Saddam Hussein's WMD

Nushin Namazi picked up a report that Saddam Hussein smuggled WMD to Iran ib coffins, as though they were part of a prisoner exchange.  Randy Black comments: The coffin report has floated around for months. It was covered in CNN during June. (From various sites) Additionally, former inspector David Kay confirmed (before the invasion) that he had received reports of WMD components and material going to Jordan, Iran and Syria. By August (before the invasion), David Kay began talking about what he had found in Iraq. He said he had “solid proof” from interviews, intercepted communications, documentation and physical evidence that Saddam had ordered the Republican Guard to use chemical artillery shells on Coalition forces. He theorized that they lacked the time to launch them due to the high speed of the Coalition advance.

He said he (heard) rumors that when the attack failed to be organized, some of the weapons were dumped in the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Source: Boston Globe(8/8/03). Even the head of Germany’s BND intelligence agency has said he believes weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq at the time of the war. Source:,(8/5/03).

Phyllis Gardner writes: All of the speculation about WMD smuggling in the immediate period prior to the war belies the statements (recorded recently in a September 26 New York Times Op-Ed piece by Mahdi Obeidi, former chief of unconventional weapons under Saddam Hussein and author of "The Bomb in My Gardner: The Secret's of Saddam's Mastermind".  Basically, Obeidi recounts the extinction of unconventional (nuclear, chemical and biological) weapons programs under Saddam in the decade plus following the 1991 Gulf War and during the period of sanctions.  He warns, however, that there is still a great deal of knowledge about nuclear weapons possessed by Iraqi scientists, who are now at risk of selling their secrets to rogue states in the current chaos and loss of jobs and income.  The whole editorial is a must read, but below are a couple of astonishing paragraphs.

From the op-ed piece:
(On why the US and world misjudged the situation concerning WMDs in Iraq.  They failed to take account of several things). One was the defection and death of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, who was in charge of the unconventional weapons programs in the 1980's. Mahdi Obeidi wriyes:

As my boss, Mr. Kamel was a brutal taskmaster who forced us to work under impossible deadlines and was the motivating force for our nuclear effort. The drive for nuclear weapons began in earnest when he rose to a position of power in 1987. He placed a detail of 20 fearsome security men on the premises of our centrifuge lab, and my staff and I worked wonders just to stay out of his dungeons. But after he defected to Jordan in 1995, and then returned months later only to be assassinated by his father-in-law's henchmen, the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs lost their top promoter.

In addition, the West never understood the delusional nature of Saddam Hussein's mind. By 2002, when the United States and Britain were threatening war, he had lost touch with the reality of his diminished military might. By that time I had been promoted to director of projects for the country's entire military-industrial complex, and I witnessed firsthand the fantasy world in which he was living. He backed mythic but hopeless projects like one for a long-range missile that was completely unrealistic considering the constraints of international sanctions. The director of another struggling missile project, when called upon to give a progress report, recited a poem in the dictator's honor instead. Not only did he not go to prison, Saddam Hussein applauded him.

RH:  This illustrates the danger of WMD in the hands of a madman.

Herbert Abrams writes: Randy Black has put together misinformation about Weapons of Mass Deception to convey the impression that the Bush-Cheney claims about Iraqi WMD - a central excuse for the pre-emptive aggression - had substance.  He rivals the New York Times reporter Judith Miller, of whom Editor and Publisher wrote, "There is the smell of compromised reporting, tainted Iraqi sources...she was simply wrong on the facts." 

On September 25, 2003, David Kay reported of the efforts of his Iraq Survey Group that they had found no unconventional weapons.  On January 29, 2004, David Kay in his final appraisal of the search, told the Senate that "we were all wrong" and that his Survey Group had found  no WMD in Iraq.  When Kay resigned, the Administration replaced him with Charles Duelfer , who told the Congress on March 30, 2004, "my strategy is to determine the regime's  intentions." His recent report had little more than surmises about "intentions."

Even the New York Times, the main transmission belt of Miller's Chalabian falsehoods, finally recanted on May 26, 2003 and blamed unnamed editors who "were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper." It's about time  to ditch all his "rumors" about dumping in the Euphrates and "Germany's intelligence agency's" beliefs and accept the billion dollar eighteen month search with at least three sets of teams that had as their sole mission the discovery of WMD and couldn't fulfill that mission.

Randy Black writes: Herbert Abrams' accusation that I put together misinformation to support my position strikes me as hypocritical. Mr. Abrams, in fact, distorts Mr. Duelfer’s testimony to Congress to an extent that I had not thought possible. Mr. Duelfler’s testimony is strikingly explicit with facts that Iraq did engage in the issues Mr. Abrams denies and further, went to great lengths to hide their effort from the United Nations inspectors over a period of years.
In the exact report that Mr. Abrams cites, Mr. Duefler says:
<One of the circumstances that struck me the most is the extreme reluctance of Iraqi managers, scientists, and engineers to speak freely.  Before arriving in Iraq, I thought they would be more cooperative.  Many perceive a grave risk in speaking with us.  On one hand, there is a fear of prosecution or arrest.  On the other, there is a fear former regime supporters will exact retribution. >
This statement is immediately prior to the “intentions” comment of Mr. Abrams on behalf of Mr. Duelfer.
Mr. Duelfer goes on: <We have recovered millions of documents, but there are millions more that were destroyed.  The collected documents are often mixed up in such a way as to make research in an organized manner extremely difficult.  Our linguistic capabilities limit full translations to a tiny fraction of the whole. …The people we need to speak to have spent their entire professional lives being trained not to speak about WMD. >

He adds; <Iraq utilized a complex and well developed procurement system hidden by an effective denial and deception strategy.  By the late 1990s, Iraq, in contravention of UN sanctions, pursued the procurement of military goods and technical expertise for military capabilities.  The primary source of illicit financing for this system was oil smuggling conducted through government-to-government protocols negotiated by Iraq with neighboring countries.  Money also was obtained from kickback payments made on contracts set up through the UN’s Oil for Food program. 

Iraq derived several billion dollars between 1999 and 2003 from oil smuggling and kickbacks.  One senior regime official estimated Iraq earned $4 billion from illicit oil sales from 1999 to March 2003.  By levying a surcharge on Oil for Food contracts, Iraq earned billions more during the same period. 

This was revenue outside UN control and provided resources the regime could spend without restriction. …Moreover, these efforts at deception did not end with the departure of inspectors in 1998, and indeed deception continued right up until war in 2003. 

The Iraqi Intelligence Service was tasked with monitoring and infiltrating UNSCOM and UNMOVIC.  Iraqi officials tell us hundreds of officers from multiple directorates were tasked to monitor the UN officials, employing a spectrum of capabilities from human to electronic surveillance.  Elaborate plans were developed and rehearsed to enable sensitive sites to be able to hide sensitive documents and equipment on as little as 15 minutes notice.  Iraqi intelligence engaged in a worldwide effort to collect intelligence on the UN, including efforts to recruit sources inside the UN, UNSCOM and UNMOVIC. >

For the entire report:

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: October 8, 2004