Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

  Rick Santorum makes a fool of himself, again.

Senator Santorum held a breathless news conference today (along with the hapless Rep. Hoekstra) to announce that the Army had discovered WMD in Iraq, finally. The ever vigilent junior Senator from Pennsylvania has been pushing for the release of this information for months, he tells us.

Just as you'd suspect, the facts were trivial. The military in Iraq discovered around 500 artillery shells with degraded mustard gas and sarin, dating from the Iran-Iraq War. Santorum and Hoekstra could not explain why they still considered it news that a few ancient chemical weapons yet existed somewhere in Iraq. Nor had the two statesmen bothered to inquire why the White House had not trumpeted this "incredibly" important revelation when it first turned up.

Even Fox News is having a hard time trying to decide whether run with or away from this nonsense.

Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.

"This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991," the official said, adding the munitions "are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war."


And the AP report is utterly dismissive.

With some Democrats saying the decision to go to war was a mistake, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., tried to dispel arguments by Democratic lawmakers that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.

Santorum and Hoekstra released a newly declassified military intelligence report that said coalition forces have found 500 munitions in Iraq that contained degraded sarin or mustard nerve agents, produced before the 1991 Gulf War.

But a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the weapons were not considered likely to be dangerous because of their age. Also, Democrats said a lengthy 2005 report from the top U.S. weapons inspector contemplated that such munitions would be found.


I commented on the "news" as it broke here. See also Think Progress for more, if you have the stomach.

Update: The Washington Post today can't find anybody in DC who takes this seriously, besides the dynamic duo.

Update two: The report from Warren P. Strobel of Knight Ridder ought to put the matter to rest. Santorum and Hoekstra sound pretty defensive about the matter now:

But the intelligence officials said the munitions dated from before the 1991 Persian Gulf War and were for the most part badly deteriorated. "They are not in a condition where they could be used as designed," one intelligence official said.

"There is not new news from the coalition point of view," one official said...

Santorum and Hoekstra didn't return calls requesting comment Thursday in response to the intelligence officials.

"This is an incredibly - in my mind - significant finding," Santorum told a news conference Wednesday. "It is important for the American public to understand that these weapons did in fact exist, were present in the country and were in fact and continue to be a threat to us."

The intelligence officials offered a less alarming view.

They said the old munitions had been found in groups of one and two, indicating that they'd been discarded, not that they were part of an organized program to stockpile banned weapons.

21 Comments:

  • Sorry, I did not mean to steal your thunder. I was a little upset that mcjoan could not allude in her first story that others were reporting the brilliance of Santorum and Fox News. She has since pointed to your diary.

    Your diary entry is outstanding, and I have said so numerous times tonight on dailykos.

    By Blogger jets, at 11:54 PM  

  • okay we have one report from an anonymous source "defense offcial" that could be a high-level, mid-level or the janitor at Area 51 saying they aren't dangerous. The report you reference clearly states "While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal."

    wikipedia states that if it is a binary waepon "the issue of shelf life is irrelevant" see link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarin

    Now the federation of american scientists says that they (IRAQ)have BOTH unitary and binary weapons. see link: http://www.fas.org/irp/gulf/cia/960705/73919_01.htm

    I don't know about you but I wouldn't pour it in my kids kool-aid.

    By the way research before you post claims that these are harmless!!

    By Anonymous scott, at 11:59 PM  

  • Thanks jets, I know exactly how frustrating it is to develop a story and then find that people are linking instead to others who lifted it from you.

    Scott, where did I say these chemicals are "harmless"? Since you're handing out advice, here's a little in return: Read before you comment.

    The point is not whether Hussein had chemical weapons (that is accepted by all), but whether he made an effort to dispose of them as required in the 1990s. The fact that it has taken years to find any stocks of CW in Iraq, and this is all that the Bush administration could come up with, is demonstration enough that is what Hussein did.

    Or did it not occur to you that stray weapons go missing, or are forgotten? Like the tons of WWI munitions that keep turning up all over DC?

    And has it not occured to you that if there were any chance of passing these tired old shells off as the grounds for invading Iraq, that Bush would be all over it? That other Republicans in Congress, less stupid than Santorum, would be grabbing for the microphones?

