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WMDs again

Power Line calls our attention to this interview with a former UNSCOM weapons inspector. Here’s a taste:

FP: Let’s talk a little bit more about how the WMDs disappeared.

Tierney: In Iraq’s case, the lakes and rivers were the toilet, and Syria was the back door. Even though there was imagery showing an inordinate amount of traffic into Syria prior to the inspections, and there were other indicators of government control of commercial trucking that could be used to ship the weapons to Syria, from the ICs point of view, if there is no positive evidence that the movement occurred, it never happened. This conclusion is the consequence of confusing litigation with intelligence. Litigation depends on evidence, intelligence depends on indicators. Picture yourself as a German intelligence officer in Northern France in April 1944. When asked where will the Allies land, you reply “I would be happy to tell you when I have solid, legal proof, sir. We will have to wait until they actually land.” You won’t last very long. That officer would have to take in all the indicators, factor in deception, and make an assessment (this is a fancy intelligence word for an educated guess).

Is Tierney a credible witness? Read the interview and
decide for yourself.

Discussions - 21 Comments

Well, I suppose it is progress of sorts that there’s an implicit admission here that no real caches of WMDs were found. But now we get "they’ve been flushed!!"

Here are some great Tierney quotes from an April 3, 2003 Tampa Bay Trib. article:

"Saddam Hussein is out to win," said Bill Tierney, who helped conduct weapon inspections in Iraq in 1997 and 1998. "He will try to inflict casualties without weapons of mass destruction. If that doesn’t work, then the time comes to use what you’ve got." Hmmm... well that’s a pretty reasonable theory for predicting the behavior of a mad dog like Hussein. So, apparently, he didn’t have any to use, eh?

"Fluent in Arabic, he also once interrogated al-Qaida and Taliban suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Yikes! Anyone seen the video of that yet?

From the same article: "Speaking at a Kiwanis Club meeting Wednesday in Tampa, Tierney predicted U.S. forces will eventually uncover Saddam’s chemical labs - and even an underground plant for producing enriched uranium - in and around Baghdad. ’These weapons are going to be there,’ he said. ’Absolutely. Without a doubt. Period.’"

That sounds significantly different than the level of certainty we heard about in Tierney’s hypothetical German soldier role-playing scenario.

It goes on, "Eventually, he said, ’There is going to be a wealth of evidence that he [Saddam] spent his time recruiting, training and employing’ unconventional fighters, including al-Qaida." [bold mine]

A wealth of evidence?? Really?!!?? Do tell!!

and then "’There’s too much at stake,’ he said. ’Thank God for George Bush for summoning the courage to go and do what it takes to win.’"

Yes indeed!! Mission accomplished!! Oh sure, he’s a very credible witness. He probably thought that Al Qaeda was behind Terri Schiavo’s "murder," too, when he was on the front lines of that valiant battle for the Republican Party.

And when will this interview and/or its contents make it to the headlines or front page of any of our country’s leading newspapers? How about CNN or MSNBC? Oh wait, they’re too busy forecasting the Democrats obvious comeback in the next election due to the President’s misleading Congress and America with "stories" about WMDs...

Tierney might want to change his analogy a bit. Iraq was not going to invade us, irresponsible fearmongering on that point from the right aside. It seems reasonable to me that one would need more and better indicators (or proof, whatever, the label is an ideologically charged distraction, really) before you invade a country and depose its leader and incur all the uncertainties of that adventure, than if you’re defending territory from a hostile enemy who you’re certain will invade eventually.

My criticism is apt since it’s clear from the paragraph after the one you quoted that Tierney’s aiming not at UNSCOM but at the Democrats.

I remember thinking Bush’s reason for going to war was going to turn out VERY poorly for him when he was making these arguments. A leader should NEVER base a reason for going to war on some objective factual matter that can be disproven. American wars should be fought on the basis of ideas, although ideas can certainly serve as cover for more tangible goals.

I thought Bush should have based the reason for going to war on Iraq’s failure to abide by the terms of the end of the first Gulf War. This would have created a position uncomfortable for the UN and for Democrats. It was a mixture of an idea (international agreements are important) and facts (Saddam has not kept his) that would have trapped Democrats and the UN.

