April 12, 2006

The WaPo and Biolabs

In the comments to my post yesterday about the spin used by an ideologically-driven press to forge a particular narrative about a war with which they disagree, commenter rls pointed out this Washington Post story on a Pentagon team’s assessment of Saddam’s supposed biolabs.  The tenor of the story—and this is one of the points I made yesterday—is clearly designed to suggest that the President knew full well that those supposed biolabs were no threat, but he pushed the story anyway, two days later, in his address to the nation.

Writes rls:

[The WaPo story] is a hit piece, made to look like Bush knowingly lied when he made the statement.  Did you read the piece?

Here’s what they say.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq—not made public until now—had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president’s statement.

Sounds bad for Bush, right?

Now later on in the piece, as they say, below the fold, you get the “rest of the story”.

Intelligence analysts involved in high-level discussions about the trailers noted that the technical team was among several groups that analyzed the suspected mobile labs throughout the spring and summer of 2003. Two teams of military experts who viewed the trailers soon after their discovery concluded that the facilities were weapons labs, a finding that strongly influenced views of intelligence officials in Washington, the analysts said. “It was hotly debated, and there were experts making arguments on both sides,” said one former senior official who spoke on the condition that he not be identified.

So, there were three teams that inspected the mobile labs and two out of the three said they were weapons labs.  Only later, after Bush made his statement, based on the majority opinion of the two out of three teams, did futher analysis accept the minority opinion.  Two out of three inspectors agreed that the trailers were part of Saddam’s WMD effort. The Pentagon relied on that majority opinion, as did the administration, and no one can argue that doing so constituted either an intent to deceive or even an unreasonable decision at the time.  That is, except the Post.

Instead of just reporting that the three teams did not reach a consensus and the minority report ended up being the most accuarate, the Post paints Bush as deliberately lying about the labs.

The point I am getting to is that this story could have been written many different ways, yet the Post chooses to write it as a “gotcha” moment to indict Bush as a liar, when, if you read the whole story, it is anything but.

rls is correct.  The way narratives are perceived, oftentimes, are determined almost completely by specific and intentional editorial decisions—made either by the writer or an editor—about where to place certain information in a story, and how much weight to give to the various components of the entire integral narrative.

Here, the Post chooses to lead with the suggestion that Bush purposely and perhaps deliberately ignored certain intelligence that proved assertions about biolabs were wrong.  And already, the narrative as the Post tells it has its defenders.

Here’s ”beetroot,” from the comments:

[...] Yes, there were three teams; two said they’re weapons, but the last report, recieved before the President went before the American people to share the results of the first two, cast serious doubts on those first two.

But the President did not share that information. He was less than honest. Period.

Two out of three inspectors agreed that the trailers were part of Saddam’s WMD effort. The Pentagon relied on that majority opinion, as did the administration, and no one can argue that doing so constituted either an intent to deceive or even an unreasonable decision at the time.

The logic above suggests that all three assessments carry equal weight, when, in fact, it seems clear that what we had were initial assessments (“Those things look dangerous!” “You’re right”), followed by internal debate, followed by a third mission to get a clearer assessment (“let’s check those things out”). The third asssesment should carry the most weight. Or at least SOME weight. But it was, apparently, ignored … at least until after the first two assessments had been presented to the American people as definitive.

So I’ll make the case that the administration was either:

– Ignoring the third assessment

– Ignorant of the third assessment

Either case is bad.

But of course, not only does beetroot’s assessment misunderstand the President’s role in delivering information to the nation (at some point, the President has to either accept or reject the consensus and act on it or dismiss it; but what he cannot do, given the nature of intelligence, is be frozen by the fact that it is not unanimous)—but it is rather cavalier with its framing of the timeline.

Via Pajama’s Media, here’s a timeline of events—and some corresponding analysis—posted at Brainster’s Blog:

Mid-1990s:

As early as the mid-1990s, weapons inspectors from the United Nations chased phantom mobile labs that were said to be mounted on trucks or rail cars, churning out tons of anthrax by night and moving to new locations each day. No such labs were found, but many officials believed the stories, thanks in large part to elaborate tales told by Iraqi defectors.

1999-2003:

The CIA’s star informant, an Iraqi with the code name Curveball, was a self-proclaimed chemical engineer who defected to Germany in 1999 and requested asylum. For four years, the Baghdad native passed secrets about alleged Iraqi banned weapons to the CIA indirectly, through Germany’s intelligence service. Curveball provided descriptions of mobile labs and said he had supervised work in one of them. He even described a catastrophic 1998 accident in one lab that left 12 Iraqis dead.

February 5, 2003:

“We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails,” Powell said in the Feb. 5, 2003, speech. Thanks to those descriptions, he said, “We know what the fermenters look like. We know what the tanks, pumps, compressors and other parts look like.”

April 2003:

The trailers discovered in the Iraqi desert resembled the drawings well enough, at least from a distance. One of them, a flatbed trailer covered by tarps, was found in April by Kurdish fighters near the northern city of Irbil. The second was captured by U.S. forces near Mosul. Both were painted military green and outfitted with a suspicious array of gear: large metal tanks, motors, compressors, pipes and valves.

May 25, 2003:

The technical team was assembled in Kuwait and then flown to Baghdad to begin their work early on May 25, 2003. By that date, the two trailers had been moved to a military base on the grounds of one of deposed president Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad palaces. When members of the technical team arrived, they found the trailers parked in an open lot, covered with camouflage netting.

May 27,2003

Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president’s statement.

May 28, 2003:

A day after the team’s report was transmitted to Washington—May 28, 2003—the CIA publicly released its first formal assessment of the trailers, reflecting the views of its Washington analysts. That white paper, which also bore the DIA seal, contended that U.S. officials were “confident” that the trailers were used for “mobile biological weapons production.”

May 29,2003

On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile “biological laboratories.” He declared, “We have found the weapons of mass destruction.”

June 2003:

Kay, in an interview, said senior CIA officials had advised him upon accepting the survey group’s leadership in June 2003 that some experts in the DIA were “backsliding” on whether the trailers were weapons labs.

Spring and Summer 2003:

Intelligence analysts involved in high-level discussions about the trailers noted that the technical team was among several groups that analyzed the suspected mobile labs throughout the spring and summer of 2003. Two teams of military experts who viewed the trailers soon after their discovery concluded that the facilities were weapons labs, a finding that strongly influenced views of intelligence officials in Washington, the analysts said. “It was hotly debated, and there were experts making arguments on both sides,” said one former senior official who spoke on the condition that he not be identified.

Summer and Fall 2003

Throughout the summer and fall of 2003, the trailers became simply “mobile biological laboratories” in speeches and press statements by administration officials. In late June, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell declared that the “confidence level is increasing” that the trailers were intended for biowarfare. In September, Vice President Cheney pronounced the trailers to be “mobile biological facilities,” and said they could have been used to produce anthrax or smallpox.

October 2, 2003:

David Kay, the group’s first leader, told Congress on Oct. 2 that he had found no banned weapons in Iraq and was unable to verify the claim that the disputed trailers were weapons labs.

February 5, 2004:

Still, as late as February 2004, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet continued to assert that the mobile-labs theory remained plausible. Although there was “no consensus” among intelligence officials, the trailers “could be made to work” as weapons labs, he said in a speech Feb. 5.

September 2004:

The survey group’s final report in September 2004—15 months after the technical report was written—said the trailers were “impractical” for biological weapons production and were “almost certainly intended” for manufacturing hydrogen for weather balloons.

