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Iraq WMD Eruption
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, June 22, 2006

The latest WMD eruption is making waves, but it's a lot less consequential than it might at first appear.
The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.
Bear in mind, these are not shells we've just discovered; these are shells disovered since 2003. There are conflicting stories about why their discovery was not mentioned previously, and the resolution to that question could be very interesting indeed. One speculation — via Captain's Quarters, where Ed Morrisey has a good overview of the story — is that we're protecting our putative allies...
these are "not the WMD’s for which this country went to war."
General Tom Mcinerney is reporting on Fox Hannity and Colmes right now that that the administration has been keeping this low profile to avoid exposing 3 of the 5 members of the UN Security council; Russia, China, and France. McInerney says these weapons will be traced to these countries, and asserts it is well known that Russia helped Saddam move most of his WMD stockpiles out of Iraq before the war.
I'm not sure why McInerney would have the inside scoop on the diplomatic ballet, but it strikes me as fairly unlikely that the adminisration would take the heat for the lack of WMDs in order to protect Russia for running off with them.

In any event, the Washington Post puts this discovery in the proper perspective...
The U.S. military announced in 2004 in Iraq that several crates of the old shells had been uncovered and that they contained a blister agent that was no longer active. Neither the military nor the White House nor the CIA considered the shells to be evidence of what was alleged by the Bush administration to be a current Iraqi program to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Last night, intelligence officials reaffirmed that the shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.
considering their degraded state, I'm not even sure they can plausibly be called "WMDs".
The Defense Department also appears to be taking this perspective on the issue, with one official saying these are "not the WMD’s for which this country went to war."

These are, apparently, degraded, pre-91 chemical munitions that had been buried and forgotten. As evidence that Iraq once stockpiled chemical weapons, they're great. But everybody already acknowledges that. Now, they're just worthless remnants of once-upon-a-time. In fact, considering their degraded state, I'm not even sure they can plausibly be called "WMDs". "Former WMDs", perhaps, but they certainly couldn't wreak mass destruction now.

In fact, this isn't substantively different than what we already knew. The 2004 Duelfer Report claimed that "a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered", but nevertheless "ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991." I'd be willing to bet that there are some more 1980s-era chemical munitions in various stages of disrepair scattered around Iraq. But, heck, we've also recently discovered buried and forgotten chemical munitions in Washington DC, so this is not terribly meaningful.

The proper perspective on Iraqi WMDs is not to tout useless leftovers from the 1980s, but to note that, as Fred Barnes suggests, that WMD programs "could have been cranked up immediately, and that's what Saddam had planned to do if the sanctions against Iraq had halted and they were certainly headed in that direction." This view was substantiated by the Duelfer Report, and does not appear to be in serious dispute. Austin Bay comments further in that direction.

Worthless chemicals that used to be WMDs are interesting, to be sure, but they're simply not a new or dispositive discovery.
 
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" The 2004 Duelfer Report claimed that "a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered""

The Duelfer Report says 53 munitions were discovered. Just sayin’.
 
Written By: markm
URL: http://
Except to show that Saddam hadn’t complied with the relevant UN Resolutions concerning WMD Disarmament. That might be of some value to note...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Jon,

Basically I am in agreement. However, 500 shells is not small. I believe only 10 or 15 were used at Halabja (sic) against the Kurds. It also shows he didn’t destroy his existing stockpiles which was part (only part) of the issue as Joe notes above. If these shells are shown not to be almost all degraded, or likely not to have been at the time of the invasion, and not merely buried and forgotten circa 1991, then it puts us at the lower bound of estimated threats from Iraq. These are shells that if useful would have been very effective tactically or as sources for terrorists.

I am skeptical (but then I usually am) but I also wouldn’t assume there isn’t much to this just yet. The Intel hasn’t been dissemninated and it is frustrating Hoekstra and Santorum. Some of it might be of more interest.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
Interestingly, the theory about "protecting our allies" has been pushed on previous occasions. I don’t know if there’s anything to it, but it seems to be a popular one:

http://polipundit.com/index.php?p=12931
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
Hey, McQ and Jon are in almost congruent agreement! Can the messianic age not be far behind?
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
Joe:
Except to show that Saddam hadn’t complied with the relevant UN Resolutions concerning WMD Disarmament. That might be of some value to note...
From the entry:
The 2004 Duelfer Report claimed that "a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered", but nevertheless "ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991."
This is not the evidence that you seek.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
It’s hard to say what the administrations position was before the war because they gave so many rationales. Several times it was stated that we can’t know what Saddam had until it might be too late. At other times it was said that we do know. Then at other times it was merely stated that he didn’t satisfy the requirements that he assure us that there were no WMDs and/or no WMD programs.

The administration’s problem is that they had a smorgasbord of reasons to satisfy any criteria. The nations-building was invoked on rare occasion prior to the 2003 invasion for those who need such a rationale; but who thought it was the main reason? Referring to UN criteria, terrorist involvement, corruption and oppression, creating a new ally, readying ourselves for Iran, were just a few of the many reasons that I remember. But hoping that diverse supporters will imagine their reason to be the “main” reason also means that diverse critics will pick the weakest reason as the “main” reason to argue against the effort.

