Friday, April 01, 2005

Riddle me this

As the discussion regarding WMDs in Iraq would appear to be over (it being accepted that Bush lied, people died, and all that claptrap) - a new report on Intelligence is released. NRO's James Robbins writes, regarding Iraqi's duplicitous behavior :

In more than one case inspectors would pull up to a site and be halted; surveillance would pick up vehicles being loaded in the back and hurrying away; inspectors would then be allowed in. What was being carted away so quickly? If nothing was there, what was going on? One theory behind the deception campaign was that it was itself a deception — it was not so much that Saddam had something to hide, but rather he wanted to make us think he had something to hide in order to deter us from attacking him. That rationale was clearly too clever by half if true, at least judging by the results. (It is better to act like North Korea and say you have nuclear weapons whether you do or not.)

But I don't buy that explanation. The deception campaign was too systematic, too thorough, in ways that went well beyond what would be necessary simply to generate suspicion. This activity continued during and after the war when it would make no difference. One case in point — an exploitation team went to check out an apartment in an otherwise unexceptional residential area that was allegedly being used as a WMD site. They arrived to find the apartment stripped. The floor tiles were missing, the walls cleaned, the plumbing fixtures gone, the pipes under the floors ripped out. This was not the result of looting — the apartment had been sanitized, disinfected. How many such sites could there have been in Iraq? Were they all found and checked? Strains of biological organisms that could be weaponized were found in a scientist's home refrigerator — how much such dispersal took place? Not to mention allegations that critical nuclear and chemical program components were taken to Syria, Iran, or Russia.

No one has proven that WMD never existed, but that stockpiles were never found. You cannot prove a negative. That Saddam didn't have huge caches of WMDS poised to strike is most likely true. That he was innocent of the allegation altogether, is most likely untrue.