The wrong country

Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 at 10:35 p.m.
Is it possible that bad intelligence led President Bush to invade the wrong country?
There seemed virtually no room for doubt when Bush told the nation in October 2002 that Iraq had "a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for and is capable of killing millions."
Now Iraq is a conquered nation, and its massive stockpile is still unaccounted for. We don't know how many millions of lives may or may not have been saved by the American invasion of Iraq. We only know that more than 500 American service men and women have died in the war to stop Saddam from using his weapons of mass destruction.
And now David Kay, who is leaving his post as the chief arms bloodhound charged with sniffing out Saddam's lethal stockpiles, says, "I don't think they exist."
In that regard, he sounded an awful lot like Hans Blix, the former chief U.N. arms inspector, who has been pretty much saying the same thing all along. "I was beginning to wonder what was going on," Blix told The Associated Press this weekend. "Weren't they (Team Bush) wondering, too?"
The answer to that one is probably not. If Bush was truly determined to do something about weapons of mass destruction, he might have invaded Pakistan. It seems that Pakistan's nuclear scientists have been selling their designs to the likes of Libya, North Korea and Iran.
The government there says it had no knowledge of this nuclear entrepreneurship, but as one unnamed senior American official told The New York Times the other day, "It stretches credulity that proliferation on this scale can occur without senior officials in the government knowing about it."
Of course, even if American intelligence had tipped off President Bush to Pakistan's dangerous trade in WMD technology, it is unlikely the administration would have chosen invasion for two reasons:
One, Pakistan is an "ally,"; and second, its ruler, President Pervez Musharraf, hasn't tried to have President Bush's father killed.
It likewise "stretches credulity" that Team Bush launched a war as a leap of faith based on faulty American intelligence. It is more likely, as has been alleged, that Bush entered the White House determined from day one to do something about Iraq, to settle old scores.
And that he cared little or nothing about the quality of intelligence cooked up to back his claims that the tinpot dictator possessed the arsenal to threaten millions of lives and America's very security.
Was this war necessary? Was it worth the lives of more than 500 Americans to stop one brutal despot in a region populated by brutal despots? Was this truly a massive failure of intelligence? Or was the integrity of the intelligence simply irrelevant to the hawks in the White House?
It appears that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction program never recovered from the first Gulf War. Meanwhile, our ally, Pakistan, has been helping our enemies free the nuclear genie. Does anybody in Washington even know what's going on in this dangerous world? Do the politicians even care?

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