The left never seems to tire of reminding us that “Bush lied about Iraq having WMDs!” But was it really a lie? If so, how so? It is an established fact that Iraq had developed and used WMDs previously, against its own citizens, though the left seems to have conveniently forgotten this. In his 1998 State of the Union address, President William J. Clinton said:
Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade, and much of his nation’s wealth, not on providing for the Iraqi people, but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and the missiles to deliver them.
The only real question was, did Iraq still have stockpiles of WMDs immediately prior to the beginning of the Iraq war? At the time, every major power in the world believed that it did. Even the U.N. believed it. Yet one never hears anybody saying the U.N. lied, or Tony Blair lied, or Jacques Chirac lied. It’s always Bush, and Bush alone, who “lied.”
Even assuming there were no WMDs, if President Bush, like all the other world leaders at the time, given the best evidence available, believed there were WMDs in Iraq, was it a lie for him to say what he believed? If not, the claim that he lied must be based on an assumption that he didn’t actually believe there were WMDs in Iraq. But why would he not have believed it, considering that everybody else did? It’s generally accepted today that the reason Saddam Hussein didn’t allow the U.N. inspections was because he wanted his neighbors to believe that Iraq still had WMDs. Was there ever any reason to conclude that Bush knew the “truth” when everybody else was taken in by Hussein’s bluff? If not, Bush did not lie. He was, at worst, mistaken.
But it’s always easier to predict the past than the future. As history unfolds, it’s starting to look like, not only did Bush not lie, neither was he mistaken. There is new evidence that Iraq did, in fact, have WMDs, which it was systematically transferring to Syria all the while it was stalling the U.N. inspectors. This new evidence corroborates older evidence that was dismissed by the left at the time as too “convenient.” Yet the evidence continues to grow. What will the left say if confronted with incontrovertible evidence that there actually were WMDs in Iraq? Will they apologize to President Bush for the “lies” they’ve been telling about him for the past five years? Or will they flat out refuse to acknowledge the evidence because it doesn’t support their worldview? (My money is on the latter.)
On April 7, 2008, The Jerusalem Post reported:
An upcoming joint US-Israel report on the September 6 IAF strike on a Syrian facility will claim that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein transferred weapons of mass destruction to the country, Channel 2 stated Monday.
In January of 2006, The New York Sun wrote:
The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein’s air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.
The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, “Saddam’s Secrets,” released this week.
Even prior to that, in the Fall of 2005, The Middle East Quarterly reported:
Several different intelligence sources raised red flags about suspicious truck convoys from Iraq to Syria in the days, weeks, and months prior to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
These concerns first became public when, on December 23, 2002, Ariel Sharon stated on Israeli television, “Chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria.” About three weeks later, Israel’s foreign minister repeated the accusation. The U.S., British, and Australian governments issued similar statements.
Two former United Nations weapon inspectors in Iraq reinforced concerns about illicit transfer of weapon components into Syria in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s fall. Richard Butler viewed overhead imagery and other intelligence suggesting that Iraqis transported some weapons components into Syria. Butler did not think “the Iraqis wanted to give them to Syria, but … just wanted to get them out of the territory, out of the range of our inspections. Syria was prepared to be the custodian of them.” Former Iraq Survey Group head David Kay obtained corroborating information from the interrogation of former Iraqi officials.
The Daily Telegraph reported prior to the 2003 Iraq war that Iraq’s former special security organization and Shawqat arranged for the transfer into Syria of twelve mid-level Iraqi weapons specialists, along with their families and compact disks full of research material on their country’s nuclear initiatives. According to unnamed Western intelligence officials cited in the report, Assad turned around and offered to relocate the scientists to Iran, on the condition that Tehran would share the fruits of their research with Damascus.
So, when is a lie not a lie?
a) When it’s an honest mistake.
b) When it’s the truth.
At this point, we don’t know which of the above is the case. But we do know that there is absolutely no evidence that Bush ever actually lied about WMDs in Iraq. So when will the left stop braying that?