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Are We There Yet?
The Weekly Standard ^ | 04/06/03 | Stephen F. Hayes

Posted on 04/06/2003 8:30:14 PM PDT by Pokey78

War critics are now complaining that we haven't yet found Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. But the "smoking gun" may come sooner, rather than later.

MUCH HAS BEEN MADE in recent days of the fact that coalition forces have not yet found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The BBC, among many other media outlets, has been positively obsessed with this failure--running nonstop packages that juxtapose comments made by Tony Blair and Dick Cheney about the certainly of Saddam Hussein's possession of WMD with reporting on the ground that no such weapons have been found.

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Howard Witt explored the curiosity and presented a worst-case scenario: "Much of the political, diplomatic and legal justification for the U.S.-led war rests on the assertion that Hussein is hiding weapons of mass destruction and has defied repeated United Nations demands to surrender them. If that proves not to be true, the Bush administration's diplomatic credibility would be shaken, the Muslim world would be reinforced in its belief that Washington is waging war against Islam and U.S. leaders might even be vulnerable to legal challenges in international courts."

It's a fair, if somewhat premature, point. The Bush administration and its coalition partners made Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, together with the likelihood that he would work with terrorist networks to use them, the focal point of their arguments for war.

The terrorist links have been established. Al Qaeda terrorists fought against coalition troops in southern Iraq. Foreign nationals--Egyptians, Jordanians, Saudis, Syrians and Yemenis--were captured Sunday and led U.S. soldiers to their training grounds at Salman Pak. And, most convincing, raids of the Ansar al-Islam camps in northern Iraq revealed extensive al Qaeda ties for this group believed to have extensive, high-ranking connections with the Iraqi regime. (New Yorker writer Jeffrey Goldberg reported last year that Abu Wael, a leader of Ansar al-Islam, also worked for the Mukhabarat, Iraqi intelligence.

So what about the weapons of mass destruction? Brigadier General Vincent Brooks was asked about them directly during Sunday's CENTCOM briefing. He answered:

Weapons of mass destruction are something that remain a focus of the operation. It is not the primary focus. We're still conducting combat operations focused on the regime. That's first order of business. However, there are some places that we have now accessed to areas that we do searches for weapons of mass destruction either based on our anticipated or our knowledge of forehand that there may have been weapons of mass destruction stored there, developed there, over time. So, in some cases it may be years ago that we had the information. As we get access to the locations, we'll search often with the assistance of people who were working there, and as we get closer to Baghdad, we have more places that are like that. I think we can certainly be sure that this regime has been skillful at hiding the things they have. There are a number of items that we have already encountered on the battlefield that they said they didn't have, yet we find them, whether it's mines that float up or missiles that go beyond 150 kilometers, any number of other things are out there. So, while we cannot say where they may have moved to, we certainly anticipate that there have been deliberate efforts to bury, hide, move or disperse all of these efforts that were part of the denial and deception campaign. As time goes on and we get more access to the people who really know what was happening inside of the regime that are not supportive of the regime, after the regime is gone, we believe we'll be able to do the deliberate work necessary to find more of it.

"More of it?" It's possible that Brooks was speaking broadly about the proscribed weapons. It's also possible that the comment was a slip of the tongue--an indication that we may already have found chemical and biological agents and are waiting for further confirmation before making those findings public.

Certainly the circumstantial evidence of such weapons is widespread--including thousands of bio-chemical weapons suits and Atropine antidotes found in Iraqi army outposts. With U.S. troops in and around Baghdad, where most of these banned weapons would likely be hidden, and with the inevitable annihilation of the regime, scores of Iraqis with knowledge of WMD production and concealment will be interrogated by coalition forces in the coming days.

In an interesting side note, an under-discussed article posted April 4, on reports that "terror toxins" were found at the Ansar al-Islam camp in northern Iraq:

"Preliminary tests conducted by indicate that the deadly toxins ricin and botulinum were present on two items found at a camp in a remote mountain region of northern Iraq allegedly used as a terrorist training center by Islamic militants with ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network. The field tests used by are only a first step in the evidentiary process and are typically followed by more precise laboratory testing that has not conducted. U.S. intelligence agents were conducting their own tests in the same area and had not yet released their results, according to officials in northern Iraq."

The toxins are among the easiest to produce and could have been developed without collaboration from the Iraqi regime. Still, it's worth noting that U.N. inspectors listed 5,000 gallons of botulinum among the many agents for which Saddam Hussein's regime had never accounted.