The administration should have hierarchically organized the criteria in order of importance, for example, as follows: (1) we lack the assurances we need (and are entitled to,) (2) we have specific reasons to act now, (3) we have strategic reasons, and (4) finally we seek regional change of a democratic nature. One still holds. Two and three are not so clear. Four is still a hope. Failing to so organized the reasons only make people suspicious that the real reason is something other than they originally believed. The general population requires leadership—intellectual leadership. I believe the administration has given up defending the invasion and is merely trying to defend our continual presence.

Comments?
 
Written By: JasonPappas
URL: http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/
Jon,
When WMD’s aren’t "WMD’s" anymore, then faddish equivocation has graduated to dangerous derangement.

Interestingly, this WMD discovery - no matter how small - provides the anti-war Democrats ( and their media shills, like the WaPo) a unique opportunity to change their message, and to save face. But they have to act quickly.

All that is needed now to unite the country behind the sacrifices of Operation Iraqi Freedom- that is, to make us all on the "same" team - is for ALL media to publicize the now-obvious connections between the following, duly-recorded facts.
1. "trace" WMD’s found in Iraq,
2. Saddam’s recorded use of them on his own citizens,
3. the progress made lately towards the tyrant’s court-ordered execution, and
4. the nexus between his regime and Islamic terrorist organizations.
If the Democratic party wants to save its hide in November, its candidates had better start showing the country that they "get" this interconnectedness. And, if the Old-Steam Media and the Teacher’s Unions want to see their D-friends elected this year, they’d better buck-up, and help spread the message.

It’s going to hurt at first.
-Steve
 
Written By: grass
URL: http://
yikes, I have been on this merry go round so many times that this time I am going to sit and wait and be the last to comment on what it all means.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
When WMD’s aren’t "WMD’s" anymore, then faddish equivocation has graduated to dangerous derangement.
Weapons are judged "WMDs" because they have certain destructive capacity. If chemical munitions have degraded, then they no longer have that destructive capacity. Ergo, they are no longer WMDs.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.qando.net/
David Weigel atHit ’n Run:
The stuff "found" by Santorum and Hoekstra is ridiculously small beer, compared to the weapons Saddam was allegedly stockpiling. President Bush in 2003 didn’t warn of "500 munitions" of degraded weapons. He rattled the country with talk of "upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents" and "the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent." And, of course, the administration stoked fears about Saddam seeking nuclear technology, which like the tons of poisons he could pass on to terrorists. Digging up a few hundred decade-old poisons and hyping them as "Saddam’s WMD" is the definition of pathetic, and it’s only fooling the usual suspects.
Read the whole thing.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
There is also a suggestion that more info is to come if the CIA loses its battle to keep the rest of the report classified.

It is possible that the CIA is trying to hide it’s own failures to find WMD.
 
Written By: LL
URL: http://daddiosdarkside.blogspot.com
Jon/Rosensteel they count as WMD’s because they ARE WMD’s... and they demonstrate a failure to comply with the required UN Resolutions. I, too expected, to discover several tons of WMD’s in Iraq, freshly made in 2003. That did NOT occur, but this demonstrates that "Bush LIED" isn’t even Bush was wrong... merely that Bush misCOUNTED...

I agree that the parsing going on here is a bit silly. The Hussein regime was NOT in compliance in a substantial manner with its legal obligations, this is more proof.

Degraded mustard and Sarin is STILL a war gas... and the CIA really does want to keep this rather quiet, because they missed a SUBSTANTIAL stock of dangerous weapons. OOPS!
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
When you’re a senator up for re-election and down 19% in your own polling any glimmer can look like sunshine.

Or for that matter, when you’re a right wing blogger with egg on your face for 3 years it works as well.

This is a desperate ploy but one has to wonder, how did Rick ever get Hoekstra to sign on to it and should this guy be on any committee that includes the word "intelligence"?
 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
It would be nice if this were really ’new’ info, but it isn’t. The signs have been there all along.

I should point out though, if your kid found one of these things buried in your back yard, my bet is you wouldn’t say "sure son, bring it on in and sit it on the coffee table - it’s degraded".
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
What McInerney said on Hannity and Colmes is that although the mustard gas has degraded completely, it’s still possible that the serin has not. Firing the serin shells at a target would be useless, but the serin itself could still be used outside the shells to deadly effect.
 
Written By: Doug Purdie
URL: http://www.onlybaseballmatters.com
What McInerney said on Hannity and Colmes is that although the mustard gas has degraded completely, it’s still possible that the serin has not.
Interesting, since WWI mustard shells and contamination were still a problem in the 1970s in Verdun and other areas in France such as the old Somme battlefields.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Maybe we should just allow those on the anti-war side to test these shells on themselves...

That should prove their conviction that there were "NO WMDs" in Iraq.

What next, we find out about a stockpile of chemicals that could be used to create chemical weapons, but the admin said, no, those weren’t what we were talking about. They’re illegal, but we didn’t know about them either.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Jon, I think you’re being a little naive about doubting Bush would protect Russia. The world of foreign policy is often maddening and makes little sense. Despite Bush’s new form of diplomacy that departs from the standard "realist" view, realism is still the template and America bends over backwards not to harm the reputation of other nations if they are even slightly democratic (i.e. Russia). If there are indeed WMD’s hidden in Iraq, it makes perfect sense that they’d want to hush it up until they found them.
 
