Knowledge has been the president's enemy ever since his skull failed to completely fuse, leaving him with a spongy head and a brain that's susceptible to bruising. His other lifelong enemy, by the way, is a fork without a protective wine cork pressed onto its dangerous, eye-poking tines. I'm joking about the skull thing.
But now it appears as if having the knowledge to be able to build a nuclear bomb is enough to let slip the neocon jagoffs of war -- whether or not a nuclear weapon is actually being constructed. President Bush during Tuesday's press conference:
"Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."
Knowledge. That's the cause now. So let's say, just for argument's sake, that this new policy of smoking out knowledge is for real and not just the administration's political escape pod after the NIE proved the hawks to be full of hawky shit. The foreign policy of the United States, therefore, will be to threaten war against any nation that has the knowledge to build a nuclear bomb regardless of intent, materials or an actual, you know, nuclear weapons program.
The problem with this policy is... this.
Don't click that goddamn link! It takes you to an evildoer website called The Google where you'll find search results for the phrase "how to build an atomic bomb." When you click on those links, you'll learn about how to build a nuclear weapon from the knowledge supplied by such subversive organizations as UC Berkley, Cosmos Magazine and Amazon.com.
It doesn't matter, ultimately, how much knowledge you attain via The Google. Realistically, you'd need tens of millions of dollars; centrifuges; radioactive elements like uranium and plutonium; delicious yellow cake; various important-looking scientists (I recommend Germans -- they're really sciency); missile launching gadgets; rocket fuel; helmets; radiation suits; protective eyewear; and all varieties of other fancy-shmancy resources in order to build an actual bomb.
In addition, you'd also need to be savvy and sneaky enough to engage in this Herculean task without being detected by the United Nations' IAEA inspectors who are very smart and tenacious. If you manage to dodge them, you'll still be in plain view of dozens of spy satellites aimed at every square inch of your crappy square of desert. Or you could be stymied by an array of undercover nonproliferation intelligence operatives like, for instance, Valerie Plame-Wilson (before she was deliberately outted by Karl Rove and the Bush White House).
Altogether, building a nuclear weapon seems like a massive pain in the ass, which is probably why there are only nine countries in the entire history of the world that have successfully constructed one, and it's probably why Iran -- with its pathetic economy and spazzy, bearded-Jamie-Farr president -- shut down its weapons program four years ago.
In stark contrast to actually building a weapon, attaining the knowledge to build one is the easiest part and therefore the most common.
Why else would President Bush cite knowledge as the qualifier? Knowledge is also the simplest justification to lie about due to the fact that it's so insanely difficult to disprove. Oh, and it's a perfect fit for rallying the president's dingus base -- they hate anything that has to do with knownin' shit.
As such, it appears to be a policy that's been brewing in the White House for much longer than a week, which begs the question: what did the president know about Iran suspending its weapons program and when did he know it?
During Tuesday's news conference, the president said that he was first briefed on the NIE last Wednesday, November 28. This was a gigantic lie. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley inadvertently and preemptively debunked it on Monday when he said that the president was briefed much earlier -- perhaps as early as August or September -- about the content of the NIE. Then we have this from the president:
"In August, I think it was John Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn't tell me what the information was."
JOHN MIKE: Yo Bushie! I have some new information but I'm not telling. Bye!
THE PRESIDENT: Joke's on you, John Mike. I didn't wanna know anyway. Eh-eh-eh.
Obviously, Mike McConnell briefed the president and told him that Iran very likely ended its program in 2003. But the president thinks we're as spongy-skulled as he is so most of us will buy this raft of shitola. The cynical politics of Karl Rove lives on and on.
And flash back to a little more than a year ago when Hersh wrote in the New Yorker (via TPM) that the administration was aware of and resistant to a top secret CIA report which corresponded precisely with the findings of this new NIE. Yet the White House continued to push for war in Iran for an entire year anyway. Hersh:
"They're not looking for a smoking gun," the [senior intelligence] official added, referring to specific intelligence about Iranian nuclear planning. "They're looking for the degree of comfort level they think they need to accomplish the mission."
"The knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon" qualifies as both "comfortable" as and "less than a smoking gun," so it was added to the list of justifications -- justifications which included various other abandoned or debunked reasons for attacking Iran.
Back in October, the president remarked with a big smirky grin stretched diagonally across his spongy skull about the possibility of World War III if Iran attained the knowledge to build a weapon. The obnoxious, grinning hyperbole of the phrase "World War III" nearly eclipsed the fact that the president officially announced knowledge as the policy that day. Tuesday he reaffirmed it, and lied all the way through.
In the case of Iraq lies, the Bush Republicans reached the bottom of the bogus justification slag heap when Rick Santorum announced that he found the Iraqi WMD -- WMD that were chemically expired because they predated the first Gulf War -- but he found the WMD anyway. And then he was laughed out of office.
The administration has reached a similar point of desperation with this ridiculous knowledge argument, especially now that it's an on-the-record fact that Iran isn't developing a nuclear weapon. Then again, much like he did with Iraq, President Bush was lying, President Bush is lying, and President Bush will lie again about his approach to Iran. At least, after seven years, you and I have the knowledge to catch him doing it.
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