How do you keep the distortions straight?

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 3, 2006

Remember back when Iraq wasn't a threat? Remember when the United States invaded Iraq despite the fact that Saddam Hussein truthfully said he had no weapons of mass destruction and no plans to build any?

Well, today's New York Times has an article on that government Web site that invited armchair Arabists to translate (because the government can't find enough fluent Arabic speakers) some of the millions of documents discovered in the invasion of Iraq. It turns out that some of those documents include pretty good directions on how to make a nuclear weapon.

The Times story also includes this little gem:

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

Whoa, Nellie! A year away from buliding a nuclear bomb? If true, doesn't this belong a little higher up in the story? That's the 14th paragraph!

If you haven't already, I encourage you to read this post by National Review's Jim Geraghty on the subject. A sampling:

I'm sorry, did the New York Times just put on the front page that IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB?

What? Wait a minute. The entire mantra of the war critics has been "no WMDs, no WMDs, no threat, no threat", for the past three years solid. Now we're being told that the Bush administration erred by making public information that could help any nation build an atomic bomb.

Let's go back and clarify: IRAQ HAD NUCLEAR WEAPONS PLANS SO ADVANCED AND DETAILED THAT ANY COUNTRY COULD HAVE USED THEM.

I think the Times editors are counting on this being spun as a "Boy, did Bush screw up" meme; the problem is, to do it, they have to knock down the "there was no threat in Iraq" meme, once and for all. Because obviously, Saddam could have sold this information to anybody, any other state, or any well-funded terrorist group that had publicly pledged to kill millions of Americans and had expressed interest in nuclear arms. You know, like, oh... al-Qaeda.

The New York Times just tore the heart out of the antiwar argument, and they are apparently completely oblivous to it.

Read the whole thing, and let's see if the media manages to show any interest in this bit of reporting.

I do not recommend you take any drastic measures like holding your breath.

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