politics, history and the war on terror
Sunday, May 09, 2004
WMD - Past and Present 

The question of the existence Iraq's WMD is perhaps the single most controversial issue related to the Iraq war. The failure to find large stockpiles has led to claims that the Bush administration distorted and fabricated the intelligence used to build the case for war. The facts do not support those conclusions, however, as significant finds support the U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies' claims Iraq continued to pursue the development of WMD. A brief overview of WMD case was stated here at the fourth rail in 'The Case for the Iraq War' over a month ago, but in light of recent evidence this topic is worthy of its own discussion.

In the lead up to the Iraq war, Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the United Nations Saddam’s attempts to obtain, produce and store WMD. After the defeat of Saddam, the weapons stockpiles that were thought to exist did not materialize, and the media and critics of the war declared the WMD case, which they perceived to be the casus belli for the invasion, to be false. However, on further investigation, intelligence about Iraq's desire to possess WMD was correct, but not in the way it was thought. Rolf Ekeus (chairman of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq from 1991 to 1997) first alluded to Saddam's plan to obtain the capability to produce WMD:

Thus the Iraqi policy after the Gulf War was to halt all production of warfare agents and to focus on design and engineering, with the purpose of activating production and shipping of warfare agents and munitions directly to the battlefield in the event of war. Many hundreds of chemical engineers and production and process engineers worked to develop nerve agents, especially VX, with the primary task being to stabilize the warfare agents in order to optimize a lasting lethal property. Such work could be blended into ordinary civilian production facilities and activities, e.g., for agricultural purposes, where batches of nerve agents could be produced during short interruptions of the production of ordinary chemicals.

Mr. Ekeus' conclusions were later validated by David Kay, former inspector of the Iraq Survey Group, in his testimony to Congress. Mr. Kay's findings on Iraq's programs were overshadowed after he stated "we were almost all wrong" when referring to the intelligence on Iraq (the statement was shortened by CNN and others by removing the "almost" to conveniently say "we were all wrong"). Iraqi scientists supported this when they reported Saddam worked to establish dual use capabilities to produce WMD.

Recently, Kenneth Timmerman reported the status of the WMD investigation and demonstrated Iraqi WMD programs and precursors have been found, which proves Iraq violated 17 U.N. resolutions concerning WMD. Like Mr. Ekeus & Mr. Kay, he stated the majority of U.S. claims made were accurate and the available evidence was and still is misunderstood by media due to the lack of understanding on WMD should 'look' like,

But what are "stockpiles" of CW agents supposed to look like? Was anyone seriously expecting Saddam to have left behind freshly painted warehouses packed with chemical munitions, all neatly laid out in serried rows, with labels written in English? Or did they think that a captured Saddam would guide U.S. troops to smoking vats full of nerve gas in an abandoned factory? In fact, as recent evidence made public by a former operations officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority's (CPA's) intelligence unit in Iraq shows, some of those stockpiles have been found - not all at once, and not all in nice working order - but found all the same.

The materials that constitute Saddam's chemical-weapons "stockpiles" look an awful lot like pesticides, which they indeed resemble. "Pesticides are the key elements in the chemical-agent arena," Hanson says. "In fact, the general pesticide chemical formula (organophosphate) is the 'grandfather' of modern-day nerve agents."

Anomolous WMD reports, suspected factories and pesticides hidden in military bunkers decribed by Mr. Timmerman are documented by the media here, here, here, and here, as well as a find of plutonium.

The latest news concerning WMD and Iraq is similar to the news of the past year. Further evidence accumulates, much to the media's consternation. A chemical agent was found in an Iraqi artillery shell in Baghdad, inspectors find WMD plans and the chemical agents used in the planned attack in Jordan is suspected to originate in Iraq

Important national security issues such as Iraq's WMD potential and links to terrorism requires serious investigation and reasonable debate, and should not subject to partisan politics. Unfortunately a large amount of the Democratic leadership, a good portion of the media and a segment of the American public have decided the case of WMD in Iraq is closed. No amount of evidence will convince those who oppose the war that Saddam both possessed and schemed to develop WMD in violation of its obligations to the U.N. They will discount or explain away new evidence, ignore it or claim the CIA manufactured the evidence. The evidence to support the claim Iraq possessed and pursued WMD capability exists, despite the claims of the contrary.

Update - May 12, 2004:

Brian Scott of RadioBS forwarded the news of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's views on WMD and Iraq:

"The fact is that there is now, we know well, a proliferation of nuclear weapons, and that many weapons that Saddam Hussein had, we don't know where they are," Martin stated. "That means terrorists have access to all of that."

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:05 AM