Conservatives continue to get Iraqi WMD story wrong

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By Steve Benen,

from MSNBC,

The New York Times has a powerful, front-page article today on Iraqi chemical weapons from the Saddam Hussein era. It’s an impressive piece of investigative journalism from C.J. Chivers – which the right is unwisely seizing on for reasons that don’t make sense.

The article itself doesn’t need embellishment. As Jessica Schulberg summarized, the Times’ report reveals that “between 2004-2011, American troops fighting in the Iraq War found over 5,000 chemical warheads, shells, and aviation bombs. The discoveries were never publicly disclosed by the military; U.S. soldiers who were exposed to nerve agents like sarin and mustard gas while attempting to remove conventional weapons were denied appropriate medical care and ordered to remain silent about yet another miscalculation of the Iraq War. “

The article deserves to be read and taken seriously. Some on the right, however, see a different kind of opportunity.

can appreciate why the right is still a little sensitive on this. A Republican president lied the nation into a disastrous war, the consequences of which we’re still struggling to address, based in large part on weapons stockpiles that didn’t exist. That conservatives are still searching for some kind of evidence to justify the catastrophic Bush/Cheney failure isn’t too surprising.

But today’s New York Times report does not offer the evidence the right wants to believe.

Conservatives may hope to exploit the New York Times report, but the article references pre-1991 weapons. Everything Republicans said in the lead up to the 2003 invasion is still wrong.

Indeed, a little common sense is in order – if U.S. troops had found WMD stockpiles, the Bush/Cheney administration would have said so. Indeed, they were desperate to do exactly that.

But the WMD were never found because they didn’t exist. This is no longer open to debate.

The fact that Republicans still don’t want to come to terms with this really isn’t healthy.

Schulberg added, “The existence of aging chemical weapons in Iraq was never the justification for Bush’s invasion, nor was it a secret. The secret was the harm that they were causing to U.S. troops and the subsequent failure to care for these individuals.”

There’s a real story here that warrants attention. It’s just not the story the right was hoping for.

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