The Latest Word From David Kay

I consider David Kay to be a credible source, so if he says that , “I don’t think there was a large-scale production program in (Iraq in) the ’90s,” I think that is highly likely to be the case.

That means that I and a lot of other people including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, the CIA, Tony Blair, Wesley Clark, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Tom Daschle, were wrong about Iraq’s WMD.

So why were so many people, both Democrats and Republicans, wrong about Iraq’s WMD? Well, do keep in mind that Saddam DID have WMD programs and intended to produce more WMD. As David Kay mentioned in his first report,

“…New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN.”

….When Saddam had asked a senior military official in either 2001 or 2002 how long it would take to produce new chemical agent and weapons, he told ISG that after he consulted with CW experts in OMI he responded it would take six months for mustard.

Another senior Iraqi chemical weapons expert in responding to a request in mid-2002 from Uday Husayn for CW for the Fedayeen Saddam estimated that it would take two months to produce mustard and two years for Sarin.

…Saddam, at least as judged by those scientists and other insiders who worked in his military-industrial programs, had not given up his aspirations and intentions to continue to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Even those senior officials we have interviewed who claim no direct knowledge of any on-going prohibited activities readily acknowledge that Saddam intended to resume these programs whenever the external restrictions were removed. Several of these officials acknowledge receiving inquiries since 2000 from Saddam or his sons about how long it would take to either restart CW production or make available chemical weapons.”

In his latest comments, David Kay added,

“Regarding biological weapons, he said there was evidence that the Iraqis continued research and development “right up until the end” to improve their ability to produce ricin. “They were mostly researching better methods for weaponization,” Dr. Kay said. “They were maintaining an infrastructure, but they didn’t have large-scale production under way.

He added that Iraq did make an effort to restart its nuclear weapons program in 2000 and 2001, but that the evidence suggested that the program was rudimentary at best and would have taken years to rebuild, after being largely abandoned in the 1990’s….”

Furthermore, Kay says that the Iraqis themselves appeared to have overestimated their own capabilities,

“The whole thing shifted from directed programs to a corrupted process,” Dr. Kay said. “The regime was no longer in control; it was like a death spiral. Saddam was self-directing projects that were not vetted by anyone else. The scientists were able to fake programs.

…Dr. Kay said interviews with senior officers of the Special Republican Guards, Mr. Hussein’s most elite units, had suggested that prewar intelligence reports were wrong in warning that these units had chemical weapons and would use them against American forces as they closed in on Baghdad.

The former Iraqi officers reported that no Special Republican Guard units had chemical or biological weapons, he said. But all of the officers believed that some other Special Republican Guard unit had chemical weapons.

“They all said they didn’t have it, but they thought other units had it,” Dr. Kay said. He said it appeared they were the victims of a disinformation campaign orchestrated by Mr. Hussein.”

Kay was also quite hard on our intelligence services and made it very clear that they clearly believed Saddam had WMD,

“As a result, virtually everyone in the United States intelligence community during both the Clinton and the current Bush administrations thought Iraq still had the illicit weapons, he said. And the government became a victim of its own certainty.

“All the analysts I have talked to said they never felt pressured on W.M.D.,” he said. “Everyone believed that they had W.M.D.”

So what’s the long and short of all this?

First of all, as Kay says, “virtually everyone in the United States intelligence community during both the Clinton and the current Bush administrations thought Iraq still had the illicit weapons,” so the people trying to claim that “Bush lied” about WMD are either ill informed or are deliberately trying to mislead the American public.

Secondly, it’s pretty clear that our intelligence agencies were off the mark about what Saddam actually had. So, we need to try to find out why that happened and try to take some corrective steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. That being said, given the nature of work that they do, I have to question how our intelligence agencies were supposed to know Iraq didn’t have stocks of WMD when everything needed to produce them was in place, Saddam himself apparently believed in the existence of fake programs, & the senior officers of the Special Republican Guards believed the WMD existed.

Last but not least, even if Saddam did not have significant stocks of WMD when we invaded, it’s very clear that he had the capability and intention of creating them when the heat was off. And the reality is that Saddam couldn’t be contained forever. At some point, even the anti-war crowd has to acknowledge that if a decade of sanctions and the threat of war didn’t get Saddam to give up on WMD for good, then nothing short of an invasion was going to keep WMD out of his hands once for all. That’s the reality of the situation and as far as I’m concerned, we made the right decison. Heck, even if Saddam wouldn’t have had any WMD programs or a desire to create them, taking him out would have still been the right decision.

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