Blix Wrong

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I noticed this quote yesterday. It's from the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Hans Blix says something which is just totally false:

JIM LEHRER: You said in your book that there were monumental... that's your word... monumental intelligence failures about the presence of weapons of mass destruction. What is the most monumental of all?

HANS BLIX: There are two, there are three monumental. The first one I mentioned, this was the alleged contract between Iraq and Niger on the import of raw uranium. Both the CIA and British intelligence had had that for months. It was referred to by President Bush in the State of the Union message in 2003. And the IAEA was asking to get it and they got it fairly late I think in February 2003. And it took them only a day to establish that this was a forgery. Now, I think with the intelligence agency with all their labs and their techniques, that was monumental that they had not discovered this.

In fact also, we know now that Ambassador Wilson of the U.S. had been to Niger and he had also expressed the view that this was not real. The other one was the British news of something that turned out to be a research essay by an Iraqi student at a university, and this was presented as something new, some new evidence. They had to pull it back eventually. So I think there were things that really were, in my view, rather scandalous.
The problem is, of course, that the forgeries, and what Wilson discovered in Niger, had nothing to do with the British intelligence, or what Bush referred to in his 2003 State of the Union speech.

Not that Blix necessarily should have been aware of this. This was an IAEA matter, and he was not involved in it. But he wrote about it in his book, and jeez, in the summer of 2003 -- 9 months or so before Blix said the above -- when the Wilson thing broke, I was myself questioning whether what Wilson was talking about actually related to what Bush said. Turns out, it didn't.

I wouldn't suggest this should call into question everything Blix says, but it is instructive: do not take analysis, even from experts, at face value. I trust what Iraq war critics like Blix, and Richard Clarke, and others say when they stick to the facts: the who, what, where, and when. But the how and why, I like to think for myself on.

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