Friday, July 09, 2004

How to Sex Up Your Pitch 

Don't get us wrong: "humanitarianism" and "regional change" and "access to oil" are perfectly nice reasons to go to war, but hey: if the audience wants a lecture, they can go to church on Sunday. Drab, long-winded rationales don't put fannies in the seats like NUKES! MISSILES! BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS! The bigger the threat, the bigger the box office -- just ask the lucky Iraqi exiles who sold a $200 billion dollar war mere months after taking our crash course in Creating the Villains You Love to Hate at the INC Story Clinic (A. Chalabi, proprietor):
In short order, that same group of defectors took their stories to American intelligence agents and journalists. The defectors spoke of a nation pocketed with mobile weapons laboratories, a new secret weapons site beneath a Baghdad hospital, a meeting between a member of Mr. Hussein's government and Osama bin Laden - accounts that ultimately became potent elements in Mr. Bush's case for war.

Those accusations remain unproven. In fact, Mr. Zubaidi said in interviews last week in Lebanon, the ominous claims by the defectors differed significantly from the versions that they had first related to him and his associates. Mr. Zubaidi provided his handwritten diaries from 2001 and 2002, and his existing reports on the statements originally made by the defectors.

According to the documents, the defectors, while speaking with precision about aspects of Iraqi military facilities like its stock of missiles, did not initially make some of the most provocative claims about weapons production or that an Iraqi official had met with Mr. bin Laden . . . .

Mr. Zubaidi contends that the men altered their stories after they met with senior figures in the Iraqi National Congress. Mr. Zubaidi, who acknowledged that he had a bitter split with the I.N.C. in April 2003, said officials of the group prepped the defectors before allowing them to meet with the American intelligence agents and journalists.

"They intentionally exaggerated all the information so they would drag the United States into war," Mr. Zubaidi said. "We all know the defectors had a little information on which they built big stories."

Yesterday, Nabil Musawi, one of Mr. Chalabi's deputies who met with the defectors, said that Mr. Zubaidi's assertions were "childish," and bore no relation to reality. He said it was not the role of Mr. Zubaidi or his associates to do full debriefings of the defectors. Nor was it the responsibility of the I.N.C. to grade the reliability of each defector, he said.

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