For anyone who cared to look at the issue logically, it was obvious that the question of Saddam’s putative weapons of mass destruction would be decided on day one of the war. As I said, the day before the war started,
the “best” time for Saddam to use them is before the US attack commences, which means almost immediately … If, in the face of an invasion aimed at killing him or seizing him for a war crimes trial, Saddam still refrains from using WMDs, only two conclusions are possible:
(a) there were no weapons; or
(b) they were not, even in the most drastic circumstances, a threat to the US
This is clear enough, but still, some reasonable people might have taken a little longer to be convinced, and, as we’ve seen, there’s still the possibility of a leftover test-tube in a fridge somewhere. But after six months, anyone who continues to think that illegal weapons in working order are going to be discovered is revealing more about their own psychology than about the real world. What then, is to be said about the report that Polish troops had discovered four French Roland missiles, manufactured in 2003 and delivered to Iraq at a time when massive US forces were already surrounding the country, and when the capture of such missiles would have utterly discredited the French government?
This story was so unlikely that any rational person would have dismissed it out of hand, especially in the presence of a clear alternative explanation, that the missiles had been delivered before the imposition of sanctions in 1990* , and the Poles just got the dates wrong (as they subsequently admitted). In its combination of wish fulfilment and total implausibility, it was on a par with the various rumours that Jews/Muslims/highly placed Americans had been tipped off before September 11 and stayed away from the World Trade Center.
So, who fell for it? As far as I can tell, a large proportion of warbloggerdom bought the story and hardly any debunked it.
At the top of the list, there’s, Instapundit, LGF, samizdata and Kevin Donahue
Google reveals so many suckers for this story that it’s impossible to list them all, but I estimate the number must be into the hundreds, even excluding those who reproduced the story without comment. A few linked to the subsequent retraction, but mostly in a way that failed to admit that the original report had been completely falsified. For example, Instapundit is still suggesting that the Polish retraction is part of a coverup.
Hat-tip to Roger Ailes whose link to Instapundit I followed.
*That is, in the days when Saddam was “a mass murderer, but our mass murderer”.