Senator Jay Rockefeller calls for the FBI to investigate the Bush Administration's use of forged documents to support its claims that Iraq sought to purchase uranium. "An investigation should 'at a minimum help to allay any concerns' that the government was involved in the creation of the documents to build support for administration policies, Rockefeller wrote in a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller." (AP reporter Ken Guggenheim in the Kansas City Star, 3/14/03.)
"George W. Queeg?" -- Paul Krugman in the New York Times, March 14, 2003:
Over the past few weeks there has been an epidemic of epiphanies. There's a long list of pundits who previously supported Bush's policy on Iraq but have publicly changed their minds. None of them quarrel with the goal; who wouldn't want to see Saddam Hussein overthrown? But they are finally realizing that Mr. Bush is the wrong man to do the job. And more people than you would think -- including a fair number of people in the Treasury Department, the State Department and, yes, the Pentagon -- don't just question the competence of Mr. Bush and his inner circle; they believe that America's leadership has lost touch with reality.
Michael Walzer on " The Right Way" to oppose war in Iraq (New York Review of Books, 3/13/03):
We say of war that it is the "last resort" because of the unpredictable, unexpected, unintended, and unavoidable horrors that it regularly brings. In fact, war isn't the last resort, for "lastness" is a metaphysical condition, which is never actually reached in real life: it is always possible to do something else, or to do it again, before doing whatever it is that comes last. The notion of lastness is cautionary??" but this is a necessary caution: look hard for alternatives before you "let loose the dogs of war."
Right now, even at this last minute, there still are alternatives, and that is the best argument against going to war. I think that it is a widely accepted argument, even though it isn't easy to march with. What do you write on the placards? What slogans do you shout? We need a complicated campaign against the war, whose participants are ready to acknowledge the difficulties and the costs of their politics.
Or, better, we need a campaign that isn't focused only on the war (and that might survive the war)??"a campaign for a strong international system, organized and designed to defeat aggression, to stop massacres and ethnic cleansing, to control weapons of mass destruction, and to guarantee the physical security of all the world's peoples.
Josh Marshall, writing 3/14/03 at talkingpointsmemo.com :
Little more than a week ago, when the scope of the diplomatic train wreck wasn't quite so evident, the White House floated word that the whole Middle East peace process was on ice until we'd finished everything we were going to do in Iraq.
What's so sad and revealing and pathetic about this is that it's only at the eleventh hour and the fifty-ninth minute that the White House realizes that the Israeli-Palestinian situation is one of the moving parts involved in dealing with Iraq. On the whole world stage we're watching the president and his crew driving at eighty miles an hour into a brick wall called reality. Too bad we're in the car with them.
More from Josh Marshall, 3/13/03 (same link):
Speaking for myself, and perhaps for some other internationalists who feel as I do, part of our frustrated anger over the current impasse is watching the present administration traduce and plow under the work of half a century and seeing the administration's acolytes greet every new disaster and *&$#-up as a grand confirmation of their beliefs and principles. It's like we've been transported into some alternative reality where the debate about international relations is some awful mix of The McLaughlin Group and Lord of the Flies. As these folks should be starting to realize about now, months of this arrogant mumbo-jumbo eventually draws a response -- at home and abroad.
"FBI Probes Fake Evidence of Iraqi Nuclear Plans" (Washington Post, 3/13/03)
The FBI is looking into the forgery of a key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program, including the possibility that a foreign government is using a deception campaign to foster support for military action against Iraq.
"It's something we're just beginning to look at," a senior law enforcement official said yesterday. Officials are trying to determine whether the documents were forged to try to influence U.S. policy, or whether they may have been created as part of a disinformation campaign directed by a foreign intelligence service. . . .
The phony documents -- a series of letters between Iraqi and Niger officials showing Iraq's interest in equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons -- came to British and U.S. intelligence officials from a third country. The identity of the third country could not be learned yesterday.
Julian Borger et al., writing 3/12/03 in The Guardian, on the illegality of US/British intervention in Iraq without an enabling Security Council resolution:
Going to war without a new UN resolution backing military action would be illegal despite claims to the contrary made by Britain and the US. This is the near-unanimous view of international lawyers, and was supported this week by the UN secretary general. "If the US and others were to go outside the security council and take unilateral action they would not be in conformity with the [UN] charter," Kofi Annan said.
Some international lawyers say war is justified - with or without any further resolution - because Saddam has not honoured the UN-backed ceasefire terms after the 1991 Gulf war.
However, the widespread view in Whitehall is that a new, strongly-worded UN resolution was needed before a war could be regarded as being backed by international law.
This view is believed to be shared by Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, who yesterday had a meeting with Mr Blair and Mr Hoon.
Mr Blair may be hoping that he can persuade MPs that a draft resolution backed by a majority on the security council would amount to a "yes" vote, irrespective of any veto by one or more of the permanent members. While this might strengthen the prime minister's position politically, and even morally, it will make no difference to the legality or legitimacy of a war.
Legally, any claim by Mr Blair that a French veto would be "unreasonable" is irrelevant. And with a veto there will be no new resolution.
Resolution 1441, by which ministers have laid so much store, speaks only of "serious consequences" if Saddam Hussein does not disarm. The phrase falls far short of an instruction to UN member states to use "all necessary means" - the traditional UN term for armed intervention.
Alexander Cockburn speculates about how "evidence" of prohibited weapons may be prepared for consumption after the invasion begins (3/12/03):
Does anyone seriously believe that in the event of U.S. invasion, "discovery" of Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction won't be long delayed? The stakes are simply too high. It won't take much: a blueprint or two, a few canisters noisily identified as chemical or biological agents, a "facility" for production of nuclear munitions.
Already there are vague, unconfirmed stories of preliminary manufacture of the necessary smoking guns that can be deployed by undercover teams as U.S. troops advance and then dramatically disclosed to the hungry press. For those who entertain doubts about the likelihood of the United States or its ally Britain manufacturing necessary "evidence," consider the recent explicit charge of forgery leveled by Mohammed ElBaradei, the chief UN inspector looking for evidence of nuclear capability in Iraq.
Diplomat John H. Brown's 3/10/03 letter of resignation to Colin Powell (Common Dreams, 3/12/03):
I am joining my colleague John Brady Kiesling in submitting my resignation from the Foreign Service (effective immediately) because I cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq. . . .
Throughout the globe the United States is becoming associated with the unjustified use of force. The president's disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century.
I joined the Foreign Service because I love our country. Respectfully, Mr. Secretary, I am now bringing this calling to a close, with a heavy heart but for the same reason that I embraced it.