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Case Not Closed: Iraq’s WMD Stockpiles
The American Thinker ^ | April 2nd, 2004 | Douglas Hanson

Posted on 04/02/2004 5:58:17 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach

Case Not Closed: Iraq’s WMD Stockpiles
March 2nd, 2004

In the summer of 2003, I served as Chief of Staff in the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), an organization formerly called the Ministry of Atomic Energy. The Ministry had a small staff of Americans and Iraqis, and was one of several ministries of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad. One of our key tasks was to transition several thousand Iraqi scientists and engineers from military and state-owned enterprises to private enterprises involved in more peaceful endeavors.  Working there, I enjoyed a unique vantage point on the activities of the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG), the inspection agency headed by Dr. David Kay, charged with finding WMD. Dr. Kay’s recent report and his testimony before Congress have helped fuel flames of criticism of the Bush Administration, and of 12 years of prewar intelligence on Iraq.

 

We at the MOST were a vital link in the WMD reporting chain, and in coordinating interviews by the ISG with the scientists of the ministry. In addition, we had resident scientific and technical expertise, and some of our people also had extensive experience working with intelligence organizations in the conduct of tactical ground and maritime reconnaissance operations. Based on this background, I want to report to my fellow Americans on some of the problems and missed opportunities I observed in the work of the ISG. In doing so, I speak only for myself, not for my colleagues, or for any organ of the CPA, or for any agency of the United States Government.

 

The ISG’s search for significant stockpiles of WMD has so far come up empty.  It may be that there are no large stockpiles, as Dr. Kay has stated.  But from my perspective in the MOST, this lack of a positive finding may also be the result of unfocused and uncoordinated ISG search operations.  It is entirely possible that the much sought-after WMD stockpiles may be literally right under the feet of coalition forces, and until a properly coordinated search effort is completed, no firm conclusions about their presence or absence can be reached. The case remains open.

 

In his recent testimony, Dr. Kay pronounced that there are no large stockpiles of WMD.  This is a pretty bold assertion considering that actual surveys of sites we were familiar with were haphazard and uncoordinated.  Also, according to his own interim report published in October of 2003, the ISG had not even searched 120 of the 130 known ammo storage points, much less any underground sites.  In addition to these known sites, “neighborhood” arms caches are discovered all the time in Iraq.  It is entirely possible that WMD stockpiles were moved out of Iraq, or that they were dispersed in Baghdad neighborhoods and throughout Iraq.  All of this may even have been accomplished while the unfocused search operations were ongoing.

 

My most fundamental criticism of the ISG is that previous intelligence assessments, however partial or inadequate they may have been, were not used to provide an operational focus to the search efforts.

 

Before Dr. Kay’s arrival, the ISG, and its predecessor in the search, the 75th Exploitation Team, were supposedly operating off a list of locations to search for WMD.  Presumably, this list was developed based upon pre-war intelligence assessments. However, many of the US intelligence analysts who had been working on Iraq’s WMD, and knowledgeable UNSCOM personnel who had conducted United Nations searches for WMD, were not initially present on the ground in Iraq. 

 

When Dr. Kay arrived, he shifted the focus from the list of sites to interrogating scientists; not just certain scientists based upon a focused plan, but any and all scientists, as the developing trail would lead.  It was apparent that the ISG was largely conducting a massive collection exercise without an operational search scheme to guide it. 

 

The effort to interrogate scientists was obviously necessary, and promised to be a valuable source of information.  But the shotgun approach was inefficient. The ISG was swamped by the amount of potentially corroborating documentation, which should have been used to shape interview priorities and test the validity of the scientists’ stories, as they were told. It was not until the Fall of 2003, however, that the Defense Intelligence Agency finally contracted out for assistance to go through the reams of documentation available to the Coalition. 

 

The scientists who were interrogated provided information which was suspect at times, due to several factors.  Outright deception on their part was always a possibility. People who were themselves incriminated, or who knew of incriminating data, had a very real fear of long-term detention and sequestering by the ISG, not to mention ultimate trial as war criminals. One supposedly cooperative scientist was held incommunicado for weeks, without even telephonic contact with his family. This sort of treatment hardly provides an incentive for others to spill their beans.

 

Fear of reprisal from Baathist Party “dead-enders” and enforcers was another very powerful inducement to lying and covering up important information. Lacking corroborating documents to trap liars, scientist interrogation became another collection effort with no strategy for identifying and checking on the veracity of key personnel.

