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July 15, 2005

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And if you're lucky, you'll bring home a souvenier: a nice infestation of guinea worm. Woo!

OK, I'm a freak, because now I want to go there. Just for a few days, really, but hey, it looks cool to me...

I knew a guy from Sierra Leone once when I was studying in Germany - he was learning to be an engineer. He was a smart, nice guy, and as best I can recall his country seemed like a place with a future. Hearing it's now last in the world is just awful.

Niger...umm....I don't think so. Do you have package tours of North St. Louis?

What kept getting picked on, in right-wing flames of Wilson's op-ed, was that he'd spent several days in his hotel room drinking mint tea and meeting with government officials. And, to these people, that looked apparently like he'd had a luxurious holiday jaunt and done nothing.

I tried a couple of times (and gave up, frankly) to point out to them that if you send a former ambassador publicly, he's not on an undercover mission to sneak around: he's there precisely because he knows government officials and ministers personally and can have one-to-one conversations with them. Which are, of course, accompanied by drinking mint tea because (a) you'd want to drink liquids as much as possible in that climate - I doubt if Wilson's hotel room was air conditioned - (b) it's customary to offer hospitality to guests (c) in a country where you really can't trust that the water will be drinkable, tea is the safest drink because it's made with boiling water, therefore it's sterile.

And all these points were so obvious to me that when I read the op-ed, I just took that line as local color - the kind of telling detail that says "yes, I really was there and know what I'm talking about".

While no doubt anything would have convinced these wingnuts that Wilson was on a "Niger jaunt", a free holiday at government expense, it struck me as significant of their ignorance of any country's customs outside their own that so many of them picked up on "drinking mint tea" that Wilson really did nothing.

Its funny how the non-stop lying still somehow registers with the nut-jobs.

This Krugman column, via Atrios, seems on point. One excerpt:

Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern.

All that matters is spinning the filth -- the noise creates it own reality.

I lived in Niger for a year and a half and loved it. But even *I* know that the notion that it was some plum assignment is completely laughable.

So, what are you saying. The honorable Mr. Wilson was suffering through unthinkable hardships, having traveled many miles on an overcrowded bus, stuffed with crated chickens; then desperately shuffling through dusty, cobweb incrusted archives digging for the truth. Those who are defending him at the expense of others are showing the color of their feathers.

blogbudsman: . Those who are defending him at the expense of others

Who are those people, blogbuds? Cite, please.

Then there's also the small detail that his wife had just given birth to twins.

Thanks for this post, Hilzoy. Hilarious and depressing at the same time. That particular mixture of emotions is becoming familiar, mind you.

Jesurgislac, Although I didn't see it mentioned here it appears that V Plame was not a covert operative,secret agent,parachute at midnight hero she has been made out to be. "Cite please". Joe Wilson,who admittedly is not a good source. After a blink of time,two years, Joe the Noose finally got around to telling us that,leaving a few of the faithful in the lurch,but only after two of the people who helped write the law explained the falsity of the claim the day before. It also appears that Joe's book and the dates & activities mentioned in it were of assistence. I wouldn't expect a reporter to read the law and the book but still---. Today we get a National Geographic tour of Niger! You may remember through the haze of your busy schedule a all to brief exchange on Clinton/Reagan,scandals and all that. Just an update,China has threatened the use of nuclear weapons against the U.S.if we interfere on Taiwan. I don't thing they'll be floating those A-bombs over on rubber rafts which brings us back to technology transfers and bribes. Just want to keep you up to date.

I think I'd wait for the dust to settle to see what that means. Neither Wilson nor Novak have told stories that have a respectably long time constant. Of course, it could be that they're saying the same things they've said all along but in different ways, and that it's the interpretation that's changing.

Long story short, I don't think we have the final word on this.

Reuters on Wednesday reported a severe food crisis in Niger. Maybe the administration official who called Wilson's trip a "boondoggle" should organize some food aid and personally deliver it.

My guess, Hil, is that Joe Wilson bypassed the swanky hot spots you've pictured, and ensconced himself here. Seems like the kind of place where mint tea is consumed.

Charles, you have no shame.

Calculate the odds man, what 'core value' does Rove bring to the table that warrants debasing yourself to defend him?

Calculate the odds man, what 'core value' does Rove bring to the table that warrants debasing yourself to defend him?

Do you have a reading disorder? Where and how did I defend Rove?

Well, shoot, Postit, if I were Joe Wilson, that's where I would want to stay, too. Right in between two of the ladies in the picture. Strictly for information-gathering purposes of course.

Actually, Charles, I don't think the Grand Hotel even has air-conditioning.* Trust me when I say that there is nowhere in Niger that could possibly be perceived as "cushy" to someone coming from the US.

*(Although it is a lovely place to watch camels crossing the Pont Kenneday as the sun sets.)

yeah, that hotel looks nice and stuff, but would you really travel 38 hours by air to stay there and feed in the government trough?! doesn't even have central air. and the pool doesn't look any nicer than the holiday inn you can stop at on I-95.
And it's what? $160 a night, (rough mental conversion of euros) for the top-of-the-line suite?

Seems like the kind of place where mint tea is consumed.

You might want to read Jes's comment upthread, just in case you're still laboring under the impression that the "mint tea" lines mean anything to anyone who remotely knows what they're talking about.

Yeah, a few more window A/C units and some deck chairs and that would easily be more opulent than a Motel 6.

Are you guys just batty or what? Have you just gone mad with Rove's success?

What has political discourse come to when our political opponents drive so many seemingly intelligent people to the point of absurdity.

This whole post is such a joke, but its also sad.

Wilson has claimed many things, but to his credit I have never heard him complain about the harsh physical trials he had to endure on his political boondoggle to Niger.

It's bad when I have to start defending Wilson against his supporters. He's a man who want to Africa like millions of other people before him.

Somehow he survived the trip without complaining about the conditions. If he's not bitchin' and crying about it why are you?

When you're done ranting about our battiness, blogme, you may be interested in reading hilzoy's post.

Hilzoy,

May I suggest the website http://www.kayak.com for your future travel reservations. From Atlanta you can get their for a pretty good price with one stop. (Please stop yourself before you do any more damage to yourself.)

The length of the trip bothers you? Well it's only 17 hours there with a 4 hour layover in Paris. Enough time for Wilson to get out and visit the Eiffel tower.

On the way home he has that 14 hour layover in Morroco. Who wouldn't want to got out and eat there or maybe to the bizarre?

Adult Fare $2631.84 USD


Airline & Flight Date/Flight Times From To Cabin
Air France 8997 08/15/05 (05:15 P - 07:45 A) ATLANTA [ATL] PARIS [CDG] COACH Flight Length 17:05
Operated by Delta Air Lines
Air France 732 08/16/05 (11:00 A - 03:20 P) PARIS [CDG] NIAMEY [NIM] COACH Lay Over 3:15

Royal Air Maroc 542 08/31/05 (05:40 A - 10:55 A) NIAMEY [NIM] CASABLANCA [CMN] COACH Flight Length 37:10

Air France 1797 09/01/05 (01:10 A - 06:15 A) CASABLANCA [CMN] PARIS [CDG] COACH Lay Over 14:15

Air France 316 09/01/05 (10:15 A - 01:50 P) PARIS [CDG] ATLANTA [ATL] COACH Lay Over 4:00

Hilzoy, he could have gone Business Class for $4260!

