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« The Center Problem | Main | Converge notes »

Sep 08, 2006


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Too bad the report left out quite a few inconvenient details.

Be sure to let us know when they get the details right, Ed.



We are there. Both sides of the aisle agreed to be there at the time. Neither side would agree to be there if the information known or suspected today had been available now. Ed, remind us what was the vote back then from democrats and that other party for going to war?

How do we leave and have a strong friend in Iraq?

Ed, this crap is beneath you.



Hmmm...this should work better.

As should this one too.

From the first:

"But beyond the obvious political gamesmanship, there is little merit to this posturing because there is little serious analysis in the Senate report: Far from providing the definitive word on Saddam's ties to al Qaeda, the report is almost worthless."

And the second:

".....the Clinton Justice Department included the Iraq-al Qaeda connection in its spring 1998 sealed indictment of Osama bin Laden. That indictment came before the al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa--after which numerous Clinton officials cited an Iraqi connection to the al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, destroyed by the United States in response to those al Qaeda attacks. The relevant paragraph of the indictment reads:

Al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq.

According to the 9/11 Commission report, quoting from an email from Clarke to former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger on November 4, 1998:

This passage led Clarke, who for years had read intelligence reports on Iraqi-Sudanese cooperation on chemical weapons, to speculate to Berger that a large Iraqi presence at chemical facilities in Khartoum was "probably the direct result of the Iraq-al Qida (sic) agreement". Clarke added that VX precursor traces found near al Shifa were the "exact formula used by Iraq."

No evidence? Ever?"

Ah, yes.....those pesky inconvenient details!

Ed Cone

Meb, "Both sides" didn't represent me. It was a bad move then, and it's been mishandled since then. I didn't say anything about leaving, by the way, but I do think the people who have screwed things up so badly need to be held to account.

This is about something slightly different than being in Iraq, or managing that situation, though: our elected leaders tried to make us think that Saddam was involved in 9/11 as a justification for taking us to war.

The case for WMD was never made convincingly, to my eye, but at least that was a widespread mistake. The insinuations about Saddam seem flat-out cynical and dishonest.

That bothers me, and I think we should hold the folks who did it accountable.


I stand corrected. Thanks.

You write like you were opposed to attacking Iraq from the beginning. I am curious as to why given the overwhelming information at that time.


Ed Cone

I didn't think the information at the time was overwhelming, or the case for war in Iraq when and how we did it compelling. A lot of people did not think so.

As I wrote at the time, "Weird to lament the war and the unilateralist mindset behind it, yet to be rooting for a quick and total victory for our side."


A lot of people were opposed to attacking Iraq, Meblogin. People who didn't swallow the propaganda of "overwhelming" evidence; people who did their own research and had serious doubts about the information being presented by American authorities -- and, what do you know? Those "fringe" sources, turned out to be more accurate than the "overwhelming" information we doubted. For some of us, the foundation of our view of the war in Iraq does not begin with recognition of our own complicity.

Samuel Spagnola

Roch said:

"people who did their own research and had serious doubts about the information being presented by American authorities"

Please provide citations to support this statement?

Ed said:

"our elected leaders tried to make us think that Saddam was involved in 9/11 as a justification for taking us to war."

Please provide a citation to support this statement- specific to Saddam and 9/11 as opposed to terror in general. There seems to be this common theme that people were fooled into supporting the war because Bush linked Saddam to 9/11 specifically, yet I have yet to see any data that supports this. Who are these people, and if they exist, was the alleged 9/11 link their only basis for supporting the war? I haven't met anyone yet who supported the war because they were convinced Saddam had a hand in 9/11. In fact, Bush himself quite clearly denied a Saddam-9/11 link:


Another question- if Saddam had decided to begin another genocide against the Kurds, who you support an invasion to stop that?


My suggested reading for readers in this thread would include Pat Lang's weblog - especially since he has included Larry C. Johnson's piece in a recent thread which has Johnson's initial take on the Gov's release.

David Hoggard

MY answer to Sam's last question, moot as it is, is: YES.

Ed Cone

Sam, I know you can use Google, and I have a reasonable suspicion that you have been following the news since 2001, and I don't think my published views on the path to war can be so easily reduced to the simplistic formula you suggest above.