    The essential thing about Weapons of Mass Destruction is this: It's not a weapon if it can't be used. And these shells could not be used because they were degraded. Negroponte's report indicates that. So, which straw exactly were you grasping for?

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 12:34 AM  

  • NEWS FLASH!

    Senator Rick Santorum announced that Weapons of Masss Destruction have been found under my kitchen sink, and most probably was placed there by Saddam!

    Yes, that bottle of Windex(tm) and that bottle of Clorox(tm) contain lethal chemicals that, while degraded by age"...remain hazardous and potentially lethal." Moreover, the ammonia in the Windex and the hypochlorite in the Clorox can be used as a Binary Chemical Weapon. (Yes, it's true. Look it up).

    How and why Saddam was storing these things in my kitchen is not really relevant. Invade my kitchen with Shock'n'Awe(tm) today, before someone gets hurt!

    BTW, nice try, scott. Keep up the good work!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:16 AM  

  • Anonymous-- Why do you attempt to try to tie my comment to the war like smintheus did?

    No where do I mention the war, george bush, high gas prices, global warming or the number of ground hogs in colorado.

    I simply stated that they might still be harmful. That affects my children whom you obviously don't care about. I'm in this for my children they were mentioned in my post in conjunction with kool-aid.

    If you want to be a real blogger than ask how degraded they are, can they still be toxic if blown up by another means, are the unitary or binary? is this report classified because there are more stockpiles out there? Who is guarding them and how many are there?

    Instead you post about your kitchen cupboard. Maybe you need a roach motel instead of all those other things?

    By Anonymous scott, at 10:10 AM  

  • smintheus,

    You tell me to "read before I comment" you should too. Nowhere do I mention the war or Bush, yet you bring them into the picture.

    What I was pointing out is that these weapons can still be harmful. You want to trivialize this and you link to a graph of a large AP press report that states an anonymous source that says the are not likely to be dangerous.

    Your whole post is about trying to trivialize this report. That is why I said you claim they are harmless.

    Of course, what you don't mention is my kids, and the danger they potentially face.

    We have a group of people with names attached that claim they ae still harmful. these people can be made to ansewer questions.

    We have an anonymous source that can't be questioned that claims they are harmless.

    I'll go with the people whao can be questioned rather than a possible ficticious person.

    Now, stay off the war, Bush, kitchen sinks, gas prices and global warming. bottom line:: Are they still dangerous to my children?

    By Anonymous scott, at 10:22 AM  

  • all of this is utterly irrelivant and has been for some time.

    if you wan't to make a big deal of wmd - one of twenty-two justifications given for invasion of iraq -- then the matter was settled by the isg. the isg, amongst the wmd we didn't find (because they weren't plump cartoon missiles with "bomb" written accross the side in balloon letters), the isg discovered over 41 counts of material non-compliance with the disarmament treaty saddam had been allegedly bound to for over a decade of feckless, beaureaucrat-enriching un inspectians. end of that story.

    if you say we found shitloads of massively destructive weapons ready to launch, you're lying.

    if you say we found no wmd whatsoever, you're lying, and, additionally, not a serious enough person to be entrusted with foreign policy judgements.

    but if you say anything like "the inspections were working," you are a liar and a fool and have no place in a discussion between serious adults.

    By Anonymous jummy, at 12:58 PM  

  • Scott, You're really try to make Santorum's announcement of "incredibly" important news about your children, or your children's koolaid? How are your children threatened by discarded mustard gas shells in Iraq? Are they on the streets of Baghdad? Don't you think people in the US can mix up chemicals as well?

    I really think you ought to reconsider how much of the administration's propaganda you've been swallowing. They've tried to manipulate Americans to react in fear to every "threat", real or imagined. It serves them politically.

    And you wonder why I'm ridiculing this stuff? Remember all the times in 2003 that the Republicans claimed up and down to have discovered those elusive WMD? In each case, the evidence was junk. In other words, they're notorious for lying about this stuff, trying to build phantom WMDs out of the thinnest material.

    No, people are not necessarily more or less credible, depending on whether they're cited anonymously. There are many factors to weigh.

