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Unclassified documents produce new revelations about Iraq
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, July 10, 2006

I'm on record downplaying the newly disclosed 'WMDs' and unclassified documents that, essentially, tell us what we already knew from the Iraq Intelligence Report. They mean a lot less than the Iraq war proponents would really like them to mean, and I think those supporters tout them at the expense of their own integrity and intellectual honesty.

That said, though, some of the discoveries reported last week by Captain's Quarters seem to be categorically different. They are both new and revealing. A list of the relevant posts and revelations:

"Iraqi Rosters In 2002 Show Interesting Department Names"

Show/Hide

"Saddam And Anthrax Operations"

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"Dr. Germ Analyzes Aircraft BW Attack Requirements In 2002"

Show/Hide

"Saddam's Idea Of Diplomatic Pouches"

Show/Hide

"Iraqi Documents: UNMOVIC Knew Of Renewed WMD Efforts"

Show/Hide

Let's stipulate right up front that there could be a variety of exculpatory explanations. Off the top of my head, it occurs to me that the documents could be (1) fraudulent, (2) in reference to legal chemical/biological programs (i.e., medical research, agricultural development, etc), (3) produced to deceive the bureaucracy and Saddam about the extent of operations.

Still, unless these documents are outright forgeries, it seems to me that they are, at a minimum, good evidence that Iraq was deeply interested in WMDs and determined to resurrect such programs in the future. That's not to say there may not have been better options than war to achieve disarmament or deterrence — perhaps there were — but it's worth pointing out that the potential danger described from Iraq lay at some undefined future date. It seems to me these discoveries deserve attention and incorporation into the debate about Iraq.

UPDATE:

Jim Henley makes a very compelling case that these documents generally fall under the 2nd potentially exculpatory explanation I offered above. ("in reference to legal chemical/biological programs")
The error here is obvious: inferring a particular program from a bureaucratic designation. It doesn’t occur to Captain Ed that, the IIS being a foreign intelligence service, it might have departments charged with monitoring other countries’ nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs. It’s like learning that Valerie Plame “worked on weapons of mass destruction” and taking that as proof that the US manufactures biological weapons.
Henley's most compelling point is that we're there and still haven't found these programs. If we were "so fortunate as to militarily occupy his country and have a massive enterprise dedicated to the task," we could try to learn more about these programs. In fact, I bet we did. Kay, Duelfer and the ISG weren't in Iraq for the scenic tour of IED craters.

At the end of the day, the best evidence for the accuracy of the Duelfer report is the absence of evidence to the contrary...
You may have noticed a big story about the functioning Iraqi ricin manufacturing plant NOT appearing all over the TV and newspapers these last couple of years. Why do you suppose that is?
Read the rest here.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

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They mean a lot less than the Iraq war proponents would really like them to mean,
Versus I believe that they mean a lot less than what some of the Iraq war proponents would really like them to mean,.

Since you’re rather picky with other people’s logical errors....
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
(shrug) Well, considering the fact that many of those revelations were, e.g., merely repetition of previously disclosed information, I think it’s fair to describe it as a ’fact’ that the revelations mean less than what some would like them to mean.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Not really, Henke. What these continued findings do is to set the Kay and Duelfer reports as the floor for expectations, as opposed to their findings being merely the most reasonable explanation.
 
Written By: Phil Smith
URL: http://
I’m not sure what you mean by "not really", Phil. You don’t indicate what you want to contradict. Some of the recent disclosures are merely repetition of what Kay/Duelfer already found. These recent disclosures indicate there may have been more going on behind the scenes, though the nature and extent of that ’more’ is far from clear.

I’m of the opinion described in the post — that the existing reports about the lack of WMD are accurate, though Iraq had every intention of keeping a "warm base" and reconstituting their programs in time. But then, that’s exactly what the Duelfer report concluded.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I just re-read the post, and I had missed where you stated that these documents "are, at a minimum, good evidence that Iraq was deeply interested in WMDs and determined to resurrect such programs in the future."

