Better late than never: debunking Powell’s U.N. dog and pony show

Last February, Colin Powell appeared before the U.N. Security Council
to give what he claimed was conclusive evidence of Iraq’s existing stock
of chemical and biological weapons as well as Saddam Hussein’s ongoing
project to develop nuclear bombs. At the time there was almost no effort
among U.S. journalists or politicians to scrutinize and evaluate specific
points in Powell’s dog and pony show. One had to turn to British and European
newspapers to find careful, knowledgeable analyses of the various claims in
Powell’s presentation, analyses that were fairly consistent in raising serious
doubts about the quality of the evidence Powell offered and the conclusions
he drew from it. But “patriotic” Americans were expected simply to trust
Mr. Powell and rally behind our Glorious Leader.

Well, now some in the American press, moving beyond the “16 words in the
State of the Union Address” syndrome, are finally getting around to examining
the February speech, finding its data and reasoning devoid of any real substance.
Here’s a story from the Associated Press that appeared recently in The Kansas City Star,
right in America’s heartland (is Heartland beginning to question Homeland?).
The piece goes through Powell’s major claims one-by-one, noting that none of them
have been confirmed by intensive post-war investigations.

Here’s one slice of the Associated Press analysis.

“Nerve agent production

Powell said that Iraq produced 4 tons of the nerve agent VX.

"A single drop of VX on the skin will kill in minutes. Four tons," he said.

Powell did not note that most of that 4 tons was destroyed in the 1990s
under U.N. supervision. Before the invasion, the Iraqis made a "considerable effort"
to prove they had destroyed the rest, doing chemical analysis of the ground
where inspectors confirmed that VX had been dumped, the U.N. inspection
agency reported May 30.

Experts at Britain's International Institute of Strategic Studies said that any
pre-1991 VX most likely would have degraded anyway.

No VX has been reported found since the invasion.”


Good work, guys, but where were you when we needed this?