Thursday, August 21, 2003

The "case" for War

[July 16, 2004]

The news media finally got off their collective butt's and decided to fact-check Powell's speech to the United Nations in Feb 2003 which led to the Iraq Invasion. As you can see below, in August 2003 it was already clear he'd told the world a pack of lies.

This article digs into the recently released U.S. Senate report on the Iraq War (invasion). It cites a series of articles and meetings where the CIA was actively persuading the Administration that the case for war was anything but sound. Well, duh. It's nice to know that the CIA was doing their job and trying to warn the administration.

The meetings worked in a sense, in that a large number of claims were either rejected outright, or modified. Still the CIA did warn that many of the remaining claims were weak.

[August 21, 2003]

The current situation is that the U.S. is fighting two overt wars, one in Afghanistan, the other in Iraq, and no doubt there's much covert stuff going on as well. The prompting for this is supposedly the attack of September 11, 2001 (on the World Trade Center). On the other hand, as was discussed in the other articles in this series, the "neo-conservatives" currently in charge of the U.S. government have been planning an assault on the world amazingly alike what is being pursued on the world stage.

Tonights purpose is to go over the "case" that was laid before the U.S. people, the U.N., and others around the world. As I discussed elsewhere, a number of claims were made about Iraq, and none of them have been found to be true. To my eye this is a "high crime", namely lying and deceiving the whole world in order to launch a war that has killed tens of thousands of people. And what's worse is that it apparently was launched to prop up a failing energy policy based on fossil fuel abuse.

In the February 17, 2003 issue of Newsweek is an article, "Judging the CASE" detailing the presentation made by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations. It's important to note that two weeks before the Dept of Homeland Defense moved the "terror threat level" to "Orange", that troops were beginning the steps to deployment in Kuwait (and thence to Iraq), and that people were generally jittery. This article is available at Newsweek's web site, simply go to the "SEARCH THE ARCHIVES" box and type "Judging the Case". I cannot make a direct link to the article as it is available only for a fee.

[Feb 5, 2003; Time Magazine; time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,419939,00.html] What Powell Achieved He may not have swayed doubters, but the Secretary of State shortened the odds on a UN resolution authorizing force against Iraq

[Feb 5, 2003; CNN; cnn.com/2003/US/02/06/sprj.irq.wrap/index.html] Bush to U.N.: We will not wait U.S. sending more troops, ships to region

[Feb 5, 2003; CNN; cnn.com/2003/US/02/05/sprj.irq.key.points.txt/index.html] Powell's key points on Iraq UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Although he said in advance that there would be no "smoking gun," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell raised numerous points Wednesday in making his case against Iraq to the U.N. Security Council. Here are some of the highlights ... This is CNN's summary of Powell's presentation to the United Nations

Clearly, if the claims made by the U.S. and British leaders were to have been true, Iraq would have been a very dangerous country indeed. Maybe dangerous enough, combined with its evasive and wiley dictatorial government, to have been worth of engaging in war. However, the truth has not met up with the claims, hence this article.

The following is a table detailing the claims, and current truth (as of August 21, 2003). If you count this up, the vast majority of the claims have not been shown to be true, and in some cases were shown to be outright lies, and that the administration knew very well that they were lying. Only one of the claims, Ansar al-Islam's presence in Iraq and supposed connection with al Queda, has been shown to have any truth, and that link is tenuous at best.

Source Claim Current truth
Newsweek [February 17, 2003] "Judging the CASE" "Denial, deception and doubts", in which the claim is made that "U.S. spy satellites have caught apparent 'housecleaning' efforts" just before visits by U.N. inspectors. The inspectors were trying to find Iraq's posession of banned weapons. Those weapons were banned by a U.N. Security Council resolution (1441), and it was for the purpose of enforcing that ban which the inspection process was undertaken. No trace of any of the banned weapons have been found. Even after the 4 months that the U.S. has been in control of Iraq. None.
CNN [Feb 5, 2003]

"Powell's key points on Iraq"

"Recorded conversations" is that, as part of the denial and deception Iraq sowed to hinder the U.N. inspectors, the U.S. had recorded conversations between various Iraqi military officials passing along orders to cover up banned weapons. In the Newsweek article it is said "The intercepts clearly refer to stray items, not big caches" and that Iraqi's disputed the translation accuracy.

