Chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay recently made known that he is resigning from his position and that he believes there are no significant amounts of weapons of mass destruction to be found in Iraq.
Unfortunately, most of President George W. Bush’s critics have twisted Kay’s conclusions into an indictment on the Bush administration.
Former Vermont governor and former Democratic presidential primary front-runner Howard Dean was recently quoted as saying, “I think the biggest problem with David Kay’s resignation is that the vice president evidently went to the CIA and influenced the writing of intelligence reports. In other words, the administration did cook the books.”
Alluding to this “cooking-the-books” theory, current front-runner Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) commented that American voters “want a foreign policy that’s based on truth and that actually makes America stronger, doesn’t put it at greater risk.”
But these statements conflict with what Kay himself has said about the situation.
Tuesday, Kay said, “Everyone was wrong. Outside experts like myself and other intelligence agencies … believed [Hussein] had weapons.”
He even noted that the French and German governments also believed that the fallen dictator had weapons of mass destruction.
Kay said Hussein clearly was in breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions and that he was apparently trying to act as if he actually possessed large quantities of WMDs to create a deterrent effect. The Washington Post reported that the fact Iraq did not turn over records to U.N. inspectors even when threatened with war has led Kay to conclude that Hussein was bluffing about his weapons capability to maintain an aura of power.
In recent interviews, Kay has been clear in placing the blame on faulty pre-war intelligence and not on the administration. He has characterized the information gathered by the intelligence community as “inaccurate” and believes that we need to find out why that was the case.
He also has said that he believes that the intelligence community owes the Bush administration an explanation. Seemingly answering the administration’s critics, Kay told NBC’s Tom Brokaw, “I think if anyone was abused by the intelligence it was the president of the United States rather than the other way around.”
Kay also told Brokaw that he agreed with the president’s assessment that Iraq was a danger. “I think Baghdad was actually becoming more dangerous in the last two years than even we realized,” he said. “Saddam was not controlling the society any longer. In the marketplace of terrorism and of weapons of mass destruction, Iraq well could have been that supplier if the war had not intervened.”
Kay also told the New York Times that Hussein attempted to restart his country’s development of nuclear weapons in 2000 and 2001 and was also trying to produce biological weapons up until the start of the war.
But all of this seems to be lost on the president’s critics, especially the Democratic presidential candidates.
There is no doubt that something went wrong with not just our intelligence gathering, but that of other countries as well.
Congress needs to have a full, non-partisan investigation into what went wrong with our intelligence.
Even if Iraq did not possess loads of WMDs, it was still the right thing to go to war. Hussein had for years violated numerous U.N. resolutions as well as broken the cease-fire agreement with the coalition in the 1991 Gulf War. For years the fallen dictator tortured and killed his own people, at one point using chemical weapons to do so.
Diplomacy is not enough if it is not backed up by the credible threat of force. The Clinton administration was naive in thinking that North Korea would honor its word and play nice.
In the future, we need to be sure about the accuracy of our intelligence, but we need not shy away from using the threat of force against rogue regimes that threaten global security.
Adam Fowler is a junior majoring in political science.