November 02, 2006

JIM GERAGHTY writes: "I'm sorry, did the New York Times just put on the front page that IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB?"

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has more:

This is apparently the Times' November surprise, but it's a surprising one indeed. The Times has just authenticated the entire collection of memos, some of which give very detailed accounts of Iraqi ties to terrorist organizations. Just this past Monday, I posted a memo which showed that the Saddam regime actively coordinated with Palestinian terrorists in the PFLP as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. On September 20th, I reposted a translation of an IIS memo written four days after 9/11 that worried the US would discover Iraq's ties to Osama bin Laden.

It doesn't end there with the Times, either. In a revelation buried far beneath the jump, the Times acknowledges that the UN also believed Saddam to be nearing development of nuclear weapons. . . . The Times wanted readers to cluck their tongues at the Bush administration for releasing the documents, although Congress actually did that. However, the net result should be a complete re-evaluation of the threat Saddam posed by critics of the war. Let's see if the Times figures this out for themselves.

Kind of undercuts that whole "Bush lied about WMD" thing. Reader Eric Anondson emails: "It surely must have been a Rovian plot to somehow get the Times to admit that Iraq has a nuclear weapons program on the verge of an atomic bomb by as early as 2003... and right before an election where the Iraq War is listed as the top election concern among likely voters." (Actually, it was 1991, I believe, but this does underscore why WMD fears were reasonable, especially as Saddam was trying to restart things).

TigerHawk: "Seems that the New York Times owes Judith Miller an apology. Or at least a hat tip."

MORE: Judging from some of the delighted emails I'm getting, I need to warn people not to get too carried away -- this doesn't say that Saddam would have had a bomb in 2004. But it does say that he had all the knowledge needed to have a bomb in short order. And as we know he was looking to reconstitute his program once sanctions were ended -- and that sanctions were breaking down in 2003 -- that's pretty significant. However, perhaps even more significant, given that we knew most of the above already, is that the NYT apparently regards the documents that bloggers have been translating for months as reliable, which means that reports of Iraqi intelligence's relations with Osama bin Laden, and "friendly" Western press agencies, are presumably also reliable.