Monday, July 12, 2004

Wall Street Journal: WMD's and Lies

The lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal deals with the Senate's report on the intelligence regarding Iraq's WMD. The editorial makes several important points, a few have which have been discussed on A Time For Choosing. The editorial concludes:

One real danger now is that the intelligence community will react to this Iraq criticism by taking even fewer risks, or by underestimating future threats as it has so often in the past. (The failure to detect that Saddam was within a year of having a nuclear bomb prior to the 1991 Gulf War is a prime example.) The process of developing "national intelligence estimates," or NIEs, will only reinforce this sense of internal, lowest-common-denominator, conformity. If the Senate is looking for a place to recommend long-term reform, dispensing with NIEs would be a good place to start.

Above all, it's important to remember that the Senate report does not claim that the overall assessment of Iraq as a threat was mistaken. U.N. Resolution 1441 gave Saddam ample opportunity to come clean about his weapons, but he refused. The reports from David Kay and his WMD task force have since shown that Saddam violated 1441 in multiple ways.

Saddam retained a "just-in-time" capability to make WMD, even if he destroyed, hid or removed the "stockpiles" that the CIA believed he had. It's fanciful to think, especially in light of the Oil for Food scandal, that U.N.-led containment was a realistic option for another 12 years, or that once containment ended Saddam wouldn't have expanded his weapons capacity very quickly. The Senate report makes clear we need a better CIA, not that we should have left in power a homicidal, WMD-using dictator.

Exactly. Despite the errors in the agency's assessment, invading Iraq was still the right choice.