August 14, 2006

The “No WMD” Lie (with Linked Proof) — The Sequel

This post updates “The ‘No WMD’ Lie (with Linked Proof)” from November of last year, using material from Richard Miniter’s book “Disinformation” (Amazon link is in detail; text of the book’s inside flap is here; Miniter’s blowaway bio is here), and additional investigative work by me. It has been moved to the top for the rest of today.

A REMINDER: The specific word-for-word claim being refuted here is “We now know that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

That EXACT statement was made here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here; all were found in a simple Google search using quote marks, and are verbatim quotes with the exception of the final item, which added “all too well” after “know”). The number and variety of people who have made the statement without the first four words (leaving “There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq”) is too voluminous to chronicle.

The Rev. Joseph Lowry repeated the same lie using slightly different words at the funeral of Coretta Scott King: “We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there.”

All of the above statements are absolutes; there’s no room for nuance, conditions, or “yeah, buts.”

Though all it takes to refute these statements would be a gram of WMD powder, there is, of course, much more than that.
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Quick Overview

  • 1.77 metric tons of uranium — certainly raw materials for WMDs, but not actual WMDs. How quickly convertible to fuel for A-Bombs dependent on sophistication of secretly constructed at Tuwaitha.
  • 1,000 (items of) radioactive materials — definitely at least some WMDs.
  • The “Polish 17″ chemical weapons — definitely WMDs.
  • The Mosul Chem Lab — inconclusive, straining credulity that none of Saddam’s chemical weapons ever passed though there.
  • The Sarin Shell — definitely a WMD.
  • The Mustard Shell — not a WMD itself, but indicative of hundreds of shells known to be unaccounted for and later found to be 75% filled and usable WMDs.

The Scoreboard:

3 – Undisputable Definites

1 – Definitely usable raw materials

1 – Inconclusive

1 – Not a WMD, but a clue to hundreds subsequently found that were.

The “No WMD” Lie — Still a Lie

The “Debate” — Over (Update: Though I reserve the right to pile on in the future)

Interest in “Debating” an issue that is over — NONE

Detailed Post Follows:

In my November 2 “No WMD Lie” post, where I traced specifics of WMD finds to to media articles in a matter of 10-15 minutes, I also noted where the original information came from (via the incomparable Pamela at Atlas Shrugs, of course): Richard Miniter’s book “Disinformation: 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror.”

At the time, I said I had the book on my Christmas list. Unfortunately, no one gave it to me.

No biggie. Time marched on, and various weak attempts to refute the items cited have ranged from incomplete to fruitless.

That would include the latest comments from my commenter “Brennan” — #46, #48, and #50, and in various less civil comments that I have held to protect “Brennan’s” dignity.

From the time I did Update 2 at the post and found specific media support for the items cited by Miniter, the standard, and frankly the only logical standard, for refuting his (and my) evidence that the “No WMD” claim is a lie, would be a clear and convincing refutation of EVERY item cited. Anything short of that fails the test, which I somewhat erroneouly characterized from time to time as “my” test, but is really a test of basic logic. If you haven’t disproven them all, you simply cannot claim that there were none, as “Brennan,” the WORMs (Worn-Out Reactionary Media, known to most as the formerly Mainstream Media), many politicians, and others persist in doing.

The disprove-them-all standard, while of course the proper benchmark, has generally been personally convenient, because I haven’t had to waste my time on any “yeah, buts” about one or two of the items listed that have come along. Having said that, I have allowed issues to be raised about some of them that ought to be addressed, including “Brennan’s,” if for no other reason than that by allowing the comments through, I’ve given them legitimacy that they don’t deserve. Note for the record that all of the objections added up STILL have NOT refuted every item cited, so that even if these objections were ALL correct (and I will show that they are NOT), the fact remains that the “No WMD” claim is, and always has been, a lie.

So here we go. For this post, I went out and bought Mr. Miniter’s book (“Brennan” should really reimburse me for the $22 and change).