If you look at this timeline, one thing jumps out. Bush’s May 29, 2003 statement, which certainly appears to be wrong based on what we know now, was not clearly a lie or a mistake at the time. The fact that there was some dispute over whether the trailers were mobile bio-weapons labs does not alter the fact that the day before the President spoke, the CIA and DIA had issued a report concluding that:

U.S. officials were “confident” that the trailers were used for “mobile biological weapons production.”

Let’s remember as well, that this was post-invasion, not pre-invasion.

[My emphases]

So.  Is this another instance of Bush “lying”?  Or is another instance of an ideological media looking for a scandal that will resonate with Americans—or better, acting to give the appearance of impropriety where there was nothing but good-faith error?

To those who understand the way intelligence works—and who don’t expect the President to spend time in his speeches talking about minority reports not believed, at the time, to reflect the consensus view—the answer is quite obvious the latter.

But to those who have view everything through a begged question (“we know Bush is a liar”), every new instance of a mistake in intelligence assessment is further proof of his perfidy—as if Bush himself pored over the intelligence information and made his own determinations to distrust what the majority of the intelligence community was saying in order to carry out his war for oil or Daddy or imperialism or whatever his supposed nefarious motive was for invading Iraq.

Keep in mind, too, that this is but one bit of the larger WMD question, which was itself only one piece in the larger case for war against Iraq spelled out in the bi-partisan joint resolution authorizing the use of force.

****

See also, Captain’s Quarters, Junkyard Blog, Confederate Yankee; In the Bullpen; The Anchoress; Flopping Aces; Martin’s Musings, Sister Toldjah, and Blue Crab Boulevard; and for a dissenting opinion, Mahablog

Posted by Jeff G. @ 4:50pm
100 comments | Trackback

Comments (100)

  1. For the lefties suffering from BDS, no story, no information, no new facts will disabuse them of their one true belief that “Bush lied.”

    And that the basis for these beliefs are so strange and so extreme that they read like a parody–for previously it would’ve been improbable that anyone could claim there are people who actually believe such nonsense–because you really can’t make up this stuff.

    So we have the big lie of the one true belief embedded in the politics of the left. Where have we senn that before?

  2. While the left panders to illegal aliens, ironically, they could have some of the blood of Katrina on their hands for scaring Kerik into withdrawal?

  3. And I realize the above is at best “along side” topic, but it has a feel of how the scandal-mongering media can affect history.

  4. But to those who have view everything through a begged question (“we know Bush is a liar”), every new instance of a mistake in intelligence assessment is further proof of his perfidy—as if Bush himself pored over the intelligence information and made the determinations for himself to distrust what the majority of the intelligence community was saying in order to carry out his war for oil or Daddy or imperialism or whatever his supposed nefarious motive was for invading Iraq.

    This is the gist of the arguement that beetroot and his ilk (damn, I’m loving that word) make.  That is, that the President himself combs over the raw intelligence and decides unilaterally what is and is not beneficial for his “personal war”, disregarding the consensus when it is “bad” news and then disregarding the dissenting view when that view is “bad” news.

    beetroot thinks that the President has the time to personally vet every raw intelligence report and, get this, is personally disappointed and dismayed when the President doesn’t tell him that there was not unanimous consensus about a particular piece of intelligence.

    Let me posit an alternative view.  Let’s say that the President does not say anything about this discovery, preferring to not release the findings.  Then in Sept when the Survey Group’s final report was released, Bush was castigated for not releasing information that would, it seems, boost the claims of his opponents.

    The way it stands right now, this is just another leak to discredit the Administration.

  5. I hope the people so relentlessly flogging the “Bush lied” meme realize the impossible standards they’re setting for the use of intelligence by the Executive (and I am looking beyond this story in making the point).  The de facto requirement of unanimity of interpretation, combined with irreducible uncertainty and a politically charged environment mean… ?  I don’t know, but my guess is whatever it is isn’t good.

    I would only suggest to our host that the media have done this type of thing before (e.g. with Clinton and al-Shifa) but the degree was altogether different.  Note the similarity in statements pro and con to our current situation.

  6. Jeff,

    In addition, the author of the piece reports it as a breathless scoop.  Except, it’s not.  It was reported three years ago, by Judith Miller.

    See here.

  7. Man, that mahablog is a real liberal circle jerk. 

    George HW Bush intervening?  Impeach Bush?  Ruining America?

    Bleh.  Glad I’m not a member of the “reality based community.”

  8. I’ll give you the point that at the time he made his statement on May 29, Bush may not have known about the May 27 report.

    But to describe the May 27 report as a “minority report[] not believed, at the time, to reflect the consensus view” is to ignore what the article plainly said.  That May 27 report came out of the so-called Jefferson Group, which was a crack team of experts sent to once-and-for-all—definitively—report on whether the trailers were suited for bioweapons production.

    The two earlier reports that you refer to, by implication, as the “majority reports” were at odds with the statements of knowledgeable Iraqi officials and the opinions of some experts within the US government.  There was a controversy to be cleared up.  Were they, or weren’t they, bioweapons labs? 

    Hence, the Jefferson Group—the very group that unanimously and within a few hours ruled out the possibility that the trailers were bioweapons labs, and transmitted those findings to Washington. 

    Now, I could see how a government beauracracy intent on protecting its own ass would impede the progress of such a report toward its eventual home on the President’s desk.  The report’s authors were, remember, commissioned for the express purpose of issuing the definitive report on a hotly contested issue.

    But for Cheney and Tenet and Powell to be making demonstrably false statements about the trailers weeks and months after the May 27 report is unconscionable.  It suggests either wilfull dishonesty, or, alternatively, if they had not yet seen the report, gross negligence.  You pick.

  9. Okay, this is really simple. According to the WaPo, the “technical team” delivered a report on May 27, two days before the President declared the trailers to be WMDs. WaPo says:

    “… interviews reveal that the technical team was unequivocal in its conclusion that the trailers were not intended to manufacture biological weapons.”

    Two days later, the President tells America, “We have found the weapons of mass destruction.” I stick to my original statement: Either the President didn’t know about the technical team’s report, or he chose to ignore it, and either case is troubling.

    Several readers suggest that the Prez shouldn’t be expected to “comb over” every piece of intelligence before making his assessment. That’s certainly true. However, I would expect that the President would not make such a monumental statement—that we’ve found a smoking gun that justifies war—without being 100 percent certain that it is supported by the latest and best intelligence available.

    Why should he be expected to adhere to such a high standard? Because now, when the administration says something like this:

    “Using those 50,000 centrifuges [Iran] could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 16 days.”

    .. why should I believe it? Should I assume that other, contradictory information is in Bush’s hands? Better put, why shouldn’t I assume that? Why shouldn’t I suspect that there’s a report sitting on a shelf somewhere that argues the opposite case—a report I won’t see until some insider, as with this trailer story, decides to share what the President chooses not to share?

    Of course, that question is beside the point here at PW. What’s being debated here isn’t whether the President mislead the American people, but whether the press is deliberately trying to undermine the President. As Jeff writes;

    … the Post chooses to lead with the suggestion that Bush purposely and perhaps deliberately ignored certain intelligence that proved assertions about biolabs were wrong.

    More accurately put, the Post leads with the assertion that the President had access to information that contradicted what he told the American people. It’s really that simple. Whether he “purposefully” or “deliberately” ignored evidence, the piece doesn’t say.

  10. Hence, the Jefferson Group—the very group that unanimously and within a few hours ruled out the possibility that the trailers were bioweapons labs, and transmitted those findings to Washington.