 

In addition, there was apparently little operational control of the search activities which did take place. For example, a report came into the Ministry about a potential biological warfare (BW) equipment cache in the house of a scientist, only blocks away from the palace HQ of the CPA.  The ISG operative came to the Ministry and was briefed on the specifics, points of contact, and so forth.  The man then went and met with the scientist. Eventually, he gained access to the house.  His initial reports back to us were enthusiastic about the equipment and substances he found.  For about a week, we heard nothing further, until we received an email from the ISG, stating that he had gone on two weeks leave. Could we please let no one into the house while he was gone?

 

This sort of ball-dropping, unfortunately, was standard operating procedure for the ISG.  There was little or no operational coordination with Combined Joint Task Force-7 (CJTF-7) , which is the headquarters of the Coalition military forces in Iraq, or the tactical units responsible for the area of operations that could have actually secured suspected WMD sites.

 

Dr. Kay has concluded that Iraq’s key scientists had ended up working directly for Saddam in development of WMD programs, and that they had fooled him into believing in non-existent weapons. My experience, and the character of day to day life in Iraq, indicate just the opposite. We at the MOST have been trying to put 8000 scientists and engineers back to work without their Baathist enforcers and “project managers.”  It has been a Herculean task.  While the scientific knowledge of the individuals is intact, actually managing complex programs is well beyond the reach of these people.

 

To assert that the scientists bypassed the Baathist infrastructure, the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and Special Republican Guard commanders, all the while fooling Saddam is, to put it mildly, a real stretch.  To this day, many still fear the consequences of cooperating with the ISG. We would need to see the detailed rationale for Dr. Kay’s conclusions on this matter to gauge if Saddam was really fooled by scientists scared to death of him and the Baath Party, or if he ran one of military history’s most successful deception operations.  If he did the latter, we must also ask why he would risk the toppling of his regime, and his death or capture, over non-existent WMDs. The only alternative explanation to these two questionable scenarios is that WMD stockpiles did in fact exist, but that they have been hidden, and/or spirited out of the country.

 

Dr. Kay and the ISG have already proven that Iraq was in violation of several UN resolutions.  Their findings include, among others, that Iraq was involved in manufacturing of the biotoxin Ricin “right up to the end,” the restarting of Saddam’s nuclear program, and the development of BW “seed” agents, such as botulinum, that could be used to regenerate stockpiles of BW agents once UN sanctions were lifted. 

 

Unfortunately, several factors worked against the ISG in locating actual stockpiles of WMDs. These factors included lack of analysis of historical data and preparation of an operational framework to focus the search, over-reliance on unsystematic interrogation of scientists, and poor operational monitoring and coordination of the search effort. 

 

Some factors were beyond the ISG’s control. For example, the ISG faced a lack of resources (especially evident in the WMD and hazardous material clean-up effort), poor security of suspected WMD sites on the part of CJTF-7, and failure of US forces to prevent looting. 

 

While the US examines the validity of national intelligence as it relates to Iraq’s WMD, it is also important to analyze the lessons of the ISG’s search operations.  It would stand to reason that any continuing effort to find banned weapons would need to rely more on sound tactical intelligence preparation, and a careful handoff to experienced operational units.  High-level intelligence assessments and collection efforts are not enough. 

 

Douglas Hanson was a US Army cavalry reconnaissance officer for 20 years, and is a Gulf War I combat veteran.  He has a background in radiation biology and physiology, and was an Atomic Demolitions Munitions (ADM) Security Officer, and a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense Officer.  As a civilian analyst, he has worked on stability and support operations in Bosnia, and helped develop a multi-service medical  treatment manual for nuclear and radiological casualties.  He was initially an operations officer in the operations/intelligence cell of the Requirements Coordination Office of the CPA, and was later assigned as the Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Douglas Hanson


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iraq; wmd
Very Useful article.
1 posted on 04/02/2004 5:58:18 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: All

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2 posted on 04/02/2004 6:00:16 PM PST by Support Free Republic (Freepers post from sun to sun, but a fundraiser bot's work is never done.)
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To: All
Related item:

Pesticides, Precursors, and Petulance (Iraq’s WMDs)

