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Monday, December 09, 2002

Iraq Harbours Weapons of Mass Documentation

The White House is starting to darkly imply that they have evidence --- up-to-date evidence --- of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But "the administration believes the burden is on Iraq to prove that it has provided a full accounting � not on Security Council members or the inspectors to prove that it has not,", so they won't give that evidence to the UN inspection teams. What?

Now, it may very well be that Iraq is harbouring weapons of mass destruction. But if they have none, precisely what documentary evidence could they produce to prove that? I'm sure they could offer up documents such as: here's the order converting the nerve gas factory into a Pepsi Plant --- here's the return receipt for the uranium and here's where we used it --- &c, &c. But a document proving a negative? What are the chances of that? Zero, really.... none of the 12000-odd pages is going to be labelled "last page --- nothing more to see here."

Does anyone remember the Somalia Inquiry? In trying to find relevant evidence (I'm sure they were looking for one memo in particular, but my memory and my search methodology are both too faulty), the Canadian Department of National Defence ordered every one of its employees to look at every piece of paper in every file, on one particular day. Some documents turned up, but not precisely what the Department was looking for. If that process couldn't come up with a document establishing why something that did happen happened, what are the chances of the Iraqi government coming up with the precise document to prove that something that hasn't happened hasn't?

We know that the American government has been trying very hard to sell a war against Iraq to its citizens. 60 Minutes just last night pointed out a couple of the PR attempts that had little or no basis in fact: Iraq was somehow involved in September 11th, Iraq has an ongoing nuclear weapons programme. If Iraq has some credibility issues when they say they have no weapons of mass destruction, well, the White House has blown a whole lotta credibility as well. Who am I going to believe? Well, right now, it's an actual 12,000 pages going up against whispered implications supported by leaks rumouring documentary evidence. Call me a bureaucrat, but I'm going with the guy with the paperwork.

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