    That is not true MF.  Even though the Post wanted you to believe that the 3rd group was unanimous, they were divided also.  The only unanimity involved is the people that talked to the WaPo.  Here is what Miller wrote in the NYT in June 2003:

    In all, at least three teams of Western experts have now examined the trailers and evidence from them. While the first two groups to see the trailers were largely convinced that the vehicles were intended for the purpose of making germ agents, the third group of more senior analysts divided sharply over the function of the trailers, with several members expressing strong skepticism, some of the dissenters said.

    My emphasis.  So it appears that the “crack” team could not reach a consensus.

  11. rls:

    Nice try, rigging up some old school JMiller, but please read today’s article, which says:

    By the end of their first day, team members still had differing views about what the trailers were. But they agreed about what the trailers were not.

    “Within the first four hours,” said one team member, who like the others spoke on the condition he not be named, “it was clear to everyone that these were not biological labs.”

    It doesn’t get any clearer than that.  “Clear to everyone.” “Not biological labs.”

    There’s more, also from the article:

    But interviews reveal that the technical team was unequivocal in its conclusion that the trailers were not intended to manufacture biological weapons.

    (emphasis added)

    And more:

    A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq—not made public until now—had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president’s statement.

    (emphasis added)

    Clearly, by May 27, there was a consensus that these were not biolabs, among the experts commissioned to find out, definitively, whether they were biolabs .  If you are unwilling to see that, you’re covering your eyes.

  12. “… interviews reveal that the technical team was unequivocal in its conclusion that the trailers were not intended to manufacture biological weapons.”

    beetroot, that statement you quote is untrue.  See my post above re Judy Miller’s June 2003 article in the NYT.

    I stand by my assertion that this is a “gotcha” attempt by the Post, even more so by the dishonest qualifier of “unanimous” by the author.  Now maybe the “unnamed sources” that were used were unanimous in their assertions, but we’ll never know.

  13. MF

    You are quoting “unnamed sources” who are saying that there was an unanimous consensus.  Miller has the “named sources” already on record (the same team as being sharply divided.

    Quoting the Post story adds nothing.

  14. A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq—not made public until now—had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president’s statement.

    How does that square with it being publicly reported in the NYT almost 3 years ago?

  15. rls, who’s more blind that Stevie Wonder, preposterously writes:

    I stand by my assertion that this is a “gotcha” attempt by the Post, even more so by the dishonest qualifier of “unanimous” by the author.  Now maybe the “unnamed sources” that were used were unanimous in their assertions, but we’ll never know.

    Dude—there is a document in existence somewhere out there.  And it contains, allegedly, the unanimous findings of the Jefferson Project team that was commissioned to examine the trailers.  Now, it’s possible that the Post’s sources were lying about the “unequivocal” and “unanimous” finding that the trailers were not biolabs.  But, it would be pretty dumb for them to do so, since there’s a document in existence that would, if your theory is correct, prove them to be liars.  Somehow, I doubt these expert scientists would put their reputation on the line by falsely claiming that their findings were unaminous if the very report they produced said otherwise.

  16. Hmmm…what is interesting is that even with pretty sophisticated teams on the ground, discussion over capability of a component or equipment can occur.  If one were to look at the disparate elements of the device which levelled the Murrah building, one may conclude that they were harmless. 

    I think there are two strong facts;

    1) Iraq desperately sought WMD capability, if not the weapons themsleves

    2) Nothing to the outside world would indicate that there was anything but a genuine threat

    I read Dr. Muller’s post 9/11 analysis which clearly indicates Iraq as a target.

  17. Somehow, I doubt these expert scientists would put their reputation on the line by falsely claiming that their findings were unaminous if the very report they produced said otherwise.

    So, I ask again, how does that square with the NYT article, at the time of the inspection, that states that the inspectors were divided sharply?

  18. BECAUSE JUDITH MILLER LIED!  JUST LIKE BUSH LIED!  THEY ALL LIE!  ALL OF THEM!  ALL THE TIME!  IT IS THEIR NATURE!

    WE WENT TO WAR JUST BECAUSE GEORGIE LIKES THE BOOM BOOM! GOT IT?  STOP BEING OBTUSE!

  19. M.F. is right!  We should have total confidence in unnamed sources that claim unanimity in unverifiable reports over named sources that have claimed the opposite.  Wait a sec… that doesn’t sound right…

  20. WE WENT TO WAR JUST BECAUSE GEORGIE LIKES THE BOOM BOOM! GOT IT?  STOP BEING OBTUSE!

    Boy, that’s really low, Jeff.  That’s dangerously close to calling me……ACTUS!

  21. Naturally, then, none of you would be opposed to declassification and publication of the May 27 report from the Jefferson Project team. 

    That would clear up whether that group’s findings were “unequivocal” and “unanimous,” wouldn’t it?  So let’s have the paper released, then, and we’ll see who’s right.

  22. Naturally, then, none of you would be opposed to declassification and publication of the May 27 report from the Jefferson Project team.

    If it had no intelligence value today, I would be in favor of having it declassified.  I think most people here would.

  23. Naturally, then, none of you would be opposed to declassification and publication of the May 27 report from the Jefferson Project team.

    That would clear up whether that group’s findings were “unequivocal” and “unanimous,” wouldn’t it?  So let’s have the paper released, then, and we’ll see who’s right.

    Actually, I think what we’d all prefer is not jumping to conclusions based on anonymous sources cited in media stories.

    I think we should insist on only accepting information from accredited, named sources—this way we can all independently verify that the person making the claims actually had the authority, access, and expertise necessary to substantiate them.

    That would clear up whether that anonymous source’s findings were “unequivocal” and “unanimous,” wouldn’t it?  So let’s have all the names of those anonymous sources released, then, and we’ll see who’s right.

    Also, I’d like to see an answer to the other point rls raised about the credibility of the Post‘s story:

    A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq—not made public until now—had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons.

    How does that square with it being publicly reported in the NYT almost 3 years ago?

  24. So, here’s a question for M.F.

    How do you “put your reputation on the line” when you insist on being anonymous?

    TW:  complete, as in do you take as for complete fools?

  25. Remove WMD question from all the various points in the joint resolution and the war would not have happened. Come on Protein Wisdom.

  26. Scott, are you arguing that WMD was the only justification for the attack or are you arguing that it is theonly that counted?  Either way, of course, you’re wrong, but it might be nice to know exactly what your point is.

  27. beetroot thinks that the President has the time to personally vet every raw intelligence report and, get this, is personally disappointed and dismayed when the President doesn’t tell him that there was not unanimous consensus about a particular piece of intelligence.

    That’s close to being absolutely correct, RLS. I don’t expect the Prez to read every piece of information. But I do expect the Prez to tell me, personally, through the miracle of mass media, what’s going on. And when he tells me that “X” is true, I expect him to have made every reasonable effort to determine that “X” is, in fact, true—especially when “X” involves such prodigous quantities of blood and treasure.

    And what pisses me off is that the President misrepresented the data. He suggested that opinion was firm when it was not.

    And I don’t like your implication that I’m somehow gettin’ too big for my britches by demanding that the President be honest. The guy works for me, right? Everything he does, he does in my name. I’m responsible for him and his actions. He has an obligation (and an interest, if he wants my vote) to be honest with me. Personally.

    The way it stands right now, this is just another leak to discredit the Administration.

    Again, I agree, but not entirely. Yes, it’s a leak. Yes, it discredits the administration. But was it leaked in order to discredit the administration? That’s a question of motive, and we can only speculate about the motives of the Post’s sources.

