Friday, June 23, 2006

What Threat?

Less than 48 hours after a pair of Republican lawmakers announced a major discovery of WMD in Iraq, elements within the DOD and the intel community are in their normal spin mode. Since Senator Rick Santorum and Representative Peter Hoekstra (Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee) held the press conference on Wednesday, various "unnamed" defense and intelligence officials have assured us:

"They're old weapons."

"They're not useable."

"They pose only a limited threat."

"This wasn't the WMD we were looking for."

In other words (as California Representative Jane Harman told a network interviewer last night) "there's nothing new here." That begs an obvious question, namely what Ms. Harman defines as "something new." Until a couple of days ago, Congressional Democrats were only too happy to remind us that "Bush lied" because we never found any WMD in Iraq. Now, faced with the inconvenient truth that some of Saddam's WMD arsenal is still around, the Dims believe it's time to move along, and the MSM is only too happy to accomodate that request.

But let's examine the talking points. If the liberals are right, this is much ado about nothing. But if they're wrong, then the left has suffered yet another self-inflicted wound, proving (again) that they cannot be trusted with the nation's security. Do liberal claims about these recently-discovered weapons stand up to the facts? Decide for yourself.

1. They're Old Weapons. Admittedly, most of these chemical-filled shells and rockets were produced before the first Gulf War. But not all weapons lose their potency over time; sarin nerve gas--which was found in many of these weapons--remains extremely toxic, even over a long period of time. If one of those twenty-year-old sarin shells or rockets were detonated today, the effects could be just as deadly as when Saddam was using them against the Kurds, or against enemy troops in the Iran-Iraq War. More importantly, as a Powerline reader pointed out, the weapons may be old, but we didn't nkow anything about them until they were discovered by coalition forces. That discovery, coupled with the fact that many of the weapons were in fair-to-good condition, suggests someone in Iraq was trying to preserve them, and maintain at least a limited WMD capability. So much for the assertion that Saddam didn't have any WMD at the time of the 2003 invasion.

2. They're Not Useable. Critics who have downplayed the discovery point out that many of the chemical-filled rockets and artillery shells couldn't be employed, due to damage to guidance finds, nose cones, and other external features. However, such charges miss a critical point: the insurgents in Iraq don't have howitzers or rocket launchers, either, but they've employed left-over weapons extensively in IEDs and VBIEDs. A leftover 500-lb bomb or 155mm artillery shell doesn't need to fall from the sky to explode; all that's required is someone proficient in rigging some sort of remote-controlled detonator, and presto, an instant IED/VBEID that is just as lethal as if they'd been dropped from a plane, or fired from an artillery tube. The same holds true for the WMDs. The terrorists in Iraq aren't interested in launching chemical barrage with artillery; they'd rather use these weapons in a daisy-chain IED, creating a large cloud of mustard or nerve gas that could inflict mass casualties on a convoy, or a quick-reaction security forces. The recently-discovered WMDs are, in fact, highly-useable, just not in the conventional sense.

3. They Pose Only a Limited Threat. Once again, it depends on how you define "limited." My contacts tell me that the original NGIC report had a lengthy section depicting the potential effects of these weapons, used as IEDs or VBIEDs in an urban environment. Aginst U.S. troops, equipped with chemical detection and protection gear, the number of potential casualties would probably be low, once the threat was identified. However, against civilian target-- say, shoppers in an open-air market, the effects could be catastrophic. Only three nerve gas shells were used in one of Saddam's most horrific strikes, an attack against a Kurdish village that killed more than 4,000 civilians. The prospect of scores of military and civilian casualties from a daisy-chain of 2 or 3 chemical weapons doesn't strike me as a minor threat. Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld apparently feels the same way. Hat tip: Powerline.

What has been announced is accurate, that there have been hundreds of canisters or weapons of various types found that either currently have sarin in them or had sarin in them, and sarin is dangerous. And it's dangerous to our forces, and it's a concern.