Written By: Jim Rose
URL: http://www.jim-rose.com/
Thank you Mark, I seem to recall the same thing. At issue for some is the "Mass" in terms of destructive potential.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Hi,

Here is a link to the copy of the declassified document: declassified document

I heard that someone from the intelligence community contacted Hoekstra to do a request for this document. So he did te request (without necessarily knowing what was in it) and it was released. Otherwise the document would still be unknown to the public.
 
Written By: CK
URL: http://
No, this is too funny. Its too funny to watch various apologists come on and split hairs over 500 dud shells that no-one fears (except Santorum and Hoekstra) and by the Pentagon’s own word, are old, decrepit and not the WMD’s we went to war for. The only thing they omitted to show was the invoice that Rummy sent Saddam for them.

My theory is that Rep Party bigwigs needed to shed some embarassing guys on their own team and so "de-classified" top secret super important information that only True American Heroes like Santorum could digest and pass to the media. Pity they didn’t give the scoop to Bush.

Farce as politics.
 
Written By: Harkadahl UK
URL: http://
That any war supporter would use this as ’evidence’ merely shows their desperation.
 
Written By: gregdn
URL: http://
Santorum is losing and is desparate. Fox News is scared of what its polls are saying. It’s time to cloud the issue and confuse the voters.

 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
Jason Pappas writes:

The administration should have hierarchically organized the criteria in order of importance, for example, as follows: (1) we lack the assurances we need (and are entitled to,) (2) we have specific reasons to act now, (3) we have strategic reasons, and (4) finally we seek regional change of a democratic nature. One still holds. Two and three are not so clear. Four is still a hope. Failing to so organized the reasons only make people suspicious that the real reason is something other than they originally believed. The general population requires leadership—intellectual leadership.


This was done starting September 12, 2002 with President Bush’s address to the United Nations.

Among the reasons for the war was Saddam’s defiance of UN Resolutions including
UNSCR 687 - April 3, 1991

Iraq must "unconditionally accept" the destruction, removal or rendering harmless "under international supervision" of all "chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities."

Iraq must "unconditionally agree not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons-usable material" or any research, development or manufacturing facilities.

Iraq must "unconditionally accept" the destruction, removal or rendering harmless "under international supervision" of all "ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 KM and related major parts and repair and production facilities."

Iraq must not "use, develop, construct or acquire" any weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq must reaffirm its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Creates the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) to verify the elimination of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs and mandated that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verify elimination of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.

Iraq must declare fully its weapons of mass destruction programs.

Iraq must not commit or support terrorism, or allow terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq.

Iraq must cooperate in accounting for the missing and dead Kuwaitis and others.

Iraq must return Kuwaiti property seized during the Gulf War.



NOTE: The first item mentioned is :

Iraq must "unconditionally accept" the destruction, removal or rendering harmless "under international supervision" of all "chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities."

The resolution authorizing the use of force gave as one of the reasons:

Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire,
attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify
and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and
development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal
of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;


Can anyone deny that these old weapons were part of the reason the coalition went to war?

 
Written By: Bill
URL: http://
What this report shows is evidence that Saddam’s gov’t did not destroy his pre-1991 stocks, and that some were purposely hidden to preclude their having to do so. A "mislayed" stock of WMD is not buried with any other intent but to hide them from the UN Inspectors.
Brushing this off by saying there’re old or degraded or they were never used is like telling a cop who has just traffic stopped a known murderous felon and discovers that said felon is carring a rusted old cowboy revolver that he should just ignore the weapon because it might not go off if the thug decided to try to shoot the cop with it.
Furthermore the unnamed DOD source and the text of the declassified report contradict each other. The Intel report says the stuff was degraded but likely still dangerous while the DOD "guy" claims the shells were virtualy completely degraded. The Intel report has a person’s name on it, the DOD source remains unnamed. If the stuff was old and essentially harmless why not go on the record about it?
The whole issue needs more declassification, investigation and clarification.
 
Written By: KJB43
URL: http://
Here is a link to a study on the effects of mustard gas that was dumped in the Adriatic in 1943. Fisherman as late as 1997 were still getting exposed.

http://www.mitretek.org/ContinuingExposureToMustardInTheAdriatic.htm

 
Written By: CK
URL: http://
On the top of this news page dated 2003 it talks about some Japanese constructions workers who got exposed to Mustard Gas that the Japanese army stored in World War II.

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2003/08/12/2003063321
 
Written By: CK
URL: http://
David Weigel atHit ’n Run:
The stuff "found" by Santorum and Hoekstra is ridiculously small beer, compared to the weapons Saddam was allegedly stockpiling. President Bush in 2003 didn’t warn of "500 munitions" of degraded weapons. He rattled the country with talk of "upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents" and "the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent." And, of course, the administration stoked fears about Saddam seeking nuclear technology, which like the tons of poisons he could pass on to terrorists. Digging up a few hundred decade-old poisons and hyping them as "Saddam’s WMD" is the definition of pathetic, and it’s only fooling the usual suspects.

Read the whole thing.
The information that Bush "rattled the country" with didn’t come from the administration, it came from UNSCOM in 1998. I’ve always thought it peculiar how Bush "lied" about information that originated with the United Nations years before he took office.

And I love how conext is used to discredit these weapons. If the context were different, say, for example, if these munitions had found their way into the hands of Al Queda, a few liters of their sarin harvested and ultimately discharged in Weigel’s kids’ elementary school, I doubt he would still view them as "pathetic."

