Yesterday, I noted that Mark Kirk was being dinged back in Illinois for the same casual lies on foreign policy that has become a Republican hallmark in the modern age. One of the examples I used is the old “Saddam hid his WMD in Syria” nonsense.

Funny story. Turns out that one of the main progenitors of this absurdity was the President’s pick for Director of National Intelligence.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28— The director of a top American spy agency said Tuesday that he believed that material from Iraq’s illicit weapons program had been transported into Syria and perhaps other countries as part of an effort by the Iraqis to disperse and destroy evidence immediately before the recent war.
The official, James R. Clapper Jr., a retired lieutenant general, said satellite imagery showing a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria, just before the American invasion in March, led him to believe that illicit weapons material ”unquestionably” had been moved out of Iraq.

”I think people below the Saddam Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse,” General Clapper, who leads the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, said at a breakfast with reporters.

He said he was providing a personal assessment. But he said ”the obvious conclusion one draws” was that there ”may have been people leaving the scene, fleeing Iraq, and unquestionably, I am sure, material.” A spokesman for General Clapper’s agency, David Burpee, said he could not provide further evidence to support the general’s statement.

Clapper’s statement was so prized by the right wing, that Karl Rove repeated it in his book, Courage and Consequence (p.339):

Another possibility is that some weapons may have been dispersed to other countries, such as Syria, before the war. That was the assessment of General James R. Clapper, Jr., then the director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (now called the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency). He told the New York Times: “I think people below the Saddam Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decide the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse.” Clapper said satellite imagery showing “a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria, just before the American invasion in March, led him to believe that illicit weapons material ‘unquestionably’ had been moved out of Iraq.”

This is a demonstrably false, and worse, a batshit insane statement, the idea that Iraq, while hemmed in on all sides and under constant surveillance prior to the war, would ship munitions out of the country undetected. Maybe this would be a forgivable statement from a housing policy expert, or a health care official, but not an intelligence officer about to lead the entire intelligence bureaucracy for the country.

I, for one, welcome our crazy overlords of the national security state.