Regarding a general lack of physical evidence in Powell's presentation.

I was shocked at how little actual physical evidence there was in Powell’s presentation to the UN. Most of it was just hearsay. While I know the US purposely didn’t show all it’s cards, I’m wondering why there isn’t more evidence. For instance, if we had satellite photos of a likely chemical weapons plant, couldn’t we have inserted a covert team to get close up pictures? Couldn’t we have monitored the movement of the trucks that were supposedly loading chemical weapons for transport to another area to see where they went?
Also, if the US and UK are already bombing sites in Iraq, why are we letting that weapons manufacturing plant that is allegedly training Al Quaeda operatives in chemical weapons manufacturing?

Whoops, I meant why aren’t we bombing that weapons plant.

Perhaps they felt the photos they had were good enough and didn’t warrant risking the insertion of specops. If I were responsible for sending those guys on an extremely risky mission just to take a few photos, I’d be sure ask “why isn’t what we already have sufficient?”

Also, I’m not sure where these plants are. Our bombings are in response to being threatened/fired upon by Iraq during our patrolling of the no-fly-zones. Our bombings are thus inside those zones. If the plants are somewhere in between the northern and southern zones, then we won’t be bombing them until/if we invade.

Its not likely that these plants are obvious anyway. They wont have big signs on the roofs saying “chemical plant - please bomb here”. More likely is the fact that they could be anywhere BUT an obvious place. The word “plant” is decieving. It may just be the basement of a large home, or the back room of an office building, or in one of Saddam`s private buildings. They may even be mobile, that is, in a convoy of trucks or vehicles of some sort. They may be underground too, in which case they could go undetected for some time.

The critical issue at hand is not where they are but where is the evidence that they are gone. Saddam is supposed to have destroyed the weapons a long time ago and have verifiable proof that this was done. We need to see waste records, disposal procedures, and the delivery systems dismantled. We have not recieved sufficient evidence on a large scale, and they are not willingly providing it. If it was done properly, or at all, then there should be all sorts of evidence that they are required to provide for the inspectors to see. So far this isnt the case. Instead theyre playing a shell game with the inspectors and the world.

Well I’m speaking of the the plants of which they did have satellite photos (like those presented).

I guess I felt that the physical evidence presented could too easily be explained away and can’t imagine they couldn’t have provided a “smoking gun.” Powell kept on saying “We have proof.” Well, show it.

I think the reason he cant "show it" is if he does then Saddam quickly acts to move or shut down the site, or start up a day care there. If he says he has proof then I believe him/them. You can only offer so much info to the public. I wish we could see more too. I would like to have access to all the photos and records that "prove" everything that we are told. It just isnt that easy or practical. The question in my mind is, how much time do we give him? 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years?
We will bomb that weapons plant (photos you reference) when we decide to take action. If our intelligence is good enough and reliable enough a few pinpoint strikes may be good enough. But for all the ones we know about there may ones we don`t know about. The best way to handle the problem is to provoke a change of leadership in that country.

Because that type of information is more sensitive than what he showed, and should not be broadcast on CNN. As I hear it, Powell is meeting behind closed doors with the Security Council member states with more details. Are you cleared for Top Secret Security Clearances, and have a Need to Know?

To amplify what whuckfistle mentioned, the key point in this entire affair is the fact that the ball is, and has been, in Saddam’s court when it comes to providing hard evidence.

It is well known, and has been admitted by Iraq, that they’ve been in the business of developing and manufacturing biological and chemical weapons; hell, Saddam used them on his own citizens! Additionally, there is ample evidence that Iraq has been attempting to assemble the resources to put together a nuclear arsenal. All of this is in the public domain; no one disputes it.

The consensus is that disarming Saddam is vital to the stability of that region and to the battle against terrorism. A better bet, in my opinion, is removing him from this planet completely; I’m sure Satan is anxious to make his acquaintance. But the UN is all about consensus, and Security Council Resolution 1441 is the result of a long series of compromises.

But I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that Colin Powell and GWB and Tony Blair are not required in any way to provide any evidence of anything at all. The UN Security Council has directed Saddam, and no one else, to provide all the evidence, specifically verifiable evidence that he has eliminated his WMD’s. Powell’s presentation to the Council today was less directed at proving that Saddam is a bad guy – that is established fact – than it was at proving that Saddam has failed to meet the conditions of the Council’s resolution by providing evidence that he has destroyed or otherwise disposed of the proscribed weapons. More than that, Powell showed (rather convincingly, I thought) that Saddam has gone to great lengths to deceive the UN inspectors – again, just as he did with the previous corps of inspectors.

In his presentation today, Powell echoed a recurring theme – the potential irrelevance of the Security Council and of the UN itself if it fails – again – to back up its resolutions. Reference to the League of Nations is exactly appropriate. In my opinion, the UN’s inaction over the past twelve years with regard to Iraq rendered it irrelevant, oh, about twelve years ago. And I’m being generous in allowing that the UN may have been relevant then.

I can’t see criticizing the quantity or quality of the evidence presented by Powell; we’re required to provide nothing at all. Saddam has been told to give full disclosure, to demonstrate convincingly that he has disposed of what we don’t want in his hands; he has provided nothing, and he’s still trying to hide the truth. THAT was Powell’s point.

Another problem with bombing — I am not sure where those plants were, what chemicals were involved and what state of activation they were in … assuming they were reasonably near a population center and that the UK/USAF couldn’t answer any of the above questions, bombing at this point would be out of the question. The potential for collateral chemical damage is just too high (Bopal, India). There is a good chance any bomb would just be like taking big vats (or little vats in the case of trucks) of weaponized chemicals and blowing them up into the wind.

