While Michael Ledeen's assessment of intelligence reform does not appear to be all wrong, his statements regarding WMDs srike me as last-ditch rationalizations at best, and bald-faced lies at worst. Okay, let's remember that Michael Ledeen suggested without irony that France and Germany were trying to get the US attacked by terrorists and that the people of the French and German governments would be willing to overthrow them for a more pro-American government:
"If this is correct, we will have to pursue the war against terror far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East, into the heart of Western Europe. And there, as in the Middle East, our greatest weapons are political: the demonstrated desire for freedom of the peoples of the countries that oppose us."
Right. And it's the countries that opposed the war in Iraq where the governments chose to take a position on the war that was opposed by ~ 80% of the population.
In any case, he makes two mistakes.
First, he assumes that "all the intelligence services of the world" agreed with us that there were WMDs. This ignores the fact that most of them were highly dependent on the US or their intelligence (link another link yet another (go to section marked document 34(I remember hearing this from several sources, that is, several editorials making this point; if a Glaivester reader could point me to more, this would be helpful)). Israel probably did an independent investigation, but come on, Israel has a vested interest in getting Saddam out of power, as long as the US stays in Iraq so that Iran's power is still balanced.
Second, he asks why people trust the Iraq Survey Group's findings (that the Silberman-Robb Commission Report's conclusion that there were no WMDs is based on) when it is drawn from the same intelligence community that failed us in the first place (whether or not there were WMDs at one point, the fact that we can't find them now indicates that there was some sort of failure, according to Ledeen, because even if there were WMDs, we weren't able to prevent them from being moved out of the country).
This assumes that the intelligence community failed because of incompetence, when in reality they were pressured and/or co-opted with ad hoc intelligence organizations such as the Office of Special Plans (also see here and here to come to the conclusion that would support the invasion, just as the commission has been pressured to cover up the fact that there was political pressure. Or maybe more likely, the committee was created with teh intention of giving the administration a whitewash (after all, the commission was appointed by President Bush).
So again Michael Ledeen claims that the weapons were moved to Iran and Syria:
"Aging readers of NRO may recall that, months before the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I wrote that WMDs were being smuggled to Iran and Syria. Others, including people on the ground, have said the same or similar things. On what basis are those hypotheses dismissed?"
On the basis that some of the strongest claims were made by parties with an interest in accusing Syria and Iran. Note this article that talks about "intelligence sources" saying that "incriminating" WMDs were transported to Lebanon in WorldNetDaily, but doesn't specify who the sources are, and this more honest editorial that talks about the sources as being Israeli. (Come on, Israel wants to destroy Hezbollah, which has a stronghold in the Bekaa valley. Israeli intelligence says that we will find the WMDs in the Bekaa Valley? So we need to remove Hezbollah from its stronghold to investigate the potential WMDs? Hmmm... wow, that's convenient). Not that there aren't others supposedly making the claim, but most of them seem to be defectors or the like who (a) aren't reliable, and who (b) don't seem to know whether or not the convoys into Syria contained WMDs. The WorldNetDaily article mentions US intelligence monitoring of convoys, and also makes some claims without attribution, but much of that is either of questionable reliability (depends on the reliability of WorldNetDaily's sources) or doesn't address the issue of whether the convoys had WMDs, or both.
Moreover, as I have stated before, I doubt that they were dismissed. That the military would deliberately obscure evidence of WMDs, contrary to its interests, is bizarre. Methinks Ledeen simply wants an excuse for us to "get tough" with Syria and Iran, which, whatever he says, will lead to full-scale war.
Let me be more succinct.
MICHAEL LEDEEN IS A LIAR.
That is all.