The article is coming out tomorrow… but I’ve decided to provide pre-release analysis.
The article seems to try to make the case that the Bush administration lied to the American people and therefore the war in Iraq was not justified. However, it wasnï¿½t the American people that saw the very ï¿½internal agency debatesï¿½ going on and still voted overwhelmingly to authorize the use of force in Iraq
Supporting votes included Tom Daschle, whom the article cites as asking, “What has changed over the course of the last 10 years, that brings this country to the belief that it has to act in a pre-emptive fashion in invading Iraq?” Apparently enough for him to vote for the war.
In fact, John Kerry and John Ewards both voted for the war as well. Kerry even said, ï¿½There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop nuclear weapons.ï¿½ Despite Kerryï¿½s campaign promise that he ï¿½will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence,ï¿½ he didnï¿½t bother to even read the National Intelligence Estimate prior to his vote for war
Edwards ï¿½served on the Intelligence Committee, which gave him ample opportunity to ask hard questions. But in voting to authorize war, Mr. Edwards expressed no uncertainty about the principle evidence of Mr. Hussein’s alleged nuclear program. ï¿½We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons,ï¿½ he saidï¿½
The article states that
Members of the Energy Department team took a highly unusual step: They began working quietly with a Washington arms-control group, the Institute for Science and International Security, to help the group inform the public about the debate, one team member and the group’s president, David Albright, said.
On Sept. 23, the institute issued the first in series of lengthy reports that repeated some of the Energy Department’s arguments against the C.I.A. analysis, though none of the classified ones. Still, after more than 16 months of secret debate, it was the first public airing of facts that undermined the most alarming suggestions about Iraq’s nuclear threat.
The reports got little attention, partly because reporters did not realize they had been done with the cooperation of top Energy Department experts. The Washington Post ran a brief article about the findings on Page A18. Many major newspapers, including The Times, ran nothing at all.ï¿½
But the article seems to casually ignore what ISIS very own website says:
Iraq’s nuclear weapons program started in the early 1970s. This program was effectively halted in 1991 by the UN Security Council mandated inspections, before Iraq was able to build a nuclear weapon. With the halt to the inspections in late 1998, Iraq has likely resumed its quest for nuclear weapons.
An ISIS report from 1997, revised in 2002 concluded:
Given the nature of the Iraqi regime, few accept that it has given up its nuclear weapon ambitions. However, there is no simple answer to how quickly Iraq could obtain nuclear weapons.
Even the Times article says:
After the Persian Gulf war in 1991, arms inspectors discovered that Iraq had been far closer to building an atomic bomb than even the worst-case estimates had envisioned. And no one believed that Saddam Hussein had abandoned his nuclear ambitions. To the contrary, in one secret assessment after another, the agencies concluded that Iraq was conducting low-level theoretical research and quietly plotting to resume work on nuclear weapons.
The article discusses the debate between the CIA and the Energy Department. Both had expert opinions regarding Iraqï¿½s nuclear capabilities and ambitions. But even the dissenting Energy Department ï¿½concluded that using the tubes in centrifuges “is credibleï¿½ï¿½
What the article seems to leave out is the dynamic of post-September 11, 2001 thinking. From 9/12/01 forward, it was not enough to sit back and hope that materials capable of use in nuclear programs ï¿½might beï¿½ used for non-weapons programs by countries and dictators who had shown a willingness to develop WMDs, use them on innocent civilians and a desire to kill Americans. The article seems to play the game of hindsight claiming that questions about tubes and yellowcake and other evidence shouldï¿½ve been enough to pull back troops being deployed and allow U.N. inspections to continueï¿½ the same U.N. inspections that were being duped daily by the Saddam regime.
I think all of this second-guessing on the intelligence can best be put in context with another statement made in the article:
In 1991ï¿½ Iraq had been far closer to building an atomic bomb than even the worst-case estimates had envisioned.
We can second-guess the war in Iraq to death. But given that we were now on notice that those who hated us were willing to unleash catastrophic carnage against our innocent citizens, combined with the general consensus around the world that Saddam would someday, when the international community tired of playing his inspection games, resume his nuclear programs, it wasn’t a chance we could afford to take.
I’d ask you to consider a scenario. With the exact same set of circumstances laid out in the NYT article - what would folks be saying if we’d heeded the advice of the dissenters and Sadaam had reconstituted his nuclear program and successfully delivered one to a neighbor or a terrorist? You see, there were two sides to the intelligence. Those evaluating the known nuclear desires of Saddam (which apparently were not subject to debate) were doing so in the immediate shadow of the most horrific terrorist attack on our soil It’s easy to say in hindsight which recommendations should’ve been followed, but it’s impossible to absolutely guarantee the outcome when you’re still in the middle of the game. The question is, with such important stakes relying on the outcome of the game, are you willing to risk an unfavorable outcome on the word of a known tyrant and some evidence that could both support his assertions and contradict them… or do you guarantee a favorable outcome and deal with monday morning quartbacking later? Saddam will never have the ability to reconstitute the nuclear programs he wanted to. Therefore, Saddam will never have the ability to use nuclear weapons to kill innocents or blackmail the world.
and THAT, my friends, is the point.