Good One at Bartcop

There's a good one over at Bartcop.

An Amplifier Of Our Own

Michael Finley's weblog worldgonewrong amplifies on something I wrote recently about the need for a "left wing" Message Amplification Infrastructure to counteract the "Wurlitzer" of the right. (I wrote something here as well.) Also, the watch weblog addresses a related issue a the piece titled Framing the Message. Please read these two pieces. Ruminate This and Wealth Bondage have also written repeatedly on this subject. (Bloggers -- Please let me know if I missed you and I'll add you to this list.) (Update - Digby at Hullabaloo was writing this while I was woprking on the piece you are reading.)

I am glad to see more weblogs writing about this issue of forming an organization that works to move people toward a more progressive perspective. It is so important to spread the word, and get people talking about the need for this. If you look at why the right has become so powerful and successful you see that they have a well-coordinated and well-funded web of organizations that pump out carefully crafted, coordinated right-wing propaganda to the masses, following long-term strategies, slowly moving public attitudes to the right, thereby generating UNDERLYING SUPPORT for their overall ideology. This is not about just PR and advertising for particular current issues, this is about the long-term ever-ongoing push of their overall ideological framework -- slowly pushing the public ever onward to the right with a steady drip, drip, drip of messaging. The messages are pounded out day after day, through books, magazine articles, talking points read by talk show hosts, TV pundits, newspaper commentaries, and many other outlets. The resulting shift of general underlying public attitudes then translates into ready-to-go support for their issues, their organizations, and finally, into votes for their politicians. THIS is how they have done it, and this is how we can do it, too.

The solution - the way to win our country back - is to develop an infrastructure of our own that works to change underlying public attitudes in a general way, thereby supplying support that strengthens and reinforces progressive and moderate organizations, issues, and leaders in general.

Here's a brief description of the goal of the Commonweal Institute, that I sent to someone just this morning:
Commonweal is a think tank/communications organization that will work to bring positive progressive/moderate messages to the broad general public, working to change underlying attitudes. Think of Commonweal as a Heritage Foundation of the left.

Commonweal will generate ongoing, long-term, thing-tank-based, strategic messaging specially developed for specific target audiences using metaphorical analysis, linguistic translation, aimed at changing underlying attitudes of the general public.
Commonweal is an organization working to help the public understand and support progressive and moderate positions in general, bringing them back from the right, and thereby bringing support for our (moderates and progressives) organizations, issues and leaders. This is the component that is missing from "our side's" approach to reaching our goals. This is "infrastructure" because this general issue work, directed at moving the general public away from the right in general, will underlie and support the work of all kinds of other organizations and leaders. And these organizations and leaders will be able to use the work of Commonweal, getting talking points and other messaging that has been developed by messaging and communication experts. To put it in a simpler way - if that rumored liberal talk-radio network gets started, Commonweal will give them things to say that is put together in ways that resonate with the general public.

Take a look at the credentials of the communications specialists on Commonweal's advisory board. Specifically, people like George Lakoff, Laurie Dorfman, Efrain Fuentes, Celinda Lake, Harvey Gotliffe, Geoffrey Nunberg, Paul Ray, Brooke Warrick, David Zucker, and Joan Blades. This will help you understand the nature of what they mean by "communications organization." (The Framing the Message piece over at the watch discusses the works of George Lakoff.)