3 posted on 04/02/2004 6:03:56 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: prairiebreeze; Peach; Miss Marple; Dog; mountaineer; Endeavor
Interesting reading.
4 posted on 04/02/2004 6:07:23 PM PST by Iowa Granny (Impersonating June Cleaver since 1967)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
great piece but previously posted.
5 posted on 04/02/2004 6:08:16 PM PST by the Real fifi
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To: the Real fifi
Sorry, I was confusing this with the other piece in the American Thinker.
6 posted on 04/02/2004 6:09:38 PM PST by the Real fifi
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To: cavtrooper21; Joee
Any thoughts on this?
7 posted on 04/02/2004 6:33:17 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Sounds like a deliberate failure by ISG in regards to CJTF-7.
Lots of questions in this piece.
8 posted on 04/02/2004 6:35:18 PM PST by jungleboy
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To: the Real fifi
Not much mention of possible hidden weapons in syria.
9 posted on 04/02/2004 6:40:56 PM PST by rodguy911
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
big pile of WMD still fits in a relatively small hole in the ground. Iraq has a LOT of ground.
The people that hid this crap are Saddam's family. They ain't talking. What bothers me is when they decide to dig it up are they going to - A, sell it to the highest bidder among the Islamic fringe, or B, use it themselves in Iraq because they feel they have run out of room.
10 posted on 04/02/2004 6:42:23 PM PST by cavtrooper21 (Yes.. I'm one of those "old guys" in the "funny hats". I served. Did you?)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Good post.

This brings to mind that question that Hillry asked Dr. Kay when he appeared before Congress.

Why did you leave your job?.......I wondered then why this was Hillry's question and still wonder why.
11 posted on 04/02/2004 6:49:32 PM PST by Just mythoughts
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
I would agree that it is *way* premature to make any judgements of WMD stockpiles and programs in Iraq.

That the programs were intact and functional is even admitted in the Kay report.

I have a question for these folk that I haven't seen much on yet: If there really *are* stockpiles of VX gas, Mustard gas, whatever gas, and whatever bio agents being found in the various hundreds of munitions depots around Iraq... and the mere task of locating and destroying the agents is something that will take many months or years...

Would we actually want to admit it? No... we wouldn't. The last thing we'd want is for the various Al Queda types to have a que to get in there and go prospecting for agents before we had a chance to locate and destroy all of them.

Would Bush fall on his sword over WMD in Iraq instead of spilling the beans on a critical op like this? Yes, I believe he would.
12 posted on 04/02/2004 6:51:21 PM PST by Ramius (As it turns out... taxation *with* representation ain't all that great either.)
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To: Just mythoughts
Why did you leave your job?.......

What was his reply?
13 posted on 04/02/2004 6:53:48 PM PST by marway
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To: marway
The conditions of his "contract" were not being met...
14 posted on 04/02/2004 6:54:30 PM PST by Just mythoughts
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To: marway
Everyone else was focusing upon his explanation for not finding WMD's and out of the blue Hillry ask this question.

Kay's response was as though he knew he would be asked that question. Why Hillry wanted that on the record is what I found strange.

Kay's book writing may explain why the question was asked, blaming President Bush for not meeting the requirements of him staying on. I don't know it was a strange question, for no apparent reason.
15 posted on 04/02/2004 6:59:19 PM PST by Just mythoughts
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To: Just mythoughts
His reason for leaving was they pulled some of his resources, troops were needed for other more pressing issues.
16 posted on 04/02/2004 7:13:22 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Good info. Thanks for the post.
17 posted on 04/02/2004 7:30:21 PM PST by lilylangtree (Veni, Vidi, Vici)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Doesn't anyone find it hard to believe that only 10 of the 130 known ammo storage sites were ever inspected???
18 posted on 04/02/2004 7:41:31 PM PST by jungleboy
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To: jungleboy
They need to start by searching the boxes that say "Made in France" or "Property of Kofi Annan". They always seemed more nervous about weapons inspectors than the Iraqis did.
19 posted on 04/02/2004 7:44:00 PM PST by wagglebee
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To: Just mythoughts
Her question was designed to set the stage for establishing that (should the wmd turn up) that they would have been found sooner had Bush done his job properly.

My take is that Kay may soon be deployed to Kerry's potential benefit.

20 posted on 04/02/2004 7:48:35 PM PST by There's millions of'em (Its an artistic difference... The terrorist see themselves as alive, we see them as dead.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
In his recent testimony, Dr. Kay pronounced that there are no large stockpiles of WMD. This is a pretty bold assertion considering that actual surveys of sites we were familiar with were haphazard and uncoordinated. Also, according to his own interim report published in October of 2003, the ISG had not even searched 120 of the 130 known ammo storage points, much less any underground sites. In addition to these known sites, “neighborhood” arms caches are discovered all the time in Iraq. It is entirely possible that WMD stockpiles were moved out of Iraq, or that they were dispersed in Baghdad neighborhoods and throughout Iraq. All of this may even have been accomplished while the unfocused search operations were ongoing.

