We have a new candidate for the most chilling statement on WMD. They’ve actually been dancing around this one for a while, but John Bolton just got around to saying it. Here’s the AP lede:
The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was justified in part because Saddam Hussein retained scientists capable of building nuclear weapons, Washington’s top arms control official said Thursday.
In other words, it was justified because Saddam didn’t get rid of the scientists. And here I thought we were unhappy with Saddam’s tendency to kill inconvenient people.
But, OK, let’s be fair. That’s not a direct quote, and it’s completely possible that the Associated Press reporter is being a tad misleading. In fact, if you read the direct quotes from the article, you’ll notice that Bolton is saying that Saddam was keeping the scientists around in order to rebuild WMD programs. It wasn’t just that Saddam let them live, it’s that Saddam kept them around for that specific purpose.
Except that even if you’re that fair, it’s still ludicrous, because now you’re justifying the invasion based on what we think Saddam might have been planning — even though every captured Iraqi scientist and minister has said “Nope, wasn’t anything going on.”
And even if you accept that bit of ludicrousness, it still contradicts the stated justification before the war. In fact, let’s look at Bolton’s November 1, 2002 speech to the Husdon Institute:
“Iraq’s procurement agents are actively working to obtain both weapons-specific and dual-use materials and technologies critical to their rebuilding and expansion efforts, using front companies and whatever illicit means are at hand… It has rebuilt its civilian chemical infrastructure and renewed production of chemical warfare agents, probably including mustard, sarin and VX. It actively maintains all key aspects of its offensive BW [biological weapons] program.”
One more time!
“Whether he possessed them today or four years ago isn’t really the issue,” versus “It has rebuilt its civilian chemical infrastructure and renewed production of chemical warfare agents…”
It’s possible to argue that the invasion was justified for humanitarian reasons. However, the issue is not simply whether or not the invasion was justified. The issue is also whether or not John Bolton lied to us one year ago.