November 16, 2003
A pre-emptive fisking

The print-version of Sunday's Seattle Times gives us a sneak preview of Monday's opinion page:

Molly Ivins is glad the Bush administration is starting to set the stage for an exit policy in Iraq. If some liberal like her had brought it up, they'd all be accused of treason.
Fortunately, Ivins column appears online before it appears in the Monday Seattle Times, which gives me the opportunity to find its errors, and yes, alert the Times before the thing appears in print. The column is here. In addition to her habitually silly and/or disingenuous "analysis" of the news (Bush is pulling a "180" in Iraq and plans to "bug out before next year's election" ), we also have, no surprise, some blatantly false statements:
There was no nuclear weapons program. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein had no ties to Al Qaeda...
1. The Kay report provided plenty of evidence that a nuclear weapons program still existed as did chemical and biological programs.

2. Of course Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda. Evidence of this has been publicly known for a long time. A comprehensive report on the subject appeared just the other day on the Weekly Standard, here.

I'm forwarding these observations to the Times' editorial editor. He probably still has time to edit Ivins' column and strike out the most egregiously bogus parts. It's one thing to print all varieties of opinion and analysis, no matter how loopy. But if the Times wants its readers to take its op-ed page more seriously than, say, its comics page, it should at least ensure that its syndicated columns are based on fact and not fiction.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at November 16, 2003 05:24 PM

The Kay report most definitely said that no weapons of mass destruction have been found: "We have not yet found stocks of weapons...."

The Kay report indicated there was no active nuclear weapons program. "[T]o date we have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material."

And according to the DOD, The Standard's interpetation of the Feith memo is wrong: "News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate."

It's old news, fragmentary, and far from conclusive. For example:

Reporting entries #4, #11, #15, #16, #17, and #18, from different sources, corroborate each other and provide confirmation of meetings between al Qaeda operatives and Iraqi intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. None of the reports have information on operational details or the purpose of such meetings.

The purpose of the meetings could have been to subvert al Qaeda at least as far as preventing them from attacking Hussein, despite bin Laden's stated objective of overthrowing secular governements like Hussein's. One would hope the US also had senior intelligence officials meeting with bin Laden's men, trying to infiltrate the group and get information among other things.

Face it, if Bush had solid evidence of meaningful ties between al Qaeda and Hussein, it would have been presented at the U.N. last year.

Posted by: Simon on November 18, 2003 07:25 PM
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