January 20, 2004

Weapons of Mass Destruction-Related Program Activities

How we moved from "SADDAM HUSSEIN IS BUILDING NUKES! HE'LL HAVE THEM ANY DAY NOW!! AND HE'S COMING TO KILL US ALL USING REMOTELY-CONTROLLED DRONES!!!!" to "Saddam Hussein was engaged in weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

A transcription of a tape from the Oval Office, January 18, 2004:

Karl Rove: We'll have him say that the Kay Report showed that we were right in claiming that Saddam Hussein possessed large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

Karen Hughes: Ummm... No.

Karl Rove: No?

Karen Hughes: No. We'd make him look like an idiot.

Karl Rove: How about if we have him say, "the Kay Report has identified Iraq's program to build Iraq's weapons of mass destruction"?

Richard Cheney: I'm afraid not.

Karl Rove: No?

Richard Cheney: He'll look like an idiot. The Kay Report did not identify weapons of mass destruction programs.

Karl Rove: Say it anyway. No one will challenge it. It will get by.

Dan Bartlett: In a normal year it would, but...

Karl Rove: But?

Dan Bartlett: Remember last year's State of the Union? The Niger uranium disaster? Usually we can fool the press with no problem. But this time they're lying in wait for us. We dare not have him say anything in the SOTU address that is false.

Karl Rove: Nothing?

Dan Bartlett: Nothing.

Karl Rove: So we can't have him say "weapons of mass destruction"?

Karen Hughes: Nope.

Karl Rove: And we can't have him say "weapons of mass destruction programs"?

Richard Cheney: Nope.

Karl Rove: How about if we have him say "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities"?

Richard Cheney: Works for me.

Posted by DeLong at January 20, 2004 10:16 PM | TrackBack


Followed by "a massive propensity to desire to engage in weapons of mass destruction-related activities."

Posted by: dick tuck on January 20, 2004 10:46 PM


But what does Bush care? He's onto his fifth different reason for ousting Saddam. He is taking the Friedman line, build a show case democracy for the Middle East. It is a load of dung. But most Americans, I surmise from the comments I heard tonight from the ten second average joe snippets aired by television news crews, don't really care about the fine distinctions. They think invading Iraq is doing something about terrorism. An Arab is an Arab, no matter if from Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Saudia Arabia, Lybia, Egypt, etc. They think that Bush is standing tall against terrorism. But can't see that he is an empty shirt. Who wouldn't say "I'm against terrorism and plan to defend America"? That position is nearly vacuous. I enjoy your commentary, but then I think that this stuff goes right over the heads of the average voter out there. Next he'll join with the NRA and say that we need less gun restrictions as a bulwark against terrorism.

Posted by: Cal on January 20, 2004 10:54 PM



(as I was reading Rove - Hughes - Cheney conversation..)

As I always like to say; if you don't understand economics of it, then you don't understand it.

What they want is to keep up that military spending on occupation of Iraq and keep up the idea that there is a war going on -- methinks.


Because the alternative to that would be widespread discussion of social and economic change right there in United States, which is due given the current and potential hights of productivity -- and they just don't want that, they are not ready for it, they are afraid (and rightly so) that such discussion may lead to things happening to them as Industrial Revolution did to feudal class.

Be careful!

They are on course to identifying or inventing "internal enemies" now.

Posted by: Bulent on January 20, 2004 11:24 PM


I have the vaguely impression (because some pundit told me to) that "weapons of mass destruction-related programs" is a direct quote from the Kay report. Which means, to me anyway, that the spin staff did decide that ... embellishment ... is not a good idea this year. If you quote the guy who wrote the report, you can't be accused of torturing intelligence. Well, "intelligence" in the cloak-and-dagger sense, anyhow.

Posted by: K Harris on January 21, 2004 04:18 AM


I think "related" is the real workhorse here. It can be stretched to mean just about anything right? Dual-use, reading books, thinking real hard, staring longingly at a Jane's Weekly and saving up your bottlecaps.

And no, no one cares. He killed muslims. The Democrats are afraid to, or would ask the French for permission.

And yes, it is the biggest criminal act by a president in my lifetime, that I am aware of.

