Thursday, November 17, 2005

Waiting for Conventional Wisdom 5.0

I've said repeatedly that I don't accept the new consensus view that Saddam did not have WMD immediately before the Iraq War. We know they weren't destroyed in 1991, 1998, or the inspections in between. So they evaporated, or what?

Saddam had them at the turn of the millenium and in the long telegraphed punch to knock out Saddam, I believe the Baathists hid or destroyed what they had. In the months before the war, I feared that we were giving the Baathists the most critical of assets--time. And I feared what Saddam would use with the time we gave him. The Big Lie floated by the anti-war side that we were misled into war may be the fruits of Saddam's efforts.

I believe--and have said this as well--that when the Baathist insurgency finally is defeated, those who know what happened to the WMD will finally tell us what happened. There is still too much fear of retribution or hope for ultimate victory that keeps this secret hidden.

Bill Tierney (via Powerline) tells us what he thinks:

I believe that once the pertinent sources have a sense of security, a whole lot of people are going to have egg on their face. I believe the Iraqis had a WMD program, and I am not changing my story, no matter how many times Chris Matthews hyperventilates.

Bill Tierney is "a former military intelligence officer and Arabic speaker who worked at Guantanamo Bay in 2002 and as a counter-infiltration operator in Baghdad in 2004. He was also an inspector (1996-1998) for the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) for overseeing the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles in Iraq. He worked on the most intrusive inspections during this period and either participated in or planned inspections that led to four of the seventeen resolutions against Iraq."

And I'll repeat what I believed before the war:

1. Saddam had chemical weapons and missiles. This I was sure of since Saddam had and used chemicals and missiles. This wasn't a great leap of faith to make.

2. Saddam had a biological weapons program. and the uncertainty of something that can be hidden in a basement made me worry that it could be advanced.

3. And I believed Saddam had the technical and scientific capability to build nuclear weapons. I did not know if he had the material or machinery to build a nuke, since those are tougher to hide. But it was only a matter of time. And while I thought it unlikely that Saddam was close to a nuke, the shock of discovering in 1991 how close Saddam was made me wary of counting on years.

So excuse me if I refuse to join the new conventional wisdom that says Saddam was toothless when we invaded. We found too much damning evidence of WMD programs after we conquered Saddam's regime even with the big scrub the Iraqis carried out (with French or Russian help to hide their tracks?) for me to believe Saddam's regime was innocent. We saw too much in the inspections as Tierney describes in the article.

This groupthink that Saddam had no WMD in March 2003 replaces the conventional wisdom that Saddam's scientists were all bluffing a psychopathic mass murderer by pretending to have WMD programs; which itself was a replacement for the theory that Saddam was purely bluffing all of us. And this, of course, replaces the conventional wisdom held by both parties for nearly a decade that Saddam had WMD in defiance of UNSC resolutions demanding he disarm.

We'll find the WMD yet or what happened to them. Mark my words.