Sunday, May 28, 2006

History in the Making? One Can Hope

I went to the first Fair Tax ralley which was held on May 24th, and let me just say, it was truly awesome!

Wednesday mornong, I drove to N. Carolina to pick up my sister, we drove to Deluth GA, and we waited in the hot sun for 2.5 hours to get in. It's a good thing we got there when we did, because over 2 thousand people were turned away due to arena capacity.

The drive, the wait, the heat . . . all worth it! It was a stunning demonstration of people with the will to make a real and lasting change. The ralley was so successful, it earned a presidential sit down for its sponsor in the House, John Linder. I felt like I was part of history in the making. One can hope.

Also, I have never been in a crowd of such polite, considerate people. Fair Tax supporters are nice people.

Go here for details on the ralley. Go here for details on the fair tax . . .or better yet, go here.

Critical Thinking and the Duelfer Report

Upon review of the Duelfer report, not just Annex D, but including Annex D, I came to the conclusion that the decision to invade is vindicated. It only reinforces what I had already heard and read regarding the threat posed Saddam's defiance of the UN sanctions.

Your conclusion that "experts" determined the trailers to be "useless for producing bioweapons" is not supported by Annex D or any other part of the final ISG report. Also the ISG pays more respect to the second team which you describe as "analysts or officials".
A second examination was undertaken by a team of scientific experts, after Al Kindi personnel suggested the trailers were for hydrogen production. Their report concluded, “The trailers have equipment and components possibly compatible with biological agent production and/or chemical processes that might include hydrogen production.

It seems likely to me that the final team is probably even more specialized than the second team and was brought in to do an even more thorough examination. However, this does not mean that the other teams should be casually dismissed.

At any rate, what the ISG actually concludes in Annex D, is that the trailers were very unlikely to have been used for BW (bioweapons), and consistent with hydrogen production. That is not the same as impossible or useless for BW, or exclusively useful for Hydrogen. Also, it should be noted the interviews with the "Highly Valued Detainees" reported in annex D did not support the hydrogen model.

The third team concludes that the trailer (they only report an examination of one trailer) would have required major and costly modifications for BW use.
This assessment focuses on Trailer 1 because it appeared to have a complete set of equipment.
Though I mention they only examine one trailer, I did not overlook their explanation for doing so. While the ISG reports that the level of completion of the unexamined trailer is consistent with Iraqi documents, nevertheless, the report does not include a focused assessment of that trailer. Furthermore, other parts of the report note that both trailers had been looted. They don't say what the extent of the looting is, or that it is even knowable. While it may not be the ISG's mandate to speculate on everything that could have been removed, there may be a gap between what Al Kindi produced, and what the ISG was able to examine. This is not irrelevant, given the Regime's long history of dual use technologies.

There is another element missing from the ISG report. It is an unaddressed discrepancy between the findings of the first team, and this report.
On 19 April 2003, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) elements confiscated a tractor and trailer near a checkpoint at Tall Kayf in northern Iraq. The trailer was stolen by a looter . . .US forces then moved the trailer to Irbil air base for further investigation. . . The gooseneck trailer has two rear axles and accommodation in the frame for a third also at the rear. A telescoping rod, which could raise roughly nine meters, was located at the rear left corner of the trailer. Roughly three to four inches of a solid light brown material beneath a one half-inch liquid layer was inside. Despite wearing protective mask, an ammonia odor was noted. The pH of the material was fourteen. A rusted hand shovel was located at the base of the reaction vessel. . .

It mentions liquid and solid material “inside”. How surprisingly vague that is. "Inside" what, the trailer? Does this mean on the floor of the trailer? Also, the DIA paper noted that material within the [alleged] fermentor was tested positive for azide and urea (inconsistent with hydrogen production) along with other substances. Other substances were mentioned in the ISG report, but not the azide or the urea, not even to say they are insignificant to the judgment.
In May 2003, analysis was carried out on seven samples taken from key equipment locations on the trailer, including powder and slurry taken from the ‘reactor vessel’. No evidence of BW organisms was detected. The complete absence of proteins and the minute amounts of phosphorus and sulfur present were deemed inconsistent with normal bio-production.

Shouldn’t they have mentioned it, even if it was human waste, given that this report is written by experts for the benefit of non-experts? (Do you honestly think it likely the azide came from human waste)? Was the first team wrong about azide and/or urea not being consistent with hydrogen production? If so, why didn't the ISG include it in their findings that support the hydrogen model?