Anybody want to make a bet that Wilson went Business Class?

I admit I haven't been following this whole Wilson/Plame/Rove thing very closely. However, this post and comments confuses me greatly. If I understand correctly, Wilson is being accused of taking a free trip to Niger at the taxpayers' expense. Ok, if that's true it's not so good. However, does that mean that it is somehow ok that Rove allegedly accused his wife of being a CIA agent, endangering her, Wilson, and their children? If Rove did make the accusation, then he broke the law, whether Wilson went to Niger for good reasons or not. And Bush promised to fire the person who outed Plame, whether Wilson was justified in taking the trip to Niger or not. So what's the relevance of the issue of whether Wilson should have been in Niger or not? Am I missing something here?

Incidently, blogme, if you think that 4 hours is long enough to take a side trip from DeGaulle airport to the Eiffel Tower, you must not have taken too many international trips. If you ever do, don't try to leave the airport if you have fewer than 8 hours of layover time. Trust me, it's a bad idea. Especially at de Gaulle.

Jes, I will go to the grave knowing, just knowing that many of you who argue so fervently here, would not accept Joe Wilson's ruminations for one second if the party affiliations were reversed.

Dianne,

Actually I did it using two separate tickets. If not then you are not allowed out of the airport.

I hustled over there and took some pictures. Ate some food. You can take the train over there in less than 1 hour. Even quicker if you take a taxi. It really was quite easy.

I will admit however that my layover was 4 hours 10 minutes. I also admit I was being a bit facetious when implying that Wilson might be interested in a side trip. If Hilzoy can exagerrate the hardships of the trip surely I can poke a little fun at them.

"you must not have taken too many international trips."

You however seem to think I'm just some dumb American yokel who doesn't know his way in the world. How elitist and ignorant of you. If you had been smart you would have said nothing. Just the fact that I know how to price a cheap ticket to Niamey, saving Hilzoy over $1500 should have let you know that I might know a little something about international travel.

bbm, i will go to the grave knowing, just knowing that you "know" many things are in fact not true.

blogbuds: I will go to the grave knowing, just knowing that many of you who argue so fervently here, would not accept Joe Wilson's ruminations for one second if the party affiliations were reversed.

Ah, actually, blogbuds, I think I'd respect Joseph Wilson's expertise on Niger even if he were the kind of guy who'd been enthusiastically commended by George H. W. Bush.

Oh, wait...

blogme: I'm impressed. I've never tried leaving de Gaulle when Paris was not my final destination. Particularly since I'm one of these obsessive-compulsive people who get to the airport 2 hours ahead of time for international flights. So, a little less than one hour into Paris, about the same back...sounds like about 5 minutes at the Eiffel Tower itself, not counting getting lost walking to it.

However, I'm not sure what this has to do with whether or not Wilson's trip to Niger justifies Rove's alleged outing of Plame's status with the CIA.

Charles Bird: My guess, Hil, is that Joe Wilson bypassed the swanky hot spots you've pictured, and ensconced himself here. Seems like the kind of place where mint tea is consumed.

Wow! I bet they even have chlorine in that pool. Any documentary evidence as to whether they might also have an ice machine?

Dianne,

Great point. I'm not sure how Hilzoy's original post does either. I don't think this thread is really about that at all.

Her point I think was irrelevant to that discussion:

"Just think: if you were married to a CIA agent, you too could enjoy this sort of life: jetting from one desperately impoverished country to another, talking to scintillating government ministers about uranium ore, hiding from dust storms that deposit grit in orifices you didn't know you had: that's the good life. That's what I call champagne wishes and caviar dreams."

Hence, my comments about travel.

"Just the fact that I know how to price a cheap ticket to Niamey, saving Hilzoy over $1500 should have let you know that I might know a little something about international travel."

On the other hand, this ability shows more about your ability to use the net than your international travel experience. I found a ticket for $1035 using travelocity and I know next to nothing about travel to Africa (I've only been there once...and then only to Reunion.) However, I'll take your word for it that you are an experienced international traveler. Again, however, what does this have to do with whether Rove's alleged behavior is justified by Wilson's alleged behavior or not?

Dianne, I think the point of this thread was to discuss Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger, entirely separate (as the subject should be) of the Bush administration's treatment of Valerie Plame.

Jes, for the profile, I thought George H. W. Bush was a silly man. I don't believe that, however, about his son George W. JEB Bush, that's a horse of a different color. Chip off the old block.

jes: You're probably right. However, I had the impression that Wilson's alleged misconduct on the trip was being used as a justification for Rove's alleged treatment of Plame. (I'm using "alleged" all over the place here because I don't know the evidence well enough to want to make a stronger statement...though I do have opinions about the guilt of Rove, I don't have proof beyond a reasonable doubt.) If it isn't, why does anyone care about Wilson's trip to Niger? Even supposing he took it because he had a yen to see the Sahara and conducted no government business whatsoever while on it, that seems a veneal sin at worst.

By the way, concerning an earlier remark about whether Wilson took coach or business class: Government employees are required to take the cheapest fare available or justify their use of the higher cost ticket. Admittedly, some of the justifications can get pretty lame in higher echelon officials, but, at the very least, Wilson either took coach or filled out paperwork explaining why he didn't.

I thought George H. W. Bush was a silly man. I don't believe that, however, about his son George W.

Stunning, simply stunning.

Dianne: . However, I had the impression that Wilson's alleged misconduct on the trip was being used as a justification for Rove's alleged treatment of Plame.

Oh, it is. And it's perfect nonsense, and ought to be squelched whenever seen.

Even if Wilson were guilty in all the ways the various wingnuts allege, Wilson's guilt would not in any way justify Plame's cover being broken.

However, so long as we keep that clearly in mind on any Plame threads, there seems no reason not to discuss the criticism of Wilson and see if we can find any justice in the criticism itself - and so far as I can see, Wilson's main "crime" (up until the day Novak outed Plame) was that he was publicly critical of the Bush administration.

Jes: Well, looked at that way...I suppose it's possible that he this whole trip was a corrupt attempt to get the government to pay for his vacation, but I don't find that accusation very likely. Although I, like hilzoy, would probably enjoy visiting Niger, I really have trouble visualizing it as the sort of place the spoiled spouse of a CIA operative would want his wife to send him to for a government sponsored vacation. Especially if he stayed at the Grand Hotel the whole time: it looks no fancier than, maybe a Holiday Inn and if that were all he wanted he could have gotten it without the 38 hour flight and malaria risk. Anyway, is there any ancillary evidence? For example, did he often take trips to exotic places on the government's dime for little obvious reason? If so, I might find the claims that this trip was a "boondoggle" a little more realistic. Otherwise, I'd say that your theory that his "crime" was criticizing Bush sounds most likely.

Jesurgislac,

"and so far as I can see, Wilson's main "crime" (up until the day Novak outed Plame) was that he was publicly critical of the Bush administration."

That and the fact that he lied about most of the issues that he used to criticize the administration.

