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

Friday, March 19, 2004

Wolfowitz on the News Hour

Wolfowitz was on Jim Lehrer's show yesterday, transcript here. Lehrer actually didn't roll over quite as much as usual. Here's a snippet in which Lehrer [gasp!] asks a follow-up:

JIM LEHRER: Sure. Okay. Also today the president of Poland said, we just had it in the news summary, that while Iraq is a better place because Saddam Hussein is gone, he said "I also feel uncomfortable due to the fact that we were misled with the information on weapons of mass destruction." Poland has 2,400 troops in Iraq. Does he have a right to be uncomfortable over this?

PAUL WOLFOWITZ: I don't think he has a right to say they were misled. I mean, let's take an example from I guess it's 15 years ago before the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Iraq was supposed to have no nuclear weapons. They signed a nonproliferation treaty. The U.N. inspection agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that Iraq has no nuclear weapons program. They were wrong. They weren't misleading the world. They just were wrong.

People make mistakes in this business, and one thing that's important and I hope somebody will tell the president of Poland this. Iraq was in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441. It was the 17th and supposed to be last resolution after 12 years of Iraq defying the United Nations. They did not comply with that. They lied in their declarations. They obstructed the inspectors.

JIM LEHRER: He's talking specifically, he had a news conference, he's talking specifically that he was told by the United States and Britain that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and then after the war proved that there were not. That's what he's talking about.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ: I don't know specifically what he was told. I know what I was told and it was the best judgments of our intelligence community at the time. Were they all accurate, no, they weren't all accurate, but nobody was misleading anybody.

You know, to beat a dead and buried horse that is currently residing in horse heaven eating some nice hay, what's wrong with Wolfowitz's response is the extent to which the Bush administration--not Tenet, not the CIA, not anyone else--characterized the inaccurate intelligence as fact, and the extent to which they manufactured "intelligence" with their propaganda apparatus, specifically the Office of Special Plans, that's whole reason for existing was to construct an alternative view of Iraq's threat to the US to counter the view explicated by the CIA.

Later on, we get

JIM LEHRER: You have no concern over the fact that one of the primary premises for the war has turned out not to be valid?

PAUL WOLFOWITZ: Obviously one is concerned. This isn't the only time I've encountered intelligence -- as I mentioned, before the Gulf War in 1991, our intelligence was wrong the other way. We didn't know how big a nuclear program it turned out -- we later found that he had.

But I don't think there's any doubt as I said that he was in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolution that was supposed to be the last and final resolution, and I think the fact that we made it clear that these resolutions mean something, and that when you're caught in violation of the resolution, you're in real trouble if you don't comply, that's had consequences for Iran, it's had consequences for North Korea. I think it's a major part, if not the major part of the reason, why Qaddafi has now surrendered his nuclear weapons. It's a remarkable achievement.

JIM LEHRER: But '91 and 2002 or 2003 are kind of apples and oranges, are they not? I mean in, that case in 1991, Iraq invaded another country called Kuwait, and that was the reason for going to war. In 2003, the main reason for going to war was the intelligence said they -- Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ: The reason for going to war was because Iraq was in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolution. In fact, there were three major reasons, and if you go back and read Secretary Powell's speech to the U.N. in February of last year, he said specifically it is weapons of mass destruction, It is their support for terrorism, and it's the oppression of their people and we had agreed in fact with Resolution 1441 to limit it to weapons of mass destruction and give them one last and final chance to come clean and he did not come clean.

It's nice to see that Wolfowitz is such an advocate of honoring UN resolutions. He's going to have to have a stern talking to with his colleague Richard Perle who wrote that a positive outcome of Bush's war was that it would take down the United Nations and has stated publicly that Bush's war violated international law. And I guess Wolfowitz is in favor of a forceful regime change for Israel given that Israel has been in violation of resolution 252, resolution 262, resolution 267, resolution 271, resolution 298, and many more for decades now and resolutions 1402 and 1403 from two years ago*.

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