Weapons of Mass Destruction

  1. From this morning's NY Times:

    April 21, 2003
    Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert

    WITH THE 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION, south of Baghdad, Iraq, April 20-A scientist who claims to have worked in Iraq's chemical weapons program for more than a decade has told an American military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began, members of the team said.

    They said the scientist led Americans to a supply of material that proved to be the building blocks of illegal weapons, which he claimed to have buried as evidence of Iraq's illicit weapons programs.

    The scientist also told American weapons experts that Iraq had secretly sent unconventional weapons and technology to Syria, starting in the mid-1990's, and that more recently Iraq was cooperating with Al Qaeda, the military officials said.

    The Americans said the scientist told them that President Saddam Hussein's government had destroyed some stockpiles of deadly agents as early as the mid-1990's, transferred others to Syria, and had recently focused its efforts instead on research and development projects that are virtually impervious to detection by international inspectors, and even American forces on the ground combing through Iraq's giant weapons plants.

    An American military team hunting for unconventional weapons in Iraq, the Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, or MET Alpha, which found the scientist, declined to identify him, saying they feared he might be subject to reprisals. But they said that they considered him credible and that the material unearthed over the last three days at sites to which he led them had proved to be precursors for a toxic agent that is banned by chemical weapons treaties.

    The officials' account of the scientist's assertions and the discovery of the buried material, which they described as the most important discovery to date in the hunt for illegal weapons, supports the Bush administration's charges that Iraq continued to develop those weapons and lied to the United Nations about it. Finding and destroying illegal weapons was a major justification for the war.

    The officials' accounts also provided an explanation for why United States forces had not yet turned up banned weapons in Iraq. The failure to find such weapons has become a political issue in Washington.

    Under the terms of her accreditation to report on the activities of MET Alpha, this reporter was not permitted to interview the scientist or visit his home. Nor was she permitted to write about the discovery of the scientist for three days, and the copy was then submitted for a check by military officials.

    Those officials asked that details of what chemicals were uncovered be deleted. They said they feared that such information could jeopardize the scientist's safety by identifying the part of the weapons program where he worked.

    The MET Alpha team said it reported its findings to Washington after testing the buried material and checking the scientist's identity with experts in the United States. A report was sent to the White House on Friday, experts said.

    Military spokesmen at the Pentagon and at Central Command headquarters in Doha, Qatar, said they could not confirm that an Iraqi chemical weapons scientist was providing American forces with new information.

    The scientist was found by a team headed by Chief Warrant Officer Richard L. Gonzales, the leader of MET Alpha, one of several teams charged with hunting for unconventional weapons throughout Iraq. Departing from his team's assigned mission, Mr. Gonzales and his team of specialists from the Defense Intelligence Agency tracked down the scientist on Thursday through a series of interviews and increasingly frantic site visits.

    While this reporter could not interview the scientist, she was permitted to see him from a distance at the sites where he said that material from the arms program was buried.

    Clad in nondescript clothes and a baseball cap, he pointed to several spots in the sand where he said chemical precursors and other weapons material were buried. This reporter also accompanied MET Alpha on the search for him and was permitted to examine a letter written in Arabic that he slipped to American soldiers offering them information about the program and seeking their protection.

    Military officials said the scientist told them that four days before President Bush gave Mr. Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war, Iraqi officials set fire to a warehouse where biological weapons research and development was conducted.

    The officials quoted him as saying he had watched several months before the outbreak of the war as Iraqis buried chemical precursors and other sensitive material to conceal and preserve them for future use. The officials said the scientist showed them documents, samples, and other evidence of the program that he claimed to have stolen to prove that the program existed.

    MET Alpha is one of several teams created earlier this year to hunt for unconventional weapons in Iraq. Supported by the 75th Exploitation Task Force, a field artillery brigade based in Fort Sill, Okla., the teams were charged with visiting some 150 top sites that intelligence agencies have identified as suspect.

    But the Pentagon-led teams, which include specialists from several Pentagon agencies, have been hampered by a lack of resources and by geography.

    Because the task force has two expensive, highly sophisticated, transportable labs in which chemical and germ samples can be analyzed quickly, it was kept at a safe distance from fighting at a desert camp in Kuwait, just across the Iraqi border.

