"We now have found stockpiles." - Rick Santorum Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - two days ago
It turns out there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after all. Up to 500 canisters of degraded chemical weaponry that, according to David Kay who headed the U.S. weapons-hunting team in Iraq from 2003 until early 2004, is about as hazardous as what the average American household has under their sink. They can cause burns but are unlikely to kill anyone. The canisters pre-date the first Gulf War.
This didn't stop master politician Rick Santorum from trotting out the evidence. Proof that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq after all. I applaud Rick Santorum on two points. First, for acknowledging that the reason we went to Iraq was to search for weapons of mass destruction. It's nice to see the Senator, who has been such a supporter of the war, admit to the original pretext that would turn Iraq into a breeding ground for terrorists and cost 2,500 American soldiers their lives. It would be easy to forget with the constant drumbeat out of Washington about Democracy being on the march, and bringing freedom to the Middle East, the original reason for the invasion. A lot of people think we went to Iraq to make life better for the Iraqi people. Santorum has the courage to remind us that's not why we are there.
The administration is on the same page. "They are weapons of mass destruction. They are harmful to human beings. And they have been found," Donald Rumsfeld said. Weapons of Mass Destruction can now be reduced to things that burn. The bar is lowering.
The other great thing about Rick Santorum, engaged in a heated Senate race he is destined to lose, reaching his fundamentalist arms around these old, leaky, degraded canisters, is the Republican policy, under the Bush administration, of stretching the un-truth, of manipulating intelligence for political ends. It's like 2002 all over again. It's uranium in Niger, it's the Downing Street memo, it's a capability to launch a nuclear attack in less than an hour, it's tubes on a boat, it's Colin Powell's slide show to the United Nations, it's weapons-of-mass-destruction-related-activities. Here now, in plain view, a loony Republican Senator reducing the war in Iraq to these old, probably lost canisters.
"Remember," he tells us, "Saddam Hussein killed 5,000 of his own people with just three of these canisters."
We, of course, have killed at least 30,000 of Saddam's people, and probably many, many more, in our search for those elusive uranium enriched aluminum tubes. And when we didn't find those we said we were spreading Democracy. Now that we have failed on that front it's good to see the argument returning to its roots. Now that we've found the weapons of mass destruction we can go home.
To quote Rudolph Giuliani at the Republican National Convention which I had the pleasure to attend. "Weapons of mass destruction? Saddam Hussein was himself a weapon of mass destruction." The man farted nitrogen. The catastrophe is ours.