Kay fires a blank in weapons hunt

Well, well, well... it looks like this "surprise" that Kay, Bush and Rice kept talking about was that there is even less evidence for WMD in Iraq than virtually anyone expected.

How much less? As the Independent put it, "1,200 weapons inspectors spent 90 days in Iraq. The exercise cost $300m. And the number of weapons found? 0".

To be fair, Kay did find some things - apparently, Saddam still "wanted to obtain nuclear weapons". Well, that's something, I suppose. But really - is this what America has come to? Invading countries because some dictator is sitting around fantasizing about having a Bomb or two?

To digress for a moment: here's a part of Kay's report that probably won't be getting much attention:
The environment in Iraq remains far from permissive for our activities, with many Iraqis that we talk to reporting threats and overt acts of intimidation and our own personnel being the subject of threats and attacks. In September alone we have had three attacks on ISG facilities or teams: The ISG base in Irbil was bombed and four staff injured, two very seriously; a two person team had their vehicle blocked by gunmen and only escaped by firing back through their own windshield; and on Wednesday, 24 September, the ISG Headquarters in Baghdad again was subject to mortar attack.
Sounds like someone isn't being a team player on the "everything-is-fine-and-dandy-in-Iraq" line. Why didn't Kay stress all the good things his team found in Iraq - like "bustling bazaars" and "soccer fields"? Clearly, people like Kay hate America and are contributing to US soldiers being killed.

Anyway, back to the report: it turns out that Kay's findings on Iraq's supposed nuclear program have some flaws - they aren't suppported by any evidence:
"The (Kay) report is filled with the use of the words 'belief' and 'may' and 'could have' and these sorts of things," the nuclear expert told Reuters.

The source also questioned Kay's reliance on testimony from senior Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission and high-level Ba'ath Party official Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Sa'id, who was killed at a Baghdad roadblock by occupation forces on April 8.

In his statement to U.S. lawmakers, presented behind closed doors Thursday, Kay said: "Sa'id began several small and relatively unsophisticated research initiatives that could be applied to nuclear weapons development."

Calling that limited allegation "pretty pathetic," the nuclear expert close to the IAEA added that since Sa'id could no longer be questioned, his testimony should be treated with more than a grain of salt.
But none of these problems - no WMD, no solid evidence on any plans to resume weapons programs, nothing - didn't stop Bush from hailing the report as vindication of all his pre-war claims:
...President George W. Bush claimed a report that weapons of mass destruction had not been found in the country actually buttressed Washington's case for toppling Saddam Hussein.

... Bush insisted that Kay's report proved Saddam was "a danger to the world" and buttressed the US case for war.

"He's saying Saddam Hussein was a threat, a serious danger," Bush said, before leaving for a day-long fundraising swing.

Finally, a little background on Kay:
What appealed to the White House was not just Mr Kay's experience, but his distrust of the Saddam Hussein regime. And he had long given up on the UN inspection body, Unscom. Even in 1994, after he had left the IAEA, Mr Kay was making arguments the Bush administration used to justify the war.

"There is no ultimate success that involves Unscom. It's got to be a change of regime. It's got to be a change of Saddam," Mr Kay wrote at the time.
For some reason, I don't think that the right-wing's ideological commissars will be bothered about Kay's "political motivation" nearly as much as they are about Wilson's.

See also: Abu Aardvark and Juan Cole.

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