And by the way, here’s a list of what UNSCOM found in Iraq AFTER Saddam allegedly "unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991."

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
Don’t forget:
"RESOLUTION 687 (1991)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 2981st meeting,
on 3 April 1991...

8. Decides that Iraq shall unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of:

(a) All chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities;..."

The main reason for going to war, offered by Bush himself to the United Nations, was Iraq’s defiance of international law. This discovery of WMD in Iraq is clear evidence of that defiance. If we wish to take international law and the institutions that make that law seriously, we must enforce the resolutions and statutes thereby created. Otherwise UN Resolutions are not worth the paper they are printed on.

To dismiss these WMDs as "not important", is to delegitimize the UN and its resolutions.
 
Written By: BrCo
URL: http://
Jon/Rosensteel they count as WMD’s because they ARE WMD’s
As has already been demonstrated, they are not WMD’s because they do not posess the capabilities that define such a weapon.
and they demonstrate a failure to comply with the required UN Resolutions.
They demonstrate no such thing. How could the regime have been expected to destroy weapons that it was not even aware of, and which has been lost for decades? Arguably, they werent even in ’posession’ of them, making the entire thing moot.
That did NOT occur, but this demonstrates that "Bush LIED" isn’t even Bush was wrong... merely that Bush misCOUNTED...
By your own logic, Sadaam did not lie about destroying his stockpiles, but merely miscounted and lost track of some of the munitions.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
But he DID lie, Rosensteel, he declared that he had complied.... 500 munitions is NOT an accounting error. Plus the other violations and ambiguities Blix and Company found.

They were LOST... Rosensteel you must be KIDDING right? Just because WE FOUND them, doesn’t mean they were lost. They may have been hidden, but from the UN/US, not the Iraqi regime...

Actually yes, the fact that they were MUSTARD and Sarin makes them WMD’s. Hussein lied when he said I got rid of them all. He was supposed to destroy ALL stocks of WMD’s. The fact that he had a poor manufacturing process for chemical weapons does NOT absolve him of being in violation. If he had used purer precursors, they’d have been more potent...but they still would ahve been and WERE WMD’s. This is akin to saying, "He’s a felon and not supposed to have firearms, but the rifle’s disassembled so it really doesn’t count."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
He ’lost’ them? Waaaa-haaaaa.
Geeze - I can hardly wait until the administration ’loses’ something of like nature to see how quick you are to forgive them.
Here George Bush gets blamed when a squad leader looses 3 of his guys because the squad leader made an error.
Saddam and his government get a pass because they ’lost’ 500 chemical warfare shells owing to an adminstrative error on some clerks part.
Yaaaaa-buddddddddyyyyyyyyy
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Rosensteel,

I don’t know what to make of this, my assumption is they are old and degraded. However, they probably still show Saddam was out of compliance and you don’t know that they were all degraded. You have heard that, I have heard that. The actual evidence we have seen however does not say they were not a threat. I suggest we all wait until we know more to jump to those kind of conclusions.

This kind of debate is probably exactly why the report was not released. Santorum blew it. Until all the information could be released it should have been held back. Instead, by the time it is released even if several hundred of these shells were usable and known to the regime it will be discounted as insignificant as those who want to win debating points go from "no WMD’s" to "not ones that I think are significant." If they are old and decrepit shells found in various foxholes along the Iranian border then they’ll be riduculed as making something big out of something very little and rightfully so.

My guess is Bush figures what is the point? As of now, unless Saddam is shown to have an actual nuclear weapon it won’t matter. Small amounts of biological weapons or agents? Peanuts. Tactical chemical weapons? Old news, except that is exactly what we expected to find. I certainly never thought he had ICBM’s filled with Sarin. I thought he had artillary shells. It seems he did. I figured a few thousand, but terrorists don’t need that many. Given we have already found 500 it may turn out he did have a few thousand and if a substantial portion are functional then we have exactly what I expected to find.

Anyway, David Kay and Duelfer’s report were good enough for me, and I didn’t support the invasion merely for that reason anyway. If he had everything under wraps at the point of the invasion that only shows he was scared as Duelfer and Kay pointed out. Why was he scared? Because we might invade. He obviously wasn’t scared enough.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
After all this time, money and lives spent searching for the excuse Bush used to unilaterally and illegally attack Iraq, all they can find is useless old munitions that were decommissioned, discarded or lost - but useless at any rate. Iraq was in compliance with the resolutions to destroy it’s chemical and biological weapons programs.

Bush, on the other hand, violated the UN charter baring unprovoked attacks on another country, making him a war criminal and a criminal in the United States for violating the constitutional decree that treaties are the law of the land in the United States.
 
Written By: PDX
URL: http://
PDX, you are right to create parody of the lefties, but your effort is not funny. Lefties say crazier things regularly. Also, war criminal is almost a compliment compared to the charges usually hurled. Parodies need exaggeration. This one falls flat.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
PDX
"After all this time, money and lives spent searching for the excuse Bush used to unilaterally and illegally attack Iraq, all they can find is useless old munitions that were decommissioned, discarded or lost - but useless at any rate. Iraq was in compliance with the resolutions to destroy it’s chemical and biological weapons programs.

Bush, on the other hand, violated the UN charter baring unprovoked attacks on another country, making him a war criminal and a criminal in the United States for violating the constitutional decree that treaties are the law of the land in the United States."

