Vindicated for Removing Saddam

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President Bush’s top political advisor, Karl Rove, said on July 15 that his biggest mistake was not fighting back against Democrats trying to score cheap political points by accusing the President of lying to get the country to support an invasion of Iraq. Rove is right, but another mistake was made: not trying to vindicate the removal of Saddam Hussein using evidence, including Iraqi government documents, that was obtained after the regime’s overthrow. Compelling evidence exists to show that Saddam’s regime was sponsoring terrorists (e.g., Al-Qaeda), had the ability to quickly produce weapons of mass destruction, and the will to use both against its enemies.

The Iraq Survey Group, the task force put together to find out what happened to Iraq’s WMD stockpiles, is often seen as the group that debunked the Bush Administration’s case for war. In reality, its conclusions did not significantly contradict the nature of the threat described by both President Bush and President Clinton. In fact, it demonstrated that the feared nexus between terrorists and those involved in WMD was coming together.

The Duelfer Report, the final assessment of the Iraq Survey Group, states that a former Iraqi intelligence officer testified that the M16 Directorate “had a plan to produce and weaponize nitrogen mustard in rifle grenades and a plan to bottle sarin and sulfur mustard in perfume sprayer and medicine bottles which they would ship to the United States and Europe.” The plot was not launched because of an inability to get the ingredients for the weapons. This substantiates intelligence received in 1998 that prompted the British government to put its airports and seaports on alert because Iraqis were planning to smuggle anthrax into several countries including the United Kingdom inside bottles used for cosmetics, cigarette lighters, perfume sprays, and other apparently harmless items.

The Iraq Survey Group also found that the M14 Directorate was giving terrorist training to Iraqis, Palestinians, Syrians, Yemenis, Lebanese, Egyptians, Sudanese and other nationals at Salman Pak. The site that had an airliner and other Iraqi defectors reported that it was being used to provide training in tactics including hijacking. According to reporter Stephen Hayes, other documents show that Iraq trained 2,000 terrorists each year since 1999 at three camps. The ISG also said that it received testimony that Iraq had tried to recruit a former member of Hamas to kill Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Western Wall in Jerusalem using an unmanned aerial vehicle loaded with C4 explosives. Detainees later admitted that an undeclared site existed where such vehicles had been produced that ran test flights beyond the range allowed by the United Nations.

The Bush Administration could have saved its own credibility and that of the United States by explaining that the distinction between having the ability to quickly produce WMD and having actual stockpiles is minimal. The ISG confirmed that dual-use facilities had “assets that could be converted for BW [biological weapons] agent production within 4 to 5 weeks after the decision to do so.” One site had the ability to “provide the core of an alternative break-out capability…perhaps within 2 to 3 weeks.” Furthermore, Iraqi intelligence operated “a set of undeclared covert laboratories to research and test various chemicals and poisons, primarily for intelligence operations” and Iraq “intended to develop smallpox and possibly other viral pathogens.”

As for nuclear weapons, Saddam Hussein told his interrogator that he’d restart that program once U.N. sanctions were lifted, which he expected to happen in 2004. Even if they were not lifted, they were becoming weaker and weaker and the day was coming soon when Saddam would feel comfortable restarting his nuclear weapons work. These facts bolster the case for removing Saddam Hussein without even mentioning the possibility that WMDs went to Syria. Satellite photos provide credibility to the testimony of a Syrian journalist who identified three sites they were shipped to.

The first director of the ISG, David Kay, also raised the point that corruption was extremely high in the Iraqi government, leading to a strong possibility that terrorists could purchase weapons from officials.

“There were terrorist groups [in Iraq]…still seeking WMD capability. Iraq, although I found no weapons, had tremendous capabilities in this area. A marketplace phenomenon was about to occur, if it did not occur; sellers meeting buyers…No, Iraq remained a very dangerous place in terms of WMD capabilities, even though we found no large stockpile of weapons,” Kay said.

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  • ObamaYoMoma

    "In a post-9/11 world, the threat that Saddam Hussein posed could not be tolerated—and the world should know why."

    Then how could an Iran with nuclear weapons be tolerated in a post 9/11 world?

    The answer is it can’t! Iran must be stopped at all cost, and the USA and not Israel must lead the charge. If Saddam represented a threat that couldn’t be tolerated, then Iran represents a far greater threat than Saddam ever could. I just hope that we don’t make the same stupid mistake that Bush did and occupy another Muslim country to pursue another fantasy based nation-building mission with no hope of success.

