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Saddam and WMDs: straight to video
Posted by: Jon Henke on Friday, February 17, 2006

Finally, the truth has been revealed! Saddam sometimes talked about WMDs! (partial transcripts here and here)
Among the treasure trove of information captured after Saddam Hussein's fall were tape recordings of the Iraqi leader discussing weapons of mass destruction with top aides.

Transcripts of Saddam's tapes reviewed by NBC News show him ruminating about future terror attacks in the United States using weapons of mass destruction.
I'm not really sure what new insight we are to take away from these tapes, which "mostly date from early to mid-1990s" anyway. That Iraq was deceiving the inspectors in the 90s? That Saddam remained interested in WMDs? Well, great, but neither of those are exactly epiphanies. Even critics of the war will readily concede that Iraq was deceptive through the 90s and that Saddam was interested in WMDs.

What the tapes don't show is that Iraq retained any kind of WMD stockpile or WMD program in 2003. Indeed, as The Jawa Report observes, "it appears that the tapes show a Saddam Hussein worried that the U.S. would blame any acts of terrorism on Iraq" — a fear that events post-9/11 certainly seem to justify.

Meanwhile, there's a flurry of other "untold stories of Iraq" items...
  • Georges Sada, a former Iraqi General, is claiming that WMD's "did exist and he knows where they went". You'd think that would be highly important, actionable intelligence. . .but he's revealing this in a book he's selling, so draw your own conclusions.


  • IsraPundit reports that "Nizar Nayuf (Nayyouf-Nayyuf), a Syrian journalist who recently defected from Syria to Western Europe and is known for bravely challenging the Syrian regime, said in a letter Monday, January 5, to Dutch newspaper “De Telegraaf,” that he knows the three sites where Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are kept."


  • The Weekly Standard is still seeking the release of the unread Iraqi documents. That strikes me as a good idea, though I suspect the signal to noise ratio in those 2 million "exploitable items" will be quite low.


Meanwhile, the "Iraq sent WMDs elsewhere/to Syria" theories are a bit embarrassing. I mean, sure, the "what if" conjectures might occasionally be interesting in an academic way, but it's actual proponents tend to resemble UFO conspiracists. As with UFOs (flying saucers of intelligent extra-terrestrial origin), I won't rule it out entirely. But I won't seriously consider those conspiracy theorists until they can provide evidence more substantial than "well, it MIGHT be true!"

Likewise, unless you can produce solid, verifiable evidence that Iraq retained WMD stockpiles in 2003 and shipped them to Syria, stow it.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Well, I think this just goes with the guessing of where the WMD’s actually are. We know he had WMD’s and now that we are in Iraq we dont find any huge stockpiles of them. So there are naturally lots of guessing and theories as to the reason for this. Clinton and others say he destroyed them all with his missiles in 1998, some might claim they are burried in the desert somewhere, some say they must have been moved somewhere like Syria. These are all just guesses to try to make the facts of the situation fit together logically. I think comparing these educated guesses to loonies like UFO hunters, Conspiracy theorists, and Californians is a little off.
 
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Oh, come on. Don’t you find the timing of the release of these tapes a bit specious?

Tape released.
Cheney shoot friend in a drunken rage.

Coincidence? I think not!

</mk Off>
 
Written By: Robb Allen (Sharp as a Marble)
URL: http://sharpmarbles.stufftoread.com
Yesterday there was a thread about the so-called liberal media. Of course, since the media is so liberal, one would conclude that they wouldn’t go anywhere near these tapes. After all, the liberal media wouldn’t want to say anything that would help Bush, or justify the decision to go into Iraq.

Except, of course, that ABC broadcast them on Nightline.

Wingers are still upset. Here is what one commenter said at RedState:
I agree By: MaxMillion06

The media springing this story now in the same week that Cheney has a personal problem is suspect. The liberal media acts like Dick Cheney is the guy that voted for the war and not John Kerry.


