Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Newsflash: Loonie Moonies continue to insist Iraq had WMD

For true!. Yes, wingnuts continue to insist that, despite all the evidence, there were WMD in Iraq!

Let me get this straight. Two straight groups of arms inspectors—one under Hans Blix before the war, and one hand-picked by George W. Bush (the Duelfer group) after the war—independently reported that Saddam Hussein neither had weapons of mass destruction nor any credible program to produce such, yet right-wing tools still insist, despite the fact that experts actually on the ground found no such thing, that such weapons must exist?

Astounding. Simply astounding.

As for those who insist that we had no way of knowing in March 2003 whether Saddam had WMD or not, two words: Hans Blix. We had CIA assets embedded with Blix (and if you don’t believe that, you’re stupider than you look). These CIA assets were reporting the same thing that Blix was reporting—that Saddam had no WMD, and that they could find no credible program on Saddam’s part for producing such. Yet the CIA, Blix, and Duelfer, all of whom were actually on the ground in Iraq, all of whom inspected every square inch that could reasonably be used to hide weapons of mass destruction, all of whom inspected every facility that could possibly be used to produce weapons of mass destruction, are all wrong, and some right-wing publisher who’s never set foot in either Syria or Iraq is right. Astounding. Simply astounding. Some people’s ability to engage in self-delusion is simply beyond belief.

But what the hey, they're Republicans. Doesn't that say it all?! That they can be members of a purported "Party of Small Government" while their Congress and President are expanding government by more than any President since FDR... well, if that hasn't caused their head to explode yet, what will?!

– BadTux the Snarky Penguin

Posted by: BadTux / 1/26/2006 04:10:00 PM  


It's amazing - I keep hearing that argument over and over around the watercooler, and via arguing with Right wing idiots on my blog as well.

A lot of times they're referring to the half filled canister of nerve gas that was found almost 2 years ago...that old, leftover munition from the Iran/Iraq war.

The soldiers who disposed of it had a bit of nausea and small Al Franken says, "weapons of slight discomfort."

So Righties will say, "see, we DID find weapons," as if this discarded 20 year old canister was the exact evidence we needed to go to war.
# posted by Jeremy : 26/1/06 7:49 PM  

Even before the war, after Hans Blix's February 2003 report I was almost certain that Saddam had no WMD.

In case someone wonders why I’m so sure that Saddam didn’t have WMD and would require actual proof (in the form of tons of WMD) before changing my mind: It’s because I ignored all the talking head BS, and went to the math. Talking heads lie. The math doesn’t. The math says that it takes a certain amount of infrastructure, a certain amount of economic activity, to create chemical and nuclear weapons. The statistical data shows that Saddam’s Iraq, strangled by UN sanctions, did not have this. It took close to 20% of the GDP of the United States in 1944 to create two nuclear weapons. Iraq’s entire GDP was less than 1/10th of what was necessary to create nuclear weapons. It takes at least 1940’s technology to create nuclear weapons. Looking at the economic output of pre-war Iraq, it appears that Iraq was basically operating at a 1920’s level, barely capable of producing crude steel and concrete structures.

That said, before Blix launched inspections, I was with everybody else who said that Saddam probably had WMD. But once Blix visited every chemical plant in Iraq and verified that none of them had been modified to create chemical weapons (you can NOT produce useful amounts of chemical weapons in your basement, folks—it requires infrastructure, basically a pesticide factory that has been heavily modified), and once the IAEA had criss-crossed Iraq with sensitive radiation detection material that would have picked up any program that Iraq could create with the technology at their disposal (Iraq did NOT have the capability to produce seals capable of 100% stopping leakage of uranium hexaflouride gas, which is a critical step in producing nuclear weapons from uranium, and there was no nuclear reactor to produce plutonium for a plutonium-based bomb), it was clear that there simply was not sufficient infrastructure left in Iraq to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.

My day job is as a manufacturing engineer with experience in the petrochemical industry, so perhaps I was looking at it from a different perspective compared to someone who has never been involved in the chemicals industry. When I was reading Blix’s reports, I was looking for infrastructure. Blix found no infrastructure. No infrastructure means no weapons. If I can reach these conclusions, the CIA certainly could—it just requires consulting with any credible chemicals engineer who knows anything about manufacturing petrochemicals (mustard agent) or pesticides (VX, Sarin, etc., which are all organophosphates). Heck, it doesn’t even require a chemical engineering degree. Any bright high school student who took AP Chemistry knows enough about reaction chains to do the math.

Politicians lie—all politicians, not just Republicans, Democrats do it too, regularly and often. But math doesn’t. Math says that Saddam had no real WMD program in the post-Gulf War era. It’s possible that there were some pre-war materials left over, but just as likely that they were destroyed with the rest during the initial round of UN inspections, and by this time they’d be so degraded as to be useless anyhow—long-chain organophosphates decompose under high temperatures, which defines any place in Iraq during the summertime, meaning that any VX or Sarin is long-since decomposed to uselessness. Mustard agent is more stable, in the dry heat of Iraq it could last a decade or more, but not useful as a terrorist weapon for reasons I’ll let you look up yourself (hint: it takes a lot of mustard agent to be dangerous, it was used in the Iran-Iraq war primarily as an area denial weapon where thousands of shells filled with mustard agent were dropped onto a 1 mile area of the front where the Iranians were attacking). As for the pre-war nuclear program, all its materials were under IAEA seal and none of them useful for producing a weapon.

In short, I ignored the professional liars (politicians and their mouthpieces in the media) and went straight to the infrastructure issue: what does it take to produce chemical weapons, and does Saddam have what it takes? I used science to see that there was no “there” there. I do not believe that there was any knowledgable chemicals engineer in America who read the Blix reports who would believe that Iraq in 2003 was in any way a credible danger to America and Americans. Unfortunately, nobody listens to us engineers when they’re buying stuff, they only listen to the marketing guys (i.e. the professional liars)... and the Bush Administration’s marketing guys are very, VERY good.

– Badtux the Engineer Penguin
# posted by BadTux : 26/1/06 8:27 PM  

The other day, I was trying to explain to a computer programmer what "cognitive dissonance" is, but I just couldn't think of a good enough example to illustrate the concept. Now, however..
# posted by marie antoinette : 27/1/06 9:07 AM  

Also funny is that Syria has its own chemical weapons. They don't need Iraqi chemical weapons. Why would Iraq send chemical weapons to Syria? That's like sending ice to Eskimos!

But hey, wingnuttery is about shuddering in fear of dusky brown folks, not about logic and reason. Alrighty, then!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
# posted by BadTux : 27/1/06 9:39 AM  

That they can be members of a purported "Party of Small Government" while their Congress and President are expanding government by more than any President since FDR... well, if that hasn't caused their head to explode yet, what will?!

The third temple being built, and nothing happening but a whole lot of people getting very, very angry.
# posted by StealthBadger : 28/1/06 8:05 PM  

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