NYT’s Keller implies Iraq War aimed to save Israel from a ‘holocaust’

on 76 Comments

NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller pens a tortured mea culpa about his support for the Iraq War, stopping short of a full apology because he “couldn’t have known better at the time.” Along the way, he drops this stunning revelation about where his and his colleagues’ priorities lie:

That leaves the elusive weapons of mass destruction. We forget how broad the consensus was that Hussein was hiding the kind of weapons that could rain holocaust on a neighbor or be delivered to America by proxy.

Which neighbor fears a “holocaust,” I wonder?

Also check out this laugher:

In the end, the costs [of the Iraq invasion and occupation] were greater than anyone anticipated because of calamitous mistakes in execution.

Speak for yourself Keller, but millions worldwide anticipated that the costs would be enormous – and were not fooled by the WMD scaremongering. Nowhere in Keller’s ramble does he mention the fact that Bush launched the invasion while inspectors were literally back in Iraq inspecting for WMDs, which I cannot see as anything but proof positive that this war had nothing to do with containing Iraq’s WMD ability.

A final note, interesting that Keller has some reflexive awareness that we progressives know that the NYT is a source of warmongering propaganda:

John F. Burns, a correspondent who chronicled the tyranny of Hussein while the man was still in power and stayed on to cover the invasion and aftermath, recalls the reflexive hostility he encountered as a Times reporter on trips home. “We were all liars, warmongers, lapdogs of Bush and Cheney and so forth,” he told me.

“Whatever we wrote — no matter what it was, and no matter how well documented — was dismissed as Bush propaganda,” added Dexter Filkins, who covered the battlefields and politics of Afghanistan and Iraq for The Times…

Keller only refers to the critics in vague terms, and makes no reference to international law scholar Richard Falk’s books Israel-Palestine on the Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East and The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy. And we can’t conclude a critique of Keller without mentioning his refusal to reassign Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner whose son serves in the Israeli Army, a clear violation of the NYT’s conflict of interest policies.

76 Responses

  1. Exiled At Home
    September 6, 2011, 3:09 pm

    We forget how broad the consensus was that Hussein was hiding the kind of weapons that could rain holocaust on a neighbor or be delivered to America by proxy.

    How broad was that consensus, Bill? And, was anyone talking about this “neighbor” publicly?

    • eee
      September 6, 2011, 3:33 pm

      He is referring to Kuwait, nah, Saddam would never attack it, would he?
      There are quite a few neighbors Saddam could have attacked including Iran.

      • mig
        September 6, 2011, 4:04 pm

        Saddam attacked Iran….memory short ?

      • traintosiberia
        September 6, 2011, 6:26 pm


        And America was trying to stop Saddam from atatcking Iran as Kissinger lamented that they( Shias and Sunnis ) were not finishing them off first enough. Yes that Holocaust is in the mind of Keller!!!!

      • Exiled At Home
        September 6, 2011, 6:55 pm

        You can’t honestly believe that the U.S. cared for the security of Iran, nor did the U.S. truly have any fear that Iraq would unleash chemical weapons against Kuwait at that point, what with all the U.S. military presence in that country.

        No, in truth, we all know the fear was for Israel.

      • Chaos4700
        September 6, 2011, 7:12 pm

        Oh stop it, mig! You’re trampling all over eee’s “All Muslims are unified by anti-Semitism” talking point!

      • Cliff
        September 6, 2011, 4:22 pm

        Why did the writer say HOLOCAUST? LOL

        Yea, I’m SURE he meant Kuwait and those incubator babies.

      • Chaos4700
        September 6, 2011, 7:12 pm

        Maybe he was referring to the Palestinians and other refugees who were attacked and purged from Kuwait? Oh no wait, that wasn’t Saddam that was the Kuwaiti government that is a US ally that did that… never mind.

      • Walid
        September 7, 2011, 9:30 am

        Cliff, you mentioned the incubators of the Hill and Knowlton gimmick of Iraq I but no one talks about something much more wretched in America’s involvement in the story; it was Bush Sr’s green light to Sadam to invade a small bordering area of Kuwait to take it over on the pretext that Kuwait was slant-drilling into Iraqi territory. The real reason Hussein wanted to attack Kuwait was because he had just come off an 8-year war with Iran on loans given to him by neighbouring Arab countries (and gas by the US to be used on the Iranians) and the Arabs led by Kuwait had refused to write off the loans or to let Saddam muck around with the OPEC pricing to get him out of the red. Saddam was pissed off because he felt he had been fighting the Iranians on behalf of all the Gulf Arabs and they were now turning their backs on him. In short, Bush okayed a grab of a small compensatory piece of Kuwait but once Saddam crossed the border, he just kept on going until he took all of it, and since this was not in the US deal, it pissed off Bush Sr and he started with the mumbo-jumbo about liberating Kuwait.

        I remember it was in the news back then, just as I remember watching the Hill and Knowlton circus on TV with the Kuwaiti ambassador’s daughter crying over the incubator story at the Senate hearing but both stories fizzed out. This January, Ron Paul raised the issue of America’s green light to Hussein in Congress via Wikileaks cables. Still no takers; maybe this has become ancient history for Americans.

        link to infowars.com

      • seafoid
        September 6, 2011, 4:49 pm

        After half a million Iraqis died during 10 years of sanctions and the army had been destroyed how would Iraq have attacked Iran, eee?

        Anyway I’m glad Israel got the war it wanted. Iran won.

      • DICKERSON3870
        September 6, 2011, 4:49 pm

        RE: “He is referring to Kuwait…There are quite a few neighbors Saddam could have attacked including Iran.” – eee

        MY REPLY: So you really believe the broad consensus might have actually been concerned about the possibility of Saddam Hussein attacking Iran? (lol!!!)

        FROM RAY McGOVERN, Common Dreams, 04/23/11

        (excerpt)…Hopefully, we have already taken care of the oil motive in what is said above. How about Israel? Well, candor requires acknowledgment that the neoconservatives running Bush/Cheney policies had great difficulty distinguishing between the strategic interests of Israel on the one hand, and those of the U.S. on the other.
        While this was clear from the outset of the Bush administration, specific evidence emerged in London at the Chilcot hearings on Iraq in January 2010.
        Former Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke publicly about Israel’s input into the all-important Bush-Blair deliberations on Iraq in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. Inexplicably, Blair slipped up on his propensity for hiding important facts from the public and told some truth, though his indiscretion got little attention in America’s FCM. Blair said:
        “As I recall that [April 2002] discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us [Bush and Blair], whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.”

