Thursday, November 17, 2005

Iraq WMDs Revisited: Absence of Evidence Offered as Evidence of Existence

Expect the Right to be agog about this interview in Frontpage entitled Where the WMDs Went with “Bill Tierney, a former military intelligence officer and Arabic speaker who worked at Guantanamo Bay in 2002 and as a counter-infiltration operator in Baghdad in 2004.”

I read it, so you don’t have to. Although, you’re certainly free to.

Tierney clearly has an axe to grind.

This conclusion is the consequence of confusing litigation with intelligence. The Democrats understand the difference between the two concepts, but have no qualms about blurring the distinction for political gain. This is despicable. This has brought great harm to our nation’s credibility with our allies.

But that doesn’t make what he says wrong. He was there, after all, and I was not.

He makes a strong case for an outrageous lack of cooperation by the Iraqis with the inspectors before the war. And I am certainly willing to take him at his word for that. But that is not what the Right is seizing on. It’s stuff like this:

One of the security officers at Tarmiya told him that he had just recovered from a sickness he incurred while guarding technicians working in an underground facility nearby. The security officer stated that the technicians left for a break every half hour, but he stayed in the underground chamber all day and got sick. The security officer didn’t mention what they were doing, but I would say uranium enrichment is the most logical pick.

The implication is a lack of cooperation is a sign of guilt. The argument is that those expecting actual evidence of WMDs are not being reasonable. And you won’t find any evidence here. What Tierney offers is a collection of incidents and observations that could be interpreted to indicate that the Iraqis were hiding WMDs from the inspectors. They could also be interpreted to mean that the secretive Iraqi regime resented the inspections - something to hide or not.

Ultimately, Tierney is doing exactly what Bush is being accused of: combing the available information for support of a premise rather than using all of the available information to test the premise. Neither Tierney nor the interviewer actually make the case that Tierney’s observations are sufficient to base a war on. Yet, the target audience doesn’t need that connection made for them. We cannot allow the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud, is the subtext.

So, if there were WMDs after all, the big question is where did they all go?

“In Iraq’s case, the lakes and rivers were the toilet, and Syria was the back door,” Tierney theorizes.

I believe Saddam planned for a U.S. invasion after President Bush’s speech at West Point in 2002. One of the steps taken was to prepare the younger generation of the security services with English so they could infiltrate our ranks, another was either to destroy or move WMDs to other countries, principally Syria.

On the post-war weapons hunt, the arrogance and hubris of the intelligence community is such that they can’t entertain the possibility that they just failed to find the weapons because the Iraqis did a good job cleaning up prior to their arrival.

The interviewer does not ask nor does Tierney offer any thoughts on what became of the remains of the recently destroyed weapons or if it would be worth our while to search those lakes and rivers for evidence of his theory. Apparently the Iraqis did a really really good job of cleaning up those massive stockpiles and now are doing a really really good job of keeping that activity secret. It is worth noting that the thoughts and observations of one inspector are not the sole source of information we have to go on while assessing if there actually were WMDs. We have occupied the nation for over two years now - with none of Hussein’s armed guards to block our access. Yet for Tierney, Frontpage and Frontpage’s readers, conjecture based on one person’s ambiguous observations trump all actual experience of thousands of troops on the ground for over two years.

Interestingly, Tierney is forced to be mildly critical of the management of the post war weapons hunt.

I could speak at length about the problems with the weapons hunt. Mr. Hanson has an excellent article in “The American Thinker,” and Judith Miller, one of the few bright lights at the New York Times, did an article on the problems with the weapons hunt that I can corroborate from other sources.

I was shocked to learn recently that members of the Iraqi Survey Group believed their Iraqi sources when they said they don’t fear a return of the Baath Party.

(Implying by that last comment that the reason no one has yet come forward with the information about recent WMD programs is that they still fear the return of Hussein.)

But ultimately he blames the inspections themselves for allowing time for the removal of WMDs, even though all he can offer is just his opinions, hunches and theories. Nevertheless, look for a conservative blog near you to take this up as real proof that the WMDs were there all along.


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At 5:48 PM, Blogger ArturoDekko said...

Why is it that no one mentions that Isreal has nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in contradiction to UN sanctions.


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