One of the fascinating aspects of a dictatorship’s fall is the documentation it often leaves behind. Because of the strict discipline required by a tyrant, such regimes often obsessively document every action in order to ensure that people can have ready support to show that they have followed orders. The documentation can leave behind evidence of the regime’s crimes, which is why a thorough review is necessary when such documentation can be salvaged.
This appears to be the case with document IZSP-2003-00000592, which contains a report from one of Saddam Hussein’s “chemical platoons”:
Chemical and Radiation Investigation Report
From ; CHEMICAL PLATOON PLACE/ UR
To Base operation‘s room Map/ Base’ map Grid ( )
1. AGENT’S TYPE USED – DISPERSED GAS
2. NO. OF CASUALTIES – N/A
3. NO. OF CONTAMINATED EQUIPEMENTS – N/A
4. DROP/FALL OF CHEMICAL AGENT ON THE GROUND – N/A
5. FRONT CONTAMINATON – N/A
6. REAR CONTAMINATION – N/A
7. AGENT’S TYPE AND its DENSITY – DISPERSED GAS
8. ELEVATION – N/A
9. TERRAIN – LEVEL/EVEN
10. PLATOON’S ACTION AREA WAS SURVEYED AND DECLARED CLEAR OF ANY CONTAMINATION
11. GENERAL INFORMATION – N/A
MAHMOUD ABOU NEHMEH
This report concerns the actions of a particular chemical-weapons unit in February 2002, in the Ur region. One of the most ancient homes of civilization, Ur also has a nearby air base (Talil). Apparently, a dispersed-gas chemical weapon got discharged in the area, and the platoon filed a report on their actions. It is not clear whether they dispersed the gas themselves or investigated its dispersal, but the report makes clear that someone fired off enough gas to require this report.
Documentation such as these banal and mundane reports keep demonstrating the Iraqi involvement in WMD, this time less than 14 months before our invasion.
ADDENDUM: In document IZSP-2003-00001787 (page 3), we find records of at least one other training session for the Chemical Units, this one involving everyone at the Talib Air Base in April 2001. The record comes from a traning register for the base, which has numerous lectures listed regarding chemical-weapons topics through at least May 2002. Most of these could be construed as defensive tactics, but this particular session was noteworthy:
Exercise: Demonstration of the effect of poisonous chemical agents on living things through the use of the agent CAS [or SAS, but more probably the former]
1 Time of the exercise: 0830
2 Date of the exercise: 4/15/2001
3 Purpose: To acquaint the members of the base with knowledge of the effect of poisonous chemical agents on living things through the use of the agent SAS
4 Participants: All base members
5 Supervision: Lieutenant Colonel `Abdu al-Razzaq Hamad Nayif
6 Positive points: The exercise was carried out successfully.
7 Negative points: None.
`Abdu al-Razzaq Hamad Nayif
It looks like Iraq had enough chemical weapons material left at Talib to do some serious training — and one has to wonder why they would do so much training, unless they intended on deploying WMD during an attack.