Other Views: How believable is it that looters stole Saddam's weapons?
Dewayne Wickham Other Views
WASHINGTON -- As excuses go, this one has got to be the presidential equivalent of "the dog ate my homework."
During his weekly radio address a week ago, President Bush hinted that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction -- the ones he used as justification for invading Iraq -- might have been carted off by thieves.
That's right, the "500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent" Bush told the nation back in January that Saddam possessed in violation of United Nations sanctions, plus nearly "30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents," might have been stolen by some petty crooks.
"For more than a decade, Saddam Hussein went to great lengths to hide his weapons from the world," Bush said in his address. "And in the regime's final days, documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned. Yet all who know the dictator's history agree that he possessed chemical and biological weapons and that he used chemical weapons in the past."
In other words, the president wants us to believe that looters have foiled the efforts of thousands of U.S. troops to find Saddam's nasty weapons of mass destruction.
I've got another explanation for what happened to the stuff -- several, in fact.
It's all stored in a warehouse in Area 51, that supersecret U.S. military base in the Nevada desert where space creatures that fell into U.S. hands are thought to be hidden away.
A bit far-fetched?
Well, how about this? The weapons were blown to bits by the bunker-busting bombs that were hurled at the underground hideout where U.S. intelligence sources said Saddam was holed up in the opening moments of the war.
Still not convinced?
Well, what about this? All the prewar talk about Saddam having weapons that threatened this country and our allies was a political ruse. It was an embellished charge that the Bush administration used to scare and enrage the American public.
While Saddam might have had weapons of mass destruction at some point, the intelligence reports that the CIA and other U.S. spy agencies produced were less than conclusive about what he possessed when Bush ordered a pre-emptive attack on Iraq. But the president was determined to topple from power the man he believes tried to kill his daddy and was willing to say whatever he thought would rally the American public behind his decision to go to war.
You don't believe this either?
You think I'm just a wacko liberal who's out to defame Bush -- that I manufactured the scenarios about the mad scientists and bunker-busting bombs just to make my charge of a political ruse more believable? You don't think Bush would ever deceive the American public?
You're willing to bet a year's salary that since Bush said Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction, the Butcher of Baghdad must have had huge stockpiles of the stuff somewhere inside Iraq when the war started?
And as for why these weapons can't be found now, you think Bush's suggestion that looters stole it all is the believable explanation?
DeWayne Wickham, a columnist for Gannett News Service, appears on this page periodically.