What I've read indicates that not only have we not found stockpiles, but there is no evidence to suggest that they had them-- no paperwork, no witnesses, etc. That includes these theories. There is no evidence to support these theories. Now, that still doesn't mean they aren't there or were there, but moved, but the statements Kay have made are stronger assertions than just saying we haven't found them. He doesn't expect to find them. It would shock him to find them because he's seen nothing to suggest they were there.

21 posted on 04/02/2004 7:59:28 PM PST by GraniteStateConservative (...He had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here...-- Worst.President.Ever.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Very nice article. I like this Hanson guy.
22 posted on 04/02/2004 8:13:17 PM PST by dixiechick2000 (President Bush is a mensch in cowboy boots.<<<Keep Free Republic Free...DONATE TODAY>>>)
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To: GraniteStateConservative
It would shock him to find them because he's seen nothing to suggest they were there.

Seems to me he was in a big hurry to say that, when he really had not seen very much!

23 posted on 04/02/2004 8:56:49 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
For political reasons, the Democrats and other opponents of the war have seized on Kay's statements, distorted and/or exaggerated his conclusions, and used them to attack Bush and his doctrine. This article gives us a glimpse into what may have been an inadequately managed WMD search. Perhaps Kay after all is not the ultimate authority on the existence of stockpiles of WMDs in Iraq. Kay showed none of the arrogance and partisanship of Dick Clarke, but he may not be much more effective in long run. Clarke magnified his mistakes and miscalculations with his shear petulance and transparent mendacity. Kay may have just been a well meaning man, or technocrat, in beyond his depth. He gave up too soon and too easily, perhaps aware that the task was beyond his organizational capacity. So, perhaps the game is yet afoot, Watson, eh?
24 posted on 04/02/2004 10:03:58 PM PST by Richard Axtell
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To: Richard Axtell
I agree!

The entrenched bureaucrats are really trying to sabotage what Bush is trying to do!
25 posted on 04/02/2004 10:47:56 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks for posting this. I will have to read it carefully later.
26 posted on 04/02/2004 11:28:49 PM PST by justshutupandtakeit (America's Enemies foreign and domestic agree: Bush must be destroyed.)
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To: justshutupandtakeit; Ernest_at_the_Beach
Dittos.
27 posted on 04/02/2004 11:31:17 PM PST by RandallFlagg (<a href="http://www.michaelmoore.com" target="_blank">miserable failure)
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To: cavtrooper21
I can imagine a tactic where we actually do know where the WVD's are and we are using it as if it were a bait to see who is involved and where are they taking it.
28 posted on 04/03/2004 1:42:35 AM PST by jonrick46 (jonrick46)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
"His reason for leaving was they pulled some of his resources, troops were needed for other more pressing issues."


Yes, I believe he also made it sound like he wasn't able to do the job the way he wanted to do it, so he quit. What came across to me was his "independence" to function was removed from him. His interim report has been the "Bible" for the claim that there were no WMD's in Iraq.

This article gives another perspective about his method and brings in to question what he claims.
29 posted on 04/03/2004 2:58:58 AM PST by Just mythoughts
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To: There's millions of'em
"Her question was designed to set the stage for establishing that (should the wmd turn up) that they would have been found sooner had Bush done his job properly.

My take is that Kay may soon be deployed to Kerry's potential benefit."


I tend to agree there does seemed to be the attempt with these books of supposed "insiders" to assist JFKerry's or whom ever the liberal candidate will be in November.

There is no doubt what Clarke's book deal was about, Clarke making money, and an invitation to the terrorists of the world, US is the same as pre-9/11, President Bush tooooo obsessed with Iraq to protect this nation.

Woodward, Wilson, and bjclinton to round out the year with their books. Kay may well have his "announced" book ready before Clinton gets his finished.
30 posted on 04/03/2004 3:07:45 AM PST by Just mythoughts
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
I really don't see the fuss over not finding any to date. The critical criteria is we looked and will continue to seek, where ever they may be even in Iran or Syria, etc. The effort to find them, in itself, is good news. We have turned up all kinds of materials as a result, and there is plenty left to find. Not to mention the "bad guys" sent "West" in the process.
31 posted on 04/03/2004 12:49:13 PM PST by Joee
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To: Joee
bump for later read
32 posted on 04/03/2004 3:38:45 PM PST by prairiebreeze (Brought to you by The American Democratic Party, also known as Al Qaeda, Western Division.)
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