The following excerpts pertain to various parts of the Duelfer report, they are not all from annex D, nor are they specifically in regard to the trailers.

Consider the contradiction between two sections in the report. The first statement is in the key findings regarding Biological Weapons in volume III. The two statements after are from the key findings for Finance and Procurement in volume I.
The years following Desert Storm wrought a steady degradation of Iraq’s industrial base: new equipment and spare parts for existing machinery became difficult and expensive to obtain, standards of maintenance declined, staff could not receive training abroad, and foreign technical assistance was almost impossible to get. Additionally, Iraq’s infrastructure and public utilities were crumbling. New large projects, particularly if they required special foreign equipment and expertise, would attract international attention. UN monitoring of dual-use facilities up to the end of 1998, made their use for clandestine purpose complicated and risk laden.

Throughout sanctions, Saddam continually directed his advisors to formulate and implement strategies, policies, and methods to terminate the UN’s sanctions regime established by UNSCR 661. The Regime devised an effective diplomatic and economic strategy of generating revenue and procuring illicit goods utilizing the Iraqi intelligence, banking, industrial, and military apparatus that eroded United Nations’ member states and other international players’ resolve to enforce compliance, while capitalizing politically on its humanitarian crisis.

Saddam’s increasing illegitimate revenue and profits from UN oil sales compensated for legitimate revenue loses. Illicit oil revenue provided Saddam with sufficient funds to pay off his loyalists and expand selected illicit procurement programs. From 1999 until he was deposed in April 2003, Saddam’s conventional weapons and WMD-related procurement programs steadily grew in scale, variety, and efficiency.

Note the very equivocal language of the 1st quote in relation to the very decisive language in the last two.

Note here, the pressure Saddam was exerting against the UN to lift sanctions:
November 27, 2001 Iraq rejects a call by U.S. President George Bush to let United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country to determine whether it is building weapons of mass destruction. An Iraqi spokesman states that, before asking Iraq to allow weapons inspectors to return, the United Nations should lift the 11-year-old sanctions on Iraq and the West should abolish the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq.

Saddam had reason to believe the UN was weakening in its commitment, not just because of back door deals, but also because of open proposals to policy change.
December 17, 1999 The U.N. Security Council passes Resolution 1284 on returning weapons inspectors to Iraq. Under the Resolution, sanctions could be suspended if Iraq were to cooperate with the inspectors over a period of nine months. Iraq has stated that it does not accept the Resolution, which also creates the new United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) for Iraq.

Here we see the weakening commitment, with Saddam holding out for a better deal. Note his refusal to cooperate for even 9 mos. in exchange for lifted sanctions. Clearly, this man felt more threatened by inspections than sanctions.

The sanctions and inspections were not holding Saddam. Perhaps they were slowing him down, but it's irresponsible to think they would have held indefinitely. He was defying the sanctions, and to this day, no one can account for all that Saddam was required to declare. The best we can do is speculate.

You can assume, if you like, that the unaccounted materials were destroyed, or have naturally degraded. Or were they transported out as suggested by David Kay?

"There is ample evidence of movement to Syria before the war -- satellite photographs, reports on the ground of a constant stream of trucks, cars, rail traffic across the border. We simply don't know what was moved," Kay said.

And Kay is not the only source for this argument. Refer to this post from Endymion, entitled "Yet Another Reason to Believe Saddam had WMD" from March 27, 2006. Follow the links from there as well to get the complete evidence.

You can assume, if you like, that Saddam evaded inspectors because he was preserving the illusion of WMD capability as a means of self defense. Or, was that a ruse, to rationalize his misbehavior? We may never know. We do know that by failing to hold him to the inspections and sanctions, we rendered those devices practically useless. Consider this excerpt from the ISG report:

They had anthrax seed spores right up to the time of the invasion. Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha Al ‘Azzawi, head of the bacterial program claims she retained BW seed stocks until early 1992 when she destroyed them. ISG has not found a means of verifying this. Some seed stocks were retained by another Iraqi official until 2003 when they were recovered by ISG.

Iraq would have faced great difficulty in re-establishing an effective BW agent production capability. Nevertheless, after 1996 Iraq still had a significant dual-use capability—some declared—readily useful for BW if the Regime chose to use it to pursue a BW program. Moreover,Iraq still possessed its most important BW asset, the scientific know-how of its BW cadre.

Kinda like his nuclear mujahadeen, huh?

Depending on its scale, Iraq could have re-established an elementary BW program within a few weeks to a few months of a decision to do so, but ISG discovered no indications that the Regime was pursuing such a course.

