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Friday, June 13, 2003

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RANDOM MOODSWINGS: HYPING HILLARY, CROONING KRUGMAN  

THE MAN ON EVERY STREET    I don't normally like to link to Ann Coulter, but this is too good to miss. From her column on Hillary Clinton's book, Living History:

"Another average individual eager to get Hillary's book was Greg Packer, who was the centerpiece of the New York Times' 'man on the street' interview about Hillary-mania. After being first in line for an autographed book at the Fifth Avenue Barnes & Noble, Packer gushed to the Times: 'I'm a big fan of Hillary and Bill's. I want to change her mind about running for president. I want to be part of her campaign.'

"It was easy for the Times to spell Packer's name right because he is apparently the entire media's designated 'man on the street' for all articles ever written. He has appeared in news stories more than 100 times as a random member of the public. Packer was quoted on his reaction to military strikes against Iraq; he was quoted at the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Veterans' Day Parade. He was quoted at not one – but two – New Year's Eve celebrations at Times Square. He was quoted at the opening of a new 'Star Wars' movie, at the opening of an H&M clothing store on Fifth Avenue and at the opening of the viewing stand at Ground Zero. He has been quoted at Yankees games, Mets games, Jets games – even getting tickets for the Brooklyn Cyclones. He was quoted at a Clinton fund-raiser at Alec Baldwin's house in the Hamptons and the pope's visit to Giants stadium."

Thanks to Jeff Lin.

THE BALLAD OF PAUL KRUGMAN   Eric Lindholm at Viking Pundit has composed a little ditty to be sung to the tune of Gilbert & Sullivan's "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General."

"I’m full of moral vanity and my virtue is beyond review
I’m blind to my own prejudice and operate without a clue
With Bush there in the White House, I’m an eternal pessimist
I am the very model of a New York Times columnist"

Read the whole thing!

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:17 PM | link  

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NOT SO SILENT CAL   
Our friend Bruce Bartlett at the National Center for Policy Analysis just discovered an on-line archive of presidential papers from Hoover forward, at the web site of UC Santa Barbara. He's just come up with this on the morality of taxation and the hard reality of the Laffer curve, from Calvin Coolidge's inaugural address:

"The method of raising revenue ought not to impede the transaction of business; it ought to encourage it. I am opposed to extremely high rates, because they produce little or no revenue, because they are bad for the country, and, finally, because they are wrong. We can not finance the country, we can not improve social conditions, through any system of injustice, even if we attempt to inflict it upon the rich. Those who suffer the most harm will be the poor. This country believes in prosperity. It is absurd to suppose that it is envious of those who are already prosperous. The wise and correct course to follow in taxation and all other economic legislation is not to destroy those who have already secured success but to create conditions under which every one will have a better chance to be successful."

If I know Bruce, he'll be like a kid in a candy store. Look forward to lots more pearls of presidential wisdom.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:46 AM | link  

TEXAS-SIZE LIES FROM KRUGMAN    Matthew Hoy is once again first out of the blocks in demolishing a new Paul Krugman column. Hoy's got the goods on Krugman's lies about a deadly Republican plot to redistrict Texas:
"Texas was redistricted by a court after the Democrats managed to halt a redistricting plan in 2000. Texas was allotted an additional three seats -- all of which were made GOP seats -- leaving the Democrats with a 17-15 advantage in the Congressional delegation. This in a state where every statewide office is held by Republicans."

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:40 AM | link  


Thursday, June 12, 2003

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BAD DOGGY!   
An alert reader found a whopper that I had missed in Paul Krugman's June 10 New York Times column. Kevin Kidd writes,

"I believe you've missed the most significant error in this article. When I read this portion I came away frustrated that a 'professional' columnist would make such an error and a simpleton like myself (having never taken a journalism course in my life) would easily catch such a blunder. Krugman wrote,

"'... look at the way the administration rhetorically linked Saddam to Sept. 11.'

"What should follow this statement is a corroborating quote from the Bush administration so I can see how they rhetorically linked Saddam to 9/11. Instead, Krugman deceptively follows this with an evaluation given by the Associated Press.

"'As The Associated Press put it: "The implication from Bush on down was that Saddam supported Osama bin Laden's network. Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks frequently were mentioned in the same sentence, even though officials have no good evidence of such a link."'