    Furthermore, because the global jihad is permanent in nature, the regimes that finance and fund it, primarily the House of Saud and the Emirs of the Gulf States, must also eventually be obliterated and their oil wealth confiscated. They must be made to forfeit their oil wealth for the crime of prosecuting a permanent jihad against the non-Muslim world. Otherwise the global jihad being prosecuted against us, which takes place through stealth non-violent means and also violent means, will be permanent and never ending.

    • Larry C.

      I totally agree with all your comment, but look at who is leading this nation right now. The "IDIOTS" have this so-called Commander-in-Chief hiding under his desk in the Oval Office. Are we or are we not such lucky people. To have such leaders as this.

    • WildJew

      You wrote: "The answer is it can’t! Iran must be stopped at all cost, and the USA and not Israel must lead the charge."

      Bush did everything in his power to dissuade Israel from attacking Iran's nuclear sites. Now Obama is following suite. Do you really believe the USA will lead the charge? Bush lied about Israel and Islam. Conservatives gave Bush an absolute pass. Now we have a Muslim-born president with deep sympathies for the world of Islam. Is it any wonder? What did you and others in the conservative movement write or say when Bush lied about our enemies, not to mention our friends and allies?

      • ObamaYoMoma

        Not all conservatives. Maybe most RINO Republicans! With respect to this conservative, I consider Bush one of the worse presidents of all time. I mean Islam is a religion of peace? I mean lets occupy two Muslim countries to lift them up out of poverty when poverty doesn’t have anything to do with terrorism since terrorism is a product of Islamic supremacism. I mean Bush and his Secretary of State, Condi “Appeaser” Rice, couldn’t be more inept when it comes to Israel and the Middle East. I mean let’s not fire those responsible for the greatest intelligence failure in history and instead appoint a commission, call it the 9/11 commission, and then stack it with Leftists and RINO big government liberals exactly like Bush, so we will have an excuse to double the size of the federal government and at the same time not make the country any safer.

  • davarino

    I agree that the oil rich arab countries should be neutered. They use their wealth for nothing more than the global jihad. They do nothing to help their own people while they live in luxury. They use their wealth to influence our government, and media which takes away knowledge ot the truth and our ability to do anything with it.

    That oil money is obviously so temping that it causes our government to turn a blind eye to what is happening in Isreal. It makes our leaders believe the lie that terrorist good, victims bad.

    I believe it will stop soon because the American people are not stupid. They may have been duped to vote in this current bunch, but they are not stupid enough not to realize what is happening.

    • trueandblue

      Saudi Arabia influences the Western media through Fox News, which is 20% owned by Saudi royalty. So does that change how you view the news from Fox? Can the news from Fox be trusted?

  • Bob Bugiada

    Karl Rove's biggest mistake was in not managing the political fallout after Hurricane Katrina. The Democrats were licking their wounds after the 2004 elections and looking for a way to come back. A natural disaster presented the perfect opportunity to pounce on the Bush Adminstration. In a coordinated attack that included the media, the Bush Adminstration and all their advisors were caught off guard and made to appear like a deer in the headlights. Bush and the Republican congress were mortally wounded. Bush was rendered impotent as a president from that point onward, and the elections of 2006 and 2008 destroyed the Republican congress.

    Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina wasn't bad, but the mismanagement of the political fallout from it was.

  • jac maclean

    What seems to have passed with little notice is that it is inconceivable that Saddam would not have reactivated his WMD capability in plausible response Iran's nuclear programme. Even in 2003, he must have had some knowedge of it and apart from the assumption that Iran would want to develop nuclear weapons for at least regional and sectarian advantage.

  • Sonne

    bush did lie, and that is his legacy… there were no WMD's and Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. Funny how easily you conservatives flip flop. Saddam was a darling of the Reagan administration.

    • akreynin

      If you are such a liberal, why are you posting in this magazine?

      • Rifleman

        He's ignorant or dishonest enough to overlook the Reagan Administration hoped they would both lose, and that saddam was armed with soviet, not US equipment. That should tell you why. I think we call them trolls.

        • Jack Samwell

          Well, for what it's worth there is an article in the Washington Post about a former head of Britain's domestic spy agency MI5 Eliza Manningham-Bullerthat. She contradicts what Mr. Mauro asserts.

          The MI5 director states that there was no connection between 9/11 and Al Quida in Iraq prior to the invasion by Bush. In fact she states,

          " Arguably we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad, so that he was able to move into Iraq in a way that he was not before,"

          So someone is fabrication the truth in revisionist fashion. I have no idea who that might be and for what reason. Maybe someone is trying to lay the groundwork for another costly no win military conflict? In Iran perhaps?

