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Wednesday, June 21, 2006 

About those WMDs you just found, Senator Santorum...

Senator Santorum held a breathless news conference on Wednesday afternoon (along with the hapless Rep. Hoekstra) to announce that the Army had discovered WMD in Iraq, finally. The ever vigilent junior Senator from Pennsylvania has been pushing for the release of this information for months, he tells us.

Just as you'd suspect, the facts were trivial. The military in Iraq discovered around 500 artillery shells with degraded mustard gas and sarin, dating from the Iran-Iraq War. Santorum and Hoekstra could not explain why they still considered it news that a few ancient chemical weapons yet existed somewhere in Iraq. Nor had the two statesmen bothered to inquire why the White House had not trumpeted this "incredibly" important revelation when it first turned up.

There's a slight problem with identifying these degraded shells as Weapons of Mass Destruction. A weapon is something one can use. These shells cannot be used because they are so degraded, as even Negroponte's statement (reproduced virtually verbatim in Santorum's press release) makes clear. They are the Iraqi equivalent, on a vastly smaller scale, of the tons of WWI era munitions buried and forgotten around Washington DC.

Even Fox News is having a hard time trying to decide whether run with or away from this nonsense.

Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.

"This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991," the official said, adding the munitions "are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war."

And the AP report is utterly dismissive.

With some Democrats saying the decision to go to war was a mistake, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., tried to dispel arguments by Democratic lawmakers that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.

Santorum and Hoekstra released a newly declassified military intelligence report that said coalition forces have found 500 munitions in Iraq that contained degraded sarin or mustard nerve agents, produced before the 1991 Gulf War.

But a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the weapons were not considered likely to be dangerous because of their age. Also, Democrats said a lengthy 2005 report from the top U.S. weapons inspector contemplated that such munitions would be found.

This is a mark of how desperate the Republicans are to find some distraction from the bad news from Iraq. The war has turned into a nearly unmitigated disaster, and they're afraid that the public will actually hold them accountable.

I commented on the "news" as it broke here. You'll find a much fuller discussion there of the various claims that the Bush apologists have tried to make based upon these discarded shells. See also Think Progress for more, if you have the stomach.

Crossposted at Inconvenient News

 posted by smintheus  # 11:51 PM  
What a twit.

Seriously! Funny what twenty points down in the polls will have some guys saying... it would be funny if it weren't costing lives.
I think you, an the majority of people who visit ths site, are forgetting the motivtion the Bush administration had for going to war.

Stop focusing on weapons of mass destruction. It was the MEDIA who focused on WMD, the same media who fabricate stories every day. Saddam Hussein refused to let UN inpectors into the country. Was this not breakig a UN treaty? Suspicious? What were the government(s) supposed to think?

Also, the man was a harsh, evil dictator, who did not think twice of killing his own people. I personally would like to think that, if I was living in fear, someone would step in and help.

I think George Bush and Tony Blair made the entirely right decision. An that facts had to be given tinited glasses to tell to the public, as most of the public are media-influenced morons who have never learned to take wat they hear with a pinch of salt.
Anonymous, who is the moron here? Hussein DID allow the UN inspectors into his country. The claim that Hussein refused to allow the inspectors back in is just another one of the preposterous lies that George Bush as told.

The inspectors were doing their inspections successfully when George Bush told the UN they had to leave because he was going to invade Iraq anyway.

How does that make sense? Bush insists on UN inpsections; the inspections occur, and begin demonstrating that Hussein did not in fact have any active WMD programs; and when they're about to prove decisively that Hussein has no WMD left, Bush cuts them short and declares war.

As for overthrowing dictators, who is next?

Or more to the point, how is it legal under international law to invade a country just because you don't like its government? It is legal to do so if the UN authorizes an invasion, but there are very few grounds under which that may be done. None applied in the case of Hussein and Iraq, and in any case Bush did not even attempt to convince the UN that it should authorize an invasion of Iraq.

So, when is it the "right decision" to violate international law?

As for the media "fabricating stories" every day, I think you've drunk deeply of the right wing kool-aid. For every detail the American news media report that reflects badlly on the Bush administration, there must be at least half a dozen the media ignores or downplays. Not much need, then, for fabricating stories when the ones lying around on the news room floor would do.
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