I just want to emphasize that point.
 
Written By: Phil Smith
URL: http://
If anyone peruses the UN inspection records from the 90’s, it becomes obvious that Saddam was the opposite of the boy who cried wolf.

It took 4 years and a defector who was later killed by Saddam for Iraq to confess that it had weaponized Anthrax in production.

They made about 4-5 ’full and final complete declarations" on the subject that went from "no biological program to a factory making weaponized Anthrax."

And yet somewhere after 1998’s Operation Desert Fox, we are supposed to believe Saddam turned over a new leaf - most likely in Novemeber or December 2000.

Yeah right.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
If what you are stating is that, Iraq w/ Saddam as head was a threat worth going to war over (even if there might have been other options), then you’ll find no disagreement from me.

What these documents and other recent finds, do for me is confirm that my opinion was correct. Saddam was a threat we could no longer risk playing the containment game with. Sooner or later we were going to have to deal with him with a finite end in mind.

They are not proof of active programs, nor of stockpiles. They are proof of the intent to have such programs, and of the deception used to hide what programs they did have.

What I find strange is the minimization of these documents by those from the anti-war/get out now crowd.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
I think the third document (the Dr. Germ) is probably the most relevant one. The others don’t really indicate anything that new (and some of the speculation in Captain’s Quarters wondering if Saddam was responsible for the anthrax attacks in the US is precisely the sort of argument that casts doubt on .. well .. their sanity). The 5th document, which is a summary, doesn’t indicate anything new either, other than the fact that Saddam had rebuilt the castor oil plant (but no indication that it had been used for making ricin).

I think its clear that Saddamn did have a research program going.

Yet, its seems to be fairly clear that he did not have an active program or stockpiles. After all, we have tons of Saddam’s documents, we have practically every one of his top staff members. It would be amazing to imagine that Saddmam, who was so incompetent that he could not even organize a decent defense of Baghdad, was somehow magically able to hide all evidence of stockpiles or active WMD program and then hide and destroy all documents related to it and somehow hide all personnel associated with it.

 
Written By: erg
URL: http://
To add to my previous comment — surely Duelfer, Kay et al. don’t have to rely on statements in passing about bonuses paid or department transfers ? They should have the full departmental rosters, pay records, transfer records in triplicate ? If there were evidence of an active program, its hard to imagine it could stay hidden unless Saddam’s government was devastatingly efficient, and we know it was the opposite of that.
 
Written By: erg
URL: http://
I’m wondering why any of us here sound surprised. We have, what? Over a million of these government documents? If only one half of one percent of those documents pertain to Iraqi WMD programs, that’s over 5000 documents. How many smoking gun documents have we found? A few dozen maybe? And what percentage of these documents have even been translated?

I’m sure the best is yet to come.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com

I’m wondering why any of us here sound surprised. We have, what? Over a million of these government documents? If only one half of one percent of those documents pertain to Iraqi WMD programs, that’s over 5000 documents. How many smoking gun documents have we found? A few dozen maybe? And what percentage of these documents have even been translated?


How many real smoking guns have we found ? Zero, in indicating an active program.

The real reason we’re very unlikely to have find anything other than an occasional old scattered shell is that we have probably interrogated practically every senior official in Saddam’s regime, and almost all its scientists. We’ve almost certainly looked at the key documents. The notion that we’re going to find some huge smoking gun now looks less and less plausible and those insisting we’ll find one or have found one are casting doubt on their own analytical abilities.

It might be worth asking Kay or Duelfer about the castor oil plan though. I dont believe Duelfer mentioned it, so it may not have been the intent of the regime to make ricin.
 
Written By: Mark m
URL: http://
I read Jim’s article and I think he’s done a pretty good update there. In particular, his comments about how a professional intelligence service like the CIA would start with this (and far more documents) and work with them and inteview and research to find out the truth is very strong.

At this point, people still hoping or claiming that smoking guns are or will be found in Iraq are begining to sound like Mary Mapes claiming that the Rather memos were genuine.
 