Not finding his intentions is not the same as him not having them. Besides, I wonder what he kept the anthrax seed spores for, his scrapbook?

In spite of the difficulties noted above, a BW capability is technically the easiest WMD to attain. Although equipment and facilities were destroyed under UN supervision in 1996, Iraq retained technical BW know-how through the scientists that were involved in the former program. ISG has also identified civilian facilities and equipment in Iraq that have dual-use application that could be used for the production of agent.

So, go ahead and quibble over an over enthusiastic reaction to some disappointing evidence. It seems true the president erred in overstating the importance of the trailers. But what kind of ridiculous apology is, "I'm sorry that the trailers probably, but not definitely, are not mobile BW labs, and might be for hydrogen, but that's not definite either". Stephen, you yourself either overstated the findings of the ISG, or placed too much faith in Warrik's unverifiable sources. Your behavior is not so different from that which you criticize. Your comments are the kind of hindsight rhetoric that discourages weaker politicians from taking risks in order to defend the country and defeat tyranny. It is irresponsible for a citizen to prioritize public relations to a level that overshadows the good that has been done and should be done.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What Strategy?

I challenged Stephen to declare his strategy for winning the war and show how it would have succeeded where Bush has failed. Here are his responses, block quoted and bolded, along with other references he has made about strategy in Iraq. My rebuttals follow each blockquote.

I thought I provided [my strategy and argument of its validity] with the report on Nation Building

No, you did not. Here is what you provided:

The parts that are relevant are contained mostly in the executive summary and lessons learned and include: the intensity and length of the war phase, how homogenous the population is, the troops levels used to establish security, the building of judicial and police power, the cost spent per capita in rebuilding the economy, transition time for creating local governments, longer time for holding national elections.

The above is a not a report on nation building, it is list of topics. Even its source is not a report, so much as it is a BOOK. And if you have read more than the executive summary, or knew the arguments within the book, your comments have not reflected it. I gleaned more information from press releases on the book than you have given in your comments.

It's not enough to just say that there's a book that outlines a strategy, and it is not what Bush did, so therefore the Iraq War is a disaster. Why don't you show how they're right, and Bush is wrong? How can you even examine Bush's strategy when you don't begin by acknowledging he has one? I wouldn't be so frustrated, except I know you know better. I don't intend to read this book. I have neither the time nor money to buy and read every book that disagrees with Bush anymore than you do every book that does otherwise (hell, you couldn't be bothered to read a post I liked to). If we're going to discuss this book, you're going to have to bring its arguments here, not just a list of topics.
What they should do is stop thinking that "stay the course" is a legitimate strategy.

In fairness, you have already responded to my previous rebuttal of this assinine comment, in which I asserted that "Stay the Course" is not really a strategy so much as a slogan. It proposes the opposite of "Cut and Run" supported by the likes of John Murtha. And here is your response:

"Stay the course is not a strategy." Exactly. What we need is a strategy, and a proactive one that defines what victory is.

Don't be rediculous, Bush has a strategy. If you don't recognize it, that doesn't mean it does't exist. Experts meet on a regular basis to discuss strategy without your awareness or approval. Your characterization of our leaders as "idiots" who sent troops into Iraq with no plan is beneath this discussion. I love a sarcastic quip as much as the next guy, but this comment sounds like what you get from teenagers on pot.

And how about this? We are victorious. Saddam is being prosecuted. His oppressive regime is destroyed. His twisted, sadistic sons are dead. His Baathist allies are fighting for their very existence. All that's left to do is restore stability. That's not to be taken lightly, but consider post war Germany. For more than two years after the end of WWII, Seigfried Kabus was still carrying on an insurgency. It didn't mean we didn't defeat Nazi Germany. It didn't mean VE day was premature. We don't call Eisenhower, and Churchill idiots, even though they left us with Stalin. Maybe you don't call that victory, but I do. What do you call victory?
An official declaration of war through Congress

This is not a strategy for winning the war, nor was its lack an act of dishonesty. Congress gave its overwhelming approval for the use of force in Iraq. Everyone knew there was going to be an invasion. You yourself said you initially supported it. Were you unaware at the time, there was not an official dec. of war; or was it okay with you at the time, but not now?

a draft

This is a TERRIBLE idea. Our modern warcraft is more suited for highly trained units with high tech weaponry. Consider this quote from a Global security article by Dennis O'Brian.

