It hadn't been but a few hours since the news broke when former U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix grabbed a microphone somewhere to huff that the discovery meant nothing. Others briskly offered that the shell was more likely the bounty of a scavenger hunt by yahoos who didn't even know what they had.
Fair enough to be sure: At this point, none of us knows. But even forgetting the potency of one drop of liquid sarin, when did the prospect of the accidental use of loose WMDs become reassuring?
Fingers have been chewed to the quick around the world at this same prospect for years. Anyone old enough to drink has probably watched at least one show fretting over the whereabouts of vast stockpiles from the former Soviet Union. Given that Iraq's history of using sarin gas during the Iran-Iraq war and against the Iraqi Kurds is well-documented (Saddam Hussein listed some 800 tons in his possession at one point), a twinge of concern wouldn't be inappropriate.
Sure, every tiddlywink of Iraq news these days will be absorbed into the political machinery of an election campaign in overdrive.
But like the memo informing the Bush administration that Osama bin Laden was maybe possibly thinking about using planes to ill effect, the discovery of a potential weapon of mass terror in Iraq is a warning we could regret missing in hindsight.
It's also a reminder of why we chose this battle in the first place.
Come on, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, et cetera! I don't particularly care how you spin it as a failure for the Bush administration (I know you can), but you are failing your duty to keep Americans informed. If you can daily terrorize Americans about the dangers of botox injections, fast food, and second-hand smoke, you can at the least get them a little bit concerned about the fact that there are WMDs in the hands of terrorists!