Written By: Mark m
URL: http://
If you remember Gulf War I, the coalition soliders had WMD drills and a lot of them were suited with Chem/Bio suits. There were TV footages of the soliders wearing those suits. Does anyone remember any such drills during Gulf War II ??
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
Uh, yeah Ivan. It was reported that the entire invasion force attacked in full anti-chem/bio gear with all of their tanks, attack vehicles and even helicopters equipped with filtered, over-pressurized ventilation systems. For the six months prior to the invasion, the big question was whether or not our forces’ equipment and training would be sufficient for the invasion, remember?
At this point, people still hoping or claiming that smoking guns are or will be found in Iraq are begining to sound like Mary Mapes claiming that the Rather memos were genuine.
What’s even more ironic to me is that those squawking the loudest about there being no stockpiles of WMD found are the very ones whom were most ambivalent about WMDs prior to the invasion, when even they thought Iraq had them. Their only complaint then was that when we would find them, they would have "Made in USA" stenciled on the sides of them.

yours/
:peter
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com

What’s even more ironic to me is that those squawking the loudest about there being no stockpiles of WMD found are the very ones whom were most ambivalent about WMDs prior to the invasion, when even they thought Iraq had them. Their only complaint then was that when we would find them, they would have "Made in USA" stenciled on the sides of them.


Even if true, its irrelevant. One could probably make an argument pre-war that even if Iraq had some WMDs, they did not constitute a threat to the US. One could also make the reverse argument that even if Saddam had no WMDs, he would manfacture them when he got a chance.

What one cannot make an honest argument for is that we’ve found active WMD programs of any kind or any of the WMDs that were cited as the reasons to go to war.

And its extremely hard at this point to make a rational argument that the smoking gun will still be found or that WMDs were moved to Syria. Its still possible, but only barely.
 
Written By: erg
URL: http://
Even if true, its irrelevant.


I didn’t say it was relevant, I said it was ironic.
One could also make the reverse argument that even if Saddam had no WMDs, he would manfacture them when he got a chance.
Which is the precise implication of every one of these documents.
What one cannot make an honest argument for is that we’ve found active WMD programs of any kind or any of the WMDs that were cited as the reasons to go to war.
There are twenty-three "whereas" statements in the AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAQ RESOLUTION OF 2002. The potential fact that Saddam had no stockpiles obviates maybe two or three of them. Maybe.

yours/
peter
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com

There are twenty-three "whereas" statements in the AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAQ RESOLUTION OF 2002. The potential fact that Saddam had no stockpiles obviates maybe two or three of them. Maybe.


I went over the authorization. Not all the whereas are justifications. Some are just setting the context for others.

The first one just refers to the original Kuwait war and is not a justification. The 5 after that refer to WMDs.

Items 12,13,14 refers to WMDs. Item 15 refers to UN resolutions which pertain to WMDs. Item 18 simply refers to how the US is going to enforce the UN resolution, so it pertains indirectly to WMDs. Item 19 refers partly to WMDs. 2 others refer partly to WMDs.


So we have 10-12 referring to WMDs. 3-5 more refer to AQ either directly or indirectly (as perpetrators of the 911 attacks or as international terrorists).

Your argument of 2-3 is intellectually dubious at best, flagrantly dishonest at worst.


 
Written By: erg
URL: http://
Let’s try this again, with reading comprehension this time.

