From Jack at Slate:
"But there was one very persuasive section—playbacks of intercepted phone conversations between Iraqi military officers that suggested they were hiding WMD from the U.N. inspectors...
Powell played these tapes as Exhibit A in his presentation, and for good reason. They appeared to reveal that the Iraqis still possessed illegal chemical or biological agents and that they were deliberately hiding the materials from inspectors.
In a Slate column at the time, I called the tapes a "smoking gun." Six months later—after "major combat operations" had ceased, the U.S. military inspectors had failed to turn up any WMD, and the once-dubious parts of Powell's briefing had been proved conclusively false—I wrote that those tape intercepts were still "puzzling." Were the tapes fabrications, like the forged "yellowcake" documents? Were the translations accurate? Were these officers really talking about what Powell said they were talking about? Were they staging the conversation to make U.S. officials listening in believe Saddam had WMD (on the premise that the possession of such weapons might deter the United States from invading)?
Now, three years after the fact, a plausible answer has emerged. In the middle of a big article in Sunday's New York Times, Michael Gordon and Gen. Bernard Trainor report that the officers were talking about removing not weapons, agents, or munitions, but rather "residue from old unconventional weapons programs" dating back to before the 1991 Gulf War."Well, thank goodness we got that straightened out before we, like, invaded their country or something.