Rumsfeld: We never said it!
Tony Blair admitted Thursday that he had not understood what was being claimed in British intelligence estimates that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes. The intelligence claim, which was anyway wrong, was speaking of battlefield weapons. Blair confessed that he thought the report referred to a long-range ballistic missile capability. I had always wondered how in the world Blair had gotten the idea that Iraq was a threat to Europe. Now I understand. He just had no idea what he was talking about!
George Tenet defended the CIA Thursday on Iraq intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction, and underlined that the agency never said Iraq posed an imminent danger. I think that is right, that the intelligence agencies were careful about that issue. I think the agency also put in caveats to its reports on Iraq that got washed out by the Bush administration. But Tenet was also insufficiently repentant about how badly the US intelligence agencies erred thinking Iraq still had programs and remaining stockpiles as late as early 2003. The argument that everyone else in the world also erred does not carry water. As Brzezinski has pointed out, most of the world got its intelligence on Iraq from the US!
But Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were not nearly so careful as the CIA, and neither was Bush. Rumsfeld Thursday slyly attempted to deny having said what he said without specifying what he was denying. Rumsfeld also insisted that small amounts of very deadly stockpiles could still be effectively hidden in Iraq and undiscovered. But this argument is, like much of what Rumsfeld is saying nowadays, just pure obfuscation. You can’t have stockpiles of biological weapons without active production facilities, and there are no such facilities, and haven’t been for along time. Without fresh production, biological stockpiles wouldn’t be much good. Likewise chemical. And there was no nuclear program. And no fissionable material (never had been the latter, anywhere within a light year). So Rummy’s argument that there might be (presumably old) stockpiles is silly, besides which most of this stuff degrades over that kind of time.
2004: ‘ “Asked about his own unequivocal prewar assertions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld acknowledged he had perhaps gone too far in the first days of the war when he said he knew where Iraq’s banned weapons were. He said he was referring to “suspect sites” that had been identified in areas to the north of the advancing US forces. But, he added, “There are a lot of things being said about what the administration said which the administration did not say.” “I’ve read the critics comments and I cannot find where I’ve said those things,” he said.’
If Rummy is saying he also didn’t say the threat was imminent, that would just be a falsehood:
“We do know that he (Saddam) has been actively and persistently pursuing nuclear weapons for more than 20 years. But we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons.” – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Sept. 18, 2002, before House Armed Services Committee.
“There are a number of terrorist states pursuing weapons of mass destruction … but no terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people than the regime of Saddam Hussein and Iraq.” – Rumsfeld, Sept. 19, 2002, Senate Armed Services Committee.
“On its present course, the Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency.” – Bush, Oct. 2, 2002, after reaching agreement with House leaders on Iraq resolution