You said:
What one cannot make an honest argument for is that we’ve found
active WMD programs of any kind or any of the WMDs that were cited as the
reasons to go to war.
The implication of the use of the word "the" in your statement "...that were cited as the reasons to go to war" is that stockpiles and active weapons programs were the only reason we went to war. As anyone can tell from an honest reading of this document, this is not the case.
So we have 10-12 referring to WMDs. 3-5 more refer to AQ either
directly or indirectly (as perpetrators of the 911 attacks or as
international terrorists).
I think it’s swell that you know how to use wordcount, but I never said nor implied that only two or three of these statements "mention" WMD stockpiles or programs, but that only two or three of them were obviated by the fact that it now appears he didn’t have stockpiles or active programs— out of twenty-three, which cite everything from the first Gulf War ceasefire agreement, to Saddam’s violation of a dozen UN resolutions, to the UNMOVIC’s discovery of stockpiles and active programs AFTER Iraq had allegedly declared them all, to hundreds of firings against Coalition aircraft in the No-Fly zones, to 1998’s regime change law passed by Congress, and on and on.

So it appears that my points still stand, a) that the existence of WMD stockpiles and/or active development programs were not THE reasons to go to war, and b) that the fact that no weapons stockpiles or active development programs have been found invalidates the American case for war as you insinuate.
Your argument of 2-3 is intellectually dubious at best, flagrantly dishonest at worst.
Sticks and stones, wow, who could have imagined. Is this evidence of your intellectual rigor or your honesty?

:peter


 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com

The implication of the use of the word "the" in your statement "...that were cited as the reasons to go to war" is that stockpiles and active weapons programs were the only reason we went to war


I can’t help it if you’re reading in things that I didn’t say. Substitute "Principal reasons to go to war" if it makes you happy.


think it’s swell that you know how to use wordcount, but I never said nor implied that only two or three of these statements "mention" WMD stockpiles or programs, but that only two or three of them were obviated by the fact that it now appears he didn’t have stockpiles or active programs— out of twenty-three, which cite everything from the first Gulf War ceasefire agreement, to Saddam’s violation of a dozen UN resolutions, to the UNMOVIC’s discovery of stockpiles and active programs AFTER Iraq had allegedly declared them all, to hundreds of firings against Coalition aircraft in the No-Fly zones, to 1998’s regime change law passed by Congress, and on and on.


Firstly, a number of the whereas’s aren’t really reasons, they’re setting the framework or indicating the history or constitutional background (for instance, one refers to the President as the CinC giving him Constitutional authority), another refers to the war in KUwait as setting the stage for the UN resolutions, another refers to the old COngressional act. 2 Refer specifically to September 11th. ANd UNMOVIC did not discover any stockpiles and active progrms in Iraq, Maybe you’re referring to UNSCOM.

Also, I really do not see how anyone not wilfully blind can go over the document and not see how many times it refers to weapons of mass destructions and terrorist ties and not conclude that they were the 2 major reasons to go to war. The references to WMDs and to terrorist ties (the first turned out to be practically non-existent, the 2nd minimal) are repeated time and again, and the UN resolutions (based on WMDs) are time and again advanced as a rationale.

Other reasons that do not involve these 2 cases (assasination attempt on Bush Sr, firing on Coalition aircraft, possibly holding a US prisoner, human rights abuses) are mentioned only in passing.

You can deny it and claim (as you did above) that the absence of WMDs and any significant terrorist links is irrelavant to the war resolution, but the fact is that those were the major reasons, especially WMDs. When Bush and CHeney went on the stump, they talked about mushroom clouds and reconstituted nuclear weapons programs, yellowcake and the like as the reason. And you can continue to hope that new documents which magically prove your case will turn up ("best is yet to come"), but that chance is pretty low at this point.
 
Written By: erg
URL: http://
erg!

Thanks for dropping the ad hominem.
Firstly, a number of the whereas’s aren’t really reasons, they’re setting the framework or indicating the history or constitutional background (for instance, one refers to the President as the CinC giving him Constitutional authority), another refers to the war in KUwait as setting the stage for the UN resolutions, another refers to the old COngressional act. 2 Refer specifically to September 11th. ANd UNMOVIC did not discover any stockpiles and active progrms in Iraq, Maybe you’re referring to UNSCOM.
First, you’re correct about UNMOVIC/UNSCOM; I mispoke.

