"I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth." (Karl Popper)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq"

So reads the headline to a story on Fox News' website yesterday. Apparently a "a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit" says that, since 2003, "coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."

But the news will not likely much alter arguments about the March 2003 invasion, principally because as Fox states:
"The weapons are thought to be manufactured before 1991 so they would not be proof of an ongoing WMD program in the 1990s. But they do show that Saddam Hussein was lying when he said all weapons had been destroyed, and it shows that years of on-again, off-again weapons inspections did not uncover these munitions."

And indeed an official in the Defense Department has pointed that the weapons found were not in a useable condition. But the revleations do raise questions about the pre-war weapons inspections and the post-invasion Iraq Survey Group report. The NGIC "took up where the ISG left off when it completed its report in November 2004, and in the process of collecting intelligence for the purpose of force protection for soldiers and sailors still on the ground in Iraq, has shown that the weapons inspections were incomplete".

Senator Rick Santorum said "This is an incredibly — in my mind — significant finding. The idea that, as my colleagues have repeatedly said in this debate on the other side of the aisle, that there are no weapons of mass destruction, is in fact false". The whole point of the Security Council resolutions, sanctions and inspections was to deprive Saddam's regime of the ability to make war on its neghbours, or aid and abet terrorists, with unconventional weapons. It seems that they were (putting it lightly) not as successful as was previously thought.

Update: This other declassified document, translated here, suggests the regime in late 2002 was hiding illegal chemical material. Oddly however, the following is written on the military homepage of published declassified Iraq documents:
"The US Government has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity or factual accuracy of the information contained therein, or the quality of any translations, when available."


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