Friday, October 31, 2008

Walberg: Iraq Did Have WMD

Um... Congressman Walberg?

Walberg: Did not Saddam Hussein have the weapons of mass destruction?

Schauer: No!

Walberg: You disagree with even the...

Schauer: Do you contend that he did?

Walberg: Oh absolutely he did. In fact...

Moderator: What evidence has the government found of WMDs in Iraq since we went in?

Walberg: Oh, they didn't find it once they went in, but there's clear evidence that they were shipped other places or maybe still buried in the desert. The Hamilton Commission found that out...

[Moderator?]: Did we find them?

Walberg: No, we didn't find 'em.
Hm. So, Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction, it's just that they're hidden so well that even after five years, we haven't found any. The Iraqi government was able to hide them quickly, in the midst of preparations for an invasion, without leaving any traces or having any witnesses that were able to give credible accounts to the Americans searching for the weapons.


I'm not an expert on this, but thankfully, there are some people that have spent a lot of time on this. For instance, the Iraq Survey Group, which was convened by coalition governments specifically to search for stockpiles or evidence of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, had this to say:
The former Regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions. Neither was there an identifiable group of WMD policy makers or planners separate from Saddam. Instead, his lieutenants understood WMD revival was his goal from their long association with Saddam and his infrequent, but firm, verbal comments and directions to them.

and this:
ISG has not found evidence that Saddam Husayn possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but the available evidence from its investigation—including detainee interviews and document exploitation—leaves open the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq although not of a militarily significant capability. Several senior officers asserted that if Saddam had WMD available when the 2003 war began, he would have used them to avoid being overrun by Coalition forces.


Senior military officers and former Regime officials were uncertain about the existence of WMD during the sanctions period and the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom because Saddam sent mixed messages. Early on, Saddam sought to foster the impression with his generals that Iraq could resist a Coalition ground attack using WMD. Then, in a series of meetings in late 2002, Saddam appears to have reversed course and advised various groups of senior officers and officials that Iraq in fact did not have WMD. His admissions persuaded top commanders that they really would have to fight the United States without recourse to WMD. In March 2003, Saddam created further confusion when he implied to his ministers and senior officers that he had some kind of secret weapon.
In other words, Saddam Hussein really, really wanted weapons of mass destruction, liked to brag about them, but didn't actually have any. He was a deluded, aging dictator, not a serious threat.

And what about Tim Walberg's idea that the weapons might have been moved or buried? In an addendum to the final report, it was concluded that it was possible, but very unlikely.

Again, I have to ask, if there were these massive stockpiles, how is it that no one witnessed their movements across the border? I don't know, Congressman Walberg, this is straying into conspiracy-theory land. Next you're going to tell me that black helicopters from the UN are out to get you.

But wait, Congressman Walberg said that the "Hamilton Commission" found out that the weapons were buried in the desert. So he's right... right?

No. He's referring to the Iraq Study Group (not to be confused with the Iraq Survey Group above), which was a bipartisan panel, chaired by Lee Hamilton (a Democrat) and James Baker (a Republican), and which released its final report in December of 2006. Except, they weren't tasked with investigating weapons of mass destruction. They were instead asked to find a path out of the mess we had created in Iraq.

In fact, in their final report, the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" only appears once, in the biography of one of the commission members. As far as I can tell, the report never discusses the truth behind claims about weapons stockpiles, nor does it address what might have happened to those stockpiles, if they had existed.

Frankly, I haven't got any idea what Walberg is referring to. If anyone can enlighten me, I'll gladly post an update.

It's possible-- possible-- that Tim Walberg could be right, and a couple of dozen of Iraqi nuclear bombs are hidden in the desert, or in Syria, or something like that. Maybe, in some crazy, unbelievable way, that all managed to happen without us ever finding any evidence. Hey, anything can happen.

But that's not what Tim Walberg said. He didn't say, "Well, who knows, maybe it's possible that they were there!" No. He was sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. He mocked Mark Schauer for denying that known fact. It was ridiculous to suggest that Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction, and everyone knows that they're just hidden really well.

And yet, there's absolutely no evidence to support that. It's all conjecture and wishful thinking. When presented with evidence that the weapons of mass destruction weren't there, he continues on, living in his fantasy world.

We should be used to that by now. It's the same Walberg fantasy world where Iraq is as safe as Detroit, the Chinese are drilling off of the coast of Florida, Hurricane Katrina didn't cause any damage, Iraq was behind September 11, and global climate change isn't real.

This isn't funny anymore.

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