The Case for Weapons of Mass Destruction
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"The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at an August 6, 2003 press conference

Myths and Facts About Iraq's Aluminum Tubes
 
December 9, 2003 -- The discovery three years ago that Iraq was seeking to procure thousands of aluminum tubes was promptly interpreted by the Central Intelligence Agency as a sign that Saddam Hussein was pursuing uranium enrichment centrifuge technology for a reconstituted Iraqi nuclear weapons program.
 
That assessment, leaked to the press and uncritically reported, helped bolster the Bush Administration case for war against Iraq.
 
But now all indications are that the CIA assessment was wrong, according to David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), who has authored a detailed review of the aluminum tube controversy.
 
"Since the fall of Baghdad last spring, no evidence has emerged that Iraq planned to use the aluminum tubes in centrifuges. Despite months of searching, the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG) has not found any link between the tubes and a gas centrifuge program," Albright wrote.
 
Albright traces the development of the aluminum tube story from its earliest beginnings to the latest equivocations on the matter by David Kay of the CIA's Iraq Survey Group.
 
Among other lessons learned, Albright notes that the National Intelligence Estimate process proved to be a poor instrument for adjudicating the significance of the aluminum tubes. Crucially, of the ten or so intelligence agencies that each had one vote on the Estimate, those with technical expertise in centrifuge technology were outnumbered by those without such expertise.
 
At a time when intelligence oversight has moved entirely behind closed doors and is effectively dormant, Albright's review significantly enriches the public record on this controversial matter.
 
See "Iraq's Aluminum Tubes: Separating Fact from Fiction" by David Albright, Institute for Science and International Security, December 5:
 
The most damning thing one could say about an intelligence agency is not that it sometimes makes mistakes in analysis, which is inevitable, but that it refuses to admit its mistakes.  When an agency cannot admit error, it cannot learn from its own missteps and is doomed to mediocrity.
 
In a recent publication, Stuart Cohen, Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, finds no reason to acknowledge a single flaw in U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.  It is the critics, he says, who have it wrong.
 
 
But whether CIA admits it or not, the Agency is already paying a price in credibility for having acquiesced in overstating the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
 
So when the CIA issues an assessment on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, for example, it is now roundly met with skepticism by national security experts, as the Los Angeles Times reported today.
 
See "N. Korea's Nuclear Success Is Doubted" by Douglas Frantz, Los Angeles Times, December 9. -- Secrecy News

The Case for Weapons of Mass Destruction

Whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) at the time President George W. Bush urged the US to go to war is the issue the world press is waving like a banner to rally the anti-Bush movement. This was forwarded to me by a friend: 

Subject: WMDs: Ask your Rep to pledge to investigate

Dear friend, The President took the nation to war based on his assertion that Iraq posed an imminent threat to our country. Now the evidence that backed that assertion is falling apart. If the Bush administration distorted intelligence or knowingly used false data to support the call to war, it would be an unprecedented deception. Even if weapons are now found, it'll be difficult to justify pre-war language that indicated that the exact location of the weapons was known and that they were ready to deploy at a moment's notice. With a crisis of credibility brewing abroad and the integrity of our President and our foreign policy on the line, we need answers now. Rep. Henry Waxman has introduced legislation to create an independent commission to investigate the Bush administration's distortion of evidence. Please ask your Representative to pledge his or her support. A President may make no more important decision than whether or not to take a country to war. If Bush and his officials deceived the American public to create support for the Iraq war, they need to be held accountable. Thanks.

IMO, the emphasis on WMD as the basis for war is off base. For one thing, the presence of a large quantity of refined "yellow-cake" uranium is evidence enough that WMD could have -- and still could -- come out of Iraq.

I don't understand why people are pussyfooting around the real issues. The Democrats waged their "Watergate," the Republicans waged their "Zippergate," and now it's payback-time again, though the media hasn't coined a "gate" for what's happening yet. I keep thinking of the characters from Hogan's Heroes: Bush is the wily Hogan, Cheney/Schultz knows nuuuuthink! when it comes to Halliburton, and Rumsfeld/Klink's standing order to those who raise embarrassing questions is "Diiiiiiiismissed!"

IMO, the proof that Iraq had outlawed-WMD has already been amply demonstrated; Saddam already had used them against his own people. Whether his regime had WMD fully assembled, operational, and in position to be used at the time Iraq was under the UN's scrutiny isn't as important as the indisputable fact that Saddam's regime was bloodthirsty, brutal, and likely to use WMDs again and proven likely to encourage their use by terrorists. Why is it forgotten that Saddam was paying blood money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers?

In the midst of this storm over the State of the Union, many important things are being forgotten. Is the issue of whether Iraq was really trying to buy uranium from Africa more important than why Halliburton got Iraqi oil contracts without having to go through any bidding process? Does finding a "smoking gun" cache of WMD matter more than how Iraq's pre-Desert Storm debts to Paris Club countries are going to affect the new Iraqi economy and resources? These are only two of some mighty important issues that seem to be left hanging dormant in the media. You see a little article in Reuter's business, and clunk; the item is dropped like a hot potato.

Of course, taking a country to war is a weighty matter -- but why were our allies so cold to the idea of war with Iraq? With the mass graves and killing fields of Saddam's regime now uncovered for the world to see, the question should instead be why the international community allowed the regime to continue after the Kuwait invasion. There is a great deal of merit to the argument that Saddam's regime should have been finished off before the last Gulf War was declared over.