Modern democracies don’t go to war over the past, they go to war over the future. Yes, Congress had several cases to make for going to war: a legal case, thuroughly covered by the UNSC resolutions, the 1991 ceasefire, and the 1998 law; the security case, citing Saddam’s general belligerence, and specifically towards the United States and Coalition forces; a moral case, citing Saddam’s misrule of Iraq and general murderousness. But all of these points aren’t assembled as a case for revenge, they are assembled to argue the practical case that the security requirements of the United States could no longer be met under the status quo in Iraq:
Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001,
underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of
weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist
organizations;

Whereas Iraq’s demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of
mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either
employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United
States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international
terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that
would result to the United States and its citizens from such an
attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend
itself;
Do you see the word "stockpile" here? Does the absence of stockpiles change the reality of these statements in the slightest? No, it doesn’t.

If you got the impression that I’m arguing the absence of stockpiles or active programs were "irelevant" to the AUMF then perhaps I wasn’t being clear. I’m simply arguing that the absence of a couple of bricks doesn’t make the wall fall down. Nor was I suggesting that we would eventually find a treasure map that leads to hidden stockpiles of weapons. I am suggesting that Saddam, being a bad guy, was up to his neck in all sorts of dangerous behavior, including extensive ties to terrorists, that we don’t even know the half of yet.

What the documents featured in this post illustrate is exactly how little the absence of stockpiles mean in terms of the actual threat Saddam posed. We are, after all, talking about a regime for whom weapons of mass destruction were no longer a development issue, but merely a production issue. The preponderance of evidence now suggests that the Iraqi regime was poised to kickstart several programs as soon as they were released from the auspices international oversight.

To my mind the anti-war argument already appears foolish, dependent as it is on the notions a) that ten more years of Saddam followed by another 20-30 years of what Hitchens refers to as "the Uday and Quasay Show" would somehow benignly transpire, and b) that Al Queda would never ever consider accepting chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from Iraq if offered. By the time all of these documents are translated and other secrets of the regime find the light of day, I believe there won’t be a question in anyone’s mind, including yours, about this war’s providence.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com

I am suggesting that Saddam, being a bad guy, was up to his neck in all sorts of dangerous behavior, including extensive ties to terrorists, that we don’t even know the half of yet.


And I am suggesting that given that we have practically all of Saddam’s top regime elements, including Saddam himself, access to most of his documents, its unlikely that we’re going to find any smoking gun in terms of "extensive ties to terrorists" (other than what we know about his ties to Palestinian terrorists) at this point. JIm Henley’s takedown, I thought, was pretty devastating. Especially of the so-called Anthrax document. The fact that the bulk of that document was not translated casts strong doubt on the intellectual honesty of the translator.


To my mind the anti-war argument already appears foolish, dependent as it is on the notions a) that ten more years of Saddam followed by another 20-30 years of what Hitchens refers to as "the Uday and Quasay Show" would somehow benignly transpire, and b) that Al Queda would never ever consider accepting chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from Iraq if offered.


To my mind, the pro-war argument (with the benefit of hindsight) looks foolish, because we know that IRaq had no WMDs, no links to AQ to speak of. We also knew before the war, we knew that IRaq had a pathetic army, couldn’t control 1/3rd of the country, couldn’t control 2/3rds of his airspace. He was surrounded by powerful enemies like Turkey, the US and Iran. He had UNMOVIC inspectors on his territory. He had also shown a healthy concern for his own skin many a time before, whether fighting Iran or the US, and had been deterred by threats.

Furthermore, it was obvious pre-war that post-war Iraq was going to be a major mess, although even I did not expect a mess this serious. The cost of that in blood and treasure has been huge and there are certainly indications that it had emboldended AQ.

And when the case for war was made by the President and others, it was not made on the basis of WMD programs that could conceivably be restarted if international pressure ceased (and let me point out that the US could veto any attempt to remove sanctions anyway, so this argument is pretty weak), or hyptoehtical links. It was made on the basis of massive stockpiles, a restarted nuclear program and the like.
 
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URL: http://
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