Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Thursday, January 15, 2004

20/20 foresight 

Everybody loves the documentary Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War. It is a worthwhile watch. A particularly poignant part is a segment documenting how the claim of Iraq seeking "significant quantities of uranium from Africa" made it into President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address when in October, the CIA told White House speech writers and senior staff not to mention the claim in the Cincinnati speech. Meet the Press' Tim Russert asked Condoliza Rice how the claim got back into a presidential speech. Rice replied, "It's not a matter of getting back in, it's a matter, Tim, that three plus months later people didn't remember that [CIA Director] George Tenet had asked that it be taken out of the Cincinnati speech."

Uncovered does an excellent job of exposing many of the fallacious claims about nuclear, biological and chemical weapons that made up the backbone of the case for war.

However, 20/20 vision need not to have been acquired in hindsight; the claims presented by those pushing for war were subject to rational analysis before as well as after the fact. Here's two examples:

At a joint press conference on September 7, 2002, both George Bush and Tony Blair cited a "new" IAEA report which supposedly claimed Iraq has restarted it's nuclear weapons program:

The IAEA immediately issued a press release stating there was no such new report. It was fiction. Here is an actual IAEA report:

A second example of a clearly faulty claim regards a former chemical weapons facility in Fallujah, claimed to have been rebuilt to resume chemical weapon production:

Reality: There was nothing nefarious going on at the Tareq plant (alternately spelled "Al-Tariq"):

Glen Rangwala complied an exhaustive analysis of such faulty claims made in the case for invading Iraq. Before the war. It's too bad Congress and the American public paid so little attention to what was being said by persons not in the Executive Branch of the US government before deciding that "Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more."

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