Here's the endorsement Commonweal Institute recently received from House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi:
"In these challenging times, we need an advocacy think tank like Commonweal Institute to communicate our principles and programs in ways that will resonate with the broad public and empower citizens to take a more active role in our democracy. Commonweal takes a strategic approach to advancing issues in a way that will help decision-makers be proactive in confronting the challenges of the future."
From Jim Hightower:
"It's always good to put your brain in gear before you put your mouth in motion. The folks at the Commonweal Institute do the heavy mental lifting so agitators like me can arm ourselves on the front lines of the ideological battles taking place every day in America. For too long progressives have walked fearful of their shadows, whimpering and whining about what's wrong and fighting amongst themselves over crumbs. With the help of the Commonweal Institute, that time is over."
Congressman Mike Honda:
"Moderate and progressive members of Congress need a substantial resource that can develop public support for our whole range of issues in a timely fashion, and defend our gains from right wing attacks. The Commonweal Institute is positioned to be that organization. I hope to see them grow quickly."
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich
"America needs a true marketplace of ideas, not a one-sided monologue by the right. At a time when airwaves and emails are filled with conservative voices, the Commonweal Institute is more important than ever."
Imagine a public environment where people trying to bring environmental or peace issues to the public's attention, or running for office, don't have to start from scratch explaining why it is good to support strengthening community, protecting the environment, helping the poor, etc.! Imagine if each of us didn't have to constantly be on the defensive, fighting the widespread ideological nonsense spouted by Rush Limbaugh, before we even get a chance to start talking about what we believe in. Wouldn't it be nice to have an organization doing that for you? Working in the background to improve the public's attitudes about progressive/moderate ideals? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to be PROUD to say you're a "liberal" or a "moderate" or a "lefty?" It isn't up to the Democrats or the Greens or moderate Republicans to change people's underlying attitudes - politicians RESPOND to the public, and it is a mistake to blame them for what is going on or rely on them to fix it.

Here is what I am trying to say today. This "infrastructure" concept is the solution that I have come to believe is the answer to the problems we face, and I think that anyone engaging in a comprehensive analysis of what is going on will also come to this conclusion. But this is a somewhat complicated issue, and it seems to take some time to understand. As more of us discuss what is going on and how the right has moved the public over time, and talk about the need for this approach, more people understand what we're saying and come to agree. And different and better ways to explain the concept will surface.

Bloggers - please write about this. People - please talk to people about this. Funders - please fund this. It may be the most worthy cause.


President Dean

Presidential Candidate Howard Dean has a piece over at Common Dreams today, Bush: It's Not Just His Doctrine That's Wrong. Here's how it begins:
When Congress approved the President’s authorization to go to war in Iraq – no matter how well-intentioned – it was giving the green light to the President to set his Doctrine of preemptive war in motion. It now appears that Iraq was just the first step. Already, the Bush Administration is apparently eyeing Syria and Iran as the next countries on its target list. The Bush Doctrine must be stopped here.
Go read more.

And here's where to find his official weblog.

Look Busy

Over at Liberal Oasis, Look Busy.

Only Donors To The Party Need Apply

The construction contracts for "rebuilding Iraq" are being awarded a special way. A company is not even allowed to bid on a project unless invited.
According to the Centre for Responsive Politics, the invited bidders together contributed almost $3.6m during the current election cycle, mostly to the Republicans. The amounts, though individually not large, are part of the process of ensuring a seat at the table, said Charles Tiefer, professor of law at Baltimore University and an expert in government contracting.
The process of ensuring a seat at the table -- money to The Party.

The Republican Crony Club. This is flat-out, blatant, in-your-face corruption -- and if you complain you are branded as a traitor to the country. And there is nothing you can do about it; there is no one but Party cronies in any kind of position to investigate this sort of thing. This should be spoken of by every single progressive elected official until every member of the public is informed! The right did that under the direction of Newt Gingrich. But look where that got them.

Redlining America

There is a good piece over at Black Commentator, exploring the possible economic consequences of Bush alienating the world.
Only a fool would not assume that last weekend's St. Petersburg summit of Germany, France and Russia was not consumed with the nuts and bolts of erecting defenses against American geopolitical aggression. And only foolish heads of state would admit it. Every actor in each emerging or mature economy is compelled to pursue alternatives to doing business with America, the rogue state that recognizes no rules but its own declarations. China's economy has surpassed Japan's and remains a command system, able to move as a body to favor or disfavor the United States if her political will is tested.

The redlining of the U.S. has begun. Like the banker who smiles broadly as he denies that such a thing as redlining exists, then offers his card and his sincerest Good Luck, the world can simply pretend that nothing hostile to U.S. interests is occurring. The effect will be as devastating as redlining the ghetto, a place that is depressed because nothing good happens there.


Was The Museum Looting Planned?

Take a look at this story in London's [Correction - Glasgow's] Sunday Herald, from April 6, US accused of plans to loot Iraqi antiques. (Hint - the museum was looted after April 6.) There is a reason that Mike Malloy, on his radio show, talks about "The Bush Crime Family". From the Sunday Herald story:
FEARS that Iraq's heritage will face widespread looting at the end of the Gulf war have been heightened after a group of wealthy art dealers secured a high-level meeting with the US administration.
It has emerged that a coalition of antiquities collectors and arts lawyers, calling itself the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP), met with US defence and state department officials prior to the start of military action to offer its assistance in preserving the country's invaluable archaeological collections.

