Monday, June 02, 2003

It All Depends on What You Mean by WMD

If it's really all about human rights, it's on to the Congo!

East Valley Tribune, June 2, 2003

Feeling nostalgic? Let’s recall those glorious days of yester-month, when Iraq absolutely, positively had weapons of mass destruction:

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” Vice President Dick Cheney, Aug. 26, 2002.

“Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands . . . U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents . . . The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.” President George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, Jan. 28, 2003.

“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.” President Bush, March 17, 2003.

“We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, March 30, 2003.

“For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.” Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, quoted in Vanity Fair and by Reuters.

You can read the whole series of quotes, a dramatic arc running from total certainty and imminent threat (remember those balsa-wood drones?) to “who claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, anyway?” at "Billmon's" Whiskey Bar.

I guess Bush decided to “restore honor to the Oval Office” by limiting his lying to things other than sex.

Speaking of lying, those of you expecting those millions of new jobs from the so-called “Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003” need to remember this sorry history. When new jobs prove as rare as Iraqi WMD, the rationale for the $350 billion tax cut undoubtedly will keep changing before our eyes.

If this “jobless recovery” continues -- and reporter John Hilsenrath, in the May 29 Wall Street Journal quoted experts who believe that due to productivity growth, the economy needs to expand at greater than 3.5 percent annually, which most predict as far too optimistic, to generate new jobs -- we soon will see far different rationales.

We’ll probably hear those new jobs never existed, or went to Syria or Iran, or got destroyed before the tax cut. I doubt we’ll hear the real reason, that the Bush administration’s goal always has been cutting health care, education, and other programs to give the rich more money.

And from the “If Democrats Tried This, You’d Kill Us” Department, why the near-complete silence over both the Arizona Senate GOP leadership calling in DPS to ferry Sen. Linda Binder back to Phoenix, and Rep. Tom DeLay involving the new federal Department of Homeland Security in the Texas redistricting brouhaha?

As The New Republic noted, “When FBI files showed up in Bill Clinton’s White House, Republicans, with the help of the press, screamed with outrage, even though no evidence that they were used for any partisan purpose was ever uncovered. Yet, in this case, when we know that police powers were harnessed for partisan gain, the issue elicits laughs.”

Finally, I can’t resist noting that another Tribune columnist “spelled out” an interesting complaint in describing the questioning of Sen. John McCain at the GOP forum in Scottsdale (read carefully): “Why aren’t some Republicans staying true to Republican principals?”

That’s odd. Everyone knows school administrators are usually Democrats.

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