Another key factor in improving a soldier's chances of avoiding injury is better training.

"In some ways, it is like a football game," says Frederick Kagan, a professor of military history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. "The training, experience and skill level of your forces are all crucial."

Kagan says today's military is better trained than its counterparts were in both world wars. In those conflicts, he says, some U.S. casualties can be attributed at least partly to having inexperienced troops who entered the wars late and fought German armies that had several years of battlefield experience.

"We had to put green troops up against the Germans who had been fighting for years," Kagan says. "You're not going to walk into a situation like that and clean their clocks."
You'd have a hard time convincing me that a mass of minimally trained soldiers would do much more than make a bigger target. Basic training alone would take at least 6 mos; that's twice as long as the initial phase of the war. Even if we redefined the initial phase to include the capture of Saddam, that would only have been 9 mos. Plus, how well do you think these conscripted (and perhaps bitter) young soldiers would interact with the Iraqi people?

400,000 man army for the initial phase of the occupation

Is more necessarily better? This article has something to say about that. We have the best military in the world. If you think we need 400K troops for any given ground war, then we might as well hang it up. I'm not sure we could support an army of that size in peacetime, and draftees do not make a superior army. As much as you and your polls say the Iraqi's hate us, imagine them being surrounded by 400k minimally trained, not professional, US soldiers.

The total cost, had security been established, would have been around 200 billion.

How do you know? That's an estimate which I presume came from the book. It's possible this is right, but few projects in the private sector come in on budget, and I've never heard of a government endeavor that did. Also, it depends on what you're buying. You wanted to seal the border. That may have been cheaper, but I like the strategy of drawing in the non Iraqis that wanted to fight us. Financially, it might be more expensive, but it roots out people that would've preferred the extension of Islamofascism into Iraq, or the continuation of Saddam's defiance of the UN resolutions which were aimed at protecting the region and the world.

We are well past that number right now and no clear end in sight

We are past that number, true. And maybe there's no clear end in sight. But there's an end in site. Iraq is getting more stable as time passes. Saddam is in prison. Iraqis have held their elections. Insurgencies are weakening. We are making progress.

retaining what was left of the Iraqi Army

Please clarify this. You seem to mean we should've kept the Iraqi army intact and reassigned them to work with our soldiers. I don't think this is such a good idea, since some number may have remained loyal to Saddam, or just hated the US, or just may not have wanted to be soldiers anymorel. That seems like a good opportunity for such folks to do us harm. The ones who want to join the security forces can do so, and I'm sure, have done. BYT has commented on this topic in his chaotic way, and at the time, I thought that he meant for us to recruit the Iraq army. I argued against it at that time. But in a later comment he made it clear that he thinks we should have detained them. Perhaps that's what you mean, also, but I think that's an even worse idea. I think that detaining a mass of people for no crime except serving in their country's army could hardly help us win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Besides, to arrest them, you'd have to fight and capture them. How is that better than just fighting the ones who decided to become insurgents.? I think the best idea was to let them go. Those who don't want to get ivolved with the fighting may abstain. Those who wish to fight the insurgency, can join up with the new Iraqi forces doing so. Those who oppose democracy in Iraq can face the allies who defend it.

securing the border

That's one strategy. Here's a better one. Let terrorists in so our soldiers can engage them in Iraq. That way, we don't have to invade someone else to get them, and they're not free to plot against the US. Bush has spoken often of this strategy. Are you unaware of it, or or just not acknowledging it? I'm guessing the latter.

rebuilding their infrastructure

We are.

giving the UN a prominent role in the diplomatic/political effort with security provided by the US

Perhaps you can be more specific about exactly thier role would be. This is extremely vague.Why have them doing something unless we couldn't it do ourselves? After all, they couldn't even support us in enforcing the terms of the very resolutions they created. Also, whatever they offer, does it justify adding some one else for our troops to protect before the nation has been stabelized? The UN has had its own problems their safety in Iraq, and their plans are not always the best. Some in Iraq considered them to be just a mouthpiece for the US anyway, and Iraqi people didn't really appreciate the sanctions that were starving the infrastructure and the people themselves. The insurgents don't seem to see a great deal of difference between the US and the UN. The new Iraqi government and the UN may interact as they please. That's not up to the US.

open judicial system . . .

What does this have to do with the war? Besides, that's for the Iraqi government and people to establish in their own time, per the terms of their own constitution. It cannot be Bush's failure, as the choice does not belong to him.