"Even that wasn't completely accurate, as you noted in your article -- it was the AP paraphrasing someone. If someone asks me to 'look at the way the administration...' does anything, shouldn't I then be referred to what or how the administration did or said something, rather than being offered someone else's estimation of what someone else said?

"When I was a teen, we had dogs in the house -- toy poodles ( know, I know....my parents are Democrats though). When one of the dogs pooped on the carpet, we would take the offending dog by the back of the neck and stick his nose right in the poop and smack him on the hind end, saying 'bad dog!' Well, if Krugman had his way we would have dragged the dog by his neck past the mound of poop (the thing we wanted him to see), to someone else to hear what they had to say about the poop. The dog would've never seen the evidence and never learned a thing."

I've accused Krugman in the past of indulging in the elephant-shit of economics jargon, but Kidd has it right -- these latest politically motivated scams are just poodle-shit.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:38 AM | link  


Wednesday, June 11, 2003

THE RELIGIOUS LEFT PRAYS FOR MORE WELFARE    Does the religious right scare you? Well, here comes the religious left. It's time to join hands and pray to the Lord for more welfare payments administered through the tax code.

This picture from today's New York Times is captioned "Representatives Nick Lampson of Texas and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, both Democrats, joined their House leader, Nancy Pelosi of California, right, in a prayer group on Tuesday that pushed for the child tax credit." By the way, that's quite the outfit on DeLauro, wouldn't you say?

Prayer appears to be the only option left for Democrats. House majority leader Tom DeLay is dead set against the tax credit for taxpayers who don't pay taxes (how's that again?) -- even though President Bush has urged him to go along for the sake of appearances.

Thanks to Art Patten.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:26 AM | link  

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KRUGMAN'S SOURCE: AL QAEDA   
I have good news, and I have bad news. First the good news: Paul Krugman is cleaning up his act! In his latest New York Times column he has actually cited most of his sources. There are nine, count 'em, nine source citations -- that's one citation for every 81 words in the column, probably a world record for any op-ed and certainly a personal best for Krugman.

Now the bad news: one of his sources is al Qaeda!

This latest column blasting the Bush administration for deception about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction isn't Krugman's usual pastiche of insane, wild-eyed and unsourced allegations. No, it's a pastiche of insane, wild-eyed and sourced allegations. But for Krugman, citing sources is just a whole new way of lying.

For example, Krugman writes

"...look at the way the administration rhetorically linked Saddam to Sept. 11. As The Associated Press put it: 'The implication from Bush on down was that Saddam supported Osama bin Laden's network. Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks frequently were mentioned in the same sentence, even though officials have no good evidence of such a link.'"

Krugman gives the impression that the Associated Press itself has, as an institution, arrived at this judgment against the Bush administration. A little fact-checking (something the New York Times hasn't quite geared up for yet with interim executive editor Joseph Lelyveld only on the job for less than a week) reveals that this quotation from a Saturday AP story is actually AP's paraphrase of a single individual's view -- that of Greg Thielmann, a retired State Department intelligence official.  

Source-happy Krugman then goes for corroboration... and it's no less a paragon of probity and truthfulness than those wonderful folks who brought you the World Trade Center terrorist attack -- al Qaeda. Krugman writes,

"Not only was there no good evidence: according to The New York Times, captured leaders of Al Qaeda explicitly told the C.I.A. that they had not been working with Saddam."

In the story where this was reported Monday, even the Times had the good sense to quote an intelligence official "explaining that everything Qaeda detainees say must be regarded with great skepticism."

Krugman accuses the Bush administration of  "cherry-picking, of choosing and exaggerating intelligence that suited the administration's preconceptions." But just look at this job of cherry-picking in another Krugman citation of the Associated Press:

"It's now two months since Baghdad fell — and according to The A.P., military units searching for W.M.D.'s have run out of places to look."

Yep, that's what the AP said in a story on Monday. But Matthew Hoy shows on his blog Hoystory.com that Krugman picked that particular cherry from a tree that included this fruit, too:

"'The Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency said work will resume at a brisk pace once its 1,300-person Iraq Survey Group takes over... 'We've interviewed a fraction of the people who were involved. We've gone to a fraction of the sites. We've gone through a fraction of thousands and thousands and thousands of documents about this program,' National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Sunday."

