Santorum's accusation

Senator Rick Santorum's (R-PA) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra's (R-MI) claimed on June 21st that there were indeed "Weapos of Mass Destruction" in Iraq shortly before the March 2003 invasion, pointing to a stash of degraded chemical weapon shells that Iraq had produced and then lost track of during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. The Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out that the report specified that the chemicals were in a degraded state and it has long since been apparent to opponents of the Iraq War that there was no serious chance that Saddam Hussein would have passed along any serious weaponry to terrorist groups as 1. They would have been traced back to him and his country and 2. Saddam Hussein exercised a Soviet-style chain of command over his army. Control was very tight and very explicit. There was simply no room for free agents in his war-fighting doctrine.

Buzzflash explains how the "Iraq-al Qaeda link" idea works and thoroughly debunks it.

Nevertheless, Media Matters tells us how right-wing news sources, from Fox News to Rush Limbaugh, have kept the Santorum story of Iraqi WMD alive. Even though, as Media Matters points out:

The Washington Post also reported June 22 that "[n]either the military nor the White House nor the CIA considered the shells to be evidence of what was alleged by the Bush administration to be a current Iraqi program to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons."

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld demonstrated that Santorum was not acting along when he went on Fox News to confirm the charge:

ANGLE (video): Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is the first administration official to comment publicly on the declassified report that some 500 chemical weapons have been found in Iraq.

RUMSFELD: They are weapons of mass destruction. They're harmful to human beings. And they have been found and they had not been reported by Saddam Hussein as he inaccurately alleged he had reported all of his weapons, and they're still being found and discovered.

The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), characterized the shells as "old, fairly toxic stuff," but was misquoted as saying the shells were "less toxic than most things that Americans have under their kitchen sink at this point." A folksier, but less accurate rendition.

Rush Limbaugh has now stated that he is determined "to get the truth out on weapons of mass destruction" so we can look forward to hearing much, much more on the issue.

Attytood wonders what the "terror alert level" must be now and links to Vice President Cheney making a speech that sounds like it's cribbed directly from speeches on the alleged Vietnam "Domino effect" in the late 1960s-early 1970s.

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