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April 16, 2006

I Hate Everybody

After it became clear Iraq had no WMD, you saw a new claim pop up here and there: Iraq had still had stuff in 1998, secreted away. But then the three days of bombing in Operation Desert Fox, ordered by Clinton that December, had destroyed it. Except nobody knew! They thought Iraq still had it!

For instance, here's George Packer, in Assassins' Gate:

Richard Perle's essay dripped scorn, claiming that Clinton's December 1998 bombing of Iraqi installations, widely ridiculed as a "wag the dog" distraction in the middle of impeachment hearings, "had no lasting effect" (an assertion that was refuted after the invasion by the Iraq Survey Group, which found that the missile strikes had helped to finished off what was left of Saddam's chemical weapons facilities).

And this is Al Franken, in The Truth (with Jokes):

[Clinton] launched a series of targeted bombing raids, which, as Bush's handpicked weapons inspectors would later confirm in the Duelfer Report, knocked out all that remained of Saddam's atrophied WMD capability...

This is an appealing tale for Clintonistas, because it him look good. First, it gets him off the hook—if Iraq had had nothing since 1991, and Clinton demanded the sanctions be maintained even as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died, that would be embarrassing. Second, it's a poke in the eye to all the Republicans like Richard Perle.

Sadly, it's completely untrue. The Duelfer Report doesn't say anything like this—see for yourself.

What the Duelfer Report does say is that Iraq was essentially disarmed by the end of 1991, with just about everything (except paper) either secretly destroyed or declared to the UN.

I wonder where George Packer got this little pile of crap? (I assume Franken got it from Assassins' Gate.) Maybe at an exciting dinner party in Northwest Washington, where Sandy Berger got slightly drunk and gave a long, self-justifying monologue.

Posted at April 16, 2006 01:05 PM | TrackBack

Why is this just now coming out? Was the Duelfer Report recently declassified?

I find it interesting a report would be referenced in a 2005 book and no one until now actually read it to verify it said what Al claimed it said.

Of course I was one of those who didn't read it, but I'm exceptionally lazy.

Posted by: spiiderweb at April 16, 2006 06:28 PM

It's certainly a better story than Clinton bombing Iraq to protest Hussein's obstruction of the inspectors, which Hussein justified on the grounds that some of them were moonlighting for US intelligence, a claim which turned out, and which Clinton would have known, to be true.

Posted by: RobW at April 17, 2006 01:32 AM

Packer is STILL trying to extract mileage out of the "Saddam remained a mortal danger to the West" party line to justify the 2003 invasion, regardless of his criticisms of post-war failures (permanent bases, of course, aside!). By no later than 1995, nothing remained of Iraq's so-called "WMD capability", this from debriefings of Saddam Hussein's late son-in-law, who was later murdered by Saddam for his suspect loyalty. Pro-war types just won't let it go, there was ZERO threat to anybody from Saddam, and no amount of backing and filling will change the fact that this invasion was against international law, and did not conform to any of the 3 cases for justifiable armed conflict as specified by the UN Charter.

Posted by: barrisj at April 17, 2006 04:53 PM

The Duefler report says that Op Desert Fox may have actually ended Iraq's voluntary destruction of the Bean Mash of Doom, which is the exact opposite of the "knocked out all that remained" bit.

Posted by: buermann at April 19, 2006 06:11 PM

I hate everybody too!

Clinton claimed his Nazi-named mission got the last of the wmd in a street corner interview with Fox News (I think) shortly after the war.

I asked Scott Ritter about it, and he had some words to share about old church burner Bill:

"He's either delusional or a liar."

At 21 min into it.

Ritter says Desert Fox was an assasination attempt, not a strike at wmd that did not exist.

Posted by: Scott Horton at April 23, 2006 01:09 AM