Alan Reynolds

The Iraq Survey Group, a team of 1,200 inspectors headed by David Kay, found none of the chemical or biological weapons that had been specifically named by top U.S. officials before the war, nor any of the equally specific equipment, such as mobile labs and unmanned aircraft.

What they did find was a single vial of decade-old botulinum in some scientist's fridge, plans to build missiles that could exceed the allowed range and some research programs that were undisclosed in violation of the U.N. deal. What they did not find was any sign of the biological, chemical or nuclear "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) that U.S. and British governments claimed Iraq possessed in hugely lethal quantities. The group is confident "Iraq did not have a large, ongoing centrally controlled CW (chemical weapons) program after 1991." There is even less evidence of nukes and no evidence of biological agents, unless you count that one little vial.

The stark contrast between what was said about WMD before the war and what has since been found certainly appears to be a massive failure of intelligence, despite what CIA Director George Tenet says. For numerous pundits who previously went along with the notion that Iraq had a formidable arsenal of vaguely identified exotic weapons, however, failure to discover such weapons is now said to be little more than an insignificant annoyance. The real purpose of the war, they tell us, was a humanitarian crusade to get rid of one of the world's nastiest dictators and turn Iraq into a much nicer place, thanks to many billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers.

Numerous explanations and evasions have been created since June to minimize the uncomfortable wide chasm between WMD "intelligence" and reality. The first was to denigrate WMD skeptics as foolishly impatient. In mid-June, National security writer Jack Kelly thought it "at best wildly premature" to complain that the supposedly huge stockpiles of WMD had not yet been found. Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations likewise found it most likely that Saddam "did have something to hide -- and we'll still find it."

More recently, Notra Trulock from Accuracy in Media wrote that "Kay's team still has much work ahead before a final judgment can be made on Iraq's WMD programs." Unfortunately, asking for more and more time is beginning to sound quite desperate and unconvincing.

Alan Reynolds

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