The group is known to consist of a number of influential dealers who favour a relaxation of Iraq's tight restrictions on the ownership and export of antiquities. Its treasurer, William Pearlstein, has described Iraq's laws as 'retentionist' and has said he would support a post-war government that would make it easier to have antiquities dispersed to the US.
News of the group's meeting with the government has alarmed scientists and archaeologists who fear the ACCP is working to a hidden agenda that will see the US authorities ease restrictions on the movement of Iraqi artefacts after a coalition victory in Iraq.
Now, combine that report with this, from CNN:
They now believe, because of some of the evidence that they have found, that some of the items were taken [by art and cultural] professionals. Among other things they found were glass cutters that they said are not sold in Iraq. They are looking into that.
Keep in mind that the Pentagon was fully aware of the need to protect these treasures, and had promised to do so.
"I thought I was given assurances that sites and museums would be protected," Gibson said. Instead, even with U.S. forces firmly in control of Baghdad last week, looters breached the museum, trashed its galleries, burned its records, invaded its vaults and smashed or carried off thousands of artifacts dating from the founding of ancient Sumer around 3,500 B.C. to the end of Islam's Abbasid Caliphate in 1258 A.D.
So, they promised to protect the museum, but when the looting was happening they instead refused. Meanwhile professionals from outside Iraq were ready to enter the museum and take what they wanted.

Does this sound like the looting of the museum was planned and coordinated with Bush officials? Would this really be a surprise?

Thanks to Cursor, and especially, pfaffenBlog. Please go read pfaffenBlog's much more thorough look at this!

Thursday Update - San Jose Mercury News, Experts: Looters Had Keys to Iraqi Vaults:
"It looks as if part of the looting was a deliberate planned action," said McGuire Gibson, a University of Chicago professor and president of the American Association for Research in Baghdad. "They were able to take keys for vaults and were able to take out important Mesopotamian materials put in safes."
"I have a suspicion it was organized outside the country, in fact I'm pretty sure it was," said Gibson. He added that if a good police team was put together, "I think it could be cracked in no time."
It really looks like there's something to this! One problem, however, where the guy says, "if a good police team was put together" -- fat chance the Bush administration will want to investigate.


I love visiting skimble. Always good stuff there.

Who's Your Daddy?

I think "Who's Your Daddy?" is a great name for a weblog. tendentious says it's "relentlessly stupid!"

Who is right? Leave a comment.

Update - he informs me he meant that I am "relentlessly stupid!" Leave a comment.

The Wurlizter

Go read about the Wurlitzer at worldgonewrong.

SARS Deaths - Uh Oh

I have been reading this report over at The Agonist. It looks like the SARS death rate is higher than we have been thinking. To sum up -- we have ben comparing the total number of reported cases to the current number of deaths. The problem is that a SARS case shows up and is reported 1-3 weeks before death, so we really should be comparing the number of deaths with the number of cases reported 1-3 week previous. To understand this, hypothetically suppose the number of deaths is 100 and the number of reported cases is 2000. That makes it appear that the death rate is 5%. But if these 100 deaths represent 1000 SARS cases 2 weeks back, then the death rate is really 10%. Go read the report.

Update, from the report:
Close personal contact or being directly in front of a person with SARS, who is coughing or sneezing, is likely the most common way that SARS spreads. SARS can likely be transmitted by other means, and these are under investigation.

"Coronavirus, when it causes the common cold, is most commonly transmitted by hand," said Dr David Heymann, of the World Health Organisation.

Worries about airborne transmission seem unfounded. Droplet spread is more likely, with fomite spread (transfer by objects) being possible.

There is an interesting current theory about the ‘Amoy Gardens apartment complex’ cluster of cases. The speculation is that feces (containing coronavirus particles) leaked from a broken sewage pipe, causing puddles. The victims walked through the puddles, to their apartments. When they got home, they took off the shoes (contaminating their hands) and then ate or touched their eyes, noses, or mouths before washing their hands.

