“I don’t think they existed”

by Jon Mandle on January 24, 2004

Thanks to Calpundit for linking to this Reuters interview with David Kay.

Q: What happened to the stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons that everyone expected to be there?
A: “I don’t think they existed.
“I think there were stockpiles at the end of the first Gulf War and those were a combination of U.N. inspectors and unilateral Iraqi action got rid of them. I think the best evidence is that they did not resume large-scale production, and that’s what we’re really talking about, is large stockpiles, not the small. Large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in the period after ’95.”

Q: You came away from the hunt that you have done believing that they did not have any large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in the country?
A: “That is correct.”

Q: Do you think they destroyed it?
A: “No, I don’t think they existed.”

The interviewer, it seems, had some difficulty believing that Kay was being so straight, and wanted him to say these words twice.



James W. 01.24.04 at 7:09 am

I don’t have anything to say about this post, but on the one BELOW….well, here goes…


Conrad Barwa 01.24.04 at 3:28 pm

I wonder whether this will shake, Tony Blair’s almost religious conviction that these WMD do indeed exist and will be found.


steve 01.24.04 at 3:51 pm

How could so many seemingly powerful, smart, and influential people be so blindingly wrong? And what of Saddam? A rather foolish bluff on his part, eh?


robin green 01.24.04 at 6:29 pm

Duh – they weren’t just wrong, they were lying.

As for Saddam’s so-called “bluff”, I assume you mean his… er… denial that Iraq had any WMDs or WMD programmes and… er… almost unconditional offer to allow in weapons inspectors, before the war started. Not really a bluff, was it? More like a surrender.

If you read Milan Rai’s excellent book Regime Unchanged, you’ll find that Saddam had a valid reason for opposing the return of the UN inspectors for some time, which had nothing to do with WMDs – he didn’t want to let American spies in to get more information on military sites to help plan for an invasion. Which is exactly, of course, what happened with UNSCOM. UNSCOM was infiltrated by US spies.


steve 01.24.04 at 6:56 pm

So they all lied I guess: Clinton, Albright, Gore, Daschle, H Clinton, Lieberman (hmmmmm), Annan, Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Blair, Berlusconi, etc, etc?

And how is it that his offer could be “almost” unconditional?


Jim 01.24.04 at 7:31 pm

Robin Green, you are the most blatant apologist a fascist dictator could ever hope for. Have you no shame?

Try to rise above the partisanship of your politics, and think about the evil man that you implicitly support.


Brian Weatherson 01.24.04 at 9:04 pm

Well yes, it turns out that Clinton etc all got it wrong about Saddam’s weapons. Since the Bushies had better evidence that they were wrong, but nevertheless made stronger claims, it is more plausible to say they were actually lying, but certainly all the major players were uttering falsehoods. I don’t know why everyone is so surprised by this. Go back and compare how badly wrong the Western intelligence forces were about the economic/military capacities of the Soviet Union. When everyone is speaking from the same script, and it’s wrong, then everyone makes mistakes. It gets more morally culpable when you start killing people because of that mistaken belief.

As for Jim’s pathetic remark, I assume he basically doesn’t care about either (a) having true beliefs or (b) having the government tell the truth to its democratic masters. When you’re that far removed from civilised discourse, I think throwing around accusations of being pro-fascist is a little dangerous.


Sebastian Holsclaw 01.24.04 at 10:17 pm

Sheesh, the history isn’t that old. Even France thought Saddam had WMD, they just didn’t want to go to war to deal with them. Massive international intelligence failure coupled with Saddam’s nearly inexplicable resistance to even the most pathetic of UN inspection regimes made it look like he had and was seeking WMD. Give up the Bush lied crap.


WillieStyle 01.24.04 at 10:43 pm

Saddam’s nearly inexplicable resistance to even the most pathetic of UN inspection regimes made it look like he had and was seeking WMD. Give up the Bush lied crap.

How precisely was the inspection regime “pathetic”.
At the time the criticism was that they were failing to find WMD stockpiles that were obviously there.
It seems to me that Bush partisans like yourself owe the inspectors an apology not more insults.

Bush and his cronies clearly lied. Even if one gives them the benefit of the doubt that they really did believe Saddam had WMD, they lied about the certainty of their information.
I mean the Secretary of Defense literarily said “we know where the weapons are”. That was a bald faced lie.
Furthermore, administration officials had the nerve to claim that the reason they couldn’t give us more concrete evidence of their claims was to “protect sources and methods”. We now know that there was no such evidence. To manipulate the public’s acceptance of the need for secrecy in matters of espionage is especially egregious.
Bush most certainly did lie.


Reg 01.25.04 at 4:58 am

I see some selective quoting of Kay here. Here’s what else he has recently said (from Powerlineblog)

“In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Kay,who last week resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group, said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year’s war to overthrow Saddam.
“We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons,” he said. “But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam’s WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved.”