(1) The ’90 - ’91 war never ended there was a cease fire contingent on Iraq living up to certain agreements, Iraq didn’t.

(2) The ’90 and ’98 Congressional authorizations for the use of force resolutions were still in effect.

(3) A new use of force resolution (’02) was passed by Congress.


Under both the Constitution of the United States and the United Nations Charter Bush’s actions were and continue to be legal.
 
Written By: Bill
URL: http://
But he DID lie, Rosensteel, he declared that he had complied.... 500 munitions is NOT an accounting error.
500 munitions really isnt anything all that interesting. Things like that get scattered and left behind battlefields on a regular basis. Given their age, and the locations in which they were found, they most likely were simply left-behind battlefield munitions.

I’ve been discussing this in a few other places, and I had this information relayed to me by a former Artilleryman in the Swiss military:
how much is 500 munitions?

Not much.
A M-109 howitzer can hold around 40 or so (don’t remember the exact number, shame on me) 155mm artillery shells.
You have 6 in an artillery battery so that makes for 240 shells.
An artillery group (three batteries) would henceforth require about 720 shells just to load up once.

Obviously you can expect your typical wartime artillery group to have to reload a couple times so 500 is really peanuts in the grand scheme of artillery warfare.
Given this information, these scattered shells (remember, they werent all found in one location) can reasonably be assumed to be battlefield debris rather than any sort of hidden stockpile.
They were LOST... Rosensteel you must be KIDDING right? Just because WE FOUND them, doesn’t mean they were lost. They may have been hidden, but from the UN/US, not the Iraqi regime...
Not likely, given the context in which they were found. Why in the world would Sadaam have attempted to hide WMD stockpiles by scattering a few shells around the entire country? It dosent make any sense. Just compare this to the US pre-war claims regarding the size of the alleged Iraqi stockpiles.

Besides, it dosent even follow that they were hidden from the US. Everything seems to indicate that these munitions have been abandoned since the 1980’s, several years before the first Gulf War. Why on Earth would Sadaam be hiding munitions by scattering them around the country in small quantities, years before the first Gulf War and any UN resolutions to disarm?

It just dosent make any sense. It dosent stand up to scrutiny. I think you realize this, and the logical backflips you are doing to justify your apologism are pretty amazing. The US can lose large quantities of chemical weapons, only to have them to turn up in the DC suburbs decades later, but it is not at all beleivable that the much less organized Iraqi government could do the same?

I know that you want to beleive what you are saying really, really badly. I’m sorry, but it just dosent stand up to scrutiny.
you don’t know that they were all degraded
It’s a fairly safe assumption, actually. These sorts of weapons have a limited shelf-life. Presuming that the reported dating of these weapons is accurate, they would have been degraded even if they had been carefully kept in a controlled warehouse. These things simply don’t last forever.
The fact that he had a poor manufacturing process for chemical weapons does NOT absolve him of being in violation.
It’s not a matter of the manufacturer process. Even US quality munitions have a shelf life shorter than the age of these purported munitions.
Hussein lied when he said I got rid of them all. He was supposed to destroy ALL stocks of WMD’s.
By your very ’lied vs miscounted’ standard that you applied to Bush, it can reasonably be said that Hussein did not in fact lie. If you do not like your standards to be evenly applied, I would suggest that is in fact your problem and not mine.

If we are to accept your criteria, either both Bush and Hussein lied, or they both simply mis-stated based on incomplete knowledge. Pick your poison. I’m sorry if you feel uncomfortable abiding by the standards you have set.


 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Of course the war was not legal. Neither 678, 687 nor 1441 authorized war. In fact, among scholars of international law, there really isn’t any serious debate. Indeed, Bush said he would go back to the UN for authorization, but he never did. Not that it matters anymore, or even at the time we went to war. But the foregoing argument neatly sums up how ridiculous the pro-war legal arguments can get:
(1) The ’90 - ’91 war never ended there was a cease fire contingent on Iraq living up to certain agreements, Iraq didn’t.

(2) The ’90 and ’98 Congressional authorizations for the use of force resolutions were still in effect.

(3) A new use of force resolution (’02) was passed by Congress.

Under both the Constitution of the United States and the United Nations Charter Bush’s actions were and continue to be legal.
Silly, really. And to top it off, we get this:
If we wish to take international law and the institutions that make that law seriously, we must enforce the resolutions and statutes thereby created. Otherwise UN Resolutions are not worth the paper they are printed on.
Thanks for the laughs. Oh, and by the way, as long as we are on the subject:
"The area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
"You said you knew where they were."

"I did not. I said I knew where ’suspect’ sites were."
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Of course the war was not legal. Neither 678, 687 nor 1441 authorized war.
This presumes that one recognizes the authority of international law, which typically most conservatives do not. I think that even the most internationally inclined liberals would begrudgingly agree that, lacking any enforcement authority, that much of international law is presently little more than a pleasant fantasy.

Of course, the real hypocrisy comes into play when people simultaneously dismiss the legitimacy of international law, and simultaneously use it as justification for invasion. It either lacks legitimacy, or it does not, take your pick.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Okay, so how many shells count as WMD’s? Please, I think we need an exact number from the critics at this point. 1,000? 5,000?