  28. This is easy to settle. Let’s just give the American people every bit of intelligence we have and all of the opinions various government employees have concerning it.

    Then, we can have everyone vote for what we should do before we do anything about anything. Let’s just get all of the Monday morning quarterbacks out onto the grass and into the sun on Sunday afternoons.

    And since they’re here, let’s just let our documentationally challenged visitors vote too!

  29. What we need to do is fire all these so-called intelligence experts (what an oxymoron, snort!) and put what we know in front of the American People and let them decide.  We could do it easily in between contestants on American Idol.

  30. beetroot sez:

    Should I assume that other, contradictory information is in Bush’s hands? Better put, why shouldn’t I assume that?

    Because you’d have to be an idiot to believe that. Why on earth would you ever imagine that we have entirely unanimous opinion on anything?

    Why shouldn’t I suspect that there’s a report sitting on a shelf somewhere that argues the opposite case—a report I won’t see until some insider, as with this trailer story, decides to share what the President chooses not to share?

    The President, assuming he’s ever heard the term OPSEC, should tell you and I as little about such things as he can get away with. Always assume that you don’t know the whole story, and be very afraid if you ever feel certain that you do, bacause whatever you know our adversaries also know.

  31. Corvan, I’m arguing that this resolution could not have formed the basis for our March 2003 invasion if not for the multiple references to Iraq’s WMD capabalities in relation to regional and U.S. national security. Yes.

  32. I’m arguing that this resolution could not have formed the basis for our March 2003 invasion if not for the multiple references to Iraq’s WMD capabalities

    And this is but one reference which by itself would not really change things one way or another.

  33. I expect him to have made every reasonable effort..

    Where you and I apparantly differ is that I believe that he did in fact make every reasonable effort.  You obviously do not think so.

    I am not privvy to the inner workings of the NSC or in on CIA briefings so I cannot definitively say what happens.  Were I to suppose, I would think that those particular meetings are a lot like what goes on every day in business.  Someone present is the decision maker.  The others present present information, everyone has a say about the information posited, then the decision maker makes the final determination and asks for comments and/or objections.

    The decision making process isn’t very complicated.  You take the facts you have at hand, consider them, then make a judgement call, weighing the consequences and benefits of that decision.

    That’s a question of motive, and we can only speculate about the motives of the Post’s sources.

    Perhaps.  I think we can more than speculate about the Post’s motives though.

  34. you’d have to be an idiot to believe … that we have entirely unanimous opinion on anything …

    When the President makes an unequivocal statement about something, I expect him to have made every effort to assure himself that it’s true.

    In this case, what we have is very, very simple. It’s not a complex case like, “When can Iran have a working nuke?” It’s a simple case: was trailer X a weapons lab? The President says that it is. He doesn’t say, “We think it is.” He doesn’t say, “We’re studying it.”

    He says, It’s a weapon.

    And then we discover that the “technical team” – the team sent to resolve the controversy – told him that it wasn’t a weapon. Before he told us that it was.

    So here’s the deal, Pablo: I don’t expect agreement on everything. But when I’m told that everyone agrees on something, I expect that to be true. In this case it wasn’t. And that hurts the President’s credibility.

    That’s all. Is this so complicated?

  35. And then we discover that the “technical team” – the team sent to resolve the controversy – told him that it wasn’t a weapon. Before he told us that it was.

    beetroot, that is simply not true.

  36. But when I’m told that everyone agrees on something, I expect that to be true.

    No one ever told you that everyone agreed.

  37. HOW DARE YOU!  The Washington Post is <objective</i> – a Shining Beacon of Truth in a Bush KKKultist NIGHT!

    Don’t you get it yet??!

  38. Aw crap, I can’t even try a parody without screwing up the tags… Bleah.

  39. Nice try, rigging up some old school JMiller, but please read today’s article, which says:

    Hilarious.

    Fun to see you just breeze by facts you don’t like.

  40. And then we discover that the “technical team” – the team sent to resolve the controversy – told him that it wasn’t a weapon. Before he told us that it was.

    Um, can you point out where they “told him” exactly?

    Thanks.

  41. But when I’m told that everyone agrees on something, I expect that to be true.

    Do you want the President to double and triple check with everyone, before he says anything to you, just to be sure? You know, if he doesn’t have all of their up to the very second opinions, he can’t really say that the intelligence community agrees…

    What planet does that happen on, ever?

    Did he say “everyone”?

  42. Iraq had WMD. We found some of them.

  43. Clearly, by May 27, there was a consensus that these were not biolabs, among the experts commissioned to find out, definitively, whether they were biolabs .  If you are unwilling to see that, you’re covering your eyes.

    Well, did they change their story then or what?

    Hey, why do you think the WaPo didn’t report on this in the article?

    <blockquote>108. [page 26/27]

    In response to a request from UNMOVIC, Iraq provided two letters dated 5 and 15 March 2003. The first letter described the six different types of mobile facilities in Iraq’s inventory, the second letter provided more details, with a list of 39 photographs and four videotapes. The photographs provided a reference base with which to judge the types of vehicle that could be converted to a mobile production facility without much difficulty. Iraq also provided details of two of the manufacturers involved in the construction and modification of such trucks, the Al Majid State Company and the Al Fao State Engineering Company. Examination of the records of the two state companies identified by Iraq, as well as of other companies identified during inspections, could allow UNMOVIC to follow up any specific leads provided by supporting Governments. <a href=”http://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/new/documents/quarterly_reports/s-2003-580.pdf” target=”_blank”>None of the types of mobile laboratories </a> described in the media in April/May 2003 as found in Iraq matched the description of mobile facilities provided by Iraq to UNMOVIC. </blockquote>

  44. And I don’t like your implication that I’m somehow gettin’ too big for my britches

    How about too big for the doorway?

  45. grrr, lets try that again:

    108. [page 26/27]

    In response to a request from <a href=”http://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/new/documents/quarterly_reports/s-2003-580.pdf” target=”_blank”>UNMOVIC</a>, Iraq provided two letters dated 5 and 15 March 2003. The first letter described the six different types of mobile facilities in Iraq’s inventory, the second letter provided more details, with a list of 39 photographs and four videotapes. The photographs provided a reference base with which to judge the types of vehicle that could be converted to a mobile production facility without much difficulty. Iraq also provided details of two of the manufacturers involved in the construction and modification of such trucks, the Al Majid State Company and the Al Fao State Engineering Company. Examination of the records of the two state companies identified by Iraq, as well as of other companies identified during inspections, could allow UNMOVIC to follow up any specific leads provided by supporting Governments. <b>None of the types of mobile laboratories described in the media in April/May 2003 as found in Iraq matched the description of mobile facilities provided by Iraq to UNMOVIC. </b>

  46. Maybe when Democrats love their country more than they hate the President… It is so tiring how the media plays these games with the President. The problem is, we are at war, and everything they (& the Dems) do, is used against our nation. I don’t know how the Pres. deals with it.

  47. rls sez:

    You take the facts you have at hand, consider them, then make a judgement call, weighing the consequences and benefits of that decision.

    Not if you’re a pussy! If you are, then you take a poll and follow that so that no one can blame you when it all goes to shit. Of course, that’s the Democratic Party’s a sure path to destruction, but it does seem to be an option.

  48. You take the facts you have at hand, consider them, then make a judgement call, weighing the consequences and benefits of that decision.

    Of course when making the kind of decisions that the President makes, you never have all of the information you want.  Sometimes you just have to decide due to the immediacy of the situation, because doing nothing or waiting for guarantees that may never come could be more devestating than any decision you make.