Not content to only lacerate the administration over WMD's, Krugman hauls out fears of "quagmire" that should have been set to rest one spectacular victory ago. Where does he get tired old antiques like this, on Ebay? Nope, the British press! He writes:

"The Independent reports that British military chiefs are resisting calls to send more forces, fearing being 'sucked into a quagmire.'"

Tom Maguire tracked down the Independent story on Saturday in which Krugman found this quote (the Independent, by the way, is the home of Robert Fisk, the rabidly and delusionally anti-war war correspondent). Maguire reveals on his blog Just One Minute, that the Independent story was not "resisting calls to send more forces" as Krugman states, but rather "resisting calls for British troops to be sent to join American forces in Baghdad" -- simply to redeploy them from southern Iraq into the capital. Forget the images of brave, doomed British lads been sent off on troopships never to see their mums again.

Maguire also catches Krugman distorting quotes by President Bush and other administration officials. He quotes Bush this way:

"...the Bush administration found scraps of intelligence suiting its agenda, and officials began making strong pronouncements. 'Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons — the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have,' Mr. Bush said on Feb. 8."

Maguire reveals that the full quote from a Bush radio speech is not quite such a "strong pronouncement" -- Bush qualified it, but Krugman cut out the qualification. Here's what Bush really said -- I've set in bold type the "scrap of intelligence" that Krugman stripped out because it didn't "suit his agenda" -- without so much as an ellipsis to disclose that words had been removed.

"And we have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons — the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."

Next Krugman resurrects an often-quoted statement by Vice President Dick Cheney from an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" at the onset of war.

"On March 16 Dick Cheney declared, 'We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.'"

Maguire writes that while this quote is technically accurate, it is "hopelessly misleading":

"From the transcript, it seems clear that [host Tim] Russert did not even blink. This is because Cheney mis-spoke, and Russert knew it. Russert had asked whether Iraq had a nuclear program; earlier in the interview, Cheney had asserted his belief that Saddam had 'reconstituted these programs since the Gulf War.'

"With this response, Cheney managed to substitute 'weapons' for 'programs,' but it is clear from the context what he meant. Later in the show, Cheney also said this: '...over time, given Saddam’s posture there, given the fact that he has a significant flow of cash as a result of the oil production of Iraq, it’s only a matter of time until he acquires nuclear weapons.'"

Krugman complains that "The Bush and Blair administrations are trying to silence critics." He claims that "Last week a Blair official accused Britain's intelligence agencies of plotting against the government." He cites no source for that one, but a web search of the British press reveals that he's talking about House of Commons Leader John Reid who criticized "uncorroborated briefings by a potentially rogue element -- or indeed elements -- in the intelligence services," but never said anything about a plot.

And Krugman finds it unacceptable that "Colin Powell has declared that questions about the justification for war are 'outrageous.'" But Tom Maguire points out that Secretary of State Colin Powell never claimed that mere questions of justification were outrageous. What he really said was that "...it is really somewhat outrageous on the part of some critics to say that this was all bogus."

It's ironic, isn't it? Krugman is criticizing the administration for distorting sources for its own political ends. Yet, as you can see, that's precisely what Krugman himself has done in this column. Should Powell be faulted for finding such politically motivated distortions "somewhat outrageous"? You bet he should. They're just plain outrageous.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:07 AM | link  


Monday, June 09, 2003

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WHO CAN YOU ANTITRUST?   
Shakespeare, in Hamlet 400 years ago: "For tis the sport to have the enginer hoist with his owne petar."

It applies to today's software enginers, too. Let's check in with Silicon Valley's antitrust warrior, Larry Ellison...

"J.D. Edwards' chief executive joined the attack against Larry Ellison on Monday, saying the Oracle chairman's $5.1 billion hostile bid for PeopleSoft would likely run afoul of antitrust regulators.

"At a customer meeting in Denver, Bob Dutkowsky told reporters that the proposal by Oracle to purchase PeopleSoft -- which previously agreed to acquire J.D. Edwards -- would leave business-software customers with fewer choices. 'Oracle has called its offer 'consolidating,' Dutkowsky said, but he said he believes Oracle intends to eliminate PeopleSoft's product lines and move its customers to Oracle's software...'"

