“The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons” Reports…THE NEW YORK TIMES?

“The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons” Reports…THE NEW YORK TIMES?

So, “By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” Really? Don’t you mean that liberals had given up on it? Actually, no one who has been reading Right Wing News should be unaware that we found Gulf War era WMDS.

For example,

..and of course, that we did find warheads designed to carry chemical warfare agents and artillery shells filled with mustard gas & sarin (even though they were small in number and weren’t recently made). — July 11, 2005

The “surprising” thing here isn’t that the number of Americans who believe Saddam had WMD’s has risen from 36% to 50%, it’s that the number isn’t 100% since 500 WMDs have been found. Certainly you could argue that the WMDs might be of limited use because of their age or that they weren’t part of the ongoing program, but after finding WMD stockpiles in Iraq, it’s impossible to successfully argue that Saddam didn’t possess them. — July 25, 2006

As has also been much discussed, many people on the Left and Right were wrong about Saddam having a WMD program although hundreds of Gulf War era WMDs were found. — July 17, 2009

It’s great to see so many liberals now catching up to where conservatives have been for years on the news front. — John Hawkins in October of 2010

mustard gas

There are apparently people who are SHOCKED that pre-Gulf War WMD’s were found in Iraq. Maybe it’s because they spent so much time listening to liberals arrogantly declare that “NO WMD’S were found in Iraq.”

Except they were. You don’t have to take my word for it, just read the New York Times

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

…The New York Times found 17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers who were exposed to nerve or mustard agents after 2003. American officials said that the actual tally of exposed troops was slightly higher, but that the government’s official count was classified.

The secrecy fit a pattern. Since the outset of the war, the scale of the United States’ encounters with chemical weapons in Iraq was neither publicly shared nor widely circulated within the military. These encounters carry worrisome implications now that the Islamic State, a Qaeda splinter group, controls much of the territory where the weapons were found.

…Jarrod L. Taylor, a former Army sergeant on hand for the destruction of mustard shells that burned two soldiers in his infantry company, joked of “wounds that never happened” from “that stuff that didn’t exist.” The public, he said, was misled for a decade. “I love it when I hear, ‘Oh there weren’t any chemical weapons in Iraq,’ ” he said. “There were plenty.”

…Many chemical weapons incidents clustered around the ruins of the Muthanna State Establishment, the center of Iraqi chemical agent production in the 1980s.

Since June, the compound has been held by the Islamic State, the world’s most radical and violent jihadist group. In a letter sent to the United Nations this summer, the Iraqi government said that about 2,500 corroded chemical rockets remained on the grounds, and that Iraqi officials had witnessed intruders looting equipment before militants shut down the surveillance cameras.

…At American prodding, Iraq entered the Convention on Chemical Weapons in early 2009. From that moment, its fledgling government assumed primary responsibility for securing and destroying any chemical munitions remaining from Mr. Hussein’s time.

The difficulties this posed for Iraq’s troops became clear in April 2010 when an Iraqi police patrol found about a dozen M110 mustard shells near the Tigris River.

One of the police officers involved, Farhan Hachel, said he and others were ordered to gather the shells and take them to Awenat, a village south of Tikrit.

Officer Hachel picked up one the shells and carried it across his chest. He woke the next morning with “small bubbles” on his upper body, blisters, he said that “were growing really fast.”

The next day, he said, “I received a phone call from my colleagues asking me if I was doing O.K., as two others were suffering the same thing.”

His friends told him then that they had carried leaking chemical shells.

In all, seven Iraqi police officers were burned, Officer Hachel and officials said. The American military secretly destroyed the shells, and photographed and briefly treated the burned police officers. The care was cursory.

“They gave us some creams and sent us home,” Officer Hachel said.

And still more mustard shells were found.

…When three journalists from The Times visited Al Muthanna in 2013, a knot of Iraqi police officers and soldiers guarded the entrance. Two contaminated bunkers — one containing cyanide precursors and old sarin rockets — loomed behind. The area where Marines had found mustard shells in 2008 was out of sight, shielded by scrub and shimmering heat.

The Iraqi troops who stood at that entrance are no longer there. The compound, never entombed, is now controlled by the Islamic State.

The New York Times tries to spin this into some sort of cover-up, although that really doesn’t hold water since news sources (conservative news sources at least) have been reporting for years that WMD’s have been found. The medical care our troops who were exposed to these weapons got was substandard, but sadly, that seems to be pretty par for the course as well. The New York Times did move the story forward a bit by revealing that more old WMDs were found than previously thought and by following up on the poor medical treatment our soldiers are getting (maybe this attention will get them taken care of), but for the most part, its huge,controversial story is old news.

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