Fat Steve's Blatherings

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Kevin Drum, Serial Liar

        The utter left wing contempt for truth becomes tiresome at times.

        For instance, Kevin Drum.  Instapundit had a post up, on Democratic revisionism on the Iraq war.  In it's final form, it ran over 900 words.  Follow up the old Instapundit posts linked to (and there are many other links that aren't to Instapundit), and you have over 3200 words on this subject.  Drum reduces this to:
THE LAST REFUGE. . . .Glenn Reynolds on Democrats who claim that George Bush misled us into war:
And yes, he should question their patriotism. Because they're acting unpatriotically.

Glad we got that out in open.

        Drum later updates by saying he finds it "peculiar" that Reynolds objects to his post.  John Cole and Jeff Goldstein shred that pretty well.  But Drum's distortions are nothing new.

        In a post here, he takes note of an article in Commentary by Norman Podhoretz.  Drum sums the article up:
        His basic case is that lots of people — including some liberals — believed that Iraq had WMD, so obviously the president did nothing wrong.

        Fair enough.  Lots of people did believe that Iraq had WMD before the war.  The problem Podhoretz doesn't bother wrestling with, however, is that after the war concluded we discovered that there were also a fair number of people who had been skeptical about Iraqi WMD.

        First off, you can't get from "a fair number of people" were skeptical of Iraq having WMDs to 'Bush did something wrong' without an intermediate premise, something along the lines of 'once an (unspecified) fair number of people express skepticism about something, it is impossible for the President to believe it.'  Only thus can you logically argue that Bush was lying, or whatever he supposedly did wrong.

        The problem is, we know the premise is false.  People disagree all the time on significance of alleged facts, people express themselves falsely, people don't trust other people's judgment.  It's quite possible for a President to think one thing, even though "a fair number of people" disagreed with him.

        But so far, that's just generalities.  Maybe Drum gets specific later?

        INR, for example, thought the African uranium was bogus.  DIA thought our prime witness for Iraqi-al-Qaeda WMD collaboration was lying. The Air Force found the evidence on drones to be laughable. DOE didn't believe in the aluminum tubes. None of these dissents was acknowledged by the Bush administration.

        Well, this is still rather vague.  INR is the Intelligence and Research section of the State Department.  Here's what the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said about INR and Niger:
        INR analysts did not believe that Niger would be likely to engage in such a transaction and did not believe Niger would be able to transfer uranium to Iraq because a French consortium maintained control of the Nigerien uranium industry.

        Why the INR thought the Nigeriens and the French were so ethical is uncertain, but they did doubt the story.  At the same time, the CIA, DIA, and DOE analysts all thought it was possible that Niger might be willing and able to sell uranium to Iraq.  So why should INR be believed, and the other intelligence analysts disbelieved?  Perhaps INR has some long history of always being right about Saddam's actions?  If so, I think the Kuwaitis would like to know why they weren't warned Saddam would invade the.

        And if the DOE and DIA aren't reliable about Niger, why should they be believed about "our prime witness" concerning Iraq training al-Qaeda, or the aluminum tubes?  Drum's argument, insofar as I can discern one, is that the pessimistic assessments were automatically more credible than optimistic ones.

        Finally, it's a long way from saying 'Some intelligence agency didn't believe this or that detail about Iraqi WMDs,' to 'Some intelligence agency didn't believe Saddam had WMDs.'

        Drum also makes a big deal out of the fact that Podhoretz's article only goes through the end of 2002, but we didn't go to war till March, 2003.  During the months preceding the war, the U.N. was inspecting Iraq, and hadn't found anything.  Of course, the U.N. inspected Iraq for over four and a half years, from January of 1991 till August of 1995, and didn't find a lot of things that Hussein Kamel revealed when he defected.  But the 2003 inspections were supposed to be much more reliable, because . . . well, he doesn't say.  Nor does he mention Iraqi interference and non-compliance with the 2003 inspections, documented here.  That's the final UNMOVIC report to the Security Council, delivered two weeks before the war started, and it continually mentions unresolved issues, the need to check more suspect sites, qualifications on what's been found so far, etc.

        And it's worth noting that Drum doesn't cite a single source in his post, except Podhoretz's article.  Everything in it is assertion that can't be checked conveniently.  Nowhere does Drum quote a single person saying, "I'm sure Iraq has no WMD, and couldn't produce them if it tried."  In fact, the Duelfer report concluded that Saddam could manufacture mustard gas at short notice; that he intended to restart WMD programs as soon as he got the sanctions lifted; that he may have been on the verge of restarting chemical weapons programs while the sanctions were in place; that Saddam was still determined to acquire nukes; that Saddam still had some biowarfare seed stocks when the invasion took place.

        And although the Iraq War Resolution mentions as reasons to invade: Saddam's history; failure to comply with UN resolutions; human rights violations; willingness to use WMD against other nations and its own citizens; Saddam's attempt to assassinate Bush 41; Iraq's firing on forces attempting to enforce security council resolutions "many thousands" of times; Iraq's support for international terrorism and harboring of al-Qaeda members; the Iraq Liberation Act, passed in 1998, which made it our policy to remove the Ba'ath regime and promote democracy; and that prosecution of the War on Terrorism required that Saddam's support for terrorists be stopped; well, despite all this, Drum wants you to believe that WMD were the only reason Bush offered for war.

        What Drum and his fellows are doing is trying to get the public to believe they were conned into a war with Iraq, so the voters will put the Democrats back in control of the government.  As to whether this is true, they don't care.

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