. . .with a competent police force

We have been training the Iraqi security forces since 2003. Are you proposing a different force? Beyond leaving someone behind who can keep peace, how far do you think the US should go in micromanaging Iraq's affairs?

By what standard would you judge their competence? After all, not every one can live up to the esteemed reputation of the UN peacekeepers in Kosovo. Police work is very difficult, and no force is without its embarrassments. I hope you're more fair in your judgement of the Iraqi police than you are to the Bush administration.

local elections held within the first year, national elections held in the second year

Actually, "by February of 2004, democratic elections, under the supervision of the CPA, had already been held at the municipal and city level in some of the southern and northern provinces" according to this report. The same report further states that the national elections took place on Jan 30, 2005, not within 24 months, but 34 months. Your timeline is arbitrary in the big picture. It's more important that it happened successfully. Sooner is better, usually, for anything in life, but later is not necessarily incomptence. Consider that the Iraqi people had to overcome a certain threshold of confidence that the US would protect them in spite of the fact that many within the US predicted failure, and still do.

This would work because it worked in Kosovo,

This is rediculous statement! Only a small fraction of what you describe has anything to do with Kosovo. In one breath you're calling for a largely conscripted army of 400,000 troops, in the next, you want to do it like Kosovo. The Bosnian conflict was almost entirely an air war. It didn't depose Milosovich. He was left isolated, but nevertheless ruling Yugoslavia. We had to wait for his own people to hand him over for prosecution when they got tired of being isolated. We'd already tried this in Iraq with Desert Storm. Saddam was left isolated and sanctioned, but ruling Iraq. The problem was that the Iraqi people couldn't get rid of him. He squashed two rebellions after Desert Storm, and continued his cruel reign, refusing the inspections, scamming the sanctions while torturing and starving his people, keeping anthrax seed spores, and maintaining his WMD expert teams. By definition, what worked in Kosovo had already failed in Iraq. As a side note, all was not perfect in Kosovo, either. Bombing the Chinese embassy didn't exactly enhance America's reputation, did it? Intelligence isn't always correct, is it?

which was in the midst of a civil war when our intervention started.

That doesn't necessarily mean the job was harder, there. In fact, I think that probably made it easier, mostly because the people were ready to oppose Milosovich. This was not at all the case in Iraq. The Iraqi people were utterly subdued by Saddam.

If Bush is going to fight the war on terror by invasion of other countries, (which is a dubious strategy at best)

I don't see how it can be done any other way. The governments who harbour terrorists ARE our enemies. They don't give them up just because we ask nicely. They like them. And sanctions were essentially ineffective against Saddam in any respect.

Of course, there is a certain degree of discretion that must be exercized in terms of who we take on and when. One should only start a fight they have a chance of winning. But that doesn't mean it's not the right strategy. Of course, we could return to our pre-911 way of dealing with terrorism: Place all hope in the chance of capturing intelligence about an attack before it happens; of course gathering our intelligence without upsetting anybody's understanding of what they think are their civil rights; and then capturing and prosecuting the would be attackers where ever they may be, but without invading anyone.

Stephen, your ideas really are not bad, but your argument doesn't rise to the level of showing the war to be a failure, or its management, incompetent. If Bush didn't prosecute the war the way you would have, that's not to say he deserves the redicule and scorn you have heaped upon him and his administration. There are experts who disagree with the path you would have taken. That's a judgement call, not a failure. I'm not saying everything has been done as well as it could have, but nothing ever is. The book you cite, though surely written by good historians/ strategists, is not the sum total of strategic expertice. Your 20/20 hindsight scrutiny is shallow, unjust, and over dramatic.

P.S. I thought I had finished this post when I ran across this bit of brilliance form the Euston Manifesto. It takes me back to Stephen's accusation that I place partisan concern over the welfare of the country. Though the insult is grievous to me, I had judged it to be beneath response. After all, anyone of intelligence can see it for what it is. Here is a very appropo quote from this group of truly reasonable Liberals.

The founding supporters of this statement took different views on the military intervention in Iraq, both for and against. We recognize that it was possible reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath, and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change. We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize its overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people. We are also united in the view that, since the day on which this occurred, the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country's infrastructure, to create after decades of the most brutal oppression a life for Iraqis which those living in democratic countries take for granted — rather than picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention.

