Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The never-ending lies of the neocons

The Huffington Post brings us this video of a segment on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" TV show in which Matthews revisits the rationale for the war in the context of a recent interview of Dick Cheney in which the V.P. declares that the Iraq invasion would have taken place even if we'd known the true state of Saddam Huseein's non-existent WMD programs. Matthews interviews author David Korn and prminent neo-conservative Frank Gaffney. In the segment, Gaffney makes the claim that thousands of American lives were likely saved by the invasion because we averted a plot by Saddam Hussein to ship perfume bottles filled with Sarin gas to Europe and the United States:

This perfume bottle terrorist conspiracy is a claim I had never heard before, and you'll notice that neither Matthews nor Korn addresses it directly. My suspicion is that they'd likely never heard this claim before, either and weren't prepared to address it. So I did a little web surfing to see if I could figure out what facts this claim is based on. And wouldn't you know it: the reason no one but Gaffney is touting the danger of this suppposed pre-invasion plot is that its existence is very, very dubious (at best). Indeed this supposed plot was brought to light by a single Iraqi ex-intelligence officer who provided, as proof, nothing more than a box of tear-gas greandes and a pair of grenade launchers. There is nothing else anywhere to back up this man's claims. The Website a tiny revolution examined Gaffney's dubious claims some time back:

....It's clear from the labs annex that this is the basis for Gaffney's claim that Saddam planned to "place the products of those lines into aerosol cans and perfume sprayers for shipment to the United States and Europe." But look carefully at what the labs annex says about this:
Future Plans To Produce CW Agent

ISG is unable to corroborate the sensitive reporting that the IIS was planning to produce nitrogen mustard, sulfur mustard, and Sarin, but assesses that if plans to produce chemical agent within the IIS existed, the M16 chemical preparation division would have been the group tasked with carrying them out.

A former Iraqi intelligence officer reported that the M16 chemical preparation division planned to produce and weaponize nitrogen mustard using CS rifle grenades. The source provided ISG with two grenade launchers and cases of CS grenades he claimed M16 officers were supposed to modify.

The same source later reported that the IIS had a plan to produce Sarin and sulfur mustard, which the IIS planned to distribute to the US and Europe. The source claimed that the director of M16, Nu'man Muhammad al-Tikriti, gave him a perfume-bottling machine that was to be used to help carry out this plan.

Both of these plans are extremely difficult to corroborate...

In other words, one unnamed Iraqi claimed that Iraq was going to do this at some point in the indefinite future. And the ISG didn't corroborate it.

Gaffney, then, continues with the same neo-con pattern of deception that dragged us into war based on very spotty, very poorly sourced and very dubious, sometimes verifiably false intelligence presented to the American people as indubitable, documented fact. Never mind that the idea of Hussein poisoning thousands of Americans and Europeans through perfume bottles filled with chemical weapons is preposterous on its face. Saddam's principal concern was his regime's and his own survival. Such a move would have been tantamount to a death wish which he did not possess.

For my part, I finally decided conclusively that the Bush Administration had nothing of any substance on Hussein and was actively lying to the American people about his capabilities when Bush Administration officials started promoting the preposterous theory that Saddam Hussein might attack the U.S. by rowing a boat to our shores and sending out little remote controlled aircraft filled with chemical weapons to spray our cities. It was just the sort of absurd scenario that you'd expect from a lame action movie franchise that's run completely out of plausible ideas and has resorted to absurd, jump-the-shark plot devices to squeeze a little more cash from the formula before it's put to rest for good. Gaffney's perfume bottle theory is much the same sort of fictional "threat" that's just laughable on its face.

The real enemy of the neo-cons, then? It was and remains truth.

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