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June 22, 2006
More On The WMD

But not much more, as most media outlets chose to ignore the Santorum/Hoekstra press conference on WMD discovered in Iraq since 2003. The Washington Post put the story on page A10:

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) told reporters yesterday that weapons of mass destruction had in fact been found in Iraq, despite acknowledgments by the White House and the insistence of the intelligence community that no such weapons had been discovered.

"We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Santorum said. ...

Last night, intelligence officials reaffirmed that the shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction soughtin Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

Of course, what the Post and Dafna Linzer missed from this analysis is that the pre-1991 WMD was the subject of the cease-fire agreement and the UN sanctions that Saddam defied. Two or three buried shells do not constitute much of a threat, at least militarily, although terrorists could use them on civilian populations to much greater effect. Five hundred shells, however, show that Saddam continued to stock and conceal the very munitions that UNSCOM and its inspections were designed to discover and destroy. Militarily, the five hundred alone would have presented a real threat in the hands of an artillery battery, something that the yawners have yet to address.

It also indicates that more probably exists. After all, if Saddam hid five hundred mustard gas and sarin shells, why wouldn't he have attempted to hide all of his chemical WMD? Rep. Pete Hoekstra referenced an unhappiness with the limited disclosure from John Negroponte and hinted at a much larger context in his statement to the press yesterday:

The Iraqi Survey Group, or the impression that the Iraqi Survey Group left with the American people was they didn't find anything.

The report that Rick and I reference -- and I'll have to tell you that I'm disappointed in the summary that was provided for us in an unclassified version from the intelligence community because I think you lose some of the context of exactly what Rick and I and others on the committee have seen from that report.

But this says: Weapons have been discovered; more weapons exist. And they state that Iraq was not a WMD-free zone, that there are continuing threats from the materials that are or may still be in Iraq. ...

Number one, I think Rick and I are in agreement: More of the classified report has to be released to the American public. They need to get this in a more complete context. ...

So we are working on the declassification of the report. We are going to do a thorough search of what additional reports exist in the intelligence community. And we are going to put additional pressure on the Department of Defense and the folks in Iraq to more fully pursue a complete investigation of what existed in Iraq before the war.

Because this now is not only an issue of what exists; this also gets to be an issue of force protection. Finding these quantities of weapons indicates that they're out there. The terrorists have indicated in press reports that they desire to acquire and use chemical weapons.

Critics of the war may find themselves undercut by their continuing insistence that the WMD finds are insubstantial, either in quantity or threat. First, we know undoubtedly that they existed, and the unclassified amount, in the wrong hands, could have killed thousands. Second and more importantly, the classified portion of the intel report speaks to a larger context -- and the only reason to keep that quiet would be to either avoid a threat or to avoid some diplomatic embarrassment.

Despite the lack of interest at most of the major media centers, this story is not over. We know more than we have already stated, and when the entire story comes out, those who built their war policy on the sands of "no-WMD, Bush-lied" may find themselves sinking quickly.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 22, 2006 8:45 AM

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