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Thursday, October 17, 2002

North Korea: What Did They Know, And When Did They Know It?

So the Bush Administration knew about this twelve days ago. Meanwhile, Congress was debating what to do about Iraq.

Now, I happen to think that the news that a member of Bush's "axis of evil" is cheating on past agreements in an attempt to develop nuclear weapons is vaguely relevant to the Iraq debate. I even think that it bolsters the case for the hawks - what, exactly, is the point in negotiating with unreliable, untrustworthy dictators like Saddam? And, if we think North Korea with nukes is a serious problem, shouldn't we be even more intent on preventing a similar problem in Iraq, while we still can?

But that said, how can Congress be kept in the dark? CNN gives us this:

"While the administration said it has consulted with Congress, Daschle said he had not been briefed on the matter. House Minority Leader, Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Missouri, said he had not been fully briefed on the situation, as well as Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi.

"We have not been briefed, and we have not been given any new intelligence information," Daschle said."

Now, I don't want these guys to resume the whining about "process" that took up so much time earlier this year. But we are looking for an informed debate on war and peace - let's give these people some facts.

UPDATE: The Hauser Report points us to Ted Kennedy - psychic, briefed, or just paying attention? We have this from a TNR piece describing the debate on Iraq, posted Oct. 10:

"And when senators did offer new information on the floor it was, as often as not, wrong. On Friday, for example, Ted Kennedy blurted out a startling assertion. "What about North Korea?" he roared. "They've already got nuclear weapons!" Kennedy presumably recognized his error after the fact. Thanks to an apparent airbrushing, the Congressional Record now renders Kennedy saying, "They may have nuclear weapons." (Even that isn't likely.) "

Well, as I said, maybe Ted was paying attention. Here is a Rich Lowry piece from last March, reprised yesterday at NRO:

"...Walpole is the National Intelligence Officer for Strategic and Nuclear Programs for the CIA and was there to update senators on the National Intelligence Estimate.

He calmly delivered the following blockbuster: "The Intelligence Community judged in the mid-1990s that North Korea had produced one, possibly two, nuclear weapons."

OK, the new reports do not conclude that N Korea has produced a weapon. Still, it does seem to be the logical next step.

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