16 justified words

We have noted that, in contrast to the Washington Post’s often scurvy news coverage of Iraq, its editorial page has remained fair and balanced on the subject. Yesterday, the Post editors took another look at President Bush’s 16 words about Niger. At the time of the original Washington feeding frenzy over this story, the Post cautioned that all of the relevant facts were not known. That’s still the Post’s position, but it acknowledges that, in light of the recent reports of the Butler commission and the Senate panel, there is now good reason to believe that the “16 words” were justified after all. The Post concludes its editorial with these words that we hope its news reporters will take to heart:
“The failure to find significant stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons or an active nuclear program in Iraq has caused some war opponents to claim that Iraq was never much to worry about. The Niger story indicates otherwise. Like the reporting of postwar weapons investigator David Kay, it suggests that Saddam Hussein never gave up his intention to develop weapons of mass destruction and continued clandestine programs he would have accelerated when U.N. sanctions were lifted. No, the evidence is not conclusive. But neither did President Bush invent it.”

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