"It's worse than you know."
"It usually is."
-- Trailer for Serenity
Atrios has a good post up riffing off of a Crooked Timber post which argues, essentially, that the Bush administration lied about their evidence for WMD to back-up a sincerely held belief that Saddam actually had WMD. This point itself may or may not be true -- as I argued a few days ago, we really just won't know until we see the relevant documents. But Atrios points out that, right or wrong, this hides a crucial distinction: whether or not they thought Saddam actually had WMD, they definitely lied about the threat they posed -- the WMD that Saddam was most widely thought to have had (chemical weapons, Anthrax) aren't really a threat the way that, say, a nuclear bomb or smallpox virus would be. (This lie about the threat was, of course, necessary to push a war they already wanted.)
But I think that Atrios (uncharacteristically) doesn't quite get the true level of perfidy here. He says that 'We have a bit of a language problem, calling anything nasty a "weapon of mass destruction" when frequently we're talking about things which are very unlikely to produce a mass casualty event. A true "weapon of mass destruction" is capable of killing massive amounts of people.' But my distinct memory is that we didn't just happen to call a wide range of things WMDs (a term which previously referred only to nuclear bombs); the Bush administration deliberately began using the term in an obfuscating way -- presumably to make easier precisely the deception Atrios highlights, between "WMD" and a genuine threat to the U.S.
We didn't just stumble into "the shitty definition of that word we've embraced": we were pushed into it. All part of the Grand Deception necessary to get us into a war they wanted.