April 16, 2004

I'm Confused

Okay, so, let me see if I understand this. The media has been saying that Iraq had no WMDs or nuclear capabilities, but now they're saying that Iraq's nuclear plants are being pilfered? There was no yellowcake, but now there's yellowcake? Up was down, but now down is up?

Actually, MSNBC.com had the story up on their site briefly, too, but then they took it down, apparently realizing that this didn't fit coherently into their tight world view.

UPDATE: This, too, is a must read. (via Instapundit)

Posted by Ryan at April 16, 2004 12:29 PM

"The yellowcake in the shipment was natural uranium ore which probably came from a known mine in Iraq that was active before the 1991 Gulf War."
That quote is from your article. This is not the yellow-cake that never was from Nigeria, or wherever it was supposed to have been smuggled from.
I don't have the links anymore, but I read several articles shortly after our invasion of Iraq that said Iraq non-operational nuclear plants had been looted. It was made very clear that these were plants that had been shut down, were known about, and the radio-active material had been declared and was not weaponized. None of this was the "smoking gun" of WMD's. The problem was that with the collapse of Iraq and the coalition not providing security, the stored materials were being stolen. Huge canisters that had been sealed by the IAEA years ago had been broken open, the contents even poured on the ground in some instances, and the containers taken back to villages to use to collect rain water since there was no water supply. The people had no idea they were using "hot" containers and quite likely poisoning entire villages with the water collected in these containers.

Posted by: D at April 16, 2004 01:35 PM

D, that totally misses the point. One of the things that the "very" far Left, extreme anti-war, Howard Dean is Jesus reborn crowd continually expound on, even though it's essentially a load of BS, is that Bush and Co. said Iraq was an "imminent" threat. In fact, the argument was that we had to act "before" the threat became imminent. I'm fully aware that yellowcake and uranium from existing Iraqi mines do not a WMD make. However, putting an unloaded gun several feet from live rounds and then putting a child in the room alone doesn't make the threat any less imminent, does it? I mean, think about it. Iraq supposedly has the second largest oil reserves in the world, and yet they had to have nuclear plants to generate electricity? Give me a freakin' break. Iran used the same lame excuse, and now look where they're at, openly announcing an active nuclear weapons program.

Posted by: Ryan at April 16, 2004 01:46 PM

Ryan, these plants had been shut down and were monitored by the IAEA. I don't think many people, if any, on either side of the political fence have tried to state Saddam never had active WMD programs - but the inspections, sanctions, and first Gulf War had successfully removed any remote threat of Iraq having, making, using WMD's. That's what has been proven time and time again by all inspectors, pre and post invasion.

Posted by: D at April 16, 2004 01:57 PM

I have a question for you - what were they supposed to do with all this non-operational nuclear materials and plants once they were shut down? They couldn't very well just dump it in the ocean. There had been no demand to ship it out of the country - who would take it and at what risk would the transportation of it be? A lot of it was waste material and what do you do with that? If Iran and N. Korea suddenly become compliant and quit trying to make nuclear weapons, how are they supposed to rid their country of the materials they have now? Should we bomb them just because the materials are still in their country? Do you want it all shipped here?

Posted by: D at April 16, 2004 02:05 PM

From D's comment: "It was made very clear that these were plants that had been shut down, were known about, and the radio-active material had been declared and was not weaponized. None of this was the "smoking gun" of WMD's. The problem was that with the collapse of Iraq and the coalition not providing security, the stored materials were being stolen. Huge canisters that had been sealed by the IAEA years ago had been broken open"

Ryan - you are still missing D's point. This is NOT anything new. And it's not a smoking gun. The point of this article is really that there is not enough protection or monitoring of known Iraqi nuclear material. I can't believe you could read anything else into it. That's the most amazingly irresponsible post from you I've ever seen. The presence of nuclear plants does not make Iraq an imminent threat to the U.S. Furthermore, these plants had been shut down and the materials had been sealed and they were protected BEFORE the U.S. decided to go in and make a mess. The U.S. evidently now has more hired paramilitary forces (ahem, security guards) in Iraq than Britian has soldiers. The U.S. was not prepared for the size of this operation and they are endangering the Iraqi people at every turn.

"The IAEA has been unable to investigate, monitor or protect Iraqi nuclear materials since the U.S. invaded the country in March 2003. The United States has refused to allow the IAEA or other U.N. weapons inspectors into the country, claiming that the coalition has taken over responsibility for illicit weapons searches.

So far those searches have come up empty-handed and the CIA's first chief weapons hunter has said he no longer believes Iraq had weapons just before the invasion."