        Blair’s remarks reinforced earlier ones by Philip Zelikow, a former member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and later counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
        Zelikow told an audience at the University of Virginia in September 2002 that the “real threat” from Iraq was not to the United States. Rather, the “unstated threat” from Iraq was the “threat against Israel.” He added, “The American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell.”…

        ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to commondreams.org

      • DICKERSON3870
        September 7, 2011, 6:48 am

        P.S. FROM Stephen Glain (author of State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America’s Empire), 9/05/11:

        (excerpts)…I was in Washington writing a book when 9/11 happened. I was personally stunned at the level of ignorance about the Middle East, the complete misinterpretation of what the attacks were all about, and the extent to which it was a wilful ignorance, spread largely by domestic politics. That just became a barrier to any kind of thoughtful inquiry as to what the attacks meant, and more importantly, how to respond to them…
        …I’d spent a lot of time in Iraq, and I’d seen what the sanctions had done to these extraordinary people…
        …But when it became clear that the US was going to war in Iraq, it became obvious to me that it was not about the Iraqis. It was about remaking the Middle Eastern map in a way that would make Israel more comfortable. That was quite a revelation. I don’t think I’ll ever really recover from that…

        SOURCE – link to thebrowser.com

      • MRW
        September 6, 2011, 5:02 pm

        15 years too late, eee.

      • Taxi
        September 6, 2011, 5:04 pm

        LOL eee do tell us about the last Kuwaiti HOLOCAUST that they feared another one from Saddam. You do know that a majority of Northern Kuwaitis are really Iraqis scooped up into Kuwait by the drunken Brits map-merchants right?

      • Shingo
        September 6, 2011, 5:37 pm

        No he is not referring to Kuwait. There were no inspections until after Desert Storm.

      • annie
        September 6, 2011, 7:34 pm

        the plan was pre bush. remember the pnac letter trying to get clinton to bomb iraq. it was straight out of ‘rebuilding america’s defenses’ originally presented by the same neocon cohorts to then israeli prime minister netanyahu in 96.

        the plan was originally designed for israel .

      • Walid
        September 7, 2011, 10:06 am

        “the plan was originally designed for israel .”

        Annie, sure Israel is a big fish in the US’ pond but I don’t think it’s big enough to have the US go to war for it or on its behalf. America does what’s good for America and more often than not, this happens to be beneficial to Israel. There are now over 500 Israeli companies working in Iraq and most probably more to work in Libya. The pre-Bush plan you mentioned was to help America’s war industry since it preached that with enough arms in its arsenal, US imperialism could undertake 3 and 4 wars all over the globe simultaneousl thus the need to buy zillions of new arms to be on the ready to take over the world. Iraq was attacked as part of that master plan, for its oil and to start the redrawing of the ME. Israel in a parasitical sense, happened to be a fortunate beneficiary.

      • annie
        September 7, 2011, 10:38 am

        walid, i agree with most of what you are saying but i don’t think israel just happened to be a fortunate beneficiary. it is my understanding, “the plan”, ‘rebuilding america’s defenses’ was a retooled version of A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.

        A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the “Clean Break” report) is a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then Prime Minister of Israel.[1] The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Western values”. It has since been criticized for advocating an aggressive new policy including the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
        …..According to the report’s preamble,[1] it was written by the Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000, which was a part of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Former United States Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle was the “Study Group Leader”, but the final report included ideas from James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser.[2]


        The Blueprint for the new Bush policy had actually been drawn up five years earlier by three of his top national security advisors, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser who were working for conservative pro-Israel think tanks. James Bamford explains, “the centerpiece of the recommendations was the removal of Saddam Hussein as the first step in remaking the Middle East into a region friendly, instead of hostile, to Israel. Their plan “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” also signaled a radical departure from the peace-oriented policies of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a member of an extreme right-wing Israeli group.” [3]

        The report was “a kind of US-Israeli neoconservative manifesto” according to journalist Jason Vest.[4]

        In Vest’s analysis, the report proposed “a mini-cold war in the Middle East, advocating the use of proxy armies for regime changes, destabilization and containment. Indeed, it even goes so far as to articulate a way to advance right-wing Zionism by melding it with missile-defense advocacy.”

        Because of the shared organizational membership of the paper’s authors, Vest wrote[4] that the report provides “perhaps the most insightful window” into the “policy worldview” of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and Center for Security Policy, two United States-based thinktanks.

        Sidney Blumenthal’s summary of the report:[6]

        “Instead of trading land for peace, the neocons advocated tossing aside the Oslo agreements that established negotiations and demanding unconditional Palestinian acceptance of Likud’s terms, peace for peace. Rather than negotiations with Syria, they proposed weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. They also advanced a wild scenario to redefine Iraq. Then King Hussein of Jordan would somehow become its ruler; and somehow this Sunni monarch would gain control of the Iraqi Shiites, and through them wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria.”

        it was this specific information (when i discovered it) that originally directed my attention towards israel.

    • Oscar
      September 7, 2011, 7:50 am

      Bill Keller is a pompous chucklehead. His navel-gazing columns seem to inadvertently serve as confessions that the NYT is hopelessly compromised as a source of objective facts. The recent coverage of the Libyan invasion by NATO was typically egregious — they might as well have brought back Judith Miller to lead the falsified coverage of that travesty.

      The Nation Magazine completely shreds this mealy-mouthed fool and his latest “mini-culpa” here: link to thenation.com.

      I, for one, am elated to see him stepping aside, if for no other reason than to see fewer of his spineless neo-con justifications for why his paper slants coverage in favor of permanent war. Does he lay awake at night, knowing that no one believes in the credibility of the NYT reportage any longer? The squandering of what once was a national treasure was completely ethically bankrupted on his watch.

  2. Chespirito
    September 6, 2011, 3:59 pm

    One of the worst pieces of journalism I’ve ever read, and on so many levels; no wonder the Times is dying.

  3. straightline
    September 6, 2011, 4:01 pm

    Now if you had stopped at Kuwait you might have been almost believable, eee, but Iran? The crowd that went to war against Iraq were the ones who fomented war against Iran by Iraq and supplied it with chemical weapons. Iran was part of the “axis of evil” – remember? The then leaders of the US didn’t care one iota about protecting Iran – indeed they would have been cheering Saddam if Iraq had again attacked Iran. In any case the Iraq War was not about a feared attack on Israel but at least in part about maintaining Israel’s hegemony in the region. No-one dares attack a country with 200+ nuclear weapons.

    In any case, the “rain holocaust on a neighbor” was from Keller and given the distorted perspective of the “newspaper” he works for, it is clear that he means you know who.

  4. seafoid
    September 6, 2011, 4:07 pm

    How many Arabs have been murdered under the cover of preventing a fantasy holocaust?
    And when is Israel going to be able to get through a year without murdering Arabs who had nothing to do with the second world war?

    • Chaos4700
      September 6, 2011, 7:14 pm

      A real Holocaust to prevent an imaginary Holocaust. History is not going to remember Israel and the United States too kindly for our militant, anti-Muslim, joined at the hip unified policy.

