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  xWednesday, June 18, 2003

parsimonous parsing of the day


Check out this slippery statement from White House mouthpiece Ari Fleischer regarding the elusive Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (the existence and location of which, let's recall, the White House assured us they had evidence of...evidence they could not possibly have had, given their evident failure to produce any so far):
"This has been a very careful search, and a search that has turned up things that we have previously talked about applying to the weapons of mass destruction program that the Iraqis had," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

What the heck does that mean? Yes, they've turned up things; those trailers they've claimed as weapons of mass destruction -- even though they themselves aren't -- and that British intelligence has concluded have nothing to to with biological weapons, but instead are, as the Iraqis have mmaintained, a system to supply hydrogen to a balloon system the British themselves supplied. This is another example of the White House carefully phrasing a statement so it sounds like one thing -- in this case, a claim that WMDs have been found -- yet is crafted so as to avoid accountability.

Now, the recent capture of -- good show! -- of Iraq's former security chief might possibly provide insight about just what the status of Iraq's weapons program is. It's even conceivable that some old stocks of mustard gas or something might turn up. But then, relying on fresh intelligence from captured officials to lead our forces to the weapons simply proves that they have no idea where they are, and that the prewar evidence was not worth a bucket of warm spit. I've said before, it isn't about whether Iraq has chemical or biological weapons, it's about that if Bush can't prove his prewar claims now, there's no way he could have then. He lied, plain and simple. And people died. And continue to die. And no amount of obligatory regret on the part of the hawks is going to bring them back.

As Bush continues to defy the obvious by denying his exaggeration of Iraq's capabilities, reflexive Bush supporters are asking why Bush and Blair would have exaggerated the Iraqi threat when the evidence would turn up after the war. It's perfectly simple: I'm sure that Bush believed the evidence would turn up after the war. He may have misrepresented what his intelligence services were telling him, but he probably sincerely believed that weapons would be found and no one would ask questions about what Bush knew and when he knew it.

But they haven't, and people are starting to ask those questions. And all patriotic citizens, regardless of whether they supported the war, should demand answers.





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