So obviously, to the extent we can locate these and destroy them, it is important that we do so. And they are dangerous. Anyone -- I'm sure General Casey or anyone else in that country would be concerned if they got in the wrong hands.

They are weapons of mass destruction . They are harmful to human beings. And they have been found. And that had not been by Saddam Hussein, as he inaccurately alleged that he had reported all of his weapons . And they are still being found and discovered.


4. This Wasn't the WMD We Were Looking For. There remains a popular misconception that the Iraq invasion was supposed to roll-up huge quantities of ready-made chemical weapons, and huge production facilities literally dripping mustard gas, sarin, VX, and a host of biological agents. What we found (instead) were large quantities of pre-cusor chemicals (think of them as raw ingredients) and dual-use facilities, which could be quickly converted to CW or BW production. Technically, an insecticide factory isn't a CW plant, but with a few minor modifcations here and there, a facility that produces bug spray can be converted into a nerve gas laboratory in minimum time. Saddam invested heavily in dual-use technology during the 1990s (in spite of U.N. sanctions), realizing that such facilities offered his best hope for hiding covert production efforts, or resurrecting his CW/BW capabilities once U.N. sanctions were lifted.

Reliance on dual-use technology and facilities, coupled with Iraq's extensive deception efforts (and possible pre-war shipments to Syria) made our pre-war "expectations" unrealistic. Moreover, the continuing discovery of chemical weapons in Iraq highlights fundamental flaws in weapons searches conducted by the U.N. and the Iraq Survey Group. The fact that U.S. troops are routinely finding weapons that supposedly don't exist underscores Saddam's apparent ease at hiding WMD. The fact that many of these weapons remain unlocated affirms the fact that the final chapter on WMD in Iraq is yet to be written--despite liberal efforts to close the book, once and for all.

11 comments:

91Veteran said...

I know libs have already whined about the 500 chemical weapons found in Iraq are old, but they should wake up and realize what Saddam had, as reported by one of their favorite institutions, the UN.

I frankly am surprised MORE have not yet been found considering the number he had.

Even with this knowledge, one wonders why the UN refused to get serious about dealing with Saddam.

As Spook pointed out, could it be so many UN members were taking cash under the table?

46,000 filled chemical weapons is not something easily lost or forgotten about.

Consider the following information reported to the UN, as listed in the UN's own book on the subject titled,

The United Nations and the Iraq-Kuwait Conflict 1990-1996.

I bought this book from the UN's web site in 1997. It is still offered for sale there as a part of their
"Blue Book series" although you would not recognize the incredible information contained in the book based on the description posted at their site.

You can easily get the book and check for yourself.

I believe most of the reports by the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM could be accessed at the UN web site separately.

Some word-for-word excerpts from the UN book:

7-18 July 1991 The third IAEA inspection uncovers large stocks of natural uranium and 15 kilograms of
highly enriched uranium, and reveals the existence of various uranium enrichment programs.

2-8 August 1991 UNSCOM conducts its first biological inspection of Iraqi facilities and uncovers a major
biological program. Seed stocks of three biological warfare agents are handed over to the team, and the
team removes three further potential warfare strains.

14 October 1991 Iraq officially admits research and studies are under way on nuclear weaponization.

18 November-1 December 1991 UNSCOM finds more than 100 items of chemical bomb making material hidden in a sugar factory in Mosul and undeclared material for
SCUD missiles.

27 January 5 February 1991 UNSCOM verifies delivery of chemical bomb-making equipment to Al Muthanna and concludes additional tests are needed prior to destruction of nerve agents.

21 February-24 March 1992 The first chemical destruction team destroys 463 nerve agent filled rockets, i.e. approximately 2.5 tons of agent.

19 March 1992 Iraq declares having more previously undeclared ballistic missiles, chemical weapons and
associated material, and says they unilaterally destroyed this material in the summer of 1991.

10 January 1993 Some 200 Iraqis force their way into ammunition bunkers located at the former naval base at Um Qasr and remove weapons and armaments slated for destruction.

