Powell Expresses Doubts About Basis for Iraqi Weapons Claim

  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...-2004Apr2.html

    Powell Expresses Doubts About Basis for Iraqi Weapons Claim
    By Glenn Kessler
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, April 3, 2004; Page A19

    Secretary of State Colin L. Powell voiced new doubt yesterday on the administration's assertions of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, saying the description in his U.N. presentation of mobile biological weapons laboratories appears to have been based on faulty sources.

    Powell, describing the mobile labs as "the most dramatic" element of his Feb. 5, 2003, speech before the U.N. Security Council, said he hoped the recently appointed commission to examine prewar claims of Iraqi weapons "will look into these matters to see whether or not the intelligence agency had a basis for the confidence . . . placed in the intelligence at that time." He also said he has spoken to CIA officials about how suspect information ended up in his speech.
    Powell made his remarks in response to a question as he briefed reporters on his plane about meetings yesterday at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Powell, who returned to Washington last night, in the past had stressed that all of the facts about Iraq's weapons programs are not known, but Iraq's intentions were clear, and it was necessary to wait for the final report of the inspection team.

    Powell's 90-minute presentation had offered an overview of U.S. intelligence about alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, as the Bush administration was struggling to win approval of a U.N. resolution authorizing military action against Iraq. In his speech, Powell provided extensive descriptions of the biological weapons labs. He also displayed an illustration of a mobile lab that he said was based on an eyewitness account. Powell stressed that the information on the weapons labs was based on multiple sources.

    But since Saddam Hussein's government was deposed, weapons inspectors in Iraq appear to have found little evidence of such labs, though they did find two trucks that some experts believe were used for producing hydrogen for artillery weather balloons. As recently as January, Vice President Cheney cited the discovery of the trucks as "conclusive" evidence of the mobile labs described by Powell. But CIA Director George J. Tenet later told Congress he warned the vice president not to be so categorical about the discovery.

    Moreover, in recent weeks news organizations have reported that one of the sources cited by Powell had been cited by U.S. intelligence officials as unreliable even before his presentation. The warning, however, was missed during the preparation of Powell's speech. Another source, who provided the eyewitness description of the labs, had never been interviewed by U.S. intelligence -- which did not even know his real name until after the war, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. After Powell's speech, it also was learned that this source was a relative of a senior official in the Iraqi National Congress, an émigré group that was considered by some U.S. intelligence officials to be a provider of dubious information about Iraq's weapons programs.

    "Now it appears not to be the case that it was that solid," Powell said yesterday. "But at the time I was preparing that presentation it was presented to me as being solid."
    Powell, who asked Tenet to sit behind him during the speech to demonstrate CIA backing for the facts cited in it, stressed yesterday that "I'm not the intelligence community." He said that "it was presented to me in the preparation of that as the best intelligence and information that we had."

    "I made sure, as I said in my presentation, these were multi-sourced," Powell said. "And that was the most dramatic of them, and I made sure it was multi-sourced.

    Now, if the sources fell apart, then we need to find out how we've gotten ourselves in that position. I've had discussions with the CIA about it."
    © 2004 The Washington Post Company
  2. 2 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    Please read and or view video, audio, and slides to refresh your memory. I included only a small fraction of Secretary of State Powells the presentation at the UN to the world via television.

    [full video; accompanying slide presentations and video clips]


    Remarks to the United Nations Security Council

    Secretary Colin L. Powell
    New York City
    February 5, 2003

    SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President and Mr. Secretary General, distinguished colleagues, I would
    like to begin by expressing my thanks for the special effort that each of you made to be here today. This is an important day for
    us all as we review the situation with respect to Iraq and its disarmament obligations under UN Security Council Resolution

    Last November 8, this Council passed Resolution 1441 by a unanimous vote. The purpose of that resolution was to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.

    My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions.

    Ladies and gentlemen, these are not assertions. These are facts corroborated by many sources, some of them sources of the intelligence services of other countries.

    The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world.

    We know that Iraq has at least seven of these mobile, biological agent factories. The truck-mounted ones have at least two or three trucks each.

    Ladies and gentlemen, these are sophisticated facilities. For example, they can produce anthrax and botulinum toxin. In fact, they can produce enough dry, biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. A dry agent of this type is the most lethal form for human beings.

    Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein has used such weapons.
    And Saddam Hussein has no compunction about using them again

    We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more. Given Saddam Hussein's history of aggression, given what we know of his grandiose plans, given what we know of his terrorist associations, and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not someday use these weapons at a time and a place and in a manner of his choosing, at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond?

    The United States will not and cannot run that risk for the American people. Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11th world.
  4. by   pickledpepperRN

    2 Suspect Labs Could Have Produced
    The U.S. rejects Iraq's explanation for the seized trailers, even though its own Army has
    such vehicles for filling weather balloons.

    By Greg Miller, Times Staff Writer

    WASHINGTON -- In concluding that two trailers
    seized in northern Iraq were biological weapons labs,
    the United States rejected Iraqi claims that the vehicles
    were designed for making hydrogen for weather

    But although some have described the Iraqi explanation as far-fetched, the U.S.
    Army has its own fleet of vehicles designed for precisely the same purpose.

    They are among the Army's more unusual vehicles: Humvees with a large
    container and refrigerator-sized generator where a gun or troop transport shell
    should be.

    The AN/TMQ-42 Hydrogen Generator, as it is known, has never been used in
    combat. With plenty of helium - the preferred gas - to keep the Army's
    weather balloons aloft, it's unlikely that it ever will.

    But the truck escapes obscurity in becoming a footnote to the debate over Iraq's
    alleged chemical and biological weapons programs.

    The CIA and the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency have described the
    two seized trailers as "the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a
    biological warfare program." But some analysts involved in the examination of the
    vehicles reject that conclusion. And that inspection has failed to find any traces of
    anthrax, smallpox, tularemia or any other known pathogens.