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The Call for Patience in Iraq Weapons Search

June 11, 2003

Gary Schmitt, executive director of Project for the New American Century ("Be Patient, Keep Looking," Opinion, June 8), joins Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, national security advisor Condoleezza Rice and a rising tide of conservative commentators defending the Bush administration's reasons for going to war. Too bad they're all too late and off the mark.

We were sold the war on the grounds that Saddam Hussein had masses of weapons of mass destruction and was aiming to use them against us or hand them off to Al Qaeda so soon that we could not wait for United Nations inspectors to find them. As proof, Powell trotted out photographs of factories and other facilities. So the fact that WMD haven't been found yet by U.N. or U.S. inspectors -- along with the widely reported errors in Powell's "proof" -- is strong evidence that we were misled into this war. Our leaders cannot excuse themselves by claiming that Iraq had years to hide weapons that Powell claimed to know all about last February.

Everyone in the world knew that the U.S. was going to invade Iraq and topple Hussein regardless of what the rest of the world said. And even if we weren't misled about the WMD, there's still the pesky matter of that connection to Al Qaeda. Without it the administration's case for war fails, but only the flimsiest shreds of evidence have ever been offered for it.

Jeremy Anderson

Redlands

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Re Schmitt's column: Oh, the irony! Whether it turns out Hussein had weapons programs or not, the reason the war was unnecessary is because U.N. weapons inspectors were in place when President Bush decided to start shooting, ignoring reasonable minds who cautioned: "Be patient, keep looking." If it wasn't too late to stop the war I'd be thrilled the right wing had finally come around to advocating patience.

Jeff Vaughn

Encino

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If you discover 50,000 or more massacred Iraqis with bullets in their bodies, buried in mass graves, do those bullets qualify as weapons of mass destruction?

Fred E. Stemrich

Claremont

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Your June 6 front-page photo showed anxious soldiers, weapons leveled, searching for snipers as they patrolled an Arabic shopping district. They could have been Israeli soldiers in a Palestinian town, but they were not. They were Americans in Fallouja, Iraq. Congratulations, President Bush. We now have our own West Bank.

Barry Gold

Los Angeles

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