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Don't Panic! June 19 2003

Your war questions answered

Why do people think that the Bush White House exaggerated Iraq's WMD threat to us?

Better late than never, I suppose, the American public (via the mainstream media) has finally decided to have a debate about whether invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein is vital to U.S. national security. Historically, "Should we have a war?" is a debate best had before a war, but since no one involved in the Iraq crisis was named Clay or Ruben, we just weren't interested until now.

The reason behind the sudden surge of interest, other than American Idol 2 being over, is that even though the Bush administration sold us this war by relentlessly talking up Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, all we've found so far is two trailers that may or may not have been mobile biological weapons labs. During a recent speech in Poland, Bush said that the trailers themselves were "weapons of mass destruction" — a claim that might have been true had Saddam managed to get the trailers to Kansas during a tornado.

Two trailers isn't much compared with what the White House kept saying Iraq had. In January, Bush told us that Saddam had the ingredients to make up to 500 tons of chemical agents like sarin, mustard and VX gas as well as 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin. On March 16, (Vice) President Dick Cheney said that Iraq has "reconstituted nuclear weapons," which are very dangerous, but not nearly as good as fresh ones, as anyone who's tasted the reconstituted onions on a Big Mac will tell you. The next day, Bush told us, "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." During the war itself, we were told that some Iraqi Republican Guard units were equipped with WMDs and were given the go-ahead to use them on us. Maybe they were gonna catapult the trailers at us or something.

That the Bush White House may have lied and exaggerated about Iraq's threat shouldn't shock anyone — they've already been caught doing it more than once. Bush & Co. repeatedly and falsely claimed that Saddam and Osama were somehow working together. Bush quoted a false report claiming that Saddam tried to buy uranium from Niger. The White House also said that some aluminum tubes that Iraq had were for nukes, even though our best analysts on the subject, the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, told them otherwise.

In addition to obvious lies and exaggerations, intelligence officials have complained to the press that the White House pressured them to come up with pro-invasion evidence and that they distorted intelligence reports to make Iraq's threat to us seem worse than it was. Similar criticisms are being leveled against Bush's primary war ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Brits have their knickers in a knot over the so-called "dodgy dossier," in which Blair & Co. spun dated, inaccurate and plagiarized information into a compelling pro-war argument. Tony's American stepbrother Jayson apparently isn't the only one in the family adept at that sort of thing.

We may very well still find WMD in Iraq. After all, we have definitive proof that they had them as recently as the 1990s, when U.N. inspectors found and destroyed a bunch. And if Saddam didn't have any WMD, then why didn't he give Hans Blix and his team free rein to look around? If he did, he might have been able to stop the war. In the meantime, the White House has done a 180. Instead of talking about finding Iraq's menacing weapons, now they emphasize a new goal — finding proof of Iraq's WMD program. Hmm. We invaded because we said they had "weapons." Now, we're saying it's a "weapons program." That's like getting invited to someone's house for dinner and then getting served a cookbook.

andisheh@creativeloafing.com



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