  5. marc b.
    September 6, 2011, 4:10 pm

    to any extent that there was a ‘broad consensus’, it was initially built on lies, yellow cake, meetings between al qaeda and representatives of hussein’s intelligence services in prague, aluminium tubes, all of which quickly fell apart, and when the ‘facts’ fell about, the great wurlizter helped make the case for ‘democratization’, a pretty nebulous thing. (who could argue that hussein wasn’t a ‘tyrant’ or ‘defiant’, hell TNR cropped his moustache to turn him into the latest model of the new hitlers.)

    what this pompous ass ignores is not just the misreporting of facts, or reporting of easily disproven allegations, he ignores the general tone of the NYT in cheerleading for the war, its opinion pieces an indispensible part of the case for war amongst the liberal class. i may be projecting my opinion into the mouths of others, but my memory is of some reticence to enter into a major military campaign, as this war, not surprisingly, effectively ended any talk of a ‘peace dividend’ to be enjoyed after the conclusion of the cold war, and any possible soul searching as to the new meaning and mission of america in a world without a superpower enemy.

  6. Kathleen
    September 6, 2011, 4:14 pm

    what a weak kneed puke Keller is. If not an excessory to war crimes.

    He uses that often repeated lie “knowing what we know now” horse crap.

    How many of us marched, protested, lobbied, called ,visited our Reps, some of us were arrested protesting this unncecessary and immoral invasion. Millions nation wide…30 million world wide marched against the invasion before the invasion.

    In New York city in early Feb of 2003 just weeks before the invasion. My dear friends John and Bev Titus (lost their dear daughter Alysia Titus who was an airline stewardess on the United Flight slammed into the Twin Towers by the terrorist on 9/11) led the anti invasion march in New York with other 9/11 family members against the invasion. I had the honor of pushing a 93 year old WWII Vet in his wheel chair at that protest, march against the invasion. We were surrounded by thousands of WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Iraqi vets from Desert Storm who were marching against that bloody invasion. The hundreds of thousands of protesters were teachers, plumbers, students, families pushing babies in strollers, pushing seniors in wheelchairs. Did Keller get out on the street or have his people interview these folks? HELL NO. Neither did the majority of the other MSM outlets Most of these folks based their decisions to stand against the invasion on many experts who squeezed through the MSM’s bought out WMD mantras onto programs like Democracy Now, a few on the Diane Rehm show and Talk of the Nation. We read in the Nation (Jason Vest article in the fall of 2002 “the Men from Jinsa and the CSP) question the validity of the intelligence. We heard former IAEA weapons inspector Scott Ritter on blogs, question the vailidty of the intelligence. Seymour Hersh put out a few articles questioning the intelligence. Former head of the IAEA El Baradei came out in early March of 2003 confirming that the Niger Documents were forgeries. And poorly done forgeries.

    “What we know now” is a total week kneed puke kind of lie and line.

    Much was known about the false intelligence coming out of these war criminals mouths. Just that the New York Times rolled over and fed and reported just what the Bush administration wanted and far far more.

    Keller is a weak kneed puke. Complicit to war crimes. If not a war criminal himself.

    • Daniel Rich
      September 6, 2011, 6:59 pm

      Hi Kathleen,

      Q: How many of us marched, protested, lobbied, called ,visited our Reps, some of us were arrested protesting this unncecessary and immoral invasion.

      R; The millions who poured into the streets were not considered to be representing the couch potatoes who stayed home…

    • robin
      September 6, 2011, 7:13 pm

      Really good point. Even at the time, there were so many people calling out the lies. There was not a consensus. The people who believed the misinformation did so not because it was all they had to go on, or the most credible information available, but because they wanted a war for whatever reason. (In Keller’s case the reasons appear to have been largely emotional/hormonal, besides his concern for Israel’s interests).

  7. Kathleen
    September 6, 2011, 4:17 pm

    Matthew and Mondo team. Finkelstein over at Democracy Now discussing the UN report release. Some important articles up about Israel/Turkey over at Foreign Policy

  8. eGuard
    September 6, 2011, 4:19 pm

    Today Tuesday, in The Times (from London or nearby, that is), Eliza Manningham-Buller appears. Baroness. She was Deputy-head MI5 (UK homeland secret service) 1997-2002, and Head MI5 (2002-2007). To be clear: MI6 is doing those services abroad

    She says: After a meeting in Washington DC, by allowed special flight on Sep 12, they sat in the British Embassy’s garden. We all agreed that the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians needed to be revived, an explicit recognition that the West needed to readdress the open sore that coulds well have contributed to these events.

    Then she went on doing thing otherwise. Not a single day in these ten years, the baroness stood up to her Garden Talks. Not worth her own words.

  9. Bill in Maryland
    September 6, 2011, 4:22 pm

    It doesn’t matter eee because the supposed “WMD” threat was all lies from the beginning, used by the neocons to fulfill their roadmap, laid out so neatly beforehand by the PNAC, in order to better secure Israel as a regional power. The US was used.

  10. pabelmont
    September 6, 2011, 4:38 pm

    Letter to NYT:

    10 Years Late


    44 Years Late



  11. MRW
    September 6, 2011, 4:55 pm

    Matthew, your post is a keeper, and I am damn glad you are going after this issue with a clear eye. You’re younger than me and you should use your youth in the public space to call these older lying farts to account. I suggest a good dollop of derision.

    There’s even more to this than this:

    Nowhere in Keller’s ramble does he mention the fact that Bush launched the invasion while inspectors were literally back in Iraq inspecting for WMDs, which I cannot see as anything but proof positive that this war had nothing to do with containing Iraq’s WMD ability.

    I know I clipped the following. I can’t find it. It’s etched in my brain, however. Not only were the inspectors still doing their job, but Saddam Hussein had offered to leave Iraq in the week before March 19, 2003 (I think it was in the 48 hours before)—had actually agreed to it—and the clip I saw and retained said that Cheney convinced Bush to go ahead with the attack. The source for this was not conjecture. It was something like Jane’s Defense Weekly or Knight-Ridder (now McClatchy) or The Christian Science Monitor. Could have been the NYT.

    Making a deal leader-to-leader is a time-honored tradition going back to Sun-Tzu in 500 BC, who wrote you’ve failed if you actually have to go to war.

  12. seafoid
    September 6, 2011, 4:59 pm

    Israel is ratcheting up the paranoia again
    Imagine being a poorly educated Mizrahi who only speaks Hebrew.

    Imagine what it would mean if all of the authoritative people on TV and in the papers were implying that you were less than a month away from a new Holocaust. And this time it would involve you, a Yemeni.

    2 despicable articles in Ha’aretz. I can only imagine what they are foaming in Maariv.

    link to haaretz.com

    ‘Home Front Command chief says Middle East regional war could include use of weapons of mass destruction; warns that Arab Spring may turn into ‘Radical Islamic Winter’.”

    link to haaretz.com

    “With a Palestinian state in place, a nuclear war could arrive in Israel not only as a “bolt-from-the-blue” surprise missile attack, but also as a result, intended or inadvertent, of escalation. If an enemy state were to begin with “only” conventional and/or biological attacks upon Israel, Jerusalem might respond, sooner or later, with fully nuclear reprisals”

    But no takers in the comments for the lunacy and this beautiful reply.

