FILE: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada speaks on Capitol Hill on Sept. 15.
Shachtman analyzes the Wikileaks trove. There's no evidence, however, that they were part of any ongoing program as claimed by the Bush administration:
Remnants of Saddam’s toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents...
In August 2004, for instance, American forces surreptitiously purchased what they believed to be containers of liquid sulfur mustard, a toxic “blister agent” used as a chemical weapon since World War I. The troops tested the liquid, and “reported two positive results for blister.” The chemical was then “triple-sealed and transported to a secure site” outside their base...
Even late in the war, WMDs were still being unearthed. In the summer of 2008, according to one WikiLeaked report, American troops found at least 10 rounds that tested positive for chemical agents. “These rounds were most likely left over from the [Saddam]-era regime. Based on location, these rounds may be an AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] cache. However, the rounds were all total disrepair and did not appear to have been moved for a long time.”
The WMD diehards will likely find some comfort in these newly-WikiLeaked documents. Skeptics will note that these relatively small WMD stockpiles were hardly the kind of grave danger that the Bush administration presented in the run-up to the war.
But the more salient issue may be how insurgents and Islamic extremists (possibly with the help of Iran) attempted to use these lethal and exotic arms. As Spencer noted earlier, a January 2006 war log claims that “neuroparalytic” chemical weapons were smuggled in from Iraq. That same month, then “chemical weapons specialists” were apprehended in Balad. These “foreigners” were there specifically “to support the chemical weapons operations.” The following month, an intelligence report refers to a “chemical weapons expert” that “provided assistance with the gas weapons.” What happened to that specialist, the WikiLeaked document doesn’t say.
I know of no incident when these weapons were actually used against US troops. And the irony, of course, is that it was the invasion that gave insurgents and Islamists access to these remnants.
Other Articles from the Atlantic:
An Open Letter to Juan Williams
Sorry to hear you got fired by National Public Radio for saying on Fox that you get nervous when you see Muslims on a plane with you. It was dumb to say such a thing, but I don't think saying one dumb thing should be a firing offense. (I do think an NPR journalist wanting to take money from Fox News to be a regular commentator should be a firing offense, but that's another story).
But there's more to this -- and some important things that everyone is missing.
For instance, what you said about Faisal Shazad, the Pakistani immigrant who wanted to bomb Times Square. When he was being sentenced this month, he claimed, according to you, that his attempted attack was just "the first drop of blood." We can't let political correctness blind us to this, you explained.
I guess Shahzad made a big impression on you, because after being fired you went back on Fox and told them, "You can't ignore the fact what has recently been said in court with regard to 'this is the first drop of blood in a Muslim war against America.'"
Sadly for you (and this is also why you shouldn't be working for a real news organization like NPR), Shahzad never said that. If you were a real journalist, you would have quoted him accurately. What he actually said was that he was the "first droplet of the flood," not blood. But I know how easy it is to mishear things when scary Muslims are talking. And I guess it's not a huge difference anyway.
What really matters is that you're 100% right: We shouldn't let political correctness stop us from paying close attention to what people like Shahzad say. The problem is you just haven't taken it far enough.
So Juan, I'm asking you to join me on a crusade -- whoops! scratch that, let's call it a "mission" -- to publicize these statements by Faisal Shahzad as widely as possible. Because most of the media have not spent much time on what he had to say.
Here's what he said at his recent sentencing (after talking about being a droplet in a flood):
[Saladin] liberated Muslim lands... And that's what we Muslims are trying do, because you're occupying Iraq and Afghanistan... So, the past nine years the war with Muslims has achieved nothing for the U.S., except for it has waken up the Muslims for Islam. We are only Muslims trying to defend our people, honor, and land. But if you call us terrorists for doing that, then we are proud terrorists, and we will keep on terrorizing until you leave our land and people at peace.
And this is what Shahzad said when he plead guilty back in June:
I want to plead guilty, and I'm going to plead guilty 100 times over, because until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that.
Then there's email that Shahzad sent to a friend in 2006:
Everyone knows the current situation of Muslim World... Friends with peaceful protest! Can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? And a way to fight back when rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows? In Palestine, Afghan, Iraq, Chechnya and else where.