        • WildJew

          Saddam was courted by Reagan administration officials, at least for a time. We conservatives must be honest. George Herbert Walker Bush (George W's father) courted Saddam as did former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Reagan administration oscillated between helping Iraq and then Iran and then Iraq, etc. Reagan sold the Iranians arms in exchange for hostages even after Reagan assured the American people he would not deal with terrorists. Remember is was Ronald Reagan who ordered Jeanne Kirkpatrick to condemn Israel in the United Nations for taking out Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor; a thing for which G. W. Bush was thankful in 2003.

          VP George H. W. Bush, "Cap" Weinberger, James Baker and others were all for punishing Israel. Only Al Haig said Israel did the US a huge favor. Nonetheless, Reagan condemned Israel in the United Nations.

          It was Reagan who became hysterical when Israel invaded Lebanon in order to root out the PLO gangsters — Operation Peace for the Galilee. Reagan pressured Begin to withdraw from Beirut where the PLO was surrounded. Reagan permitted arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat and his PLO thugs to leave Beirut with their side arms. We lost 241 Marines to a Hezbollah / Iranian suicide bombing due to Reagan's folly – Reagan cut and ran from Lebanon, something bin Laden and other jihadists noted. Reagan helped the PLO out of Lebanon to Tunis. Be honest Rifleman. Don't try to defend wrongdoing.

          • Rifleman

            We gave saddam intel (courted is the wrong word) to keep the mad mullahs who were and are the bigger threat, from overrunning him. We were courting Syria however, in the misguided hope they would make peace like Jordan and Egypt, and though just, Israel's invasion of Lebanon complicated that. Assad's reaction when we went in to Lebanon ultimately showed it was folly in the first place.

            Reagan's primary objective was to defeat the greatest threat, the warsaw pact. He subordinated all else to that, and like the commies, considered the islamists the lesser threat, to be used against the greater. I didn't and don't agree with him on that, but I can understand it, and he did succeed in his objective though nobody, including most of his own cabinet, believed he could.

            Reagan pulled out of Lebanon after Tip O'Neal informed him he had the votes and would eliminate funding for the operation. I disagreed with that as well, because I considered putting the dp on record for the cut and run more important than shepherding the prestige of the Office of the Presidency.

    • glpage

      Do you have reading comprehension issues?

    • wsk

      Doesn't want/need to hear the truth. It interferes with the Democrat template.

      • Sonne

        you people need to remember you history:

        "Starting in 1982 the United States made its backing of Iraq more pronounced, normalizing relations with the government, supplying it with economic aid, counter-insurgency training, operational intelligence on the battlefield, and weapons.

        President Ronald Reagan initiated a strategic opening to Iraq, signing National Security Decision Directive 4-82 and selecting Donald Rumsfeld as his emissary to Hussein, whom he visited in December 1983 and March 1984.[14] According to U.S. ambassador Peter W. Galbraith, far from winning the conflict, "the Reagan administration was afraid Iraq might actually lose."[15]

        In 1982, Iraq was removed from a list of State Sponsors of Terrorism to ease the transfer of dual-use technology to that country. According to investigative journalist Alan Friedman, Secretary of State Alexander Haig was "upset at the fact that the decision had been made at the White House, even though the State Department was responsible for the list."[3] "I was not consulted," Haig is said to have complained.

        Howard Teicher served on the National Security Council as director of Political-Military Affairs. He accompanied Rumsfeld to Baghdad in 1983.[16] According to his 1995 affidavit and separate interviews with former Reagan and Bush administration officials, the Central Intelligence Agency secretly directed armaments and hi-tech components to Iraq through false fronts and friendly third parties such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait, and they quietly encouraged rogue arms dealers and other private military companies to do the same:

        [T]he United States actively supported the Iraqi war effort by supplying the Iraqis with billions of dollars of credits, by providing U.S. military intelligence and advice to the Iraqis, and by closely monitoring third country arms sales to Iraq to make sure that Iraq had the military weaponry required. The United States also provided strategic operational advice to the Iraqis to better use their assets in combat… The CIA, including both CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, knew of, approved of, and assisted in the sale of non-U.S. origin military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to Iraq. My notes, memoranda and other documents in my NSC files show or tend to show that the CIA knew of, approved of, and assisted in the sale of non-U.S. origin military weapons, munitions and vehicles to Iraq.[17]

        Donald Rumsfeld meets Saddām on 19 December – 20 December 1983. Rumsfeld visited again on 24 March 1984, the day the UN reported that Iraq had used mustard gas and tabun nerve agent against Iranian troops. The NY Times reported from Baghdad on 29 March 1984, that "American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with Iraq and the U.S., and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been established in all but name."[14]

        • Sonne

          what makes you think I'm a "democrat"? Republicans and Democrats are pretty much the same party both are corrupt clowns.