1. The UN approved the first war because Saddam unjustly invaded Kuwait. It was acceptable to respond with force. The forces fighting Iraq agreed to stop blowing up things, and not to capture Saddam if Iraq agreed to certain terms. One of these terms was allowing overflight of US planes. Saddam repeatedly broke these terms during the later part of the 1990s by shooting at US jets. Clinton responded by blowing up the SAM sites. The UN made several resolutions saying that what Saddam was doing was bad. If the UN had opposed a war on these grounds (that Saddam was violating a UN sponsered peace settlement and ignoring UN resolutions about violating that agreement) it would have shown it cannot be taken seriously. Since people in the UN like having power, and getting money for doing little work, it seems very unlikely they would have rejected war on these grounds. The UN cares little about what is right and just (look at Sudan, Rawanda, Serbia) and only about power. If given a chance to look more powerful, they will take it. They would gladly allow someone to invade and blowup Iraq as long as it made them look more powerful.

2. Democrats had approved of Clinton sending US jets into Iraq to destroy SAMS. Bush could have argued that it was clear this was not working, and that Saddam must be taken out of power because he was not respecting his international obligations. Since Democrats had allowed military action on the basis of Saddam’s breach of the treaty, they could only quibble about the amount of force to use. They would have had to argue that international agreements are not worth defending by force, something against their character.

If Bush was going to use WMD for a basis of a legitimate war he should have taken quick action and not allowed Saddam time to hide them. Current law allows a President to deploy troops for a couple of months whenever he wishes. Instead, Bush wanted to cooperate, and look like a good guy, so he invented the WMD rationale because it sounded more persuasive. He shot himself in the foot. If he had taken quick action he might have got something, and the war would have then been justified, but because he was slow he got nothing. Machiavelli’s policy of favoring bold, quick action is usually correct whenever military matters are involved.

After reading the material at the link, my opinion is no, he doesn’t sound very credible.

Hey, where are all of the NLT loyalists vouching for this guy’s impeccable credibility?

Here are some choice lines from Tierney straight from the summary of his appearance on "Coast to Coast AM with George Noory" (Noory is a fill-in for the ever-credible Art Bell):

"Tierney claims that he has pinpointed a hidden location in Iraq where there is a uranium enriching processing
facility. ’You can’t put an underground chamber on the back of a truck,’ Tierney said, indicating that if an inspection were made in this suggested area, the Iraqis would not be able to haul off the evidence.

Tierney’s methods of ascertaining this location were rather unconventional. ’I would ask God and just get a sense if something was valid or not, and then know if I needed to pursue it,’ he said. His assessments through prayer were then
confirmed to him by a friend’s clairvoyant dream, where he was able to find the location on a map. ’Everything she said lined up. This place meets the criteria,’ Tierney said of a power generator plant near the Tigris River that he believes is actually a cover for a secret uranium facility."

Well then...... Let’s hear that 5-star quote again "I would ask God and just get a sense if something was valid or not..." Too bad he didn’t testify before the UN, rather than Colin Powell, eh? Is it any wonder that this guy’s been fawningly interviewed by Pat Robertson (hey that name rings a bell!), in addition to a tin-hat fellow at National Review? Also, has this underground uranium facility that God led Tierney to been found yet?

Mr. Knippenberg, I know that you are a pretty big booster of the President’s faith-based programs, but don’t you think that faith-based intelligence is taking it a bit far, really? (Finally, PowerLine’s referral to this guy only undermines their seriousness even more)

If GWB told Republicans that the moon was made of cheese that would be flying there to have a bite.

I can’t believe that you guys are still recycling the issue of WMD. They were not there. Accept it. Let go and let God, that you claim to respect so much. Amen!

Yeah Annie! Because if reasoned debate and measured consideration cannot get you there, then raw emotion and blind adherence will! Amen!

(Fred - are you being sarcastic, or what? I’m not sure I’m following you. Do you think Tierney’s credible?)


I don’t know if Tierney’s credible. He certainly has the merits and experience worth listening to. But, J Montgomery excerpts (note they are excerpts) grants obvious reasons to think that his general approach might make those merits and experience suspect. To be honest, I really don’t know enough about him to make a real assessment.

My response to Annie was only in regards to her comment. She rarely comments at this site, so I’m assuming she happened upon the blog, got mad because she believes it has been proven there was no WMDs in Iraq, and made her comment. Her comment has no substance, it is only a shrill knee-jerk response to a possibility that doesn’t confirm the belief she already holds. So yes, my comment was sarcastic. Don’t worry about not being able to follow it, it’s not worth following.

Steve Sparks: "A leader should NEVER base a reason for going to war on some objective factual matter that can be disproven. American wars should be fought on the basis of ideas, although ideas can certainly serve as cover for more tangible goals."