This opposes us not only to those on the Left who have actively spoken in support of the gangs of jihadist and Baathist thugs of the Iraqi so-called resistance, but also to others who manage to find a way of situating themselves between such forces and those trying to bring a new democratic life to the country. We have no truck, either, with the tendency to pay lip service to these ends, while devoting most of one's energy to criticism of political opponents at home (supposedly responsible for every difficulty in Iraq), and observing a tactful silence or near silence about the ugly forces of the Iraqi "insurgency". The many left opponents of regime change in Iraq who have been unable to understand the considerations that led others on the Left to support it, dishing out anathema and excommunication, more lately demanding apology or repentance, betray the democratic values they profess.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Revisiting Warrick

The links I provide serve two purposes. One is to show evidence to back up my arguments. The other is to make an argument I would have made if I had thought of it first. I could, as I would in a research paper, reprint quotes and provide citations. But instead, I link. It’s easier, and it gives credit where it's due. By saying I agree with their argument, it becomes mine too in a way. Not addressing my link is the same as not addressing my argument. Stephen has refused to respond to a particular, very important link.

If I hadn’t stated specifically in my Warrick post that reading the Seixon post was essential to understanding my position, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But I did. Then I did again, in comments. It’s true, I don’t respond to every single one of the numerous links provided by both Stephen and BYT. That would, if properly done, consume every minute of my free time. But I do what I can, and I certainly wouldn’t refuse to consider a link that one pointed out as the centerpiece of their argument. Let’s observe Stephen evading my argument.

Since I have no idea what Seixon's qualifications are, if any, I will assume he is as much an expert on this issue as the rest of us. The important thing for this story is that the third team was the only technically proficient team to inspect the trailers.

The important thing for this story, is that Warrick is a liar. He absolutely lied about how old the report was. If you’d read Seixon’s post, you’d know that.

Let’s dissect Stephen’s comment.

Since I have no idea what Seixon's qualifications are, if any, I will assume he is as much an expert on this issue as the rest of us.

When did we start engaging only the arguments of experts? I’m not and expert on WMD, and neither are you, Stephen. Well fortunately, it didn't take a WMD expert to expose Warrick as a liar. Just a good memory, and common sense. Since you refuse to follow the link, I'll bring the crucial part to you, substituting my own bolds for emphasis.

Warrick writes breathlessly:

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true. A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.

Boy, that sure was a lot of hot air. You might say you could fill an entire weather balloon with it. Sorry Mr. Warrick, I have an archival memory, and I will call you out and beat you over the head with several facts. Let's rewind to June 2003, June 8th in fact, and a story in the Guardian across the pond in the UK:

A separate investigation published by the New York Times yesterday discloses that the trailers have now been investigated by three different teams of Western experts, with the third and most senior group of analysts apparently divided sharply over their function.

Dang, the New York Times scooped Mr. Warrick by almost three years. By whom? Well what a shocker, Judy Miller. She wrote the following, 7 June 2003:

In all, at least three teams of Western experts have now examined the trailers and evidence from them. While the first two groups to see the trailers were largely convinced that the vehicles were intended for the purpose of making germ agents, the third group of more senior analysts divided sharply over the function of the trailers, with several members expressing strong skepticism, some of the dissenters said.

Ouch. Warrick claims that this mission had not been made public until now, yet it was made public by our darling Judy Miller three years ago. Not only that, both the Guardian and the Times point out that the third group, of which Warrick is speaking, were sharpy divided. I don't find "unanimous" under "divided" in my thesaurus, do you? Warrick claims that this third team had nine experts from the US and Britain. The Washington Post writes:

Their actions and findings were described to a Washington Post reporter in interviews with six government officials and weapons experts who participated in the mission or had direct knowledge of it.

None would consent to being identified by name because of fear that their jobs would be jeopardized.

Six people who participated or knew about it? In other words, there is every possibility that we are getting a minority report about a minority report here. The Washington Post is selectively choosing those experts that did not think the trailers were for biological purposes, leaving out the others . . . and presenting the entire group as "unanimous". The previous articles by the Times and the Guardian show that to be completely false.

And, don't forget what Stephen said,

The important thing for this story is that the third team was the only technically proficient team to inspect the trailers.

That is a false conclusion. In the official report by the third team, they say they were not the only proficient team, but that they were preceded by a team of scientific experts. More accurately, they seem to be the final, and most proficient team. Furthermore, their report does not support the claims of Warrick’s sources (which do not appear to be the actual scientists of the team). We can only take Warrick’s word about statements that are at best, anonymous hearsay.

So, Stephen, I don't see why we should place more trust in anonymous sources in this case, than in the official report. Why should we even believe in Warrick's anonymous sources when we know he lied about the timing of the report? Doesn't he owe you an apology?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Big Fun at the Polls

Yesterday, for the first time, I searved as a poll official in the Knox county elections.

