motivation behind the American intervention.
The failure to discover large WMD stockpiles permanently damaged Bush’s credibility. For over a decade prior to the American liberation, the United States and its allies believed Saddam Hussein had significant WMD stockpiles. Before the war Bush asked CIA Director George Tenet if he was sure about the stockpiles and was told their existence was a “slam dunk.” Prior to the U.S. invasion no one could determine if these stockpiles had been destroyed because the Iraqi regime had kicked out the UN weapons inspectors four years earlier.
Significant stockpiles were not found, but they had clearly existed. The UN Report by weapons inspector Charles Duelfer concluded that Iraq had the ability and infrastructure for instantly creating new WMD stockpiles in about a week. They intended to begin churning them out the minute the UN sanctions ended.
The news media largely ignored the comments of Gen. James Clapper, the Director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. He said satellite imagery showed that just before the war began, Iraq had transferred its WMD stockpile to Syria. They also ignored the remarks of Gen. Georges Sada, the deputy chief of Iraq’s Air Force during the Saddam Hussein era. He also said Saddam’s WMD had been transferred to Syria. Similar statements from Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s chief-of-staff, were reported but they were not given much credibility.
The media also downplayed the 500 tons of yellow cake which was found, the equipment dispersed and hidden throughout the nation, and the Defense Department report which focused on the WMD issue after reviewing over 600,000 documents captured after the capitulation of Saddam’s regime.
The real weapon of mass destruction in Iraq was Saddam Hussein, and he was removed. Blame also belongs on the Bush administration for not aggressively opposing the critics who chanted “Bush Lied, People Died.” In his recent book “Courage and Consequence,” Karl Rove has a chapter entitled “Bush Was Right on Iraq.” The former President’s top political aide reviews many of the above arguments and places the blame on himself:
So who was responsible for the failure to respond [to the Democrats’ assault]? I was. I should have stepped forward, rung the warning bell, and pressed for full-scale response. I didn’t. Preoccupied with the coming campaign and the pressures of the daily schedule in the West Wing, I did not see how damaging this assault was. There were others who could have sounded the alarm, but regardless, I should have.
Many of the allies we wanted to help us bring down Saddam Hussein were already in a corrupt coalition to keep him in power. The UN found documents which showed the “guiding theme” of Saddam’s regime was to be able to start making WMD again “with as short a lead time as possible.” Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions – which stopped him from acquiring weapons – were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved payments to every one of these individuals or groups.
In his recent review of Bush’s memoir Decision Points, Alastair Campbell (former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s director of communications and strategy) writes in the UK’s Guardian:
I do not buy the idea that he was hellbent on war in Iraq – also confirmed by the book, and in particular by the letters to his father and daughters. They are the letters, and this is the account, of someone who tried to avoid war, but could no longer ignore Saddam’s defiance, or the view of every intelligence agency in the world that Iraq had WMD, a threat that could be parked pre-September 11, but not after it. And surely he has a point when he says: “If I wanted to mislead the country into war why would I pick an allegation that was certain to be disproven publicly shortly after we invaded the country?”
Doubtless the Bush-haters will assume he wrote the letters to his family as a form of prewar spin planning that could be trotted out postwar when it all went wrong. All I say is: read them. You would be hard pressed, on a fair reading, to say the chapters on Iraq show a “rush to war”.
No Blood for Oil
Another popular chant was “No Blood for Oil.” If America’s interest had been oil, the United States could have obtained concessions after 1991’s Operation Desert Storm. Nevertheless, many Americans continue to believe the purpose of the Iraq War was to obtain access to oil. Now the results are known. Iraq’s oil wealth will benefit its own people. An auction in June of 2009 granted concessions to Chinese, Russian, British and French firms, while no American firm was granted a concession. According to Time magazine of December 19, 2009:
Not a single U.S. company secured a deal in the auction of contracts that will shape the Iraqi oil industry for the next couple of decades. Two of the most lucrative of the multi-billion-dollar oil contracts went to two countries which bitterly opposed the U.S. invasion — Russia and China — while even Total Oil of France, which led the charge to deny international approval for the war at the U.N. Security Council in 2003, won a bigger stake than the Americans in the most recent auction. ‘The distribution of oil contracts certainly answers the theory that the war was for the benefit of big U.S. oil interests,’ says Alex Munton, Middle East oil analyst for the energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, whose clients include major U.S. companies. ‘That has not been demonstrated by what has happened this week.’
The slogans “Bush Lied, People Died” and “No Blood for Oil” gained prominence because of the massive anti-war lobby that disappeared after Barack Obama’s election. As Victor Davis Hanson of Tribune Media Services noted:
Finally, there was the assertion that anti-war protests were all genuinely based on opposition to the American presence in Iraq rather than fueled, in large part, by partisan politics. But since January 2009, when Obama was sworn into office, there have been almost no anti-war demonstrations against the still-sizable American presence there.
Popular demonstrations in the U.S. now oppose excessive government, not the war. And Hollywood has ceased making its usual, unpopular anti-war movies like ‘In the Valley of Elah,’ ‘Redacted,’ ‘The Kingdom,’ ‘Rendition,’ ‘Lions for Lambs’ and ‘Home of the Brave.’ Many on the left no longer oppose the Bush-Petraeus plan of slow, graduated withdrawal from Iraq, as this strategy is now sanctioned by President Obama. In the words of Vice President Biden, Iraq may well become one of the Obama administration’s ‘greatest achievements.’
Vice President Joe Biden recently told talk show host Larry King that Iraq “could be one of the greatest successes of this administration.” American troops left all Iraqi cities and towns in June of 2009 and significant force reductions are now happening. President Obama had nothing to do with us. The Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq lays out the timetable for withdrawal, and this was signed by President Bush. It was Bush who set up the schedule and agreement to pull out of Iraq by 2011. The Obama Administration is just following Bush’s plan.