You might also find this interesting:

A former CIA covert agent who supervised Mrs. Plame early in her career yesterday took issue with her identification as an "undercover agent," saying that she worked for more than five years at the agency's headquarters in Langley and that most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee. "She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat," Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times. "Her neighbors knew this, her friends knew this, his friends knew this. A lot of blame could be put on to central cover staff and the agency because they weren't minding the store here. ... The agency never changed her cover status."

In addition, Mrs. Plame hadn't been out as an NOC since 1997, when she returned from her last assignment, married Mr. Wilson and had twins, USA Today reported yesterday. The distinction matters because a law that forbids disclosing the name of undercover CIA operatives applies to agents that had been on overseas assignment "within the last five years."

For your own well being you might want to give up on the meme about Rove/Administration outed Plame and treated her poorly. Atleast it would seem smart to wait until Fitzgerad releases some more info. Momentum is not with your opinion or version of the events that have transpired.

Dianne,

The trip wasn't a "boondoggle" because he wanted a vacation. It was a boondoggle becasue he was biased against the administration long before he went to Niger.

There was a Watergate era Doonesbury, where a couple of congressmen lament another congressman repeating "no impeachable offense" concerning the scandal. The punchline is something like, "If only he'd rob a bank. Then we'd have him"
How times have changed. If W robbed a bank, I expect that his supporters would be attacking the bank manager.

Dianne is obviously looking at the facts much too sensibly, if she can't see the central relevance of Wilson's accommodations to whether or not Plame was illegally outed.

Such amateurs should be discouraged, since they might notice that the emperor's not wearing a stitch.

So Hilzoy and many others are upset because an unnamed administration official referred to Wilson's trip as a boondoggle?

How desparate one must be to grasp at these straws?

But just to play along:

From dictionary.com

boon·dog·gle
An unnecessary or wasteful project or activity.

1) The trip was supposedly take at Cheney's request.

CIA Director George Tenet: “In An Effort To Inquire About Certain Reports Involving Niger, CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Experts, On Their Own Initiative, Asked An Individual With Ties To The Region To Make A Visit To See What He Could Learn.” (Central Intelligence Agency, “Statement By George J. Tenet, Director Of Central Intelligence,” Press Release, 7/11/03)

2)Cheney was briefed on Wilson's trip.

Senate Select Committee On Intelligence Unanimous Report: “Conclusion 13. The Report On The Former Ambassador’s Trip To Niger, Disseminated In March 2002, Did Not Change Any Analysts’ Assessments Of The Iraq-Niger Uranium Deal.” (Senate Select Committee On Intelligence, “Report On The U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Assessments On Iraq,” 7/7/04)

3) The report was actually relevant

CIA Said Wilson’s Findings Did Not Resolve The Issue. “Because [Wilson’s] report, in our view, did not resolve whether Iraq was or was not seeking uranium from abroad, it was given a normal and wide distribution, but we did not brief it to the president, vice president or other senior administration officials. We also had to consider that the former Nigerien officials knew that what they were saying would reach the U.S. government and that this might have influenced what they said.” (Central Intelligence Agency, “Statement By George J. Tenet, Director Of Central Intelligence,” Press Release 7/11/03)

4) He was poolside for only 8 days.

"He spent most of his time at the hotel — a fourth-floor suite at the Gawaeye, one report said. He was very open about his mission and its object, and began to take meetings near the pool. "I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people," Wilson wrote in the New York Times last July, "current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business."

Sorry Hilzoy if this is the right hotel Wilson wasn't quite slumming it like you implied up above:

Modern Six-story Hotel located in business district flanking the Niger River, opposite Palais des Congres & National Museum.

Hotel Gaweye in Niamey, Niger (011-227-72-34-04). Rooms start at about $130 a night. They could stand some sprucing up, and meal quality is inconsistent, but the Gaweye is clean, it has a nice pool and the overstuffed leather chairs in the spacious lobby are sleep-inducing.

Unless of course he stayed at the Sofitel Gaweye which seems a little nicer.

Given that we can all agree that Wilson's report never made it to Cheney and that his report was inconclusive and he really wasn't in the country very long if it wasn't a boondoggle what was it?

Peter King

"And Joe Wilson has no right to complain. And I think people like Tim Russert and the others, who gave this guy such a free ride and all the media, they're the ones to be shot, not Karl Rove."

When high Republican officials, supposedly "moderate", are advocating the mass execution of named independent journalists on national television, we are far beyond talking of "boondoggles".

Republicans in the thread may counter by: claiming Peter King is an extremist nutcase;finding Democratic congressman who have also talked of executing Republicans;in the same serious tone of voice, talk of physically attacking a named poster or commenter as way of showing how funny this is.

Goodness, blogme!

"Conclusion 13. The Report On The Former Ambassador’s Trip To Niger, Disseminated In March 2002, Did Not Change Any Analysts’ Assessments Of The Iraq-Niger Uranium Deal."

Well, yeah. The analysts, thought the "Iraq-Niger Uranium Deal" was a crock, Cheney didn't like that answer, they investigated further, including Wilson's, and remmained of the opinion that the deal was a crock. Sounds like Wilson's mission was useful, if the matter really had to be investigated further . . .

"CIA Said Wilson’s Findings Did Not Resolve The Issue. “Because [Wilson’s] report, in our view, did not resolve whether Iraq was or was not seeking uranium from abroad"

Well, of course it didn'
t--he only went to Niger, not every uranium source in the world . . .

" He was poolside for only 8 days. . . .'I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people,' Wilson wrote"

How else do you go about conducting such an investigation? Understand what he was doing. The economy of Niger is tiny. A sale of uranium to Iraq, and the mining and logistic activities necessary for Niger to fill an order, would be as visible as an elephant in a bathtub. So Wilson talks with all his contacts in local government and business, and he can tell, in short order, that nothing's happening. No "Iraq-Niger Uranium Deal," QED.

And of coursse, with benefit of hindsight, we know Wilson was right-there was no deal.

Bob,

Yeah no idea where that comment came from:

"Wilson -- who once demanded to see Karl Rove frog-marched for allegedly leaking his wife's status --"

Is it over the top? Yeah, but for politicians in the spot light today it's par for the course. Personally, I'm far more revolted by Reid calling our President a liar in front of a bunch of high school kids. Makes my stomach turn over, just thinking about it. Atleast this moron is talking to adults who know hyperbole when they hear it.

rea,

"Well, yeah. The analysts, thought the "Iraq-Niger Uranium Deal" was a crock, "

Well, no. They actually didn't.

Let's look at the facts:

The famous 16 words:
"“The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .” "

Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999,(REDACTED) businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted "expanding commercial relations" to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq."

Committee Report: He (the intelligence officer) said he judged that the most important fact in the report was that the Nigerian officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Nigerian Prime Minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium, because this provided some confirmation of foreign government service reporting.


Butler Report: It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.

Butler Report: By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” was well-founded.

Please do a bit more research before you post such nonsense.

Hilzoy,

I think we know why the CIA didn't pay for his trip to Niger now.

"The former ambassador was selected for the 1999 trip after his wife mentioned to her supervisors that her husband was planning a business trip to Niger in the near future and might be willing to use his contacts in the region ..."

I wonder what business he was really doing in Niger and if that wasn't just a scam to get the CIA to use him. You know, all those Americans that find doing business in Africa and especially Niger so inviting and all.

