Ignoring news about WMD
I'm not going to say that yesterday's announcement by Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Pete Hoekstra — that National Intelligence Director John Negroponte confirmed that coalition forces have found "approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent"— completely changes the terms of debate about the Iraq war. (Get the full update from a great collection of links from K-Lo here.)There is more. When it comes to anti war critics, they have always heard only what they want to hear and disregard the rest. The 500 shells are just further evidence that Saddam never accounted for all his WMD as required by the cease fire agreement and UN resolutions. He was supposed to account for them and let the UN inspectors destroy them or witness their destruction. His word that he destroyed them was no good.
But it does raise some interesting questions for war opponents. First, notice that there is nothing about the lawakers' announcment in the New York Times, at least from my searches. Second, the Washington Post puts the story on page A10 and declares:
The lawmakers pointed to an unclassified summary from a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center regarding 500 chemical munitions shells that had been buried near the Iranian border, and then long forgotten, by Iraqi troops during their eight-year war with Iran, which ended in 1988...Last night, intelligence officials reaffirmed that the shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.
"They were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq"? Wait, isn't mustard gas mustard gas? Were we looking for a particular flavor of mustard gas? ("Oh, nevermind, we were looking for Blistering Heat, and this is Spicy Dijon.")
I'd ask this of critics and opponents of the Iraq war: It was a safe and legitimate argument when coalition forces found a sarin shell here and a mustard gas shell there that these quanitities of WMDs didn't rise to a level of threat that would justify the invasion. So the question is, what quantity does?
500 shells? Because that's what we're learning today. 700 shells? 1000?
How many of these shells are required before a war opponent rethinks the conclusion that Iraq posed no threat? (Recall that about 15 were used in the massacre of the Kurds in Halabja in 1988.)