    Unable to move their task force closer to Baghdad, where most of the suspect sites and scientists who worked in them are situated, the mobile exploitation teams have had to rely on scarce helicopters to travel to suspect sites in the Baghdad area. Until recently, these were reserved mainly for soldiers going to battle. As a result, most of the teams had done almost no weapons hunting until the fighting had largely concluded.

    Two weeks ago, MET Alpha was finally given a mission of inspecting barrels filled with chemicals that were buried on the outskirts of Al Muhawish, a small town south of Baghdad. A small team with little equipment and virtually no supplies traveled to the town for what was supposed to be a half-day survey. The barrels turned out to contain no chemical weapons agents.

    But during the survey of that site, Maj. Brian Lynch, the chemical officer of the 101st Airborne Division, told MET Alpha members about a report of suspect containers buried in the area that fit the description of mobile labs.

    Other officers mentioned that a man who said he was an Iraqi scientist had given troops a note about Iraq's chemical warfare program. No one had yet followed up the report, they said, because of the fighting and also because similar tips had failed to produce evidence of unconventional weapons.

    The team, with vehicles and supplies from the 101st Airborne Division, went out on its own to survey other sites and pursue the tip about the buried containers and the scientist. After completing a lengthy survey of one installation, Mr. Gonzales and other team members from the Defense Intelligence Agency's Chemical Biological Intelligence Support Team decided to try to find the scientist.

    Mr. Gonzales tracked down the scientist's note, which had never been formally analyzed and was still in a brigade headquarters, along with the scientist's address, military officials said.

    The next morning, MET Alpha weapons experts found the scientist at home, along with some documents from the program and samples he had buried in his backyard and at other sites.

    The scientist has told MET Alpha members that because Iraq's unconventional weapons programs were highly compartmented, he only had firsthand information about the chemical weapons sector in which he worked, team members said.

    But he has given the Americans information about other unconventional weapons activities, they said, as well as information about Iraqi weapons cooperation with Syria, and with terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda. It was not clear how the scientist knew of such a connection.

    The potential of MET Alpha's work is "enormous," said Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division.

    "What they've discovered," he added, "could prove to be of incalculable value. Though much work must still be done to validate the information MET Alpha has uncovered, if it proves out it will clearly be one of the major discoveries of this operation, and it may be the major discovery."

  2. 145 Comments

  3. by   cwazycwissyRN
    interesting read, thanks hardknox

    I wonder sometimes, if we'll ever get to the bottom of this. It would not surprise me at all, to find that this article is very true.
    Take the goods and run would be something SH could hold over our heads, not only to threaten us with in the future, but to make us look foolish and like liers and invaders for no concreate reason at all. Hide the evidence....look victimized. Yup I could see SH doing that.(not to mention the power he could maintain with them)
  4. by   pickledpepperRN
    Published on Tuesday, April 22, 2003 by the Los Angeles Times
    Did Bush Deceive Us in His Rush to War?
    The 'threats' that Hussein posed to the United States are nowhere to be seen.
    by Robert Scheer

    Now that the war has been won, is it permissible to suggest that our emperor has no clothes? I'm not referring to his
    abysmal stewardship of the economy but rather the fig-leaf war he donned to cover up his glaring domestic failures.

    President Bush went to war with Hitler's Germany and found another Afghanistan instead. After comparing the threat
    of Hussein to that of the Fhrer, it was odd to find upon our arrival a tottering regime squatting on a demoralized Third
    World populace.

    Now the pressure is on for Bush to find or plant those alleged weapons of mass destruction fast or stand exposed as
    a bullying fraud.

    Of course, our vaunted intelligence forces knew well from our overhead flights and the reports of U.N. inspectors freely
    surveying the country that Iraq had been reduced by two decades of wars, sanctions and arms inspections to a paper
    tiger, but that didn't keep the current administration from depicting Baghdad as a seat of evil so powerful it might soon
    block the very sun from shining.

    And while Emperor Bush piled on the fire-and-brimstone rhetoric, his bespectacled vizier for defense presented a
    mad-hatter laundry list of Iraq's alleged weapons collection, as long and specific as it was phony and circumstantial.

    Secretary of State Colin Powell's now infamous speech to the U.N. Security Council employed "intelligence" cribbed
    from a graduate student's thesis, documents later acknowledged as fakes, and a defector's affirmation of the
    existence of chemical weapons while excluding his admission that they had subsequently been destroyed.

