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Strictly Speaking

To Know or Not to Know?

KNOW

Knowledge is the process of the collection of the best available evidence by the most exhaustive means, and of attempting to create the most elegant and parsimonious explanation for it. Suspicion has no place in it.

George W. Bush claimed that he knew Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Yet had they been there, he would have had evidence aplenty in the form of satellite imagery of nuclear sites like those identified in contemporaneous North Korea of the same year.

The intelligence services routinely compare and exchange imagery in the search of risks. John F. Kennedy showed Soviet missiles in Cuba, and showed also unmistakable Cuban landmarks framing the missiles. Much better images existed of sites in Iraq. They had been monitoring Iraq for signs of the resurrection and development of a nuclear weapons program.

There were none because Iraq had abandoned its program. The French intelligence services knew this, and refused to rubber-stamp the Bush-Cheney fiasco, which was not about Al Qaeda (no convincing evidence), not about WMD (no satellite imagery, no humint), not about freeing the Iraqi people. The invasion was less about “a bad man who tried to kill my Daddy” than it was about oil.

The first priority of American boots on the ground was to secure the Iraqi oil fields. The search of Saddam got second billing. The search of WMD came in a distant third.

The problem of claiming that you know something, and having that be disproved, is that you lose your credibility forever. You have played your best card, and when turned up, it was shown to be a joker.

Knowledge should have informed the decision to invade Iraq. It did not. Secretly (the author knows this from inside sources) members of the Mossad, Israel’s Secret Intelligence Service, met at a neutral location with high ranking members of the U.S. State Department and said, “Don’t invade Iraq. Iraq has no nuclear program. Iran is the real problem.”

Instead ignoring this, Bush went on, attempting to bolster his decision with a “need to protect our good friend and ally, Israel.” Despite managing to stay awake through classes as Yale and Harvard, it isn’t clear that Bush ever knew anything, or could. As the expression goes, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. If so, you certainly can’t make it out of a horses ass. This I know for sure.


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