And then there's what Shahzad was telling friends and relatives even before that:
Mr. Shahzad had long been critical of American foreign policy. "He was always very upset about the fabrication of the W.M.D. stunt to attack Iraq and killing non-combatants such as the sons and grandson of Saddam Hussein," said a close relative. In 2003, Mr. Shahzad had been copied on a Google Groups e-mail message bearing photographs of Guantánamo Bay detainees, handcuffed and crouching, below the words "Shame on you, Bush. Shame on You."
So what do you say, Juan? Now that you have a new $2 million contract with Fox, let me come on with you for some in-depth discussions about the terrorists' real motivations. We can't let another day go by letting the PC brigade stop us from telling the truth: Terrorists aren't trying to kill us because they hate our freedom. They're killing us because we're in their countries killing them.
P.S. If you want to understand suicide bombings, be sure to read the new book that studied every instance of it for the past 30 years. It's been used by many groups of many religions, not just Arabs and not just Muslims. And almost all such terrorism has one motivation in common: occupation by foreign militaries.
P.P.S. Here's something else that I'd sincerely love to talk about with you: what do you think when you see rich middle-aged white men talking on TV about how they get nervous around African Americans on the street? And then they explain that we can't let political correctness stop us from talking about black-on-white crime?
Does it drive you crazy that they say this without even being conscious of the history of far greater violence by white people toward blacks? And do you maybe understand now how those middle-aged white guys get it so wrong?
UPDATE: Juan, you probably remember in 1986 when the Washington Post Magazine ran a Richard Cohen column defending jewelry store owners who wouldn't buzz in young black men. It caused such a big controversy that the New Republic ran a bunch of responses to it, including one by you. You might find it interesting to go back and read what you wrote then -- for instance, "Racism is a lazy man's substitute for using good judgment... Common sense becomes racism when skin color becomes a formula for figuring out who is a danger to me."
Harry Reid is having a heck of a time trying to get re-elected, in part, he says, because people don't want to know that he prevented a worldwide depression.
The Nevada Democrat, whose poll numbers are see-sawing against rival Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle, told MSNBC's Ed Schultz on Thursday night that voters in his state don't feel reassured when Reid tells them of his global achievement because they've fallen so far down the economic food chain.
"We were at the top and we've fallen very hard. So people have been hurting, and I understand that, and it doesn't give them comfort or solace for me to tell them, you know, but for me we'd be in a worldwide depression. They want to know what I've done for them, and that's why it's important for me, any chance I get, to say that my number one job is to create jobs," Reid said, blasting Angle for saying it's not the role of government to create jobs.
Reid's re-election effort has been caught in a spiral lately after briefly surging thanks to several Angle gaffes on the campaign trail. But she appeared to win a recent debate, in part by questioning Reid's fortitude, and her poll numbers have risen above Reid in late polling.
The latest Rasmussen poll has Angle at 50 percent to Reid at 47 percent. The poll of 750 likely voters had a 4 percent margin of error.
Reid, who is having President Obama fundraise for him on Friday night, told the cable news network that he is confident that his get-out-the vote effort -- targeted at early voters -- has been strong thanks to a process started during the 2008 Democratic presidential caucus when Obama won a hair more delegates than rival Hillary Clinton. Clinton won the popular vote.
Obama's job approval rating was 40 percent in the last Fox News battleground state poll. In September, 76 percent of voters thought the president's policies had either hurt the economy or made no difference.
Reid, however, said that Obama has helped Nevada. He noted that first lady Michelle Obama is campaigning for him also.
The first lady's visit may help the majority leader with women after Angle on several occasions has suggested Reid needs to "man up" -- at least on economic issues plaguing the state. That suggestion didn't ring well with the former boxer, who said he's "never had to prove my manhood to anyone."
He also took issue with Angle's depiction of him as a fat cat politician who lives in a Penthouse at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C.
"I have a home in Searchlight, Nevada. I stay in Washington, D.C., in a one-bedroom apartment, and my penthouse is on the second floor. How do you like that, a penthouse on the second floor?" he asked.
Finally, Reid, who's appeared somewhat satisfied that Angle had dug a deep hole for herself by trying to demonstrate that she's color-blind by telling a group of Hispanic students that for all she know they could be Asian, also condemned a Republican Latino group that ran an ad telling Hispanics not to go to the polls because Congress hasn't done anything to fix immigration rules.
"It's hard for me to comprehend anything so un-American, so unpatriotic, as telling people not to vote. That's why people have looked at America as the bulwark of freedom. We get to vote," he told Schultz.