As far as the Q Couldn’t we have monitored the movement of the trucks that were supposedly loading chemical weapons for transport to another area to see where they went
No. The US has satellites but they don’t cover Iraq 24-7. Iraq knows that and may even know when those birds are flying over. Outside the no fly zone there aren’t American spy birds over every inch all day every day to track trucks. Unless we got very very lucky saw the transfer, ID’ed it immediately, the Iraqis didn’t know we saw, they reached their destination before the bird ran out of fuel … unlikely to say the least.

This belongs in GD and not GQ, but most of it was not hearsay. Hearsay is when a 3d or other party says what other parties or party said. Powell presented conversations between Hussein’s lackeys. He presented aerial photos of facilities for the use of WMD. He showed how Iraq has enlarged the capability of the SCUDs in defiance of the UN Resolution. In fact, I don’t recall any hearsay evidence being presented, except in relation as to what defectors have said, but some of them were privy to the matter and that is not hearsay, but good and substantial evidence.

As others have noted, we have much other more definitive evidence which is not been declassified. We are not going to present matters which would put our servicemen in jeopardy or impede the immediate destruction of these unlawful sites if and when a war starts.

Don’t be too sure!

Remember during the Gulf War when Iraq tried to claim that a weapons plant was a milk factory. They actually showed footage of Iraqi ‘technicians’ in white lab coats with, I kid you not, BABY MILK FACTORY written on the back. In english. It was like something from a Monty Python skit.

Sorry but some of the information here is simply incorrect. Fact is, what both the US and UK have focused on for some years – since during the UNSCOM regime – has been to concentrate not on ‘Iraq’, not especially on ‘sites’ but on the reasonably few scientists working for the regime capable of contributing to big ugly weapon manufacture – keep tabs on the folks and they’ll lead you to the goods.

In other words, all this talk about it being a big country, secret plants, etc, is nonsense.

We all have to make our own judgements. Mine is that is somewhat surprising that after 12 years or so during which time satellites have constantly combed suspicious situations (damn it, they can read number plates – right ?), defectors and informers and all manner of others have given information … Powell came up with nothing at all of substance – and we do know who it is in Iraq who are capable of building these weapons….and Powell can’t pin a thing to them or their working arrangements / locations. Go figure…

This seems to be an example of hearsay. Thankyou LC for the contrast.

Well perhaps not technically hearsay in that a 3rd party didn’t quote what another person said, but 90% of what Powell presented was “We have information from reliable sources that…” That’s like going to court and saying “Trust me, he’s guilty, I know.”

Yes, “simply incorrect” is certainly the proper phrase.

No, the satellites can’t read license plates.

No, the satellites do not and cannot “constantly comb” anything in Iraq. To my knowledge, there are no geostationary satellites over Iraq, meaning that we have to depend on orbital passes hours apart. And I’m pretty sure it still gets dark there occasionally, and they have clouds sometimes, and there are trees and buildings with roofs on them and tents…

Defectors and informers have been scarce and of limited usefulness. This is partly because Saddam tends to, um, shoot such people before they leave, and if they do manage to get out, they know that Saddam will shoot their families if they blab.

As for the past twelve years, I would point out that eight of those years passed under a US administration that was, well, a bit less aggressive toward such things than is the present one.

I’d bet my Mini-Dox puppy that Powell has a vast trove of information at his fingertips, most of which was NOT presented (at least publicly) to the UN. Information gleaned from intelligence sources is always a double-edged sword – by using it (or announcing it), you run the risk of exposing its source, thereby rendering the source useless (or dead). During WWII, the US enjoyed the advantage of almost real-time knowledge of the intentions and dispositions of the Japanese Navy, thanks to the breaking early on of the JN-25 code, but this information had to be used selectively and sparingly to keep from tipping off the Japanese as to its source. Churchill faced the same dilemma with using the intelligence gleaned from Ultra. Choosing not to evacuate or even warn the people of Coventry must have been a bitter pill indeed.

And at the risk of repeating myself (see my earlier post and whuckfistle’s), I’ll say again that as far as the UN is concerned, the onus to provide convincing evidence is on Saddam, not Colin Powell. Powell’s goal yesterday was merely to demonstrate in a convincing manner that Saddam has failed to meet his obligation toward the UN and is actively thwarting the inspections. I think he acheived this limited goal quite well.

I have a hard time believing what’s has been coming out of the administration about Iraq. The rationale for the attack remains amorphous, we haven’t heard the name Bin Laden outta Fleischer’s mouth in some time, and there is widespread suspicion that Bush is cooking the books on intelligence information:

Further, information for UN inspections has been misrepresented, to wit:

“According to Miller and Preston, Blix “took issue with what he said were US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s claims that the inspectors had found that Iraqi officials were hiding and moving illicit materials within and outside of Iraq to prevent their discovery. He said that the inspectors had reported no such incidents.
“Similarly, he said, he had not seen convincing evidence that Iraq was sending weapons scientists to Syria, Jordan or any other country to prevent them from being interviewed. Nor had he any reason to believe, as President Bush charged in his State of the Union speech, that Iraqi agents were posing as scientists…
“Finally, he said, he had seen no persuasive indications of Iraqi ties to al Qaeda, which Mr Bush also mentioned in his speech.”

Um, you don’t think sources with names like “vegsource” and “greenleft” might have something of an agenda that could, say, color their ‘news’ a bit?

Did you follow the links? Both were quoting stories from the New York Times.

This is more of a debate than anything, so I’ll move this thread to Great Debates.

moderator GQ

Just one more quick note.

Those of you who are opposed to taking any action in Iraq will never be appeased. There will always be a new line drawn in the sand. There will never be sufficient evidence. You will always be able to rationalize not taking action.