1 July 1995 Iraq admits to having had a full-scale offensive biological weapons program.

4 August 1995 Iraq gives UNSCOM a written account of their biological weapons program but denies efforts to weaponize agents.

7 August 1995 Gen. Hussein Kamel Hassan, former director of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and
ballistic missile programs defects from Iraq to Jordan.

17 August 1995 Iraq admits it produced biological weapons, a crash program to produce nuclear weapons
and made greater progress in producing VX nerve agent.

25 October 1991 Report by Executive Chairman of UNSCOM

Iraq acknowledged possessing 46,000 filled chemical weapons stored at various sites throughout Iraq.

Conclusive documentary evidence was found at two Iraqi facilities showing Iraq had a program for
developing nuclear weapons.

In the course of inspection of Tammuz (Al Taqqadum)Air Base, 200 aerial bombs filled with mustard agentwere counted and recorded.

The team examined 30 chemical filled ballistic missile warheads declared by Iraq in the Dujayl area.
14 were binary type filled with isopropanol and cyclohexanol with only DF needing to be added to
produce nerve agent prior to use. 56 plastic containers of DF were found. Iraq stated 16 warheads were filled with a mixture of GB and GF nerve agents.

At Al Bakr Air Base, 25 type 250 gauge aerial bombs and 135 type 500 aerial bombs filled with mustard
agent were declared by Iraq.

At Al Taji, 6,000 empty aluminum containers intended for filling with nerve agent and inserted into
122-millimeter warheads were found.

At Al Fallujah Proving Ground, Iraq declared the storage of 6,394 mustard-filled 155-millimeter
artillery shells. Analysis confirmed the presence of mustard agent.

Of the 14 warheads mentioned above as being filled with chemicals, just prior to their destruction, the
senior Iraqi official present said 4 were filled with the nerve agent Sarin.

Iraq has declared 6,120 sarin nerve agent filled 122-millimeter rocket warheads and their attendant motors.

Iraq provided seed stocks of biological warfare agents to the team consisting of Clostridium
botulinum, Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus anthracis. Iraq also possessed the following micro-organisms-Brucellus abortus, Brucella melitensis, Francisella tularensis and various strains
of Clostridium botulinum.

At one undisclosed site, 30 SCUD warheads filled with chemicals were found.

Second report of the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM 4 December 1991

Iraq's recent record in the nuclear area is consistent with, if less dramatic than, its actions over the last six months that included the concealment of evidence of plutonium separation, of uranium enrichment, and of nuclear weapons development, of refusal to permit inspection teams to enter some sites and exit others, and confiscation of documents from inspectors in the course of an inspection.

At Al Tuz, Khamisiyah, and Muhammadiyat numbers of munitions were discovered, including but not limited to 122 mm rockets, which were considered to be in too
unsafe a condition to move and for which a drilling and draining (of nerve agent) would be very hazardous.

Report by the IAEA to the Security Council by Hans Blix

These consisted of 68 fuel assemblies of 36% enrichment with a U-235 content of 1.27 Kilograms. In
addition, there was a set of fresh fuel plates for the Tamus-2 reactor (French MTR type) with an enrichment
of 93% and a total U-235 content of 372 grams.

Since the declarations of 18 and 27 April, inspections have resulted in some 400 tons of additional material being declared by Iraq "natural
uranium in many forms, ranging from yellowcake to processed chemicals" Much of the material had been
concealed by dispersion or burial in desert areas.

The major discovery has been that of the Electromagnetic Isotope Separation (EMIS) program and
its extent. A major concealment effort was made by Iraq to hide the existence of its program from
inspectors, equipment being dispersed and in many cases buried in remote areas.

The removal from Iraq of the remaining 35 kilograms of U-235 contained in the irradiated fuel elements of the Tamuz-2 and IRT 5000 research reactors is one of the major tasks still pending.

