Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Where's the Apology to Bush Administration on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction?

From Arnold Ahlert, at FrontPage Magazine, "Saddam’s WMDs: The Left’s Iraq Lies Exposed":
The recent turmoil in Iraq brought on by the rise of the Sunni extremist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has ironically struck a blow to the American Left’s endlessly repeated narrative that there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq prior to the war. The State Department and other U.S. government officials have revealed that ISIS now occupies the Al Muthanna Chemicals Weapons Complex. Al Muthanna was Saddam Hussein’s primary chemical weapons facility, and it is located less than 50 miles from Baghdad.

The Obama administration claims that the weapons in that facility, which include sarin, mustard gas, and nerve agent VX, manufactured to prosecute the war against Iran in the 1980s, do not pose a threat because they are old, contaminated and hard to move. “We do not believe that the complex contains CW materials of military value and it would be very difficult, if not impossible to safely move the materials,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

The administration’s dubious rationale is based on information provided by the Iraq Study Group, which was tasked with finding WMDs in the war’s aftermath. They found the chemical weapons at Al Muthanna, but they determined that both Iraq wars and inspections by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) had successfully dismantled the facility, and that the remaining chemical weapons were rendered useless and sealed in bunkers. The report called the weapons facility “a wasteland full of destroyed chemical munitions, razed structures, and unusable war-ravaged facilities,” the 2004 report stated.

Yet other sections of the same report were hardly reassuring. “Stockpiles of chemical munitions are still stored there,” it stated. “The most dangerous ones have been declared to the UN and are sealed in bunkers. Although declared, the bunkers’ contents have yet to be confirmed.” It added, “These areas of the compound pose a hazard to civilians and potential black-marketers.”


The latest revelations on the details of Saddam’s weapons stockpile, now potentially in the hands of Sunni radicals, affirm the Bush administration’s characterization of Iraq as a territory situated in a hotbed of radicalism, flooded with a bevy of highly dangerous weapons and overseen by a criminal rogue regime. Indeed, the WMDs are to say nothing of the Hussein government’s nuclear weapons program, also put to a stop by intervention in Iraq. In 2008, American and Iraqi officials had “completed nearly the last chapter in dismantling Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program with the removal of hundreds of tons of natural uranium from the country’s main nuclear site,” the New York Times reported. Approximately 600 tons of “yellowcake” was removed from the Tuwaitha facility, the main site for Iraq’s nuclear program. According to global security.org, uranium enrichment levels of 95 percent were achieved at the Tuwaitha facility. That site was also the location of the Osirak nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel in 1981.

And in what sounded like a harbinger of the future, the Times noted that although the yellowcake could not be used in its current form to produce a nuclear device or dirty bomb, the “unstable environment” in Iraq necessitated its removal, lest it fall into the “wrong hands.” In an updated correction to the article, the Times notes that the Osriak nuclear reactor “theoretically produced plutonium, which can fuel an atomic bomb.”

The Left dismissed this reality by claiming the yellowcake had been in Iraq prior to 1991 and thus was not the same yellowcake Bush referred to in his 2003 State of the Union address as part of his justification for invading Iraq. Led by former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, the emboldened anti-war Left attempted to turn the claim into a scandal saying that Bush knowingly lied to the American public regarding Iraq’s effort to procure yellowcake from Niger.

Ultimately, Wilson and his story were thoroughly discredited a year later by a Senate Select Committee report, which further noted that President Bush had been fully justified in including the infamous “16 words” regarding that intelligence in his speech. Moreover the left has never bothered to explain why yellowcake procured before 1991 was any less dangerous in terms of its WMD potential, given Saddam Hussein’s regular defiance of international law also enunciated by Bush as one of the primary reasons for deposing him.

In 2010, documents procured by Wikileaks revealed more information on the WMD threat posed by Iraq that was known to the government. The self-described whistleblowers, who could hardly be called pro-war, released 392,000 military reports from Iraq that revealed several instances of American encounters with potential WMDs or their manufacture. These included 1200 gallons of a liquid mustard agent in Samarra that tested positive for a blister agent; tampering by large earth movers thought to be attempting to penetrate the bunkers at Muthanna; the discovery of a chemical lab and a chemical cache in Fallujah; and the discovery of a cache of weapons hidden at an Iraqi Community Watch checkpoint with 155MM rounds that subsequently tested positive for mustard.

Foreign involvement with WMDs in Iraq was documented as well. A war log from January 2006 speaks of 50 neuroparalytic projectiles smuggled into Iraq from Iran via Al Basrah; Syrian chemical weapons specialists who came in to support the “chemical weapons operations of Hizballah Islami” (Hezbollah); and an Al Qaeda chemical weapons expert from Saudi Arabia sent to assist 200 individuals awaiting an opportunity to attack coalition forces with Sarin. As Wired Magazine characterized it, the Wikileaks documents revealed that for several years after the initial invasion, “U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction.”

Left-wing members in Congress were certainly aware of these threats and more posed by the Hussein regime, which lead them to unanimously authorize war and even vocally champion its necessity. Their assessment was based on nothing less than the very intelligence known to the Bush administration at the time. Secretary of State John Kerry, as a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations before war was authorized, said, “There’s no question in my mind that Saddam Hussein has to be toppled one way or another, but the question is how” and that there was likewise “no question” that Hussein “continues to pursue weapons of mass destruction, and his success can threaten both our interests in the region and our security at home.”
Don't hold your breath waiting for that apology.