WMD Postmortem

Drawing upon the findings of the (a) Iraq Survey Group, (b) U.S. and British official investigations, (c) contemporary Iraqi official documents, and (d) personal memoirs of UN officials and others, Associated Press reporter Charles Hanley has constructed a highly regarded postmortem of Saddam’s nonexistent “weapons of mass destruction” threat to us.

Hanley begins his postmortem – appropriately enough – in August 1995.

General Hussein Kamal, director of Saddam’s nuke and chem-bio weapons programs (and also Saddam’s son-in-law), had defected to Jordan, and was extensively “debriefed” by UN officials, the CIA, and the Brit MI6.

Kamal revealed that Iraq – at his direction – had destroyed all chemical and biological agents and weapons, including the missiles to deliver them, in 1991.

Upon entering Iraq after the Gulf War, the International Atomic Energy Agency had discovered and destroyed what remained of the unsuccessful Iraqi nuke program.

Quoth Kamal, of Iraq’s WMD programs, “nothing remained.”

What Kamal revealed was kept secret from Saddam – and from us peons – but was shared with high-level U.S. and Brit officials.

By 1998, UN inspectors were able to verify Kamal’s claims in every detail. Hence, the Security Council was informed that Saddam was substantively disarmed and that the “sanctions” imposed on Iraq in 1991 could be lifted.

Clinton vetoed it, claiming he had intelligence there were WMD stockpiles hidden beneath Saddam’s palaces. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced that even if Saddam had been disarmed, the U.S. would never allow the sanctions to be lifted so long as Saddam was in power.

So Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox; a four-day extensive bombing campaign of Saddam’s palaces in Baghdad, obviously meant to remove Saddam.

Understandably, when Clinton failed, Saddam wouldn’t let UN inspectors back into Iraq.

We now know that President Bush came into office also looking for an excuse to remove Saddam. He went to Congress in September 2002, seeking “specific statutory authorization” to resume the Gulf War, basing his case on the “National Intelligence Estimate of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs,” hurriedly prepared by Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet for Bush in the summer of 2002.

But NIE to the contrary, Bush and various Congressional leaders knew that, as of 1999, Saddam had no WMD programs and was not a threat to the U.S.

Of course, they still didn’t let us peons in on that.

We now know that by the summer of 2002 Prime Minister Blair had agreed to support Bush’s preemptive war of aggression against Iraq, but insisted that Bush get the Security Council to demand that Saddam let the UN inspectors back into Iraq to conduct totally intrusive inspections. Blair was confident that Saddam would refuse and Bush-Blair would then have their casus belli.

To their surprise, Saddam readily agreed to every Security Council demand. UN inspectors returned to Iraq in November 2002.

Then, in February 2003, Newsweek magazine – and also Sherrie Gossett of WorldNetDaily – published excerpts from the Kamal debriefing documents, kept secret since 1995.

Finally, with Bush’s preemptive invasion already secretly underway, the rest of us peons found out what (a) Bush-Blair, (b) CIA-MI6, and (c) Congress-Parliament had known since at least 1998 – Saddam had destroyed all his weapons of mass destruction way back in 1991.

So Bush-Cheney-Rice-Powell launched a frantic last minute media blitz to convince us Saddam had been resurrecting his WMD programs while the UN inspectors had been absent.

But, alas, UN Monitoring and Verification Commission Chairman Blix and IAEA Director-General ElBaradei were already reporting each month to the Security Council that they could find no indication that Saddam had made any attempt to reconstruct his WMD programs since 1991, much less 1998.

What’s a poor bunch of naked aggressors – and their media sycophants – to do?

Brazen it out!

Consequently, according to the “determination” President Bush sent to Congress – as required – on March 19, 2003, we had to launch a preemptive invasion because Iraq posed a continuing threat to the national security of the United States by “continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations.”

Of course, Bush-Cheney-Rice-Blair couldn’t admit they had known about what Kamal had revealed back in 1995. They had to discredit Blix and ElBaradei.

The final report of the Iraq Survey Group concluded that Saddam – as Kamal and Blix and ElBaradei maintained – had no WMD and posed no threat to anyone. A week after that report was filed, Bush was still telling all us peons that Saddam did.

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.