    • You seem pretty unstable.
    o Reuben of NY
    o 06.09.11
    o 15:27

    If when you say injurious to US interests you mean that when Palestinian statehood comes into being it gives the Palestinians the power to bring Israelis in front of the ICJ and therefore hurting the IDF then yes you are correct and hopefully it is very injurious to US interests as it has been a long time coming that those people should get some justice.

    • American
      September 6, 2011, 8:18 pm

      “If an enemy state were to begin with “only” conventional and/or biological attacks upon Israel, Jerusalem might respond, sooner or later, with fully nuclear reprisals”

      Every time I see this kind of ‘threat/statement’ I am reminded once again how incredibility stupid the Israelis are…this would be their own death sentence.
      Do they seriously think that if they started using nukes in the ME that Russia would stay out of it, with all their interest in the region–even with the US as Israel’s “protector”?
      I have been reading the updates on nuclear war from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist regularly for years now. Of the major nuclear armed countries in the world liable to be involved in a nuclear conflict Russia is the only one predicted to survive. Russia has a land mass twice the size of the US, it’s the largest country in the world in land mass, it has 4 times more missiles and 2 times more armed nuclear war heads of the US.
      Anyone who thinks Russia wouldn’t take exception to the US and Israel setting off nukes hasn’t studied Putin very well.
      The Israelis are insane to even mention using nukes…they would be gone in a nanosecond.

  13. MRW
    September 6, 2011, 5:14 pm

    Matthew, (I’m putting my reactions in shorter chunks for clarity)

    he “couldn’t have known better at the time.”

    Jesus. Keller’s Middle East Bureau Chief and war correspondent, Chris Hedges, quit in disgust over Keller’s ‘knowing’.

    Keller couldn’t have known? He and his editorial staff were jacking off to war porn. They were watching it all day long, and destroying the careers of Americans who (1) didn’t go along with them, or (2) who wrote they were wrong. Americans were accused of being unpatriotic, the FBI was bashing down doors of people they deemed unamerican. People lost jobs and careers.

    Hedges tried to take the stimulus away, but the Grey Lady snarled that they were entitled.

  14. Sin Nombre
    September 6, 2011, 5:28 pm

    … and, like so many similar others, the next time Keller betrays his supposed principles because doing so helps Israel, there he’ll be afterwards issuing yet another mea culpa pretending he was misled, or the execution of it was bad, or it all went bad because of sunspots, and etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

    It’s a stigmata of double-standards signaling how to identify establishment Lefties: If it’s done for U.S. interests, it’s evil. If it’s done for Israel’s, at worst it gets a pass.

    And now Keller’s gotta rush out to attend a symposium or roundtable where he’ll talk deeply and at length about how much journalism depends on fearlessness in the face of financial and social pressure.

  15. jnslater
    September 6, 2011, 5:28 pm

    I have been, and remain, highly critical of how the NYT treats the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially during Keller’s tenure. But this long piece by Keller is excellent and painstakingly honest, and should not be treated with sarcasm.

    I shared Keller’s ambivalence about the Iraq war at the time, primarily because it seemed “obvious” at the time–for a number of reasons–that Saddam was continuing to pursue nuclear weapons, as he had demonstrably been doing earlier. Like Keller, it seemed like a really bad idea to do nothing, (or nothing that was likely to succeed), in order to prevent a proven psychopath from getting nuclear weapons. And Keller is also right that most of the specialists in this area, including most Western intelligence agencies, considered it as obvious that Saddam was still actively seeking nuclear weapons and would soon get them, if not stopped.

    There was also a strong moral case, again as Keller argues, for intervention, but in my view, and clearly in his, the decisive factor was the nuclear, or more broadly, the wmd issue.

    Whether or not these factors–or, as in the wmd case, apparent factors–were sufficient to warrant a preventive war at the time is another matter. My own view in March 2003 was exactly the same as Keller’s: more time should have been given for the inspections to continue. But the implication of that position is that if the inspectors did not conclude that there was no wmd threat, war might be justifiable.

    There are two great ironies in this situation. The first is that it was the Bush administration, more than almost anyone else, that knew of the evidence that cast doubt that Saddam was continuing the nuclear program–but it lied about or concealed this evidence from the rest of the world. It is obvious why it lied–it wanted a war, wmd or not–but it was not obvious to most informed people at the time.

    The second irony is that if the seemingly best alternative at the time had been pursued–a strengthened inspection regime for six months, in lieu of an immediate attack– of course it would have found no nuclear weapons, as there were none to be found. But what would it have concluded: that there were no such weapons, or that Saddam had successfully hidden them? It almost surely would not have said that the absence of weapons was definitive proof that they didn’t exist, and then we would have been back in the same problem as existed in March 2003.

    What then? For many nonrightwingers, ambivalence.

    Well, this is a long-winded way of saying that Taylor’s dismissive rhetoric about the Keller piece is unwarranted. Keller’s full piece should be read, along with his link to Kanan Makiya’s own “tortured mea culpa.” Makiya, for those who don’t remember him, was an exile from Iraq, a true moral hero whose writings on Saddam influenced not only Bush but all those who cared about human rights in general and the nightmare of the Saddam Hussein era in Iraq, in particular.

    • RoHa
      September 6, 2011, 7:02 pm

      “because it seemed “obvious” at the time–for a number of reasons–that Saddam was continuing to pursue nuclear weapons, as he had demonstrably been doing earlier.”

      For those of us who were paying attention, it didn’t seem obvious at all. The Osirak plant had been destroyed, the weapons inspectors were crawling all over the place and finding nothing, and there was no other credible evidence. No evidence was found, so the sane assumption was that they didn’t exist.

      “sufficient to warrant a preventive war ”

      Preventative war is wrong. It is always unjustified. Even if Iraq had been as heavily armed as the US and the USSR combined, there would be no moral ground for preventative war.

      • eljay
        September 6, 2011, 7:09 pm

        >> For those of us who were paying attention, it didn’t seem obvious at all.

        I remember watching the propaganda build-up for the war with Iraq and being totally mystified – and thoroughly disgusted – at how nothing was magically being transformed into something.

        I recall being astounded by a particular exchange between the White House spokesperson at the time (Ari Fleischer?) and a member of the WH press corps. I don’t recall the exact words, but the gist of it was very close to this:

        A.F.: We demand that Saddam turn over all information relating to his weapons programs, to prove that he’s not building WMDs.
        Q: What if Saddam does provide all that proof and is able to demonstrate that no WMDs are being built?
        A.F.: It doesn’t matter.

        Ho. Lee. F*ck.