But since Google makes it so very easy to answer your request for citations, this is from the very first item that popped up in my search, Washington Post, June 17, 2004 (note the opening stat, regarding the widespread belief in this country that Saddam and al Qaeda were closely tied -- a belief that did not just come out of the blue sky):

According to a Harris poll in late April, a plurality of Americans, 49 percent to 36 percent, believe "clear evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda has been found."

As recently as Monday, Cheney said in a speech that Hussein "had long-established ties with al Qaeda." Bush, asked on Tuesday to verify or qualify that claim, defended it by pointing to Abu Musab Zarqawi, who has taken credit for a wave of attacks in Iraq.

...Bush, speaking to troops in Tampa yesterday, did not mention an Iraq-al Qaeda link, saying only that Iraq "sheltered terrorist groups." That was a significantly milder version of the allegations administration officials have made since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In late 2001, Cheney said it was "pretty well confirmed" that Sept. 11 mastermind Mohamed Atta met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official before the attacks, in April 2000 in Prague; Cheney later said the meeting could not be proved or disproved.

Bush, in his speech aboard an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, asserted: "The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda and cut off a source of terrorist funding."

In September, Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press": "If we're successful in Iraq . . . then we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."

Speaking about Iraq's alleged links to al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 attacks, Cheney connected Iraq to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by saying that newly found Iraqi intelligence files in Baghdad showed that a participant in the bombing returned to Iraq and "probably also received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven." He added: "The Iraqi government or the Iraqi intelligence service had a relationship with al Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s."

Shortly after Cheney asserted these links, Bush contradicted him, saying: "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th." But Bush added: "There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties."

In January, Cheney repeated his view that Iraq was tied to al Qaeda, saying that "there's overwhelming evidence" of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection. He said he was "very confident there was an established relationship there."

So, yes, there has been a lot of back-and-forth and game-playing by the administration on this issue. But I don't want that when my country is being asked to go to war. I would have preferred a straightfoward statement of fact from my president in 2002 or 2003, that Iraq was not at all involved in 9/11 or seriously involved with al Qaeda, but we needed to go in for xyz reasons.

One of the large mistakes in this war, in my opinion, is that we did not focus on al Qaeda, and use that as an incremental step toward addressing larger problems.


Did you notice how Ed didn't answer your question about any Saddam/911 connections, Sam?

Did you also notice that Ed declined to address the points about the Iraq/al qaeda connection that the recently released Denate report neglected to include?

I guess it's just not convenient for them to deal with those things.


One other point about the Senate report.

Isn't it interesting how this report magically popped up NOW, in face of all the negative publicty them Dems are getting about their heavy-handed efforts to force ABC inbto self-censorship over their 9-11 production?

Considering the fact that the Senate report is old news from 2004 anyway, I find the timing VERY interesting.

Ed Cone

Bubba, I did address the question. The lengthy list from the WaPo article does not include a quote from Bush saying "Saddam was behind 9/11," but it shows a clear pattern of inference and association by the administration. You may argue that no such inference was made or intended; I and many others would strongly disagree with you.

The GOP controls the Senate, you might want to take the timing of the report's release up with them.

You say the report contains nothing new since 2004; the article says, "It discloses for the first time an October 2005 CIA assessment that prior to the war Saddam's government 'did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates.'" [emphasis added]


...we believe everything Saddam has said or is saying?

Ed Cone

Not sure what you are asking here, Meb.


"people who did their own research and had serious doubts about the information being presented by American authorities"

Please provide citations to support this statement? -- Sam

Huh? What are you wondering about? That there were people before the war who availed themselves of information contradicting the administration's claims or that such information existed? Both are common knowledge to all but the most out-of-touch, but if you'll tell me where the gaps are in your knowledge that lead you to question this, I'll try to fill in the blanks.

Ed Cone

My opinion was formed from the same info available to everyone: that Iraq did not seem to be linked to 9/11, that Iraq was contained, that weapons inspections were being abandoned too soon, that we yet lacked a broad coalition, and that the actual perps were still on the run somewhere else.

Samuel Spagnola

ROCH: "Both are common knowledge..." Common knowledge is hardly a reliable citation. Let me try that in court sometime. "Your honor, my client didn't do this. That's common knowledge." I'm sure that will work. Sorry, Roch, but that is a straw man argument that you cannot support with evidence. Is this something you picked up while having dinner with friends? Did your friends do the research you mentioned? If so, where can I find the results of this research so I can have it peer reviewed?


