the aluminum tubes

Josh Marshall provides an important example of how the Bush Administration cherry-picked intelligence to fit a-priori ideological stances rather than making a true unbiased case for war:

Remember those aluminum tubes?

Those were the tubes imported by Iraq which were so precisely and finely manufactured that they could only have been intended for use in gas centrifuges to enrich uranium. That was the story at least -- the tubes that launched a thousand ships in the tragicomic Dubyiad.

There were always doubters, of course. And some rather important ones, particularly the experts at the Department of Energy -- the folks in the US government who actually have real experience in enriching uranium and making nuclear weapons, a rather potent credential.

They didn't think the aluminum tubes were for nukes.

Yet that seemingly qualified verdict was overruled by contending voices at the CIA, particularly one analyst who took up the tubes case aggressively.

As David Albright wrote in March 2003, "For over a year and a half, an analyst at the CIA has been pushing the aluminum tube story, despite consistent disagreement by a wide range of experts in the United States and abroad. His opinion, however, obtained traction in the summer of 2002 with senior members of the Bush Administration, including the President."

On the issue of these aluminum tubes, I had found the Administration's initial claims suspect given they were based on non-credible witnesses, but ultimately was convinced by the media reports on the matter that there were some "experts" who agreed that the tubes were dual-use. Later I realized I was wrong. Other liberals actually based their support of the Iraq war on precisely this kind of false evidence. This ultimately will make principled, honest people like Thomas more hesitant to endorse hawkism when/if it is needed in the future, which is good, but may also have a biasing/chilling effect on their assessment of whether military options are needed, which is bad. It's just worth mentioning yet again the level to which the deceptions spread, and the amplified power of that deception when wielded by the Executive Branch.

1 comment:

Thomas Nephew said...

Thanks for the kind words.

I'll post a response to you in the near future on my own blog, some self-analysis and -criticism is well past due, both on Iraq and on the Bush war on terror.

I'd just say that the tubes were but one of the things I considered, not the only thing. The item you link to provides a more general, Biden-ish collection of arguments for the war -- many of which deserve re-evaluation.

I'll continue to see military options -- or, as we should call it, "war" -- as thinkable in the future, but I'll probably be less 'bipartisan' about that if I think the administration isn't being very 'bipartisan' with me or forthcoming with me. This one never has been.

Thus I'll be conceding less to administrations I don't really respect, and hope to do a better job of demanding good evidence regardless.