See, it is a conspiracy. ABC put these tapes out there the same week as Cheney’s mishap in order to cover up the stories of these tapes. No, really. By broadcasting the tapes, ABC sought to bury them. And by doing a story that had nothing to do with Cheney’s shooting, they are also trying to hurt the Vice President.

Every now and then we need a little reminder of why the proper label for wingers is Right Wing Nuts.


 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
I’m not sure who you’re addressing this to, MK. Just the ether in general? The tapes are newsworthy, but they’re hardly remarkable.

Meantime, people are always complaining about the "timing" of events, stories, etc. The left has been complaining about the "timing" of stories these past few years non-stop. The right, too. It’s silly, and it’s not really evidence of "media bias". It’s almost always either an "election year" or "in the middle of a big story" or something.

Now I’m rambling, too.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The Jordanian terror attempt on Amman in 2004 tends to lead to the conclusion that the Iraqi WMD stockpiles were used in some way.

Beyond that, we know Saddam wanted the world to think they had WMD somewhere as an ace, but to keep Iran in check - not the United States.

Given a 50/50 assessment, and weighing the scales, the question on WMD comes down to "do you trust Saddam Hussein."

I don’t, I didn’t, and I until demonstrated otherwise, I will not believe something contrary to what all the arrows point towards: the Ba’athists had WMD in Iraq.
 
Written By: Shaun Kenney
URL: http://www.shaunkenney.com
The Jordanian terror attempt on Amman in 2004 tends to lead to the conclusion that the Iraqi WMD stockpiles were used in some way.
Obviously.
I don’t, I didn’t, and I until demonstrated otherwise, I will not believe something contrary to what all the arrows point towards: the Ba’athists had WMD in Iraq.
It is kind of scary to think how many on the right share this point of view.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
So the excitement and hype over these recordings is almost analogous to that over the Downing Street Memos, the Joe Wilson Op-Ed and other such revelations; lots of sizzle and very little steak. This will not stop idealogues in every camp from continuing to beat their respective dead horses.
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
Jon:

It is useful to remember, however, that in the 1991 Gulf War, the Iraqis dispatched the bulk of their air force out of the country, rather than order it to fight Coalition forces.

And where did they send them to? Iran.

So, it’s not exactly unprecedented for the Iraqis to dispatch key items out of country, in the face of a looming threat. (Notice, too, that we still don’t quite know what the Iraqi intention was, especially as the Iranians apparently kept many of those aircraft.)

This is, of course, the same Iran that fought a ten-year long war w/ Saddam (a war which Saddam had started).

Nor do I presumably need to remind you of some of the other treasures that Saddam saw fit to bury in his own country.

Does this mean that WMDs, including precursor materials, growth media, etc., are somewhere in Syria or Lebanon? Beats me. But to dismiss the idea out of hand, in the face of previous Iraqi activities, seems a little too blithe, at least to me.
 
Written By: Lurking Observer
URL: http://
I didn’t dismiss the idea out of hand. I’m just not interested in the "it COULD be true" speculation, which is exactly what you offered.

That Iraq had WMD stocks and sent them to Syria is within the realm of possibility. But "possible" isn’t "plausible". It takes actual, solid evidence to move it from possible to plausible. Otherwise, you’re just telling UFO stories.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
That Iraq had WMD stocks and sent them to Syria is within the realm of possibility. But "possible" isn’t "plausible". It takes actual, solid evidence to move it from possible to plausible. Otherwise, you’re just telling UFO stories.

I agree....we should invade Syria to check and see!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
"You’d think that would be highly important, actionable intelligence. . .but he’s revealing this in a book he’s selling, so draw your own conclusions."

Sada is giving all the proceeds to Iraqi charities. He’s not in it for the bucks.

He’s told how it was done. He was there. If the only standard of proof that people will accept is Bashar al-Assad coming on national TV and saying "Yep - we got ’em, and here’s the pix", then there’s no point thinking about it.