Wash your hands, a lot!
Wash your hands, a lot! Start making it a habit now.


Repeal the 22nd Amendment

Something else I was going to write about -- the Republicans have introduced a resolution to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. This is the amendment that limits Presidents to two terms. (Think Clinton in 04.) But I see that Blah3 is covering this, so go take a look. (Scroll to "While you weren't looking....")

Preventative War to Prevent Just What Exactly?

I was going to write about the term "preventative war" when there really was nothing we were preventing. Iraq's military obviously was not a serious threat to anyone. (The administration knew this, saying in advance that conquering Iraq would be a "cakewalk.") Iraq obviously did not use chemical or biological weapons during the war. And so far not so much as a small canister of tear gas has been found. So what were we preventing that justifies calling this a "preventative" war?

I was going to write about this, until I came across this transcript of a Washington Post online question and answer session with Mel Goodman, Senior Fellow, Center for International Policy covering the same subject and saying so well what I have been thinking. So I suggest taking a look.

I just heard President Liar on the radio saying, "Iraq was a haven for terrorists, with an arsenal of weapons that threatened the world." Oh really?

Just an Arm of the Republican Party

From this story in today's San Jose Mercury News:
KUWAIT - To understand the philosophy of Jay Garner, the retired American general charged with rebuilding Iraq, look to Vietnam.

If the United States had fought the Vietnam War the way it fought the conflict in Iraq, Garner says, America would have won.

``They should have taken the war north . . . instead of waiting for it to come south,'' the former three-star general said Monday. ``If Bush had been president then, we'd have won Vietnam.''
I wonder about the appropriateness of such a blatant partisan political statement. (Never mind that we dropped more bombs on North VietNam than all of Europe in WWII, and never mind the threat of war with the Soviet Union...)

The Goldman Environmental Prize

I attended the Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony last night in San Francisco. I was planning to write about it when I got home last night, but it was late and I was, frankly, somewhat inebriated.

From the Goldman Prize website: "The Goldman Environmental Prize is given each year to six environmental heroes - one from each of six continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Island Nations, North America and South/Central America." Think of it as the Nobel Prize for environmental achievement.

It was an impressive ceremony in San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House, followed by a reception at City Hall. (Yes, Mayor Willie Brown does wear very, very nice suits.) I have to tell you that I never before been to a reception where the people ran out before the food and bar. The smoked salmon didn't even run out!

The ceremony was hosted by a previous Goldman Prize winner, Jane Akre. If you follow that link and read some of the stories you will learn that she was an investigative reporter fired by Fox TV for refusing to read a script that contained intentional falsehoods favorable to Monsanto Corp. A Fox network attorney had placed false information in a story about bovine growth hormone, or BGH, manufactured by Monsanto. The initial report by Akre said that medical experts had found a number of potential problems from the use of this genetially-engineered product. The report that aired said that BGH was the most-tested product in history. Akre refused to read this script. Initially she was offered a six-figure payoff to keep her mouth shut. (Remember that -- reporters are offered six-figure payoffs to lie about corporations.) She refused and was fired. She sued, won, but recently lost on appeal. The appeals court ruled that it is OK for Fox to intentionally mislead their viewers. (Remember that, too.) A short video explaining what happened to her is available here, scroll down and click on her name in the 2001 video clips.

Nancy Pelosi talked for a bit. She is a very impressive and pleasant person.

Please visit the website to read about this year's six winners and why they won. (Click on each of the six photos.) Also go here to see short videos about each. They are quite an impressive group of people. I'll write a bit about the American Prize winner Julia Bonds, who is fighting to stop mountaintop removal coal mining. Mountaintop removal is just that - they take the entire top off of a mountain. The waste (all of the mountain that is not coal) fills up what had been valleys and streams, ruining the local water. All of this done by a bullying big corporation that pushes everyone around, forces them to move from their homes, and pays off local politicians. From a press release describing her achievement:
In 2001, Bonds and her family became the last residents to evacuate from her own hometown of Marfork Hollow where six generations of her family had lived. Marfork had been virtually destroyed by mountaintop removal mining, which involves completely blasting off the tops of mountains so that huge machines can mine thin seams of coal. Mountaintop removal mining completely annihilates streams and forests, and causes extensive flooding and blasting damage to homes. The pollution from mining and the toxic chemicals used in the preparation of coal for market have been linked to rising asthma rates and other serious respiratory ailments, particularly among children, including Bonds’ grandson. Residents who live near the mining blast zones also suffer from traumatic stress. Slurry dams thick with heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead routinely overflow into watersheds, contaminate drinking water and drive toxic sludge into residents’ backyards. As a result, thousands of local residents have been driven out of their homes.

