Saturday, August 30, 2003

When Chimpy and the boys lose Colbert King, they've lost a lot:
I've come to discover -- belatedly some might say -- that the Bush administration is great at changing the subject when it comes to Iraq. Pro-administration revisionists would now have us think that the March invasion was really, truly, cross-their-hearts-and-hope-to-die all about liberating Iraqis from a tyrannical regime and bringing democracy to that country and its Arab neighbors.


That's not what Powell told the world. There wasn't a word in his speech about transforming the Arab world. Powell's message was all about the dangers we faced and how time was a wastin.' "The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world," he told the United Nations. Weapons of mass destruction "are real and present dangers to the region and the world."

He described a frightening future unless the world acted quickly. "Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few months or years is not an option," Powell said. And he left no doubt that the United States had the goods on Iraq. "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 evidence."

So where are the "real and present dangers?" The administration's failure to produce the goods is deeply troubling, especially for those of us who bought what Powell was selling.

Am I now off the reservation? Not yet. But if at the moment Powell can't put his hands on those weapons, it sure would be helpful if he and his administration colleagues produced for public viewing the sources of his vaunted intelligence on making the case for a U.S.-British preemptive strike. For starters, I have in mind:

• Proof that Hussein's late son, Qusay, issued an order directing the removal of all prohibited weapons from Hussein's palaces.

• Evidence that Hussein directly participated in efforts to prevent interviews with Iraqi scientists.

• Public appearances by: first, the Iraqi chemical engineer who allegedly witnessed a biological agent production run and saw an accident at a production site in 1998; second, the Iraqi civil engineer knowledgeable about the biological agent program who confirmed the existence of transportable facilities moving in trailers; third, the human source who corroborated the movement of chemical weapons in May 2002; fourth, the eyewitness who saw prisoners being experimented on to perfect biological or chemical weapons; fifth, the sources that said a missile brigade outside Baghdad was disbursing warheads containing biological warfare agents to various locations in western Iraq.