Post-Powell's Address: "Smoking Gun" Redux

Ignoring firearms metaphors, the circumstantial case against Iraq vis-a-vis WMD is very compelling, IMO.

The recordings of conversations are laughable, along with the highly sophisticated satellite photo’s that only experts can spin, I mean interpret. Very compelling case indeed, NOT!

I agree, EasyPhil, we should send an apology to the former Soviet Union and Cuba right away.

Could you perhaps elaborate on this? How are the conversations laughable? What’s wrong with the photo’s? I’m not an expert so I have no way of knowing what is laughable about these pieces of ‘evidence’. I’m not being sarcastic.

If I were to believe the evidence presented it seems that the war is much better justified. But, then, that’s the problem isn’t it…do I believe it?

I reckon that for the most part, based on whatever way a person was leaning prior to today, that person will see the justification for solidfying that position and read into the evidence what they want to read.

And, I think that the evidence will also persuade the UN to get a little tougher with Iraq but still try to avoid going to the limits that the US is looking to set forth.

Of course, this country never presents trumped up evidence, cough, Gulf of Tonkin, cough, no, it would never do that.

Godwin’s Variant: The Vietnam Drop

From the Transcript:

“Modified vehicle”, what exactly does this mean? Modified for what? Are these people speaking in english or in arabic? If in arabic there could be some question about the significance of the word “evacuated”.

I agree (shock) that if there is evidence that the State Dept. fudged the interpretations the evidence becomes less valid. Of course, I don’t think you speak Arabic.

It seems obvious (to me) that these guys try to speak in “code” somewhat, knowing that they might be monitiored.

I agree with Mully. Right now, a bunch of guys are giving their “reaction” speeches. And those were obviously written before Powell spoke.

When the facts are in your favor, argue the facts.

When the facts are against you, argue the law.

When the facts and the law are against you, do what EasyPhil is doing.


There’s nothing in Arabic to translate in the transcript.

And “evacuate” is a code word for what?

True. You had to set your VCR. “Evacuate” is not even a code word. They are just trying to make the conversation less inculpatory than saying, “DIDJA MOVE THE PROHIBITED WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION?! YOU KNOW, THE CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPON VEHICLES?!”

Hey you said they were using code, are you making this up?

Powell described in some detail what a modifed vehicle is. At least one type of modified vehicle. It is capable of producing large quantities of chemical and/or biological agents. There are at least 18 of these modified vehicles, which can easily be consealed from UN inspectors.

No, Phil. It’s just that the all caps part would be a bad thing to say if you know the enemy (the United States) is using ELINT: electronic intelligence to listen to what you say.

IMO, the all caps part is not a bad working interpretation (barring translation issues) of what was said.

The evidence doesn’t call for the level of destruction the US is contemplating.

The alleged warplan. I don’t think the level of destruction goes beyond hitting the elite military hard and often during the early phases. After that, the US will in all liklihood use minimal force.

This is pretty weak stuff IMO. You have a couple of guys talking vaguely about “evacuating” something and some indecipherable sattelite photos. I certainly am not going to take Powell’s word for anything as to what this stuff means. How do we even know when and where that conversation was taped. It doesn’t really reveal anything anyway. There is nothing here which warrants an invasion. Show me an actual WMD, not just some guys that might be talking about WMD’s or might be talking about their porno stash.

Actually, even a WMD isn’t good enough for me. I want proof that Iraq is, in any way, a direct threat to the US. Nothing else justifies war.

I am one of the people who have been waiting (rather impatiently, I admit) for evidence that war against Iraq is justified. Now that Powell’s entire presentation has been transcribed, I think that evidence is there. Up to now, there has been little reason to believe much of what the Bush Administration has said about Iraq. It saddens me to say that, in the face of what Powell just presented to the UN, I’m now a believer.

That’s not to say that there weren’t problems with some of Powell’s presentation. The attempt to link the Iraqi regime with Al Qaida is weak at best. While credible evidence was presented in much of the presentation, there was little more than assertions presented on this subject. While I’m certain that there has been interaction between Iraq and Al Qaida (how could there not be?) I remain skeptical about what the nature of that interaction is, and I remain doubtful that the connection between the two is very strong. I don’t see them as “partners,” or even allies.

Powell also made a few leaps of faith which don’t really bear out under close examination. For example:

Well… no, not really. Hard drives could be replaced because they were bad, corrupt, or outdated, or simply because the computer users needed more space. Replaced hard drives does not necessarily lead automatically to the conclusion that deception is going on. It raises suspicions, certainly, but without specifying time frames or other circumstances, Powell did not convince me on this point.

As already pointed out, the translations of the recorded messages may leave much to be desired. I’d be very interested to know if any who understand Arabic would produce different translations. The nuances of language are rarely understood fully, and wars can be started over a misunderstood word. I’d hate to see that happen here.

So, yes, there were flaws and weak points in Powell’s statement today. However, the bulk of what he presented was strong. The details about biological and chemical weapons and UAV’s were truly chilling. The details about Iraq’s nuclear capability, while not conclusive, presented a very strong case.

And the thing of it is, I trust Powell, where I do not really trust Bush. Where Bush made pronouncements simplified for the lowest common denominator, Powell spent this morning making a detailed statement, unafraid to get down to brass tacks if necessary… and it is necessary, if we’re truly going to advise a course for way. I’ve believed for a long time that Powell is a reasonable, thoughtful man… and I trust him. He presented a compelling case today, and while I might have disagreed with a few of the finer points of it, I found the weight of evidence bore heavily against Iraq.

I hate to say it… but I am largely convinced that Iraq is presenting a credible threat, to the Middle East and possibly to the United States. The evidence that Powell presented today is what I have been waiting for for months. It is not ironclad, but it is compelling.