Lefty talk show host Ed Schultz was delighted by Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama, but not all his listeners were so enthused. This led to an eyebrow-raiser of a remark by Schultz during his Oct. 20 broadcast:
Now many of you have sent emails saying, oh Ed, who cares about this, (Powell) went in front of the UN and said there were no WMD. Well, that was an administration's, he was, you know, doing his job and he could have said no to it, that's true, but at the time they thought they had 'em. (emphasis added) And he was the mouthpiece for the administration and the country's position on WMD at that time. Look, it was a mistake, we've all learned a lot since then.
Operative word highlighted above -- "they." (MP3 Audio Here)
In other words, it wasn't just "he" -- Powell -- who believed Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in violation of more than a decade of UN resolutions. It was "they" -- as in Powell, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.
So much for "Bush Lied, People Died." Then again, "they thought they had 'em" isn't as pithy a bumper sticker.
Come to think of it, "they" includes a broader universe, to borrow from census parlance, than the Bush administration. "They" extends to military officers working in another government -- that of Saddam's Iraq. It was not until war was nearly imminent that many Iraqi generals learned Iraq did not possess WMD, as disclosed by them after capture and revealed by Iraq Survey Group leader Charles Duelfer in his September 2004 report to Congress.
Duelfer's report included this revelation, in the section titled "Realizing Saddam's Veiled WMD Intent; Regime Strategy and WMD Timeline" --
Early on, Saddam sought to foster the impression with his generals that Iraq could resist a Coalition ground attack using WMD. Then, in a series of meetings in late 2002, Saddam appears to have reversed course and advised various groups of senior officers and officials that Iraq in fact did not have WMD. His admissions persuaded top commanders that they really would have to fight the United States without recourse to WMD. In March 2003, Saddam created further confusion when he implied to his ministers and senior officers that he had some kind of secret weapon.
That Saddam succeeded in creating a false impression of possessing WMD was further corroborated by a "60 Minutes" segment last January about George Piro, a Lebanese-born FBI agent who took part in interrogations of Saddam.
From the "60 Minutes" report by Scott Pelley --
"He told me that most of the WMD had been destroyed by the U.N. inspectors in the '90s. And those that hadn't been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq," Piro says.
"So why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk, why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?" Pelley asks.
"It was very important for him to project that because that was what kept him, in his mind, in power. That capability kept the Iranians away. It kept them from reinvading Iraq," Piro says.
Before his wars with America, Saddam had fought a ruinous eight year war with Iran and it was Iran he still feared the most.
"He believed that he couldn't survive without the perception that he had weapons of mass destruction?" Pelley asks.
"Absolutely," Piro says.
Hence the widespread impression that "they" believed Iraq "had 'em."
What Saddam did in concocting his WMD ruse is akin to a thief going into a bank with his hand in his pocket and informing a teller that he has a gun. If arrested, the thief would face a charge of armed robbery -- even though he wasn't armed. He would also risk getting shot by a bank guard believing the thief to be armed.
Schultz's unwitting acknowledgment aside, many liberals still prefer to condemn the bank guard rather than the thief with the shadow weapon.