Drawing upon the findings of the a) Iraq Survey Group, b) U.S. and British official investigations, c) contemporary Iraqi official documents, and d) personal memoirs of U.N. officials and others, Associated Press reporter Charles Hanley has constructed a highly regarded “post mortem” of Saddam’s non-existent “weapons of mass destruction” threat to us.
Hanley begins his post-mortem – appropriately enough – in August 1995.
Gen. Hussein Kamal, director of Saddam’s nuke and chem-bio weapons programs (and also Saddam’s son-in-law), had defected to Jordan and was extensively “debriefed” by U.N. officials, the CIA and the Brit equivalent (MI6).
Kamal revealed that Iraq – at his direction – had destroyed all chemical and biological agents and weapons, including the missiles to deliver them, in 1991.
Upon entering Iraq after the Gulf War, the International Atomic Energy Agency had discovered and destroyed what remained of the unsuccessful Iraqi nuke program.
Quoth Kamal of Iraq’s WMD programs: “Nothing remained.”
What Kamal revealed was kept secret from Saddam – and from us peons – but was shared with high-level U.S. and Brit officials.
By 1998, U.N. inspectors were able to verify Kamal’s claims in every detail. Hence, the Security Council was informed that Saddam was substantively disarmed and that the “sanctions” imposed on Iraq in 1991 could be lifted.
Clinton “vetoed” it, claiming he had “intelligence” there were WMD stockpiles hidden beneath Saddam’s palaces. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced that, even if Saddam had been disarmed, the U.S. would never allow the sanctions to be lifted so long as Saddam was in power.
So, Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox, a four-day extensive bombing campaign of Saddam’s “palaces” in Baghdad, obviously meant to “remove” Saddam.
Understandably, when Clinton failed, Saddam wouldn’t let U.N. inspectors back into Iraq.
We now know that President Bush came into office also looking for an excuse to “remove” Saddam. He went to Congress in September 2002 seeking “specific statutory authorization” to resume the Gulf War, basing his case on the National Intelligence Estimate of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs, hurriedly prepared by Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet for Bush in the summer of 2002.
But, NIE to the contrary, Bush and various congressional leaders knew that, as of 1999, Saddam had no WMD programs and was not a threat to the U.S.
Of course, they still didn’t let us peons in on that.
We now know that by the summer of 2002 Prime Minister Tony Blair had agreed to support Bush’s pre-emptive war of aggression against Iraq, but insisted that Bush get the Security Council to demand that Saddam let the U.N. inspectors back into Iraq to conduct totally intrusive inspections. Blair was confident that Saddam would refuse and Bush-Blair would then have their casus belli.
To their surprise, Saddam readily agreed to every Security Council demand. U.N. inspectors returned to Iraq in November 2002.
Then, in February 2003, Newsweek magazine – and also Sherrie Gossett of WorldNetDaily – published excerpts from the Kamal “debriefing” documents, kept secret since 1995.
Finally, with Bush’s pre-emptive invasion already secretly under way, the rest of us peons found out what a) Bush-Blair, b) CIA-MI6, and c) Congress-Parliament had known since at least 1998 – Saddam had destroyed all his “weapons of mass destruction” way back in 1991.
So, Bush-Cheney-Rice-Powell launched a frantic last-minute media blitz to convince us Saddam had been resurrecting his WMD programs while the U.N. inspectors had been absent.
But, alas, U.N. Monitoring and Verification Commission Chairman Hans Blix and IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei were already reporting each month to the Security Council that they could find no “indication” that Saddam had made any attempt to reconstruct his WMD programs since 1991, much less 1998.
What’s a poor bunch of naked aggressors – and their media sycophants – to do?
Brazen it out!
Consequently, according to the “determination” Bush sent to Congress – as required – on March 19, 2003, we had to launch a pre-emptive invasion because Iraq posed a continuing threat to the national security of the United States by:
continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations.
Of course, Bush-Cheney-Rice-Blair couldn’t admit they had known about what Kamal had revealed back in 1995 and had to discredit Blix and ElBaradei.
The final report of the Iraq Survey Group concluded that Saddam – as Kamal and Blix and ElBaradei maintained – had no WMDs and posed no threat to anyone. A week after that report was filed, Bush was still telling all us peons that Saddam did.