Kevin Drum read the Time magazine piece on the CIA’s penetration of Saddam’s regime that I mentioned yesterday and asks a very interesting question that didn’t really occur to me:

[I]f all this stuff is actually true, it seems hardly believable that we didn’t know the true extent of Iraq’s WMD programs and stockpiles, does it?

He offers an array of possible explanations and has gotten, as of this posting, 46 comments with some other explanations, some more plausible than others.

Honestly, I’m not sure. I suppose it’s possible that the administration had lots of intel that mostly pointed to Saddam no longer having WMD or a WMD program and nonetheless decided to launch a war for the sheer hell of it, hoping no one would notice there were no WMD during the months between war termination and the 2004 election. Somehow, though, that strikes me as unlikely. Even if we think the Bush team willing to spend a couple hundred billion dollars, kill a few thousand Iraqis, and risk the lives of thousands of US soldiers because “Saddam tried to kill my daddy,” “for the oil,” “to reward the rich fat cats at Haliburton,” or some other such petty rationale–and I don’t–one would at least think Karl Rove would have stepped in and mentioned the possible negative repurcussions for the reelection bid. If so, an alternative explanation is required.

Perhaps, like the man in the UPS commercials, Saddam Hussein isn’t/wasn’t a naturally trusting individual. Maybe he kept information about his WMD program compartmentalized only to those with a “need to know.” And maybe the CIA was unable to infiltrate that rather tight knit group?

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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 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.