How much secrecy and hiding elements of programs so that they can be reconstituted count as "having WMD programs?"

and the NO. 1 question for everyone:

If Saddam was in full and complete compliance despite all of these "boo boos" then how many of you would risk letting him out of the sanctions regime? Because that was where the world was heading...

Finally, if Al Qaeda got these weapons and let them off in an attack on New York’s subway, but since they were partially degraded only a couple people died and more were just contaminated....would you be letting the Bush admin off the hook? (For invading and not finding, or for not invading...)

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://

nd the CIA really does want to keep this rather quiet, because they missed a SUBSTANTIAL stock of dangerous weapons.


Nonsense. Here is what they said. The Duelfer report addendum from March 2005 (this was after the intial report) says that

"ISG assesses that Iraq and Coalition Forces will
continue to discover small numbers of degraded
chemical weapons, which the former Regime mislaid
or improperly destroyed prior to 1991. ISG believes
the bulk of these weapons were likely abandoned,
forgotten and lost during the Iran-Iraq war because
tens of thousands of CW munitions were forward
deployed along frequently and rapidly shifting battlefronts.
• All but two of the chemical weapons discovered
since OIF were found in southern Iraq where the
majority of CW munitions were used against Iran in
the Iran-Iraq war."

3-5 Intelligence officials (in a briefing organized by John Negroponte’s office — think he’s peaved at Santorum’s grandstanding ?) said that they were old degraded weapons, and they were found in groups of 1 or 2 or very small batches.

 
Written By: Jon j
URL: http://

Okay, so how many shells count as WMD’s? Please, I think we need an exact number from the critics at this point. 1,000? 5,000?


How about

— “Iraq has at least seven mobile factories for the production of biological agents - equipment mounted on trucks and rails to evade discovery.”
— "We belive that he {Saddam] has in fact reconstituted nuclear weapons"
— “[Saddam] is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time.”
— "“Evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program…Iraq could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year.”
— "“There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more…Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets.”"
— “[Saddam has] amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of biological weapons, including Anthrax, botulism, toxins and possibly smallpox. He’s amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, Sarin and mustard gas.”
— “The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons…And according to the British government, the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes.”

These aren’t our statements mind you, they come from the President, VP, DefSec.

of course, spending around $500 billion (eventual cost) for 500 shells, amounts to $1billion/shell, probably more like 5-10 billion/active shell. A little on the expensive side, I think. Forgetting cost in blood.
 
Written By: Jon j
URL: http://
Okay, so how many shells count as WMD’s? Please, I think we need an exact number from the critics at this point. 1,000? 5,000?
It’s not the number. 1,000,000 shells filled with degraded chemicals are not WMDs. They USED TO BE WMDs, but now they’re just worthless crap in a tube.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Once again, to justify his approach to politics and near history, Jon must be tenditious to the point of lying.

"They USED TO BE WMDs, but now they’re just worthless crap in a tube."

The least they represent is an abject failure of the Saddam regime to keep track of its WMDS as required by UN Security Council resolutions and that nation’s agreements with the US with respect to the armistice that halted the offensive against it 14 years ago—and it shows the only way to begin to be sure of the WMDS present there at the time of the Gulf War Phase I is to have many sovereign boots on the ground looking for them.

Full stop. That is a completely, unnassailably true thing.

At worst they represent a desire on the part of that regime to retain WMDs for future use.

And they certainly represent the ability of terrorists and their sympathizers to recognize the opportunity those WMDs represented.

Amd Jon, if think they are actually degraded so as to unusable in a terror attack, you are being...

...profoundly, unintelligently, optimistic.

The reasons and reasoning—if not 100% of the evidence—given for going to war with Iraq stand valid to date.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://

The reasons and reasoning—if not 100% of the evidence—given for going to war with Iraq stand valid to date.


I would say that somewhere between 95% and 99.9% of the administration’s WMD claims do not stand valid as to date. [ You know, the several thousand tons of chemicals, the active chemicals program, the reconstituted nuclear weapons program, the active smallpox and anthrax program]

 
Written By: markm
URL: http://
Once again, to justify his approach to politics and near history, Jon must be tenditious to the point of lying.
You know what? Screw you. Nothing you said contradicted my post. You merely chose to emphasize different aspects.

The shells were buried and forgotten 15+ years ago, probably during the 1980s. Iraq wasn’t "keeping them", they had forgotten their existence entirely. Sure, they’re evidence that Iraq had once had WMDs, but they’re just antiques now, no much more dangerous than the chemical weapons found in Washington DC just a few years ago.

I don’t dispute they could be dangerous. I certainly wouldn’t want to eat a plateful of degraded chemicals. But chemical weapons are by far the least problematic of WMDs in terms of mass destruction and they have a relatively short shelf-life, at that.

The ISG Report covered all this. Some chemical weapons shells were found and more were likely to turn up as time went on, but that’s not what we were going there to find. Better we find it than leave it, but let’s not make this out to be something more than it is.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"I would say that somewhere between 95% and 99.9% of the administration’s WMD claims do not stand valid as to date."
And now MarkM also shows himself to be tenditious to the point of lying (additionally, the WMD claims being only 1 of 13 or 14 or so, any of which justify war).

If you would not feel comfortable standing a few tens of meters downwind of one these shells when it went off, then you are trying to deceive us about your certainty they are "degraded". Now it may be that you are in fact that comfortable standing in that position, then you are ignorant of chemistry and statistics.

