Wes Pruden and Rowan Scarborough are lending additional credence to the WMD scenario that I expressed skepticism about yesterday:

The Pentagon adopted a new strategy in its search for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. It is called the “big impact” plan.

The plan calls for gathering and holding on to all the information now being collected about the weapons. Rather than releasing its findings piecemeal, defense officials will release a comprehensive report on the arms, perhaps six months from now.

The goal of the strategy will be to quiet critics of the Bush administration who said claims of Iraq’s hidden weapons stockpiles were exaggerated in order to go to war.

President Bush on Wednesday said “miles of documents” have been gathered and are being analyzed. He described the material as containing “mounds of evidence” on Iraq’s weapons.

In addition to analyzing documents on Iraq’s arms, evidence of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s ties to terrorists is being studied, Mr. Bush said. “And I’m confident the truth will come out,” he said.

Hmm. This still seems like an odd tactic. I also agree with Kevin Drum and Matthew Yglesias that this seems to suggest that the main goal in finding WMD has shifted from improving US security to winning political points. Color me confused.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Guy Cabot says:

    Why are you confused? From Day One, this Iraqi adventure has been political; it was never about national security.

  2. Paul says:

    No James, it is a brilliant plan. (assuming it exists)

    Remember before the war, how the bar kept moving? The anti-liberation crowd told Bush: “You need approval from congress.” Bush got the approval of congress and the anti-liberation freaked. Then they said “You have to get approval from the U.N.” So Bush got 1441 and the anit-liberation crowd freaked again. Then they said “You need approval AGAIN from the U.N.” Yada yada yada..

    I even skipped a few steps for brevity. The point is that the bar kept moving. The anti-liberation crowd kept changing the rules.

    Now fast forard to Iraq.

    We find chem suits and that gets discounted in “real time.” We find chem agent antidote and that gets dismissed. We find tons of documents and that gets discounted in real time. We find traces of sarin and we are pretty sure we found where they were making it. That gets discounted on the fly. The nuclear stuff had some sticking power but that gets discounted over time. And don’t get me started on those trailers that everyone knows were really there to “take children to school!” (I aways use mobile labs with fermenters in them to transport children, don’t you?)

    I only hit the big stories, there were tons of other information. Remember the mustard gas in the river?

    Now you have moronic pundits saying there was not a single trace of any evidence Saddam had WMD’s. That is just foolishness.

    This was turning into a “boil the frog” exercise. The folks that opposed liberation the people of Iraq will attack each individual piece of data and discount them away. By holding their cards close to their vest, the administration avoids this game. When they drop the info the debate will be over.

    The case could be made that this approach is the only one that will work to silence the critics.


  3. Katewerk says:



    “this seems to suggest that the main goal in finding WMD has shifted from improving US security to winning political points.”

    Why do you see this as a “shift” per se? The two are not mutually exclusive.


  4. James Joyner says:


    It’s true they’re not mutually exclusive. But it’s never smart politics, especially in matters of security policy, to emphasize the political brownie points angle.

  5. Guy Cabot says:

    I’ve seen better strawmen, Paul.

    Perhaps the central flaw in your multi-facted strawman is your apparent belief the left wanted to keep Saddam in power at all costs or without regard to the consequences. You then build upon this fiction by claiming Bush dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s to overcome every obstacle barring an Iraqi invasion. But those Saddam-loving lefties just kept moving the goalposts.

    Of course, you are incorrect. Congress did authorize the use of force against Iraq. Of course, this authorization wasn’t as open-ended as you apparently believe. The authorization of force was granted with the proviso it would be used to defend against an immediate threat to our national security. Since, at the time, Saddam didn’t control 2/3 of his own country, it’s unlikely he had the wherewithal to threaten anyone outside the immediate vicinity of Baghdad.

    And 1441 wasn’t an authorization of force, no matter how much you’d have liked it to be. And, I would add, Bush needed 1441–not just us lefties. He was seeking to build an international coalition. He failed.

    Ultimately, this adventure was sold to the American public on the basis that Saddam had huge amounts of WMDs and was capable of immediately deploying them against the US or our interests.

    We often discuss intelligence and its attendant uncertainties; but this administration didn’t ssell the threat on the basis of intelligence. This admin told us Saddam’s WMDs were a certainty and that they knew exactly where they were.

    Unfortunately, it was a lie.