      • Bumblebye
        September 6, 2011, 7:56 pm

        “Western intelligence agencies” did not believe Saddam was on his way to nukes or the rest. The PNAC (and/or “Clean Break” – I hadn’t heard of them then) people in control of your govt were determined to find any excuse to go to war against Iraq and rode roughshod over the intelligence agencies, twisting, amplifying and grossly distorting what there was. Even before Powell’s excruciating speech most of it had been debunked. I knew it, and I’m just about a nobody in any scheme of things! I had no internet then, but it was in papers, on radio and tv, and properly investigated to the best of their ability. Where were you that none of this reached you? Did it not penetrate the US MSM at all? I listened to Powell in sheer disbelief and horror that the USA would go to war on a string of fictions in the 21s century!

      • piotr
        September 7, 2011, 7:29 am


        That leaves the elusive weapons of mass destruction. We forget how broad the consensus was that Hussein was hiding the kind of weapons that could rain holocaust on a neighbor or be delivered to America by proxy. He had recently possessed chemical weapons (he used them against the Kurds), and it was only a few years since we had discovered he had an active ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. Inspectors who combed the country after the first gulf war discovered a nuclear program far more advanced than our intelligence agencies had believed; so it is understandable that the next time around the analysts erred on the side of believing the worst.

        This is a heavily falsified account. Without going into details, articles of Rangwalla and other experts, and actual findings of the inspectors, one should ponder consequences of what Keller and others like him are saying:

        a consensus of “all major intelligence agencies” is convinced that there is plenty of some X, and there is no X what-soever.

        This basically means that all funds spend on intelligence gathering are wasted, and this is quite colossal waste on its own, but most tragically, we believe the stuff and make horrible errors as a result.

        The good news is that the reality is not THAT bad. There are some intelligent people in intelligence agencies. And there is a lot of facts in public domain that allow to evaluate the claims, and a lot of experts. One has to read, listen, compare and, unfortunately, think. (Yes, Mr. Keller, did you THINK? Did you observed a number of proven lies repeated again and again by the Administration?)

        Keller, being in the middle of it, has to know that he is repeating self-serving lies here. (Active nuclear ambitions were discovered? Really? Really? Brain scan, perhaps? or this hapless forgery about yellow-cake from Niger?)

    • Donald
      September 6, 2011, 7:17 pm

      “And Keller is also right that most of the specialists in this area, including most Western intelligence agencies, considered it as obvious that Saddam was still actively seeking nuclear weapons and would soon get them, if not stopped.”

      You’re going to have to prove this. “Most specialists?” Based on what evidence and please tell us how you know “most specialists” knew this? And anyway, obviously “most specialists” were clearly idiots if they thought this. I don’t mean that they were idiots for thinking Saddam might or might not have WMD’s–I mean they were idiots for thinking they knew it was obvious. One would think any competent intelligence analyst would be able to distinguish between what he really knew and what he only guessed, but apparently not.

      Even at the time ordinary intelligent people could read the back pages of the newspapers and see that this intelligence was clearly hyped. I didn’t know if Saddam had nukes, but apparently I could spot a con job better than you.


      I haven’t bothered to look it up, but it was also obvious that the Bush Administration wasn’t that concerned about Saddam’s alleged terrible threat until after 9/11, when they were clearly interested in drumming up a war. Colin Powell was on record as saying that Saddam had been contained by the sanctions.

      It sounds to me like you are defending Keller because you were one of those “serious people” who swallowed a lot of nonsense. Again, I’m not saying I knew for certain what Saddam had, but it was obvious the prowar people were lying about the evidence.

      One of the rather obvious features of the runup to war was that the Bush Administration showed no great concern over Saddam before 9/11. Colin Powell said that the sanctions had him contained. The “evidence” presented, such as it was, was widely contested in the leftwing blogosphere.
      The NYT rather gullibly stress

      • Donald
        September 6, 2011, 7:21 pm

        And something from the Keller piece–

        “It was a large and estimable group of writers and affiliations, including, among others, Thomas Friedman of The Times; Fareed Zakaria, of Newsweek; George Packer and Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker; Richard Cohen of The Washington Post; the blogger Andrew Sullivan; Paul Berman of Dissent; Christopher Hitchens of just about everywhere; and Kenneth Pollack, the former C.I.A. analyst whose book, “The Threatening Storm,” became the liberal manual on the Iraqi threat. ”

        God help us if that’s supposed to be an impressive list of people. Yeah, I would certainly risk the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people (which was predicted, btw) on the word of that collection of clowns.

      • Kathleen
        September 6, 2011, 7:30 pm

        Bush’s (43)Former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neil said in Ron Susskinds book “the Price of Loyalty” that Wolfowitz, Cheney came to the first Bush administrations cabinet meetings focused on targeting Iraq.

      • Donald
        September 6, 2011, 7:44 pm

        I forgot to delete the last paragraph in the 7:17 post.

        Anyway, I did look something up. Colin Powell was an advocate of “smart sanctions” before 9/11/2001. The idea was to keep Iraq from acquiring materials for any WMD programs while (supposedly) eliminating the burdens that sanctions were placing on Iraqi civilians. The US was losing the propaganda battle then and that’s what concerned Powell. He doesn’t really look like someone desperately afraid that Saddam was about to acquire nukes.

      • Chaos4700
        September 6, 2011, 7:59 pm

        Yeah, but Powell was sure willing to act like someone desperately afraid that Saddam was about to acquire nukes if that’s what having a place in a Presidential administration demanded. Have you forgotten that laughable farce of a PowerPoint slideshow he gave at the UN?

      • Donald
        September 6, 2011, 10:39 pm

        “Have you forgotten that laughable farce of a PowerPoint slideshow he gave at the UN?”

        No. I was referring to Powell’s stance and behavior before 9/11, when he was in favor of “smart sanctions”. At that time he wasn’t running around acting like we had to invade before it was too late. And that’s the point. There was nothing, no real reason for the change in his attitude after 9/11 except that the Bushies decided to use that as an excuse to invade.

    • robin
      September 6, 2011, 7:29 pm

      RoHa said it best, preventive war is aggression plain and simple.

      We are not thinking soundly when we require countries to prove a negative in order to escape invasion.

      When you say “it seemed like a really bad idea to do nothing,” you’re illustrating the defect in how you and Keller were thinking about going to war. In your minds, war had become the default option, rather than the last resort. And so ‘not initiating a war of conquest’ becomes the derogatory ‘doing nothing’. Well, there were plenty of better things to do.

    • Donald
      September 6, 2011, 7:31 pm

      “There was also a strong moral case, again as Keller argues, for intervention, ”
      I missed this the first time. I actually misread it as you saying there was a strong moral case against intervention, overrode in your mind because of the WMD threat.

