Iraq's WMD File
From the Unfinished Business Department, there are new claims about what might have happened to Saddam's WMD. In a new book, a former senior general in Iraq's Air Force claims that large quantities of WMD materials were flown to Syria in the months before the U.S.-led invasion. The retired Iraqi officer--Air Marshal Georges Sada--reports that two Iraqi transport aircraft made more than 50 WMD flights to Syria, under the guise of humanitarian relief missions for flood victims. Mr. Sada said he learned of the flights from the pilots who flew them.
The original New York Sun story can be found here, and Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse has more on Sada's report. As Rick points out, none of Sada's claims have been fully corroborated, and he's relying on second-hand information, at best. But the reported flights fit a pattern of pre-war activity that saw a steady flow of traffic from Iraq to Syria. This traffic--which consisted mostly of vehicle convoys--has been confirmed by other sources, ranging from the head of the U.S. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (retired Lieutenant General James Clapper), and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Gen Clapper, Mr. Sharon and other experts believe the detected traffic was related to the movement of Iraqi WMDs and related material to Syria.
Sada was something of a rarity in Saddam's Iraq--a non-Baathist and Christian who rose to the upper echelons of power. Since the overthrow of Saddam, he has worked as an advisor Prime Minister Allawi, and also serves as Iraq outreach director for an Oklahoma-based evangelical group. Sada never provides any explanation as to why he waited so long to "go public" with his story (other than the fact he's hawking a book). There's also the issue of how reliable the Air Marshal's information might be; he was forced out of the Iraqi Air Force in 1986 (because he refused to join the Baath Party), recalled in 1991 (to interrogate Allied POWs), then tossed into prison himself because he refused Qusai Hussein's order to execute the POWs. He was clearly an "outsider" in the last days of Saddam's regime, although he retained contacts within the Iraqi military.
At the very least, Air Marshal Sada's story sounds credible, and matches pre-war activity that has been confirmed by other, independent sources. He is also highly respected by post-war Iraqi leaders and by American evangelicals who have worked with him, including Dr. Terry New. I've met Dr. New and know him as a man of great integrity who has risked his life to spread the Gospel throughout the Middle East. Dr. New has only the highest praise for Georges Sada, and says "everything he's told me has completely checked out." Given his background and references, Sada's claims cannot be arbitrarily dismissed. But I'm guessing that Sada's book will receive virtually no attention from the MSM, because his information doesn't fit the "Bush lied" template.