[posted by Justin Levine]
Mahablog obviously doesn’t like the news. I can’t comment on the analysis of any other site, but it should be obvious that Mahablog is deliberately misconstruing the point of the post (and the debate). The debate isn’t about if Saddam was on the verge of obtaining nukes or not. Rather, it is about the fact that Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame are liars – something that most of the press refuses to acknowledge. Notably, Mahablog doesn’t mention the Joe Wilson controversy at all.
Of course people know that yellowcake does not equal enriched uranium. If that were the case, then everyone would be worrying about the great nuclear weapons power named Niger. But of course you don’t hear that, so I really don’t know what Mahablog’s point is here. The crux of the argument was that Saddam was trying to compile the materials for an inert weapons program that he could one day reconstitute after got the sanctions lifted (with the help of bribes from the U.N. ‘oil-for-food’ scandal).
I presume that Mahablog doesn’t deny that Israel previously bombed a nuclear reactor in Iraq which would indicate that Saddam had a desire for such weapons. In light of that fact and Saddam’s hostile history, the existence of stored yellowcake there becomes a bit more significant than it being stored in Niger, even though we all know it doesn’t magically take on weapons’ grade properties once it crosses the border into Iraq. But rather than think through the implications of the fact that Iraq previously had a nuclear weapons reactor in the past, Mahablog is simply content to state, “The critical point is that Saddam Hussein couldn’t do anything with this uranium because he lacked the equipment and technology to enrich it.”
Once again, for the bazillionth time, the argument was never that nuclear Iraq was imminent. It was that it was eventually inevitable unless Saddam was removed from power. Perhaps it wouldn’t come to be until years into the future, but it would eventually come. People could have tried to make the argument that it was not inevitable that Saddam would acquire WMD (and perhaps some did), but the most vocal decided to lie instead and suggest that Bush’s real argument was that Saddam’s acquisition of nukes was ‘imminent’.
Mahablog is right about one thing – the existence of yellowcake in Iraq is not really new news for those who have read up on the issue. But because many in the media refuse to acknowledge Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame for absolute frauds that they are, this old news manages to take on continued significance.
But here is the real test of Mahablog’s argument: If Mahablog has a legitimate point, then why did Joe Wilson go to such great lengths to try and cast doubt on the very existence of the yellowcake Niger story? Why didn’t he just say, “It is possible that Iraq tried to purchase yellowcake from Niger. But even though I can neither confirm nor deny this accusation, it is ultimately irrelevant since yellowcake is harmless and is not proof of anything significant regarding an Iraqi nuclear weapons program.”?
That is not the argument that Joe Wilson the liar made. There is a reason for this – reason’s that people like Mahablog would rather not address. So I’ll be happy to stay on his ‘Idiot’s Hall of Fame’, let people read both posts, and decide for themselves.
— Justin Levine