The Bait and Switch Program

Seriously, there is a concerted effort to pull a major switcharoo on the American public by appending the word “program” to the phrase “weapons of mass destruction”. The latest example comes from Pat Roberts, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman (R-Kansas), in a story titled “Senate intel chairman suggests proof coming on Iraqi WMD“, but with the subtitle “Distinction drawn between program and actual weapons”. Here’s the key sentence from the story:

Just back from a trip to Iraq, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, suggested proof is coming soon that deposed leader Saddam Hussein had a WMD program that could have turned out an operational weapon on short notice.

In an effort to keep you from being fooled, I visited

pro·gram n

1: a system of projects or services intended to meet a public need; “he proposed an elaborate program of public works”; “working mothers rely on the day care program” [syn: programme]

2: a series of steps to be carried out or goals to be accomplished; “they drew up a six-step plan”; “they discussed plans for a new bond issue” [syn: plan, programme]

3: (computer science) a sequence of instructions that a computer can interpret and execute; “the program required several hundred lines of code” [syn: programme, computer program, computer programme]

4: a course of academic studies; “he was admitted to a new program at the university” [syn: course of study, curriculum, syllabus]

5: a radio or television show; “did you see his program last night?” [syn: broadcast, programme]

6: a performance (or series of performances) at a public presentation; “the program lasted more than two hours” [syn: programme]

7: a document stating the aims and principles of a political party; “their candidate simply ignored the party platform”; “they won the election even though they offered no positive program” [syn: platform, political platform, political program] 8: an announcement of the events that will occur as part of a theatrical or sporting event; “you can’t tell the players without a program” [syn: programme]

Clearly, definitions one and two are the only ones relevant to the WMD issue. I boldfaced important parts of the definitions–parts that highlight the fact that “program” refers to a plan of action, not an action that has already occured. A WMD “program”, but without any extant WMD, may in fact be a valid justification for a war, but as a justification for the Operation Iraqi Freedom War, it’s a non sequitur. The war we actually just had, as opposed to some other hypothetical war, was explicity premised upon actual, existing, WMD. Billmon’s list of pre and post war quotes from administration officials, including the President, is an invaluable reference. Go print it out, make copies, and hand them to anyone who shows signs of falling for the bait-and-switch program. Here’s a typical example, if somewhat terse:

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
–Dick Cheney, Vice President, 8/26/2002.


P.S. There may in fact be WMD hidden somewhere in Iraq, but even if found, that does not justify Republicans’ willful attempts to mislead the public by conflating actual Weapons with a “WMD program”.