          Sending thousands of americans to die for a lie and just so U.S. corporations can control oil and gas pipelines is anti-american and unpatriotic.

          • LoneStar

            You are not a Democrat, you can spell. However you are a either a Ron Pauly troll or a Chomskyite parrot.

            Read the article, carefully. Now go back and compare what you wrote and what Mauro wrote. Mauro is the name of the guy who wrote the piece you are blasting without even having read it. Nothing in the article contradicts what you wrote and nothing you have written diminishes in any way the truth of what Mauro writes.

            The fact that the US, in an effort to pit an enemy, Iraq, against another enemy-namely Iran, has no bearing on the subject of the article at hand. Are we going to blame Roosevelt and Churchill for the cold war simply because they helped the Soviet Union by supplying them weapons during WWII? No one knows apriori how geo-political strategies will turn out in the long run. The best you can ever do is neutralize the biggest threat at any given moment. Which was precisely the Reagan strategy. And for eight or nine years it worked. Iraq was too busy fighting with Iran to cause the rest of the Mideast problems. In addition Iran could not engage is supporting terror because it was also at war. Sounds like it was a good plan. And from the way the Iraq war played out with the capturing of Baghdad in less than 100 hours, no one can say we gave the weapons of any strategic consequence. Our European allies and other enemies did that for us.

            You people just can seem to connect the dots- 220 Marines murdered by a homicide bomber in Lebanon, WTC I, USS Cole, Khobar Towers, 9/11. Is that so hard?

            I know you won't read this article because it has not been approved by your Minister of Truth.

            Besides "Bush lied, kids died" rhymes so it must true,huh?

          • WildJew

            I believe your explication above is essentially accurate as I understand it. When you say Republicans and Democrats are "pretty much the same party, both are corrupt clowns," I think this is treacherous dogma you are propagating in light of this alarming situation at hand.

            I am as disappointed with the Republican party as the next conservative. Republicans and Democrats are not "pretty much the same party." Not in view of the terrible menace this nation faces.

            If you cannot see this evil and dangerous man in the White House for the threat that poses to this nation, you have huge awareness and judgment problem. Mr. B. Hussein Obama is supported by Congressional Democrats, which makes them equally complicit in the evil he is doing to this nation. This coming November, Americans only have one recourse – until 2012 – to slow the hemorrhaging the nation is undergoing; that is vote for any Republican who will oppose this monster in the WH.

            That you cannot appreciate nor perceive the danger this nation faces, leaves me wondering about your moral bearings.

    • Doug

      A lie is told when you know the truth but say the lie anyway. Bush was proceeding on best information as were many other intelligence services and heads of state. Your tacit definition of a lie is childish. Hussein had WMDs before and would have developed them again. He was a state sponsor of terrorism. He had a rap sheet as long as your arm and it is a good thing he was deposed and hanged. For your information, we sided with Josef Stalin against Hitler, so this other childish belief is shown to be just that.

  • Old Rebel

    Haven't we learned not to trust those who are ALWAYS whooping it up for another war? Fortunately, the facts speak for themselves, and the facts clearly show that Iraq was an illegal, unnecessary war.

  • Tom

    I used to pound my fist on my desk while shouting: "Why in the hell don't the Republicans defend themselves against the Liberal lies?" I almost agreed with the Liberal propaganda based on, what appeared to be , a tacit admission of guilt on the part of Bush et al because they were so silent on the Liberal charges. It was so frustrating.

    • LoneStar

      I feel your pain, bro.

    • Fiddler

      It's time "journalists" were called out for their assisted propaganda. It's time to get in the face of those who boldly assert things to try to shame thoughtful people into silence. Time to be on the OFFENSIVE for a change. The left has made DISSENT its weapon; it's time that they had a good steady dose of repudiation for being complicit slaves in the steady drivel we are being served. Olberman, Couric, Matthews and all the rest need to be served notice that we don't believe them anymore. They can babble into a microphone and find that no one is listening.

  • polipath

    Years ago H.L. Mencken (I believe) labelled the GOP "the stupid party" and the Dim's "the crooked party" the motto of which was 'party before country; rule or ruin'. The Iraq "war" (actually nation-building) with the NYT publishing classified info; the non-stop canard about "Bush lied"; demogogoury about "war for oil"; generating falsehoods and wrongful imprisonment of U.S. troops for non-existent brutalities; endless sedition as in declaring the war "lost" (Reid) proves the point about the shameless CorruptoCrat's in their despicable lust for Power.

