I guess this story made so small a splash that some of my commenters are completely ignorant of it: the New York Times revealed two weeks ago that Saddam was less than a year away from having nuclear weapons.

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

Of course the NYT has framed this as a hit-piece against President Bush, but the fact of the matter is that these documents completely vindicate the pre-war claims about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. As Power Line says, Bush just can't win with the media, but don't let the paper's partisanship blind you to the bare facts of the matter.

The defining characteristic of partisan attacks on President Bush has been their unthinking and indiscriminate nature. For example, Bush is to blame for not halting the development of nukes by Iran and North Korea, but he's also to blame for toppling Saddam Hussein due in part to his concern that Saddam was interested in and capable of developing nukes. Critics point to Iran's rise as evidence that Bush misplaced his focus on Iraq, but they don't consider how Saddam would have reacted to Iranian nuclear progress.

The New York Times now has carried unthinking Bush-bashing to a point beyond caricature. Today, as Tiger Hawk notes, it quotes with apparent approval "experts" who say that Saddam was as little as a year away from building an atom bomb. The Times does so in order to show that the Bush administration acted recklessly when it published captured Iraqi documents that describe that country's WMD programs, because those documents might be used by another country in furtherance of building WMD.

Did the Times just say that Saddam's Iraq was a year away from building a nuclear weapon? I guess so. Good thing Saddam's no longer in power.

So, just in case anyone missed it the second time through:

According to the New York Times, when we invaded Iraq Saddam Hussein was less than a year away from having nuclear weapons.



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