Mountaintop removal mining has also been catastrophic for Appalachia’s waterways. Coal companies routinely dump the tons of mountaintop debris into nearby valleys and streams. Today, more than 1,000 miles of Appalachian headwater streams have been completely buried and 300,000 acres of the world’s most diverse temperate hardwood forests have been obliterated by so-called “valley fill.”

Bonds, who previously had worked as a waitress and manager at Pizza Hut and for convenience stores, now devotes 90 hours a week to protect Appalachia and the people who live there from the ravages of mountaintop removal mining. The catalyst for her activism, she says, was the day her grandson stood in a stream in Coal River Valley with his fists full of dead fish and asked, “What’s wrong with these fish?”

Since then, her dedication and success as an activist and organizer have made her one of the nation’s leading community activists confronting an industry practice that has been called “strip mining on steroids.”

Bonds’ primary nemesis is Massey Energy, the nation’s fifth largest coal producer and the company responsible for the destruction of Marfork and many other Appalachian towns. Richmond, Virginia-based Massey, has one of the worst environmental and safety records in the country. In 2000, it was responsible for the worst environmental disaster in Southeastern history when a slurry spill released over 250 million gallons of coal sludge in Martin County, Kentucky. Massey currently runs numerous mountaintop removal strip mines throughout Appalachia and holds a number of pending permits to mine along the Coal River Valley.

Operating from a small storefront on a shoestring budget, Bonds has scored a number of important victories despite enormous industry opposition. Foremost among them is the critical partnership she forged with the United Mine Workers Union over overweight coal trucks. Coal trucks routinely bearing twice the legal load barrel down narrow, steep highways and through towns, endangering drivers, beating up the roads and cracking house foundations. The monster trucks have been responsible for fourteen deaths in the past two years, including a brother and sister who were crushed to death when a coal truck forced their vehicle into another oncoming truck. Thanks to the mineworkers’ union and community pressure, Bonds and other activists filled a lawsuit against coal operators that will force companies to haul safe and legal loads. Bonds is currently working with activists to launch a national grassroots campaign that asks people to write postcards to the governor of West Virginia pledging that they will not visit the state until outsized coal trucks are banned.

In a testament to her vigilant monitoring of mining-related violations and advocacy efforts, Bonds has also been instrumental in winning important concessions from the State Mining Board, which recently imposed a 30-day suspension on a polluting Massey mine and set tougher protections for local communities against mine blasting.

These victories have come at a price to her personal safety. Bonds routinely receives threatening, anonymous phone calls that intensify whenever she plans a protest. She and other activists have been threatened by armed security guards on Massey’s payroll when they show visitors, including journalists, sites that have been devastated by mining.

As Massey pours hundreds of thousands of dollars into an ad campaign to whitewash its image in mining country, Bonds is organizing faith groups and local activists to picket Massey’s annual stockholders meeting set for mid-April. In an attempt to avoid the public outcry about their operations, Massey refuses to divulge the location or date of their shareholder meeting until the last moment. Bonds is also pushing for public hearings about the Bush Administration’s final Environmental Impact Statement on mountaintop removal mining. Because of the involvement of Steven Griles, a former mining industry lobbyist turned second in command at the Department of Interior, activists doubt the statement will paint an accurate portrait of the real threats and costs of mountaintop removal.

Bonds is also galvanizing grassroots response to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on mountaintop removal, which was issued on January 29, 2003. The ruling, based on an appeal brought by the Bush Administration, overturned a landmark federal court ruling that banned mountaintop removal mining on the grounds that it violates the Clean Water Act. Since the new ruling, West Virginia has been bombarded with new mountaintop removal mining permits. Bonds and other local citizens are fighting these permits in the courts.