Special Report of the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM 18 February 1992

In relation to the biological weapons, Iraq clearly violated its obligations to hand over to the
Commission all its biological weapons-related items when it destroyed buildings at Salman Pak immediately prior to the first Commission inspection there.
Explanations provided to date, including those given most recently to the special mission, have not been convincing.

Third Report of the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM 16
June 1992

A new development was the Iraqi admission of 19 March 1992 that it had omitted to declare 24,470 chemical munitions and these weapons had been unilaterally destroyed in direct contravention of resolution 687.

Fourth Report of the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM 17
December 1992

The agents which Iraq had available were mustard agent, the nerve agents GB and GF (and also about 70 tons of "spoiled" GA) and small research quantities of three other nerve agents. The total quantities
involved are approximately 250-300 tons.

Of the filled munitions, mortar bombs were filled with CS, the 155mm shells are filled with mustard and
the 122mm rockets are filled with nerve agents, either GB or a GB/GF mix. The aerial bombs are filled with either mustard agent or nerve agents. Some of the SCUD chemical warheads are filled with GB, the others designed to use the binary process.

The number and quantity of munitions and agent destroyed by the Special Commission as of 14 December 1992 were on the order of:

5,000 sarin-filled 122mm rockets
44,500 liters of GB/GF
120 liters of GB
5,000 liters of D4
1,100 liters of dichlorethane
16.5 tons of thiodiglycol
5.5 tons of mustard agent

Report of the Secretary-General 11 October 1995

The Commission has concluded that VX was produced on an industrial scale.

Significant in this context is Iraq's admission in September 1995 of the production in 1990 of 65 tons of choline, a chemical used exclusively for production of VX. This amount would be sufficient for the production of approximately 90 tons of VX. Furthermore, Iraq had
over 200 tons each of the precursors phosphorus pentasulphide anddi-ispropylamine. These quantities would be sufficient to produce 400 tons of VX. At present, there is no conclusive evidence to support Iraq's claims concerning the complete disposal of these two precursors and the choline.

Iraq has admitted the development of prototypes of binary sarin-filled artillery shells, 122mm rockets
and aerial bombs. However the new documentation shows production well beyond prototype levels. Iraq has also admitted three flight tests of long-range missiles with chemical warheads, including one, in April 1990, with sarin.

The Commission has been compelled to cast a wider net in the biological field because of Iraq's incomplete
disclosure of the full extent of its past biological warfare activities.

In its March 1995 declaration, Iraq admitted to only a very small defensive biological research program.

On 20 August 1995, General Amer Rashid al-Ubeidi contacted UNSCOM and requested they visit a farm,
which the General stated belonged to General Hussein Kamel Hassan. At the farm, in a locked chicken house
numerous metal and wooden boxes, which were packed with documentation, together with microfiche, computer diskettes, videotapes, photographs and prohibited hardware were found.

The foot and mouth disease plant at Daura was converted to biological weapons production of botulinum toxin. The plant was used for production of botulinum toxin from November 1990 until 15 January
1991 by which time 5,400 liters of concentrated toxin had been produced. Production of perfringens for biological weapons began at Al Hakam in August 1990. A total of 340 liters of concentrated perfringens was produced.

Weaponization of biological warfare agents began on a large scale in December 1990 at Muthanna. R400 bombs were selected as the appropriate munition for aerial
delivery and 100 were filled with botulinum toxin, 50 with anthrax, and 16 with aflatoxin. In addition, 25 Al Hussein warheads were filled with botulinum toxin (13), anthrax (10), and aflatoxin (2). These weapons were then deployed at four locations in early January 1991 during the war.

In summary, Iraq has declared the production of at least 19,000 liters of concentrated botulinum toxin,
(nearly 10,000 liters were filled into munitions), 8,500 liters of concentrated anthrax (some 6,500
liters were filled into munitions) and 2,200 liters of concentrated aflatoxin (1,580 liters were filled into munitions).

