Date: Sun Oct 5, 2003 4:37:31 PM US/Eastern
Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: WMD report is not a smoking gun
Sunday, October 5th's Editorial, "Iraq report shows Saddam had WMD technology" incorrectly claims that Dr.David Kay's report to congress constitutes a "smoking gun" on the issue of Iraq's possession of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Dr.Kay plainly states that his team has not found any stocks of weapons of mass destruction, seemingly refuting Vice President Dick Cheney's August 26, 2002 claim that "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." Meanwhile, on May 30th, 2003 a surprised Lt. Gen. James Conway remarked "We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there." While President Bush declared in his State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein "had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons" of chemical weapons Dr.Kay's report does not support such a conclusion. In fact the report's details are full of circumstantial evidence bordering on hearsay and rumor with very little real documentation to bolster its claims. At most, the report reveals that Saddam Hussein may have wanted to develop nuclear and chemical weapons programs -- not that he had been successful. The report concludes on chemical weapons that, "Information found to date suggests that Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce and fill new CW munitions was reduced – if not entirely destroyed – during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of U.N. sanctions and U.N. inspections." On February 8th, President Bush claimed that "We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons." How could the Iraqi military use chemical weapons that didn't exist?
The editorial's bold assertion that "the Bush administration never -- never -- stated that there was an 'imminent' threat to the United States from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction" is a blatant attempt to rewrite history. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice warned on September 8th, 2002, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." While the administration may have been careful not to use the word "imminent", they repeatedly sowed the seeds of fear by insinuating that Iraq had tons of deadly weapons ready to unleash on America and its allies. It is clear now that many of the pre-war accusations were exaggerated, falsified, or just plain wrong. After months of equating Saddam Hussein with 9/11 and Al Qaeda, the president himself recently said, "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th." The quote would have come as a surprise to the 70 percent of Americans who believed Iraq was involved with September 11th. The Eagle-Tribune, however, buried the story which would have served to dispel a widely-held belief. By attempting to restate the Bush administration's case for war and failing to adequately report that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the Tribune has done a disservice to its readers and has betrayed its purpose as a newspaper.
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