(Washington, D.C.): Earlier today, supporters of a free, stable and prosperous Iraq claimed a small victory in the Senate's 60-39 vote to reject a Democratic proposal to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from the country. However, set against the backdrop of recent, noticeable progress toward securing Iraq - including the formation of a government and elimination of terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - the vote was far from a thorough rejection of the cut-and-run mentality encouraged by opponents of the war.
The anti-war proclivities of nearly two-fifths of the Senate on display today is even more astonishing in light of yesterday's release of declassified portions of an intelligence report which found that U.S. forces have discovered hundreds of chemical weapons munitions in Iraq over the past three years, and that even more weapons of mass destruction have yet to be uncovered.
According to the report by the National Ground Intelligence Center - a Defense Department intelligence unit: "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."
The discovery of such massive quantities of chemical weapons munitions proves conclusively that Saddam Hussein was lying when he claimed, prior to the U.S.-led invasion, to have destroyed all weapons of mass destruction, and lends support to the Bush Administration's position that such weapons in the Iraqi dictator's hands presented an intolerable threat to the United States. Moreover, the continued existence of loose WMD is further evidence that abandoning Iraq now would be tremendously irresponsible - perhaps fatally so.
As Center President Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. observes in his latest Washington Times column, however, opponents of the war have "embraced arguments or 'facts' that frequently do not stand up to scrutiny." Given this, it is not surprising that the mainstream media and its anti-war cohorts in the government have thus far attempted to ignore the NGIC's findings. If forced to confront the report, moreover, expect that crowd to simply "move the goalposts" by claiming these are not the weapons the United States went to war to eliminate.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has thus far conceded the WMD debate, perhaps believing that it must remain forward-looking if Iraq is to be secured. It must be understood, however, that public support for staying the course in Iraq is greatly diminished when opponents of the war are allowed to undermine with impunity one of the primary justifications for the invasion. It behooves the President to publicize the findings of the NGIC report in order to dispel anti-war mythology and, as Gaffney notes, "serve the public's need to understand the true nature of this conflict and its stakes."
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