  49. Baldy sez:

    I don’t know how the Pres. deals with it.

    Hiya, Baldy! I think he just ignores it.

  50. rls said “Miller has the “named sources” already on record”

    You’re suggesting Miller named her sources with regard to the matter of “divided sharply.” She didn’t. Why are you claiming she did? Making shit up is not good for your credibility.

    By the way, Miller’s article was dated 6/7/03. This was after the DIA team issued a 3-page interim report, but before they issued a 122-page final report. This is a good reason to question the validity of what she said.

    Another good reason is that we now know that right around this time she was regularly meeting with Libby in secret hotel rooms to take dictation from him. “Divided sharply” could have been preemptive spin fed to her by Libby.

    In any case, this question could be settled rather easily. Bush should declassify the report.

    “If it had no intelligence value today, I would be in favor of having it declassified.  I think most people here would.”

    What we all now know is that if the report said anything whatsover helpful to Bush, Libby would have fed it to Miller years ago. So we all know why the report has been kept under wraps.

    By the way, even if it still had some “intelligence value,” sensitive parts could easily be redacted. So I’m happy to see you join me in calling for the report to be declassified.

    “How does that square with it being publicly reported in the NYT almost 3 years ago?”

    I agree that WaPo made a mistake by failing to acknowledge the previous reporting on this topic.

    Anyway, I’m still waiting for someone here to explain why it’s perfectly OK that Cheney was repeating the same lie 3 months later. Surely interoffice mail in the White House isn’t that slow.

    rob said “How do you “put your reputation on the line” when you insist on being anonymous?”

    The other scientists involved have a very good idea of who is currently speaking up, even though we don’t. That’s how.

  51. Did you bother reading the timeline posted, bruce?

  52. Baldy, we found no WMDs. Look it up in the Dueffler report. We found 53 rotting artillery shells fitted for mustard gas … shells that were left over from the Gulf War I. That’s it.

    As for references to WMD in the Joint Resolution, At least 12 of the “Where as” statements relate directly to either WMD or U.N. resolutions to eliminate them. That’s 12 out of 24. It’s misleading to characterize WMD as only one part of the resolution, when WMD in fact form the central theme of the resolution.

    Take out the references implying an Iraqi role in Sept. 11 and there’s not much left. Not enough to pass, anyway.

    Of course, Saddam Hussein deserved to be brought to justice for supporting suicide bombers in Israel and for his “brutal repression of Iraq’s civilian population.” Few would deny that.

    But the way this resolution is written, these statements appear to be little more than deal-sweetners to the more powerful central argument that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction, Intent to Attack the U.S., and the a working relationship with those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001.

  53. Scot, the argument was that Saddam had failed to comply with his obligations vis a vis WMD. The immediate cause of action was continued failure to comply with his obligations vis a vis WMD.

    The onus was always on Saddam to comply and to demonstrate that compliance. He did not do so, ever.

  54. jeff said “Did you bother reading the timeline posted, bruce?”

    Yes, very carefully. Now that I’ve answered your question, maybe you’ll tell me why you asked.

  55. Where have you gone, George Tenet?

  56. This is easy to settle. Let’s just give the American people every bit of intelligence we have and all of the opinions various government employees have concerning it.

    Then, we can have everyone vote for what we should do before we do anything about anything.

    Georgeous, Pablo.

  57. By the way, Miller’s article was dated 6/7/03. This was after the DIA team issued a 3-page interim report, but before they issued a 122-page final report. This is a good reason to question the validity of what she said.

    Huh?

    You better get that message to your fellow leftists who are pouding their chests shouting:

    “intent to deceive” and whatnot because the report was concluded 2 days before his remarks.

  58. Another good reason is that we now know that right around this time she was regularly meeting with Libby in secret hotel rooms to take dictation from him. “Divided sharply” could have been preemptive spin fed to her by Libby.

    Hilarious.

    And it could not have been as well.

    To wit:

    “Everyone has wanted to find the ‘smoking gun’ so much that they may have wanted to have reached this conclusion,” said one intelligence expert who has seen the trailers and, like some others, spoke on condition that he not be identified. He added, “I am very upset with the process.”

    Oh well, there is always hope.

  59. Did that article explain, why they(the mobile vans) were stripped and buried in the sand, before the troops got there. Or are the contents

    of same; somewhere between Deir ar Zuir (Syrian

    border town) and Aleppo.

  60. narciso—OBVIOUSLY it was a brave first attempt by the insurgency to deny American valuable iraqi pillage to shore up our crumbling agriculture industry!

    NO BLOOD FOR LIMA BEANS!

    And of course we will overlook the fact that the dual use tech we sold Iraq in the 80’s is held up as proof that “America armed Saddam” while the dual use capability of the currently-discovered tech proves there was NO weapons program…

  61. More interesting reporting from the time this actually happened:

    The CIA official, who has access to classified materials related to Iraq’s alleged biological weapons program, said a key Iraqi intelligence source who had worked on the design of the mobile labs and provided intelligence about the program to the CIA before the war was asked to identify the vehicles from a series of photographs. The Iraqi source identified the correct trucks as the mobile biological weapons laboratories that he had described to U.S. intelligence.

    Intelligence provided by that man was cited by Secretary of State Colin Powell in his presentation of the U.S. case to the United Nations before the invasion of Iraq.

    “The guy who designed it identified it” for the CIA, the official said.

    “They are designed to look like something else,” he said, so Iraq could deny their function as biological weapons laboratories if they had been uncovered by U.N. inspectors. He said they were built on truck beds so they could be moved from locations likely to be inspected by the United Nations.

    Kay said he was aware of a number of theories that the vehicles might have had other uses, “none of which make any logical sense.”

    Kay saw one of the vehicles on a recent trip to Iraq and received reports on the second.

    Kay said most of the alternative uses that have been suggested “didn’t pass the laugh test.”

    “The silliest one,” Kay said, was the suggestion that they had been designed to generate hydrogen for meteorological balloons.

  62. ace said “ … and whatnot because the report was concluded 2 days before his remarks.”

    My point is that Miller was not in a position to speak about what the DIA final report said, because her article appeared before the final report appeared. In other words, it’s entirely possible that the DIA’s final report was unanimous (as suggested today by WaPo), even if their earlier 3-page report wasn’t (as suggested in 2003 by Miller).

    By the way, even if you take Miller completely at face value (which is a bad idea for numerous reasons), you have to acknowledge that the 3-page report (conveyed to DC two days before Bush spoke) contained opinions that were, at best, “divided sharply.” This should have been a hint to Bush that he was about to put his foot in his mouth. Of course he went ahead and nevertheless did exactly that, because he was ineptly counting on the idea that nothing would ever leak except for the leaks specifically authorized by the Leaker-in-Chief.

    “More interesting reporting from the time this actually happened”

    You quoted Kay from 6/8/03, scoffing at the idea that these were hydrogen facilities. Let us know why you think Kay’s opinion carries more weight than the opinion of the nine experts dispatched by the Pentagon. By the way, the report they produced was kept secret from Kay. And let us know why you’re still quoting Kay even though a year later Duelfer produced a final report confirming that the DIA experts were right, and Kay was wrong.

  63. ghost said “the dual use capability of the currently-discovered tech”

    Nice job re-writing Duelfer. He didn’t say these trailers were “dual use.” You wish. He said “it is impractical to use [these two trailers] for the production and weaponization of BW agent. ISG judges that it cannot therefore be part of any BW program.”

    Like Dear Leader I see that you’re inclined to make up your own facts.