Sada has little to gain and much to lose. He’s sitting in the "Rushdie seat" for now, and so is is family.
 
Written By: MIke Z
URL: www.rigoletto.com/blogger.html
But "possible" isn’t "plausible". It takes actual, solid evidence to move it from possible to plausible.
Plausible.

You keep using that word.

I do not think it means what you think it means.
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
Sada is giving all the proceeds to Iraqi charities. He’s not in it for the bucks.
I haven’t seen that mentioned anywhere. You have a link? If true, it’s certainly laudable. But I won’t take his word for it any more than I’d take the word of the procession of immediately post-war Iraqis who said they had info on the WMDs. I remember one in particular who got some press claiming they were buried in a field outside a base. How’d that turn out?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Plausible. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Plausible: "apparently valid, likely, or acceptable".

Just because something is possible, that doesn’t make it believable. It’s possible that I’m a mole of the Russian Mafia. It is not, however, plausible.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I agree....we should invade Syria to check and see!
Wait a minute…
I thought that advocating the invasion of Syria is to set up a democracy.

WMD…democracy… … whatever.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
I think the WMDs-to-Syria idea is a lot more plausible than the existence of UFOs and your comparison is weak. Just because the proof is not sufficient (not yet) doesn’t mean we should forego pursuing that theory (among others). After all, in solving any mystery one must follow leads however unproven in order to make any progress.

We know that WMD stockpiles did exist in the mid 90s. Furthermore there is no evidence at all that these stockpiles were destroyed, so it seems that this theory is maybe the least plausible explanation of what happened to them.

The other possible explanations include them being hidden or relocated. (Are there any others?) Of those two, the evidence of them being hidden seems to be almost non-existent, which leaves us with the idea they were relocated. And if relocated, Syria seems to be a strong candidate. The previous posts have already put forth some of the interesting facts that lend this theory credibility - although it’s still far from proven.
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://
Wait a minute…
I thought that advocating the invasion of Syria is to set up a democracy.

WMD…democracy… … whatever.
Yeah, if we’re going to invade a country we must first be certain we have one and only one reason. If there happen to me multiple reasons, then it must be called off.
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://
Pouge- We are allowed to have only one reason to invade a country?

Equitus- Yes, what you said was what I was trying to get at. WMD’s being in Syria is infinitely more plausable than UFO abductions and such. However, Jon is right, lets not jump on the bandwagon yet, but procede causiously.
 
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
He was there.
I don’t think he was.

As I recall, he got his info second-hand from some pilots he knew who claimed to have flown the civilian airliners in which the WMD were ferried into Syria.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Just because something is possible, that doesn’t make it believable.
So now it’s not believable?

Why not?
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
Wow, you people take the first thing ABC tells you about the tapes?

Read a bit more about the tape’s and the faulty translations and what was left out over at http://ace.mu.nu/archives/158338.php
 
Written By: dvorak
URL: http://
Wow, you people take the first thing ABC tells you about the tapes?

Read a bit more about the tape’s and the faulty translations and what was left out over at http://ace.mu.nu/archives/158338.php
There’s quite a bit of context missing from ABC’s selected quotes as well. The conversation between Aziz and Saddam leading up to the ABC quotes gives them a bit of a different connotation than if read alone (I heard the original translator read the conversation prior to the quotes in question).

When read in context, the argument can be made that Saddam was intimating that he intended to use proxies to deliver WMDs to the US (as was feared). Obviously this is a translation (and subject to disagreement), but it certainly is a plausible argument based on the context of the conversation.

Of course, when faced with a choice to explore this story or froth and foam about Fuddgate, the MSM chooses the latter.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Pouge- We are allowed to have only one reason to invade a country?
Of course not. But what is not allowed is…
We’re going in for WMD.
…no, wait…
We’re going in for Al Qaeda
…no, wait…
We’re going in for democracy.