Posted by: andrew on January 21, 2004 04:51 AM


staring longingly at a Jane's Weekly

spffllughug-hhahaha chee chee heh heh :)

Posted by: Troy on January 21, 2004 05:02 AM


Hermann Goering: “…After all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Posted by: ad on January 21, 2004 05:09 AM


I thought Karen Hughes was comfortably ensconced in Texas somewhere. (If so, smart move, BTW.)

Maybe Andy Card...

Posted by: Jim Harris on January 21, 2004 05:34 AM


"Weapons of mass destruction-related program activities"? Is that like processed cheese substitute?

Posted by: Kosh on January 21, 2004 07:09 AM


As we now know, these activities would include carrying around encyclopedias. Or, how about studying physics and chemistry in High Schools? How much worse can the spin get? It was better when he just flat out lied to us.

Posted by: tstreet on January 21, 2004 07:25 AM


I love the "program activities" part. That is rhetorical art of the highest order. It is really great. Whether it continues to fool certain parts of the public will be an interesting question, however. It is cutting things very close. Can some one find out if that was a mis-speak, or if that was intended?

Posted by: jml on January 21, 2004 07:32 AM


What's the difference between

WMD (stands for weapons of mass destruction)

a WMD program

plan for a WMD program

intention to plan for a WMD program

activities with the intent to plan for a WMD program


Or just to save time, and for intellectual elegance, do the following recursion:

If n = 0
then Bush(n)= "WMD"
Bush(n-1) || "related program activities"

|| denotes string concatenation.

Pick some value of n at your convenience

Posted by: CSTAR on January 21, 2004 07:38 AM


The Frank Luntz finger-thingy ordinary folks graph on MSNBC dropped about 50% instantly on the word(?) "WMD". Off the edge of a cliff, for both Dems and *Repubs*. Maybe it is disgust vs embarrassment and fear, but everybody in the country seems to think Bush is a liar.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on January 21, 2004 08:09 AM


You ungrateful lot! They could have said "weapons of mass destruction-related SORT OF program activities", but they didn't, did they? They might though, very soon, if they don't now get a strong public reaction to Maher Arar case. It is quite obvious that they held Mr. Arar and sent him to Syria on suspicion of "related sort of program activities".

Posted by: bulent on January 21, 2004 09:23 AM


Well, there are lies, then there are paid political announcements. Is there any chance that the Bush enforcement team has had a little talk with various business interest groups?

Today, Treasury Secretary Snow told a North Dakota radio station today that he expects the December jobs tally to be revised higher. (Secretary Chao, is that you?)

Yesterday, the National Association of Manufacturers predicted something like 125k factory jobs a month, starting sometime this year - a very bullish forecast, given the pace of productivity gain in the factory sector recently. Today, the American Bankers Association predicted 200k jobs per month, starting some time in the first half of this year.

So here's my conspiracy theory. If you can't get real job growth up to an electable level, then get your allies to predict strong job growth. You (the incumbent) then point out that there is growing confidence in the private sector that job growth is about to take off, because of you policies. (The NAM guys actually said that the weakness of the dollar was the source of their optimism on factory job growth.) Silly, no?

Posted by: K Harris on January 21, 2004 09:24 AM


Soon we can expect:

Deficit reduction-related program activities
Saving Social Security-related program activities
Expanding health coverage-related program activities

etc etc etc

Posted by: P O'Neill on January 21, 2004 10:20 AM


From Kay's statement to Congress on his Interim Report, 10/2/03: "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002."

Posted by: joe on January 21, 2004 11:43 AM


WMDRPA - yeah, now it's looking like a real military acronym. "WMD" was just too short.

Posted by: ChrisL on January 21, 2004 12:37 PM


"From Kay's statement to Congress on his Interim Report, 10/2/03: "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002.""

'-related program activities'. Hmmm, that's three weasel words right there that Kay is using.

'significant amounts of equipment...'

None of which merited front-page coverage by an administration fond of staging photo ops, and with massive influence over the press.

Joe, it's to the point where even the administration and 90% of it's supporters have given up on WMD's. It's all about 'upholding democracy' now. You know, caucuses and stuff (not actual elections, of course).

