Sunday, August 03, 2003

What is David Kay up to in Iraq? Kay is a very suspicious character, and may even have been the person responsible for telling the Bush Administration that the International Atomic Energy Agency had produced a report in 1991 that indicated that Iraq was at the time just six months away from having a nuclear bomb, a report that Bush and Blair both used in their war propaganda but which in fact never existed. Many people, including me, thought that Kay was going to discover the weapons of mass destruction that he had previously planted in Iraq, thus saving Bush's bacon. This still might happen, although as we move farther along and he still has not found anything it appears more likely that he is going to come up with some other answer to Bush's problems with the missing weapons of mass destruction. Both Kay's words and the words of the Bush Administration seem to be leading us to the idea that Saddam had a 'program' of producing weapons of mass destruction, and the concept of a 'program' replacing the discovery of actual weapons seems to be the new answer of the Bush Administration:

  1. In Bush's last pathetic 'press conference', which, given the lack of any real questions by the press was hardly a press conference, and, given the remarkable inability of Bush to think or speak, was hardly a press conference, Bush said (my emphasis):

    "We know that Saddam Hussein produced and possessed chemical and biological weapons, and has used chemical weapons. We know that. He also spent years hiding his weapons of mass destruction programs from the world. We now have teams of investigators who are hard at work to uncover the truth."

    and

    "David Kay came to see me yesterday. He's going to testify in a closed hearing tomorrow, which in Washington may not be so closed, as you know. And he was telling me the process that they were going through to analyze all the documentation. And that's not only to analyze the documentation on the weapons programs that Saddam Hussein had, but also the documentation as to terrorist links."

    and

    "And in order to, you know, placate the critics and the cynics about intention of the United States we need to produce evidence. And I fully understand it, and I'm confident that our search will yield that which I strongly believe: that Saddam had a weapons program.

    I want to remind you, he actually used his weapons program on his own people at one point in time, which was pretty tangible evidence."

    Note how Kay is analyzing documentation to find the weapons program, and how Bush slides weapons and a program of weapons together by saying that Saddam used his weapons program on his own people, hardly likely unless Saddam hit them over the head with his documents. The play on words works because a 'program' might refer to the method of making the weapons and the weapons themselves, or may just refer to a potential plan to make weapons. Saddam just had the plan, and not the weapons. Bush's unscripted public appearances are so cringeworthy that you almost feel sorry for him for how absolutely unprepared he is for his job, but he did manage to remember to insert the key word: 'program'.

  2. In early June, Bush said (my emphasis):

    "Iraq had a weapons program. Intelligence throughout the decade shows they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced that with time, we'll find out they did have a weapons program."


  3. In Kay's own last appearance, he said (my emphasis):

    "We have Iraqi scientists who were involved in these programs who are assisting us in taking them apart. They are collaborating and cooperating."

    He sidestepped questions about whether actual weapons of mass destruction had been found. A U. S. defense department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, even admitted that the American team has not found actual weapons of mass destruction but has uncovered documents pointing to a program to develop such weapons, saying (my emphasis):

    "Certainly the case is being built that, no doubt in anybody's mind, they had a program. We have come across documentation of their program."


  4. The origins of the reliance on the concept of a 'program' appear to go back to the lecture given by John Bolton, in which he introduces the concept that the attack on Iraq was justified because there was the "intellectual capacity in Iraq to recreate systems of weapons of mass destruction." His concept of 'intellectual capacity' is so absolutely vague that it seems to consist merely of having in the country a group of physicists who, if they were so directed at some unspecified time in the future, could conceivably build weapons of mass destruction. The current way to refer to this doctrine appears to be to call it a 'program'.


Despite being detained in conditions that may approximate torture, with the implicit or probably explicit promise that they can obtain freedom if they confess to the existence of weapons of mass destruction, absolutely none of the Iraqi scientists has stated that such weapons exist. The scientists have absolutely no reason to lie about this, and in fact every reason to give the occupiers what they want to hear, so we can be certain that there are no weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, the best evidence still available, that of Gen. Hussein Kamel interviewed in 1995, was that the weapons were destroyed after the Gulf War because Saddam feared their discovery by the weapons inspectors. At the same time, he may have wanted to maintain some ambiguity (or here) about their existence in order to make him appear stronger than he really was. He wisely decided to bide his time until he could start building weapons of mass destruction free of discovery. It was the presence of the United Nations weapons inspectors and the threat of future inspections which in fact ensured that he had no weapons of mass destruction. This raises two key points having to do with the Bush lies:

  1. Bush constantly harped on the idea that the weapons inspectors were ineffectual, and were providing a screen behind which Saddam could continue to build weapons of mass destruction, when in fact the exact opposite was the case, with the inspection process being the sole reason why Saddam never did rebuild his stocks of weapons of mass destruction. Those who argued against the attack on Iraq argued that the U. N. weapons inspectors should be allowed to finish their jobs. They were right, as the weapons inspection process was working.

  2. The whole case of the Bush Administration is that they had the right to preemptively attack a sovereign nation because the United States had the right to self-defense against an imminent deadly threat from Iraq. That is why all the members of the Administration focussed on the necessity of disarming Iraq by force. Even if they were able to establish that there was some kind of program, the mere existence of a program is in no way even close to being sufficient to justify the American attack on Iraq. As I've said before, the 'Bush doctrine', that the United States can preemptively use war in self-defense against countries that may pose a threat to the security of the United States, is of highly questionable validity in international law, and can apply, if it applies at all, only if: 1) the threat is real and imminent; 2) war is the only possible alternative; and 3) there is no time to consult the United Nations. The existence of a 'program' without actual weapons does not satisfy these tests.


It appears that what Kay is doing is creating a virtual Iraqi weapons program. He seems to be building an inventory of what scientists Iraq had and what they were trained to do, and what strategic assets Iraq had. He then determines what type of program he would institute if he were put in charge by Saddam of building a workable program for the production of weapons of mass destruction. This is five steps away from what the Bush Administration needs in order to provide a proper excuse for the attack on Iraq:

  • Saddam hadn't ordered anyone to start such a process;

  • the intellectual capacity of the scientists wasn't directed to such a purpose;

  • there was no manufacturing system in place;

  • there were no weapons of mass destruction built; and

  • there is absolutely no indication that Saddam had any kind of delivery system that could have provided an imminent risk to the United States.


As Kay labors to construct an imaginary system of weapons of mass destruction, we have to always remember that such dreams did not pose an imminent threat to the United States, and cannot possibly create a retrospective excuse for a completely illegal and immoral attack on a sovereign nation. The United States has completely destroyed its international reputation, ended much of the international cooperation it requires to fight the war on terror, and taken military steps that may result in the deaths of up to 60,000 people, and it will all be justified on what David Kay finds in his head.

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