Is there any validity to claims of "reputable people/organizations are on record stating that they believe that Saddam had WMDs prior to the invasion of Iraq"?
This link has a pretty big list of quotes: http://rightwingnews.com/quotes/demsonwmds.php
NOTE: To be considered independent, the sources must have been basing those statements on information other than 'GWB told me there are WMDs'. If it can be proven that the source was merely parroting Bush, the quote doesn't count (or rather counts as refuted).
To give some examples of quotes on the link:
"There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat... Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He's had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001... He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn't have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we." -- Wesley Clark on September 26, 2002
"I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons...I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out." -- Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003
Valid examples of refuting specific quotes I can imagine (the list is an example, you may refute on other grounds):
The quote is false (attributed to wrong person/never actually said/wrongly quoted)
The source is not a credible source on the topic (e.g. a random blogger/journalist)
The source could not have possibly had enough information to form an informed opinion (e.g. low level politician with obviously not enough access to proper information talking out of their behind).
The source's opinion was a derivative of Bush White House opinion (e.g. there's proof that the only reason they said what they did is because they heard it from Bush).
The quote is accurate for its time, but there were clear and obvious changes in circumstances since it was made until 2002.
The quote is accurate BUT the source explicitly disagreed with their prior assessment (which was quoted) after it was made but prior to 2003.
The source was under clear pressure from Bush White House to agree with WMD presence (e.g. was an active intelligence/military member reporting to Bush).
The source had a provable reason to want the invasion of Iraq happen independently of WMDs (an example would be someone associated with the government of Iran, though I don't see anyone like that on the quotes list).
The source had an obvious/provable partisan reason to support Bush White house (this could be anything from being a Republican, to legitimate allegations of some political horse trading ala "you support Iraq war, I support your bill X").
I would add Tony Blair as an example of this, to avoid un-needed arguments of whether UK government's opinion was independent of USA's.
Something else I didn't think of :)
George W. Bush's (and/or his administration) used the claim of WMDs in Iraq as one of justifications for starting an invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Post-invasion, when no WMDs were found, that fact was used by the critics to claim that he either lied about WMD presence in Iraq, or was severely mistaken.
One of the defenses used by GWB supporters is that he was not the only one who believed in WMDs in Iraq - so did other politicians (both Democrats in USA, and abroad) as well as intelligence services outside USA.
The defense is essentially "GWB administration looked at X set of data and came to Y conclusions. And it was a reasonable conclusion since others looked at the same/additional data and arrived at the same conclusions".
What I'm asking is "Are the specific factual claims - namely quotes - used to support this argument (about others arriving at the same conclusion independently) - valid, both in terms of the sources stating them AND the source being independent".
What I'm asking is NOT "was G.W. Bush right?", and not "was there any reason to believe there were no WMDs", and not "Did Bush lie".
What I'm asking is "is there any factual basis for that specific line of defense used by Bush supporters, based on the list of quotes".