I specifically mentioned Iraqi involvement in 9/11 as you did in your first post, not general ties to Al Qaeda. I think it has been established that there were Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda, but the administration never claimed Iraq was involved directly in 9/11 as you suggest the administration has claimed.

Will you answer my question about the Kurds, Ed?


Sure, Ed, you make a good point. It's not as if there was super-secret information that could lead one to the reasonable perspective you had. But if people were only listening to the administration, this is what they would have heard.

It's well worth a click and a listen -- a reminder of just how gung ho the administration was for Iraq and just how wrong they were in making their case. Click and hear Bush and various administration officials say: "We know where they [WMD] are;" "This is evidence, not conjecture. This is true;" "Saddam Hussien is a threat to America;" "We know what a disarmed country looks like. Iraq doesn't look like that;" "There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons;" and my favorite, from Bush after the invasion:

"We won't be proven wrong. We will find the truth and the truth is Saddam Hussein was making weapons of mass destruction. We will bring forth the weapons when they find them. We based our decisions on good sound intelligence. There's no doubt in my mind."


I gave you an opportunity to clarify just what it is you are asking my to cite, Sam. Are you going to pass?

Ed Cone

What I said, again: "The lengthy list from the WaPo article does not include a quote from Bush saying 'Saddam was behind 9/11,' but it shows a clear pattern of inference and association by the administration. You may argue that no such inference was made or intended; I and many others would strongly disagree with you."

Saddam was militarily contained, and that containment included a US-enforced no-fly zone over Kurdistan. I would have supported US efforts to stop military aggression or genocide by Saddam, as improbable as that scenario may seem given the realities on the ground and in the air.


"the administration never claimed Iraq was involved directly in 9/11..." -- Sam


Bush put it in writing. He cited as justification for attacking Iraq the congressional authorization to "take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

We were attacked by Al Qaeda. The administration makes claims that Al Qaeda had ties with Iraq, such as this by Bush: “There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties.” Yet you will pretend that doesn't mean the Bush administration cultivated the false impression that Iraq was connected to 9/11?


“Well, what we now have that’s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that–it’s been pretty well confirmed that [Mohammad Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.” [NBC, Meet the Press, 12/9/01]

CHENEY: If we’re successful in Iraq, … we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.” [NBC, Meet The Press, 9/14/03]


"What I said, again: "The lengthy list from the WaPo article does not include a quote from Bush saying 'Saddam was behind 9/11,' but it shows a clear pattern of inference and association by the administration. You may argue that no such inference was made or intended; I and many others would strongly disagree with you."

How many straws have you grasped so far?

You keep making a statement (obviously hewn by some misguided faith of little substance) that you refuse to back up with evidence.

Why is that?

Do you deny that there is evidence linking Iraq and al qaeda pre-war?

Your answer should start with a "yes" or a "no", Ed.


Here is one of the broken links from my post last night. The other still doesn't work.

sean coon

hey sam, you talk about the kurds as if we didn't have a chance to right that wrong the first go around. well, we did and all rumsfeld and reagan cared about was financially backing saddam in the war against iran in 1983.

you get righteous about sending our people to war, but conveniently do so on your terms. life must be grand with such a short memory.

Samuel Spagnola

Roch, you gave me a bunch of Bush administration quotes, not citations from "people who did their own research and had serious doubts about the information being presented by American authorities". Until you do so, I need not respond further.

Your second cite to BUSH (as opposed to the generic "people" you can't seem to find research from, although you claim it exists) has a very important word - "including". This does not mean "only". The authorization also does not refer to 9/11, but terrorism in general. I have never said that Bush did not cite terrorism as a justification for going to war in Iraq. I have said that he never advanced the notion that Iraq was behind 9/11. You use a false logic- that is to say because Bush stated a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, he must necessarily also be stating a direct link between Iraq and 9/11. That's like saying the United States is partially responsible for the invasion of Kuwait because at one time we had arms dealings with Saddam. Or blaming Ryder for renting Timothy McVeigh a truck even though they had no idea what he was going to do with it. This is not hard stuff, Roch. Bush saying Iraq had ties to Al Qaeda, which it did, isn't the same as saying Iraq is responsible for 9/11. You are simply making up stuff, and then unable to back up your very specific assertions with any evidence.

Can you provide me the names and addresses of these ignorant people who were fooled by Bush into thinking Iraq was behind 9/11 and therefore supported the war on that basis? Just a few names will suffice.