    The people who are flogging this claim have proven that they haven't thought through even some pretty basic things, as I said in my post. They can't even explain why nobody else is lining up with them in making bold claims. So why should we suppose they've thought deeply about other aspects? This was a political stunt by Santorum; he is not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, so why is he the one talking this up?

    Hoekstra and Santorum have also shown they aren't credible. They all but surpressed the central fact that these chemicals are highly degraded. They also avoided mentioning that (i) at least one such shell had already been discovered and publicized, in 2004; and (ii) the Duelfer report stated that such munitions could be expected to be found, in the nature of things. In other words, the two men tried to puff up their revelation by cherrypicking the evidence to present. That makes them less, not more, credible.

    Further, Santorum in particular is a famous nitwit.

    So, why is it we're supposed to swallow this?

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 1:02 PM  

  • "Yes, that bottle of Windex(tm) and that bottle of Clorox(tm) contain lethal chemicals that, while degraded by age"...remain hazardous and potentially lethal." Moreover, the ammonia in the Windex and the hypochlorite in the Clorox can be used as a Binary Chemical Weapon. (Yes, it's true. Look it up)."

    i can never reconcile this sort of mock incredulity when it comes from people who think that depleted uranium has the power to mutate babies, cell phones are boreing holes through ou brains and that broken styrofoam shipping material will bring the very sky down upon us.

    By Anonymous jummy, at 1:07 PM  

  • "So, why is it we're supposed to swallow this?"

    take it for what it is. you don't have to exaggerate it to the degree that many pro-victory bloggers are, but you don't have to be equally dishonest in minimising it either.

    i don't believe that 500 bianary shells found since 2004 is the mother lode. but nor is it honest to pretend its old news or claim its all made up by santorum or use an anonymous non-source to bolster the claim that the agents are expired, when that is not the case at all.

    here, incidentally, is the document.

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/pdf/Iraq_WMD_HPSCI_Negroponte.pdf

    By Anonymous jummy, at 1:19 PM  

  • jummy, I've already seen the document, which I linked to in my fuller discussion yesterday at Daily Kos.

    No, questions of WMDs are not irrelevent. They were the primary reason, and virtually the only viable reason, the nation and Congress were given for invading Iraq. These weapons Bush Co. told us they knew with certainty existed in Iraq, and they also claimed they knew precisely where they were. They were talking about an active nuclear program, and active CW and bio-weapons programs. Such programs did not exist. Therefore their claims were lies.

    They were not talking about old unuseable CW munitions that had been forgotten about. For Santorum and Hoekstra to suggest otherwise is preposterous; they deserve ridicule for it. These are not weapons if they cannot be used as weapons.

    And, yes, it is old news. As I indicate in my Daily Kos piece, the Duelfer report had said that old CW munitions had been found, and that more should be expected to be found, presumably discarded or forgotten about. There are CW munitions discarded and forgotten, buried around Washington DC; not surprising either, and not news.

    So how have I been "dishonest in minimizing" this breathless report of things known for years?

    Oh, and I don't know which inspections you refer to. But the ones going on during the winter of 2002/2003 were working. They were showing steadily that none of the sites that Bush Co. claimed were WMD labs/depots were in fact anything of the sort. That was why Bush wanted to end the inspections.

    So what if Hussein wasn't in perfect compliance with UN mandate. Neither was the US nor Britain. If we thought that was grounds to invade Iraq and overthrow its government, we needed to get authorization from the UN.

    Doesn't matter what you, I, Bush, or Cheney BELIEVE about where WMD might be located. You don't invade another country on a hunch. Bush had no proof, yet he claimed he did. As I said, that was a lie. And that is why Bush and friends have been trying desperately for years to find anything like WMD...as if that would restore his credibility.

    Well, even if a mass of WMD turned up, it wouldn't make Bush any less the liar. He claimed to know things with certainty, that instead he was just guessing about.

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 4:28 PM  

  • smintheus,
    I'm making it about my kids because it IS about my kids. It is about your kids and everyone else's kids.

    How can a sarin shell make it to the US, easy. How can you get one? Apparently theres a buttload in Iraq and you can get one there if we don't find and destroy them all.

    The fact that the claim they existed is finally proven is irrelevant. It never was relevant. What is relevant is that I live near San Francisco. My state is deep blue. My union is our of San Francisco, IUOE local 39 look it up.