In the week leading up to the election, I had begun to regret my promise to fill in as a voter registrar for my neighbor who normally does the job. I felt a little weighted by the imagined tedium of a redundant task that would go on for thirteen hours. I felt a little anxious at the propsect of assisting belligerantly passionate voters, fired up by their civic calling to get the right guy in or the wrong guy out.

The reality of it is that it was fun. It was nice. I really enjoyed meeting all the people. Thanks to two new friends who taught me to play Sodoku, the tedium of slow times was never an issue.The precinct I worked is the largest in Tennessee, I was told by the experienced officials there. Some of the voters were very pleasant. Some were very brusque, with no desire to be social (would a smile have been out of the question?)

Some volunteered their grievance with this candidate or that. Regardless of their political axe, I just smiled quietly. Because of my physical appearance, my style of hair and dress, many people mistake my political affilliation. I think that frees some people up to say things they might not if they knew I was a conservative. I'll just leave it at that.

Regardless of their party, or lack there of, I was proud of voters and their commitment to their civic duty.

The other election officials were great. I was impressed greatly by their commitment to fair and honest procedure. Their behavior was impeccable.

Special thanks to June, for getting me involved, and to Gail and Deloris, for taking me under their wings.

Do These Articles Make the Case Against Bush in Iraq? Part IV

Warrik's WaPo article is ludicrous.

Immediately, the following question occurred to me:

1. Why a mobile hydrogen factory for weather balloons, instead of transporting tanks of hydrogen in regular trucks? Is that SOP?
2.The Jefferson team was 9 civilian scientists. The anonymous whistleblowers for the WaPo article were 6 government officials and weapons experts. So, why not the actual scientists; and by the article's own admission, some officials/experts who may not have even been there.
3. If the mobile labs were made for hydrogen production, could that have been a WMD application?
4. Seeing how this is a case of some opinions vs others, what would be your basis for believing just the ones that support your position?
5. Do you require that any one who makes a claim not 100% supported by 100% of the experts should apologize and accept defeat, or just your political opponents? Do all the Democrats who said Saddam had WMD also owe us an apology, given that they voted for Bush to intervene to disarm Saddam, and knowing full well that would be military intervention? Should they step down for making a mistake?
Some of the questions are rhetorical. If you do not find them addressed below, they were not meant for you to answer. Of course you may answer them, if you like. But before you do, you should ask them to yourself, with all gravity and honesty. They're good questions.

Any way, those were the questions that occurred off the top of my head, the easy ones that should have occurred to anyone with an open mind. As I commenced to investigating my questions, I found that someone else already addressed some, and had quite effectively debunked Warrik’s article. Please see SEIXON's post of 4/12/2006, Hydrogen Warfare. Endymion and I so enjoyed his site, we added him to the blogroll. I considered researching all his points before posting myself, but I barely have enough time to do what I already do. I checked out some of them, enough to satisfy my trust of the author. If my debaters wish to debunk this post, they can do so on their own. I can't do all their research for them. If they just disregard the post without due consideration, I’ll know this is not an honest debate.

So what it boils down to is this. Saddam has not been proven (as far as we can tell) to possess WMD at the time of the invasion. Neither has he been proven otherwise. There is evidence of WMD that is circumstantial, but compelling. The case for disregarding this evidence is weak given that such a position creates a burden of proof that hamstrings our ability to defend ourselves against devastating attacks.

Do These Articles Make the Case Against Bush in Iraq? Part III

In his comments on my previous related posts, BYT wrote,
First of all, shrub and his cronies tried as hard as they could to associate Iraq with 9-11, which was never true. They made Americans believe bin-laden hit New York, he and Saddam could hit anywhere USA with WMD, including nuclear weapons.

In the CNN article provided by BYT, the facts (Bush quotes) do not support BYT's argument that Bush tried to make Americans believe that Saddam was involved with 911. Bush's opponents used to criticize action in Iraq, based on the fact that Iraq wasn't directly involved with 911. This was a very weak criticism, in that it in no way addressed the threat of any other enemies. The fact is, if Al Qaida was able to attack us, some one else might be able to as well. If that someone had WMD, the devastation could well top that of 911. At the time, Saddam was vigorously defying UN weapons inspectors. That made him a gathering threat. You can disagree that was the case, but I and many other Americans didn't want to take the chance.

