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Registered: 09/25/00
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No Weapons Doesn't Mean No Threat
    #1983465 - 10/06/03 11:33 AM (13 years, 25 days ago)

No Weapons Doesn't Mean No Threat

By Charles Duelfer
Monday, October 6, 2003; Page A23

The Iraq Survey Group headed by David Kay has now made an interim report. Ironically, this group has inherited the obligation previously levied by the United Nations upon Saddam Hussein -- namely, to credibly and verifiably detail Iraq's program of weapons of mass destruction to a skeptical international audience.

The group has had far more access and resources than the U.N. inspectors under Hans Blix and it has been in Iraq longer. How is it faring and what does the interim report tell us? Particularly, does the absence of a major weapons discovery mean that U.N. inspections were working and the war was unnecessary?

Kay states that while no ready-to-use weapons have been found, Iraq is a big country and many depots and other locations are yet to be inspected. However, the Kay report does list evidence of continuing research and development (though not production) in each weapon category. It also describes activities and equipment that Iraq failed to declare to the United Nations and that were not discovered by the inspectors.

Future reports will have to show in verifiable detail the extent of these prohibited programs, but these findings will not greatly surprise experienced U.N. inspectors. Hussein had long differentiated between retaining weapons and sustaining the capability to produce weapons. Experience has also shown that Iraq tended to pursue whatever relevant research was allowed or was deemed undetectable.

The apparent absence of existing weapons stocks, therefore, does not mean Hussein did not pose a WMD threat. In fact, fragments of evidence in Kay's report about ongoing biological weapons research suggest that Hussein may have had a quick "break-out" capacity to threaten his neighbors and, indeed, the United States with biological agents (possibly including infectious agents).

But clearly this is not the immediate threat many assumed before the war. Large stocks of chemical and biological munitions have not been found. The WMD threat appears to have been longer term. Assuming this finding does not change, it will be very important for the Iraq Survey Group to establish when all agents and weapons were eliminated. It will also be important to analyze why the picture Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the Security Council in February was so far off the mark.

Future reports will also have to demonstrate what facts about the Iraq WMD program the U.N. teams missed and how Hussein's regime acted to thwart the efforts of the United Nations. This latter issue is vital. Kay makes mention of the Iraqi concealment and deception as one reason why he has found so little. The first U.N. inspection team (UNSCOM) pursued a controversial program to investigate what we termed the Iraqi concealment mechanism. The goal was to show how the enormous resources of Iraq's security and intelligence apparatus undermined the inspection teams. We accumulated evidence that presidential secretary Abed Hamid Mahmoud, now in U.S. custody, directed a government-wide effort to contain inspection activity. This included penetrating the U.N. inspection teams and even obtaining assistance from other prominent countries to fend off the inspectors. Conducting surprise inspections had become almost impossible.

The Iraq Survey Group should now have access to the records and participants of the former regime. Future reports must provide a clear description of the Iraqi system for containing inspector activity. This is necessary to inform judgments about the effectiveness of the U.N. inspections. The argument is made that if no weapons were found in Iraq, then maybe the U.N. inspection process was successfully containing Hussein and, therefore, the war was unnecessary.

This will be proven wrong if the Iraq Survey Group can show that Hussein could outlast and outwit the efforts of the Security Council to keep him from ever obtaining WMD. While the inspection system may have appeared to be successful at a given point, it was not sustainable and eventually the U.N. Security Council would lose focus. Kay's group needs to document the strategy that Hussein's regime was pursuing to counter and erode the U.N. disarmament measures.

The Bush administration appears committed to developing a full picture of the Iraqi weapons program, even if it turns out to be less than was forecast. This task in Iraq, like so many others, is made much more difficult because of early mistakes. Key sites were left unsecured and looters destroyed much evidence. Tons of documents were collected haphazardly, and now they have to be sorted out by experts and linguists -- an extremely time-consuming process.

Finally, the Iraqis who are most knowledgeable have been living in fear of arrest by the Americans or death from various internal Iraqi threats. Most of the WMD program leaders have spent the summer in jail. The second-tier scientists and engineers fear the night when U.S. military surround their homes and take them away to face an unknown future. They do not find much incentive to cooperate.

Kay appears to be making necessary course corrections, and a full verifiable description of Hussein's programs and policies should be forthcoming. It will have to be meticulous. There are many very knowledgeable people in the audience, including U.N. inspectors and former Iraqi officials, who will ultimately pass judgment on its veracity.

The writer, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, was deputy chairman of UNSCOM, the first U.N. Iraq inspection organization, from 1993 to 2000.

? 2003 The Washington Post Company

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Re: No Weapons Doesn't Mean No Threat [Re: wingnutx]
    #1983959 - 10/06/03 03:16 PM (13 years, 25 days ago)


The apparent absence of existing weapons stocks, therefore, does not mean Hussein did not pose a WMD threat. 

....*snickers*...riiiiiiight.......i like the term they used..."quick break out capacity"...has a nice ring to it...sounds appropriatley evil.


It will also be important to analyze why the picture Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the Security Council in February was so far off the mark. 

of course... :lol:

"Know your Body - Know your Mind - Know your Substance - Know your Source.

Lest we forget. "

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Re: No Weapons Doesn't Mean No Threat [Re: Azmodeus]
    #1984853 - 10/06/03 09:33 PM (13 years, 24 days ago)

Do you only read the Washington Post? Getting a multitude of resources. You truly are a wingnut. A Rightwing nut, I mean.

"But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy."

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Re: No Weapons Doesn't Mean No Threat [Re: MisterKite]
    #1985012 - 10/06/03 10:33 PM (13 years, 24 days ago)

Was that for me? Open your eyes. I've posted articles from at least 6 different sources today.

The Washington post is hardly right wing.

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Re: No Weapons Doesn't Mean No Threat [Re: wingnutx]
    #1985089 - 10/06/03 10:55 PM (13 years, 24 days ago)

You've got the Washington Post confused with the New York Post, Mr. Kite.

The NY Post is owned by the same company that owns FOX News.

The Washington Post is a very reputable (and pretty neutral) paper.


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