The political fallout continued this week, in the wake of Dr. David Kay's Iraqi WMD report. To no one's surprise, the report has become the focus both for the war's detractors and defenders -- and it came to a head Wednesday during Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "[Regarding] the theory that WMD may not have existed at the start of the war," said Mr. Rumsfeld, "I suppose that's possible but not likely.
"What we have learned thus far has not proven Saddam Hussein had what intelligence indicated and what we believed he had," Sec. Rumsfeld continued, "but it also has not proven the opposite. … It took us ten months to find Saddam Hussein. The reality is that the hole he was found hiding in was large enough to hold enough biological weapons to kill thousands of human beings. It's too early to come to final conclusions, given the work still to be done."
"The debacle cannot all be blamed on the intelligence community," countered Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, the committee's senior minority member. "Key policy-makers made crystal clear the results they wanted from the intelligence community." Sec. Rumsfeld, however, wasn't having any of it. Indeed, he dismissed the red-nosed senator's claims with a terse and all-but-sobering rebuff: "You've twice or thrice mentioned manipulation. I haven't heard of it, I haven't seen any of it, except in the comments you've made."
Defending intelligence estimates of Iraq's WMD capability, Rumsfeld addressed the issue of Saddam's behavior: "He did not behave like a person who was disarming and wanted to do so. He did not open up his country to the world, as did Kazakhstan, the Ukraine [and] South Africa had previously done -- and as Libya is doing today. Libya!"
Sec. Rumsfeld wasn't the only one taking the offensive on the intelligence issue. CIA Director George Tenet also addressed it -- and did so bluntly and forcefully before an audience at Georgetown University on Thursday. "[After UN inspectors left Iraq in 1998], we gathered intelligence through human agents, satellite photos and communications intercepts. Other foreign intelligence services were clearly focused on Iraq and assisted in the effort.
"In intercepts of conversations and other transactions, we heard Iraqis seeking to hide prohibited items, worrying about their cover stories and trying to procure items Iraq was not permitted to have. Satellite photos showed a pattern of activity designed to conceal movement of material from places where chemical weapons had been stored in the past. We also saw reconstruction of dual-purpose facilities previously used to make biological weapons or chemical precursors. And human sources told us of efforts to acquire and hide materials used in the production of such weapons. And to come to conclusions before the war other than those we reached," Tenet surmised, "we would have had to ignore all the intelligence gathered from multiple sources after 1998."
As noted last week, the Bush administration is strategically distancing itself from the WMD issue in order to drain the blood from the Left's election-year red meat. If however, WMD are ultimately discovered, perhaps in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, the administration may yet claim a devastating told-you-so. Regardless, we in our humble shop think Secretary of State Colin Powell got it just right following a meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the justification for war in Iraq: "There should be no doubt...that we have done the right thing, and history certainly will be the test of that."
And a footnote (though this underreported achievement is, singularly, the most important strategic result of our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan), the U.S. has now secured a strong military presence and a strong base for intelligence operations in the region from which to operate from here forward.
On the subject of nuclear proliferation, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, has confessed to proliferating nuclear-weapons technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Khan, who headed Pakistan's nuclear-weapons research at Khan Laboratories until his retirement in 2001, has pleaded for "mercy" from Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and addressed the nation with a statement of responsibility and remorse. Musharaf granted Khan's plea for clemency Thursday.
It's worth noting that Khan's sole admission of guilt is thought by many to have been staged to deflect criticism of Musharraf and other senior military figures who may have endorsed, known of, or suspected this black-market trade of nuclear secrets. (Khan's daughter, for one, is believed to have gone abroad with documentation that could implicate the military.) Pressure had been mounting on Pakistan to investigate suspected nuclear leaks after the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency uncovered Pakistani involvement in Iran's nuclear programs, and a joint U.S.-British investigation of Libya's newly dissolved WMD programs turned up similar findings. Pakistan, of course, has been a key regional ally in the ongoing war on terrorism. Its government is reluctant to alienate the United States -- especially with the twin specters of a nuclear-armed India from without, and a bloodthirsty Jihadi network from within.
The ultimate danger, as stressed repeatedly by The Federalist, is the possibility that this nuclear technology has already led to the production of crude nuclear weapons by terror-sponsoring nations. From here, these weapons are likely to fall -- indeed, they may have already fallen -- into the hands of surrogate terrorist organizations such as al-Qa'ida.
Meanwhile, back on the Iraqi front with Jihadistan, officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq report that some 14 cells of Ba'ath loyalists, numbering between 250 and 300, are still active in Baghdad. Documents found on the person of one Saddam Hussein, however, have allowed U.S. troops to disrupt their insurgency activities, as well as short-circuit their finances. The Left's faint praise notwithstanding, it appears that the capture of Saddam might've been a good thing after all.
Also from the Iraqi front, coalition forces this week announced the 10 January capture of Sirhan al-Mohammed, a former Karbala Ba'ath Party regional commander, and "No. 54" as the cards shuffle. According to Daniel Senor, CPA Senior Advisor, a $1-million reward may have been instrumental in al-Mohammed's capture and may yet be instrumental in the capture of12 other most-wanted Ba'athists.
