In defense of the UN

Rumsfeld on Iraq, on Monday:

On whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the war, Rumsfeld said flatly Monday that intelligence about such weapons before the invasion was faulty – a markedly different statement than what he told a television interviewer just a day earlier. “It turns out that we have not found weapons of mass destruction,” Rumsfeld said Monday in the speech to the foreign affairs group. “Why the intelligence proved wrong I’m not in a position to say, but the world is a lot better off with Saddam Hussein in jail.”

…In Monday’s speech, Rumsfeld said President Bush had taken the position that “it was unwise for the civilized world to allow Iraq to continue rejecting” U.N. resolutions demanding that Saddam’s “vicious regime,” which previously had used weapons of mass destruction on its own people, to give them up…. Asked to describe the connection between Saddam and al-Qaida, the Pentagon chief first refused to answer, then said: “To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two.”

Rumsfeld on Iraq, later that same day:

The CIA conclusions in that paper, which I discussed in a news conference as far back as September, 2002, note that:

* We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad.

* We have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade, and of possible chemical and biological agent training.

* We have what we believe to be credible information that Iraq and al Qaeda have discussed safe haven opportunities in Iraq.

* We have what we consider to be credible evidence that al Qaeda leaders have sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

* We do have one report indicating that Iraq provided unspecified training relating to chemical and/or biological matters for al Qaeda members.

I should also note that the 9/11 Commission report described linkages between Al Qaeda and Iraq as well.

It’s interesting to note that if you read both statements closely, there’s no serious contradiction between the two. There may be “links”, after all, there are plenty of “links” between France and the USA. But the evidence is neither strong nor hard. There are far too many weasel words, “could” “what we believe” “what we consider” and so forth. After all, al-Qaeda members were also in Germany, among many other countries, but we have not yet bombed the Bundesrepublik.

I’ve always liked Rumsfeld, to a certain extent. He’s beginning to strike me as a man who is distinctly uncomfortable with what he has done and on whose behalf he has done it.