Posted by: Barry on January 21, 2004 01:06 PM



I'm not defending the SOTU address; heaven forfend. K Harris said he had the impression the words came from Kay, and I was simply confirming the accuracy of this impression.

Posted by: joe on January 21, 2004 02:49 PM



Reading the comments here has been fascinating. I guess intense hatred of Bush leads to blindness and long term memory loss.

Saddam had already manufactured VX, the deadliest nerve toxin in the world, had VX production equipment which UNMOVIC destroyed in 1997 - six years after the Gulf War ended and you folks are obsessing over some rhetoric as if Saddam was NOT involved in WMD activities? Tell me, were you all oxygen deprived at birth or were you all just following one another, jumping off the deep end into the shallow pool of your collective ignorance on this matter?

Thanks for the smile. Don't forget to remind the leftist media, your feckless shepherd who helped guide you into your present mindset.


Posted by: Fussbudget on January 21, 2004 03:45 PM


"...which UNMOVIC destroyed in 1997..."

That's the problem, see? Nobody denies that Iraq had done naughty things in the past. But the argument of the administration was that inspections weren't working and Iraq was making WMDs. This has proven to be false. This was the rationale for the war.

The one thing that can be said in defense of the administration is that a wide variety of people across the political spectrum expected *some*, probably minimal, WMD stuff to turn up.

Oddly enough, I didn't...even though I reluctantly and tepidly supported the war (on the basis that prior UN resolutions gave us the mandate and Hussein was an ongoing problem that needed to be solved).

I suspect at this point, it has filtered into the general consciousness that Iraq's threat was greatly overstated by people who either should have or did know better.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on January 21, 2004 04:09 PM



Let's see. UNMOVIC was created by the UN in 1999, yet was somehow able to destroy Saddam's VX production equipment in 1997. Who, exactly, has long term memory loss?

Posted by: joe on January 21, 2004 04:40 PM


From UNMOVIC's web site: "The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) was created through the adoption of Security Council resolution 1284 of 17 December 1999."

Posted by: joe on January 21, 2004 04:45 PM


So, if we are going to impute motives based on which side of an issue one takes, then Fussie must suffer from what, intense, fact-obliterating Bush worship? Why don't we just not do that stuff? If you wanna make a point about the facts, make it. No need to stoop.

Arguing for war, and the loss of life that war causes, ought to be based on something more than misdirection. After the event, reviewing the arguments for war ought to be based on the arguments as they were made prior to the war, and the results. Bush claimed to know - to know - that Iraq held illicit weapons. Bush claimed that that Saddam offered support and comfort to terrorists. Bush claimed that Saddam was on a yellow cake shopping spree in Africa. Bush's Secretary of State used photos of crop dusting equipment, provided by Iraq to the UN years ago, to argue that Iraq was now hiding equipment for the distribution of chemical or biological weapons from the UN - and called it a justification for war. Rumsfeld set up a "B team" to second guess intelligence professionals about the implications of raw intelligence, then passed on the second guesses as reliable intelligence to Bush.

Bush either has no idea how to assess information on the way to making the most important decision a national leader can make, has no real grasp of what intelligence is used for, or he intentioally lied to the nation to justify war with Iraq, when Iraq presented no demostrable threat to US security. Outside the realm of spin, I cannot see how, given what is available on the public record, any of this is controversial.

Posted by: K Harris on January 22, 2004 12:38 PM



Your so hard dude, but I think it is leading to intellectual constipation. We need to clean out your mental digestive track. You've been a bad boy, reading too many rich right wing treats.

First we need to stop the bad stuff.
- Stay away from fox news.
- No more surfing NROnline.
- Avoid the WSJ editorial page (the rest is fine)

Now lets give you some ruffage
- Pick up the Jan/Feb Atlantic mag "Blind into Bagdad" This will be a very good start and resolve any WMD anger issues.
- For television I recommend BBC world service. Frontline on PBS if it is on that evening.
- On the net just be careful, some of those sites have agendas. Brad De Long is a safe place.

Within 4 weeks you will be thinking a whole lot better, unless your father was William F Buckley or some other "noble" figure in which case you probably need professional help.

Posted by: Scott McArthur on January 22, 2004 12:48 PM


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