In spite of the substantial new disclosures made by Iraq in August 1995, the Commission does not believe that Iraq has given a full and correct account of its
biological weapons program.



To summarize the book, it is an 844-page compilation of important documents, reports, or other information regarding the UN and its activities in Iraq since 1990, including summarizations of reports from what was found by the UN inspectors making up UNIKOM and
UNSCOM.


He had them, and refused to fully compy with the UN resolutions to give ALL OF THEM up.

ReflectionEphemeral said...

The main point about the WMD that were just announced is that they do _not_ establish that Saddam was reconstituting his WMD program when we invaded. That was the claim we made at the time of the war.

Also, if the inspectors (who were only back in Iraq b/c of the efforts of Pres. Bush, it should be said) had not had to leave b/c of the US invasion, we could have found these public hazards without a nearly unilateral invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The issue is not, "were there absolutely zero traces of any WMD in Iraq." 91veteran refutes that point, but it's not where the argument is. The issue is, "was a nearly unilateral invasion the best way to assure that Saddam was not reconstituting his WMD program?"

Also, which congressional Dems have said that "Bush lied"? Reporter Ron Susskind writes, "Keeping certain knowledge from Bush — much of it shrouded, as well, by classification — meant that the president, whose each word circles the globe, could advance various strategies by saying whatever was needed. He could essentially be 'deniable' about his own statements."
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/20/books/20kaku.html?pagewanted=2

Regardless, whether or not "Bush lied" is not the issue. The issue is, was the decision to launch a nearly unilateral invasion the most sound strategic decision to limit the threat Saddam posed, based on the best analysis of the best intelligence available at the time?

Consul-At-Arms said...

Excellent explanation! I've linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2006/06/re-what-threat.html

Papa Ray said...

There has been enough circumstantial evidence for me to say that most of Iraq's WMD is in Syria.

I'm sure some was buried in Iraq, but in a country that is almost the size of Texas, they will still be digging it up, when we are all dead and gone.

But the libs are right in one way, so far, there has not been enough found to concern ourselves with.

But they whisper the rest of the sentence...

As long as we are the ones who find it.

Papa Ray

John (Useful Fools) said...

Ephemeral comments that regardless of this evidence, the question is whether the war was the best way to deal with it. This is one of many ways the war's opponents are now squirming.

The critical point that continues to be mnissed is the threat of the use of these weapons in terrorist operations in western countries.

It doesn't take many weapons for this to be a major threat. It doesn't take an ongoing weapons program either, although Iraq had capabilities in place to allow them to very rapidly resume the large scale production of chemical weapons (organophosphate based - nerve agents - at the organophosphate pesticide plant) and biological weapons (anthrax - at the bacillus thuringensis "pesticide" facility). The sanctions regime was failing, and it was almost certain that these facilities would have been online, producing large quantities of dangerous substances which terrorists could ANONYMOUSLY use against us (has anyone found out where the 2001 Anthrax came from yet??).


Daniel Kay, after leaving Iraq postwar, said that even though they had not found large WMD programs, he was convinced that from a terrorist+WMD perspective (which is the only one that counts), Iraq was MORE dangerous than believed prior to the war.

That is the key. Iraq's government no longer had adequate control over either the weapons or the "scientists" who were involved with them. Iraq was a bazaar for terrorists wanting WMDs or other goodies.

We can all have hindsight about how that situation could have been dealt with, but one must look at the larger picture... this is a global war to minimize the ability of terrorists to attack us with WMD, and ultimately to put an end to the Salafist/Islamofascist movement. Iraq is one theater in that war, and the invasion of Iraq was justified, ahead of time, by 34 reasons, only some of which were WMD related.

The fact is that the US demonstrated a willingness to take down a rogue state, even at great cost. We demonstrated an ability to do so quickly, although we still have to deal with a number of forces fighting us, but a conflict which has a casualty rate so low that, if it were not for our anti-war press and our general decadence, would be ignored.