Blogme is evidently of the crowd that believes volume and repetition are a substitute for substance.

Catsy,

And you are someone who seems to believe that when having no substantive criticism a baseless attack is what is called for.

Don't shoot the messenger just because you don't like the message.

And you are someone who seems to believe that when having no substantive criticism a baseless attack is what is called for.

It's quite a trick to offer substantive criticism of an argument by assertion.

Don't shoot the messenger just because you don't like the message.

When you come up with a message beyond "Rove screwed the pooch, gotta deflect by irrelevantly attacking Wilson!", be sure to let us know.

blogme: Butler Report: It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.

Butler Report: By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” was well-founded.

The Butler report substantiates a Presidential statement in 2003 based on conclusions about a meeting that took place in 1999.

Between 1999 and 2003 Wilson was despatched to Niger to investigate said reports and determined there was no uranium deal.

Please do a bit more research before you post such nonsense.

Catsy,

I suggest you read the thread. This thread is about a Bush administration official calling Wilson's trip a boondoggle. It has certianly gotten sidetracked and I have even been criticized for trying to keep the focus on that aspect of the original post.

I have posted very substantive reasons why a Bush administration official referred to the trip as a boondoggle. Please feel free to dispute them in that context if you can.

Personally, I'm far more revolted by Reid calling our President a liar in front of a bunch of high school kids. Makes my stomach turn over, just thinking about it.

Me too. Although my reaction is more along the lines of "Gee, I wish the President would stop lying..."

Hotel Gaweye in Niamey, Niger (011-227-72-34-04). Rooms start at about $130 a night. They could stand some sprucing up, and meal quality is inconsistent, but the Gaweye is clean, it has a nice pool and the overstuffed leather chairs in the spacious lobby are sleep-inducing.

Just for reference, I am assuming that blogme is quoting this article, as I am assuming that he has not actually gone to Niger. Checking the link, the following points stand out

It is, after all, so easy to "put shame" on Africa, so easy to pity one of the poorest nations on Earth. Only 15 percent of Niger's population is literate. One in four babies born here dies. Life expectancy is 46 years.

But you are not here long before you realize there is more to the picture, that poverty is not the end of life.

"Even if you're poor here, dignity is very important to you," Kedidia counsels.

Indeed, for all its undeniable suffering, Africa is a reminder that you don't miss what you've never had, that contrary to what the American advertising community would have you believe, one is not incomplete because one does not own a microwave and a Cadillac. Regardless of circumstances, life has this way of being lived. It is, after all, so easy to "put shame" on Africa, so easy to pity one of the poorest nations on Earth. Only 15 percent of Niger's population is literate. One in four babies born here dies. Life expectancy is 46 years.

But you are not here long before you realize there is more to the picture, that poverty is not the end of life.

"Even if you're poor here, dignity is very important to you," Kedidia counsels.

Indeed, for all its undeniable suffering, Africa is a reminder that you don't miss what you've never had, that contrary to what the American advertising community would have you believe, one is not incomplete because one does not own a microwave and a Cadillac. Regardless of circumstances, life has this way of being lived.

and this

MEDICAL PRECAUTIONS

Check with the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and a travel health specialist for the latest on anti-malarial prophylaxis and recommended vaccines. It's a good idea to travel with antibiotics. (Photographer Sarah Glover contracted parasites and spent two days in a hospital.)

and finally, this

Only countries with long-standing tourism development have tourist offices. Other sources:

Niger: Embassy of Niger, 202-483-4224; www.nigerembassyusa.org.

It is both amusing and pathetic to see the cherry picking here.

{karnak}
I have a sinking suspicion that blogme is categorically opposed to debt reduction for African countries, and I'm sure the fact that they have a $130 a night hotel is adduced as evidence that they are living off the teat of the hardworking Western countries. However, if one realizes that when the country has no tourist infrastructure, you are generally left with staying at the one hotel in town that can then charge whatever the market will bear. I suppose the fact that Wilson didn't stay in a Holiday Inn is evidence of his perfidy. Blogme reminds me of the Steve Martin joke about going to France and being amazed that they have a different word for everything.{/karnak}

lj,

Who doesn't know that Niger is close to a hell hole? I don't think we can find a single African country that would be considered safe.

I don't think anyone thinks they are "living the good life" in Niger. But, flying in to Niamey and catching a cab to the hotel, then sitting by the pool for 8 days isn't really experiencing the Niger that Hilzoy described up above, now is it?

" have a sinking suspicion that blogme is categorically opposed to debt reduction for African countries, and I'm sure the fact that they have a $130 a night hotel is adduced as evidence that they are living off the teat of the hardworking Western countries. "

I guess what one can really conclude is you don't know jack. I haven't been to Niger, but I have traveled throughout Africa.

Anybody want to make a bet that Wilson went Business Class?

Who doesn't know that Niger is close to a hell hole?

Blogme's next argument is that Wilson was going for the frequent flier miles.


I guess what one can really conclude is you don't know jack. I haven't been to Niger, but I have traveled throughout Africa.

I'm all ears. While I don't normally do spelling related snark, this comment

On the way home he has that 14 hour layover in Morroco. Who wouldn't want to got out and eat there or maybe to the bizarre?

makes me wonder what exactly it was you were doing in Africa.


Obviously don't do much spelling snark cause it screws up my tags.

posit,

"Between 1999 and 2003 Wilson was despatched to Niger to investigate said reports and determined there was no uranium deal.

Please do a bit more research before you post such nonsense."

Factually true, but who claimed that there was a Uranium deal? Maybe, I have missed that in my research. Please fee free to show me who made that claim. It certainly wasn't Bush. He was very specific in his comments as I have already posted but you seemed to have missed:

"The famous 16 words:
"“The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .” "

Catsy,
Sorry for having to repost previously posted information but posit seems to have missed it and of course the point.

lj,

As far as FF miles it really isn't a good mileage run if you look at the cost of the ticket versus miles received.

"Obviously don't do much spelling snark cause it screws up my tags."

If it means anything I don't really feel the need to criticize your html, given your obviously useful critique of my spelling.


If it means anything I don't really feel the need to criticize your html, given your obviously useful critique of my spelling

Given the fact that you fail to provide links to what you quote, I'm not sure if you'd be all that helpful anyway so don't feel bad. Looking forward to learning more about your personal travel experiences to Africa though.

But, flying in to Niamey and catching a cab to the hotel, then sitting by the pool for 8 days isn't really experiencing the Niger that Hilzoy described up above, now is it?

Is it such a dreamy experience that it's preferable to flying to, catching a cab in, and sitting by the hotel pool in, say Quad Cities? Or L.A.?

"As far as FF miles it really isn't a good mileage run if you look at the cost of the ticket versus miles received."

Besides which, if you fly at government expense, the feds keep the frequent flyer miles.

Phil,

No, but how is that related? The guy volunteered to go. It's not like this was punishment for him. Hilzoy expressed dismay that the trip was referred to as a boondoggle and then proceeded to point out how poverty stricken and remote the city was. Well, I agree that it is remote and poverty stricken.

But, do you or Hilzoy seriously think that impacted Wilson's fact finding mission by the pool? Wilson doesn't seem to think so. He thinks is trip and the information collected poolside was conclusive. So Hilzoy's attempt to bring the poverty and such into the equation is really a waste of time.