A reminder this week about how disrupting a little bio-toxin can be when it falls into the wrong hands: Ricin was discovered this week in the Senate mail-handling center for Majority Leader Bill Frist, prompting the shutdown of three Capitol Hill buildings. Here, it's instructive to recall the Leftmedia's loony behavior when anthrax was found in an envelope addressed to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Fanning out in search of the culprits, the Leftmedia went so far, in the case of a public-broadcasting correspondent, as to question the conservative Traditional Values Coalition about whether any investigators had contacted them about being the source of the deadly letter. Given that the target this time was a Republican, what do you suppose is the likelihood that, say, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance will now come under the same sort of scrutiny?
Quote of the week...
"America will not be intimidated by thugs and assassins. We will do what it takes, and we will not leave until the job is done. We will succeed because, when given a choice, people everywhere prefer freedom to violence and terror." --President George W. Bush
"I want to commend the courageous men and women in uniform and the Department civilians who support them. They are remarkable -- and what they have accomplished since our country was attacked 28 months ago is truly impressive. In less than 2 1/2 years, they have overthrown two terrorist regimes, rescued two nations, and liberated some 50 million people; captured or killed 45 of the 55 most wanted in Iraq -- including Iraq’s deposed dictator, Saddam Hussein; hunted down thousands of terrorists and regime remnants in Iraq and Afghanistan; captured or killed close to two-thirds of known senior al-Qa'ida operatives; disrupted terrorist cells on most continents; and likely prevented a number of planned terrorist attacks. Our forces are steadfast and determined. We value their service and sacrifice, and the sacrifice of their families, who also serve." --Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (We second.)
"If we had discovered that Hitler had been killing people other than Jews and that a million, not 6 million, had died, and that instead of Zyklon B gas he used other agents, would the United States have been less justified in removing him and his horrid regime from power? Saddam Hussein is gone. It is a good thing for Iraq and the world. An assessment of our intelligence capabilities should continue, but that investigation should not be politicized. It is too important for that." --Cal Thomas
From the DEMO-lition campaign...
As we anticipated, Sen. John "Ketchup" Kerry vaulted firmly into the Demo front-runner position this week, winning the primary and caucus contests Tuesday in Missouri, Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota and Delaware. Added to his Iowa and New Hampshire wins, he's now seven for nine. North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is running second, setting the stage, as we noted last week, for a very competitive Kerry/Edwards ticket.
Of the 1.6-million Demo primary votes cast thus far, Kerry has collected 38.2%, Edwards 23.2%, Wesley Clark 14.9%, and Howard Dean a paltry 10.6%.
Dean, just weeks ago the prohibitive favorite, has since trained his sights on Kerry alone, noting the lobbyist largess that has found its way into Kerry's campaign coffers. "You cannot say that you're going to get rid of the special interests in Washington if you've taken more money than any other senator in the last 15 years from special interests," Dean said of Kerry. (About all we can conclude from the ongoing implosion of the Dejected Doctor's campaign -- a campaign now in Deep Deanial -- is that the Dean phenomenon was little more than a boil -- and that his stultifying outbursts and single-note anti-war stance have served as a suitable lance.)
As for Kerry's stature going forward, let us make this absolutely clear: While Albert Arnold Gore was in fact made of wood, there is absolutely no substance to reports that John Kerry was the inspiration model for the Tree Ents in "The Two Towers." (Treebeard never used Botox…)
For Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the dream is over. "The judgment of the voters is now clear," he concluded. "For me, it is now time to make a difficult but realistic decision. I have decided tonight to end my quest for the presidency of the United States of America. ...In this campaign, I may not have shouted the loudest, but I am proud that I took the toughest positions in support of what I believed was right for our great country, even when it wasn't popular."
According to columnist Ann Coulter, "In his concession speech, Lieberman thanked each one of the Democratic presidential candidates for contributing to the race and thanked Al Sharpton in particular for inciting no additional violence against the Jews." Sharpton, of course, will remain in the race until the end, ensuring the Demo-franchise on "victimized" black voters remains firmly in tow. (Memo to thoughtful black Americans: The Republican Party is the party of Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and Rod Paige; the Democrat Party is the party of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Maxine Waters.)
The BIG lie...
"Bush was AWOL." --Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe on President Bush's service with the Texas Air National Guard in 1972.
Memo to Terry: Why is it that every time you open your mouth, The Democrats lose another congressional seat? As for your slanderous AWOL allegation, we'd submit that flying F-102s is dangerous business regardless of what hard-deck you're over. Thus, if you choose to denigrate President Bush's military service, you also choose to denigrate the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of citizen-soldier Guardsmen and Reservists -- and their families.
In other news...
Today is Ronald Reagan's 93rd birthday. President Reagan served as a mentor and inspiration for many of your Federalist editors -- which is precisely why we developed the Internet's most comprehensive resource on this singular American Patriot. (Please visit this site by linking to -- http://reagan2020.us/)
President Reagan was clear about priorities -- national and personal: "The First Continental Congress made its first act a prayer, the beginning of a great tradition. We have then a lesson from the Founders of our land. That lesson is clear: That in the winning of freedom and in the living of life, the first step is prayer."
And the reformer was, himself, reformed: "I know what it's like to pull the Republican lever for the first time, because I used to be a Democrat myself and I can tell you it only hurts for a minute and then it feels just great."
May God's peace be with you this day and always, Mr. President.