The fifth anniversary of Colin Powell's day of infamy came and went, virtually unnoticed. A month earlier, Editor & Publisher, ThinkProgress.org, and others commemorated the fifth anniversary of his speech to the U.N. Security Council on Iraq's purported WMD. Referencing this earlier date plays into Powell's disinformation campaign, which he has pursued since leaving office. By feigning a mea culpa about his speech on February 5, 2003, he hopes to distract everyone from the events of March 7, 2007, when he and the rest of the world were put on notice that the case for war against Iraq was a fraud.
When he wanted to whitewash his record last June, Powell went to an old standby, Tim Russert on Meet the Press. Here was the day-after spin:
Meredith VIEIRA: "As Powell said to you yesterday, had he known in February 2003 that there were no weapons of mass destruction stockpiled in Iraq, there would have been no case to invade the country. So do you think he now regrets the role that he played in that decision?"
RUSSERT: "Well, he has called it a blot on his career. But I thought his comments yesterday were important and candid. President Bush, Vice President Cheney said that they would have gone forward with the war because Saddam Hussein is a bad man and had human rights violations and had the capacity to perhaps manufacture weapons of mass destruction, even in the absence of not finding WMD. A much different answer from General Powell yesterday." Today, June 11, 2007
Actually, Powell's doubletalk about the war's justification went all over the place, but his phony mea culpa came down to this:
"But the case that we took to the world and the case that we took to the American people rested not just in his human rights abuses or his cheating on the Oil for Food program, it rested on the real and present danger of weapons of mass destruction that he could use against his neighbors, or terrorists could use against us. That was the precipitating issue in my judgment, and it turned out those weapons were not there."
"And it turns out those weapons were not there," rewrites history with a breathtaking shamelessness. Powell, the mainstream media, and just about every politician and talking head who advocated war persist in ignoring the truth that they never acknowledged in the first place. On March 7, 2003, ElBaradei and Blix told us in no uncertain terms that the was no evidence of WMD that posed a danger to Jordan, much less to the western world. They inspectors had reviewed the purported intelligence presented by Powell a month earlier, and explained that it was not credible.
On March 7, 2003 Mohamed ElBaradei gave a sweeping repudiation of Powell's case, saying, "we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq." As for those notorious aluminum tubes touted by Powell, ElBaradei said, "There is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment. Moreover, even had Iraq pursued such a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in manufacturing centrifuges out of the aluminum tubes in question."
Hans Blix reported that there was no evidence to back up Powell's claims of mobile weapons labs, underground chemical weapons facilities, or active stockpiles of VX. The inspectors were still reviewing unmanned aerial vehicles, which later turned out to be used for weather monitoring.
Of course, on March 7, 2003, we didn't know with certainty what Charles Duelfer's report would later confirm - that Elbaradei and Blix were 100% right and Powell's claims were 100% wrong.
But on that date Powell and the rest of the Administration rejected any notion that they vet any of the latest on-the-ground intelligence which might discredit their case for war. After Blix said the inspectors would need several months to complete their job, Powell ratcheted up his doubletalk. "Others believe that just continuing the inspections, but they never quite say how long," he said, playing to Fox News and insulting the intelligence of everyone else in the room. "For months? How many months? For what purpose? With what additional inspectors?" Powell pushed for war and put everyone on notice that he was acting in bad faith, with a reckless disregard for the truth.
Let's not forget.