A War on Terrorism
Were Weapons of Mass Destruction the major reason to remove Saddam Hussein? Or is it necessary to reformat the world to avoid nation's making WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) that can be put into the hands of terorists willing to use suicide as a means of delivery in hopes of blackmailing the world into accepting unwanted dogma?
A review by Richard R. Tryon follows....the report of the media representations of June 8, 2003.
Were Weapons of Mass Destruction the major reason to remove Saddam Hussein?
WASHINGTON (June 8) - Before the war, the Bush administration portrayed Iraq as full of killer poisons with strange names and deadly effects, which terrorists could get hold of and unleash on U.S. cities. Those claims and fears have not been borne out so far.
Was the intelligence regarding Iraq inaccurate or distorted between when it was gathered and presented to the world? Congress is looking into the matter. Prime Minister Tony Blair's government in Britain is facing similar scrutiny.
A former State Department intelligence official, who viewed classified intelligence gathered by the CIA and other agencies about Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear programs during the run-up to the war, accused the administration of distorting intelligence and presenting conjecture as fact.
``What disturbs me deeply is what I think are the disingenuous statements made from the very top about what the intelligence did say,'' said Greg Thielmann, who retired in September. He was director of the strategic, proliferation and military issues office in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
On Friday, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency acknowledged he had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons last fall but believed Iraq had a program in place to produce them. The assessment suggests greater uncertainty about the Iraqi threat than the administration indicated publicly.
CIA Director George Tenet, Secretary of State Colin Powell and top Pentagon officials have defended their pieces of the intelligence picture, saying they provided accurate assessments.
Many top U.S. officials contend their prewar assertions will yet be borne out. They say Iraq remains too dangerous to conduct a thorough search, but a new hunt is getting under way.
Prewar statements from President Bush, Powell and intelligence officials offered many of the specific conclusions that drove the United States and Britain to invade Iraq. Most have yet to be validated.
``Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent,'' Powell said at the United Nations in February.
In a paper released in October, U.S. intelligence agencies said that Iraq had begun ``renewed production of chemical warfare agents,'' probably including mustard, sarin, cyclosarin and VX.
Chemical weapons have not been found in the part of Iraq that was controlled by President Saddam Hussein's government.
Intelligence officials said Saddam would disperse his chemical weapons among his Iraqi Republican Guard units, which would use them if the government were about to fall. This apparently did not happen.
Powell suggested military units had biological weapons in the field.
On May 30, Lt. Gen. James Conway, the top Marine in Iraq, said, speaking about the hunt for chemical and biological weapons: ``We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there.''
The prewar intelligence paper said Iraq had established ``a large-scale, redundant and concealed'' biological weapon agent production capability, which included mobile facilities.
Allied forces in Iraq have found two truck trailers equipped with fermenters. The CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency said last week they concluded the vehicles probably are parts of a mobile biological weapons production facility. Bush seized on the finds as proof Iraq had prohibited weapons.
No complete production system has been found, and tests showed no trace of biological agents in either trailer.
``So far it seems as if all the leads that have been followed up have come to nothing. ... So many false claims have been made in the past, it can only be politically driven. Responsible governments take time to investigate,'' said Alex Standish, editor of Jane's Intelligence Digest in London.
``It's like the boy who cried wolf. The credibility of these claims is shot.''
Powell also had told the United Nations that ``numerous intelligence reports over the past decade from sources inside Iraq'' indicated ``a covert force of up to a few dozen Scud-variant ballistic missiles.''
None has been found.
U.S. allegations that Iraq was trying to develop a nuclear weapon have also not been verified.
Much discussed were some high-strength aluminum tubes Iraq tried to import. The CIA argued they were for centrifuges essential to a nuclear weapons program. Experts from the State and Energy departments said they were for conventional artillery rockets, Thielmann said.
No centrifuges have been reported found.
In his State of the Union address, Bush said that Britain had learned that Saddam ``recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.''
The claim rested significantly on a letter or letters between officials in Iraq and Niger that were obtained by European intelligence agencies. The communications are now accepted as forged.
The administration also suggested Iraq supported terrorists, including members of al-Qaida.
The al-Qaida connection was built around the movements of Abu Musab Zarqawi, a senior associate of Osama bin Laden. Zarqawi received medical treatment in Baghdad in 2002 and supported an Islamic extremist movement in Kurdish Iraq, outside Saddam's reach.
A midlevel associate of Zarqawi was detained near Baghdad after the war. Zarqawi himself remains at large. Some reports indicated al-Qaida operatives had sought chemical and biological weapons expertise from Iraq, but there was little evidence Iraq supplied any.
Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.
On the Net: Powell's address to the United Nations: http://www.state.gov/p/nea/disarm/
CIA paper on Iraq: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/iraq(underscore)wmd/Iraq(underscore)Oct)
Richard R. Tryon
The current political pressure being applied by many in the media to either discredit or show that the Bush-Blair team either exaggerated or overplayed the intelligence hand about Iraq WMD fails to deal with the most important underlying fact. That is that Iraq and Saddam Hussein used chemical and biological weapons for a long time against Iranians, Kurds and other Muslims in Iraq that tried to revolt against Saddam after the Persian Gulf war that freed Kuwait from the military takeover by Saddam's army.
That fact was underscored by U.N. awareness of very significant need to account for materials after the 1992 conflicts. It never happened, and after 1998, Iraq was free to hide, build more and hide it too. Further, it claimed to have none of it, but publicly promised to use something to inflict monumental losses on any American attackers!
Coupled with the event of 9-11 and the apparent effort by bin Laden to see if he could gain access to such WMD from Iraq, is it wrong for the Bush-Blair team to conclude that real danger existed? If the media blew the generated rhetoric to excess proportions in ways that helped American support to free the Iraqi people from Saddam and us from the threat, then one might claim that if such had not been the case, perhaps Bush-Blair would not have planned and executed a new kind of military action and executed it.
That would have left the world today still wondering, if Saddam was about to launch missiles loaded with WMD against Israel or the U.S. via other means. Such as using bin Laden to provide suicidal zealots to carry them on-board U.S. passenger planes, or release stuff like Sarin gas in our subways. Would that have been better?
Instead, we now have the start to help the people of Iraq be as free as those in Afghanistan. Not that it means instant recovery. Nobody needs to think that the internal management of Iraq was automatically going to be improved immediately upon the end of significant military action. It will take time to get much of the neglected infrastructure restored and for the people to find the right mechanism to use their new freedom to produce a better living standard to go along with their new life style.
But, we should not acclaim or not the fact that Bush-Blair did the right thing to save the world from the significant risk that unfettered, Saddam would one day return to his earlier habit of destroying his enemies by use of gas, bacteria, or nuclear weapons.
But, far more important than this is the fact that for the world to make progress in finding peace for all mankind, it is essential that we establish a democratic model that is tolerant of all religions within the context of a realization that no religion has all of the answers of the meaning of life for all people in all places. It is only through a new determination to help others achieve the kind of individual freedom that is essential to global peace, that we can sense a way to live without fear of terrorism being used in ever more dramatic ways to hype the goals of zealots of all kinds.
For these reasons we need to accept the chance that Saddam may have even abandoned his WMD or buried all of it in the months when the UN dithered about the need to pass resolution 1441 by a vote of 15-0! He had plenty of time to destroy or hide as much as he felt necessary.
This is not to say that we should not continue to interrogate and search for the evidence that tells us that here is something we must carefully destroy while we put greater emphasis on rebuilding infrastructure and improve the economy of Iraq so it can be a positive example to the middle east instead of a threat to its neighbors of all religious and political persuasions.
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