    Waht does SF have? LOT'S of PEOPLE! Lot's of places that attract PEOPLE. Lot's of PEOPLE from all over the WORLD!

    THAT is why it's about my kids. You can take it seriously or try to minimize it, but it's about my kids safety.

    If I hear of a politician that doesn't take it seriously they don't get my vote-- PERIOD. I don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Libertarian Green or from Mars.

    Are they binary which don't degrade? Probably.

    Are you taking the threat seriously? No.

    Are a lot of Democrats taking it seriously? No.

    Am I the only person in my union that feels this way? Hell no. Lot's of us know we are a target area.

    Until people start taking this seriously I will vote for my kids safety.

    By Anonymous scott, at 8:21 PM  

  • Scott, There are degraded chemical munitions buried all over the US. Tons and tons of them just in DC off New Hampshire Ave. Are you worked up about people not taking those seriously? That somebody's going to use them against your kids?

    Any major threat to civilians in the US, if it exists at all except in George Bush's propaganda, would likely come from nuclear weapons. Not from mustard gas or sarin.

    And Hussein never came close to getting nuclear weapons. And Bush knew that, or should have known that because all the experts were telling him so. Meanwhile, several other countries that were much more likely to develop nukes were ignored, as Bush plowed into Iraq and got bogged down - as predicted by war opponents. So Bush made it more likely, not less, that the US would suffer a nuclear strike by invading Iraq.

    Oh, by the way, do you care about other people's kids as well? Because lots of them are being killed in Iraq because of this idiotic war, still searching for those elusive WMDs we were assured were there.

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 9:12 PM  

  • "Well, even if a mass of WMD turned up, it wouldn't make Bush any less the liar."

    i figured this. your policy views don't follow from reason. they are, to borrow a pejorative from the nutroots, "faith-based". i'll put my pearls back in my pocket and leave your swine pen now.

    By Anonymous jummy, at 9:18 PM  

  • jummy, did you even understand my point in making that statement? I thought it was beyond dispute:

    If a President leads us to war claiming he has certain knowledge of a threat, when in fact he has nothing more than flimsy evidence on which he's basing speculation, then he has lied. Doesn't matter whether or not his guess turns out to be right. If you're guessing, and you think the nation ought to go to war based on a hunch of yours, then you ought to say so.

    How does that not follow from reason?

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 10:01 PM  

  • smintheus,

    You just don't get it. If (as you claim) there are "tons and tons of them in DC off New Hampshire Ave." no, I'm not "worked" up about them.''Why?

    Because that is a straw man argument. The weapons you mention aren't a threat because as you say they are "buried all over the US". Now, if I see a mid-Eastern group of men with a bunch of backhoes around DC and New Hampshire Ave, I'll get worked up real quick!

    Point is the weapons you mention to distract my argument aren't easy to get to, they are in a pretty safe place.

    Now buried in America ain't the same as buried in another area. there are ghost towns in Nevada that are more preserved than those in California because of climate conditons.

    A wepaon buried in DC may last longer or shorter than one in Iraq. It is a stupid argument because the ones in Iraq are readily available and the others aren't.


    If you want to set the argument that the weapons you mention are equivalent to Iraq, that's the same as saying the murder rate in Los Angeles is equivalent to the death rate of soldiers in Iraq. Since the murder rate of the same period of time is higher, using your logic, I'm safer in Bagdad than Watts.

    You bring (once again because you just can't help yourself) Bush into the argument.

    It ain't about Bush. It's about safety and what I perceive as a threat to my kids.


    If some of those weapons go missing and we get a tip that they might be used at a certain sporting event, you're saying that you'd take your kids and go there anyway because it's just a Bush propaganda issue? You go there, I'll stay home thank you.

    By Anonymous scott, at 9:57 AM  

  • smintheus posted, "Oh, by the way, do you care about other people's kids as well? Because lots of them are being killed in Iraq because of this idiotic war, still searching for those elusive WMDs we were assured were there."

    What about the kids raped by UN troops in the Ivory Coast I don't see you getting worked up over that? What about the kids getting killed in Darfur because the UN refuses to act? I don't see you getting worked up about that either.

