Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The Million Dollar Question: Razor asks:
Either Bush "lied" to us regarding the intel on Saddam's capabilities or our intelligence-gathering/interpretation was woefully inept. Which would you prefer? And no weasilng that we were more concerned about the "potential" for WMDs - clearly it was being played that WMD capability was imminent if not already achieved.
Which would I prefer, or which do I think to be the case? I'll try not to weasel too much, but I do insist on rejecting the premise. I think our intel was woefully inadequate, but not inept. In addition, I think Bush spun the intel to his ends, and I argue here that he's not the first. Further, I think that the mess the administration has made of the WMD issue shows that they were unprepared for Saddam to play his last card, effectively "disappearing" the WMDs. What he did with them is, of course, academic at this point. Mull it over for yourself: If you were Bush, would you have sold the war on a premise that would embarrass you within months?

Thus I think that spotty intel was the likely problem, though I don't fault our agencies entirely for this. It's a tough business. I think I'm willing to forgive spotty intel than presidential lying (see Clinton, William) because intel is hit or miss, while lying is a deliberate act.

There are several possibilities that could moot the whole business though. First, something could turn up in Iraq. David Kay's report is full of tantalizing tidbits, even if it lacks a smoking gun. Second, we could find the WMDs elsewhere. Based on the fact that we know Saddam was effectively telling his WMD teams, "Don't let the inspectors find the 'stuff,'" and that Saddam liked to bury things in remote places, I don't think we have heard the end of the story. I could be wrong, but I think that buying the explanation the left prefers now ("there just weren't any gosh darned WMDs") is willfully obtuse and overly simplistic simply because there are points to be scored now.

If the left were smart about this, they'd be pursuing a strategy that says: Hell, everybody knows the bastard had the weapons, but now we don't know where they are. Anyone considering voting for Bush should ask himself: Does that make me feel safer?

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