NOTE: The author is donating all of his book revenues to charitable organizations serving U.S. veterans and their families

Misconception 8

IS IT TRUE that "no WMD was found" in Iraq?

IN FACT:    

The Iraq Survey Group found that Saddam Hussein retained both the intention and the capability to revive bio-chemical weapons programs after sanctions were ended.

The reports we had from U.S. intelligence officials on Iraqi WMD painted essentially the same picture that those officials had presented to the Clinton Administration. The CIA declared that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons stockpiles. The stockpiles catalogued by the UN weapons inspectors in 1999 were still unaccounted for, and were therefore presumed to exist. (p. 224)

[T]he Iraq Survey Group team concluded that Saddam had retained the ability to produce chemical and biological weapons rapidly (within a month or two). In the 1990s he had shut down factories dedicated solely to making such weapons, replacing them with "dual-use" facilities capable of producing both civilian products and chemical or biological weapons. That gave him deniability if inspections ever started up again, as Saddam evidently expected they would. (p. 327)

The Iraq Survey Group also found that Saddam had the intention to revive Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programs once the sanctions were ended. He had preserved the necessary teams of technicians, who would be the key to reviving the programs quickly. (p. 327)

The public's impression of the Duelfer Report on these matters was shaped by news media headlines to the effect that "nothing was found." Those headlines were misleading (one might even say fundamentally false), because the ISG found substantial WMD capabilities in Iraq, including personnel, materiel, facilities, and intentions-but not the stockpiles of the weapons themselves. (p. 328)

In the end, there are only three possible explanations for the failure to find the WMD materiel that had been catalogued in detail by UNSCOM. Saddam might have destroyed it, he might have hidden it in Iraq, or he might have transferred it out of Iraq. To this day, we do not know for sure which explanation is correct. (p. 330)

The Iraq Survey Group confirmed that President Bush had grounds for viewing Iraq's WMD capabilities as a compelling threat. The CIA's unsupportable statements about Iraqi stockpiles and WMD activity did not justify critics in making unsupportable pronouncements of their own, to the effect that Saddam had no WMD ambitions or capabilities. (p. 330)