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Friday, May 30, 2003
Maybe the hunt for WMD is par for the course
Neither the Central Intelligence Agency nor the United States Army have been able to find any trace of the "bunker" that the United States began Operation Iraqi Freedom by bombing, CBS News reported Wednesday.
What the story doesn't get into is what sort of priority was put into locating the site and determining if U.S. intelligence on the site had been accurate. It is possible that this information is just coming out in the press. It is also possible that intelligence agencies and the military only recently reached these conclusions. The latter scenario might possibly explain why the U.S. has not seemed to be in any hurry to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Is there a chance they aren't in a hurry to many of the things that presumably they would want to do as soon as possible?
"A dossier compiled by the government on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction was rewritten to make it 'sexier' a senior British official has told the BBC," the BBC reported yesterday. The official was not named and according to the story said that the information in the final draft was changed so as to make Iraq's WMD programs seem more menacing. "The classic example was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use within 45 minutes," the BBC quotes the official as saying. "That information was not in the original draft. It was included in the dossier against our wishes because it wasn't reliable. Most things in the dossier were double source but that was single source and we believe that the source was wrong."
"The idea that we authorized or made our intelligence agencies invent some piece of evidence is completely absurd," British Prime Minister Tony Blair reportedly said today in response to the story.
"U.S. intelligence was 'simply wrong' in leading military commanders to believe their troops were likely to be attacked with chemical weapons in the Iraq war, the top U.S. Marine general there said on Friday," writes Charles Aldinger of Reuters in a story published this afternoon. The general quoted is Lieutenant General James T. Conway, who is currently the Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force. No transcript of his comments is available as of this entry.
UPDATE: Here is the relevant exchange, from the transcript, involving Conway:
Q: It's John McWethy from ABC again, General. Back to the weapons of mass destruction. You had, we were led to believe, fairly credible intelligence indicating that some of the units that you would be encountering had live weapons of mass destruction, probably CW shells, that had been moved forward to deal with your units. At this point, understanding that the exploitation of the sites is still under way and that there are a lot of unanswered questions, do you feel that the intel was just wrong? Do you feel that the enemy may not have ever had any of these things in forward units?Whitman had this to say about securing sites where WMDs may be:
...we continue to contribute our part in the south against SSEs -- sensitive sites, if you will -- that may yield weapons of mass destruction. We've put teams on virtually every one that intelligence or local Iraqis or any other means has pointed out to us as perhaps might be containing weapons of mass destruction, or residuals of those kinds of things or whatever.I wonder when that started. 5:31 p.m. 05/30/03