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Thursday, June 05, 2003

Tidbits On The Missing WMDs

The NY Times had a fascinating piece yesterday, from which I took this bit:

In a May 22 letter, the leaders of the House panel asked Mr. Tenet to provide answers to a series of questions on the issue, including whether the "sources and methods that contributed to the community's analysis on the presence and amount of W.M.D. in Iraq were of sufficient quality and quantity to provide sufficient accuracy."

One official familiar with the C.I.A. review said the answer to that fundamental question may be no. The official said it appeared that the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies had developed fairly solid intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs after the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and through much of the 1990's, as United Nations inspectors scoured the country.

During that time, the United States grew convinced that Iraq had chemical weapons, was trying to develop biological agents and was seeking to reconstitute a nuclear program that had been disrupted by the war. But the official said it now appeared that the quality of the intelligence concerning Iraq's weapons programs subsequently declined, particularly after the inspectors were withdrawn in 1998.

Without conclusive new intelligence to the contrary, it appears that the intelligence community continued to make projections assuming a continued Iraqi weapons effort, in line with its earlier assessments, the official said. The fragments of intelligence that came in periodically after the inspectors were withdrawn were never enough to prove that Mr. Hussein had abandoned his weapons programs, and so the natural inclination was to assume that those programs were still under way.

Emphasis added, and here is a backup link.

So, Saddam used to complain that UNMOVIC was spying for the US. I think we more or less admitted that, but this is certainly more evidence of it.

Secondly, one can be sympathetic to the intelligence agents problem - Saddam had used chemical and biological weapons in the 1980's, he had a nuclear program in the early 1990's, he was refusing to admit inspectors (post 1998) in order to ease the sanctions - what was the obvious conclusion?


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