The reasons why he was allowed to stay in power, why we went to war, and why some countries didn't want us to, are only revealed by a tangled trail of clues. These clues, found in press releases and neglected news stories, expose the history of international activities involving money and trade, power over Iraq's oil, and strategic positioning. This should be front-page news, but isn't. Instead, we hear all about the search for WMD and the forged intelligence in the State of the Union address, every day, in every major news venue.

The sneaky little things that are being done under cover of war -- the backroom deals, the hidden agendas, the secret alliances, the graft and money laundering, the erosion of our civil rights under the guise of Homeland Security -- are another story altogether. A story that should be covered with all the resources the mainstream media has at its disposal, but isn't!

Why aren't these issues being addressed? Are the rich and powerful truly so far beyond the reach of public examination and accountability? -- Cat, the Editor

Bill Clinton Supports Bush

Former President Bill Clinton phoned in to CNN's "Larry King Live" last night, during a program honoring Bob Dole on his 80th birthday, and he offered some comments on the recent kerfuffle over uranium and the State of the Union address.

"I thought the White House did the right thing in just saying 'we probably shouldn't have said that,' " Clinton told King. "You know, everybody makes mistakes when they are president," Clinton said. "I mean, you can't make as many calls as you have to make without messing up once in awhile. The thing we ought to be focused on is what is the right thing to do now."

Amen. He also said: "It is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted-for stocks of biological and chemical weapons" in Iraq.

-- Excerpted from Best of the Web Today

I'd still rather have a president like Clinton in the White House than another term of Bush and Dick. -- Cat

US Looking for Barrels and Radioactive Materials in Iraq

Looters leave "trail of anguish" -- and clues to Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions

June 7, 2003 -- US Central Command has acknowledged the looting of the Iraqi Nuclear Energy Agency after the compound was taken nearly two months ago. US forces are in the process of locating and recovering barrels looted from the Tuwaitha facility. The barrels, once used to store processed uranium, may be radioactive.

In addition to the health risks from exposure to the looted barrels, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that the ransacked vaults and warehouses contained ample radioactive materials that could be used in the manufacture of an inestimable quantity of so-called "dirty bombs."

Yellow cake uranium was one of the items UN inspectors were looking for during the inspections, which ended before the war began. In November 2002, the Washington Post reported that British intelligence discovered that Baghdad was attempting to buy "yellow cake" from Niger, despite UN analysis that, with no active civil nuclear program there was no legitimate reason to acquire uranium unless it was for the production of weapons-grade materials.

Residents reported that many in the Madaen district have suffered from nausea and itchy rashes on their skin. People have been washing clothes and storing food and water in stolen containers. Some barrels have even been used to transport milk to yogurt factories, and a young girl was found wearing a small piece of nuclear material as a decoration.

When the electricity went out during the war, the water-pumping station that served the area shut down, and thirsty villagers broke through the fence to steel the barrels to fetch water from wells and canals. As well as using them to fetch water, some of the barrels were sold to unsuspecting residents of the nearby Madaen district for $2 each.

US forces have bought back 100 barrels for $3 a piece, but it's unknown how many more are out there. Some of the barrels were empty, but some could have held as much as 300-400 kilograms of radioactive uranium. It is estimated that hundreds of barrels containing uranium ores, "yellow cake" (magnesium diuranate, the end-product of uranium processing), nuclear sludge, and other byproducts of nuclear research were stored at the "Location C" facility.

The IAEA's inspectors are investigating how much of the radioactive material, estimated at several thousand tons, was lost when looters raided the compound after US-led forces toppled President Saddam Hussein last month. IAEA inspectors left Iraq just before the US-led invasion began on March 20.

Iraqi and US experts scoured the site with radiation detectors at the end of May and found that radiation levels in the surrounding area were normal. However, Dr. Hamid Al-Bah'ly, a founder of the Tuwaitha nuclear site under the old Iraqi government, says that he's recorded radiation levels 500 to 600 times higher than acceptable levels in the homes of villagers.

"Yellow cake radiation is not big, but coming in contact with the heavy metal will harm you," Lieutenant Colonel Brent Bredehoft, head of the US task force searching for the looted material. The effects on health from radiation poisoning in the area may take years to assess.

IAEA inspectors are also questioning how looters were able to roam the area freely despite US assurances that the area had been secured. Only a small unit of US Marine engineers was stationed at the site by April 6, after the fall of Baghdad, when Iraqi civilians cut the barbed-wire fence to gain entry to the site. The Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center was the headquarters of Saddam Hussein's former nuclear program, and hundreds of buildings are located on approximately 120 acres.

One IAEA expert said that the Marines made matters worse by breaking UN seals placed on radioactive containers as a deterrent. Center employees said that they tried to defend the site against the looters, but complained that there were only two tanks and too few US military personnel there to help. -- Edited from articles at Planet ArkAlterNetFrontline Magazine, ULCA School of Public Health and the New York Times

Nuke Program Parts Unearthed in Baghdad Back Yard

US officials: Find is not smoking gun

The CIA has in its hands the critical parts of a key piece of Iraqi nuclear technology -- parts needed to develop a bomb program -- that were dug up in a back yard in Baghdad. The parts, with accompanying plans, were unearthed by Iraqi scientist Mahdi Obeidi who had hidden them under a rose bush in his garden 12 years ago under orders from Qusay Hussein and Saddam Hussein's then son-in-law, Hussein Kamel. -- CNN

The Case for Weapons of Mass Destruction

Can't find the Weapons on the net? You could try a search engine, but when you've lost all hope and humor, try the Cannot Find Weapons of Mass Destruction web page.

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