The point of Hilzoy's post was not relevant. I think due to Rove not being led off in handcuff's there was an attempt to lash out in any direction. It was just counterproductive in my opinion.

The information that we have to date suggests that Wilson was headed to Niger on some other business. So the obstacles of being in Niger don't really seem to be a big issue for him.

But this has led me to some important unanswered questions.

1) What was Wilson's other business reason for being in Niger?

2) Was he able to accomplish that mission while also researching the Uranium deal in his 8 days?

3) Did he have to travel back to Niger to complete his own business that seems to have been used as an excuse for him going in the first place?

Inquiring minds want to know! Is there a good answer to these questions? Or did the Wilson's make up the business trip excuse as a way of getting a fit with the job and Joe?

Am I the only one that thinks the answers to these questions might be revealing?

Besides which, if you fly at government expense, the feds keep the frequent flyer miles.

That's the ticket! Wilson was mad that the feds were taking away his hard earned miles and so tried to get back at them! It all makes sense!

(again, not particularly directed at Dianne, it's just that if this comes up, I'm not going to be surprised)

blogme

Without a 'deal' how would one propose to transfer "significant quantities of uranium" from Africa (sic) to Iraq with the whole world watching.

I agree the Presidents words were very carefully crafted, not by him mind, to evade restrictions placed placed in the way by the CIA. "The British Government has learned - really? what do our people think? that Saddam Hussein recently sought - sought, past tense, recently - how recently a month? a year? two years? 3, 4, 5? significant quantities of uranium - what would be significant in the context of the Iraqis already having 500 tons of the stuff? another 500 tons? hundreds of thousands of tons? all to be spirited away and smuggled past the sanctions enforcement under the watchfull gaze of the international community to include the IAEA, the French Government and just about every western security agency in existence? from Africa - ah yes let's not limit ourselves to the already disproven Niger source why not alude to the still up in the air wild rumours about other African sources?

You are the same contemptable fraud he is to continue passing this stuff off as legitimate intelligence, parsing every word to avoid the liability for untruths and deceptions.

lj: I'm not taking offense. I mainly wanted to point out that if someone does make that argument it is a sign that they don't know how travel with the government works. There are ways to game the system, as there are in any system, but that's not one of them.

Anybody know what's up with the italics?

postit,

"You are the same contemptable fraud he is to continue passing this stuff off as legitimate intelligence, parsing every word to avoid the liability for untruths and deceptions."

Wow, I love you too.

what would be significant in the context of the Iraqis already having 500 tons of the stuff? another 500 tons? hundreds of thousands of tons? all to be spirited away and smuggled past the sanctions enforcement under the watchfull gaze of the international community to include the IAEA, the French Government and just about every western security agency in existence? from Africa - ah yes let's not limit ourselves to the already disproven Niger source why not alude to the still up in the air wild rumours about other African sources?

Just a wild guess, I'm going to say it is an indication of his real intentions with respect to following U.N. resolutions.

I guess when Bush is specific with his words we criticize him and when he mangles them we criticize them.

I guess the rule is if Bush speaks it's a lie.

And here ends all rational discourse.

Blogme, good work,don't worry about postit,everybody who doesn't follow the party line eventually gets called contemptible,I'm even thinking of changing my handle to johncontemptible. But don't wait for the site god's admonition for this peccadillo. And thanks for the Rustmann quote. I wonder if the neighbors and friends will be frog walked out of their homes. Come to think of it I thought frogs hopped and ducks walked but maybe Joe the Noose doesn't know the difference,between frogs and ducks I mean.

Just a wild guess, I'm going to say it is an indication of his real intentions with respect to following U.N. resolutions.

I would prefer to hear explanations and arguments from the President extemporaneously but I realise that is an unlikely event with any President in the modern age and a physical impossibility with the present incumbent. Therefore when he gives a prepared speech I fully understand that what I am really listening to is the collected wisdom of his speechwriters and the political office headed by Rove.

In that conrext when Bush speaks it's a lie is probably par for the course.

Postit,

Good response! Just curious... Any idea how we were able to get such accurate information for the Iraqi Survey Group?

Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that we had to frikkin' invade Iraq to get it, now could it?

All this could have been so easily avoided if Hussein had just come clean on his own. The burden of all this still falls on his shoulders and those who supported him.

As you also linked to:

"Nevertheless, after 1991, Saddam did express his intent to retain the intellectual capital developed during the Iraqi Nuclear Program. Senior Iraqis—several of them from the Regime’s inner circle—told ISG they assumed Saddam would restart a nuclear program once UN sanctions ended"

Yes, that speaks to his intentions and that's why Iraq got invaded.

My goodness you link is a gold mine:

"ISG found a limited number of post-1995 activities that would have aided the reconstitution of the nuclear weapons program once sanctions were lifted."

But, thanks for helping to enlighten those who still don't know why we invaded Iraq.

Could you also link to Bush's SOTU address for 2003? That might help those still confused.

Oh will the Bush lies just never stop:

"With the influx of funds from the Oil For Food (OFF) Program and later the suspension of cooperation with UNSCOM, Saddam’s attention began to return to the former employees of the Iraqi Nuclear Program."

"After 1998, interest by Saddam in air defense stimulated projects involving a former nuclear researcher—including one project that had the prospect of supporting a renewed nuclear weapons effort."

"While ISG has not identified any explosive lens development effort in Iraq that was associated with a renewed nuclear weapons program, we do believe that the Al Quds Company—a MIC establishment created in 2002—had a technical department, which built a facility capable of conducting research. Such a facility appears well suited for types of explosives research that could be applicable to conventional military and nuclear weapons research."

"ISG has uncovered two instances in which scientists linked to Iraq’s pre-1991 uranium enrichment programs kept documentation and technology in anticipation of renewing these efforts—actions that they contend were officially sanctioned."

"Furthermore, although all of the officials interviewed by ISG indicated Iraq had ended its pursuit of nuclear weapons in 1991, some suggested Saddam remained interested in reconstitution of the nuclear program after sanctions were lifted. "

"According to Ja’far, the Iraqi government did not purchase uranium from abroad following its acquisition of yellowcake from Niger in 1981. However, Iraq also purchased uranium dioxide from Brazil in 1982. Iraq declared neither the Brazilian purchase nor one of the Niger purchases to the IAEA—demonstrating that the Iraqi Regime was willing to pursue uranium illicitly. "

Please please link some more...

What part of

ISG has not found evidence to show that Iraq sought uranium from abroad after 1991 or renewed indigenous production of such material—activities that we believe would have constituted an Iraqi effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.

are you having trouble digesting?

1981 and 1982 were more than 20 years ago. Bush said Saddam had tried to get yellowcake "recently." What definition of "recently" is that, bm? Geologic? Paleo?

A little, minor event happened about midway between 1982 and 2003. Maybe you've heard of it: the Gulf War? The one that resulted in, among other things, sanctions being clamped down on Iraq such that it couldn't actually *get* nukes? The sanctions that, it turns out, worked just fine to contain Saddam as a threat?

Saddam wanted nukes? Saddam had his engineers keep up to date on technology so that someday they could make nukes? Well, spin my nipple-nuts and send me to Alaska: just about everybody wants nukes. Wanting isn't having, bm. The wish may be father to the thought, but wishing doesn't make it so.