Although I invite you play the part of Schrodingers cat at any time.

In any case you have not responded to either of my points as to what these shells repesent, best and worst case. I suspect you cannot and be truthful and also support your cause, so I suspect you will not.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Jon, there are many fewer of you than there are of me, I don’t think that even metaphorically that it is wise for you to take the tack of "screw you".

But then I don’t think you are wise very often.

You wrote:
"The latest WMD eruption is making waves, but it’s a lot less consequential than it might at first appear."
And I responded by telling you what the most consequential aspects of these finds are. Very on point.

Please try to respond with clear rhetoric and patent logic.

"But chemical weapons are by far the least problematic of WMDs in terms of mass destruction and they have a relatively short shelf-life, at that"

So are you saying that if Iraq had had WMDs as originally thought, it wouldn’t have justified war, either by itself or in conjunction with the other reasons?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Oh, BTW,

"Bear in mind, these are not shells we’ve just discovered; these are shells disovered since 2003"

And it wouldn’t matter if they’d not been found ’til 2033, their significance would remain the same.

Geez.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
So are you saying that if Iraq had had WMDs as originally thought, it wouldn’t have justified war, either by itself or in conjunction with the other reasons?
No. What I wrote was clear and specific. I’m not interested in helping you puzzle out new angles about which I did not write.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"I’m not interested in helping you puzzle out new angles about which I did not write."
You could try thinking and writing clearly, but then you wouldn’t be making nice to that Glen Greenwald character.

You’d understand leftism delenda est.

Why on earth do you think there’s any significance to these being found off and on since 2003 instead of all in one batch?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
The least they represent is an abject failure of the Saddam regime to keep track of its WMDS as required by UN Security Council resolutions
How can it keep track of WMDs, as per the post Gulf-War agreements, that were lost long before those agreements were ever made? This is basically an ex-post facto expectation, and is entirely unreasonable.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Why on earth do you think there’s any significance to these being found off and on since 2003 instead of all in one batch?
Because they are obviously left-behind battlefield waste, rather than any sort of deliberate attempt to maintain stockpiles in violation of international demands. Thats a rather signifigant caveat.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
"How can it keep track of WMDs, as per the post Gulf-War agreements, that were lost long before those agreements were ever made? This is basically an ex-post facto expectation, and is entirely unreasonable."
If we found them by accident, they could have found them on purpose. In fact, the treaty they signed compelled them to spend the effort to find them.

They failed to live up to that agreement.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"Because they are obviously left-behind battlefield waste, rather than any sort of deliberate attempt to maintain stockpiles in violation of international demands. Thats a rather signifigant caveat."
That’s like saying that having 20 little old stashes of pot, many of which you’ve forgotten about, instead of one big fresh one means the prosecutor should drop their case against you when the cops raid your house. And unlike pot, the Iraqi’s really did render null and void any claim they might have had that they can "legally " have pot/WMDs.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I read somewhere that it only took 10 - 15 shells of Mustard / Sarin Gas for Saddam to kill 5000 people.

Even if these are simply lost chemical weapons - isn’t that disconcerting that there is an untold number laying around waiting for someone to find.

The issue that led to war with Iraq wasn’t that we knew 100 percent he had WMD (although all intelligence agencies in the world believed he did based on the available intelligence and Saddams actions), but rather that Saddam refused to provide proof that he didn’t have them. So left with proof that he did have them previously, and then left with no proof except Saddam’s word that he now didn’t have them, what do you do? Assume he is telling the truth? The burden of proof that they were dystroyed was on Saddam not the UN or the US.

By the way - there is still relatively little proof that the massive amounts of WMD that he had were dystroyed. There simply gone. Gone isn’t proof they are dystroyed.

Again - the prudent thing in a post-9/11 world is to assume they exist until conclusive proof is found they do not. Because the results of these falling in the hands of terrorits could be catastrophic!

As far as I’m concerned - if any world leader / terrorist threaten us we take their word seriously (unlike what we did in 1998 when OBL declared war). We take them seriously, and call their bluff. And hopefully it is only a bluff. We don’t ignore them. We can’t afford to do that anymore.
 
Written By: CK
URL: http://
The shells were buried and forgotten 15+ years ago, probably during the 1980s. Iraq wasn’t "keeping them", they had forgotten their existence entirely.
Isn’t this a supposition on your part? You and others assume that they were buried and forgotten.

We ought to stick with what little we do know, rather then what we suppose it is.
The ISG Report covered all this. Some chemical weapons shells were found and more were likely to turn up as time went on, but that’s not what we were going there to find. Better we find it than leave it, but let’s not make this out to be something more than it is.
This I can agree with, and should be the whole point, and I believe it is the administrations point. These aren’t what they expected to find.

They do prove that Saddam was lying about destroying all their stocks.

And I want to know, if we find 80% of a nuclear bomb assembled, but it is missing the triggering device, would that count? Or, because what was found lacked the capability to be lethal, it deserves a pass.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
What this does is show that the basis of the charges layed against Saddam were true.

While there may not have been as many WMDs as we were lead to believe and perhaps there are more undiscovered ones, but it does appear that Saddam was in violation of the Gulf War Cease fire.

He did indeed still have or was hiding WMDs, if only 10-15 of these shells killed 5000 kurds, then the finding of 500 of them is significant regardless of their degraded state.