Regarding the Cheney quote- his words were carefully chosen. The term "geographic base" is the key to this quote. Geographic refers to location, and is not the same thing as "political" or "military". I will not dispute that the administration used terrorism as a justification for the war in Iraq and tried to sell the war on that basis along with others- but I do dispute the notion that they ever said Iraq was behind 9/11 specifically and tried to sell it on that basis.

Sean, my point about the Kurds was not about going to war on my terms. In fact, I have stated before that I don't believe on balance, invading Iraq was a good idea. The Kurd point was an inquiry into Ed's foreign policy views. I was simply trying to determine if he believed there would be any reason for invading Iraq other than a direct attack on the U.S. because he doesn't appear to believe any of the reasons offered thus far justified an invasion. I was trying to nail down his foreign policy world view- should we be isolationist, interventionist, or use the military only when we are attacked directly?

If it is okay to use force to stop a genocide in Iraq, then we would be justified in invading Rwanda and Sudan as well, right? This was not an attack on Ed, simply an effort to understand his thoughts about when the use of force is appropriate. My own position is that there were reasons to invade Iraq, some more legitimate than others. There were also a number of reasons not to invade Iraq. On balance, I believe the better policy would have been to stay out of Iraq, or at the very least, toppled Saddam through alternate means.

I haven't been righteous about sending anyone to war, and you will not be able to find any statements I have ever made to support your assertion. Life is more grand when you can simply make up shit and then not offer any evidence to support it when asked as has been the case by several people on this thread. It's the old adage that if you say something enough times people will believe it regardless of whether it's true.

sean coon

why do you care what ed's foreign policy views are outside the context of this thread?

the point of this post is that our government lied to the american public to take us to war. they knowingly made sketchy connections between hussein and al qaeda and pressed bullshit evidence of wmd's in the face of not only congress, but the entire world.

that not only killed any good will the world had towards us directly following 9/11, but it also killed close to 3,000 US patriots and at least 50,000 iraqi citizens -- people who were not terrorists.

you toss out a question about stopping another kurdish massacre -- as if you're making an honest point -- and then in the same thread try to explain how you're baiting ed?

instead of all the games, why don't you just state -- first and foremost -- what you believe and let ed do the same?

Ed Cone

"...there were reasons to invade Iraq, some more legitimate than others. There were also a number of reasons not to invade Iraq. On balance, I believe the better policy would have been to stay out of Iraq, or at the very least, toppled Saddam through alternate means."

Agreed, although toppling Saddam without adequate planning for the aftermath would have put us, uh, pretty much where we are now.

I'm not at all an isolationist. I supported the rollback of Saddam from Kuwait and (perhaps naively, in retrospect) wondered why we didn't get rid of him then. I strongly supported the removal of the Taliban, and lament the undercommitment of time, men, and money to Afghanistan.

I did not think our invasion of Iraq was prudent or necessary. But we did invade, and I wanted that to be a success, and for the strategy behind it to be a success. Now that it's turned into a massive Mesopotamian pooch-screw, I don't know exactly what to do, or what our strategy is going forward, but I do feel strongly that the folks who chose and planned and executed this war should be held accountable.



I wish all bloggers would follow your thinking---

instead of all the games, why don't you just state -- first and foremost -- what you believe and let ed do the same?

Samuel Spagnola

Sean, because I am interested in how other people think. Limiting philosophy to one thread means one has no philosophy- their opinion would then be able to shift based on other factors. That is situational ethics, not philosophy. I don't think Ed and I are really that far apart on the Iraq issue, although I take exception to his repeated postings of only those matters critical of Bush and the war, but it's his blog.

Ed, I appreciate your answer. Along those lines, let me ask you this:

Suppose their was a justification for invading Iraq that you supported. Would we still not be in the same situation now? In other words, do you believe the rationale for war has any impact on how the war is actually waged? Is it legitimate to say "we're in a quagmire (gigity-gigity) now, but at least we went for the right reasons"? Is it the reason(s) we went that upsets you, or the result of that decision?

I realize you could argue that under different leadership, we would have had a better plan at this point, and that is a legitimate argue to make although it does suppose that a better plan in fact existed. I'm just trying to understand your reasons for opposing every move Bush has made on Iraq, from the reasons for going, the war itself, and the aftermath.