  64. The effects of dissent are independent of the motivations of the dissenters.

    True enough, potentially. But the dissent itself—it’s tenor, it’s vitriol, it’s mode and method—are often quite dependent on motivations.

    We allow dissent in this country—and consider it good—when it leads to a fruitful debate and a genuine exchange of ideas.  Where it becomes problematic is when it is done disingenuously, and when the substance of the dissent has already been discussed, and its assertions debunked.

    Which is why I have no difficulty with principled dissent (which does, of course, have consequences as well, but it is a necessary component of a free society), but why I am so critical of cynical or opportunistic dissent.

  65. Oh Jesus.  A “Dear Leader” sighting.

  66. This should have been a hint to Bush that he was about to put his foot in his mouth

    Huh?

    Because two previous reports conclusively stated one thing and a third report was “divided sharply” on the matter?

    RRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHTTTT

    Your “logic” is getting funnier as we go.

  67. narciso said “buried in the sand”

    Various people are running around saying the two trailers were buried. Wrong. It was something else that was buried. See here.

    In other words, you’re mixing up two different stories, which were both about bogus discoveries that were quickly hyped as BW labs.

    Still hoping someone can explain why Cheney was still telling the same lie three months later.

    Jeff, also still waiting for you to explain why you think I didn’t read the timeline. Although I realize gratuitous snark is less effort for you.

  68. Let us know why you think Kay’s opinion carries more weight than the opinion of the nine experts dispatched by the Pentagon

    Well, as you should be able to clearly see, I never said Kay’s opinion should be given “more” or in fact any weight.

    But since you’re too busy knocking down strawmen, I wouldn’t expect you to notice.

  69. Question 1: Does anyone have any idea why mobile labs are used to make hydrogen for weather balloons?  Is there a big market for weather balloons in Iraq? 

    Question 2: Does it sound reasonable that, after two previous teams determined that these trailers were probably mobile weapons labs, that a third team determined that his was not possible IN A MATTER OF HOURS?  I have a chemistry degree.  Explain this to me.  Do not use appeals to authority.

  70. moneyrunner, I wondered the exact same thing this morning. These people concluded in 4 hours of work these were not bioweapons labs.

    Not really persuasive.

    Anyway, we have found a sane member of the mainstream media folks!

    ENSOR: Something like this is a field report, Heidi, done by a group of people that were actually not government employees, but they’d been asked by CIA and others, the Pentagon, to go look at these labs, so this kind of a report is a raw field report. It would not have gone to the president’s desk. He’s not an intelligence officer. He’s a consumer of intelligence. It would go to the CIA or to the appropriate place in the government where they would analyze it, compare it with other intelligence they had, and only when they were satisfied that they could draw some kind of meaningful conclusion… they would then pass that on to policymakers, possibly including the president.

    So it’s really not fair, in a way, to accuse him of saying the wrong thing in this particular case. I mean after all, in October of that year — many months later — David Kay, who was assigned by the CIA to look at these weapons, was still saying they could be bioweapons labs. February, the following year, George Tenet, the then-still director of central intelligence, was saying in a speech that he wasn’t sure. So to blame the president for saying it back in May, may not be fair.

  71. CNN national security correspondent David Ensor

    above.

  72. I was beginning to think M.F. et al were making a strong case, then I saw this, from Powerline:

    “on May 27, 2003, the field team that examined the trailers transmitted to Washington its preliminary field report expressing the minority view (at the time) that the trailers were innocuous. Only later did the group submit its official report to the same effect.

    The very next day, May 28, 2003, the CIA and DIA publicly issued a ten-page report titled “Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants.” You can download the report here. The joint CIA/DIA report unequivocally and enthusiastically proclaimed the mobile trailers that had been discovered in Iraq to be mobile bioweapon facilities. It included photographs of the trailers, descriptions of various components, comparisons of the trailers to descriptions given by Iraqi informants. The report said:

    Coalition forces have uncovered the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program. … US forces in late April also discovered a mobile laboratory truck in Baghdad. The truck is a toxicology laboratory from the 1980s that could be used to support BW or legitimate research. The design, equipment, and layout of the trailer found in late April is strikingly similar to descriptions provided by a source who was a chemical engineer that managed one of the mobile plants.

    The intelligence agencies concluded:

    [W]e nevertheless are confident that this trailer is a mobile BW production plant because of the source’s description, equipment, and design.

    The next day, May 29, 2003, President Bush gave an interview to a Polish television station in which he said:

    We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They’re illegal. They’re against the United Nations resolutions, and we’ve so far discovered two.

    It is obvious that when President Bush said on May 29 that two mobile bioweapon facilities had been found, he was accurately repeating what the CIA and DIA had not only told him privately, but had publicly reported to the American people, just the day before. There is no reason to assume that President Bush had any knowledge of a preliminary field report, representing a then-minority view, that had been shipped back to Washington only 48 hours before; nor would such a preliminary report of a minority view have justified ABC’s claim–even had Bush become aware of it–that “the President knew at the time that was not true.””

    How does that jive with your account, M.F.?

  73. What it really comes down to is that unless we are able to reference the classified reports on these trucks, NOBODY knows what the fuck they are talking about.

    I happen to believe Bush, because every single cry of “Liar” from the left has turned out to be bullshit. Not one accusation of Bush lying can be backed up by facts.

    Bush can really piss me off, but one thing I have never seen proved is that he lied about anything.

    We are being lied to alright, but it’s not by the Bush Administration.

  74. But to describe the May 27 report as a “minority report[] not believed, at the time, to reflect the consensus view” is to ignore what the article plainly said

    Um, the article is plainly misleading.

    To wit:

    A U.S. intelligence official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, confirmed the existence of the field report cited by the Post, but said it was a preliminary finding that had to be evaluated.

    “You don’t change a report that has been coordinated in the (intelligence) community based on a field report,” the official said. “It’s a preliminary report. No matter how strongly the individual may feel about the subject matter.”

  75. Thanks for linking me, I appreciate it.

    Gaius

  76. ace said “two previous reports conclusively stated one thing”

    We’ll know there were “two previous reports” when someone shows them to us. We don’t know that there were “two previous reports.” We know only that there were two previous “teams,” but there is little or no reason to assume they ever produced a formal report. If they did, and if they included credible information supporting Bush’s spin, we can rest assured that they would have quickly ended up as part of a love letter from Libby to Miller.

    There is also good reason to understand that the Pentagon did not view those “reports,” if they even existed, as “conclusively [stating] one thing.” If those “reports” were considered conclusive, pleae explain why DIA decided it needed to dispatch nine experts, each with “at least a decade of experience in one of the essential technical skills needed for bioweapons production.” This effort was needed only because the sum of the previous reporting was anything but conclusive.

    “I never said Kay’s opinion should be given “more” or in fact any weight.”

    If you think Kay’s opinion shouldn’t be given “any weight,” then why did you quote him? I made the assumption that you actually had a reason for doing so. My mistake, I guess.

    “David Kay, who was assigned by the CIA to look at these weapons, was still saying they could be bioweapons labs.”

    Indeed. And we now know that the DIA report was being kept secret from him. I wonder why. And Ensor either doesn’t know that, or doesn’t want you to know that. Either way, not impressive.

    “So to blame the president for saying it back in May, may not be fair.”

    This doesn’t explain why Cheney was still telling the same lie three months later.

