Oak Ridge

Today, the president gave a speech in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, proclaiming once again that the invasion was the right thing to do:

Faced with polls that show many believe the terror threat against them has increased due to the Iraq war, Bush argued that wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and al Qaeda have made them safer, as has diplomacy that led Libya to surrender its weapons of mass destruction programs.

“Today because America has acted, and because America has led, the forces of terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat, and America and the world are safer,” Bush told employees at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where components of Libya’s nuclear program are being stored. [Emphasis mine]

“Oak Ridge National Laboratory” rings a bell — where have I heard of that before? In this post, about a 60 Minutes II interview of former Iraqi WMD expert Greg Thielmann, who said this:

Powell said: “Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb. He is so determined that he has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries even after inspections resumed.”

“This is one of the most disturbing parts of Secretary Powell’s speech for us,” says Thielmann … “Experts at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the scientists who enriched uranium for American bombs, advised that the tubes were all wrong for a bomb program…It turned out the tubes’ dimensions perfectly matched an Iraqi conventional rocket.”

Houston Wood was a consultant who worked on the Oak Ridge analysis of the tubes. He watched Powell’s speech, too. “…I was angry at that,” says Wood, who is among the world’s authorities on uranium enrichment by centrifuge. He found the tubes couldn’t be what the CIA thought they were. They were too heavy, three times too thick and certain to leak.

That Oak Ridge. The one where the scientists said that parts of the administration’s pre-war WMD claims were nonsense. I guess I’ll say this for the president: it took some gumption to go to Oak Ridge and reassert the WMD line. Of course, the WMD story has now devolved from “WMD” to “WMD related program activities” to “the capability to produce WMD.”


P.S. Here’s the relevant part of Bush’s speech today:

In fact, according to former weapons inspector David Kay, Iraq’s weapons programs were elaborately shielded by security and deception operations that continued even beyond the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom. So I had a choice to make: Either take the word of a madman, or defend America. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)

Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq. We removed a declared enemy of America, who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder, and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take.