In a story apparently designed to attack the Bush administration less than a week away from the midterm elections, the New York Times has instead delivered a stunning November Surprise to the Democrats: Saddam Hussein's regime was perhaps only a year away from developing nuclear weapons at the time of the US invasion.
The story is critical of the government for posting captured Iraqi documents on the internet hoping that researchers and amateurs would translate many of them. The paper says that some of the documents pertained to Hussein's atomic program and speculates that the information could have been useful to the Iranians.
Deep within the article is this astonishing paragraph [emphasis added]:
Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990’s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.
If Hussein, who used chemical weapons against his own citizens, had remained in power he could have had a nuclear weapon three years ago. The New York Times has just destroyed three years of myth-making by anti-war activists.
Jim Geraghty sums it up nicely in National Review Online:
I'm sorry, did the New York Times just put on the front page that IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB?
Hat tip: Stop the ACLU.