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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Wednesday | February 05, 2003

Powell's "Adlai moment"

Powell has spoken. I have little to add, since 1) there was ZERO evidence presented of the claimed Iraq-al Qaeda link, and 2) none of the evidence presented (at least as written in the Reuters and AP wire stories) seem to offer more than pictures of bunkers and talk about a "modified vehicle". Is that supposed to somehow reference the "mobile chemical factories" we've been hearing about? If so, I hope there's more evidence than the news story presented, because that's pretty weak.

And what to make of the satellite images? (click on image to enlarge)

The picture is blurry and all, but all I see is a bunchy of bunkers with big arrows pointing to them that says "Chemical Munitions Bunker" or "Sanitized Bunkers". And given that the UN vehicles checked out the places minutes later (the vehicles are visible and labeled in the satellite images), what is this supposed to tell us?

Again, there is a lot of context missing here, and it could all be a function of poor news writing. But if this is all they could offer as "evidence", the adminsitration's rationale for war is far flimsier than I expected. I'll withhold any verdict until I get more information.

Update: This AP story has been updated with more info. Powell did make some connection between an al Qaeda leiutenant supposedly in Baghdad with Saddam's permission. It seems tenous at best, and probably directed for domestic consumption rather than to rally international support. But the bulk of the information presented, as noted in this updated article, came from "informants". Once again, why not pass this "intelligence" over to the UN inspectors so they could act on it?

None of the Security Council powers (other than the UK, of course) seemed to be initially impressed, though France is talking about pushing for a tougher inspection regime which would include overflights by U-2 spy planes. I'm game for that. Saddam should be disarmed. War is not the only way to accomplish that.

Update II: Hans Blix denies the existence of Powell's mobile chemical weapon factories.

Dr Blix said he had already inspected two alleged mobile labs and found nothing: "Two food-testing trucks have been inspected and nothing has been found."

Dr Blix said that the problem of bio-weapons laboratories on trucks had been around for a while and that he had received tips from the US that led him to inspect trucks in Iraq. The Iraqis claimed that the trucks were used to inspect the quality of food production.

This part is perhaps the funniest of the article:
He also contested the theory that the Iraqis knew in advance what sites were to be inspected. He added that they expected to be bugged "by several nations" and took great care not to say anything Iraqis could overhear.
Those "several nations" are undoubtedly Iraq, the U.S., and the Brits.

(Guardian link via drewbacca in the comment boards.)

Posted February 05, 2003 09:38 AM | Comments (232)


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