My understanding of the reason for going was that Iraq had WMD, and had repeatedly ignored UN resolutions and blocked inspections. Therefore, there was a substantial risk that Iraq could provide terrorists these WMD which could be used against us. That was the message I got from Bush, and a justification that I think is reasonable. I for one, never understood Bush to claim there was an Iraq-9/11 connection. The other side of the coin is whether that risk was sufficient to justify an invasion, or was the repeated UN violations alone enough. I initially supported the invasion because of the WMD issue. In hindsight, even if Iraq had WMD, I am not convinced a full scale invasion was necessary. I also don't think Saddam showed any willingness to confront us directly. Therefore, on balance, I believe the invasion was a mistake.


Roch: A lot of people eat at Elizabeth's. They have pizza.

Sam: Roch, can you prove that?

Roch: Prove what, Sam? That a lot of people eat at Elizabeth's or that they have pizza? Both are commonly known.

Sam: Commonly known? Try that in court. Ed, Bob Dunn never said "We're dealing."

Roch: Sam, if you'll clarify what you want me to prove, I will try. Bob Dunn did say "we're dealing."

Sam: Roch, Bob Dunn doesn't have anything to do with Elizabeths! Since you didn't answer my question about Elizabeth's, I'm not talking anymore, except for the next seven hundred words.

Samuel Spagnola

Prove this statement, Roch:

"people who did their own research and had serious doubts about the information being presented by American authorities".

Tell me WHO they are, WHERE is their research, and WHAT information are you referring to. You could probably start with Hans Blix, but he's only one guy- not "people".

It's not hard.

Samuel Spagnola

Further Roch, your Elizabeths/Bob Dunn bit above actually works against you. When trying to prove something, you need something more than common knowledge. Common knowledge once dictated that the world was flat. Facts proved otherwise.
Here's what would happen in the real world.

ROCH: It's common knowledge that people eat at Elizabeth's.
SAM: Objection, Roch's statement is not supported by evidence, it's his opinion.
COURT: Roch, unless you can introduce some evidence to support your claim, I will tell the jury to disregard your statement.
ROCH: What? You mean I need evidence to support what everybody knows?
COURT: Have you offered any evidence that everybody knows what you claim?
ROCH: C'mon judge, everybody knows...
COURT: You may be right that everybody knows, but first you have to present some evidence that everybody knows. Objection sustained.

Okay, so this isn't a court of law, but this is basic in every argument, Roch. If you are going to make an assertion, especially one claiming that research exists to prove your point, you better be able to provide evidence to support the assertion. Otherwise, it's just you rambling on with arguments that cannot be verified.


"Okay, so this isn't a court of law, but this is basic in every argument, Roch."

That's unfair, Sam.....asking Roch and friends to follow rules for debate.

Don't you know they reserve the privilege of revising the rules when it suits their purpose?

It's a well-known, often used tactic.


Are you even reading, Sam? The problem isn't that my answer was insufficient, but that I was waiting for clarification from you before I answered. Instead of clarifying though, you started attacking my other comments as if they were answers to your original, unclear question. I know you're not dense, you must be distracted.


"Tell me WHO they are, WHERE is their research, and WHAT information are you referring to. You could probably start with Hans Blix, but he's only one guy- not "people"."

I'll be happy to, Sam, but I just want to clarify something before I do. Are we to understand that you are of the opiniion that there really were no people before the war who were looking for information outside of the mainstream media? Are we to understand that you are of the opinion that there was no information to contradict the administration's claims before the war?

Because, if you stipulate that there were people who who read and listened to information that contradicted the administration's positions and if you stipulate that such information did exist, then you are just asking me to jump through hoops to prove what is indeed common knowledge.

On the other hand, if you really believe that no such people and no such information existed before the war, then your education and a demonstration of your ignorance will result from my efforts.

Samuel Spagnola

How was "please provide evidence to support this statement" unclear when I quoted the statement for which I wanted evidence? Perhaps you are the distracted one.

Still waiting for the evidence.

Bubba, some people must think that merely stating something exists is enough to prove it exists. We are in the 21st century aren't we? I thought Roch and others bitched about Bush being against science. Doesn't science require evidence, or shouldn't we be able to just make any claim we want and have it pass as fact merely because we said it?