    “You don’t change a report that has been coordinated in the (intelligence) community based on a field report”

    Nice to know that you accept at face value the words of this anonymous Bush spokesperson, even though the facts show this is pure bullshit. The CIA report was not “coordinated in the (intelligence) community.” INR was livid, and so was DIA. CIA was all alone on this, and the fact that they pasted in a DIA logo doesn’t change that. Some “coordinated.”

  77. money said “Does it sound reasonable that, after two previous teams determined that these trailers were probably mobile weapons labs, that a third team determined that his was not possible IN A MATTER OF HOURS?”

    Try this: “it took me about ten minutes to figure out that any pathogens grown in the “mobile labs” from the leaked photos would have mostly killed the people in and around the trailers. That is if you can somehow manage to maintain the tanks to within a few tenths of a degree of human body temperature, which the trailers obviously could not. That led to an entertaining exchange with a message-board wingnut who insisted that Iraq parked the trailers in secret climate-controlled warehouses kept within a few tenths of 37 celsius (yes, in the desert)”

    Or this.

    Anyway, nine Pentagon-selected experts spent 122 pages answering your question. You should join me in calling on Bush to declassify the report.

  78. Gotch ya Pablo. Just as long as we agree that the larger WMD question was the driving force behind the resolution and not, as Jeff writes, “only one piece in the larger case for war against Iraq.”

  79. bezuhov, your extended quote from Power Line boils down to this: “There is no reason to assume that President Bush had any knowledge of a preliminary field report”

    It is almost plausible to claim that Bush’s mistatement was based on ignorance, rather than dishonesty, because he spoke only two days after the report was issued. Unfortunately, Bush’s people kept telling the same lie. Cheney told the lie three months later. Was it still just “a preliminary field report?” How long did it stay “preliminary?” Is “preliminary” BushSpeak for “politically undesirable, so therefore subject to permanent burial?”

  80. Jeff, also still waiting for you to explain why you think I didn’t read the timeline. Although I realize gratuitous snark is less effort for you.

    Gratuitous snark?  I asked if you’d bother to read the timeline because you were curious why Cheney was repeating the claim 3 months after Bush made it.

    Somebody in the comments then immediately pointed you to Tenet’s statement.  I didn’t think you needed me to hold your hand, but it was clear that the minority report position was not yet the official position.

    Oh. And I don’t spend all my time in the comments threads.  So if you don’t get an answer from me all the time, it’s probably because I’m doing something else. 

    Is that okay with you?

    /gratuitous snark

  81. lost said “NOBODY knows what the fuck they are talking about”

    I guess you think even Duelfer doesn’t know what the fuck he was talking about when he said that no way were these BW labs.

    “Not one accusation of Bush lying can be backed up by facts.”

    Gosh, how tiresome. Try this: “he wouldn’t let them in”

    Or this: “we have found the weapons of mass destruction”

    Or this: “any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires – a wiretap requires a court order”

    Or this: “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees”

  82. “This doesn’t explain why Cheney was still telling the same lie three months later.”

    Seed stocks?

    Depending on its scale, Iraq could have re-established an elementary BW program within a few weeks to a

    few months of a decision to do so

    Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha Al ‘Azzawi, head of the bacterial program claims she retained BW seed stocks until early 1992 when she destroyed them.

    ISG has not found a means of verifying this. Some seed stocks were retained by another Iraqi official until 2003 when they were recovered by ISG.

    Duelfer Report

  83. Jeff: “I asked if you’d bother to read the timeline because you were curious why Cheney was repeating the claim 3 months after Bush made it.”

    I’m still curious about that, because the timeline doesn’t address that question. Likewise for your remarks about the timeline.

    “Somebody in the comments then immediately pointed you to Tenet’s statement.  I didn’t think you needed me to hold your hand, but it was clear that the minority report position was not yet the official position.”

    This is an incredibly tautological (i.e., circular) answer. The timeline simply underlines the astonishing fact that even long after the 122-page DIA report was complete, people like Cheney and Tenet pretended it didn’t exist. The question I am asking is why. Your answer: because “the minority report position was not yet the official position.”

    Indeed. But why not? Why was this report ignored for so long? And why is it still classified? In other words, your “answer” is no answer at all.

    By the way, you have no legitimate basis to denigrate this report by calling it “the minority report,” unless you’re in a position to show that the other teams that preceded this team were more expert or more credible. But if they had been especially expert or credible, this final team would never have been dispatched.

    Try this analogy. Two lower courts rule that the Earth is flat. The case is escalated to the Supremes, who rule that the Earth is round. Jeff says “humbug, it’s only one court versus two, therefore I’ll dismiss it by calling it the minority report.” Cause two courts are always better than one, right?

  84. Bruce: “Seed stocks?”

    (By the way, please note that “Bruce” is not “bruce.”)

    You quote Duelfer making a statement about seed stocks. Trouble is, when Cheney spoke up in September ‘03, he didn’t make a claim about seed stocks. He made a claim about mobile weapons labs, and this claim was directly contrary to the 122-page DIA report that Bush had hidden in his desk.

    The existence of seed stocks is not the same thing as the existence of mobile bioweapons labs, and vice versa. In what way does your Duelfer quote address my question?

  85. So, Lost Dog, what are these if not lies?

    (1) “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

    [Bush is on tape being briefed about the levees]

    (2) “When he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him.”

    [IU.N. inspectors left Iraq just days before the invasion. They had been conducting inspections in Iraq for months. Bush told this one at least twice. The above quote is from a recent interview with Helen Thomas. He first made the claim, I believe, in March 2003.]

  86. The tapes showed that Bush was specifically told the levees had not been breached, Scott.  The inspections had long since become a fiasco. 

    And Bruce, your newly modified fall back position seems to be be Bush didn’t lie, but Cheney did and that’s close enough for you.  Except even assumoing Cheney was knowingly telling a flasehood, something you haven’t shown by the way, that still doesn’t show that Bush was lying on May 29. It just shows that you, having realized that the Washington Post was engaged in a hit piece, have decided to change the subject.  The same way Scott tried to change the subject back to the levees.  Not very impressive…for either of you.

  87. The disinformation’s like kudzu. Anyone got any ideas how we can turn it onto the actual people trying to kill us?

  88. These defenses of the Bush administration are tiresome. There is a significant problem with this administration when the report of a team of civilian experts, flatly and unanimously contradicting the general consensus of the intelligence community, based on the opinions of two teams of “military experts” whose qualifications remain unknwon to us, does not either a) bring a halt to the CIA assessment process or b) cause the President to perhaps reconsider stating unequivocally that WMDs were found, either because he chose not to, or was not aware of this report.

    You carefully parse the timeline and make assumptions about how communications work at the highest echelons of the government to say that there is no real proof that Bush intended to lie, and yet it does not seem to disturb you that the members of the administration continued to claim without a doubt that WMDs were found despite the report of this team. The latter shows a lack of good faith, and it’s fair to wonder why that report got shelved, and who knew what about it when Bush made his public comments.

  89. No Alexander, you assume bad faith on no evidence whatsoever, then when even CNN (no group of Bush apologists) notes how unfair this article is you change the subject to other statements made by other members of the administration at a time different from May 29th.  You also fail to note that a previous report on this matter stated that there were divisions even among the civilans who studied the trailers.  I’m sorry, but what’s tiresome here is how dishonestly you and bruce and the rest are approaching this matter.

  90. Alex,

    It seems pretty clear to me that all this crap boils down to power struggles both between branches of government (i.e. the legislature and executive, such as the NSA brouhaha) and within individual branches.  I’m not even sure that they are all about ideology. Doubtless MBA Bush has been attempting to drag the management culture of the fed bureaucracy into the 20th century, and since the press relies on middle management leaks and middle management is where the majority of the fat is, its no surprise that from the perspective of the press, the Pres looks like a bad guy. I’m unconvinced that things that make fed middle managers squeal are not exactly the things Bush needs to be doing.

