Monday, October 06, 2003


More on the interim report of the Iraq Survey Group by David Kay

If you care to understand the report there is no substitute for actually reading it. You can find it here.

In my view the report might be summarized as: We still have much work to do under difficult circumstances to finish the investigation, however to this point while we have yet to find WMDs per se, there is much evidence that Iraq repeatedly violated the terms of the UN sanctions.

Here are some quotes from the report:
Iraq's WMD programs spanned more than two decades, involved thousands of people, billions of dollars, and were elaborately shielded by security and deception operations that continued even beyond the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It is important to keep in mind that even the bulkiest materials we are searching for, in the quantities we would expect to find, can be concealed in spaces not much larger than a two car garage...

We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002.

Let me just give you a few examples of these concealment efforts,...A clandestine network of laboratories and safehouses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research

...Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist's home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.

...New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN.

...we have been faced with a systematic sanitization of documentary and computer evidence in a wide range of offices, laboratories, and companies suspected of WMD work. The pattern of these efforts to erase evidence - hard drives destroyed, specific files burned, equipment cleaned of all traces of use - are ones of deliberate, rather than random, acts.

Debriefings of IIS officials and site visits have begun to unravel a clandestine network of laboratories and facilities within the security service apparatus. This network was never declared to the UN and was previously unknown.

...two key former BW scientists, confirmed that Iraq under the guise of legitimate activity developed refinements of processes and products relevant to BW (Biological Warfare) agents.

One noteworthy example is a collection of reference strains that ought to have been declared to the UN. Among them was a vial of live C. botulinum Okra B. from which a biological agent can be produced. This discovery - hidden in the home of a BW scientist - illustrates the point I made earlier about the difficulty of locating small stocks of material that can be used to covertly surge production of deadly weapons. The scientist who concealed the vials containing this agent has identified a large cache of agents that he was asked, but refused, to conceal. ISG is actively searching for this second cache.

For example, there are approximately 130 known Iraqi Ammunition Storage Points (ASP), many of which exceed 50 square miles in size and hold an estimated 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets, aviation bombs and other ordinance. Of these 130 ASPs, approximately 120 still remain unexamined.

There is a lot more...but I didn't want this post to go on forever. You really need to read the report.

And then you may want to read the analysis by Andrew Sullivan which includes this bit:

The administration claimed that Saddam had used WMDs in the past, had hidden materials from the United Nations, was hiding a continued program for weapons of mass destruction, and that we should act before the threat was imminent.

The argument was that it was impossible to restrain Saddam Hussein unless he were removed from power and disarmed. The war was legally based on the premise that Saddam had clearly violated U.N. resolutions, was in open breach of such resolutions and was continuing to conceal his programs with the intent of restarting them in earnest once sanctions were lifted.

Having read the report carefully, I'd say that the administration is vindicated in every single respect of that argument. This war wasn't just moral; it wasn't just prudent; it was justified on the very terms the administration laid out. And we don't know the half of it yet.

I think he just about nails it.

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