So now, the "Bush Lied, People Died" narrative, which indeed is the strong message from Democrats and the mainstream media, has taken another hit - even though the whole thing was silly to begin with - Bush may have not known the facts, but he didn't lie. It is not a lie to state what you believe to be the truth - something that many of the war's critics (and the Bushhaters) seem to ignore with great glee.

Boghie said...

ReflectionEpheral,

The main point about the WMD that were just announced is that they do _not_ establish that Saddam was reconstituting his WMD program when we invaded. That was the claim we made at the time of the war.

I am reading the Duelfer Report as a result of your helpful links in the earlier post...

The actual WMD problems we were attempting to resolve were:
1. To ensure existing WMD was destroyed.
2. To ensure that the often reconstituted WMD programs ended.
3. To destroy the WMD militarization capability of Iraq.

We were not a militarized UNMOVIC.

We intended to destroy WMD, WMD programs, and the inevitable reconstitution of WMD militarization upon the lifting of the 1991 UN sanctions. Those sanctions were under tremendous pressure in 2002/3 - even after 9/11. That oil wealth would go straight to WMD - as it had with 'Oil For Food', as it had many times previously.

The Duelfer Report is a scary document.

Sashland said...

"large quantities of pre-cusor chemicals / dual-use facilities / an insecticide factory isn't a CW plant, but with a few minor modifcations..." THE KEY POINT that many (even professionals!) can not see due to conceptual blinders.

I think of this every time I hear the fairy tale "No WMDs, Bush lied".
Hiding in plain sight, next to the chlorine factory. Just re-read Deulfer's intro: hard to find what you can't think of looking for...
But HE got the conclusion right - SH was focused on building delivery systems while under sanctions, with the ABILITY to manufacture as necessary. $10 million down payment on ballistic missile from N. Korea not a violation of UN sanctions? Reason enough to conclude that war was the only answer to such a gross violation after so many years of warnings and denials; and perfectly legal given the violations of UN sactions and the attacks on US airplanes. Its called a violation of cease fire and self-defense. Sad, nobody seems to talk much about those 600 Kuwatis tortured since 1991.

As to the remnant CW shells, 91vetaran gives the important context of SH special weapons: mass production, repeated use, and hiding. Given how good (sic) the UN is at catching bomb makers (N. Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Libya give me great confidence), how come they didn't find 500 (is that a lot? eh?) shells. I thought they had searched everything!?! (Blixie, we found some shells with something liquid, but it doesn't test as Sarin in the lab, can you come smell it and see if its OK?) 500 shells buried since 1991 and never found during inspections? Didn't have enough time? Forgot to ask? Right, nobody remembered where they buried them, they forgot they buried them, we never bury them, what shells? And the UN reports: 'Iraq says that it destroyed all munitions, but we cannot verify'. No violations here, right?

So SH pre-planned the insurgency, inviting in Islamists, hiding tons and tons of munitions after running IED training camps, and our CIA didn't know it? SH had annother assination campaign for Europe and Kurds scheduled for the summer of 2003 and our CIA didn't know it? No knowledge of N. Korean Ballistic Missile payments? No armor for Humvees? It seems we may be investigating the wrong intelligence failures.

I confirmed that Bush was right when the National Geographic Explorer "The Road to Baghdad" showed a safe house raided in Falluja which was a factory for making concealed bombs, complete with airport style bomb detectors. At the time I though it was Al Q., but the recent translated memos on the Fedayeen Sadamm asassination campaign now give it a clearer meaning. In either case, Iraq was directly supporting terror. Violation ultimately solvable only by war. Is it really much of a stretch to put hidden CW together with direct support for terror and conclude that Iraq was a threat. And more shells still out there? Kay's quote is all the more compelling given what he says Now.