Ah, but just three short years ago...

"Earlier this month, janitors at the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), a pro-Microsoft lobbying group, reported being bribed by an investigator wanting to see the group's trash. The private eye was later linked to Investigative Group International. In a surprising turn of events, Microsoft rival Oracle has admitted to hiring the firm.

"'Left undisclosed, these Microsoft front groups could have improperly influenced the outcome of one of the most important antitrust cases in US history,' according to Oracle's statement."

Disclosure: the author is a shareholder of J.D. Edwards as a result of its acquisition of another company in which the author held a private equity investment.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 7:34 PM | link  


Sunday, June 08, 2003

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AN OPEN LETTER TO JOSEPH LELYVELD   

To:
Mr. Joseph Lelyveld
Interim Executive Editor
New York Times
229 W. 43rd Street
New York NY 10036

Dear Mr. Lelyveld,

No doubt your attention over the next several weeks will be consumed by the urgent task of stabilizing morale and management in the New York Times news organization, and putting in place new safeguards to assure that the basic violations of journalistic ethics committed by Jayson Blair never recur.

I would like to draw your attention to another matter of journalistic ethics at the Times that is just as important -- the need to assure that facts, statistics, sources and quotations presented in editorials and op-eds be just as accurate, and subject to the same standards of truthfulness and procedures of fact-checking, as those presented in news stories.

If a Jayson Blair were writing an editorial or op-ed, there would be no ethical requirement that it be balanced or neutral with respect to its political point of view, and I would defend to the death his right to take any point of view the Times wished to publish. But the editorial or op-ed formats would give a Blair no greater ethical scope to plagiarize, lie, fabricate sources, or fabricate or distort quotations than he would have had as the author of a news story.

I urge you, as interim executive editor, to face the difficult reality that the standards of truthfulness with respect to facts, statistics, sources and quotations cited in Times' editorials and op-eds, under Howell Raines' leadership, have declined to a point that would be seen as unacceptable on the news side -- especially in this present period of heightened scrutiny. If this is not openly addressed under your interim leadership, you should not be surprised if the public comes to regard this as another instance of management failure at the Times.

One op-ed columnist in particular, Paul Krugman, has consistently been at the leading edge of this decline in standards. I will confine my observations in this letter to the work of Mr. Krugman. Over the last several months I have devoted a series of columns on National Review Online and on my own website to documenting Mr. Krugman's ethical lapses. I will be happy to admit up-front that I am very opposed to Mr. Krugman's political point of view, but that does not change the fact that he has repeatedly violated the most basic standards of accuracy and truthfulness.

Please take the time to consider some examples from his most recent column, published Friday, June 6, the first full day or your interim leadership.

Mr. Krugman's June 6 column contains an out-of-context and misleading quotation taken from a story published in the Denver Post on May 26. That same quotation was picked up in a Washington Post column on May 28. The Post later determined that the quotation was so out-of-context and misleading that it subsequently issued a correction on June 2. The most charitable conclusion is that Mr. Krugman's column had not been fact-checked.

Here is the quotation as it appeared in Mr. Krugman's column. The person quoted is Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. Earlier in the column, Mr. Krugman fails to identify Mr. Norquist's affiliation, but says instead only that he is "the right-wing ideologue who has become one of the most powerful men in Washington."

"Which brings us back to Senator Miller, and all those politicians and pundits who still imagine that there is room for compromise, that they can find some bipartisan middle ground. Mr. Norquist was recently quoted in The Denver Post with the answer to that: 'Bipartisanship is another name for date rape.'"

A reader of Mr. Krugman's column would reasonably conclude from this, first, that this quote is something that Norquist said; and second, that its represents his endorsement of coercive and abusive partisan legislative strategies.

For the record, here's the way that quote appeared in the original Denver Post story of May 26:

"'Bipartisanship is another name for date rape,' Norquist, a onetime adviser to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, said, citing an axiom of House conservatives."

Here is how that quote was picked up by the Washington Post, in a column by Al Kamen on May 28:

"Quote of the Month: 'Bipartisanship is another name for date rape,' says Grover Norquist, GOP strategist and head of Americans for Tax Reform, according to an article yesterday in the Denver Post."

