Tuesday, January 27, 2004

This is taken from a June 2003 article in USA Today. It bears remembering that the US wasn't alone in assuming that Iraq had WMD:

Reports by the United Nations, CIA, State Department and private researchers, many issued during the Clinton administration, all concluded that Saddam had large amounts of banned weapons despite years of U.N. inspections. Examples:

• A February 1998 State Department study found that Saddam was "making every effort to preserve them."

• A January 1999 report from U.N. inspectors said Iraq had failed to account for weapons it previously had declared, including 1.5 tons of VX gas, 8,000 liters of anthrax, 7,000 liters of botulinum toxin and nearly 1,000 liters of aflatoxin, a potent carcinogen.

• A June 1999 CIA report said Iraq likely had 6,000 hidden chemical munitions.

An August 2002 report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said Iraq "almost certainly does have large numbers of chemical weapons and some biological weapons."

• A September 2002 report from the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies said Iraq had probably retained "a few hundred tons" of deadly mustard and sarin gases.

• In January, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix concluded that Iraq had yet to account for 1,000 tons of chemical agents or its anthrax stockpile. Blix's latest report, issued Tuesday, said Iraq still hadn't proved itself weapons-free on the war's eve.

The chance that all of these reports were wrong is slim. If anything, they were bolstered by Saddam's behavior of continually thwarting U.N. inspections. For example, Iraq denied having biological weapons for four years after the 1991 Gulf War, then admitted their existence after a defector pointed inspectors to the arsenal.

So what has happened to Saddam's lethal weapons? The only plausible explanations are that they were destroyed, remain hidden in Iraq or have been moved out of the country. The job now is to determine which is the case as quickly as possible.

It is very troubling to find out that all these intelligence agencies were apparently wrong. If they don't know about this stuff, what else are they getting wrong?

Also, regarding the bold section highlighting the comments from the Carneige Endowment for International Peace, this is the group that just came out with a report slamming Bush over getting it wrong about WMD. Who got it wrong?


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