Actually, not having anything to do specifically with 911, has nothing to do with what makes some one a threat. Whole Al Qaida cells exist without ever having had anything to do with the 911 plot. This does not make those cells less our enemies.

When BYT wrote " . . .made Americans believe Bin Laden hit New York, he and Saddam . . .", I assume he meant to write " . . .[if] Bin Laden hit New York, he and Saddam . . ." There is good evidence that Saddam was working with Al Qaida, our undisputed enemy. It is unreasonable to say that if Saddam was developing any WMD, he wouldn't collude with whomever he could to use it in the USA. The sanctions against Saddam were regarded by many in the international community as part of the "US agenda", and wanted to repeal or limit them. If Saddam felt the same, why would he not support an attack in the US? He sure didn't regard us as friends or allies. And it is true, that we have been attacked before, eventually, we could be attacked again. We can try to prevent that on our end. That failed on 911, for a number of reasons. In a country that values civil liberties, it is difficult at best to detect imminent attacks in time to prevent them. At times, it's true that the best defense is a good offence. Go after your most threatening enemies, in the order of their ability to threaten you, and with the consideration that some, like N Korea, have obtained so much weaponry that military action is unwise.

Moreover, the statements by Bush et al in regard to Saddam and WMD have not been proven to be wrong, they just have not been proven to be right. Was Saddam a WMD threat at the time leading up to the invasion? The argument that he was, is based on material and circumstantial evidence. The argument that he was not a threat is based on the inconclusive nature of the evidence. One side evaluated the evidence and said "This is too much to ignore". The other side did the same, but concluded, "This is not enough to warrant the use of force".

The evidence at the time was in my opinion, too much to ignore, enough to go to war, even if we never find more.
It's like when a cop shoots a perp who holds up a gun. If the gun turns out to be a toy, that doesn't mean the cop made the wrong choice. He made the best choice he could given the evidence and the risk, at the time.

It's like when a surgeon does an appendectomy on some one who had all the signs and symptoms of appendicitis. If it turns out the appendix was not the problem, that doesn't mean the surgeon made the wrong
choice to operate. He made the best choice given the evidence, and the risk, at the time.

If a woman is being stalked, there is little the police can do until the stalker commits a crime. The first crime the stalker commits may be the time he rapes or even kills the woman. Until that time comes, what recourse does the woman have? Hire body guards? Take a self defense class? Invest in security devices? Those things may or may not work, assuming she has the financial resources for them any way. One sure way to protect herself is to eliminate the stalker. Under US law, she cannot choose to eliminate her stalker. To do so would undermine the very foundation of law in the US.

But there is no world law. There is no law between nations, only contracts, and the enforcement of them. Iraq broke its contract with the US and the UN. There are no world police to whom the US can appeal for help, only friends. There is no reason the US cannot eliminate those who threaten her.

She is only restrained by her ability, her will, and her conscience, all which I'd stack against any other nation in the world.

Do These Articles Make the Case Against Bush in Iraq? Part II

BYT regards accusations by Paul R. Pilar (in this WaPo article) as damning evidence. I think Pillar's accusations should give us pause, but it is unreasonable to give them more weight than that. Time and time again, BYT gives more weight to those with whom he already agrees, with no other discernable criteria for validity. Pillar was a man of high rank, yes, but so is the Pres., VP, Sec of Defense, etc. BYT supports his argument of Bush lies with the accusations of Pillar. Fair enough, but then but then his argument that Pillar's side is more valid than Bush's side? Here is some opinion on Pillar for better, (strike that, I got tired of trying to find better opinions of what Pillar said; they are not abundant) or worse, or worse, and also worse. Here's more, with an interestingly trivial note that the author was Pillar's roomate in the past.

Do These Articles Make the Case Against Bush in Iraq? Part I

The topics of the next three posts are in response to three articles sent to me by my debater burtyoutires (BYT). He thinks he's exposed Bush, his cronies, and the war for the frauds he thinks they are. What I find in his arguments is a willingness to accept accusations as evidence of misconduct.

There would have been four articles to which I'm responding, but some of the addresses provided by BYT led to error pages. In the case of the WaPo article by Warrik, I was able to find it by googling the topic. I'm assuming it is the article to which BYT referred. There was also a BBC article, but the address didn't work, and BYT did not provide enough info for me to find what article he meant.

I'm breaking the post up into separate posts for each article. I hope this will keep the comments more manageable. Kudos to BYT, btw, for keeping his last comments concise and reasonably focused.