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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | July 31, 2003

No WMD, but plenty of war

By Steve Gilliard

A Bill Safire moldy oldy

When Iraqi scientists are permitted to talk to inspectors and journalists without fear of having their tongues later cut out and their families slaughtered by Saddam, the truth will out in vivid detail about the decadelong deception of the U.N. With "Dr. Germs" singing to save her life at future war crimes trials, today's American straddlers will at last be confronted with conclusive evidence they now profess to doubt ... When the postwar books are written, a former Iraqi spymaster with knowledge of the suicide attacker Mohamed Atta's perhaps unwitting connection to Saddam will eagerly come forth to spill all he knows to save his neck or sell his memoirs. Suspected followers of Osama bin Laden like Musaab Zarqawi and Mullah Krekar, if alive, will further link Al Qaeda to Saddam's mukhabarat police.

Well, not exactly.

Scientists Still Deny Iraqi Arms Programs
U.S. Interrogations Net No Evidence

By Walter Pincus and Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 31, 2003; Page A01

Despite vigorous efforts, the U.S. government has been unsuccessful so far in finding key senior Iraqi scientists to support its prewar claims that former president Saddam Hussein was pursuing an aggressive program to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, according to senior administration officials and members of Congress who have been briefed recently on the subject.

The sources said four senior scientists and more than a dozen at lower levels who worked for the Iraqi government have been interviewed by U.S. officials under the direction of the CIA. Some scientists have been arrested and held for months, others have made deals in return for information and at least one has agreed to be interviewed outside Iraq.

No matter the circumstances, all of the scientists interviewed have denied that Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program or developed and hidden chemical or biological weapons since United Nations inspectors left in 1998. Several key Iraqi officials questioned the significance of evidence cited by the Bush administration to suggest that Hussein was stepping up efforts to develop new weapons of mass destruction programs....The United States is still interviewing lower-level Iraqi security and intelligence officials associated with the programs, but the searching of alleged weapons sites has all but halted, officials said.

I wonder why?

The 45 minutes claim was questioned by Dr (David)Kelly, Whitehall's top adviser on chemical and biological weapons, both in conversations with BBC journalists and in evidence he gave to the foreign affairs committee on July 15, two days before he apparently killed himself.

Dr Kelly, a former UN inspector in Iraq, told the committee that it "would be very difficult to see how Iraq could deploy in 45 minutes".

He called the claim "very unlikely", adding: "It is actually quite a long and convoluted process to go from having bulk agent and munitions to actually getting them to the bunker for storage and then issue them and subsequently deploy them."

So the snipe hunt is over and there are no weapons, no chatty scientists and plenty of war:

Sgt. Michael O'Neill told of another grenade that rolled across the hood of his Humvee and exploded right next to him. Luckily, his hapless attacker had bought a concussion grenade, all noise and no explosives, so O'Neill lost his hearing instead of his life.

Days earlier, O'Neill said, he had watched a rocket-propelled grenade blast the fuel tanks of an armored personnel carrier directly in front of him in a convoy. He threw his Humvee into reverse to escape the flames, and a second RPG screamed across his hood, a few feet from his face, right where he had been a moment earlier.


Practically every soldier here has a story, and the tales have a common theme. Life for U.S. troops in Iraq these days is permeated by a lethal uncertainty. Attackers can be anyone, anywhere, anytime, perpetrating guerrilla-style violence on a scale not encountered by U.S. forces since the Vietnam War.

Posted July 31, 2003 01:41 AM


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