At least it’s not advisable if one wishes to remain credible.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Pogue:

So, did we fight WWII to preserve markets (William Appleman Williams), to further democracy (FDR’s "Four Freedoms"), b/c we were attacked (most Americans’ belief), or what?

It certainly would seem that we had both contradictory and multifaceted reasons for fighting that particular war, and it’s hard to believe we were fighting for the "Four Freedoms," when one of our allies had butchered a few million of their own, and another was one of the world’s major empires.

Guess that means we weren’t very credible, eh?
 
Written By: Lurking Observer
URL: http://
Of course not. But what is not allowed is…
We’re going in for WMD.
…no, wait…
We’re going in for Al Qaeda
…no, wait…
We’re going in for democracy.

At least it’s not advisable if one wishes to remain credible.
Pogue, you realize that all those reasons (and a few more) were given to Congress in seeking the AUMF in October, 2002, right? Okay, it wasn’t al Qaeda by name, it was terrorism in general that was used.

WMDs were stressed to sell the idea to the UN Security Council, but they weren’t the only reason Bush gave to Congress or the public.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com
Bah, you fools.

http://www.nysun.com/article/27110

They released it only now to bury the Cheney hunting accident? Stuff it. They planned to release these tapes now even before Cheney fired that rifle. Oh, let me guess. Cheney told them he was going to "try to kill" Harry Whittington and he told them to say that about the tapes now so it couldn’t be used in this way. Wow, Cheney sure is smart if that’s what really happened...


I hate liberals.
 
Written By: Kane
URL: http://
So now it’s not believable? Why not?
There’s no positive evidence. No verifiable testimony.

If I considered the testimony of a heretofore unknown quantity strong enough to make his mere unsubstantiated assertions "believable", then Coast to Coast AM (aka, Ghost to Ghost AM) would be a lot spookier.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Jon:

I think the only things we know for sure are:

—Saddam had WMD materials in 1991.
—Saddam’s regime handed over some of it after his sons-in-law defected.
—Saddam’s regime did not provide a full accounting for the remaining materials.

After that, there’s no positive evidence or verifiable testimony for any of the accounts and claims.

Saddam claimed that he had gotten rid of the materials, but had neither positive evidence nor verifiable testimony. Indeed, given the lies given by his regime in the 1991-1993 period (before his sons-in-law defected), and his lies before that (e.g., to IAEA), it would be silly to argue that now one could be sure he was telling the truth.

The world intelligence communities assumed, based on the absence of evidence of disposal and the presumption that he would rather admit that he’d gotten rid of WMD and related materials than suffer continuous sanctions (and even war), that he must still retain those WMD.

The current speculation is based on the evidence of absence, i.e., the failure to discover any WMD in the searched areas. The failure to discover actual WMD leads one to conclude that one (or possibly more) of the following possibilities must have occurred:

—Saddam never had the materials
—Saddam was told he had materials, but actually did not (different from previous claim, insofar as Saddam clearly once had materials and used them, but it’s possible that he shot his bolt and didn’t know it)
—Saddam’s materials were all found (and eliminated) by the previous inspection system
—Saddam’s materials were disposed of (by his own people, or even on his own orders), but not so reported to the UN or other inspection entities
—Saddam’s materials were/are hidden (in Iraq)
—Saddam’s materials were moved or given away

I’m pretty sure this is the universe of possible conclusions. All (except the first, IMO, since he had used WMD in the past) are possible, but then you have to wonder which is plausible, which has the most evidence supporting it.

As I said earlier, I make no claim that they were moved, but neither am I prepared to accept that he actually complied with the UN authorities, either openly or de facto.
 
Written By: Lurking Observer
URL: http://
Ha Ha Ha

Like in 1991 when we thought Iraq had no biological weapon programs and Kamel defected to tell us that they had weaponized anthrax and a hidden fatcory to boot?