    • LoneStar

      Fantastic, well said polipath.

  • Ghostwriter

    Years ago,I took a taxi and talked with the driver. Seems he was from Iraq and he told me that it was well-known in the country that one of Saddam's son,Uday was a rapist and had done a lot of awful things in that country. I wonder how he felt about Saddam's overthrow or what happened to his two sons?

    • Chris Mallory

      So, billions of dollars and thousands of American lives, not to mention the 10's of thousands wounded, to remove a couple of serial rapists? Why wasn't this cab driver back home where he belongs fighting to free his nation? Iraq was no danger to America and the sins of it's rulers were none of our business.

  • USMCSniper

    Bush's first big mistake was that he did not clean house of the Clintonite lawyers at DoJ, not clean house of the Clintonites in top positions at the CIA and NSA, and the Clintonites in high positions in the State Department. His second big mistake was trying to get along with Democrats who hated his guts and didn't respect him and never will.

  • Proxywar

    Ryan you should read: A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq.

  • Peter E. Coleman

    So many arm chair thinkers working on worn fabric and broken springs.

    The real lie was the notion that sanctions work.

  • PhilBest

    I fought many a lonely fight on blogs years ago, quoting the reports that Ryan does. I really despaired of the Bushies incompetence, in defending themselves against mendacious political opponents, which pretty much included the mainstream media.

    The jury decision on Scooter Libby was a disgrace to the US and its justice system, and proved nothing about the allegations that "Bush lied" . Armitage did the leak, not Libby; and whether Libby lied or was forgetful, it proved nothing about the allegations of Bush admin "conspiracies".

    George W. was perennially hopeful that the truth would make its own fight. I hope his faith is vindicated some time before his death at a ripe old age. But it certainly looks like you can't rely on that dictum within your own Presidential term.

    • Frank Bach

      I'm sorry I can't join you in the fight on the blogosphere, but know this.
      I'm someone trying to keep my job… and I remember when the Iran Hostge Crisis happened. I really wish George W. Bush had put paid to both Iraq and Iran, but a nation has limited resources.
      Even though most in my job are liberal, I still believe Bush was right in preventing Iraq from restarting their weapons program. There are times I wished he could have pulled a 'Ronald Reagan' on Iran and taken their nuclear facilities out with air strikes.
      Even though I'm technologically literate, I still believe, like John Stuart Mill, that objective truth will win over error. I wish to thank you for defending the truth on the blogosphere… even though people like me must remain in the shadows.

  • neal hurwitz

    PhilBest is right!

  • Moderate47

    I dissagree with Karl Rove for this reason: The first and most important issue here is our ability to adapt to difficult political situations to able ourselve to take necessary military action without having to prove anything while still showing the rest of world that we use legal due process within our constitutional system — everyone knows opinions are diverse. One of the advantages the enemy has with terrorism is that we can't blame an attack on a specific country per say as it is difficult to pin them down. i.e Osama Bin Laden is still on the run.

    It's better that we take what we want as we see fit. Karl just needs to let it go and stop bring attention to it.

  • Bodan the Aussie

    Old Rebel and Sonne; your brains are GONNE! For any intelligent watcher of the ME it has ALWAYS been obvious that Iraq played a fundamental role as a Soviet ally in Soviet Union and then neo-Soviet Russia's strategy to push the United States out of the Middle East and establish herself as a leader of a global oil-gas cartel.
    For that purpose, Iraq equipped with nuclear weapons was a perfect tool not only for exelling the US but also for blackmailling the entire region, Saudi Arabia included.
    In a situation when Saddam Hussain's regime has been destroyed that role is being played now by Iran.
    One doesn't have to be a political scientist to see that. You just have to be NOT BLIND!

  • Bogdan the Aussie

    Moderate; well America and her allies like Australia (hm… EUNUCHALIA no longer can be considered a reliable ally of the US) just has to stop playing by the rules in the now totally lawless world.
    An example: If any Arabic or Islamic terrorist group targets a Russian, the Russkies will have no problem with sending the team of assassins and killing the entire extended families of a terrorrists. Hence, it doesn't calculate for them to target the neo-Soviets.
    Appart from that, the the so called "world opinion" won't give a slightes damn about condemning the Rus.
    Things are totally different with the US. If the American GI farts (accidently for that matter) directly into the terrorist's snout, the entire world bursts into an uncontrolable fury.
    It is time to ignore that! Otherwise yoy are a TOAST. And so ist my own EUNUCHALIA.