FOOL'S GOLD. ...

FOOL'S GOLD. Folks may remember the newly declassified discoveries of WMDs being touted by Rick Santorum, Curt Weldon, and others. The haul amounts to about 500 munitions which include sarin and mustard gas components and they are very, very scary. At least if you're a common household insect. That, at least, is the opinion of folks who actually know what they're talking about. Salon's Michael Scherer went by the congressional hearings meant to ascertain the potency of these armaments. The testimony, if it weren�t disproving the lies that led us into war, would've been funny. David Kay, the nation's top weapons inspector, explained that:

As far back as September 2004, the CIA had disclosed the discovery of the old chemical munitions from Iraq's war with Iran. The CIA also explained that these weapons were not the ones the Bush administration had used to justify the invasion of Iraq. What's more, Kay said, the decades-old sarin nerve gas was probably no more dangerous than household pesticides -- and far more likely to degrade at room temperature. "In terms of toxicity, sir," Kay told Weldon at one point, "I suspect in your house, and I know in my house, I have things that are more toxic than sarin produced from 1984 to 1988."

True to form, Weldon yelled at him. And the hearings got no better from there. Two Defense Intelligence Agency experts came to testify, explaining that the munitions were too corroded to be of use, and their embedded chemical weaponry was probably inextricable. The Committee's Republicans, somewhat pathetically, were reduced to protesting that these weapons do, indeed, fit the "category" of chemical weapons, even if they were no longer useable. Watching all this, Ike Skelton, the ranking Democrat, mocked his colleagues by comparing them to prospectors who come across a shiny nugget of fool's gold. "Well, old-timer," Skelton said, "that's a piece of pyrite." He then read aloud "a list of the vast quantities of chemical weapons that the CIA, and the Bush administration, had expected to find in Iraq. This laundry list, as described in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, included between 100 and 500 metric tons of chemical weapons agents, most of which had been allegedly produced after 1991. As Skelton put it, 'The goalposts seem to have been moved.'"

--Ezra Klein

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