Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lie deja vu

It seems that I was writing the same thing just last week. I was blogging about our Republican legislators perpetuating lies regarding Iraq. However, this week there's a slight twist: the lie being perpetuated this time is that there are WMDs in Iraq.

FOX News was proud to report Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq. They quote senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) as saying "We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons." Referring to a declassified National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) report, representative Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) was also quoted: "This says weapons have been discovered, more weapons exist and they state that Iraq was not a WMD-free zone, that there are continuing threats from the materials that are or may still be in Iraq."

What are the "WMDs" these congressmen refer to? They are approximately 500 shells, canisters, and munitions that contain degraded mustard gas or sarin nerve agent. Sounds pretty scary! Surely they must be the elusive WMDs that secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld said are "in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Not exactly. It turns out the munitions pre-date the Gulf War of 1991. After Iraq's war against Iran, they buried the munitions near the border of Iran since they no longer needed them. They were subsequently seemingly either abandoned or forgotten there by Saddam Hussein. The chemical weapons are so degraded by time that a senior Defense Department official stated that they are not in usable condition.

Intelligence officials from three different agencies told reporters that the NGIC report was substantially the same as a 2004 report by a team of American weapons inspectors led by Charles A. Duelfer that concluded Hussein was not in possession of significant stocks of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons at the time of the US-led invasion. The intelligence agents went on to say that Hoekstra had actually pressured them to declassify the report on June 15 and 19.

Could it be a coincidence that he gave the DNI, John Negroponte, just 48 hours to declassify the NGIC report a couple of days prior to the debate about the Iraq war to be had on the floor of the Senate? On his Countdown show, Keith Olbermann suggests it was not. His guests make the claim that Santorum's reelection campaign is in serious trouble, so he is using the report to justify his support of the Iraq war to his constituency.

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