The critics and would-be critics are impatient. These are the people who, after the first week of this war--just one week--lashed out at the Bush administration, suggesting that the entire war plan was a failure.

The same edginess is evident on weapons of mass destruction after just two weeks. Patience, please.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: arewethereyet; patienceplease; stephenfhayes

1 posted on 04/06/2003 8:30:14 PM PDT by Pokey78
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To: Pokey78
The media are a weapon of mass destruction. By the time they shut up, there will hardly be a brain cell left alive.
2 posted on 04/06/2003 8:33:11 PM PDT by T'wit
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To: T'wit
Liberals leave nothing in their path but confusion, anarchy, and chaos.
3 posted on 04/06/2003 8:35:03 PM PDT by goldstategop (Lara Logan Doesn't Hold A Candle Next To BellyGirl :))
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To: Pokey78
This article was evidently written before the incident that happened within the last day or so, where U.S. military investigators came down with symptoms of "mild nerve agent exposure" while searching one of these facilities.

Looks like Sarin. Looks and smells like a "smoking gun."
4 posted on 04/06/2003 8:35:05 PM PDT by Illbay (Don't believe every tagline you read - including this one)
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To: Pokey78

5 posted on 04/06/2003 8:39:21 PM PDT by sweetliberty ("Better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to open your your mouth and remove all doubt.")
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To: Pokey78
Speaking of "are we there yet," a Fox anchor last week mentioned a Washington Post editorial cartoon in which Rumsfeld is driving a pack of kids (representing journalists) who're saying "Is it Vietnam yet? Is it Vietnam yet?". It came out early on when we were getting "bogged down," or so they seemed to think. I went looking for the cartoon but never was able to find it. I wish I could see it because it sounds hilarious.
6 posted on 04/06/2003 8:42:00 PM PDT by John Jorsett
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To: Pokey78
We can be thankful that President Bush has the backbone to put an end to the Saddam regime, whether WMDs are found or not. Imagine the sorry situation we'd be in if Algore was President!
7 posted on 04/06/2003 8:43:15 PM PDT by BenLurkin (Remember the 507th!)
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To: John Jorsett
Its been posted here a number of times on FR. You're right, the kids resent the adults being in charge.
8 posted on 04/06/2003 8:43:38 PM PDT by goldstategop (Lara Logan Doesn't Hold A Candle Next To BellyGirl :))
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To: T'wit
Check this out:

Troops, journalists undergo cleanup for nerve gas exposure By TOM LASSETER

Knight Ridder Newspapers

ALBU MUHAWISH, Iraq - U.S. soldiers evacuated an Iraqi military compound on Sunday after tests by a mobile laboratory confirmed evidence of sarin nerve gas. More than a dozen soldiers of the Army's 101st Airborne Division had been sent earlier for chemical weapons decontamination after they exhibited symptoms of possible exposure to nerve agents.

The evacuation of dozens of soldiers Sunday night followed a day of tests for the nerve agent that came back positive, then negative. Additional tests Sunday night by an Army Fox mobile nuclear, biological and chemical detection laboratory confirmed the existence of sarin.

Sgt. Todd Ruggles, a biochemical expert attached to the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne said, "I was right" that chemical agents Iraq has denied having were present.

In addition to the soldiers sent for decontamination, a Knight Ridder reporter, a CNN cameraman and two Iraqi prisoners of war also were hosed down with water and bleach.

The rest is here:

Somebody ought to create a new post with this article in it. I confess I am too lazy to do it. Funny, I have not heard this on any of the cable stations.

9 posted on 04/06/2003 8:45:33 PM PDT by Theresa
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To: Theresa
Interesting article.

I continue to think the Pentagon is actually holding cards close to vest on this until the regime falls. Announcing we have found WMDs give Saddam no incentive to hold back on using them.

OTOH, the regime is pretty much toast now. A good kick into baghdad and its all over. so we may expect Pentagon announcement soon.

10 posted on 04/06/2003 8:59:51 PM PDT by WOSG (Liberate Iraq! God Bless our Troops!)
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"I continue to think the Pentagon is actually holding cards close to vest on this until the regime falls. Announcing we have found WMDs give Saddam no incentive to hold back on using them. "

Oh yeah! I did not think of it that way. That makes perfect sense. I've been waiting for this information to be on CNN at least because one of their camera guys was exposed.

11 posted on 04/06/2003 9:04:09 PM PDT by Theresa
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