DO WE HAVE THE GOODS

DO WE HAVE THE GOODS ON IRAQ?….Martin Indyk and Kenneth Pollack have an op-ed in the New York Times today about the Iraqi “inspections trap”: how does President Bush avoid having UN inspections drag out forever, with Saddam Hussein forever providing just enough cooperation to convince our allies to give him more time?

In general, they say, Bush needs to change his emphasis: stop talking about “smoking guns” and “cooperation,” and instead spend more time demanding that Iraq account for “the thousands of tons of chemical precursors, the thousands of liters of biological warfare agents, the thousands of missing chemical munitions, the unaccounted-for Scuds missiles, and the weaponized VX poison that the United Nations has itself declared missing.” Then there’s this:

The administration should quickly share whatever intelligence it has with its allies in what Mr. Bush calls the “coalition of the willing,” so that these countries will understand we have good reason for using force to do what Saddam Hussein will not do and the inspectors cannot do. And it should immediately publish, even in sanitized form, the large amount of information we have already gained from earlier defections of Iraqi scientists, which was always the most valuable intelligence we could get our hands on.

Bush’s unwillingness to do this defies belief. If we don’t have the goods on Saddam, we should stop pretending we do. And if we do have the goods, we should share what we know immediately.

If the administration truly has convincing evidence of Iraqi arms programs but has not shared it with either our allies or the U.S. public, then they have needlessly sacrificed many lives for crude political gain. I hope that turns out not to be the case.

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