Another myth is that Democrats were skeptical about the Iraq’s WMD. The quotes below demonstrate many prominent Democrats were concerned about the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction stockpiles in Iraq prior to the U.S. liberation. Please note that Senator John Kerry was a member of the Intelligence Committee in 1999-2000, and had access to the collected information on the WMD programs well in advance of the time when George W. Bush was President. The result is that Kerry was convinced the stockpiles existed.
“One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.”
President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998
“Iraq is a long way from USA but, what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.”
Madeline Albright, Feb. 18, 1998
“We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.”
Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
“Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.”
Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
“I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force– if necessary– to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA), Oct. 9, 2002
“Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation … And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction… So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real …”
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA), Jan. 23, 2003
Many people continue to believe that Iraq had no connection to weapons of mass destruction. We now know the Senate Intelligence Committee received the same briefings as President Bush in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. All of the Democratic lawmakers on this panel reached the same conclusion as the President. Every intelligence agency believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and the post-invasion UN Duelfer report concluded that he maintained the capability to produce them on short notice.
Saddam had destroyed most, but not all of his WMD stockpile. On June 14, 2003 the U.S. Army discovered over 550 metric tons of uranium yellowcake at a facility in Tuwaitha , 12 miles south of Baghdad. Once refined, this quantity would make 142 nuclear weapons. At the same location the Army uncovered four devices for controlled radiation exposure. Over 500 chemical weapons (mustard and sarin gas) were also found.
In July of 2008 the last of the yellowcake was shipped to Canada where it is now being processed into nuclear fuel. Most of the uranium was acquired prior to 1991, but Saddam still had it in 2003. He was holding onto it in order to wait out the U.N. sanctions when he could restart his WMD program.
This one discovery should put to rest the canard peddled by Joe Wilson who made a career out of claiming “Bush lied” about Iraq seeking yellowcake from the African country of Niger. After numerous investigations it appears the person who lied was Wilson, not Bush. The Senate Intelligence Committee and the British parliament both concluded that Wilson was lying about many things. Iraq was seeking additional yellowcake in Niger, and Wilson accurately reported this at the time, before changing his story.
Bush’s “16 words” in his 2003 State of the Union Address were accurate. Wilson lied about the documents he had seen, and he also lied when he claimed his CIA officer wife was not instrumental in sending him to Niger,
According to Wilson’s own testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki of Niger said an Iraqi delegation was seeking to acquire additional yellowcake in 1999, but they let the matter drop because Iraq was under international sanctions.
Wilson’s wife, former CIA employee Valerie Plame wrote the book, “Fair Game: My Life As A Spy, My Betrayal By The White House.” You don’t even have to get to the first page of Plame’s book to find something misleading, because it’s right in the title, in the ‘My Betrayal By The White House’ part. It wasn’t the White House who first told Robert Novak that Plame worked for the CIA, it was Richard Armitage, a State department Iraq war critic, hardly a Bushie. Novak was the one who outed Plame by saying she worked at the CIA in one of his columns. You would think it was Cheney who announced it in a press conference if you listened to the propaganda. After prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s endless investigation of the White House, nobody was ever charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) for outing Valerie Plame, though Scooter Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, was convicted of making false statements to the FBI during the investigation for not remembering who told him Plame’s name first several months after the fact. Libby would not have been in any trouble if he had just said “I do not recall.” Hillary Clinton used that phrase over 250 times when she was under oath.
Valerie Plame was never deep under cover. The CIA confirmed her employment over the phone when they were called by Bob Novak.
Earlier today I had a feeling history was repeating itself when I listened to the testimony of former Senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and Jim Talent (R-MO) before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Graham is the Chairman and Talent the Vice Chairman of the Congressionally-mandated Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. Graham previously served as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Commission outlined significant dangers posed by terrorist group production of WMD, but apparently not too many people view this as an important subject. The room was not crowded, few Senators attended, and there has been next to no coverage in the news media since the report was completed last month. The only significant exposure they received was when Senator Graham was a guest on Stephen Colbert’s comedy show.
This has happened before. On January 21, 2001, former Senators Gary Hart (D-CO) and Warren Rudman (R-NH) released the in-depth report of their Congressionally-mandated U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century. The Hart/Rudman group said a hostile attack was increasingly likely on the U.S. homeland, and “America’s military superiority will not help us.” They warned of the dangers of terrorism and said rapid advances in information and biotechnologies would create new vulnerabilities for U.S. security.
The Hart/Rudman Commission was ignored and nine months later we were confronted with 9/11. The new report developed by Senators Graham and Talent is entitled “World at Risk,” and it calls for decisive international action. The Graham/Talent Commission members believe it is likely terrorists will use a weapon of mass destruction somewhere in the world by the end of 2013.
The first priority continues to be the potential use of a nuclear weapon by terrorists and rogue states. The report says North Korea has many ties to terrorist organizations and they already have at least 10 nuclear weapons. In addition, Iran has crossed numerous “red lines” set by the international community regarding weapons-related uranium enrichment.
They recommended increased security measures being devoted to Pakistan’s uranium and plutonium stockpile. The seizure of weapons grade material by terrorists would have enormous consequences, but they also emphasized the main threat comes from biological weapons.
The Senators briefed Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on their findings. Senator Talent told them “We know the terrorists want to get these weapons, we know they have tried to get these weapons and we know they are sophisticated enough organizationally to acquire this capability.”
The Commission members supported the Bush Administration’s cross-border attacks against extremists along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. The attacks were designed to stop the reconstitution of headquarters and training camps for al-Qaida.