I will now quote from Chapter (Myth) 11, Pages 96-98. Where Miniter cites articles other than the ones I found, I have attempted to find them, and where I have, I have linked (and saved) them. I have added the media items I found and commented after each paragraph (bolds in Miniter’s text are mine):

Indeed, we know that WMD component parts were found after the war — not “stockpiles,” but enough to be worrying:

  • In a secret operation on June 23, 2004, US forces seized 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium (just over 3,900 pounds, or almost two “regular” tons — Ed.) – the kind used to make fuel for atomic bombs — in a nuclear famility in Iraq, according to BBC News. ….. US Department of Energy experts also removed 1,000 radioactive materials in “powdered form, which is easily dispersed,” said Bryan Wilkes, an Energy Department spokesman. The material would have been ideal for a radioactive dirty bomb. Then energy secretary Spencer Abraham hailed the operation as “a major achievement.”

New links are from BBC’s “US reveals Iraq nuclear operations,” 7/7/04 (backup saved here at my host).My original link (since moved; backup saved to my host) was from a US Embassy press release based on a Department of Energy press statement.

Now, on to the substance: As to the nearly 2 US tons of uranium, Miniter describes it as “the kind used to make fuel for atomic bombs.” Neither the BBC article or the State/DOE document refute that characterization. An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Media Advisory dated June 6, 2003 states that fact that the materials were under seal since 1991. “Brennan,” at Comment #46 at the “No WMD Lie” post, refers to an unlinked statement from IAEA stating that it wasn’t ever removed because they “could not be used directly for nuclear weapons purposes.”

VERY clever phrasing by the IAEA. Use “to make fuel for atomic bombs” is an INDIRECT, not a DIRECT, use (either that, or they don’t know what they’re talking about, as we’ll see shortly). The better question is “Was it USEFUL (at all)?” Well, when Marines came to the Tuwaitha, they found “an underground network of laboratories, warehouses, and bombproofed offices.” With that finding, they in essence confirmed what The Washington Post had reported in September 2002 (original is gone; scroll down to the story by “Rajiv” at the link provided) and what the Department of Defense claimed in October 2002 (about 45% of the way through the link) — that Iraq had secretly constructed additional facilities at Tuwaitha, and had successfully kept inspectors and others away from them for probably several years.

Now here’s the clincher — The article supposedly debunking the usefulness of the materials quoted an unnamed “expert” who said that “it was implausible to believe that U.S. forces had uncovered anything new at the site.” Instead, the official said:

—- ….. the Marines apparently broke U.N. seals
designed to ensure the materials
aren’t diverted for weapons use
or end up in the wrong hands. —-

Oops. The supposed “debunker” just told the AP that the uranium was INDIRECTLY USEFUL. For making atomic weapons fuel? It doesn’t say, but expert Miniter definitely says it CAN be used for that.

Verdict: Not actual WMDs, but certainly the raw materials for them. How readily usable they were to the Iraqis is totally dependent on what had been accomplished in the secretly constructed facilities that were never seen before the invasion. Those who opposed the Iraq invasion would have to convince the world that despite mammoth new construction, nothing scientifically significant happened at Tuwaitha between 1998 and 2003. Good luck–I’m glad we didn’t find out.

As to the 1,000 (items of) radioactive materials, this is relatively easy. It would seem that at least some of the “easily dispersed” materials are in their existing form WMDs in and of themselves in the hands of a person who doesn’t care whether he or she lives or dies. Such a person could deliver these dispersable materials in any number of ways and kill and/or critically sicken hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the process.

Verdict: At least some WMDs.

  • Polish general Marke Dukaczewski, Poland’s military intelligence chief, revealed that troops in the Polish-patrolled sector of Iraq had received tips from Iraqis that chemicals were sold to terrorists on the black market. The weapons had been buried to avoid detection, the general told the BBC. Polish military officials bought seventeen chemical-weapons warheads from Iraqis for $5,000 each to keep them from Iraq’s so-called insurgents. “An attach with such weapons would be hard to imagine,” the general said. “All of our activity was accelerated at approprating these warheads.” Tests confirmed that some of the warheads contained cyclosarin, a nerve agent five times more powerful than sarin. These chemical weapons were supposed to have been completely destroyed during the 1991-1998 UN inspector regime. Clearly, some WMD survived.