    Having taken over the country, we now know with a great deal of certainty that if chemical or biological weapons were
    extant there, they were not deployed within the Iraqi military in a manner that threatened the U.S. or anyone else.

    Likewise, Bush's fear-mongering about Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program has proven baseless. There was no
    reason to hurriedly yank the U.N. inspectors out of Iraq.

    Even Bush's only real ally outside of Washington, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, is worried that the fearsome
    weapons will not turn up-or that a skeptical world will believe they were planted as an afterthought. "Some sort of
    objective verification" of weapons finds would be a "good idea," he said last week.

    However, the refusal of the U.S. to permit the return of U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and his team to continue
    their work is damning evidence of our fear that the weapons simply do not exist, at least in any usable quantity or
    form. It also raises the suspicion that Iraqi scientists now held incommunicado in U.S. captivity will be squeezed until
    they tell us what we want to hear. Whatever happened to the prewar demand that those same scientists be given the
    freedom to tell their story in a non-intimidating environment?

    Bush may fear the truth because the still-AWOL weapons are a potential tar baby for this administration.
    Undoubtedly the U.S. will find mixed-used chemical precursors for weapons, as was claimed only this week, but that
    is a far cry from being an "imminent threat."

    As Joseph Cirincione, a top weapons expert at the Carnegie Endowment, put it, the purported existence of those
    weapons "was the core reason for going to war with Iraq and the reason we had to go now If we don't find fairly large
    stockpiles of these weapons, in quantities large enough to pose a strategic threat to the United States, the
    president's credibility will be seriously undermined and the legitimacy of the war repudiated."

    That concern is largely absent in the U.S. media, where "liberation" is now a code word that smoothes over any
    irritating questions one may ask when a Christian superpower invades the heart of the Muslim world. Its partner
    phrase, "the building of democracy," is also all the rage, as if real democracy was something you could create with
    Legos or SimCity software.

    At this point, though, we can only hope it will all turn out for the best, and that a retired U.S. general will figure out
    how to use the country's natural resources to end poverty, build excellent schools and provide crime-free streets and
    an electoral system where positions of power don't go to the highest bidder. Then he can come back and apply this
    genius at home, where we've got plenty of unwelcome violence, poverty and on-the-take politicians.

    However, in the unlikely case this fantasy comes true, albeit at an untold price in money, lives and human suffering, it
    should be remembered that this was not the justification for war given to the American people.

    And, in a more sober mood, one must still ask the embarrassing yet essential question: Did our president knowingly
    deceive us in his rush to war?

    If he did, and we are truly concerned about our own democracy, we would have to acknowledge that such an
    egregious abuse of power rises to the status of an impeachable offense.
    "The Iraqi regime continues to possess and conceal some of the
    most lethal weapons ever devised," said President Bush, warning
    Iraq was intent on attacking the U.S. But Mohamed el-Baradei, chief
    of the UN nuclear weapons inspection agency (IAEA), concluded in
    March: "No evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a
    nuclear weapons program in Iraq." The same for gas and germs.

    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed before the UN,
    backed up by a dossier from British intelligence, that Washington
    and London had a long list of sites in Iraq containing weapons of
    mass destruction (WMDs). When inspected by the UN, and, later,
    U.S. troops, none contained any WMDs. Part of London's damning
    dossier on Iraq was revealed to have been plagiarized from a
    10-year-old graduate thesis.

    "Iraq is trying to procure uranium," thundered Colin Powell at the
    UN. Washington and London claimed Iraq imported yellowcake
    uranium from Niger to make nuclear weapons. In March, UN experts
    concluded the documents purportedly confirming the uranium sales
    were "not authentic" and in fact "crude fabrications."

    Fictitious uranium

    Bush: "Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminium
    tubes for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for
    nuclear weapons." The uranium to be enriched was, of course, the
    same fictitious uranium from Niger. UN inspectors found the tubes
    were for short-range, 81-mm artillery rockets.

    The U.S. claimed Iraq was an ally of al-Qaida. No terrorist links
    have so far been found. Just a retired Palestinian thug, Abu Abbas.
    The notorious Ansar al-Islam "terror and poison camp" turned out to
    be mud huts occupied by motley Islamists who regularly denounced
    bin Laden.

