Michael J. Totten has read the David Kay interview with Tom Brokaw and points out that the general perception of what Kay said is incomplete. One example:

TB: David, as you know, a lot of the president’s political critics are going to say, “This is clear evidence that he lied to the American people.”

DK: Well, Tom, if we do that, I think we’re really hurting ourselves. Clearly, the intelligence that we went to war on was inaccurate, wrong. We need to understand why that was. I think if anyone was abused by the intelligence it was the president of the United States rather than the other way around.

TB: The president described Iraq as a gathering threat–a gathering danger. Was that an accurate description?

DK: I think that’s a very accurate description.

TB: But an imminent threat to the United States?

DK: Tom, an imminent threat is a political judgment. It’s not a technical judgment. I think Baghdad was actually becoming more dangerous in the last two years than even we realized. Saddam was not controlling the society any longer. In the marketplace of terrorism and of WMD, Iraq well could have been that supplier if the war had not intervened.

Quite right. As I argued almost a year ago,

If we topple the Iraqi regime and no WMD are deployed against the US, we’ll never be able to prove that they WOULD have been used against the US.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Terrorism, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. mal says:


    this makes sense to me.

  2. Jane says:

    It’s difficult to argue that something would have been used if its very existence during the period in question is so much in doubt

  3. Good stuff, James. Kay also made the same case this past weekend on NPR.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Jane: True. But the fears were perfectly sound. We know he had chemical and biological weapons as early as the 1980s, since he actually used them against both Iran and the Kurds. We know he had a nuclear program that the Israelis took out at Osirik in 1981(?) and another one we found after Desert Storm. He threw UN inspectors out in the 1990s and did nothing to establish what happened to his stockpiles a year ago when the inspectors were allowed back in.

  5. mal says:
  6. bryan says:

    Apparently, there was an interview on the today show today with Matt Lauer where Kay said that the president was right to go to war, and that the entire world basically had the same intelligence and thought that Iraq had WMDs. But no one guessed that Saddam was getting jobbed by his scientists.

    It would be good to find a transcript of this. I heard it on Rush Limbaugh today while trying to navigate icy roads.