The point isn't what Saddam did in 1981 or 1982, or what he dreamed of doing in 1995. The point is what he actually could do and did do in 2002-2003. Which is nada.

And that nada, BTW, is what the weapons inspectors were finding out right up 'till they had to scramble to get out of Iraq before Bush's Bombs fell.

So when Bush said we had to to go to war *right now,* and when Condi Rice babbled about waking up to mushroom clouds if we didn't stop Saddam *right now*... they were lying. Telling untruths. Saying things that were not so.

Bush didn't sell his war to the American people on the basis of Saddam maybe getting nukes at some indefinable point in the future; he sold it on the basis that Saddam was *this!close* to getting nukes *right now.* And on the basis that Saddam had WMDs *right now.*

Which means Bush was lying.

And Bush knew he was lying.

Why else would he have mocked the soldiers who were dying in Iraq by making a joke out of the search for WMDs? ("No WMDs here! Tee hee!")

Why else would Bush and Rumsfeld have made insufficient provisions for securing weapons depots we *did* know about? If they really thought Saddam had WMDs or nukes, they would not have planned the troop deployment the way they did.

The troop deployment priorities prove Bush didn't really think Saddam had WMDs or nukes.

The troop deployment priorities prove Bush lied about WMDs and nukes. He knew they weren't there. He knew he'd sold us a bill of goods.

blogme: "The point of Hilzoy's post was not relevant. I think due to Rove not being led off in handcuff's there was an attempt to lash out in any direction."

Oh, for heaven's sake. I wrote this post because I was tired of the actual Rove/Plame story, but this one little tidbit -- the idea that going to Niger constituted some sort of pleasure jaunt of the sort one's spouse would arrange for one -- struck me as funny. Not because it was somehow a telling point in the Rove/Plame thing; it was just a funny detail.

Plus, I try to post about obscure countries every so often -- the kinds of countries no one has particularly heard of, or knows anything about; and I try to keep my eyes out for some way to write something about them that is both informative and, possibly, funny.

That was it. Jeez.

And why post pictures of the streets? They weren't the worst I could have put up. There are lots of distended Nigerien bellies and protruding Nigerien ribs on the internet. It's because if you all have been to extremely poor cities, you'll know that (a) even the best hotels aren't all that great, and (b) they are sort of heroic islands in a sea of dysfunction. There are all sorts of things that have to go right in order for us to live the lives we do; here, when things go wrong, it's typically because one thread in a huge supporting mesh has frayed or snapped; there, in order for things to go right, someone has to create that whole mesh from scratch.

So they run on generators; they make really valiant attempts at order and cleanliness; the food is not as bad as it could be, and so forth, and getting to that level of function from scratch takes an extraordinary effort. But hotels of that kind are islands of function. I have never been to Niamey, but in Maputo, which apparently is better off (!), the good hotel wasn't part of a whole good neighborhood, of the sort I've seen in Cairo; it was on a street rather like the first one I showed, only a bit wider and drabber. The hotel was a tiny clearing; the streets were everything around them.

And even in the good hotel, I was warned by management, and by the doctors I was travelling with, that I should under no circumstances open my eyes or mouth in the shower. (I've forgotten what illness I supposedly might have contracted that way.)

All this could have been so easily avoided if Hussein had just come clean on his own.

What in Iraq's WMD declaration was false? Please provide links to the original document along with descriptions of anything in the document you believe to be false.

The burden of all this still falls on his shoulders and those who supported him.

Do you include Donald Rumsfeld, George H. W. Bush, James Baker, Robert Gates and Ronald Reagan in the list of those who supported him? Or are you inconsistent?

Yes, that speaks to his intentions and that's why Iraq got invaded.

If we let thousands of American kids get killed because it was too much trouble to keep sanctions in place, we are a nation of stupid motherf***ers.

Could you also link to Bush's SOTU address for 2003? That might help those still confused.

Confused? I think you are. Bush said:

The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons materials sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax; enough doses to kill several million people

Where are those materials? We haven't found them. Who has?

Bush said:

The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin; enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure

Where are those materials? Where are they?

Bush said:

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.

Where are those materials?

U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them, despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions

Where are they? The US hasn't found them, who has?

Bush said:

From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors

Where are they? Tell me.

Bush said:

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb

Where was the program? Did we find anything worth killing thousands of US kids for?

Bush said:

The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate or attack.

Where are those weapons?

Bush said:

The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured.

Where are the weapons Saddam was assembling at the time Bush said that (note he uses present tense)? Where are they?

Bush said:

Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraqi's -- Iraq's illegal weapons programs, its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors and its links to terrorist groups.

What do we now know about the evidence Powell presented? Where were those weapons hidden? Where are they?

Bush said:

We seek peace. We strive for peace

Are you so naive as to believe that? Are you that confused?

What's wrong with people like blogme? Seriously.

No felix, I'm not so naive. I guess I put more faith in democratically elected representatives than dictators who have murdered their own people and attacked their neighbors. I guess that's were we really differ.

"Do you include Donald Rumsfeld, George H. W. Bush, James Baker, Robert Gates and Ronald Reagan in the list of those who supported him? Or are you inconsistent?"

I don't recall any of those people offering him any kind of support after the realities of 9/11. If you do please enlighten me.

"The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons materials sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax; enough doses to kill several million people"

Bush is a liar because the U.N. was mistaken in its assessment. Point taken. Don't trust the U.N. I guess we have learned that lesson.

"What do we now know about the evidence Powell presented? Where were those weapons hidden? Where are they?"

Every major intelligence service agreed with the assessment. What you continue to ignore is that Hussein never allowed full access to secure sites in Iraq. Even Hans Blix supports that statement. Again the burden of proof was on Hussein.

Maybe, you are comfortable trusting dictators. That's your right. I for one am glad we have a President who doesn't.

It's a troll thing, you wouldn't understand.

Postit and CaseyL,

I guess as long as you are willing to discount British intelligence that they still stand by and Wilson's report from the former Prime Minister of Niger that thought the Iraqi delegation was seeking Uranium then you might have a point. Did the ISG get better information? Yes, but it took an invasion to get it. Hussein could have provided full access, but he never did.

Cool pictures, I opened it up. My daughter did a geograpy project on Nijer in the spring, and so I knew that there isn't much infrastructure such as highways,etc., and I had read the reports about the locusts. It really is a brutal world, and has been gernerally until the last few centuries. That's why more people should go camping, both to appreciate the world in its natural state, and to realize how dirty and uncomfortable the natural state is. I recommend the book "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" by James Agee and Walker Evans, as I have done before, for its insights about how hard life was in parts of the US not that many years ago.

Best wishes for better days to come for the people of Niger.

Every major intelligence service agreed with the assessment.

Seriously bm, you have to recognize that there was a difference between what every intelligence service thought on December 1, 2002, when inspectors had not been in Iraq for 4 years, and what they thought on March 1, 2003, when the inspectors had gone to one place after another where our intelligence service said stuff had been happening.

I can think I've got a good chance at winning Saturday's lottery when I buy the ticket on Friday -- but when Sunday rolls around, and my numbers weren't drawn, it's time to stop saying I've got just as good a chance as anyone else. I've lost. Period.

