(updated below - updated again - Update III)
During the radio debate I had with him last week, Frank Gaffney repeatedly insisted that the Duelfer Report (also known as the "Iraq Survey Group") -- led by President Bush's handpicked CIA weapons expert -- actually found WMDs in Iraq. Gaffney made multiple comments such as this:
The Iraq Survey Group, the guys who went in and did a forensic analysis of what was the status of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program, found -- contrary to what Glenn keeps saying -- that there was a hot production line for chemical and biological agents in Iraq, that there were plans to ramp it up when sanctions were lifted, which was imminent, and to place the products of those lines into aerosol cans and perfume sprayers for shipment to the United States and Europe. That's documented fact.
He continously insisted that the Report documented what Gaffney called the "fact of what Saddam Hussein had -- which was active production of chemical and biological weapons, albeit at low levels, with the plans to ramp them up for use as terrorist weapons against the United States and Europe."
As part of the discussion, I did not spend much time rebutting that particular absurdity because the vast bulk of Americans -- those who exist outside of Gaffney's small and ever-shrinking fringe -- know how misleading such claims are. Only the most reality-detached extremists continue to belive such things, though they are out there (see, for instance, John Hinderaker's July, 2006 claim that "about the fact that Iraq possessed WMDs, there is no doubt," uttered just weeks before even George Bush admitted, at an August Press Conference: "the main reason we went into Iraq at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't . . .").
In any event, several commenters to the post I wrote about the debate suggested that it would be a valuable exercise to document the falsity of Gaffney's WMD claims. In response, Jonathan Schwarz has now examined, and thoroughly decimated, the nakedly false assertions made by Gaffney about the Duelfer Report. Schwarz's post is superb and can be used as a definitive resource on this subject. (Willy J. Simmons adds some potent analysis here).
There simply is no such thing as a fact which is so well-established that it is immune from being denied by Bush followers. They will deny even the most documented realities. Simply compare the efforts by people like Frank Gaffney and John Hinderaker to insist that they were right about Iraqi WMDs with this account from The Washington Post about Duelfer's own conclusions:
Charles A. Duelfer, whom the Bush administration chose to complete the U.S. investigation of Iraq's weapons programs, said Hussein's ability to produce nuclear weapons had "progressively decayed" since 1991. Inspectors, he said, found no evidence of "concerted efforts to restart the program." . . .
While previous reports have drawn similar conclusions, Duelfer's assessment went beyond them in depth, detail and level of certainty. "We were almost all wrong" on Iraq, Duelfer told a Senate panel yesterday. . .
The President himself was forced to admit unambiguously that Saddam had no WMDs and the intelligence they touted on that issue was wrong. The President's chosen CIA weapons experts concluded they "were almost all wrong" with regard to pre-Iraq-war intelligence generally. Yet the Frank Gaffneys and John Hinderakers of the world continue to cling to rank fantasies in order to feed the True Believers.
Saddam had WMDs and was planning terrorist attacks on the U.S. He was an active ally of Al Qaeda. Things have been going great in Iraq for years and images of uncontrolled violence were concoted by the media in order to make Bush look bad. That really is the world they inhabit.
UPDATE: An equally superb demonstration of Gaffney's multiple false statements about the Duelfer Report is from Lieberwatch, here.
UPDATE II: C&L has the video of Frank Gaffney, on Tucker Carlson's show the other night, making the same false assertions about Iraqi WMDs. Even Carlson is incredulous at what he hears, though he does not really pursue it.
UPDATE III: Documenting the deceitful shenanigans of Frank Gaffney could really be a full-time job. Following up on Greg Mitchell's excellent examination of Gaffney's new column, which again relies upon the purported beliefs of Abraham Lincoln, Greg Sargent enterprisingly consults a historian and Lincoln expert to demonstrate just how wildly inaccurate Gaffney's claims are. In his new column, Gaffney does not appear to have relied on fabricated Lincoln quotes this time, but instead merely misrepresents both historical facts and Lincoln's views. In Gaffney's world, that is actually an improvement. It is worth underscoring here that Gaffney is one of the most well-connected, and well-funded, neoconservatives in the country.