    On top of that, there is of course the matter of Clinton hires who have no intention of doing anything the evil Rethuglicans are interested in (Billmon, for instance), and I hope you excuse me for taking the various complaints with a grain of salt. Bottom line: its not clear enough that all the relevant parties were playing on the same team to substantiate accusations of lying, versus a determination being made, judicious or otherwise, as to whose advice to credit.

  91. What’s tiresome is having to pour through weak arguments like yours Alexander, diarrhea of the mouth seems to be very contagious among you liberal types. “Civilian experts, flatly and unanimously contradicting the general consensus of the intelligence community, based on the opinions of two teams of “military experts” whose qualifications remain unknwon to us.”

    So in what capacity have you served in order to give anyone this level of an assessment between civilian weapons experts and a military one? Or the qualifications and the ability of these teams to perform their required functions under stated conditions?

    I’ll save you the trouble. NONE.

  92. To recount:

    _________________

    Bush: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

    Max Mayfield: “It’s (levee) a very, very grave concern.”

    Bush: “When he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him.”

    Blix: “Inspections in Iraq resumed on 27 November 2002.  In matters relating to process, notably prompt access to sites, we have faced relatively few difficulties and certainly much less than those that were faced by UNSCOM in the period 1991 to 1998.  This may well be due to the strong outside pressure.”

    Corvan: “Inspections had long since become a fiasco.”

    Kay: No WMDs in Iraq.

    Duelfer: No WMDs in Iraq since 1991.

  93. Duelfer: Seed stocks + A few weeks to resurrect Biological Weapons Program = Total Justification for the invasion of Iraq

    How simple does it have to be?

    Saddam was using the Oil For Food money to bribe politicians in Russia, England France and pretty much everywhere to get the weapons inspectors out, while retaining the ability to manufacture Biological Weapons in a few weeks.

    He was a mass murderer who subsidized the murder of jews, mass murdered the Kurds and the Shia, supported terrorism around the world.

    Some people wanted him to keep doing all those things.

    George Bush stopped him.

    I applaud George bush for his courage.

    I despise those who wanted Saddam to stay in power. They are scum.

    They are Joseph Kennedy and the Nazis all over again. Teddy Kennedy and the all the rest of pro-Saddam democrats and all the Saddam lovers are just nostalic for the good old days of genocide.

    I hope you rot in hell.

  94. Don’t bring me down …

  95. corvan: “The tapes showed that Bush was specifically told the levees had not been breached”

    Indeed. The tapes record a meeting that took place before the hurricane, so it would be odd indeed if he had been told at that time that the levees had already been breached. That’s not what he was told. He was told there was a grave danger of the levees failing in the next day or two. So what did he do? Go off to a sunny place and cut cake with McCain, of course.

    Anyway, I don’t think any of us are interested in rehashing the old discussion about “breached” vs. “overtopped.” They both mean catastrophic failure, so it’s a relatively meaningless distinction. It’s about as interesting as the meaning of “is.”

    “The inspections had long since become a fiasco.”

    Trouble is, Bush didn’t say “the inspections had long since become a fiasco” (and if he did, that also would have been a lie, because Blix reported a high level of cooperation). He said “he wouldn’t let them in.” Trouble is, that’s a lie. And as Scot pointed out, that lie was recently repeated.

    “your newly modified fall back position seems to be be Bush didn’t lie, but Cheney did and that’s close enough for you”

    I haven’t changed my position one bit, so please stop making shit up. I’m simply highlighting Cheney because folks here are working overtime to attempt to explain away what Bush did on 5/29, as if the same falsehood wasn’t repeated many times later.

    “even assumoing Cheney was knowingly telling a flasehood, something you haven’t shown by the way”

    I will assume Cheney “was knowingly telling a flasehood” until someone provides a better explanation for his behavior. As far as I can tell, no one has even tried.

    “that still doesn’t show that Bush was lying on May 29”

    Bush’s statement on 5/29 proves he is either a liar or painfully incompetent. You pick.

    By the way, no one here has even attempted to explain why it was OK for Bush to claim we found “weapons” when even the glossy CIA report admitted that not a trace of “weapons” had been found. A lab to make weapons is a lab, not a weapon.

    “what’s tiresome here is how dishonestly you and bruce and the rest are approaching this matter”

    I’ll be waiting patiently for you to present proof of a single example of a dishonest statement on my part.

    “You also fail to note that a previous report on this matter stated that there were divisions even among the civilans who studied the trailers.”

    Please explain why you think Miller was in a position to comment on a report that wasn’t final until after she wrote about it. Also please explain why you consider Miller more credible than what WaPo recently wrote. I suppose you think we’re supposed to ignore everything we’ve learned about Miller in the last couple of years (like all the secret meetings she had with Libby in hotel rooms).

  96. spartan: “So in what capacity have you served in order to give anyone this level of an assessment between civilian weapons experts and a military one?”

    If the two military teams were in a position to produce expert, credible, conclusive results, why did the Pentagon follow-up by sending nine civilians? Have you cosidered the possibility that the folks most likely to have “at least a decade of experience in one of the essential technical skills needed for bioweapons production” are likely to be civilian scientists?

  97. Bruce: “I hope you rot in hell.”

    Ah, Protein Wisdom. An oasis of reasoned discourse. Any minute now Jeff will be sharing some lovely fantasy about bestiality.

    Here’s a clue: it’s possible to be very glad that Saddam is gone, and simultaneously very upset that Bush couldn’t figure out how to accomplish that without telling us lots of lies. Too complicated for you to grasp? I’m afraid so.

  98. “I will assume Cheney “was knowingly telling a flasehood” until someone provides a better explanation for his behavior. As far as I can tell, no one has even tried.”

    As if. His people said weapons, Clinton’s said not. That’s one possibility. Another is that people were CYAing all over the place. You’re living in a fantasyland of certainty that didn’t exist then, and doesn’t exist now. The fact that the cost of a false positive was and is much less than the cost of a false negative doesn’t inspire confidence in the validity of your argument, let alone the self-righteousness in which you advance it.

  99. Bruce sez:

    Duelfer: Seed stocks + A few weeks to resurrect Biological Weapons Program = Total Justification for the invasion of Iraq

    How simple does it have to be?

    It’s really even more simple: 1441 + material breach = UN authorized invasion. And 1441 passed unanimously.

    Scot sez:

    So, Lost Dog, what are these if not lies?

    They are truths, both of them. Do you need that explained to you, or did you just figure we’re all too stupid to catch on?

    The tiresome BUSH LIED! narrative has really run its course. Can’t you guys gin up a decent conspiracy? Maybe something with the Chinese and the Joos…

  100. bruce sez:

    Any minute now Jeff will be sharing some lovely fantasy about bestiality.

    I think he’s giving the ‘dillo an enema. So, the guys an animal lover! What’s your problem?

    I hope you spoil in heck.

    Here’s a clue: it’s possible to be very glad that Saddam is gone, and simultaneously very upset that Bush couldn’t figure out how to accomplish that without telling us lots of lies.

    Here’s another clue: it’s possible to say and believe things that are incorrect and not lie. It’s also possible for people to take every word that comes out of your mouth and torture them into confession. It’s also a pointless game of semantics.

    But if it’s going to make you feel better, say it again: BUSH KNEW!

Leave a Reply