The BBC link in this case is “Troops ‘Foil Nerve Gas Bid’” from July 2, 2004 (saved host backup is here). My original link at SFgate.com was removed, but the backup at my host is here.

Verdict: No doubt – WMDs found. As Miniter wrote, “Clearly, some WMDs survived.

  • US soldiers stormed into a warehouse in Mosul, Iraq, on August 8, 2005, and were surprised to find 1,500 gallons of chemical agents. It was the largest chemical weapons lab found in Iraq. The intelligence community remains divided over the origin of those chemical weapons (either from inside Iraq or outside) and whether they were made during Saddam’s regime or after.

Miniter’s source is the same as mine (WaPo August 14, 2005; saved at my host).

Verdict: Inconclusive, though to me it strains the imagination to believe that NO ingredients and NO actual chemical weapons dating back to before the invasion were EVER processed through this facility, whether present in inventory at the time of the raid or not. The facility was described as “dating from some time after the US-led invasion of Iraq,” meaning it could have been operating as long as two-plus years before it was discovered.

  • When a roadside bomb exploded near a US convoy on May 17, 2004, it was found to contain the nerve agent sarin. Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt told reporters that an “improvised explosive” was rigged to a 155 mm artillery shell that contained sarin. The shell was a “binary chemical projectile,” in which the two ingredients that produce sarin are separated by a propeller blade that spins while the shell is in flight, mixing the dealy gas to pull potency. Since the chemical weapons shell was used as a bomb, and not fired from the barrel of an artillery piece, the internal rotor did not sping and the deadly agent was not widely dispersed. As a result, Kimmitt, only traces of sarin were produced and released. The soldiers were briefly hospitalized and deocontaminated. Again, all such chemical weapons warheads were supposed to be destroyed in 1991 — yet Saddam’s WMD still threaten the lives of American troops to this day.

Miniter’s footnote refers to an unspecified page at the White House’s Apparatus of Lies 1990-2003 (Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda) report. My link for the is a Fox News report from May 17 (host backup here), so we can stipulate that the event occurred.

This is a story of a real chemical weapon clumsily used. Miniter’s description of what actually happened is much more detailed than Fox’s and makes it clear that this was very dangerous stuff, and should not have existed according to the regimen Saddam has supposedly agreed to.

Verdict: WMD. Those who want to disqualify it based on quantity forget the claim being debunked is NO WMD. Sorry — no rule-bending here.

  • The Iraq Survey Group, led by David Kay and charged wth finding WMD after the war, discovered a projectile loaded with mustard gas attached to a roadside bomb in May 2004. Fortunately, the mustard gas was “stored improperly” and was “ineffective.” The mustard-gas shell is believe to be part of th 80 tons of such gas still unaccounted for.

Miniter’s footnote is to the Fox News story I cited in the previous item, which goes into the mustard-gas situation in its latter portion. My link (backed up at host here) is to a May 17, 2004 CNN transcript of the Anderson Cooper show.The Fox report is a better reference as the Cooper show makes just one quick reference. The Fox report has an item that, in retrospect, may have been the lead-in to what Senators Santorum and Hoekstra talked about in June:

— They (the Iraq Survey Group) 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. —

In his interview with Hugh Hewitt (noted in Update 5 at my link), Santorum asserted that “75% of these 500 or so weapons were in fact filled and usable, and very dangerous …. if got to improper hands.” So our guys got lucky in 2004.

Verdict: The shell that was found was an “ineffective” tip of a “75% effective” iceberg. The one that was found wasn’t a WMD, but was reflective, as noted even before the invasion, of a yet-to-be-located and unaccounted-for stash of WMDs, which when found was subsequently determined to be 75% usable. If you think I’m going to grade on the curve on this one, forget about it. You might have had me on this one before Santorum-Hoekstra came along. But now — sorry, no sale.