Say what???? So, not only is this a rather nutty idea, but you go right ahead and contradict it in your next paragraph, with the "mixture of facts and ideas" suggestion - which is already a step back from what you first said. It wasn’t just that Dubya and his Iraq Group were claiming (the factual component) that Saddam had WMDs, they pushed the IDEAS that he was a) violating UN directives and b) threatening the world with those WMDs. Except the whole WMDs thing was based on sexed-up, cheery-picked, misleading and deceptive "intelligence". And I like how you talk about "ideas" serving "as cover for more tangible goals." Ah, the Noble Lie - there’s one right out of the Neocon playbook! When all else fails, just lie to the hoi polloi, since they Can’t Handle The Truth, anyway. Lovely.

Yup, it’s just like Mark Ibold says--the Jews lied us into war, like they always do. Keep standing up for us Real Americans, Mark!

Gerald- where does Mark say anything about Jews?

Come on! Everyone knows "neocon" is a code word for Jew. Wolfowitz, Perle, Kristol, they’re all Jews. I even read somewhere that the Bush family used to be called Buschowitz, but Americanized it. Roosevelt did the same thing, his family name used to be Rosenfeld. Now, Howard Dean, that’s an American name!

Actually, I heard that it used to be Deanowitz. You can’t get away from them Gerald. Why don’t you move to Canada or something?


I have a feeling you missed my nuance. I bet you like nuance, so it is a shame you missed it. I said a President should not go to war on the basis of objective facts that can be disproven. WMD is an objective fact that could be disproven, or at the very best little objective data exists to support it. I then suggested going to war on the basis of objective facts that could not be disproven, that Sadaam had consistently violated the terms of the cease fire/peace from the first war, and stated those would have been the thing to focus on. Only a crazy person could claim that Sadaam had not shot at US planes, etc.

As far as noble lies, they existed a long while before neocons. America wanted to free the Cubans, so we fought the Spanish and conquored and claimed their empire, the Mexicans were "aggressors" in the US-Mexican war, and then the Gulf of Tonqin (spelling?) incident and LBJ. As long as people feel ashamed at desiring wealth and power, ideas will serve as justifications for warfare. I am uncertain what aspect of lying for purposes of foriegn policy you find objectionable. Please tell me; also, please prove a moral duty to tell the truth.

Bill Tierney does not strike me as a credible witness. Seems like a man who would twist the outcome of an inspection to make Bush look good. Further, that George Noory radio show is firmly in the tinfoil hat category. Lots of shows dealing with the paranormal, UFOs, things of that nature.

Mr. Sparks - any plans to revisit the thread here and answer Fung and I’s questions? While we’re here, though, do you think Tierney’s a credible witness, or does it not matter one way or the other to you?

Paul Billens:

I will gladly give you my thoughts on evolution and the nilism it creates; give me your email address and I will send it to you. I am not going to post it here because it does not relate to this thread. Otherwise you will have to wait.

I have no idea whether Tierney is a credible witness. I do not think WMD really matters so I have not spent any energy in trying to decide whether they existed or not. My thoughts on Iraq are contained above. Iraq started an unjust (and illegal per UN) war, they were beaten, they agreed to terms (a contract) so that we would stop shooting at them, they broke those terms by shooting at our planes, therefore a state of war resumed.

I think Iraq was probably unwise as a matter of policy. Iraq simply served as a Straw Man for US frustration over 9/11. The US has to face certain facts: Americans generally do not support war, our military resources are limited, and Islamic terrorists will do everything they can in order to destroy us. Given these facts, Bush should have been courageous and called for a full out attack on Iran, but he whimped out and wanted to be nice. Everyone knows Iran is the main state supporter of terrorism, they are trying to develop nuclear weapons(which should make every rational person cringe). Bush wasted his "9/11 capital" (the ability to wage war with broad public support) on attacking a tired regime that was not as threatening as Iran (Iraq--I think Afganhistan was a good move). The best anyone can say for Iraq, is that it gives the US two countries bordering on Iran. Assuming we keep a military presence in Afganhistan and Iraq it may make Iran be good, or it may create pressure and the regime will collapse. Maybe the recent comments about Israel and the 12th Imam stuff shows a regime that is desperate to create support. Given the craziness of Iran, I think any leader wanting to play it safe should have taken them out.

Mr. Sparks - I understood that the old questions didn’t relate to this thread; I linked to the old thread so that you could post your responses there, not here. In the interest of keeping the discussion open to all, and because I would like to know your responses to Fung’s queries as well, I think posting at the old thread is preferable, but if secrecy is your game, you can e-mail me at my address above.

oops - e-mail address is above NOW.

Steve Sparks??? You there? Still waiting for that e-mail...OR your reply at the old thread...

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