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A Fact Behaving Badly: The WMDs Went to Syria

(Last month--having run short on "Quotes Behaving Badly"--On Violence launched our first "Facts Behaving Badly". Check here to find all facts misbehaving.)

Extra-terrestrials don’t cause crop circles. That’s ridiculous. Obviously, Gaia, the mother earth’s mind-being, created crop circles to express her displeasure with human pollution and destruction of her environment. Duh.

What you don’t agree? “Show me the evidence,” you say. No, you show me the evidence. Prove me wrong. You can’t, because it’s impossible.

Simply put, you can’t prove a negative. So in an argument, even though one side has no evidence to support its position, the other side can’t prove them wrong. (Philosophically speaking, this is tricky ground. But rest assured, the above argument is not true just because you can’t prove it false.) You can’t prove aliens haven’t visited America. You can’t prove the Loch Ness monster doesn’t exist. You can’t prove the mafia didn’t shoot JFK.

Fortunately, we don’t have to prove those things. The burden of proof is on the one making the assertion. Which brings us to our next “fact behaving badly”. In this case:

The WMDs went to Syria.

They didn’t. Or at least there is not a shred of evidence/intelligence that they did, which is the same thing. As recently as my last deployment to Iraq, I heard soldiers and contractors make this ridiculous, unprovable claim. Every time someone argues this silly “fact”, they hide behind this wonderful line, “Well, you can’t prove they didn’t go to Syria.” And you can’t prove they didn’t go to Canada.

True enough. And people smart enough to work for the government use this anti-logic all the time. In the update to the Iraq Survey Group, the Duelfer Report says, “It was unlikely that an official transfer of WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place,” but takes care to say they also can’t rule out that possibility. (Again, they probably didn’t go to Canada, but the Duelfer report can’t rule that out either.) Retired Lieutenant General James Clapper said the weapons went to Syria, though he couldn’t provide any evidence. He also said that he couldn’t prove they didn’t go there.

So instead of proving a negative, look at the gaping chasm of non-information. Consider this: in the immediate aftermath of the Iraq invasion, as the economy collapsed, and people were struggling to survive, not a single Iraqi informant came forward to tell investigators where the Iraqi WMD had gone inside Syria. Not a single, credible (credible, as in the report yielded additional evidence) one, even though intelligence operatives were handing out thousands of dollars for information. There wasn’t a single piece of evidence found by thousands of investigators in Iraq. Of all the spies and operatives in Syria, not a single one gave credible evidence to any intelligence agency of the locations of WMD in Syria.
Maybe we are quibbling over semantics. This isn’t a fact--though many soldiers have sworn to me they knew someone who knew where the WMDs went--as much as a vicious urban legend. At a car wash, someone told Eric C he knew a Marine who “knew” the truth. All these people know/knew, and no one told President Bush.

I can’t disprove this myth. That doesn’t make it true. The burden of proof is on the accuser. And with a gaping chasm of non-information, it is as likely the WMDs went to Canada as Syria--at least the evidence is the same.

If you want to know more about this, check out theses resources:

FactCheck.org on WMDs  and Wikipedia’s quotes from The Duelfer Report.

(Two, only two, defected Iraqi generals have come forward saying they know the weapons went to Syria. Neither provided U.S. intelligence with their current location; both came forward many years after the invasion. One was peddling a book, and went on The Sean Hannity Show and The Daily Show to publicize it. To be clear, during the invasion, when it would have been useful, these men were silent. When they had books being published, they came forward with this now unverifiable information, the definitional unreliable narrators. Further, one of the generals claims the WMDs were flown to Syria, which goes against most of this urban myth that says the WMD were trucked out of the country. That is what General Clapper--now the Director of National Intelligence--hinted at as well.)

eight comments

Worse yet, did you ever hear the rumor that Iraq actually had WMD in a bunker in the desert, but the media is just sitting on the story?

You’d be amazed at how many people will swear up and down—incorrectly—that this actually is the case.

I have heard that, but not as widely as the “massive convoy went to Syria, that we could see but for some reason did not blow up.” It goes back to personal motivation, what journalist wouldn’t want to uncover that story? It would make their career. Why wouldn’t Fox News cover it?

Ohhhhh…so only “two Generals” came forward to make the claim they went to Syria……So now there not “Credible” because they wrote a book…lol wow
And could you please explain why Saddam had “yellow cake” although it was documented by the U.N. (whoop-de-friggin-dooo) Do you honestly believe Saddam was planning on baking cakes with it? And do you HONESTLY believe the U.N. woulda been able to stop him had he decided to use the yellow cake in a dirty bomb….let me remind you of the UPTEEN times the U.N. proved it had no b@lls….Rwanda, Kosovo..shall we go down that road of proof of cowardice….

Chris, we’ll agree to disagree. The non-existence of WMD in Iraq is now a fact—and probably the greatest argument against action in Iran. The generals had not a single corroborating piece of evidence to support their positions. I don’t take one person’s evidence—especially when they have bias to lie.

Remember, we’ll never agree so don’t feel you have to respond.

“bias to lie” If you used that theory then everyone lies all the time.
I guess the truth will come out when we enter Syria.

Aside from that….justification for the world (not just the U.S.) to attack and dethrone Saddam was in the 300+ mass grave sites dating from 1991-present that we are STILL finding in Iraq…the grand total of murdered people by Saddam is over 1Million….matter of fact they unearthed another mass grave less than a month ago with over 1800 bodies. And lets not also forget the “torture chambers and rape rooms” for the Iraq Elite guardsmen…….

The world should be ashamed for allowing this behaviour to continue in a world we think is “civilized”….

@ Shane – We went to war because Saddam “had” WMDs. His record as a war criminal had nothing to do with the invasion. If it did, there are at least twenty other dictators America would have to invade, but we’re didn’t then, and we won’t now.

chris, you completely changed the topic. The rationale for war with Iraq was WMDs, of which the US found none. Any reasonable observer of this issue acknowledges that—mainly hyper partisan Republicans do not. Instead of backing up your case, you changed justifications, just like the US did after we invaded. As Eric said, there are plenty of terrible dictators, especially at the time of the US invasion. Hosni Mubarak was particularly bad, why didn’t we invade his country?

Also, can you send me your research on the mass graves? We want to write a post on those, but I would love to know what you are reading.

There were Nineteen Resolutoins for Military Actions in Iraq, including, Hussein’s crimes against his own people, WMDs and terrorist safe harbor.

ALL were met. The possiblity that the WMD were moved, is something people best sit up and think about, considering, the recent developments with Syria. Even, Al Jazeera aired the footage of those trucks rolling into that country that was said to be filmed, prior to, the 2003 invasion. Perhaps, part of not speaking about Syria having the WMD, now, has been of national security.

If Syria does not hold the WMD that’s the best thing and if not..well, been nice knowing you all. It’s going to be one hell of a show!