Should I Laugh or Cry?

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Sometimes
you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Like
when you heard President Bush tell ABC’s Barbara Walters:

I felt like
we’d find weapons of mass destruction – like many here in
the United States, many around the world. The United Nations thought
he had weapons of mass destruction. So, therefore: One, we need
to find out what went wrong in the intelligence gathering. …

The
White House had just admitted that the Iraq Survey Group had failed
to find any trace of a) "weapons of mass destruction,"
b) the makings thereof, and/or c) the facilities for producing them.

Charles
Duelfer – the man "Slam-dunk" Tenet put in charge
of the ISG a year ago to replace the thoroughly discouraged David
Kay – had essentially verified the dozens of "null"
reports made to the Security Council by U.N. inspectors, up until
the eve of the Bush-Blair "pre-emptive" invasion.

According
to U.N. reports, all Saddam’s WMD programs had been abandoned or
destroyed either just before, or in the immediate aftermath of,
the Gulf War. Furthermore, as of the eve of the Bush-Blair invasion,
there were no "indications" that Saddam had ever made
any attempt to resurrect them.

But
Duelfer went even further than the U.N. inspectors, concluding that
– after exhaustive "interrogation" of hundreds of
former Iraqi officials and scientists and examination of millions
of captured Iraqi documents – "the former regime had no
formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD" programs.

So,
perhaps Bush did "feel" that we’d find WMD in Iraq back
in 2002. Perhaps he really did believe Tenet’s National Intelligence
Estimate (NIE) on Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass
Destruction. Maybe Bush even "felt" that way as late as
Tenet’s defense of that NIE in August 2003:

We stand
behind the judgments of the NIE as well as our analyses on Iraq’s
programs over the past decade. Those outside the process over
the past 10 years and many of those commenting today do not know,
or are misrepresenting, the facts. We have a solid, well-analyzed
and carefully written account in the NIE and the numerous products
before it.

After David
Kay and others finish their efforts – after we have exploited
all the documents, people and sites in Iraq – we should and
will stand back to professionally review where we are – but
not before.

The history
of our judgments on Iraq’s weapons programs is clear and consistent.
On biological weapons and missiles, our data got stronger in recent
years. We have had a solid historical foundation and new data
that have allowed us to make judgments and attribute high confidence
in specific areas. And we had numerous credible sources, including
many who provided information after 1998.

The National
Intelligence Estimate remains the intelligence community’s most
authoritative product. The process by which we produce NIEs –
including the one on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction –
has been honed over nearly 30 years. It is a process that is designed
to provide policymakers in both the executive and the legislative
branches with our best judgments on the most crucial national
security issues.

So,
now that Kay’s successor – Duelfer – has "finished
his efforts," coming up "empty," it is understandable
that Bush wants to "find out what went wrong in our intelligence
gathering."

But
what you don’t know whether to laugh or cry about is Bush’s assertion
that other members of the U.N. Security Council also "thought"
Saddam still had WMDs.

Does
Bush really believe that Russia, France and China disbelieved the
International Atomic Energy Agency report of March 7, 2003, which
refuted every one of Bush’s pre-war assertions about Iraqi nukes?

The
report states:

After three
months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence
or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program
in Iraq.

There is
no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings
that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being
reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication
of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.

There is
no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since
1990.

There is
no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes
for use in centrifuge enrichment.

[T]here is
no indication to date that Iraq imported magnets for use in a
centrifuge enrichment program.

When
Walters asked President Bush if the war – which was essentially
based upon false "intelligence" – was "worth
it,"– Bush responded, "Oh, absolutely. Saddam was
dangerous, and the world is safer without him in power."

January
17, 2005

Physicist
James Gordon Prather [send
him mail
] has served as a policy-implementing official for national
security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency,
the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department
of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department
of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for
national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. –
ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the
Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather
had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory
in New Mexico.

Gordon
Prather Archives

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