Monday, October 04, 2004

Mushroom clouds and aluminum tubes

"I knew that there was a dispute," she said. "I actually didn't really know the nature of the dispute."

That is how Condoleezza Rice sums up the process by which she determined that Iraq was using aluminum tubes it was acquiring to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program. So Rice, Bush’s National Security Advisor, knew there was a dispute among intelligence officials on the matter, but didn’t bother to find out what it was all about.

Instead, Rice went on CNN on Sept. 8, 2002 and warned that we had to invade Iraq or risk a nuclear holocaust:

"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

But now, as this exhaustive New York Times story details, it was clear long before the start of the Iraq war that those aluminum tubes were intended for use for small artillery rockets, not nuclear centrifuges.

The dispute that Rice refers to involved one junior-level CIA analyst on one side, and all the government’s foremost nuclear experts on the other side.
And yet, the Bush administration championed the shaky and ultimately incorrect analysis of the one junior CIA analyst over all the other expert opinions because it fit neatly with their predetermined conclusions. The case against the tubes for nukes theory was devastating long before the Bush administration latched onto it to lead our country to war. Just read the NYTimes story. The only question that remains is whether the Bush officials were grossly ignorant or grossly deceptive.

As I have noted here before, the Bush administration’s blind adherence to ideology over science is one of the chief reasons why it is imperative that they not be granted four more years to mislead this nation down the wrong path.

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