And that's exactly where we were on March 1, 2003. We didn't know all the answers, to be sure, but we knew that most of what we'd thought we knew was wrong. It's not about trusting SH. It's about learning that the exiles who wanted us to bring them to power had been lying about, well, everything.

I guess what I wonder about people like blogme is whether they act this way in non-online life. Because he (she?) seems very troubled. Can he really think the things he's saying have some relationship to reality? Or is it part of some weird compulsion?

I don't recall any of those people offering him any kind of support after the realities of 9/11. If you do please enlighten me.

You are changing your criteria. Here is your original statement:

All this could have been so easily avoided if Hussein had just come clean on his own. The burden of all this still falls on his shoulders and those who supported him.

You included no time limits, made no exceptions. I will ask this again, and I will also ask that this time you stop evading the consequences of the statements you made. Do you include Donald Rumsfeld, George H. W. Bush, James Baker, Robert Gates and Ronald Reagan in the list of those who supported him? Or are you inconsistent? So far, you are being inconsistent.

Additionally, you still have not answered the following:

What in Iraq's WMD declaration was false? Please provide links to the original document along with descriptions of anything in the document you believe to be false.

Why are you refusing to back up your statements? Why are you resorting to slanderous personal attacks (detailed below) rather than supporting your arguments (or abandoning them if they turn out to be indefensible).

Bush is a liar because the U.N. was mistaken in its assessment

Where, exactly did I call Bush a liar? I asked where the weapons and materials were. I am still asking, because you have not answered. Once again, where are they?

Maybe, you are comfortable trusting dictators. That's your right. I for one am glad we have a President who doesn't.

Show where I have ever trusted a dictator or go pound sand. Really. Either the moderators will deal with the nonsense of such accusations, or I will soon be banned for violating the posting rules by dealing with such accusations in an appropriate frank exchange of views.

I know this thread is extremely frustrating for a number of the commentors, but can we please agree to discontinue the personal attacks? This site is where I go for adult political discussion, and I'd prefer to keep it that way.

I know this thread is extremely frustrating for a number of the commentors, but can we please agree to discontinue the personal attacks?

I don't in general, partake in personal attacks. I do, however, viciously defend myself from the same. A comment was directed at me that said:

Maybe, you are comfortable trusting dictators. That's your right

Either the moderators will deal with that comment, or I will.

I will certainly not leave it alone. The accusation is beyond the pale, and if the posting rules here mean anything whatsoever, garbage such as that will be dealt with. If the above comment is acceptable here, I have a few similar comments of my own to add to the discussion.

Actually, it wasn't your comment that set me off, felix.

OK: I am off on vacation, theoretically, but: No Personal Attacks. Read The Rules.

Charley,

"It's not about trusting SH."

Well, yeah it was. For many it was about doing what it takes to make sure that there is not a place where state sponsored terrorism can exist. So either you trusted leaving Hussein in place with whatever restrictions he would grant us or you didn't. Which side do we err on?

felix,

The whole international community is responsible for allowing men like Hussein, the Taliban and so many others to exist and thrive. Don't play dumb. We both know that many actions were taken during the cold war that post 9/11 can be seen for their faults. And still if you want to look at the numbers we didn't create Hussein. Numerically, our role was irrelevant compared to the Soviet Union and Europe. Since, this is such an old and faulty meme please feel free to google this fact that can easily be proven on your own.

"What in Iraq's WMD declaration was false? Please provide links to the original document along with descriptions of anything in the document you believe to be false."

I didn't claim it was false. But Felix, if the shoe fits one must wear it. If you accept the previous statement at face value knowing that Hussein never truly granted inspectors full unlimited access to the entire country, then you have a degree of faith in his sincerity that many don't.

I don't think one can accept U.N. assessments that specify Hussein wasn't always forthcoming and deem his report as trustworthy without having a degree of faith and trust in Hussein:

Hans Blix, the Swedish head of Unmovic, described the inspectors' progress as a "good start", but cautioned: "I wouldn't want to predict too much simply because we have had one day without conflict."

Mr Blix told CNN television that the "burden of proof" was on Iraq to demonstrate that it no longer possesses chemical, biological or nuclear weapons




UN team pounces in cat-and-mouse inspection game
By David Blair in Amman
(Filed: 29/11/2002)

The cat-and-mouse game between United Nations weapons inspectors and Saddam Hussein's regime began in earnest yesterday when a site linked to Iraq's covert biological warfare programme came under scrutiny.

A team of UN experts paid a snap visit to the al-Daura plant in southern Baghdad, which ostensibly manufactures animal vaccines. Earlier UN inspections found that its true purpose was the production of anthrax and botulinum toxins



So Felix if you stand by your statement then you trust Hussein was being trustworthy. You have faith that he wasn't hiding anything. The next logical step would be to wonder if you he could be trusted not to hide anything the following day or the one after.

It seeems that you do. Hence, my comment that you seem to be comfortable trusting a dictator. Your attempt to have me validate a report provided by the Iraqi gov't suggests you do. Don't get angry with me that you feel that way. Get angry with yourself.

"It's not about trusting SH."

Well, yeah it was. For many it was about doing what it takes to make sure that there is not a place where state sponsored terrorism can exist. So either you trusted leaving Hussein in place with whatever restrictions he would grant us or you didn't.
...
felix,

The whole international community is responsible for allowing men like Hussein, the Taliban and so many others to exist and thrive.

And the only way to truly know that they are sufficiently contained is to invade the countries. Anything short of this is trusting their leadership. Invasion is the way. It is the only way. Invasions all around. "Don't play dumb." Intrusive inspections will never be sufficient. Diplomacy? Ha. The only way we'll be sure is if we invade every country in the world whose exiles make a plausible case that some officials in the home country support terrorists.

So who is next? Iran? Should we help push through a proclamation of our intentions to change their regime? Then have the CIA attempt a coup or assassination, and then demand that they give our inspectors completely unrestricted access to the entire country for the forseeable future? That'll certainly create some moral clarity. Is this the only way to ensure our security?

I don't miss Saddam's government. I don't mourn Uday or Qusay. But continuing on the path you seem to propose yields a Pax Americana that more closely resemble previous Pax than resembles (previous?) America.

I intended to address blogme with that post.

Could you also link to Bush's SOTU address for 2003? That might help those still confused.

Always glad to be of service.

Before a bunch of saoedi-arab terrorists flew into the WTC and the pentagon SH was not considered to be much of a threat, despite possible aspirations he had. After the terrorist attack most people felt that going after the people who *were* a threat was more important than going after someone who had been succesfully contained. Maybe with more resources Bin Laden would be facing a trial. Or the anthrax-killer.

Cmatt,

"Anything short of this is trusting their leadership. Invasion is the way. It is the only way. Invasions all around. "Don't play dumb." Intrusive inspections will never be sufficient. Diplomacy?"

I can't believe I even have to say this:

Hussein had 12 years to come clean with the world. In those 12 years he created the Oil for Food Scandal and played games with U.N. inspectors. Kicked them out of the country so on and so forth.

So yes, diplomacy with Hussein was not an option. We have a 12 year historical picture to validate that assumption.

blogme: I can't believe I even have to say this:

Hussein had 12 years to come clean with the world. In those 12 years he created the Oil for Food Scandal and played games with U.N. inspectors. Kicked them out of the country so on and so forth.

