or months, President Bush has been playing down the findings of David Kay, the first American arms inspector, who debunked the claim that Saddam Hussein had possessed a hoard of weapons of mass destruction ready to use at any moment. He urged Americans to wait for the verdict of Mr. Kay's successor, Charles Duelfer. That verdict is now at hand, and it only strengthens the case against Mr. Bush's main reason for waging preventive war against Iraq. Iraq was not an imminent or urgent threat, and Mr. Duelfer's report undermines the idea that it was even a "gathering threat," as Mr. Bush now routinely describes it. It more likely was a diminished power, hit hard by two wars and a decade of sanctions, that may have still harbored ambitions to develop new weaponry if the opportunity arose.
Full details of what Mr. Duelfer and his Iraq Survey Group have found will not be known until their report, almost 1,500 pages long in draft form, is approved and an unclassified version is released. But the general thrust was made clear in an article in The Times yesterday by Douglas Jehl, based on descriptions by government officials who have read all or part of the report or been briefed on it.
The central finding is the continuing lack of evidence that Iraq had any large-scale programs to make illicit weapons. We have known that, of course, ever since Mr. Kay said so late last year. read on...