A Wild Hare if you want to investigate this - many claim that "Bush Lied", the aluminum tubes could not have worked because they were too small (morphed logic from 'they could also have been used for rockets') but I recall one technical explaination that they would, indeed, work, but were innefficient and more expensive. I read another report that investigated dual use facilities that discussed a requested approval for a specialized magnet factory import that confused the gate-keepers because they were the type of magnets that would be necessary for uranium enrichment, but they were TOO SMALL to be used with "standard" size tubes. Sadamm is VERY clever; what would he care about price, he was awash in UN money?. Is it possible? Can we connect these dots?

btw. Was the bug spray a reference to the quote in Der Speigle from the German builder of Falluja plant that the intended sprayees were "two-legged bugs"? (Iranians)

Murtha and Kerry must be right: The only logical course is to abandon the Iraqi Mainstream to Islamic genocide. We can always fly in later and douse the corpses.

redline said...

Not to pile on to ReflectionEphemeral here -- but if the issue truly is "was the decision to launch a nearly unilateral invasion the most sound strategic decision to limit the threat Saddam posed, based on the best analysis of the best intelligence available at the time," then nothing that was unearthed in Iraq after March 2003 can be relevant to the issue. This is a question of executive process: the only inputs that matter are what was known at the time, and whether the resulting strategic decisionmaking process was sound. Therefore there would be no need for critics to challenge the importance of finding five hundred chemical rounds the existence of which everyone agrees was not known to decisionmakers until after March 2003. It would be irrelevant to their critique: bad process is bad process, even if you happen to be right by accident.

Yet, as Spook86 points out, the effort to downplay the threat posed by these weapons has been swift and insistent. The truth is that administration critics have largely given up on the "executive process" critique because it's impossible to convincingly make that argument on the facts, given (a) the official, public, and bipartisan assumptions about Iraqi behavior during the previous decade; (b) the widespread fear of false negatives being issued by the intelligence community after 9/11 (and, on proliferation issues, as early as 1998); and (c) the natural indeterminacy that pervades any contemporary evaluation of intelligence and statecraft. Instead, the critics have resorted to the easier, more soundbite-friendly, but riskily premature argument that "well there were no WMDs in Iraq, so there." Other critics, on even shakier ground, have boldly added "and Bush knew it in March 2003."

So much rhetorical leverage has been placed in that particular antiwar basket that the critics have no choice but to react strongly when inconvenient contrary facts emerge. Hence, the tortured and insistent claims about how hundreds of chemical weapons are pretty harmless and probably weren't "stockpiled" in an appropriately grandiose manner but in any case really not that bad if you only got to know them. If the predominant objection of the administration critics was really the issue of flawed executive process, you wouldn't be seeing all of this spin today.

All of this underscores the larger and quite frightening reality that discovering the truth about illicit WMD programs is incredibly hard. I hold some small hope that more intellectually-honest war critics -- even if quick in the past to jump to conclusions, and quicker to ascribe incompetence (even malfeasance) to those burdened with executive responsibility -- may start to ponder the possibility that the truth of the matter is buried more deeply than they thought. Or, maybe, spirited away over a western frontier.

BLOG REVIEWS said...

*****

blert said...

Many of these discovered munitions are being found rigged as IEDs even now.

They are forcing our engineers to hazard disarming devices that would normally be blown in place.

That's why we have a steady stream of maimed troops.

Other rounds have been purchased over the counter: $5,000 per pop was the initial US Army offer.

With this approach, the unlawful combatants can finance their operations by turning in a portion of their stash. The remainder is rigged to IEDs such as to increase the price of the buy-in.

These rounds are absolutely NOT being found alone in the sand. Rather they are inventoried right along with conventional munitions.

Uniquely, Saddam had his chemical shells made without any obvious differentiation from conventional rounds. So, anyone crudely extracting the values is at overwhelming hazard of setting off a high explosive round by mistake. That explains their crude utilization.

baddog46 said...

I think most of us know that insecticide is really a form of nerve agent. So it is a matter of concentration as to its lethality. Those of you who have been in the military may remember the REALLY good insect killer that came in the green can that had a very severe warning label. That stuff really worked well but if you used too much of it....