So yes, diplomacy with Hussein was not an option. We have a 12 year historical picture to validate that assumption.

Absent valid claims that SH harboured WMD and intended to use them against the US or to share them with AQ, absent such or a UN resolution on the use of force we have no moral or legal case to invade and occupy Iraq.

Diplomacy, sanctions, inspections were the only option.

Stay glued to the Fitzgeralds investigation, things are about to get a lot clearer.

postit,

"absent such or a UN resolution on the use of force we have no moral or legal case to invade and occupy Iraq"

I guess your right as long as you are willing to ignore the following:


UNSCR 1441 - November 8, 2002

Called for the immediate and complete disarmament of Iraq and its prohibited weapons.

Iraq must provide UNMOVIC and the IAEA full access to Iraqi facilities, individuals, means of transportation, and documents.

States that the Security Council has repeatedly warned Iraq and that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations.

UNSCR 1284 - December 17, 1999

Iraq must allow UNMOVIC "immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access" to Iraqi officials and facilities.

Calls on Iraq to distribute humanitarian goods and medical supplies to its people and address the needs of vulnerable Iraqis without discrimination.

UNSCR 1205 - November 5, 1998

"Condemns the decision by Iraq of 31 October 1998 to cease cooperation" with UN inspectors as "a flagrant violation" of UNSCR 687 and other resolutions.

Iraq must provide "immediate, complete and unconditional cooperation" with UN and IAEA inspectors.

UNSCR 1194 - September 9, 1998

"Condemns the decision by Iraq of 5 August 1998 to suspend cooperation with" UN and IAEA inspectors, which constitutes "a totally unacceptable contravention" of its obligations under UNSCR 687, 707, 715, 1060, 1115, and 1154.

Iraq must cooperate fully with UN and IAEA weapons inspectors, and allow immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access.

UNSCR 1154 - March 2, 1998

Iraq must cooperate fully with UN and IAEA weapons inspectors and allow immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access, and notes that any violation would have the "severest consequences for Iraq."

UNSCR 1137 - November 12, 1997

"Condemns the continued violations by Iraq" of previous UN resolutions, including its "implicit threat to the safety of" aircraft operated by UN inspectors and its tampering with UN inspector monitoring equipment.

Iraq must cooperate fully with UN weapons inspectors and allow immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access.

UNSCR 1134 - October 23, 1997

"Condemns repeated refusal of Iraqi authorities to allow access" to UN inspectors, which constitutes a "flagrant violation" of UNSCR 687, 707, 715, and 1060.

Iraq must cooperate fully with UN weapons inspectors and allow immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access.

Iraq must give immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to Iraqi officials whom UN inspectors want to interview.

UNSCR 1115 - June 21, 1997

"Condemns repeated refusal of Iraqi authorities to allow access" to UN inspectors, which constitutes a "clear and flagrant violation" of UNSCR 687, 707, 715, and 1060.

Iraq must cooperate fully with UN weapons inspectors and allow immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access.

Iraq must give immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to Iraqi officials whom UN inspectors want to interview.

UNSCR 1060 - June 12, 1996

"Deplores" Iraq's refusal to allow access to UN inspectors and Iraq's "clear violations" of previous UN resolutions.

Iraq must cooperate fully with UN weapons inspectors and allow immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access.

UNSCR 1051 - March 27, 1996

Iraq must report shipments of dual-use items related to weapons of mass destruction to the UN and IAEA.

Iraq must cooperate fully with UN and IAEA inspectors and allow immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access.

UNSCR 949 - October 15, 1994

"Condemns" Iraq's recent military deployments toward Kuwait.

Iraq must not utilize its military or other forces in a hostile manner to threaten its neighbors or UN operations in Iraq.

Iraq must cooperate fully with UN weapons inspectors.

Iraq must not enhance its military capability in southern Iraq.

UNSCR 715 - October 11, 1991

Iraq must cooperate fully with UN and IAEA inspectors.

UNSCR 707 - August 15, 1991

"Condemns" Iraq's "serious violation" of UNSCR 687.

"Further condemns" Iraq's noncompliance with IAEA and its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iraq must halt nuclear activities of all kinds until the Security Council deems Iraq in full compliance.

Iraq must make a full, final and complete disclosure of all aspects of its weapons of mass destruction and missile programs.

Iraq must allow UN and IAEA inspectors immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access.

Iraq must cease attempts to conceal or move weapons of mass destruction, and related materials and facilities.


Wow! All those resolutions. What a waste of paper to say the same thing over and over again and have Hussein ignore it time and time again.

This war could have easily been avoided. Hussein could have said, "Blix here are the keys to my Mercedes. You can go anywhere anytime looking for WMD. Koffi and I will be waiting for your report here in my palace."

At last we get some sense out of you.

This war could have easily been avoided.

Regime change was the objective, WMD the 'cover' and invasion the means.

But the cover has been blown and the invasion has bogged down into an occupation about to break out into full scale civil war.

If only Bush had been honest about the motive in the 1st place, perhaps the American public would have agreed and been supportive instead of left feeling used as they do now.

bm: What was the status of weapons inspections in Iraq on the eve of war?

Travelocity tells me that to fly from JFK to Niamey takes over 38 hours (via London and Paris), but, oddly, only a little over 20 coming back (via Ouagadougou, Casablanca, and Paris).

Hilzoy, I am NOT flying in or out of a place called Ouagadougou.

That's just ridiculous. You're totally making it up, aren't you?

Travelocity tells me that to fly from JFK to Niamey takes over 38 hours (via London and Paris), but, oddly, only a little over 20 coming back (via Ouagadougou, Casablanca, and Paris).

Hilzoy, I am NOT flying in or out of a place called Ouagadougou.

Gah! Comments acting weird! Rgh.

blogme: Hussein could have said, "Blix here are the keys to my Mercedes. You can go anywhere anytime looking for WMD. Koffi and I will be waiting for your report here in my palace."

Well, if we eliminate the first sentence and the last sentence (which I assume to be frivolous) yes, Hussein did just that, and no, it did not prevent war - because Bush & Co were determined to invade.

As we've known since October 2004, too, Bush & Co were so unconcerned about the WMD stockpiles they claimed they knew existed, they made no plans for the invading army to secure/destroy them.

Jesurgislac,

Not to rehash the obviuous, but most people on the planet, even including the U.N. know that Hussein never provided full access to his palaces.

"WMD stockpiles they claimed they knew existed"

Are you referring to the 377 tons that turned out to be 3 tons.

But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency's inspectors recorded that just over 3 tons of RDX was stored at the facility - a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported.

Another story that fizzled. I admire the efforts of many here to hang on to non-stories. If only we could redirect all that energy on the real enemy we could accomplish so much more.

Three months earlier, during an inspection of the Al Qaqaa compound, the International Atomic Energy Agency secured and sealed 350 metric tons of HMX and RDX. Then in March, shortly before the war began, the I.A.E.A. conducted another inspection and found that the HMX stockpile was still intact and still under seal. But inspectors were unable to inspect the RDX stockpile and could not verify that the RDX was still at the compound.

Wow! Refuting both comments in one instance.

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