While this may not completely exhonorate Bush, it does show that the basis of the charges layed at Saddam’s feet were indeed true.
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
How can it keep track of WMDs, as per the post Gulf-War agreements, that were lost long before those agreements were ever made? This is basically an ex-post facto expectation, and is entirely unreasonable.
How do you know they were long lost?
Because they are obviously left-behind battlefield waste, rather than any sort of deliberate attempt to maintain stockpiles in violation of international demands. Thats a rather signifigant caveat.
And how do you know that? Perhaps they were liberated from a stockpile by an enterprising insurgent.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Isn’t this a supposition on your part? You and others assume that they were buried and forgotten.

...

How do you know they were long lost?
The context in which they were found indicates that this is so. This is the position of the military who found them. This is the very position of the government, who would have much to gain by attempting to spin the discovery into something they are not. It’s the position of every relevant group on the matter. It the position which fits the known facts.

The only people who want to try to paint this as something more than it really is, is certain elements of the blogosphere and a few desperate Republican politicians.
I read somewhere that it only took 10 - 15 shells of Mustard / Sarin Gas for Saddam to kill 5000 people.
Artillery shells were not used in the chemical offensive against the Kurds. The munitions were dropped by aircraft. Source
The CW attack began early in the evening of March 16th, when a group of eight aircraft began dropping chemical bombs, and the chemical bombardment continued all night. According to Kurdish commanders on the scene, there were 14 aircraft sorties during the night, with seven to eight planes in each group, and they concentrated their attack on the city and all the roads leading out of Halabja. The chemical attacks continued until the 19th. Iraqi planes would attack for about 45 minutes and then, after they had gone, another group would appear 15 minutes later.
The Iraqi assault against the Kurds involved munitions delivered via aircraft, in 8 aircraft groups, in repeated sorties lasting for days. We are talking about much more than a few artillery shells being dropped onto Halabja.

They do prove that Saddam was lying about destroying all their stocks.
By that same logic, Bush conclusively lied about the reasons for war. Which is it? If ignorance is not an excuse for Bush, then it is not an excuse for Sadaam. Period.
Even if these are simply lost chemical weapons - isn’t that disconcerting that there is an untold number laying around waiting for someone to find.
Just as disconcerting as finding them buried in the DC suburbs.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Rosensteel :
Artillery shells were not used in the chemical offensive against the Kurds. The munitions were dropped by aircraft
and
The Iraqi assault against the Kurds involved munitions delivered via aircraft, in 8 aircraft groups, in repeated sorties lasting for days. We are talking about much more than a few artillery shells being dropped onto Halabja.
Whew. For a second there I thought that 500 chemical artillary shells could be dangerous.
 
Written By: CK
URL: http://
Whew. For a second there I thought that 500 chemical artillary shells could be dangerous.
That was in response to the notion that a small handful (10-15) of these shells could be used to cause the scale of damage that was incurred against the Kurds at Halabja. I don’t know exactly how many chemical munitions can be dropped in three straight days of air-strikes, but I imagine that it was quite a bit more than the equivalent of 500 chemical-filled artillery shells. It was most certainly more than the equivalent of 10-15 such shells.

Noone is saying that 500 chemical artillery shells is harmless. Although in this case, they effectively where, since they were degraded beyond use.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Degraded beyond use - is that like saying a functioning black-powder cap & ball pistol isn’t really a pistol because it’s an antique?

That’s become a meme pretty quickly over the last two days, that these are all degraded beyond use.
Is that on average? In total? Based on tests,

or

(and I concede the possibility) do they have a ’best used by’ date on them just below the Saddam smiley face on the box?

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Nope, nothing to worry about...
* Since 2003 Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.

* Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq’s pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist.

* Pre-Gulf War Iraqi chemical weapons could be sold on the black market. Use of these weapons by terrorists or insurgent groups would have implications for Coalition forces in Iraq. The possibility of use outside Iraq cannot be ruled out.

* The most likely munitions remaining are sarin and mustard-filled projectiles.

* The purity of the agent inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives, and environmental storage conditions. While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal.

* It has been reported in open press that insurgents and Iraqi groups desire to acquire and use chemical weapons.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
And it still proves that Saddam didn’t comply with UN Resolution 687...

In 1991, I’d expect these munitions would have been quite lethal.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Well if it was not the artillery shells that killed the Kurds, the 500 Nerve Gas tipped artillery shells could easily cause that kind of damage as well.

And it is a significant amount of Chemical Weapons.

This still shows that the basis of the charges layed at Saddam’s feet... were indeed still true, and that WMDs have now been found in Iraq.
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
But chemical weapons are by far the least problematic of WMDs in terms of mass destruction and they have a relatively short shelf-life, at that.
Mustard gas? Are you kidding, Jon?

The stuff left over from WWI is still dangerous. And those are the rounds which were fired and left buried in the ground in France for over 60 years. Stuff which was somewhat stockpiled would be at least that dangerous, if not more so.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Rosensteel,

It doesn’t take several days worth of air strikes to deliver lethal amounts of chemical weapons. It doesn’t take that much stuff against prepared and equipped troops. If it did, then what bloody use is the stuff? I could use the sorties to dump HE or napalm on a location for much greater effect.

If you’re a bunch of unprotected civilians, chemical weapons are much better at killing but leaving the infrastructure intact than the neutron bomb ever could have been.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://

 
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