David Kay, the former UN weapons inspector has given his testimony before Congress on the hunt for Iraqi WMDs. He has indicated that coalition forces have found significant documentary evidence and have located previously unknown sites in the hunt for WMDs. However, Kay and his team are going to wait to collect and sift through the evidence rather than making a piecemeal release of bits and pieces of evidence.
"The active deception program is truly amazing once you get inside it. We have people who participated in deceiving U.N. inspectors now telling us how they did it," Kay said.
There have been tantalizing glimpses at what Kay may have found in terms of documentary evidence, but prudence dictates that the case be made in full before letting it all out. The Iraqis had a well-orchestrated plan to hide their WMDs from UN inspectors and coalition troops, and when one is talking about an amount of material than can fit into 200 50-gallon drums and be buried in the middle of nowhere, the daunting nature of the hunt becomes obvious.
As always, Congressional Democrats are trying to move the goalposts for success as always:
"If we do not find that they were positioned in a way for imminent use, the credibility of the United States government abroad and the credibility of the United States government with its own people here in the United States will be significantly eroded," said Florida Sen. Bob Graham, former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a Democratic presidential aspirant.
Of course, even a drum of anthrax hidden in the desert can be unburied and deployed in a package or an envelope in a matter of hours. It is clear that the intelligence indicating Iraq could launch chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes was not accurate, at least not at the time the war began. However, that doesn’t mean that it was not accurate at the time the information was collected, nor does it matter in the larger scheme. Graham’s argument boils down to stating that every single piece of evidence has to be 100% correct or America’s credibility will somehow suffer. Sen. Graham should know better, as 100% accuracy is impossible in dealing with intelligence. With a case as massive as the one against Iraq, there’s a virtual certainty that some inaccurate intelligence will seep in. However, the case in full has been vinidicated with the discovery of the terrorist training center at Salmon Pak, the hundreds of suicide belts found in Baghdad, and the horrible discovery of dozens of mass graves.
The American people aren’t swallowing Sen. Graham’s rhetoric either:
However, Bush may find the public is willing to forgive him about the disputed weapons claims even if congressional Democrats are not. Of those surveyed in the Fox News-Opinion Dynamics poll, only 12 percent said finding weapons of mass destruction was the top priority of the U.S. in Iraq. The largest majority, 41 percent, said establishing a government is the most important goal, while 25 percent said finding Saddam is the top priority.
Indeed, the most pressing issue is not finding Saddam’s weapons. The priority is preparing the people of Iraq for self-rule. Saddam’s hidden arsenal will be found and accounted for sooner than later. Until then, the US needs to focus its energies on the effort on rebuilding a nation shattered by 20 years of brutal tyranny.