    The mobile germ warfare trucks Powell warned about - a.k.a.
    "Winnebagos of Death" - turned out to be mobile food inspection
    labs. Iraq's "drones of death" that Bush warned might fly off ships to
    attack the U.S. with pestilence were, on inspection, two rickety
    model airplanes.

    The Bush administration concealed from Americans that in 1995
    Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Gen. Hussein Kamel, had told the
    UN arms inspection agency and the CIA he had personally
    supervised destruction of all of Iraq's biological and chemical
    weapons (mostly supplied by the U.S. and Britain in the 1980s).
    Glen Rangwala, of Cambridge University, who exposed London's
    plagiarized Iraq dossier, obtained the transcript of the Kamel

    Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
    Last edit by pickledpepperRN on Apr 23, '03
  5. by   Mkue
    Originally posted by Hardknox
    From this morning's NY Times:

    April 21, 2003
    Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert

    "What they've discovered," he added, "could prove to be of incalculable value. Though much work must still be done to validate the information MET Alpha has uncovered, if it proves out it will clearly be one of the major discoveries of this operation, and it may be the major discovery."

    I believe too that this may be the major discovery. I've heard there is ongoing testing of other items discovered. I'm looking foward to the final report of everything when it comes out.

    Good article Hardknox.
  6. by   pickledpepperRN
    I miss seeing your pretty picture. The new one with book and hot drink is nice too.
    Last edit by pickledpepperRN on Apr 26, '03
  7. by   WashYaHands
    I was watching a news program last night and they were reading viewer email. One viewer wrote something I found relevant:

    How come the very people who wanted to allow the UN weapons inspectors more time to find WMD before the war now expect coalition forces to find WMD immediately?

  8. by   Gomer
    How come Bush wants the sanctions lifted without finding any WMD?
  9. by   jnette
    Originally posted by WashYaHands
    I was watching a news program last night and they were reading viewer email. One viewer wrote something I found relevant:

    How come the very people who wanted to allow the UN weapons inspectors more time to find WMD before the war now expect coalition forces to find WMD immediately?

    Unless I'm hard of hearing, it was my understanding from what the administration had stated time and again was that they KNOW where the weapons are located.. have EVIDENCE of such, as well as their locations. That the reason we couldn't get to them (or the inspectors) was due to the regime in place at the time...
  10. by   maureeno
    I am holding the Bush administration to the specifics laid out in the State of the Union address---500 tons of chemical weapons, 25,000 liters of anthrax and 38,000 [some unit of measurement, liters probably] of boutulism.

    evidence of precursors will not suffice. I want the stockpiles which so threatened us we had to wage pre-emptive war.

    already the "proof' of the nuclear danger has been discredited, already the expectations of chemical/biological stores are being lowered by the White House.

    meanwhile England is requesting verification, if not by the UN, then by some objective [not 'coalition'] source.

    most of America has turned its attention away from the WMD issue, convinced the liberation arguement justified our action. strange then the US official resistence to being called an occupying power. if not an occupying power, what are we? we started a war, won it and now...who else but us is in charge?

    finally, I must comment on my increasing worry that so often the official US response to disagreement is ANGER.
  11. by   Furball
    The UN had years to find WMD but Hussein proved to be uncooperative at every stop. He is devious and very sly, if nobody has noticed. We have been fighting a war and have been in "control" for what...a week or two? Maybe it's in Syria, maybe buried in the sand somewhere. It will be found.

    We can thank Israel for blowing up Iraq's nuclear plant several years ago. (1985?)
    Last edit by Furball on Apr 24, '03
  12. by   Mkue
    Many things have been found underground.. such as torcher chambers, jails etc.. I wouldn't be surprised.. given time.. some other things may show up underground. I doubt the inspectors would have taken the time to look underground. We shall see, I could be wrong.. (yikes). I think just that fact that he didn't cooperate was quite suspicious. And the more time given him, allowed him to hide things or move them out of the country.
  13. by   Mkue
    Originally posted by spacenurse
    I miss seeing your pretty picture. The new one with book and hot dring is nice too.
    thank you kathy !
  14. by   pickledpepperRN
    Oops. I planned to send a PM.
    Now how many nurses with my first name work registry in this city?

    Sorry, only one of these links are about WMD. Forgive me and just don't read if you are not interested.