      So starting a war which would likely kill massive numbers of innocent civilians unless everything went just right struck you as a moral thing to do? I’m no fan of Samantha Powers for reasons I won’t go into, but she makes a pretty good common sense argument that Keller cites–the one time when military intervention might be justified is when the alternative is likely to be genocide. That simply wasn’t the choice in 2003–the massive death toll came about because we intervened, and anyone not enamored with their own intellect might have realized this was likely to happen.

      Stick to the I/P conflict, Professor Slater. I greatly respect your work there–this post is a huge disappointment. I am surprised you object to Israel’s behavior as much as you do, frankly, if you supported the Iraq War.

    • annie
      September 7, 2011, 1:02 am

      why do you think saddam was any more of a “psychopath” than cheney or any number of israel’s famous terrorists leaders?

      Psychopathy (/saɪˈkɒpəθi/[1][2]) is a mental disorder characterized primarily by a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow emotions, egocentricity, and deceptiveness. Psychopaths are highly prone to antisocial behavior and abusive treatment of others, and are very disproportionately responsible for violent crime. Though lacking empathy and emotional depth, they often manage to pass themselves off as normal people by feigning emotions and lying about their pasts.

  16. MRW
    September 6, 2011, 5:45 pm

    Matthew, maybe this mea culpa will extend to the root cause of this entire débâcle: 9/11. Which has not had a decent investigation.

    If the root cause for your actions is X, then is X true?

    You have to establish that in order for your future to withstand the bumps and grinds.

    We surmised that Osama bin Laden did it. The majority of Americans accepted the pundits and the opinion of unsavory characters on 9/11 like Richard Perle and Ehud Barak—who do not speak for the US Government or US Justice Dept—on BBC at 6:30 PM GMT that day (which equalled 12:30 PM NYC time) who spent one hour claiming, determining, that it was Osama who did it. Check the media morgue.

    Ten days later the BBC located nine (9) of the hijackers alive and well. Did the NYT report that? No. Did they follow it up? No. And we are still living with the consequences of that negligence.

    The only paper that did any decent investigating on the lead-up to the war was Knight-Ridder. Their reporters won a Pulitzer for their work, because they were the only newspaper in the entire USA that got it right. Their reporters did it by reporting with their feet.

    • Castle Keep
      September 6, 2011, 6:03 pm

      Mary Dudziak, Professor of history in the Law school at University of Southern California, told a conference of teachers of history that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the US had overwhelming global support, but that it quickly squandered that support, and says it was thrown away when the retribution the US rightfully sought was wrongly framed as a war on terror.

      Dudziak said the sympathy for US lasted only a matter of weeks.

      She failed to acknowledge that the global war on terror was declared, by Ehud Barak, while George Bush was still incommunicado, per Dick Cheney’s orders, and Barak was making decisions laying plans for the next X years of the lives of Americans.

      Just like Israelis instructed Obama on his presidency, as we learned from Wikileaks, that Israel kept Obama informed on the progress of the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza.

      “This is what we can do, Mr. Obama. You wanna f*&k with us?”

      Here’s a tactic — we should write/email to the participants in the panel linked above. They are teaching America’s college students about 9/11. Let’s make sure American children learn truths and facts, not Israeli and neocon/Cheneyesque hasbara.

      • MRW
        September 7, 2011, 1:07 am

        Thanks, Castle Keep. You’re dead right. I’m assuming you’re referring to the panel at the link with Mary Dudziak.

        Why don’t people know this: She failed to acknowledge that the global war on terror was declared, by Ehud Barak, while George Bush was still incommunicado.

        Ehud Barak was in the BBC Green Room 1/2 hour before the South Tower fell. I watched him in an insert.

  17. Castle Keep
    September 6, 2011, 5:50 pm

    Vernon Loeb of WashPo completed the manuscript begun by Jack O’Connell, now-deceased former CIA station chief in Jordan —

    King’s Counsel: A Memoir of War, Espionage, and Diplomacy in the Middle East. The book tells the story about the late Jack O’Connell, a CIA station chief and later Jordan’s lawyer in Washington, and a close confidante of Jordan’s late King Hussein. The book tells the back-story behind the Mideast wars of 1967and 1973 and their relevance to the today’s Mideast situation and the U.S. military and diplomatic policy in that region.

    Loeb said that King Hussein maintained that Saddam was ready to withdraw from Kuwait, but Western forces were intent on taking Iraq. Pierre Salinger’s “Secret Dossier” tells the same story: Arab leaders were negotiating among themselves to resolve Saddam’s dilemma — Iraq was heavily in debt after the US-Rumsfeld-support Iraq war on Iran (financed by Saudi Arabia); Kuwait lowered its oil prices which further strained Iraq’s economy. According to Salinger, Saddam marched into Kuwait after Kuwaitis insulted his request that they ante up, and also that they stop drilling from Kuwait into Iraqi fields.

    James Baker, Henry Kissinger, and good ole Dennis Ross were on the A-team that pushed the region into the first Persian Gulf war, a war that King Hussein maintained, did not have to happen.

    Keller’s “tortured mea culpa” sounds suspiciously like Madeleine Albright’s “we thought the price was worth it.”
    Neither of these bastards paid the price with the blood of their own children.

  18. traintosiberia
    September 6, 2011, 6:15 pm

    I am already ready to accecpt the next mea culpa from Keller for supporting NATOs mission on Libya, lending intellectual credences to Cameron and Sarkozy’s grand satnding on Libya,on viagra story from same authors of the machinations for push to attack Libya,on the imminent genoicidal anarchy begulfing Libya unless he(Keller )supported and advanced the causes of those exilee of people like new Chalabi (Jalail )on CIA payroll living near CIA’s head quarters and for not seeing the oily connections spilling over from the lips of the Cameron and Sarkozy gangs.

  19. robin
    September 6, 2011, 6:58 pm

    We forget how broad the consensus was that Hussein was hiding […] weapons [of mass destruction]

    This really galls me. It’s like a deflection of responsibility for Keller’s and the NYT’s role in creating that false consensus, based on dishonest analysis. What would the NYT’s value be if it just passively reproduced a pre-existing media consensus? If true that would be damning enough for the institution.

    But of course, with a reputation like theirs, we expect them to investigate, gather the best data, and analyze it with a cool head. And that’s where they so poisonously failed in the build-up to the war. They bear such a huge responsibility for the catastrophe both because of their outsized reputation, and because of the willfullness of their deception (which Keller all but admits to, without truly apologizing).

    I also find it telling that in all this soul-searching and hand-wringing, he doesn’t see fit to mention the two most salient facts of the war he’s writing about: 1) the number of people killed and maimed, and 2) that it was, strictly speaking, a war of aggression precipitated solely by the United States.

    • Kathleen
      September 6, 2011, 7:18 pm

      We know how broad the consensus was amongst the MSM. They sold out. Repeated the Bush administrations WMD mantras without question

    • piotr
      September 7, 2011, 7:44 am


      just mild criticism. Claims about weapons should be evaluated by people with some knowledge of physics, chemistry, metallurgy etc. A journalist can either (a) interview or otherwise compile expert opinion, or (b) parrot unnamed or named intelligence sources. Of course, Keller did (b) and even this idiot knows that the French, and the Russians publicaly disagreed with WMD claims so his “consensus” is a lie.