Bonds is fighting the Bush administration on a number of fronts as President Bush continues to support a national energy plan that is far too reliant on continued coal production. His victory in the presidential elections was due in part to his upset in West Virginia, which has been credited to the efforts of James H. Harless, a local timber and coal magnate who was awarded a spot on Bush’s transition task force on energy and who now sits on Massey’s board of directors.

"Julia is lifting up a region of the U.S. often forgotten by the rest of the country," said Carolyn Johnson, staff director of the Citizens Coal Council. "Julia has figured out a way to communicate the message of what's happening to this area. She brings in politicians and other activists to see the effects of mountaintop removal mining. Julia knows the risks of doing this work; she's constantly threatened. But she knows that she is giving people living in the coalfields voice and power nationwide."

“When powerful people pursue profits at the expense of human rights and our environment, they have failed as leaders,” Bonds has said. “Responsible citizens must step forward, not just to point the way, but to lead he way to a better world.”
Julia Bonds gave a powerful acceptance speech. She is an excellent speaker. I hope that she runs for the Senate. Sen. Byrd is very old and is likely to retire. She was a waitress and she should be a Senator. Julia Bonds is clearly the right person for that job!


The Liar President II

Just came across this, U.S. Cold Shoulder Likely for Iraq War Opponents, which contains this:
A day after the younger Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien put off a planned May 5 meeting in Canada -- citing the demands of Iraq and denying tensions over Canada's opposition to the war -- the White House said the president would host "strong ally and close friend" Prime Minister John Howard of Australia at his Texas ranch May 2-3.
The liar.

The Liar President

Liar, Liar, over at The American Prospect. Excerpt:
It is no exaggeration to say that lying has become Bush's signature as president.

The pattern is now well established. Soothing rhetoric -- about compassionate conservatism, about how much money the "average" American worker will get through the White House tax program, about prescription-drug benefits -- is simply at odds with what Bush's policies actually do. Last month Bush promised to enhance Medicaid; his actual policy would effectively end it as a federal entitlement program.

More distressing even than the president's lies, though, is the public's apparent passivity. Bush just seems to get away with it. The post-September 11 effect and the Iraq war distract attention, but there's more to it. Are we finally paying the price for three decades of steadily eroding democracy? Is Bush benefiting from the echo chamber of a right-wing press that repeats the White House line until it starts sounding like the truth? Or does the complicity of the press help to lull the public and reinforce the president's lies?

One thing is clear: If a Democrat, say, Bill Clinton, engaged in Bush-scale dishonesty, the press would be all over him. In the spirit of rekindling public outrage, here are just some of the president's lies.
Gotta go read it to see what they say about the particulars.

Nation As Person Metaphore

Please read Metaphor and War, Again, By George Lakoff

Syria Next

Yes, Syria really does appear to be next.

The Secret Cheney Energy Task Force

A question -- was the secret Cheney Energy Task Force a planning session for the invasion of Iraq? Were the invited corporations placing orders for particular buildings,bridges, etc. to be destroyed by bombing, and was Cheney parceling out rebuilding contracts in exchange for campaign donations or other compensation?


From this NY Times story (for the next 30 days, then you're on your own) U.S. May Have to Allow Others to Inspect Iraqi Arms:
But they added that the White House, which has resisted help from the United Nations in the search for weapons, may decide to ignore such legalities.
The Bush Doctrine, stated simply: "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges!"



How many of you have been following Back-in-Iraq 2.0? I've been reading about Tikrit:
The fact of the matter is that Tikrit is “hot” as the journos here say. It is not “fine” as I thought it might be from CNN’s early footage. A Kurdish journalist and his crew that I’ve become friendly with were chased by men in black in black sedans later in the afternoon when they got within a few kilometers of the entrance of the city. Fedayeen. From Mustafa’s description of his pursuers, they sound like James Bond villains.
James Bond villains.

Keep In Mind

Keep in mind that Iran attacked Iraq with gas during their war, and Iraq borders Iran and they remain hostile. Because of this gas masks and decontamination gear would necessarily be standard equipment for Iraq's military. When you read about discoveries of Iraqi gas masks, decontamination facilities and other precautions it does not necessarily follow that Iraq was preparing to use gas.

I am not saying that Iraq did or did not have these weapons, I am pointing out that discoveries of chemical weapons gear does not necessarily mean they had or were going to use these weapons. Our forces also had gas masks and protective gear.