In a previous blog post
, I asserted:
"Notwithstanding insidious suggestions and insinuations to the contrary, no evidence of WMDs was ever found in Iraq after Dubya launched his March 2003 invasion of that country, and neither can Dubya's invasion of Iraq be justified by Saddam Hussein's alleged failure to comply with the demands of United Nations (U.N.) weapons inspectors."
To which Harold C. Hutchison responded:
"[I]t has been reported that Coalition forces in Iraq have discovered over 500 shells with chemical weapons (sarin and mustard gas). There is also evidence that a lot of stuff may have been moved to Syria."
While Harold's response is a respectful challenge to my assertion that no evidence of WMDs was ever found in Iraq after Dubya launched his March 2003 invasion of that country, it is nonetheless a repetition of insidious and misleading pro-Dubya propaganda that can be traced directly to a report by Fox News. Here's a link to the original article from May 17, 2004
which states in pertinent part:
"A roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent recently exploded near a U.S. military convoy, the U.S. military said Monday.
" [ . . . ]
"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the results were from a field test, which can be imperfect, and said more analysis was needed.
"[ . . . ]
". . . U.S. military units [also] discovered mustard gas that was used as part of an IED. Tests conducted by the Iraqi Survey Group — a U.S. organization searching for weapons of mass destruction — and others concluded the mustard gas was 'stored improperly,' which made the gas 'ineffective.'
"They believe the mustard gas shell may have been one of 550 projectiles for which former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein failed to account when he made his weapons declaration shortly before Operation Iraqi Freedom began last year. Iraq also failed to then account for 450 aerial bombs with mustard gas. That, combined with the shells, totaled about 80 tons of unaccounted for mustard gas.
"[ . . . ]
"It was a weapon that we believe was stocked from the ex-regime time and it had been thought to be an ordinary artillery shell set up to explode like an ordinary IED and basically from the detection of that and when it exploded, it indicated that it actually had some sarin in it," [Brig. Gen. Mark] Kimmitt said.
So, from two reports of two small, separate groups of Iraqi insurgents who did not even know they were in possession of what might have been inactive sarin or mustard gas misplaced by Saddam Hussein after the 1991 Gulf War, the Fox News propaganda machine goes to work and a respectful poster leaves a comment on my blog asserting the good faith belief that some 500 shells containing mustard gas and sarin were found in Iraq after Dubya's March 2003 invasion.
Just to be clear, the math worked the other way around. To wit, using the very facts found in the Fox News Report:
1. Prior to Dubya's March 2003 invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein failed to account for some 550 projectiles that he was known to have back in 1991; sometime later, an additional 450 aerial bombs with mustard gas were also unaccounted for.
2. Exactly *ONE* IED (i.e., "Improvised Explosive Device") that *MIGHT* have contained sarin was detonated by a small group of Iraqi insurgents who apparently had no idea that the IED might have contained sarin.
3. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cautions that "the results were from a field test, which can be imperfect, and said more analysis was needed."
4. In a separate unrelated incident, U.S. military units discovered some mustard gas from the same 1991 stockpile that had been stored improperly and thus been rendered ineffective.
5. In that same news report, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist is quoted as telling Fox News that "he believes many similar weapons stockpiled by the former regime were either buried underground or transported to Syria."
In a more recent report by Fox News in June 2003
, Senator Rick Santorum cited a declassified report by the National Ground Intelligence Center as stating, "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent." However, in that same Fox News report:
"Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.
'This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991,' the official said, adding the munitions 'are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war.'"
In sum, if there is any mustard gas or sarin from 1991 stockpiles that was moved to Syria (no evidence of that, BTW) or that is now in the possession of Iraqi insurgents, it is a direct consequence of the fact that Dubya failed to allow weapons inspectors from the U.N. to complete their inspections in Iraq.
Harold Hutchison also wrote:
"[T]here have been numerous documetns recovered showing that Saddam's regime had a connection with al-Qaeda. Among these was a 1998 document discovered in April, 2003, by a reporter from the Toronto Star, and it was the subject of a major article in that paper.
Numerous documents? I guess one is a number. So is two. And as far as I can tell, there has been exactly *ONE* document recovered by Toronto Star reporter Mitch Potter. Here's a link
to the original article, and here's the spin of Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard
"On April 27, 2003, Toronto Star reporter Mitch Potter, his translator, and a colleague from the London Telegraph came across a document in the burned-out headquarters of the Mukhabarat in Baghdad. . . . It was, Potter wrote at the time, 'the first hard evidence of contact between bin Laden's al Qaeda organization and Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime.' Bin Laden's name appeared three times in the document--crudely covered with liquid paper. The goal of the meeting, according to the memo's author, was to discuss 'the future of our relationship with . . . bin Laden, and to achieve a direct meeting with him.' The individual coming to Baghdad, the memo continued, may represent 'a way to maintain contacts with bin Laden.'"
Just to be clear, in my previous post on the topic of Dubya's justification for his March 2003 invasion of Iraq, I offered no opinion whatsoever regarding whatever relationship Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda might or might not have had with Iraq or Saddam Hussein prior to Dubya's invasion. However, the fact that an al-Qaeda representative visited Iraq in April of 1998 does not change the fact that Dubya should have given Hans Blix and his U.N. weapons inspectors the time they wanted and needed to complete their work in Iraq.