Bombs Under Baghdad

Last Thursday, the new report from the Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction launched critics of the President into a jovial epiphany. Depicting U.S. intelligence as hapless and clumsy, the 600-page report fueled the fruitless fire of those who sadistically hunt for the administration’s mistakes. Now, instead of completing the arduous task of correcting current policy failures, opponents gained yet another chance to condemn the President for lying to the American people and deliberately twisting evidence to redress his father’s missed opportunity. Just as after last year’s 9/11 Commission, Bush’s detractors, armed with the power of hindsight, will use the unearthing of intelligence miscalculations to issue an indictment of past failures, without taking a serious look toward the future. They will clamor for a complete overhaul of the intelligence bureaucracy, all the while pushing other necessary and attainable improvements, such as reliable ID cards and biometric passports, into obscurity. Yet, despite the celebrations of the political left, the report was, in many ways, a victory for the Bush administration. Critics who claim that the President bungled evidence to bolster his case for war were refuted: the commission found “no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community’s prewar assessments of Iraq’s weapons programs.” Recognizing that the fallacious intelligence assumptions contained “a powerful air of common sense” and were “not unreasonable,” the report removed the culpability from the administration and to former CIA head George Tenet. The report is right on target. After all, the now discredited belief that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction was no deception invented on the Texas ranch, but the culmination of years of incriminating information from mainstream, albeit not always credible, sources. In 1987, Hussein proved that he possessed biological weapons and was not afraid to use them, unleashing mustard gas and nerve agents on his compatriots and causing 15,000 Kurdish casualties. In 2000, the non-partisan National Intelligence Estimate stated that Baghdad had “expanded its offensive biological weapons program by establishing a large-scale, redundant and concealed biological weapons agent production capability.” In 2002, the same agency decided that evidence of uranium enrichment programs indicated an “Iraqi nuclear reconstitution effort.” Sadaam’s own actions only further cemented the credibility of erroneous intelligence. The autocrat constantly evaded the United Nations. Even when inspectors were allowed into Iraq, on more than one occasion, they were halted at sites where surveillance detected trucks being loaded in the back and hastening away. Furthermore, between 1996 and 2003, the brutal dictator increased the funding for Iraq’s Military Industrialization Commission (MIC), a clandestine organization responsible for WMD development, from 15.5 billion to 1 trillion Dinars. Under Hussein’s command, the MIC augmented it’s sponsorship of technical research projects 80-fold, from 40 to 3,200, and boosted its workforce by 50 percent. Either Saddam Hussein was a brilliant two-timing politician, or, more reasonably, he was actually developing weapons of mass destruction. However, although the Commission was correct in asserting that the intelligence which fueled the administration’s case for war was faulted (albeit reasonably), Bush-bashers are wrong in deducing that the war in Iraq was unfounded and illegitimate. Bound by a common hatred for Israel and the United States, Iraq and al-Qaeda clearly maintained a cooperative relationship. Documents discovered in Baghdad reveal this alliance, detailing direct links between al-Qaeda and Saddam’s regime reaching as far back as 1998. Even an officer in Saddam’s secret police, Abu Zubayr, plainly stated that Iraq trained men and supplied weapons to al Qaeda. Indeed, Hussein was an avid philantropist of terrorism: he wrote checks to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers; confessed to a close partnership with the Palastinian Liberation Organization (PLO); financed a terrorist training camp in Baghdad; and harbored Abu Nidal and other members of his international terrorist group (ANO). Considering these undeniable terrorist links along with egregious human rights violations, international aggression, extreme corruption, and consistent refusal to abide by international law, one can easily ascertain that the case for war was based on more than shaky intelligence. Nevertheless, the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” war rationale will always be open to debate. Yet, despite the temptation to look through the omniscient lens of hindsight, a more productive focus is towards the future. The globalization of science and technology will slowly but inevitably transform the capability for building weapons of mass destruction from an elite skill to a common proficiency. Thus, instead of partaking in belabored politicking and “Bush-whacking,” elected officials must break through the political molasses, implement effective legislation, and generously fund scientists researching nuclear detection. Reform of the intelligence bureaucracy is imperative, as is a comprehensive protection of our homeland. Politicians must make the survival of our nation, not partisan attacks, their first priority.