Kamen ran the following correction in his next column, on June 2:

"Veteran GOP operative Grover Norquist called Friday to clarify some comments in the Denver Post and in this column last week. ... that line 'bipartisanship is like date rape' is not his, he said, but was coined by former House majority leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) when the GOP was in the minority and being bipartisan meant getting the short end."

In its corrected version, it has entirely the opposite meaning as that implied in Mr. Krugman's column. The Post correction revealed that the quote was both not Norquist's originally, and that its meaning in light of its origin was not to endorse coercive and abusive Republican partisanship, but to complain about coercive and abusive Democratic partisanship. Whether or not this correction was known to Mr. Krugman or his fact-checkers at the Times, there can be no doubt that it would have been available to them with the simplest web search. I was made aware of this by Jonathan Collegio, the director of communications for Americans for Tax Reform.

Here is another example. In the same column, Mr. Krugman wrote,

"Most media attention has focused on the child tax credit that wasn't. As in 2001, the administration softened the profile of a tax cut mainly aimed at the wealthy by including a credit for families with children. But at the last minute, a change in wording deprived 12 million children of some or all of that tax credit. 'There are a lot of things that are more important than that,' declared Tom DeLay, the House majority leader. (Maybe he was thinking of the 'Hummer deduction,' which stayed in the bill: business owners may now deduct up to $100,000 for the cost of a vehicle, as long as it weighs at least 6,000 pounds.)"

This quotation from Mr. DeLay is an out-of-context fragment of a larger statement. As reported in a June 4 story in USA Today,

"'There are a lot of other things that are more important than that,' House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said of addressing low-income families. 'If it is a part of a bigger bill...and can get us some votes over in the Senate, then I'm more than open to it.'''

Mr. Krugman's selected fragment gives the impression that Mr. DeLay is callously indifferent to the plight of "12 million children." But the full context of his statement reveals that this matter is, in Mr. DeLay's mind, simply part of a larger legislative context -- as one might reasonably expect any single element of the tax code to be. I was made aware of this by Steven Antler, an economics professor at Roosevelt University.

Further, Mr. Krugman's fact-checkers should have detected his incorrect assertion that the child tax credit was the victim of a "last minute" "change of wording." Mr. Krugman asserted the same thing in his June 3 column, in which he called it a "last minute switcheroo." As Senate Finance Committee chair Charles Grassley explained in a May 29 statement, issued in response to a Times news story of the same date which made the same incorrect assertion, 

"The change reported in today’s New York Times was not a last-minute revision. The accelerated refundable child tax credit was not in the President’s original proposal, and it was not in the bill passed by the House of Representatives. This credit, a new and expanded spending program, was added to the jobs and economic growth bill on top of the tax-cut provisions during the Senate Finance Committee markup. When House-Senate conferees were forced to fit all of the tax cuts and all of the new government spending into a $350 billion package, the add-ons, including this new government spending, were dropped from the bill."

Also, Mr. Krugman provides no source for the claim that the change in the tax bill "deprived 12 million children." In his June 3 column, he claimed it was "eight million children," and didn't cite a source then, either.

One source that Mr. Krugman does cite in the most recent column is the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He says,

"...as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, this latest tax cut reduces federal revenue as a share of G.D.P. to its lowest level since 1959."

This organization is cited frequently by the Times -- and very frequently by Krugman (at least 14 times other than the most recent column, including Mr. Krugman's columns of 5/29/01, 8/21/01, 9/30/01, 1/11/02, 2/19/02, 4/19/02, 7/30/02, 8/6/02, 8/30/02, 9/20/02, 12/27/02, 1/21/03, 3/21/03, and 5/9/03). I've noticed that in recent Times news stories, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is identified truthfully as a "liberal group" (as in this news story on May 29) or a "liberal research group" (as in this news story on June 1). Mr. Krugman posted a bulletin on his personal website on May 28 admitting that the CBPP is "Democratic in orientation." I submit that there is no proper ethical principle under which Mr. Krugman's op-eds should be held to a lower standard of disclosure about the political orientation of their sources than Times news stories, or Mr. Krugman's own web site.

Mr. Lelyveld, in the Times' code of conduct issued in January 2003, you state that "staff members" who "recklessly provide false information for publication betray our fundamental pact with our readers." You state in the code that "It is our policy to correct our errors, large and small, as soon as we become aware of them."