    What about the Kurdish children Saddam had killed with Sarin before the war you're not geting worked up over that either? What about the 300,000 plus people Saddam had killed, still not getting worked up about that either?

    See, we can all bring in irrelvant material to distract the argument from the original but why?

    You seem to have a political based agenda to the war effort versus my perspective of my children safety. You vote your way and I'll vote mine.

    By Anonymous scott, at 10:05 AM  

  • smintheus posted, "Oh, by the way, do you care about other people's kids as well? Because lots of them are being killed in Iraq because of this idiotic war, still searching for those elusive WMDs we were assured were there."

    What about the children being raped by UN troops in the Ivory coast? Don't see you getting worked up over that. What about the kids getting killed in Darfur beacuse the UN refuses to act? don't see you getting worked up about that either.

    Waht about the Kurdish children that Saddam killed with Sarin gas? I definitly don't see you getting worked up over that.

    See? I can bring in just as much irrelevant issues to distract from the original post as you can. But why?

    You seem to have a presepective you only look at from a political angle. I look at it from the different angle of what's safest for my kids. You aren't helping the argument by trying to distract with all these outside issues, because you never have addressed the real problem of the weapons being found.

    I just want to know if any are missing if so, where they are and who has them. To me it doesn't have anything to so with the politics of war.

    By Anonymous scott, at 10:12 AM  

  • Scott, I think you're getting worked up over very little. That has been my point all along. I suspect that you haven't followed the news on this as carefully as you ought to.

    It is my understanding that these shells were buried and forgotten after the Iran-Iraq War, along a remote stretch of the Iran border. They may have been exposed by erosion, or maybe people who remembered them led US troops there in order to get a reward.

    Why exactly am I supposed to get worked up about that? Chemical weapons experts have said that these shells are so degraded that they might burn your skin if you poured the chemicals on it, but that is about the extent of their dangerousness. If you're a terrorist and you want to use chemical weapons in the US, it's a lot easier just to mix up a fresh batch than to try to drag these munitions over here.

    I keep bringing up the administration because it thrives by means of scare tactics, which is what this stunt is. Santorum and Hoekstra wanted to convince us that the WMD had been found in Iraq, in order to prove that Republicans were right to have tried to scare the country with all those lies back in 2002/3.

    So it's not me who is making this political. The press conference was a political stunt, as I explain in the long post I linked to in my commentary here. It's the politicians who play these games who are distracting the nation from their failure to address real concerns about terrorism. The invasion of Iraq had NOTHING to do with terrorism, no matter how much they want us to believe it. Saddam Hussein was as hostile to those terrorists in his own way as we are.

    Oh, and btw, when I referred to people's children being killed in Iraq, I meant both Iraqis and our own boys who are sent there to be shot at. How many more Americans have to be killed before the politicians admit that the whole business about WMD was a lie? Shouldn't our national policy take account of their parents' concerns as well?

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 1:12 PM  

  • smintheus, I don't buy into the scare tactics.

    This report is declassified from stuff that was found since 2003. Why wait? Why not declassify it when the 2004 elections were critical? If the Govt wanted to make democrats shut up it would have been released long ago.

    We've had a Presidential election since then that hung (partly) on the WMD question. Makes no sense to me but I'm sure you'll find some kind of twisted logic to convince me I'm scared over nothing.

    In the meantime NO ONE has yet said if they are unitary weapons which degrade. Or binary which don't degrade. I suspect no one is asking because if they are binary you would have zero case and facts.

    And if some idiot says they'll only burn your skin then freaking do it and prove they were right.

    The thing I do wonder in all your ranting though is you seem real worried about the soldiers deaths but we have police officers dying daily we lost 5 in two weeks just in Nor Cal a few months back. But I guess because you can't pin a political agenda to them you don't care?

    Let's put some perspective on the deaths. You rant only about Iraq but we lose 100,000 people a year to medical mistakes.... totally preventable. We lose cops and firefighters at an alarming rate. But no political agenda there right?

    So you tell me I'm worried over nothing yet you seem to be single track minded on the death issue. I have a problem with the narrowmindedness of your advice. SO excuse if I dont' take it.

    By Anonymous scott, at 10:29 PM  

  • There's a huge selection of kitchen sinks from Styled Kitchens

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:27 AM  

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