Sunday, July 18, 2004

Yellowcaking

Supporters of the War are feeling vindicated by the collapse of Joe Wilson's credability and the two reports (one from an independent British commission, one from the Senate Intelligence Committee) supporting Bush's 2003 claim that Hussein tried to buy uranium in Africa. That's last week's news.
 
One of the self-evident truths to come out of the war, first on the left, then it moved into the mainstream and now it's even spread to war supporters, is that the Iraqi regime did not have any WMD programs.
 
Now that the Iraqi/African uranium story is seen as either 'well-founded' or just plain old true, let's pull back and look at the some of the larger issues.
 
1. Why did Saddam want uranium? Why buy uranium in 1999 if there was no nuke effort? Did Saddam want a nice yellowcake paperweight? The only reason to buy uranium is to supply a nuke or dirty bomb program. By 1999 the UN inspectors had been out of the country for a while and there was little outside pressure as the sanctions regime slowly decayed so why dismantle the WMD program between 1999 and 2004? What's the motivation?
 
The uranium story along with the sarin warhead detonated in Baghdad in May and the dozen or more sarin artillery shells discovered by Polish troops raise questions about the common wisdom that Saddam did not have a WMD program. Which goes to the next issue.
 
2. Intelligence changes quickly. What was the 'truth' last week is now seen as a purposeful deception, a ruse, a con, a hoax. What is now assumed to be widely 'known' (Saddam's lack of WMD) could dissolve into a new truth at any moment though either the discovery of stockpiles hidden in underground bunkers or moved abroad, through the translation of Iraqi documents or the confessions of Iraqi figures.
 
One of the lessons of the Joe Wilson meltdown is the today's truths could very well be revealed tomorrow as a scam and a lie. Hold these truths lightly. You may need to cast them off later.

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