The WikiLeaksters seem to have inadvertently done history a bit of a favor in the their obsession, with the help of heavy-breathing media mouthpieces like the New York Times, to release classified military documents.
It seems that some of those documents reveal the utter untruthfulness of a core claim of Iraq War opponents, namely that "We now know that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."
This contention, not nuanced in any way (i.e., not "no stockpiles" or "not that many," but instead absolutely none), is part of leftist folklore. Here are just a few example of so-called "mainstream" or "respected" liberal sources found to have made that exact contention in a brief Internet searches this morning:
- Washington Post; August 17, 2004 -- "Why Kerry Is Right About Iraq," by Fareed Zakaria.
- Rev. Joseph Lowry; February 2006, at the funeral of Coretta Scott King (substituting "over there" for "in Iraq").
- UK Guardian; April 19, 2007 -- "Iraq is not part of war on terror, says top UK diplomat"
- Financial Times; August 30, 2005 -- via Trita Parsi, then described as "a Middle East specialist at Johns Hopkins University."
But at Wired Magazine's Danger Room (HTs to Ace and Gateway Pundit via an e-mailer), Noah Shachtman identifies substantial contrary evidence in the WikiLeaks docs to add that what has already been accumulated. Shachtman tries to minimize the impact by overstating the Bush administration's actual position, but that doesn't change what the WikiLeaks docs contain:
WikiLeaks Show WMD Hunt Continued in Iraq – With Surprising Results
By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
But for years afterward, WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins, and uncover weapons of mass destruction.
An initial glance at the WikiLeaks war logs doesn’t reveal evidence of some massive WMD program by the Saddam Hussein regime — the Bush administration’s most (in)famous rationale for invading Iraq. But chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam’s toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents.
... The WMD diehards will likely find some comfort in these newly-WikiLeaked documents. Skeptics will note that these relatively small WMD stockpiles were hardly the kind of grave danger that the Bush administration presented in the run-up to the war.
Sorry, Mr. Shachtman, the "diehards" are those on the left who have never backed away from "no WMDs" claim, which has once again (previous examples here, here, here, and here, to identify just a few) been proven to be demonstrably false.
Strategy Page correctly begs to differ about the degree of the potential danger:
Several hundred chemical weapons were found, and Saddam had all his WMD scientists and technicians ready. Just end the sanctions and add money, and the weapons would be back in production within a year. At the time of the invasion, all intelligence agencies, world-wide, believed Saddam still had a functioning WMD program. Saddam had shut them down because of the cost, but created the illusion that the program was still operating in order to fool the Iranians.
Gateway Pundit wonders: "Do you suppose this will make any headlines?" Prognosis: Doubtful. There's too much at stake in protecting the left's folklore.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.