When you tell a lie, the number of words it takes to fool the listener seems directly proportional to the size of the untruth. The strategy is to cover up a misdeed by overwhelming the reader or listener with so much information that the lie will either not be noticed or believed.
During the Clinton administration, documents were repeatedly requested by congressional committees, but Congress was told they did not exist or could not be found. When they were produced at the last minute - before subpoenas were issued or some other form of legal action taken - the volume of papers was enough to make eyes glaze over. Then the administration hoped to persuade reporters and the public that it had been forthcoming.
Now, after years of denying he has weapons of mass destruction, deceiving the world and delaying inspections, Saddam Hussein has released more than 12,000 pages of text that basically claim he has no such weapons. The titles of the documents sound as if they are covering up the obvious: "Currently Accurate Full and Complete Declaration: Chemical Activity, " says one. Another repeats the title and inserts "Biological Activity " as its subject matter.
Why is so much information about weapons necessary if they do not exist? How does one prove a negative? Who takes Saddam Hussein at his word? The questions ought not to be about his truthfulness, the lack of which is widely known. Rather, they should concern what the United States is going to do about Saddam Hussein and what will he and his fellow evil axis members do to us if we try to take him out.
The Bush administration is playing a game reminiscent of President Kennedy's dance of death with the Soviet Union. Forty years ago, Nikita Khrushchev claimed the Soviets had placed no missiles in Cuba. Kennedy instructed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson to confront his Soviet counterpart, Valerian Zorin. When Zorin denied the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, Stevenson asked him once more and added the famous punchline, "I am prepared to wait until hell freezes over for my answer. " When Zorin refused to reply, Stevenson produced pictures of the missiles that had been taken by U.S. reconnaissance aircraft. The evidence helped lead to the eventual withdrawal of the missiles and averted a possible nuclear war.
The United States should lay out the latest evidence against Saddam Hussein. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said, "Any country on the face of the Earth with an active intelligence program knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. "
A Washington Post editorial correctly recommends that instead of compromising whatever intelligence it has, the United States should appeal to intelligence agencies from other nations that have some of the same data. This has the added benefit of broadening the indictments against Iraq beyond one country.
One place to begin, notes the Post editorial, is the United Nations' own evidence, including the official report of the last inspection mission. That report cited 360 tons of chemical warfare agents, 3,000 tons of precursor chemicals, growth media sufficient to produce more than 25,000 liters of anthrax and 30,000 munitions for the delivery of chemical and biological agents that Iraq failed to account for before 1999. As the editorial says, "If this weekend's report does not cover those materials, then the Security Council's resolution has been breached. "
If the United States is to retain credibility in its war against terrorism, there needs to be a final declaration that Saddam Hussein must go because he is a menace to civilized society and peace. That declaration must be followed immediately by the liberation of Iraq - and the world - from the danger posed by Saddam Hussein. Otherwise, the conclusion is that the United States and United Nations are powerless patsies. That will invite other rogue regimes to further undermine world stability, defy the United Nations and reveal our country to be a paper tiger. Such a scenario would guarantee new threats and put the United States and the Middle East in even greater peril.