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Saturday | May 31, 2003

CIA admits BW trucks could have other uses

Bush is trying to claim the three supposed biological weapon trucks were enough justification for $200 billion and thousands of lives lost or ruined. However, even the CIA report on the trucks admits other possible uses than just bioweapon production.

Slate is all over it:

[T]he CIA report reveals considerable ambiguity about the nature of these vehicles. For example, it notes that Iraqi officials—presumably those currently being interrogated—say the trailers were used to produce hydrogen for artillery weather-balloons. (Many Army units float balloons to monitor the accuracy of artillery fire.) In response to this claim, the report states:
Some of the features of the trailer—a gas-collection system and the presence of caustic—are consistent with both bioproduction and hydrogen production. The plant's design possibly could be used to produce hydrogen using a chemical reaction, but it would be inefficient. The capacity of this trailer is larger than the typical units for hydrogen production for weather balloons.
One could ask: Since when was Saddam's Iraq considered a model of efficiency?
Or how about this?
The report also notes that, in order to produce biological weapons, each trailer would have to be accompanied by a second and possibly a third trailer, specially designed to grow, process, sterilize, and dry the bacteria. Such trailers would "have equipment such as mixing tanks, centrifuges, and spray dryers"—none of which were spotted in the trailers that were found. The problem, the CIA acknowledges, is that "we have not yet found" these post-production trailers. Question: Is it that they haven't been found—or that they don't exist?
And then there's this:
One biologist, looking at CIA-released photographs of a trailer, noted that the pipes feeding into the chamber appear to have threaded or bolt-flange joints, which he says would cause leaks—both from the inside and to the outside. The former might contaminate the bioproduction, the latter might kill the bioworkers. Another biologist said he would like to know whether the trailer has a thermal-control meter that could keep the chamber to within one or two degrees of body temperature; if there is such a meter, the trailer might have been used to grow toxins; if there isn't, it couldn't possibly have been.

Another question is raised by the following passage in the May 29 New York Times story about the CIA report: "And the mobile factories were poorly designed. For instance, one official noted, Iraqi biologists running the plants would have had a hard time getting raw materials into the production gear and removing multiplied colonies of deadly germs." One wonders: How hard is "a hard time"? If a worker couldn't get raw materials in or the deadly germs out, then what kind of bio-production plant was this? Was it "poorly designed" or designed for some other purpose?

That's not to say that these trucks were not intended for bioweapon use. But where they ever used? Had they been decommissioned years ago? Were they functional?

Or where they -- as more than one Iraqi official has claimed -- poorly-designed production facilities for artillery weather balloons?

Bush is walking around making absolutist claims about the nature of those vehicles. But once again, political expediency is trumping the actual intelligence. The CIA doesn't claim anything more than that the trucks were "probably" bioweapon production facilities. For Bush to claim they are absolute evidence of WMD violations is yet another in a long, long list of LIES.

Here's a link to the actual report.

Posted May 31, 2003 12:14 PM | Comments (63)


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