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See no evil

By Jackson Murphy
web posted October 6, 2003

David Kay, the CIA appointed chief inspector of the Iraq Survey Group delivered his preliminary report on the search for weapons of mass destruction last week. If you read the news about this you would get the unnerving sense that there were no weapons and worse that nothing was found.

Washington's chief weapons inspector David Kay speaks during a taping of Fox News Sunday program in Washington on October 5. Kay said he was confident the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq would turn up 'remarkable things' in the coming months
Washington's chief weapons inspector David Kay speaks during a taping of Fox News Sunday program in Washington on October 5. Kay said he was confident the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq would turn up 'remarkable things' in the coming months

Reading these news stories was like looking at an editorial. This one from the Minneapolis Star Tribune suggested that Mr. Kay "has not provided, and probably cannot provide, evidence to support the case for war the Bush administration made to the American people and the world. Did the Bush administration lie? More likely it believed and exaggerated what fit its desires and discarded what didn't. That is just as outrageous, when the price is the lives of U.S. troops."

Couple these sentiments with The New York Times infamous and in this case disingenuous 'Q-head' news analysis piece by David E. Sanger. "The preliminary report delivered on Thursday by the chief arms inspector in Iraq forces the Bush administration to come face to face with this reality: that Saddam Hussein's armory appears to have been stuffed with precursors, potential weapons and bluffs, but that nothing found so far backs up administration claims that Mr. Hussein posed an imminent threat to the world."

The Q-head is unique in that it openly tries to replace news with opinion repackaging it as neutral analysis. In a recent profile of expert Q-head writer R.W. Apple Jr. by Calvin Trillin in The New Yorker the secrets of the Q-head are revealed.

"A Q-head is not necessarily a profound or blindingly original piece of work," writes Trillin. "Two or three days after it's written, it can look dated or even wrong, particularly in a constantly changing situation like war." And it certainly could be seen to be the case with this one.

As the Times new executive editor Bill Keller tells it "every big news event has to be accompanied by a story about what you were supposed to think about that news event." The arrogance of telling people what to think is clearly on display in last week's Q-head analysis by Sanger, and is a hallmark of today's Times. This analysis as commentator Andrew Sullivan suggests "is, in fact, political propaganda disguised as analysis, presumably designed to obscure and distort the evidence that you can read with your own eyes."

The fact that Sanger dismissed the entire amount of evidence of what we know, and more importantly what Mr. Kay knows is shameful. Sanger reported everything that hasn't been found, the actual weapons, but reported nothing that has been found which in this case is the proof of clear intent. The idea that nothing found thus far in Iraq supports the President's rational for war is utterly false.

It was President Bush who outlined his case in his 2003 State of the Union address stating, "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations will come too late."

And David Kay says nothing to dispute this statement. Instead his report reinforces the importance of Bush's statement, and gives confidence of the action taken.

"We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002," reports Kay. "The discovery of these deliberate concealment efforts have come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that ISG has discovered that should have been declared to the UN."

Documents and equipment hidden in homes, clandestine laboratories, safe houses, missile plans, and the elaborate concealment activities all point to a danger that is real. Kay adds "we have found people, technical information and illicit procurement networks that if allowed to flow to other countries and regions could accelerate global proliferation."

And there is more work still to be done, $600 million worth to be exact according to Kay. This report will not impress those who were against the war from the outset. And it will not satisfy those who have consistently attempted to undermine the post-war situation and American credibility.

If Saddam had been left alone, even strictly contained, he would have continued to possess a threat. If we don't understand that now, it is hard to imagine a time or place when we would have. Saddam's Iraq was in violation of the United Nations, more so than we believed if you read more than the first page of Kay's report. While he was able to fool the U.N., the media, Hans Blix, and others Saddam now continues to hoodwink many in the media and their enablers. Thankfully he has failed to deceive David Kay and the Bush administration.

They dealt with Saddam in the only way possible, by removing him from power to now look for the weapons free from his lies. And if there is nothing to hide it would be difficult to explain why two cooperating Iraqi scientists were shot for doing so just this week.

The bait and switch in supposed news stories on Iraq is the inclusion of poll numbers. The latest New York Times/CBS News Poll reported by Sanger sees approval for how Mr. Bush is handling Iraq down from 66 to 47 percent. But if people are continually subjected to analysis as cynically motivated as Sanger's it is no wonder the poll numbers are dropping.

We are at the same place we were before the Iraq war. With many unwilling to believe that there are those willing, even desirous, to do us harm at any cost. There can be no doubt that Saddam elaborately concealed the mechanisms to acquire weapons of mass destruction. While many will sleep soundly continually able to 'see no evil', there was reason to go to war, and more still to keep fighting.

Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He a senior writer at Enter Stage Right and the editor of "Dispatches" a website that serves up political commentary 24-7. You can contact him at jacksonmurphy@telus.net.

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