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January 03, 2007

Washington Post's Thomas Ricks Courageously Waits Four Years To Tell Us What He Thought About Iraq's WMD

Here's Thomas Ricks, telling us in a recent Time Magazine roundtable that he never believed Iraq had WMD:

TIME: On the eve of the war, which of you believed that we would go in and find no WMD?...Why did you feel that way, Tom?

RICKS: I thought that at most they would find some old mustard gas buried out in the '91 war that somebody had forgotten about. I remember asking the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs about a week before the invasion, "You don't know where the stuff is, do you?"

Here's Thomas Ricks before the war—not telling us what he believed, but instead writing down exactly what the U.S. government said. Note that Myers was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to whom Ricks addressed his "You don't know where the stuff is, do you?" question:

Myers Depicts War on Two Fronts

By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

...One major early mission of U.S. forces would be to locate and secure Iraq's suspected arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, [General Richard] Myers said. The U.S. government expects to learn far more about those weapons programs once its forces invade Iraq. At that point, he said, the "giant shell game" played by the Iraqi government to conceal its weapons "would come to a halt," and instead "people would come forward and say, 'Here's where this is, here's where that is.' "


Audacious Mission, Awesome Risks

By Rick Atkinson and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, March 16, 2003

...Overhanging the entire operation is the prospect that Iraq could use chemical or biological weapons...

A major risk is that Iraqi units might try to lie low as the ground attack thrusts northward and then try to attack the vulnerable supply columns that follow...An even darker scenario would involve a key chokepoint, such as a major river crossing, being "smeared" by a persistent chemical weapon...

Special Operators have already been conducting missions inside Iraq...During a war they also are expected to help detect and target enemy formations, and prevent the use of chemical and biological weapons by watching over suspected sites...

A major mission of Special Operations will be leading the hunt for chemical and biological weapons. A major unknown is how Hussein will act if U.S. forces are closing in on him. In order to capture those weapons as quickly as possible, some U.S. troops may move into cities earlier than commanders might prefer


U.S. Airstrikes Open War on Iraq

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, March 20, 2003

One Army commander put the odds of Iraq possessing chemical weapons at "80 to 90 percent," but there still is no consensus on whether those weapons are likely to be used, much less used effectively...

Now, here's Robert Fisk:

FISK: How do we journalists get it so wrong?

What's gone wrong in the American press? I ask myself this, partly because I have a lot of friends among the American journalists working in the Middle East. I enjoy having dinner with them. But the odd thing is that when I'm having dinner with them I learn quite a lot, they know quite a lot...but when I open the paper in the morning it's so boring I could fall asleep. The knowledge isn't there.

Posted at January 3, 2007 10:33 AM | TrackBack

Jonathan, you're assuming that journalists (and other figures of authority) have the same understanding of time as we do. Obviously, that Army commander meant 80 or 90 percent at any four-dimensional instance in the eleven-dimensional space-time continuum. And when Robert Fisk opens the paper and doesn't see there all the journalistic knowledge he discussed at dinner, it's because the paper has to be printed to occupy the dimensions that the 4-D trogledytes can understand, not the seven in which higher beings like political journalists communicate.

Eeps, I've said too much already. The overlords will be sending their hyper-tesseract worms to devour me.


Posted by: Stinky Flamingo at January 3, 2007 11:46 AM

There WERE some US (corporate) journalists TRYING to tell the American people the truth about Iraq in (real) time AT the time, Jon--the (now defunct) Knight Ridder Washington Bureau* comes immediately to mind--some 'prominent' people (like Jimmy Carter, for instance) DID speak up, and the 'foreign' press was all over the transparently propagandistic nature of the "official" US story at the time too.

Those 'ordinary' people who were paying attention and who wanted to know the truth could (with the investment of more than a little time and trouble) piece together a reasonable facsimile of the truth of the matter. A lot of them did. Some of them even tried to 'spread the word', to prevent the trainwreck...

Meanwhile though, the country is still at war, the war criminals are still in charge (of the executive branch) and Tom Ricks (et al) still have their 'careers'.


* From American Journalism Review, August/September 2004 issue

"Accolades now come to Knight Ridder for its prescient reports expressing skepticism...

Posted by: Mike at January 3, 2007 02:22 PM

"Meanwhile though..." as Mike writes above. We've been in the "meanwhile though" zone for decades, probably two centuries, interrupted occasionally by a temporary burst of humanism when dust threatens to cover up the country and reduce the bottom line.We live in the belly of the beast, and either leave for Finland or Norway or.... or blow up the beast. And the second choice is out, isn't it? So, let's have a Guinness and talk of the might-have-beens, because there is no program, there are no troops and no leaders. Websites like this are comforting, informative, occasionally provocative--all of it leading nowhere. Even the voices saying "enough" are soft and mainstream. This is it. Even Voltaire's bastards couldn't have imagined such a well-paved hell. Wait 'till next year. Wait 'till the next election. Wait 'till you attend your 50th college reunion and discover, gasp! golly" that the youthful ideals and yearnings got folded ever so neatly and smoothly into the national agenda.
And how many divisions has Goldman Sachs? All of them.

Posted by: donescobar at January 3, 2007 11:11 PM

To paraphrase Hippocrates, Goethe (and Pogo :^) donescobar: 'the beast' is long, we are short and 'he' is us--so "blowing [the beast] up" is not a (rational) option.

And FYI: 'taming' the beast has been the business of thoughtful men (and women)--for centuries...

Posted by: Mike at January 4, 2007 12:18 AM

If the only thing standing between us and hell is a bunch of pop-eyed reporters we are totally screwed. Yup, we ARE screwed.

Posted by: rob payne at January 4, 2007 02:55 AM


Yeah, and I'm not proposing destructive and self-destructive options. Goethe's Faust, at the conclusion of Part II, stands ready to become a humanizing force in what the author saw as the coming of the industrial age. Thoughtful men and women may well be trying to tame the beast, but from what I'm seeing, most have made a very different kind of bargain with the beast.

Posted by: donescobar at January 4, 2007 11:15 AM