'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, January 29, 2004

David Kay, International Man of Mystery

The Bush administration's response to the lack of WMD's in Iraq has evolved into a story that goes like this, "We were wrong that the weapons existed but are sure Hussein was dangerous enough to warrant invading. Furthermore, our statements about weapon stockpiles were based on the intelligence we were given, so to the extent that we were wrong it was the CIA's fault." Over the last several days, David Kay has been the primary voice in the media making this case. His justification for his story seems to be that it's his personal opinion based on his relevant experience as the former special adviser for the weapons search.

But since so much stock is being placed in Kay's opinion, ie. there have been so many stories about it in the press, why haven't we heard more about who he is? As it turns out Kay's background sheds a lot of light on the whole story.

Before his inspector gig, Kay was a pundit and speaker who made the rounds discussing the need to forcibly oust Saddam Hussein. Let's take a look, for example, at what Kay said on CNN circa 9-2002 regarding UN inspector Scott Ritter's (correct) claim that Saddam Hussein did not possess vast stockpiles of WMD's:

Well, I -- dealing not with Scott as an individual but with anyone who would take that position, there are, I think, two answers. There (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- there's a lot of proof, that is, the proof of failure to allow inspectors in, and failure to allow inspectors, once in, to conduct inspections in an unfettered manner.

Of the second issue that is there is, look, the lack of hard evidence, particularly over the last four years, is because inspectors haven't been in and Saddam has engaged in deception and concealment efforts of an unparalleled status. If you want to wait till you have hard evidence, that is, a nuclear weapon that can -- that you can see and touch, or biological weapon, you're really waiting till after the first use and I think all of us after 9/11 realize the great hazard that poses for the nation.

Kay does not say the US should invade Iraq because of intelligence from the CIA; in fact, he says there's a "lack of hard evidence." He offers not very compelling circumstantial evidence that Hussein has a weapons program when he cites (incorrectly) the story of the inspectors. In the paragraph about "hard evidence" he offers no real argument, he merely verbalizes his conviction that invading Iraq is a good idea. There are lots of other people who had strong convictions about invading Iraq despite a lack of hard evidence that it was a threat -- they're called "neoconservative hawks".

Before being a pundit, Kay was a high-level executive for a defense contractor called Science Applications International Corporation. Bill Berkowitz had the following to say about Kay and SAIC on 9/12/03 in his Working for Change column Conservative Watch :

SAIC, heavily involved with homeland security projects, has already acquired several reconstruction contracts in Iraq, and Kay and a number of other former company employees are firmly planted in country. The company "has been running the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council (IRDC) since the body was established by the Pentagon in February," Dauenhauer and Lobe reported. "SAIC is also a subcontractor under Vinnell Corporation, another big defense contractor that has long been in charge of training for the Saudi National Guard, hired to reconstitute and train a new Iraqi army." And SAIC is also running the recently established Iraqi Media Network (IMN) project, whose charge was to "was to put together a new information ministry, complete with television, radio and a newspaper, and the content that would make all three attractive to average Iraqis."

In other words Kay is deeply involved in the neoconservative plan for a new American empire. When Kay says the CIA analysts that he spoke to claimed no one pressured them to cook their data, it's a bit like a fox saying that after extensive interviews it's concluded that hens have no problem with it guarding the henhouse. Kay was a member of the group that pressured the CIA, or at least was given his position as top dog weapon's searcher with that group's blessing, not an objective observer. It would be nice if the media would point this out.

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