Posted by: Mel at April 16, 2004 02:07 PM

Mel, listen very carefully here. We didn't go into Iraq because it was an "imminent" threat. We went in because we wanted to act "before" the threat became imminent (read my previous comment).

I will say this, and actually I've said this before, I think Bush and Co. have been genuinely shocked shitless at the lack of WMDs. They believed they were there. Clinton and Co. believed they were there. The WORLD believed they were there. Hell, even some Iraqis believed they were there. It was a monumental fuck up for the Bush Admin to make WMDs a major selling point of a war that should have been waged more for humanitarian reasons.

D, perhaps we should ask Libya how to go about disarming and disposing of nuclear materials now that they're in the process of cooperating?

Posted by: Ryan at April 16, 2004 02:24 PM

I have to call bullshit on the "imminent threat" remarks you are making.
The U.S was led to believe Iraq was an imminent threat. Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, all of them said it and implied it many times. I don't have time now, but I will find links to their remarks if you continue to insist they were never made.

Posted by: D at April 16, 2004 02:28 PM

Rumsfeld used the words "immediate threat" and he was called on it on national television. His answer? Change the topic. I say bullshit to your imminent threat remarks too. Be careful. You'll turn into one of those revisionist historians this administration is always talking about.

"There's no question that Iraq was a threat to the people of the United States."
• White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, 8/26/03

"We ended the threat from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."
• President Bush, 7/17/03

"Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the United States because we removed him, but he was a threat...He was a threat. He's not a threat now."
• President Bush, 7/2/03

"Saddam Hussein possesses chemical and biological weapons. Iraq poses a threat to the security of our people and to the stability of the world that is distinct from any other. It's a danger to its neighbors, to the United States, to the Middle East and to the international peace and stability. It's a danger we cannot ignore. Iraq and North Korea are both repressive dictatorships to be sure and both pose threats. But Iraq is unique. In both word and deed, Iraq has demonstrated that it is seeking the means to strike the United States and our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 1/20/03

AND the best yet

"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/19/02

Posted by: Mel at April 16, 2004 02:39 PM

The implication is there. The word immediate is there. They say he was a threat. The press has been bandying about the imminent word, and Ari Fleischer replied positively to two reporters who used the word imminent. But I think the truth of the matter is that the adminstration was trying really hard to spin it as imminent without using that particular word. They got creative and worked all around it, using the phrase "unique threat" and "a threat of unique urgency" and a plain "urgent threat". It's hard to get much closer to the word imminent. In international law the term "imminent threat" has a specific meaning that can be used to justify a war. So it seems that while the Bush administration really wanted to go to war with Iraq, they invented some colorful phrases to say imminent, without ever saying it. Perhaps had they used the term they would have received even less international support.

Posted by: Mel at April 16, 2004 03:24 PM

Okay, I promise after this I'll stop. I believe that the administration was trying to convice me that the threat was imminent, gathering, urgent, immediate, whatever. And I believe that they tried to sell the war in Iraq as a preemptive war.
The US Department of Defense's own official Dictionary of Military Terms defines preemption as "an attack initiated on the basis of incontrovertible evidence that an enemy attack is imminent."
I still don't believe that Iraq was a threat to the U.S. I believe it is now.

Posted by: at April 16, 2004 03:44 PM

Oh, well, I didn't realize we were operating on implications here. If that's the case, then when Saddam plotted to assasinate Bush Sr., the implication was there that he wanted to do more harm to other Americans. Whenever Saddam referred to the U.S. as The Great Satan, the implication was there. When Iraq harbored known terrorists, paid off families of Palestinian suicide bombers and allowed terrorist training camps to operate within its borders, the implication was there.

Posted by: Ryan at April 16, 2004 04:10 PM


Here is a link for the quotes Mel provided and many more. It was not just an implication.

"Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. And we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/18/02

"Well, of course he is.”
• White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett responding to the question “is Saddam an imminent threat to U.S. interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?”, 1/26/03

"This is about imminent threat."
• White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03

• White House spokesman Ari Fleischer answering whether Iraq was an "imminent threat," 5/7/03

And regarding your last comment, the terrorist camps in Iraq were in the Northern Fly Zone where Saddam had absolutely no control. Yes, Saddam paid money to the Palestinian families of suicide bombers, but your other "implications" are baseless.

Posted by: D at April 16, 2004 04:18 PM

D, don't hand me that horsepucky about terrorist training camps only being in the Northern no-fly zone.



It's unfortunate that this type of information is largely ignored because it just doesn't fit into the "Bush Lied, People Died" view of the Iraq war.

Posted by: Ryan at April 16, 2004 05:07 PM
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