      But he did not lie at that time. He was citing. And the French, and the Russian were cited, and other experts. 90% of the case against the war was in NYT. We knew that the story of metal pipes imported for uranium-enriching centrifuges was refuted, and repeated by Rice and other officials again and again. More precisely, we could add two plus two, even if Kelly did not.

      Kelly did not think for us, but we could.

  20. Kathleen
    September 6, 2011, 7:11 pm

    “elusive weapons of mass destruction” as if the weapons were difficult to capture or moving about. Keller is such a weak kneed puke, a yellow bellied coward. Helping sell that unnecessary war, helping send young men and women off to their deaths, injuries. He and his paper were part of the team that sold that immoral war to some of the American people.

    “elusive weapons of mass destruction” What a terrifying hack.

  21. Kathleen
    September 6, 2011, 7:24 pm

    Some reading and listening recommendations:

    Wilkerson over at Democracy Now. Wilkerson rips Cheney a new a– hole. Calls him out. Says he would testify under oath if Cheney was ever held accountable for his war crimes. We can dream and push for accountability

    Norm Finkelstein over at Democracy Now on the UN report about the Mavi Gaza flotilla.

    Over at National Interest former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit Micheal Scheuer “The Zawahiri Era”

    Emptywheel.net “The Death Squads protecting our country”

    Foreign Policy “Why the Myths of Irans “stolen” election still matters”

  22. American
    September 6, 2011, 7:27 pm

    It was all lies, deliberate lies. A lot of people knew it was all lies.
    I look forward to the day when the Keller’s are confronted by a ‘mob’ of their critics face to face.
    How many poeple did they kill?

  23. straightline
    September 6, 2011, 7:56 pm

    Let me remind you of what I’m sure you already know. During the lead up to the Iraq war Glen Rangwala in Cambridge kept a website that, in a scholarly way, documented all of the claims of WMD in Iraq. The gist was that there was no substantive evidence and scant circumstantial evidence that was credible.

    It was Rangwala

    link to casi.org.uk

    who discovered that Blair’s attempt to persuade parliament that WMD existed in Iraq – the so-called “Dodgy Dossier” (used by Powell in his address to the UN) – was largely plagiarised and not, as it was presented, the work of British Intelligence. Where were the journalists – why were they not questioning the validity of the dossier?

    • RoHa
      September 6, 2011, 8:49 pm

      “Where were the journalists – why were they not questioning the validity of the dossier?”

      When they saw what happened to David Kelly, they had good reason to lie low and say nothing.

    • Donald
      September 6, 2011, 10:41 pm

      I’d forgotten about Rangwala. But yeah, anyone who really paid attention knew that the Bush people were bullsh***ing–they had nothing.

    • MRW
      September 7, 2011, 1:55 am


      Thanks for that link. All of us have to buy an extra cheapy hard drive and download this stuff. It’s all disappearing too soon.

      PDF it. On a Mac, you can use Command+S to save a .webarchive to drive.

      The gist was that there was no substantive evidence and scant circumstantial evidence that was credible.

      Because the US never did a thorough investigation of what brought down the three towers.

  24. Kathleen
    September 6, 2011, 9:03 pm

    wonder when Keller/New York Times will really get on their weak knees and write some articles about just how many Iraqi people have been killed, injured and displaced as a direct result of that unnecessary and immoral invasion. Or are those figures just too “elusive”

    There were a few journalist who demonstrated integrity and a commitment to digging for facts, or challenged. But most of them generally suspended critical questions, research and judgments of the lies being repeated.

    Knight Ridder’s Warren Strobel and Jonathon Landay dug into the claims far more than the majority

  25. jnslater
    September 7, 2011, 12:32 am

    A general response:

    1. It is an established fact, not an opinion, that Saddam Hussein had an active wmd program, including nuclear weapons, before the 1991 Gulf War. The international inspection system that was established in the aftermath of the war found that Iraq was far closer to going nuclear than had previously been suspected.
    2. It is a further fact, not an opinion, that throughout the 1990s Saddam did everything he could to interfere with, deceive, and harass the UN inspectors, who were seeking to destroy all the wmds, but especially nuclear weapons. At the end of 1998, because of Saddam’s behavior, the last UN inspectors withdrew from Iraq.
    3. Because of this history, the inference drawn by most serious observers, intelligence agencies, etc. was that Saddam had essentially forced an end to the inspection system because he wanted to be free to continue the wmd program. What other inference could reasonably have been drawn? It turns out that Saddam was even more irrational than was realized at the time, which is saying a lot. He knew he faced another possible major war, he had to know that he couldn’t win it, he surely must have considered that this time the war would not end until he was driven from power. Since he had decided to end the wmd program IN ANY CASE, why on earth didn’t he COOPERATE with the inspectors, thereby proving to them and the rest of the world that he had ended the wmds?
    No one knows the answer to this question with certainty–there are a variety of theories, but in the last analysis his behavior was completely irrational.
    The question of whether there were excellent reasons at the time to believe that after 1998 Saddam had escalated rather than ended the wmd program is a different question of whether, even if that had been true, a preventive war was justified or wise. The most widely accepted alternative to war in March 2003 was for a much-strengthened UN inspection system to be forced on Iraq–they would go in under the protection of Western military forces, no longer dependent on Saddam’s cooperation, find and destroy the wmd weapons, and report at the end of six months whether they had succeeded in doing so.

    As a matter of fact, that was what I favored at the time, not a war, so unlike Keller and many others, I don’t have to “apologize” for my position. The point of my comment was that it was not unreasonable for intelligent and moral people to feel that the case for war was not absurd–regardless of how it has turned out.

    As for those of you who claim you just knew back then that it was all a hoax, or a figment of the Bush administration’s fevered imagination, or nothing but a pack of lies, that there never was a serious threat from Saddam, etc etc. cannot be taken seriously, because none of you could possibly have “known” any such thing.

    Once again, for emphasis: to have taken the threat seriously is not the same as saying it was so serious that war was justified in March 2003, and certainly not until, at the very least, all other serious efforts had been made to disarm the presumed Iraqi wmd threat.

    • annie
      September 7, 2011, 12:42 am

      why on earth didn’t he COOPERATE with the inspectors

      i thought he was cooperating prior to the invasion.

