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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mr. Saddam and Mr. George

If you didn't get a chance to watch 60 Minutes last night, the 23 minutes you need to spend watching this interview with FBI agent George Piro, talking about his experience interrogating Saddam Hussein is absolutely worthwhile.

Piro, an Arabic-speaker, was Hussein's only human contact for seven months. The story he tells spells out the fallacy of torture as an effective interrogation technique. It also points out once again the impact of the failure or inability to recruit Arabic-speaking agents and analysts.

And the conversations, that took place after Hussein's capture in late 2003 through the months before he was turned over to Iraqi authorities in 2004, once more raise the question
"what did George Bush know and when did he know it" about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

We know Bush and Darth Cheney used the image of Hussein's and a weapons stockpile as one of the fallacious justifications to launch the war. They also used the specious argument as a bludgeon against critics and a key message in the 2004 presidential campaign against John Kerry.

What Piro confirms is that we learned in early 2004 what we formally learned from the chief weapons inspector in the weeks prior to the election: that the weapons were either destroyed by U.N. inspectors or Hussein himself.

But check out the reaction to the formal report in October 2004. We see Bush and and John McCain sharing talking points that make the argument that if Hussein were still in power and if the U.N. had not imposed sanctions on him after the 1991 war, Hussein would have liked to restart his program.

Piro agrees (and for that matter so do most rational people). But there remain an awful lot of ifs, starting with the fact that there was very little disagreement over the use of sanctions and the weapons inspectors in 2002 and 2003 had turned up no evidence of new stockpiles before we rushed into war.

So in essence, we went to war to get rid of weapons that didn't exist and now justify the years of violence and bloodshed and tarnishing of our good name to prevent an isolated and discredited dictator from rebuilding stockpiles.

And of course, in the meantime, our ally Pakistan, exported nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

And speaking of our tarnished standing, do check out the results of our failed policies on our position in the world.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

My question to you is what did Bill Clinton know about WMDs, the answer is a lot which led him and the Congree to sign into law in 1998 regime change in Iraq. Further, John Kerry the standard bearer for the Democratic Party in 2004, was as hawkish if not more and warned about WMDs. So please please please please stop saying that President Bush was the only one that though Saddam had WMDs, because it is patently false.

January 28, 2008 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But anonymous, didn't you know? All of that is merely an outrage perpetrated on a daily basis by the Armies of the Right to distort, demean and cheapen the quality of life in the United States. The terrorist threat against the US began on the day George W. Bush took office, not a day earlier. All those terrorist strikes against US interests around the globe during the 1990s; the 9/11 hijackers being in this country during the 90s; the unanimous Senate vote in 1998 making Iraq regime change the official policy of the US government, including votes by the 2 Mass senators - all of this is a figment of your evil, partisan, right-wing imagination. Baystateliberal has us all figured out.

January 28, 2008 10:43 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Anon 9:18 I'm not disputing that many people, myself included, believed Saddam could have had WMDs. He gassed the Kurds after all.

But by the presidential campaign in 2004 it was abundantly clear -- through efforts from people like George Piro -- that there were no WMD.

Nevertheless, Bush, Cheney et al continued to raise the fear level. That is the point I am making --

Bush was not the only one who thought Saddam had WMDs in 2001. He was the only one using them as WPDs (weapons of political destruction) in 2004.

And by the way, if you want an example of hero, try George Piro.

Anon 10:43 -- obviously I am wrong and you have it all figured out. Thanks for stopping by though.

January 28, 2008 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny. When I first moved here, I loved it because most of the people I met made a point of educating themselves on politics. Now it seems like someone has spirited away the Mass. conservatives and replaced them with party line spouting neocon morons.

Weirdly, for all their hatred of "liberals" they seem to spend all their time hanging out on BMG, Media Nation, and here. It's pathetic. Rob Eno pathetic.

January 28, 2008 11:47 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Anon 11:47 -- Glad you like to hang out here!

January 29, 2008 5:31 AM  

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