Monday, June 30, 2003

"The Politics of Mass Destruction"... Positioning Is Everything

Great viewpoint on the whole weapons of mass destruction issue below. It's annoying to watch the after-coverage of the war as much as the coverage during the war (written in prior blog). I don't need to hear a daily or even weekly update on the nation-building that is occurring in Iraq.

"Are you happy with the ways things are going after the war?" Idiotic journalist asks random Iraqi.

"No. Very unhappy."

(Three weeks later)

"Are you happy with the ways things are going after the war?" Idiotic journalist asks random Iraqi.

"Yes. Very happy. We now have running water."

It's nation rebuilding, people! Of course it's going to take over a year with many ups an downs. Happy and unhappy people. Conflicts and periods of quiet. I don't need the media to throw these silly stories at me. There has to be more newsworthy stories out there. I wish it just wasn't about the ratings or how to draw the masses, but about the quality of journalism.

Also it's annoying hearing these stupid Democratics criticize Bush about whether there was WMDs or not, and whether the war was justified. Definitely reaching for straws since they don't have anything else to harp on before the election. I hope they have something of more substance than this issue before the 2004 election. Logically, why would Saddam dodge the weapons inspections and related issues for over 10 years if there was no intent or activity in creating such weapons? Also how hard is it to hide or destroy the evidence? If you ask yourself these two questions and read the following quotes by Democrats since 1998, then you realize how political and stupid this whole issue is.

"Saddam's goal ... is to achieve the lifting of U.N. sanctions while retaining and enhancing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. We cannot, we must not and we will not let him succeed." -- Madeline Albright (1998)

"The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." -- Bill Clinton (1998)

"Iraq is not the only nation in the world to possess weapons of mass destruction, but it is the only nation with a leader who has used them against his own people." -- Tom Daschle (1998)

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." -- From a letter signed by Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara A. Milulski, Tom Daschle, & John Kerry among others (October 9, 1998)

"As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection rocess." -- Nancy Pelosi (December 16, 1998)

"Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." -- Al Gore (2002)

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability." -- Robert Byrd (October 2002)

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security." -- Hillary Clinton (October 10, 2002)

"What is at stake is how to answer the potential threat Iraq represents with the risk of proliferation of WMD. Baghdad's regime did use such weapons in the past. Today, a number of evidences may lead to think that, over the past four years, in the absence of international inspectors, this country has continued armament programs." -- Jacques Chirac (October 16, 2002)

"I share the administration's goals in dealing with Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction." -- Dick Gephardt (September 2002)

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." -- Ted Kennedy (September 27, 2002)

"I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons...I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out." -- Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen (April 2003)

The Politics of Mass Destruction
Of course Iraq had forbidden weapons.


Sunday, June 29, 2003

Even as evidence is uncovered that Saddam Hussein was planning to revive his nuclear-weapons program at the earliest possible date, politicians and pundits alike lament the failure of coalition forces to find a "smoking gun." Despite the recent discovery of plans and parts for a uranium-enrichment centrifuge, some presidential candidates have accused the Bush administration of lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to justify the war with Iraq.

Such assertions ignore all that has been learned and has transpired during the past 12-plus years. As I've said time and again, expecting any inspection regime to find a massive cache of WMDs is a lesson in self-delusion. Such folly can only bring cheer to those who opposed the war in the first place and to those who simply oppose the Bush administration.

Recall that during the first Gulf War, Iraq stored its biological-agent-filled munitions in pits dug in the sand or in abandoned railroad tunnels. Such sites are not easily found. Good intelligence emanating from those Iraqi personnel responsible for the deployment, protection and control of such storage sites will be required. Indeed, it was an Iraqi scientist who last week led coalition forces to the site where the uranium-enrichment equipment was buried. But many WMD personnel were part of the Special Security Organization under Saddam's younger son, Qusay. The information is not likely to be obtained easily.

Some pundits question, if Iraq had WMDs, why did it not use them? Iraq learned from the first Gulf War that coalition forces headed by the U.S. could advance very rapidly. Iraq also indicated in testimony to the U.N. Special Commission, or Unscom, that biological weapons would have little effect in stopping an advancing military force. Rather, their interest was to use biological weapons to intimidate their neighbors and cause them to "see things Iraq's way." Thus its failure to use biological WMDs should not be a surprise to anyone. The failure to use chemical WMDs is also not surprising considering the apparent confusion within the Iraqi command structure during the race to Baghdad.

Then, why have such weapons not been found? The answer may lie in the training and experience of the inspectors. The initial team looking for WMDs in Iraq was more reminiscent of site exploiters than inspectors. True, if they found a bomb or missile warhead, they were capable of further exploitation of the find to determine its contents. But they apparently did not have testing instruments capable of detecting trace amounts of biological-weapons agents.

The next iteration of the coalition inspectors was supposed to have a number of inspectors that had extensive experience in Iraq and has been so misrepresented in the media. I was asked in February to propose a list of Unscom experienced biological inspectors (a so-called A team) that had multiple inspection trips to Iraq. These were to be from the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. In March, after the concept was approved, I was asked to contact those on my list to assure they were willing and able to devote the time. All but one agreed to the deployment. None of the individuals on that list ever made it to Iraq.

A few weeks ago David Albright, writing in the Washington Post, stated that he had been contacted by several Iraqi nuclear scientists who asserted that they were afraid to talk to the coalition inspectors because of the way they were being treated by the inspectors--interrogation, threats, etc., rather than with any degree of respect. The interviewing of Iraqi scientists is where extensive experience would have been most valuable. One doesn't need to like what was done or the individual scientist to treat them with respect. Experienced inspectors knew this. Furthermore, experienced inspectors knew what, when, and how to pursue a subject that is unlikely to occur to a neophyte.

There is nothing that the U.S. could threaten the Iraqi scientists with that could approach what they've endured these past 30 to 40 years. A scientist I remain in contact with had been imprisoned by Iraq for 17 months in the 1990s. In early March this year, with tensions building, he was again arrested for fear he would disclose information Iraq did not want disclosed.

It is encouraging that the third and current iteration under the CIA is headed by David Kay, which may account for the recent breakthrough in uncovering the uranium-enrichment plans. In regard to other WMDs, Iraq imported or retained over the last several years key pieces of equipment that could not readily be carried off by looters. If located, extensive intrusive sampling with the right test system might tell wonders about Iraq's biological-weapons programs.

Let there be no doubt, Iraq retained an active biological-weapons program. Unscom had adequate evidence of such. In 1998, presented with the evidence, the leading biological-weapons experts from the U.S., U.K., Russia, France, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine, Romania and Canada all agreed with the Unscom findings and observations. Incredibly, U.S. and British politicians with little or no knowledge of biological weapons and biological warfare are choosing to believe otherwise.

Mr. Spertzel was head of the biological-weapons section of Unscom from 1994-99.