      As a result of the U.S. and British campaign, and after prolonged negotiations between the United States, Britain, France, Russia and other U.N. Security Council members, the United Nations declared that Iraq would have to accept even more intrusive inspections than under the previous inspection regime – to be carried out by the U.N. Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – or face “serious consequences.” Iraq agreed to accept the U.N. decision and inspections resumed in late November 2002. On December 7, 2002, Iraq submitted its 12,000 page declaration, which claimed that it had no current WMD programs. Intelligence analysts from the United States and other nations immediately began to scrutinize the document, and senior U.S. officials quickly rejected the claims. (Note 2)

      Over the next several months, inspections continued in Iraq, and the chief inspectors, Hans Blix (UNMOVIC) and Mohammed El Baradei (IAEA) provided periodic updates to the U.N. Security Council concerning the extent of Iraqi cooperation, what they had or had not discovered, and what they believed remained to be done. During that period the Bush administration, as well as the Tony Blair administration in the United Kingdom, charged that Iraq was not living up to the requirement that it fully disclose its WMD activities, and declared that if it continued along that path, “serious consequences” – that is, invasion – should follow.

      link to gwu.edu

      he cooperated, we didn’t believe him, we invaded. he told the truth nd we didn’t believe him, or claimed to not believe him. some people think we just wanted to invade.

    • annie
      September 7, 2011, 12:55 am

      it was not unreasonable for intelligent and moral people to feel that the case for war was not absurd–regardless of how it has turned out.

      As for those of you who claim you just knew back then that it was all a hoax, or a figment of the Bush administration’s fevered imagination, or nothing but a pack of lies, that there never was a serious threat from Saddam, etc etc. cannot be taken seriously, because none of you could possibly have “known” any such thing.

      iow, nobody really knew but your position wasn’t unreasonable and we can’t be taken seriously. even tho in hindsight..we were right.


    • Chaos4700
      September 7, 2011, 1:06 am

      You were wrong. There were no WMDs. There was no program. And somewhere in the realm of a million innocent Iraqis died because of the mistake you participated in.

      End of story, really.

    • MRW
      September 7, 2011, 2:08 am


      1. It is an established fact, not an opinion, that Saddam Hussein had an active wmd program, including nuclear weapons, before the 1991 Gulf War. The international inspection system that was established in the aftermath of the war found that Iraq was far closer to going nuclear than had previously been suspected.

      It is also an established fact, established by a Senate Committee that Kennedy headed (A copy of which I got from the US Govt Printing Office and gave to a reporter, who has not returned it it) that it was George Bush I’s company and two other US companies who gave WMD to Saddam. Each instance of chemical given to Saddam was listed, including sarin. The originating company, the amount, and the date it was sent.

      That document is no longer available from the US printing office.

      Those chemicals, which are recorded worldwide, have a specific shelf-life. The reporter I gave the doc to told me this. He was a Colonel in the US Army previously and his specialty was chemical weapons.

      Since he had decided to end the wmd program IN ANY CASE, why on earth didn’t he COOPERATE with the inspectors, thereby proving to them and the rest of the world that he had ended the wmds?

      Inspectors said he had. (Seymour Hersh reported on this.) Where are you getting your information from?

    • Haytham
      September 7, 2011, 5:21 am


      Why would you come here of all places with this weak nonsense? The things you state, even if true, did not justify an invasion that would kill many, many innocent people, without attempting some other routes first. In reality, of course, if all of these issues existed since at least 1991, there was no obvious need to rush into war and no reasonable reason to believe that any type of intervention was necessary. The intelligence on this issue was not incorrect or confused, as I’m sure you know but do not say. It wasn’t incorrect or confused until Cheney and his office of Special Plans got a hold of the “raw intelligence” and started making wild assumptions using it.

      You know this instinctively which is why you noted at the end of your rambling word bag that you were not necessarily in favor or “preventive war.”

      Of course, you fail to note that “preventive war” is not generally accepted by the international community and has no protection under international law. Therefore, “preventive war” is arguably an aggressive war, and a war crime. Do you believe in international law? I know that most people in your position don’t but it would be nice to get a straight answer on that.*

      As I stated, you know all of this, even though you do not state it. Unfortunately, your position exists to make situations like this seem like a case of “we made a horrible mistake” or a case of “it was he said/she said, so how could we have known?” The truth is many people and governments around the world knew that this was not true. The fact that you were one of the relatively few people in the world that was suckered by all of this says a lot about your ability to weigh evidence. Let’s just say I hope you’re not on a jury anytime soon.

      *Information in this section was taken from the wikipedia entry on preventive war, which cites these books
      ^ Shaw, Malcolm (2008). International Law (6th edn). Camrbidge: Cambridge University Press. p. 1140. ISBN 9780521728140.
      ^ Brownlie, Ian (2008). Principles of Public International Law. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 734. ISBN 978019921770.

    • RoHa
      September 7, 2011, 9:42 am

      “certainly not until, at the very least, all other serious efforts had been made to disarm the presumed Iraqi wmd threat.”

      As I said before, even if the threat of Iraqi WMDs had been real, starting a preventative war was wrong.

      The proponent of preventative war is saying “Let’s start killing people now because that country might start killing people later.”

      That is to use actual killing to prevent possible killing.

      • eljay
        September 7, 2011, 10:02 am

        >> The proponent of preventative war is saying “Let’s start killing people now because that country might start killing people later.”

        The proponents of preventative war also says “Oh, and only ‘we’ get to launch and justify preventative wars. If ‘they’ do it, it’s aggression or terror(ism).”

  26. dbroncos
    September 7, 2011, 7:34 am

    slater: “why on earth didn’t he COOPERATE with the inspectors”

    Inspectors had all the access they needed. Hans Blix told us that he saw Cheney on TV showing a satellite view of a warehouse complex where, Cheney said, Saddam was hoarding weapons. Blix recognized the complex and said that there was nothing there – only chickens, some rusty scrap metal and used tires, which was duly noted in the inspectors report. Cheney & Co. had no use for info regarding facts on the ground established by weapons inspectors. The inspection regime was not the problem.

  27. piotr
    September 7, 2011, 8:15 am

    Just a short recap of what other wrote:

    So-called WMD are nuclear, chemical and biological.

    Nuclear program is most bulky, so to speak, and its non-existence was proven very emphatically.

    Chemical weapons are easier to hide, but they are also not particularly effective. Basically, pound for pound, explosives and incendiaries wreck more havoc than poisons. And they have limited life span. Inspectors did convincing job on chemical weapons, and would Saddam manage to hide a can of Sarin or some such, it would be of no importance.

    The case about biological weapons was most elusive, but pretty much from the realm of science fiction. The most astonishing revelation at the time was that WE have much better stuff than everybody else (anthrax from our bioweapon labs was mailed to members of Congress). But even that much better stuff was not dangerous in the military sense.

    There is also another aspect of the story which should give even semi-apologies a pause. Saddam, bastard that he was, honestly cooperated with Security Council, and was eliminated. NOBODY will make this mistake again. Arms control if finished. Perhaps Iranians want to make nuclear weapons, perhaps they do not want. Same with North Korea. But it would be utter stupidity for them to go for all necessary effort to prove the negative. That would be a weakness, and we attack the weak. Welcome to the jungle we created.

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