Iraqi WMDs: The Proof (I)

JUST LIKE THE 9/11 "truthers," the "There-Were-No-WMDs-In-Iraq!" nutters have taken their shoddy product retail. Up to 30% of the American public now believes that 9/11 was an inside job, and an even greater portion (I'm guessing here, but since the country is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, it's probably nearing 50%) believe there were never any WMDs in Iraq.

Of course the logical conclusion of such a belief is that Iraq was also an "inside job," one designed not to free the Iraqis from the clutches of a murderous madman, but to secure cheap oil for Bush's cronies and work for Cheney's co-conspirators at Halliburton.

Never mind that one has to climb over a mountain of evidence to the contrary to find the tiny stone labeled "We Never Found Any WMDs!" The important thing for all truthers/nutters is to maintain their world view that our government is evil, corrupt, and conspiratorial. Never mind that the U.N. inspections regime was notoriously incomplete, incompetent, and was denied access to any important Iraqi weapons sites. Never mind that politicians of every stripe went on record to say that Saddam had WMDs. Never mind that Saddam used WMDs on his own people when he gassed the Kurds.

Never mind all that. So long as your world view is maintained, facts are irrelevant. And when your world view is that you are a pawn, a tiny part of a terrible, grinding machine, that great forces are arrayed against you, that everyone in power is corrupt and evil, then you maintain your virtue, your wisdom, your innocence. Your nuttiness.

You are, in other words, Chicken Little, the sole possessor of core truths that the other 99% of humanity is either too dumb to realize or too credulous to debunk. Such beliefs are not designed to find and understand truth; they are designed to maintain a glowing self-perception of moral and intellectual superiority at all costs.

But I must add another cost---a stone, if you will---to the mountain of evidence that Saddam Hussein had WMDs in Iraq. In his remarkable book The Demon in the Freezer (Random House, 2002), Richard Preston almost throws away one of the most startling and chilling evidences of WMDs: the manufacturing of the smallpox virus, the most dangerous of all infectious diseases. Since the book was published in 2002, a year before the war began, this can be excused. What cannot be excused is the evidence itself, which bears a complete hearing. I have posted the short two-page section from the book here. Please read it now and then return to the post.

Of course the nutters will maintain, in spite of this evidence, that Preston is a shill for the Bush administration. But the book was written well before the war, and this part of the book is almost a sidebar to his general proposition of the imminent danger of our enemies using Ebola, Marburg, anthrax, and smallpox as bioweapons. And smallpox is the most dangerous weapon ever seen. While it has taken AIDS twenty years to reach 50 million infectees, smallpox could reach that number in just 8 to 10 weeks. "If smallpox were to appear anywhere in the world today," writes Preston on page 103, "the way airplane travel is now, about six weeks would be enough time to see cases around the world. Dropping an atomic bomb would cause casualties in a specific area, but dropping smallpox could engulf the world."

The World Health Organization (WHO) effectively eradicated smallpox from the earth by 1979. Yet into the the late 1990s, Saddam Hussein was still making it in his labs in Iraq. Preston's book also explains (well before the issue ever came up) why France declined to be part of the coalition to free Iraq: they had been effectively building bio-weapon factories for Saddam Hussein for many years.

NEXT: The best WMD evidence of all: inside your own head

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