Dr Kay’s comments will intensify pressure on President Bashar Assad to clarify the extent of his co-operation with Saddam’s regime and details of Syria’s WMD programme. Mr Assad has said that Syria was entitled to defend itself by acquiring its own biological and chemical weapons arsenal.”


msg 01.25.04 at 5:07 am

Bush may no longer be capable of lying. Someone who can’t distinguish truth from falsehood doesn’t really lie; he evades, he speaks to a higher standard, he serves something that makes his every word true retroactively, because his intentions are good. The goal imbues his effort once achieved.
That he has to lie to himself to get his intentions up to the bar is no dark secret, his family, his class, his every cohort lies at that depth as a way of being.


jon 01.25.04 at 1:27 pm

Selective quotation, eh? I quote from a Reuters interview filed on Jan.23, and you quote from a Telegraph interview filed on Jan.25. The Telegraph article doesn’t print any questions and only quotes Kay for three sentences about Syria. Short interview, I guess.


RSN 01.25.04 at 5:59 pm

I couldn’t care less about the WMD’s, even before the war or after the war. For me, it was always about punching the Arabs in the face, simply because they deserved it.

Sometimes idiots need a little sense knocked into them.


Antoni Jaume 01.25.04 at 8:31 pm

rsn, why do they, the Arabs, deserve to be punched in the face? Because you are a coward? or are you forgetting that the USA, like the Western European before, has been the firm ally of their oppressors? People like you have been punching them for two centuries now, and most of the time there was no justification beyond capricious greed.



rsn 01.26.04 at 4:57 am

Antoni: your typical bullshit moral relativism is the problem. Arabs understand strong action. In fact, they essentially wanted to be punched in the face, simply because they want to be noticed. It validates their existence.
If we want to be true multiculturalists, we should meet their violence with violence, since that is the language that they understand. Forgiveness of sins is wholly a unilateral, Christian concept, and conceit.


MarkS 01.26.04 at 5:14 pm

I don’t think Bush lied, i.e. made statements he knews to be false- Kay himself in this article seems to support that interpretation- http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/26/international/middleeast/26KAY.html?hp

Couple of quotes- “American intelligence agencies failed to detect that Iraq’s unconventional weapons programs were in a state of disarray in recent years under the increasingly erratic leadership of Saddam Hussein, the C.I.A.`s former chief weapons inspector said in an interview late Saturday.

The inspector, David A. Kay, who led the government’s efforts to find evidence of Iraq’s illicit weapons programs until he resigned on Friday, said the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies did not realize that Iraqi scientists had presented ambitious but fanciful weapons programs to Mr. Hussein and had then used the money for other purposes.

Dr. Kay also reported that Iraq attempted to revive its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2000 and 2001, but never got as far toward making a bomb as Iran and Libya did.”


Antoni Jaume 01.26.04 at 10:52 pm

rsn, is that an acronym for “rata sin nombre”?
My post was not in any sense morally relativistic. Rather the contrary, norms that are applicable to one invididual should be applied to any other, without regard to place or religion. In particular if US citizens claim that their state should behave in some predetermined way towards them, then that same way must be used when dealing with any one else.

Now to correct your ignorance, learn that Arabs are not all Muslims, some are Christians since long before Northern Europeans, and have maintained their faith since the times of Jesus.

Oh, by the way, where I live we had fought with Muslims for more centuries than you or your ancestors, and they were no less noble than your ancestors.



Sigivald 01.26.04 at 11:51 pm

Antoni: rsn is doing something that we on the InterWeb call “trolling”. And you fell for it.

Though, in an offhand and probably unintentional way, he got a kernel of truth, which is that Arab culture is different from Western Liberal culture. Winners and Strong-men are respected for just those qualities, and lying as a matter of course to people outside of the family/tribal unit is not, generally, looked down upon as it is in Western cultures. (This is all gross generalisation, but as accurate as any such generalisation and discussion of a culture qua culture can be, and it fits the facts quite nicely, even if some people would prefer nobody say it.)

On another note, it’s interesting that no matter what, Bush Has To Have Lied. Sure, Kay said that the intelligence community failed, and the consensus of the world’s intelligence agencies, the previous and opposed American administration, and even most of the anti-war “don’t attack Iraq or Saddam will use his chemical weapons!” groups was that Iraq Had WMDs. That Iraq may well not have seems, in that context to indicate that what you should be complaining about Bush for is not lying, but failing to fire Tenet and half the CIA staff. (Willie, if “bush lied” because the CIA said they “had to protect sources and methods”, and it turns out the CIA was simply wrong about the usefulness of their sources… er… where’s the lie?)

I can’t help but read a bit of “whatever will hurt Bush” into the more obvious flailings.

(Brian: Odd how the West is only culpable when it kills people to remove a dictator, not when it doesn’t move to remove one, and lets him kill them. Why is that?

To compare with a domestic situation, one is rightfully blamed for murdering someone… but one is also rightfully blamed for standing by idly while someone else kills someone, if you could act with relative ease and lack of risk to stop them. This is especially true if, as some on the Left have accused, the US “made” Hussein. I disagree with that analysis, but the moral calculus seems to work stronger in my favour in that case. [Note that I accuse no-one here of making such accusations, nor is such hypocrisy in general limited to the Left, but the particular case in hand is, and has been made by many people, just not in this thread.])

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