Thinking about the proposed Iraqi surge and related political quaverings got me thinking back to the beginning. Here’s what Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff from 2002 through 2005, said about his involvement in the former Secretary of State’s presentation to the United Nations on Iraq‘s weapons of mass destruction: “I wish I had not been involved in it. I look back on it, and I still say it was the lowest point in my life.”
There’s no need to revisit the details – no, I take that back: there is a. need to revisit them, and to realize just what a pile of crap it really was. And to think we went to war over this. Here, then, are a few excerpts from Powell’s 5 February 2003 address to the U.N. Security Council.
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I cannot tell you everything that we know. But what I can share with you, when combined with what all of us have learned over the years, is deeply troubling. What you will see is an accumulation of facts and disturbing patterns of behavior.
The inspectors can look all they want, and they will find nothing… The Iraqis are busy doing all they possibly can to ensure that inspectors succeed in finding absolutely nothing.
My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.
What’s being hidden? Why? There’s only one answer to the why: to deceive, to hide.
The photos that I am about to show you are sometimes hard for the average person to interpret, hard for me… But as I show you these images, I will try to capture and explain what they mean, what they indicate to our imagery specialists.
The bunkers are clean when the inspectors get there. They found nothing.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are not assertions. These are facts, corroborated by many sources, some of them sources of the intelligence services of other countries.
It took the inspectors four years to find out that Iraq was making biological agents. How long do you think it will take the inspectors to find even one of these 18 trucks?
We know that Iraq has embedded key portions of its illicit chemical weapons infrastructure within its legitimate civilian industry. To all outward appearances, even to experts, the infrastructure looks like an ordinary civilian operation. Illicit and legitimate production can go on simultaneously; or, on a dime, this dual-use infrastructure can turn from clandestine to commercial and then back again… Any inspections of such facilities would be unlikely to turn up anything prohibited. Call it ingenuous or evil genius, but the Iraqis deliberately designed their chemical weapons programs to be inspected. It is infrastructure with a built-in ally.
So it’s not just the photo, and it’s not an individual seeing the photo. It’s the photo and then the knowledge of an individual being brought together to make the case.
The question before us, all my friends, is when will we see the rest of the submerged iceberg?
Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons… And we have sources who tell us that he recently has authorized his field commanders to use them. He wouldn’t be passing out the orders if he didn’t have the weapons or the intent to use them.
I am no expert on centrifuge tubes, but just as an old Army trooper, I can tell you a couple of things…
Iraqi officials deny accusations of ties with Al Qaida. These denials are simply not credible… Early Al Qaida ties were forged by secret, high-level intelligence service contacts with Al Qaida, secret Iraqi intelligence high-level contacts with Al Qaida. Iraqis continued to visit bin Laden in his new home in Afghanistan.
Some believe, some claim these contacts do not amount to much. They say Saddam Hussein’s secular tyranny and Al Qaida’s religious tyranny do not mix. I am not comforted by this thought. Ambition and hatred are enough to bring Iraq and Al Qaida together.
The nexus of poisons and terror is new. The nexus of Iraq and terror is old. The combination is lethal. With this track record, Iraqi denials of supporting terrorism take the place alongside the other Iraqi denials of weapons of mass destruction. It is all a web of lies. When we confront a regime that harbors ambitions for regional domination, hides weapons of mass destruction and provides haven and active support for terrorists, we are not confronting the past, we are confronting the present. And unless we act, we are confronting an even more frightening future.
We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he’s determined to make more. Given Saddam Hussein’s history of aggression, given what we know of his grandiose plans, given what we know of his terrorist associations and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not some day use these weapons at a time and the place and in the manner of his choosing at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond? The United States will not and cannot run that risk to the American people. Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11th world.