I see in those statements no exclusion for editorial writers or op-ed columnists.

In the same code of conduct, you state that "Simple courtesy suggests that we not alienate our readers by ignoring their emails and letters that warrant reply." In light of that, and in high hopes for restoration of the reputation of America's "paper of record," I eagerly await your response to this letter.

Sincerely,

Donald L. Luskin

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:01 PM | link  

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RANDOM MOODSWINGS: CONSERVATIVE ECONOMIST FIRED, AND FIRING BACK ON WMD'S   

POLITICALLY INCORRECT: Our friend Bruce Bartlett points out this story from The Sophian, the campus newspaper of Smith College: James D. Miller, an economics professor has been denied tenure because he's a conservative Republican who wrote for National Review Online. Uh oh... does this mean I will be denied tenure -- or do I have to be a professor first, before I can be denied tenure?

"Two of the letters explaining no votes in Miller's case refer to criticisms he has made of academia, though neither gives this as a main reason for a no vote. One letter cites part of his book Game Theory at Work, and the other cites an article he wrote for National Review Online entitled 'Campus Colors.'

"The latter states, 'I would also refer the committee to a piece included in Jim's "Journalistic Articles" packet: the Guest Comment on NRO entitled "Campus Colors," in which Jim says, among other things, that "professors are mostly left wing," that "(t)he large number of non-U.S. citizens in American colleges necessarily makes these schools less patriotic," and that "(p)ractically the only way for a women's-studies professor to get a lifetime college appointment is for her to contribute to the literature on why America is racist, sexist, and homophobic." I find it extremely disturbingly [sic] that this could be Jim's image of academia.'

"'The person wasn't disturbed that it was poorly written or illogically argued, but rather she was disturbed by the conservative political views expressed in the article,' Miller said. 'This article is criticizing colleges for being politically correct. ... This was used as a reason to fire me. I consider that an absolute violation of my academic freedom.'"

LOCK AND LOAD: Looking for intellectual ammunition to help you fire back at the media barrage claiming that the Bush administration was lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Who would have thought it would come from the Washington Post -- but here it is, in a devastating column today by Robert Kagan. Kagan lists a cavalcade of credible sources on the Iraq WMD threat, including United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix's January 27, 2003 report to the Security Council. Lest we forget, I quote directly from that report:

"Iraq has declared that it produced about 8,500 litres of this biological warfare agent, which it states it unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. Iraq has provided little evidence for this production and no convincing evidence for its destruction. There are strong indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than it declared, and that at least some of this was retained after the declared destruction date. It might still exist.

"... Iraq did not declare a significant quantity, some 650 kg, of bacterial growth media, which was acknowledged as imported in Iraq’s submission to the Amorim panel in February 1999. As part of its 7 December 2002 declaration, Iraq resubmitted the Amorim panel document, but the table showing this particular import of media was not included. The absence of this table would appear to be deliberate as the pages of the resubmitted document were renumbered.

"...Iraq has declared that it only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tonnes and that the quality was poor and the product unstable. Consequently, it was said, that the agent was never weaponised. Iraq said that the small quantity of agent remaining after the Gulf War was unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. UNMOVIC, however, has information that conflicts with this account. There are indications that Iraq had worked on the problem of purity and stabilization and that more had been achieved than has been declared. Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicates that the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than declared.

"...Two projects in particular stand out. They are the development of a liquid-fuelled missile named the Al Samoud 2, and a solid propellant missile, called the Al Fatah. Both missiles have been tested to a range in excess of the permitted range of 150 km, with the Al Samoud 2 being tested to a maximum of 183 km and the Al Fatah to 161 km. Some of both types of missiles have already been provided to the Iraqi Armed Forces even though it is stated that they are still undergoing development.

"...Unlike South Africa, which decided on its own to eliminate its nuclear weapons and welcomed inspection as a means of creating confidence in its disarmament, Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance – not even today – of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace."

As Kagan says, "Yes, neither the CIA nor the U.N. inspectors have ever known exactly how many weapons Hussein had or how many he was building. But that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and the ability to produce more? That has never been in doubt."

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 4:07 PM | link