Wednesday, 2 July 2003

WMD, lies, and videotape

Pejman Yousefzadeh isn’t very impressed with Josh Marshall’s logic in arguing that the administration lied about Iraq’s possession of biological and chemical agents. Now, one could plausibly make the argument that the administration lacked sufficient evidence to reach the conclusion that Iraq had WMD, but that’s not the same thing as lying, which—as Pej points out—requires someone to (a) know A is false and then (b) claim A is true (or vice versa).

So, Josh’s argument basically boils down to: the administration didn’t really think there was WMD in Iraq, but expected to find some WMD when they got there to cover their story that there was WMD in Iraq. This is like saying you don’t honestly expect Wendy’s to be selling hamburgers, but you expect Wendy’s to just happen to have some hamburgers lying around the store when you visit to back up your false claim that Wendy’s does, in fact, sell hamburgers.

Josh may be on firmer ground in questioning the credibility of Judith Miller, the New York Times’ ambassador for all things WMD (and whose very existence has been called into question in this weblog). To her credit, though, at least her stories haven’t described the grand vistas of pyramids and pagodas that we’d expect to be present in a Jayson Blair account. (Although, I must say that I find Josh’s belief that Miller’s reporting has helped the case of the hawks laughable.)