Wednesday, January 23, 2008

They Can't Handle the Truth

What is it with the anti-war types who continue to debate whether we should overthrow Saddam's regime by denying his efforts to support al Qaeda and build weapons of mass destruction? It's like a quagmire of fighting to take the same hill again and again.

Another group of the reality-challenged community is at it, this time purporting to tote up the times the President and his administration made "false" statements about Iraqi WMD or Iraqi-al Qaeda ties. Says the so-called Center for Public Integrity:

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism. ...

The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

This would be funny and pathetic if the stakes weren't so high. We're at war and such over-the-line "dissent" kills people by encouraging enemies to fight on.

Saddam once had chemical weapons and programs to develop biological and nuclear weapons. Since the invasion, we have not found post-1991 chemical weapons but it is not accurate to say that Saddam was not prepared to create chemical weapons and other WMD if we hadn't stopped him. He had the infrastructure and raw materials to start up quickly. Even if he had none, just by bluffing that he had WMD he telegraphed his intention to get them.

And as far as I'm concerned, given the nearly unanimous opinion of the world that Saddam was continuing to seek WMD in 2002, the case is not closed on whether Saddam had chemical weapons and active programs on the eve of our invasion. If there was nothing there, what was being dismantled and carted off even after Saddam was overthrown? So allegations that hundreds of statements are false let alone lies are premature.

As for al Qaeda-Iraq ties, the restriction to "meaningful ties" is rather in the eyes of the beholder, is it not? I swear, people like these will admit to ties only if they shared office space and a common receptionist. The ties to al Qaeda were significant enough, and given Iraq's ties to terrorism in general under Saddam, why is it so hard to believe Saddam would reach out to bin Laden? And to the reading comprehension-challenged, this is not a statement that claims Saddam had a hand in the 9/11 attacks.

In the 1990s, the ideas that Saddam was pursuing or had WMD and had ties to al Qaeda were conventional wisdom even for journalists. But those are inconvenient truths, these days, for the reality-debased community.

If you want to discuss lies about the Iraq War, you'd do better to consult this post for a link to a better paper by Orson Scott Card on the topic.

UPDATE: Ah, George Soros is behind those organizations. Here's a critique of the so-called "study." It focuses more on the distinction between "lies" and "mistakes" and so is more generous than I am in my judgment on those statements touted as lies by the Left's hit piece.