Again, no trace of the banned weapons have been found even after four months of U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Newsweek [February 17, 2003] "Judging the CASE" "Death on wheels" is the claim that the "germ warfare factories" had been installed in trucks so they can be mobile and evade the U.N. inspectors. As Newsweek says, "it seems like the perfect dodge, 'Just imagine trying to find 18 trucks among the thousands and thousands that trvel the roads of Iraq every day'". In the early days of the war two trucks were found containing chemical production equipment. Initial thought was "these are those trucks", but they have since been found to be used to produce hydrogen for weather balloons.
Newsweek [February 17, 2003] "Judging the CASE" "Lethal Ingredients" is about chemical weapons. "No country has had more battlefield experience with chemical weapons since World War I than Saddam Hussein's Iraq", and yes indeed that is true. So it seemed feasible that Iraq could have still been producing and/or hiding chemical weapons. No chemical weapons were used, and none were found at any munitions depot in Iraq. Many old chemical weapons suits were found, of course, since Iraq had done so much with those type of weapons in the past.
CNN [Feb 5, 2003]

"Bush to U.N.: We will not wait"

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons, the very weapons the dictator tells the world he does not have," Bush said. No chemical weapons were used, and none were found at any munitions depot in Iraq. Many old chemical weapons suits were found, of course, since Iraq had done so much with those weapons in the past.
Newsweek [February 17, 2003] "Judging the CASE" "Centrifugal Force" is the claim that Iraq has been trying to import "sophisticated parts" for Uranium enrichment, as well as uranium itself. Much was made of some aluminum tubes which were made to a "high tolerance" beyond that required for rocketry. Recent news since the middle of June has (see Is this "war" Impeachable?) made it clear that every claim made about the Uranium was false, and known by the administration to be false, but they made it anway.
Newsweek [February 17, 2003] "Judging the CASE" "Delivery units" is the claim of both missiles and drone aircraft that could deliver weapons. Presumably the target would be Israel, but the implication is these delivery vehicles are a threat to the United States.

The U.N. resolutions banned Iraq from possessing any delivery vehicle having a range greater than approximately 150 kilometers (93 miles).

The rocket issue is an unknown (to me) at this moment.

The drone aircraft were found to be exceedingly harmless.

In one of the "rebuttals" staged by Iraq shortly before the invasion, they rolled out the drone aircraft for reporters to view. The Christian Science Monitor says "held together with tin foil and duct tape, and two wooden propellers bolted to engines far smaller than those of a lawn mower - looked more like a high-school science project than the "smoking gun" that could spark a war", and goes on to detail a whole lot of confusion around this issue.

Newsweek [February 17, 2003] "Judging the CASE" "The bin Laden connection" is the claim that Iraq was harboring some small number of al-Queda people, and helped one al-Queda leader (Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi) to get medical treatment. Newsweek itself pointed out that Zarqawi "is the head of Al Tawhid, a terror group sometimes (but not always) allied with Al Queda", so even that claim is a tenuous link. That's ignoring the well known fact that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have widely differing goals, and openly despise one another, and therefore have little if any reason to cooperate with one another.

There has been occasional claims made in the press of Al Queda operatives active in Iraq. Certainly a geurilla war is being fought against the U.S., British and U.N. interests in Iraq.

A CNN news article [August 20, 2003] claims "possible al Queda link in Baghdad blast". Given the past accuracy of the administration, how can we trust the accuracy of this claim of a "possible link"? In any case the article says they are possibly linking "Ansar al-Islam", the same group referred to here, is not al Queda and only sometimes linked with al Queda.

Human Rights Watch report on Ansar al-Islam. Their report confirms the group has a tendency to violence, hardline Islam, and a link of unknown quality with al Queda.

U.S. Executive Order 13224 named this group an official "Terrorist Group" on February 20, 2003.