Friday, June 06, 2003

On WMDs, Hypocrisy and Other Things

Out of the tons and tons of articles about WMD's (or lack of) on the web, a couple caught my eye. Robin Cook, the former foreign minister of England under Mr. Blair, writes in this LA Times (requires registration) editorial that:
    "...This week, Blair was pleading for everyone to show patience and to wait for weapons to be found.

    There is a historical problem with this plea. The war took place only because the coalition powers lost patience with chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and refused his plea for a few more months to complete his disarmament tasks...."
He makes a bunch more great points, ending with this line:
    "... Iran must not become the next Iraq."

This one in Findlaw's Legal Commentaryby John Dean makes me wish I knew more about law, especially about this one on federal anti-conspiracy rules. He writes:
    "...Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."

    It's important to recall that when Richard Nixon resigned, he was about to be impeached by the House of Representatives for misusing the CIA and FBI. After Watergate, all presidents are on notice that manipulating or misusing any agency of the executive branch improperly is a serious abuse of presidential power..."

Does this case really have legs? My sense is that despite all the public statements by members of the Bush administration about the case for WMDs, intent would be hard to determine, even with this new AP release by John Lumpkin based on an interview with an ex-State department director, Greg Thielmann. Here is a snippet of his revelations:
    "...Thielmann suggested mistakes may have been made at points all along the chain from when intelligence is gathered, analyzed, presented to the president and then provided to the public.

    The evidence of a renewed nuclear program in Iraq was far more limited than the administration contended, he said.

    "When the administration did talk about specific evidence — it was basically declassified, sensitive information — it did it in a way that was also not entirely honest," Thielmann said.

    In his State of the Union address, Bush said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

    The Africa claim rested on a purported letter or letters between officials in Iraq and Niger held by European intelligence agencies. The communications are now accepted as forged, and Thielmann said he believed the information on Africa was discounted months before Bush mentioned it.

    "I was very surprised to hear that be announced to the United States and the entire world," he said... "
The timing of his disclosures is interesting.