As the search for an explanation of why the administration didn’t hint Zarqawi before the war continues, I should offer one possible exculpation of sorts. When I first wrote about the Zarqawi camp and the role it played in the administration’s case for war, I took our failure to strike the camp as prima facie evidence that the administration didn’t really think he, or Ansar al-Islam, was a serious risk to American security. It was just something like the mythical aerial drones that they’d seized on in an effort to scare people. After the NBC story came out, I shifted toward a presumption that NBC had the story right, but maybe I was right the first time. That would explain why we don’t get a proper official denial here — they’re not going to say, “we didn’t strike the camp because we didn’t really think it was a threat, that was just something we made up to scare people, but then it turns out that it really was a threat and now we look like idiots.”
It would be particularly neat if that turned out to be the case, however, because then we would have a real-world application of the Gettier problem. Indeed, it occurs to me that if the JMM-derided Financial Times story about Niger turns out to be accurate, that might be a Gettier case as well. Perhaps one ought to think of the entire Bush administration as an attempt to bring greater public attention to the fine points of epistemology.