Roch once stated:

"Science relies on observable information to formulate theories. From those observations, conclusions are drawn. When questions remain unanswered, science simply says "we don't know yet." http://blog.news-record.com/staff/letters/archives/2005/08/intelligent_des_1.html

(Sorry folks, I still haven't figured out how to post HTML to these blogs)

Even more telling is this post by Roch on Marcus Kindley's blog last year. The subject was Anti-war racism, and Roch first quotes Marcus:

"[W]e were told by the anti war crowd that, after all, they were only Asians..."

Roch then replies:

"We were? I don't remember that. Is there a source or is somebody trying to create their own version of history to support a view that needs fabrications to seem valid?"

Hmmm, interesting...he is obviously no stranger to the argument that assertions should be supported with evidence....

Samuel Spagnola

Roch, re: your last comment- I have made no judgment call, I merely asked for the evidence. I am not going to stipulate to anything beyond Hans Blix. If this is such common knowledge, why is it taking you so long to find citations to support it?

Answer the question, I'll deal with the consequences.

Samuel Spagnola

And I misspoke when I included Roch in the crowd that attacked Bush for being anti-science. I don't have any evidence to support this, although maybe it's common knowledge that I'm unaware of. In any case, I take that statement back with regards to Roch.


Sam, I understood perfectly well what Roche meant. There were plenty of people in the CIA, NSA, State Department and Defense Department that were dubious of the evidence to justify many of the WMD claims to justify the war. Well, that's my impression anyway. I'm too busy to do what you are insisting Roche do, but, I've gotta ask, do you really believe this to be untrue or are you just giving Roche a hard time?


"There were plenty of people in the CIA, NSA, State Department and Defense Department that were dubious of the evidence to justify many of the WMD claims to justify the war."

There were plenty of people in the Senate, including prominent Democrats, who thought otherwise and said so publicly.


I agree with you, Bubba.

Samuel Spagnola

Percy, if the evidence is common knowledge as Roch asserts, he should have easily been able to find it and post it by now with little work. Funny how easy it is for him to come up with Bush quotes, but none that support his own assertions.

If there were plenty of people in the CIA, NSA, DOS and DOD that were dubious of the evidence, it should be easy to find them and cite their findings. Try Joe Wilson, oh wait, he lied about his own findings. Well, maybe Roch can find some other people (plenty, to use his own term) and can tell us 1) WHO they are 2) WHERE their research (his term, not mine) can be found, and 3) WHAT information being presented by the administration they had an issue with.

It's beginning to look a lot like all this "common knowledge" and "research" is nothing more than unsupported assertions being made by armchair quarterbacks in the blogosphere bitching about the fact that George Bush still breathes air.


Scott Ritter was obviously right. He's a guy who immediately jumps to mind and he wasn't even working for the government or the U.N. at the time we went to war.

Samuel Spagnola

Ritter has been fairly well discredited as a reliable source due to his many contradictions on the subject. For a summary, see http://emperors-clothes.com/letters/focus.htm

Ritter contradicted himself so many times on the WMD issue and Iraq, that he could easily elminated as a reliable source prior to the Iraqi invasion. Of course, that doesn't mean people couldn't choose to believe whatever version Ritter was selling at the time- it just wouldn't have been wise to base a foreign policy decision on the contradictory statements of one man.

Further, the contradictory ramblings of one man should hardly be considered "common knowledge" or reliable research.



Sam has asked me to cite sources to back up my assertion that there were a lot of people opposed to attacking Iraq and that people did their own research and had serious doubts about the information being presented by American authorities.

Opposition to attacking Iraq
Were there lots of people opposed to invading Iraq? Sam must be living with his head in the sand if this is something of which he is unaware. Nonetheless...

Feb. 15, 2003: "Massive Anti-War Outpouring" including New York where protesters stretched for twenty blocks, in Raleigh, where capital police estimate the crowd at 5,000 to 6,000 (pic), in 150 other cities across the US and over 700 cities around the world, on seven continents, with over 10,000,000 protesters world-wide.

For an otherwise seemingly educated guy, it's hard to understand how Sam could be unaware that there were people opposed to attacking Iraq, but there were.

People did their own research
I guess Sam's supposition is that everybody just swallowed what Bush and the administration were telling them. Certainly that must have been true for Sam or else he would count himself among those who did their own research and wouldn't ask that such a thing be substantiated. But, since Sam apparently was unquestioning of the official proclamations and is incredulous that anybody was any different...

