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Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Powell said Iraq was no threat

This is incredible. Who needs conspiracy theories when their own words impeach them?

Colin Powell said Saddam had no "significant capability" with respect to WMD's, and posed no serious threat to his neighbors. He said this in a press briefing on February 24, 2001. It's still there! Go take a look!

Here are some of the juicy quotes:

We had a good discussion, the [Egyptian] Foreign Minister and I and the [Egyptian] President and I, had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions -- the fact that the sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.
[Egyptian] FOREIGN MINISTER MOUSSA: For us, I don't see that threat, but if you ask the Gulf regions and countries of that area they will they would continue to feel that and they say it publicly. The question is not rhetorical. The question is not to have some headlines. It's a very serious situation. We will continue to deal with that situation in a way that ensures stability and justice. Therefore, we will have a lot to say after the round of talks ...

SECRETARY POWELL: May I just add a p.s. that if I was a Kuwaiti and I heard leaders in Baghdad claiming that Kuwait is still a part of Iraq and it's going to be included in the flag and the seal, if I knew they were continuing to try to find weapons of mass destruction, I would have no doubt in my mind who those weapons were aimed at. They are being aimed at Arabs, not at the United States or at others. Yes, I think we should...he has to be contained until he realizes the errors of his ways.

I found this through Atrios, who found it through John Pilger and Lean Left. Just incredible! Less than a year later, Iraq is a charter member of the axis of evil. Two years later, Powell is reciting lie after lie in an attempt to convince the UN Security Council that Iraq is a threat to its neighbors and the US. No credible evidence that anything had changed. In fact, Bush said as much back in July:

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me first say that -- I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence. And the speeches I have given were backed by good intelligence. And I am absolutely convinced today, like I was convinced when I gave the speeches, that Saddam Hussein developed a program of weapons of mass destruction, and that our country made the right decision. We worked with the United Nations -- as Kofi mentioned, not all nations agreed with the decision, but we worked with the United Nations. And Saddam Hussein did not comply. And it's the same intelligence, by the way, that my predecessor used to make the decision he made in 1998.

Of course, that last quote is from an extremely unreliable source; that was the same interview where he said "And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."

To summarize: In 1998 Clinton bombed Iraq based on some intelligence. (Whether it was about WMD's in Iraq or stains on dresses, I'll leave up to the reader.) By February 2001, the new Secretary of State Colin Powell had seen the same evidence and decided that Saddam had no significant WMD capability and was unable to threaten his neighbors, much less the US. In the fall of 2002, Bush and Powell insist that Iraq is a threat and demand that weapons inspections resume. They do. After four months, they have confirmed that Powell in 2001 was right while Powell in 2002/3 was wrong. So the bombs drop and the invasion begins.

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