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UPDATE 1: Since the (exhibition) football season has started, I want to do some piling on of my own on WMDs (I will add to this list as time goes by instead of creating new updates):

– Lieberman: Saddam Had WMD Programs

– Captains Quarters (HT Porkopolis e-mail): Iraq Buried Chemical Weapons Near Fallujah

– NewsBusters: Commenter Free Stinker with a multitude of links (UPDATE 1A, Sept. 2 — Free Stinker NewsBusters post)
– (added August 17) — The Banana Republican’s list

UPDATE 2, August 22: Miniter said the following in a National Review interview with Kathryn Lopez last November:

Another surprise was that we did find some WMDs in Iraq. Okay, no stockpiles, but artillery shells loaded with sarin gas as well as other chemical weapons. The antiwar crowd always says “no evidence” — nada, zip, zero — and they are provably wrong.

Lopez: You should get these myths on postcards. Have them at the door at the bar down the block. Think of the impact on public opinion!

Miniter: Getting the myth onto a postcard is easy. Getting all of the evidence against it on a postcard would require really small font. We’d have to give all patrons little magnifying glasses.

Lopez: If people don’t have the time for all 22 myths, what would you like them to grab from your book? What’s most important?

Miniter: That’s like asking which one of your children is your favorite. Even if there is an honest answer, it is tactless to give it.

On the other hand, most people tend to think that the chapters on WMDs found in Iraq, the voluminous connections between Iraq and al Qaeda and the Halliburton are important.

UPDATE 3, August 26: The following comments (here and here) at this Austin Bay post are salient –

(first comment linked)
I would point out the we have found about 500 chemical rounds in Iraq. While many would dismiss them as old, I would say that there are old, but these munitions were supposed to have been destroyed by the stipluations of the Safwan Armisitice and subsequent agreements entered into by Iraq and the UN. So if he did not destroy the old stuff, what did he do with the new stuff?

(second comment linked)
With respect to WMD read the first hand accounts of the soldiers and Marines who invaded Iraq. What they found were Iraqi chemical protective suits and nerve gas antidote syringes. Since then >500 chemical weapons shells (some with active chemicals inside) have been found in Iraq. One shell is enough to prove noncompliance, and is therefore causus belli (without icluding other warlike acts such as shooting at US military airplanes).

UPDATE 4, Sept. 1: Pajamas Media piles on re the items noted in Update 3 (HT Instapundit) and gives the “that doesn’t count charlatans more to whine about –

This now unclassified portion of the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) report on pre-1991 Iraqi Chemical Weapons Recovered in Iraq reveals some chilling points concerning weapons not recovered but assessed to exist.
* Munitions recovered – 500.
* Some contained degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.
* Pre-Gulf War munitions are assessed to still exist outside of coalition control.
* Remaining uncontrolled weapons could be sold on the black market.
* Terrorist and Insurgent groups inside and outside of Iraq desire to acquire and use chemical weapons.
* Condition of weapons uncertain. Some stilll potentially lethal. Many degraded.

The naysayers said “NO WMD.” The items physically found are WMDs.

UPDATE 5, Sept. 10: Some choice nuggets from the PDFs posted by Captain Ed:

Pages 32-33 of report on WMD capabilities — The ISG found undeclared covert laboratories used by the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) until the mid-1990s for research into BW agents. However, the ISG could not determine the scope and nature of the work done at these laboratories.

Page 55 of report on WMD capabilities — The ISG found undeclared covert laboratories used by the Iraqi Intelligence Service for research in BW agents until the mid-l 990s. While uncertain of the laboratories’ purpose, the ISG noted that the work probably included development of poisons for assassination

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Previous Posts:

  • July 31 — The Iraq “No WMD” Lie: Game, Set, Match
  • June 22 — MORE WMD Findings Revealed (Adding to Richard Miniter’s October 2005 List)
  • June 13 — The “No WMD” Lie: An Addendum
  • March 18 — Weekend Question 1: When Will We Hear the “Never Mind” on the “No WMD” Claim?
  • March 3 — Why Isn’t There a Groundswell of Media and Other Protest about This “Coverup”?
  • Feb. 15 — The Saddam Tapes, If They Prove WMDs, Will Be Icing on an Already-Baked Cake
  • Feb. 8 — The “No WMD” Lie (Yet Again) at Coretta Scott King’s Funeral — And a Challenge
  • Nov. 2, 2005 — The “No WMD” Lie (with LINKED Proof)
  • Oct. 27 — The “No WMD” Lie
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