But, no, no, it’s IMPOSSIBLE they moved stuff to Syria.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
18 Apr 1991
Iraq provides initial declaration required under Resolution 687. This declaration includes some chemical weapons and materials and 53 Al-Hussein and Scud type surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. Iraq declares it has no biological weapons program.
May 1992
Iraq provides its first FFCDs for its prohibited biological and missile programs. Iraq says it had only a defensive biological weapons program.
Mar 1995
Iraq provides the second FFCD of its prohibited biological and chemical weapons programs.
1 Jul 1995
The culmination of an UNSCOM investigation forces Iraq to admit for the first time the existence of an offensive biological weapons program. However, Iraq denies that it has weaponized this capability.
Aug 1995
Iraq provides the third FFCD for its prohibited biological weapons program.
8 Aug 1995
General Hussein Kamel, Minister of Industry and Minerals and formerly Director of Iraq’s Military Industrialization Corporation with responsibility for all of Iraq’s weapons programs, leaves Iraq for Jordan. Iraq says that Hussein Kamel had hidden important information on the prohibited weapons programs from UNSCOM and the IAEA.
May-Jun 1996
UNSCOM supervises the destruction of Al-Hakam, Iraq’s main facility for producing biological warfare agents.
22 Jun 1996
Iraq provides the fourth FFCD of its prohibited biological weapons program.
Sep 1997
Iraq provides a fifth FFCD for its prohibited biological weapons program.
....but let’s trust these guys that they had NOTHING I see NOTHING
http://cns.miis.edu/research/iraq/uns_chro.htm

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
But, no, no, it’s IMPOSSIBLE they moved stuff to Syria.
Maybe English isn’t your first language. I never said it was "impossible" that they moved the stuff to Syria. I’m just waiting for positive evidence before I believe it.

Your faith-based theory is unappealing.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
So, Jon, what do you think happened to the materials?

I agree that it’s not known whether they might have been moved. And therefore proper to indicate skepticism to the claims that they absolutely, positively were moved.

But I don’t think it’s a "faith-based theory" to presume that the materials were not destroyed, either, especially given Saddam’s track record, which Harun properly notes included massive deception until the frankly lucky contingency of his own sons-in-law defecting.

Which brings us back to the question: What do you think happened to the materials that Saddam had but did not provide proof that he had either destroyed or handed over to the UN?
 
Written By: Lurking Observer
URL: http://
Thumb at the nose, middle finger in the eye rejection of moving WMD to Syria.

Just the usual attack without respect for the facts.

Iraq used WMD on the Kurds. Remnants of WMD have been found in Iraq.

Where is the credible evidence that they were destroyed? Or non-existent? Or depleted through use?

Were the WMD used up completely, non-existent, destroyed, or moved? Why have you chosen to denigrate those who suspect move, with no alternative explanation? All options are in play, but you have explicitly chosen to denigrate just one. Rejecting one option so strongly, you support one or more of the alternatives more strongly. Please, educate us.

Let me guess. Iraq was Libertarian and the WMD was all private.

Scepticism on your part is waranted, but you present it as maximum insult to one of the possible explanations.

Is there any question as to why Libertarians finish 4th in a 2-way race?



 
Written By: Tee Jay
URL: http://
So, Jon, what do you think happened to the materials?
That’s complicated. I think a lot of it was entirely illusory — they claimed capability that they simply didn’t have. In other circumstances, we simply misread signals. In still others, they destroyed WMDs and never provided proof. "Unilateral destruction", it was called.

As the final report indicated...
It now appears clear that Saddam, despite internal reluctance, particularly on the part of the head of Iraq’s military industries, Husayn Kamil, resolved to eliminate the existing stocks of WMD weapons during the course of the summer of 1991 in support of the prime objective of getting rid of sanctions. The goal was to do enough to be able to argue that they had complied with UN requirements. Some production capacity that Baghdad thought could be passed off as serving a civilian function was retained, and no admission of biological weapons was made at all. But the clear prime theme of Saddam was to defeat the UN constraints. Dispensing with WMD was a tactical retreat in his ongoing struggle.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net

 
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