WMD-gate: A Gathering Embarrassment

February 3rd, 2004 - by admin

by Steven Aftergood / Secrecy News – Federation of American Scientists


Confronted by mounting evidence that the threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was massively overstated, President Bush has been unwilling or unable to admit error. “There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a gathering threat to America and others,” he said this week. “That’s what we know.”

Pressed by reporters for a response to weapons inspector David Kay’s statement that pre-war intelligence on Iraq had been wrong, the President could do no more than repeat: “There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a grave and gathering threat to America and the world. There is just no doubt in my mind.”

The “gathering threat” formulation, which has not previously been part of the President’s vocabulary, may be a speechwriter’s allusion to the first volume of Winston Churchill’s history of World War II, The Gathering Storm.

But if so, the dignity of this borrowed rhetoric rapidly became an embarrassment, as it was parroted no less than half a dozen times by the White House press spokesman on
January 28:

In retrospect, it now appears that Saddam Hussein was more of a receding threat than a “gathering” one. His military forces had never fully recovered from the first Gulf War or the effects of UN sanctions, and his regime was riddled with corruption.

Yet Congress was told as a factual matter that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them even to the United States, recalled Sen. Ben Nelson (D-FL) this week. “I was looked at straight in the face and told that [Iraqi] UAVs could be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack eastern seaboard cities of the United States,” he said. “Is it any wonder that I concluded there was an imminent peril to the United States?” See:

A new report from the non-governmental British American Security Information Council examines the record of pre- and post-war evidence of Iraqi weapons programs and forcefully critiques US and UK intelligence assessments on Iraq.

See “Unravelling the Known Unknowns: Why no Weapons of Mass Destruction have been found in Iraq” by David Isenberg and Ian Davis, BASIC, 2004:
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