Although it is going to be quickly derided by people who know nothing about it, there is a place on the web called Democraticunderground.com where, despite what Rush says, a broad range of viewpoints are represented by over 90,000 users. People there use discussion forums and messaging tools to share discuss, debate and share information. Prior to the war, people used DU to question what they were being told, check sources and share with each other information that was not getting much play, if any, in the mainstream media. They are still doing the same today. For a small donation, one can get access to the archives and see the discussions prior to the war where people learned from each other the following...

Information that cast doubts on what was coming from the authorities
This is probably the most disturbing of Sam's denials--that information that turned out to be more accurate than the official line wasn't available prior to the war. It was--for anybody who wasn't so blinded by their allegiance to Bush that they were willing to look a little. By paying attention to a wide variety of media sources, people could have:

1) Learned that Colin Powell had claimed in 2001 said that Saddam Hussein "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors," and that Hussein had not been able to "build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction" for "the last 10 years". America, he said, had been successful in keeping him "in a box". [Video]

2) Learned that, two months before the election of GW Bush, the Project for the New American Century, with the participation of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, Lewis Libby and others had fashioned a foreign policy of militaristic projection of power against an axis of evil including Iraq, Iran and North Korea; learned that PNAC believed its ambitions would benefit from a "new Perl Harbor;" and learned that, on 9/20/03, PNAC sent a letter to Bush encouraging him to attack Iraq "Even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack..."

3) Learned that a portion of a British Intelligence report that Colin Powell described as "exquisite" in his pro-war presentation to the UN was plagarized from a paper by a California graduate student.

4) Found credible sources that disputed the "evidence" offered by Powell in his presentation to the UN and observed that the American press, by and large, swallowed Powell's claims without question.

5) Learned from a Gulf war veteran and weapons inspector that Iraq had been disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction.

6) Learned that, despite the Bush administration's complaints that Iraq was not being forthcoming with declarations of its weapons capabilities, the US itself intercepted Iraq's report to the UN and redacted 8,000 pages from the 11,800 page report. Because Iraq also delivered copies to European reporters, some of the redacted information is known to have implicated US corporations and the Regan and first Bush administrations with the illegal supplying of Iraq with weapons of mass destruction and training them to use them.

7) One source alone offers hundreds more articles, published prior to the war, that cast doubts upon or countered the administration's motives and evidence for war, simply check the archives of CommonDreams.org


That is interesting reading Roch.


Sam -- I thought the you were doubting the contention made by Roche that it is common knowledge that people who had done their research disputed the evidence to go to war. Scott Ritter quite loudly disputed the evidence and, to me, it is common knowledge that he did so. You move the goal posts in your response at 12:43 a.m. when you talk about his credibility. Why is that relevant? The only thing that is relevant is the fact of his dissent on the evidence and that such dissent was commonly known. Despite his "lack of credibility" at the time he also turns out to have been right.

It was good of Roche to take the time to respond. Roche also could have mentioned Tyler Drumheller if he isn't otherwise included in the links above.

Ed Cone

Sam, re our choice to invade and our execution of the occupation:

(I actually posted about the spin by Drudge on a declarative headline, but anyway...)

That people are still disputing basic truths such as whether or not the administration insinuated justifications for the invasions that were not based on fact, or whether there was substantial opposition to the invasion at the time, is a sad but tangential point.

So, yes, we chose to invade. We did not have to, in that we were not attacked by Iraq, and Iraq posed no imminent threat to us. But in we went, turning Iraq into the central front in our terror strategy and the central preoccupation of our foreign policy.

Our execution in Iraq has been poor. You say, "I realize you could argue that under different leadership, we would have had a better plan at this point." Yeah, you could make that argument pretty easily, but to paraphrase Rumsfeld, you invade with the leadership you have. Our plan sucked, and was questioned by many, early and often, and not corrected along the way. The mess in Iraq is squarely on the administration's shoulders.

I would like nothing better than to be a reluctant Bush fan right now. I say reluctant, because I disagree with many of his domestic policies. But I would like to feel that under his leadership our country had addressed the most pressing problem facing us in a smart, tough, effective way, and if I felt that way, I would be a reluctant fan. Instead, we have not done well, and I believe his administration should be held accountable for that.

Which brings us back to the case for war in the first place. Are the standards higher for a war of choice than a war of clear necessity? I would say so. And if the choice was made for shaky reasons, the stakes are higher still. So, yes, I think the way we went to war adds to the case against this administration, and raises the account to which they should be held.

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