Jay Reding.com

NYT: Saddam One Year Away From Nuclear Weapons

The New York Times inadvertently dropped a bombshell today by revealing that documents have revealed that Saddam Hussein was as close to one year away from developing nuclear weapons:

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

But I thought Dick Cheney “lied” when he said that Saddam was reconstituting nuclear weapons? Now the Times is admitting that experts believed he was as little as one year away? That seems like one hell of an admission, and as Jim Geraghty observes it happens to completely undercut the antiwar argument that Saddam posed no threat.

Furthermore, the documents posted in that same document dump showed extensive communications between Iraqi intelligence agencies and al-Qaeda, significant monetary and logistical support to terrorist groups, and other WMD-related programs. Ed Morrissey has done better than the CIA in analyzing these documents and determining the nature of the evidence they provide. For instance, this memo shows that four days after 9/11, the Iraqis were worried that the Americans would use Iraq/al-Qaeda ties to attack Iraq. These documents show an entirely different view of the war than the popular conception — and now The New York Times is finally reporting on them — although they’re trying to use it as another anti-Bush talking point.

It’s possible that some nuclear secrets were contained in those documents — although since the A.Q. Khan proliferation ring has already divulged detailed nuclear information to several rogue regimes, the impact of those “secrets” is probably less than the Times would like everyone to believe. Still, they can’t simultaneously argue that Saddam had no nuclear program and it was a “lie” to suggest that he did and maintain their stance that experts believed the Hussein regime to be around one year away from having a working nuclear weapon. Even if one takes it as Saddam only having a workable design, that’s still a major risk to the world. The Duelfer Report made it clear that the sanctions regime “containing” Iraq would have broken down shortly had Hussein’s regime not been toppled. Having a largely unconstrained Iraq with a working nuclear weapon design and the ability to use the A.Q. Khan network’s know-how in order to build a weapon would not have been acceptable. What’s worse is that a nuclear-armed Iraq and a nuclear-armed Iran would be a major danger to the region — Iran and Iraq already fought one pointless and devastating war in the last century — what would prevent them from lobbing nukes at each other? Allowing that to happen would be an unacceptable risk.

The New York Times just ripped away a major argument that they’d been advancing for years now and admitted that the Administration’s arguments on an Iraqi nuclear program were well-founded in expert opinion. It’s a rather shocking admission, and one that indicates just how far off the status quo arguments are from the realities of the policies made prior to the invasion of Iraq.

UPDATE: Wretchard at The Belmont Club gives the more valuable perspective here:

But personally I think the whole debate surrounding Iraq’s WMDs is glorified misdirection. America did and does face a threat from terrorist-supporting nations of which Saddam’s Iraq was one. Before it was taken down. The AQ Khan network, Iran and North Korea were all part of the threat. That America did not find an actual, ticking nuclear weapon in Iraq doesn’t particularly mean anything in an era where design work, production and testing can be divided among anti-American allies. Even refrigerators are made that way today. The gleeful assertion that Saddam didn’t “have” WMDs has slowly deligitimized any effort to rid the world of the malignant threat that is growing before its eyes. This campaign has made it politically impossible to act against any nation even if it is in as advanced — oops — as retarded a state of development as was Saddam’s Iraq. That the threat did not exist was a lie and the greatest danger of all lies, including this one, is that it comes to be accepted as the truth.

The A.Q. Khan network was actively proliferating nuclear supplies and technologies all over the globe — Pakistani nuclear technologies ended up in Iran, Libya, North Korea, and who knows where else. The idea that an individual country must have its own individual nuclear program just doesn’t seem to be all that necessary in a globalized economy such as ours. The fact that Iraq was that close to having a nuclear weapon — whenever it may have been — indicates the magnitude of the threat we face. Even if Iraq had destroyed its nuclear weapons programs, the human and intellectual capital was not destroyed. Obviously Saddam still possessed dangerous nuclear secrets, or they’d be no reason for outcry that some of them may have been inadvertently posted. And if he possessed that kind of dangerous knowledge, one can’t argue that he was no threat to anyone.

7 responses to “NYT: Saddam One Year Away From Nuclear Weapons”

  1. Erica says:

    Yes – one year away in 1991. Which we all knew. Before the first Gulf War and more than a decade of effective weapons suppression by the inspectors submarined Hussein’s nuclear ambitions. I’ve seen some whoppers on Jayreding.com but this has to take the cake – he’s cherry-picking a single statement and omitting the rest of the article. What does the article actually say?

    Only that the incompetent Bush administration put how-to plans on constructing nuclear weapons on a website for all to see. Yup, “strong on terror.” “Keeping America safe.” I’m sure telling all our enemies exactly how to construct nuclear weapons is a sure-fire way to keep America safe from harm.

    The smoke from this gun blew off over a decade ago. It’s a sign of how bankrupt Bush apologetics have become that Jay has to resort to this level of misrepresentation to prop up an incompetent administration. People, read the articles he links to! Jay will rarely be completely honest about what they actually say.

  2. Jay Reding says:

    Yes – one year away in 1991.

    Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002

    Before the first Gulf War and more than a decade of effective weapons suppression by the inspectors submarined Hussein’s nuclear ambitions.

    for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

    Reading comprehension must not be your thing…

  3. Erica says:

    Right. “At the time”, that is, at the time that the reports were written to discuss; 1991.

    The reports were written in the 90’s and in 2002 about Hussein’s nuclear program that was terminated as a part of the Gulf War. At the time, that is, at the time the first Gulf War ended his nuclear ambitions for all practical purposes, he was one year away. The reports were prepared as background for inspectors who were going to go in as a result of the cease-fire arrangement after the Gulf War. One year away “at the time.” At the time that the inspectors were going to go in, 1991.

    Not one year away in 2002. That reading simply isn’t supported by the section you quoted, it’s clearly not what the NYT meant, and it’s clearly not true as we found out after the invasion. No expert believes that Hussein was one year away from a nuke in 2002.

    Your tortured reading of the report, a “conclusion” starkly in contrast with literally eveything else that we know and indeed even the conclusion of the article, is just a right-wing fever-dream only seen as credible by those desperate for more grist for the Bush apologia machine. The proof of this is your immediate willingness to accept absolutely the claims you think that single passage is making. I mean, didn’t it even occur to you to ask who these “experts” are? What evidence the experts claim to have? What report they’re talking about?

    No, you just saw “at the time” and assumed you could cram whatever date you wanted into that construction. But that’s not what the article is saying at all, as anyone can see whose reading comprehension isn’t suborned by a desperate need to prop up the Cult of Bush.

  4. Will says:

    Round one goes to Erica.

  5. Jay Reding says:

    Not one year away in 2002. That reading simply isn’t supported by the section you quoted, it’s clearly not what the NYT meant, and it’s clearly not true as we found out after the invasion. No expert believes that Hussein was one year away from a nuke in 2002.

    Oh really?

    “In September 2002, the CIA obtained, from a source, information that allegedly came from a high-level Iraqi official with direct access to Saddam Hussein and his inner circle. The information this source provided was considered so important and so sensitive that the CIA’s Directorate of Operations prepared a highly restricted intelligence report to alert senior policymakers about the reporting. Because of the sensitivity, however, that it was not disseminated to Intelligence Community analysts.

    The intelligence report conveyed information from the source attributed to the Iraqi official which said:

    . Iraq was not in possession of a nuclear weapon. However, Iraq was aggressively and covertly developing such a weapon. Saddam, irate that Iraq did not yet have a nuclear weapon because money was no object and because Iraq possessed the scientific know how, had recently called meeting his Nuclear Weapons Committee.

    . The Committee told Saddam that a nuclear weapon would be ready within 18-24 months of acquiring the fissile material. The return of UN inspectors would cause minimal disruption because Iraq was expert at denial and deception.”

    That’s from the Phase II Senate Report, page 141. This wasn’t from an INC source, nor was it from Curveball.

    The point still stands — if Iraq possessed information so dangerous that posting it could conceivably advance another nuclear program, then one cannot say that Iraq was not a threat.

  6. Erica says:

    “The point still stands — if Iraq possessed information so dangerous that posting it could conceivably advance another nuclear program, then one cannot say that Iraq was not a threat.”

    A threat, indeed, in 1991. But, of course, you don’t believe that Iraq possessed such information, remember? This is you:

    “It’s possible that some nuclear secrets were contained in those documents — although since the A.Q. Khan proliferation ring has already divulged detailed nuclear information to several rogue regimes, the impact of those “secrets” is probably less than the Times would like everyone to believe.”

    You’re in quite a bind, aren’t you? To use this as a causius belli you’d have to admit that the Bush administration was so incompetent that they would post nuclear weapon plans on the internet for all and sundry to download. But to assert that what they did wasn’t anywhere near as bad, you have to deny the import of these documents, and there goes your justification for invasion.

    Quite a catch-22 for you. The Bush administration comes out looking pretty stupid either way…

  7. rocketsbrain says:

    The Death Knell of the MEME, ‘Bush Lied – People Died!

    RBT just posted this piece. I would encourage your readers to spread the word.

    BTW I’ve personally met Iraqi Gen Sada, Saddam’s Secrets, at one of his speaking engagements. I believe him to be truthful about what he knows.

    See the links to audio/video interviews and presentations by Gen Sada in the piece below.

    RBT

    *****

    RBT just linked to this brilliant piece by renowned professor of public policy James Q. Wilson that the MSM is in the tank with the enemy in the GWOT

    RBT couldn’t agree more with Professor Wilson!

    RBT has been busy all weekend working with Ray Robison, Mark Eichenlaub, and Scott Malensek to break a story that the LL and MSM have been ignoring.

    This story has been largely ignored by the MSM until the NYT broke with the story on the IAEA hit piece on Saddam nuclear secrets being revealed on the government’s website.

    The realization that President Bush did not lie about Saddam is crucial to securing the continued support and will of the American people to win the GWOT.

    This is a story that all Americans need to hear.

    […]

    Read More