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Shattering Conventional Wisdom About Saddam’s WMD’s

by John Lof­tus
FrontPageMagazine.com [1]

Final­ly, there are some defin­i­tive answers to the mys­tery of the miss­ing WMD. Civil­ian vol­un­teers, most­ly retired intel­li­gence offi­cers belong­ing to the non-par­ti­san IntelligenceSummit.org, have been por­ing over the secret archives cap­tured from Sad­dam Hus­sein. The inescapable con­clu­sion is this: Sad­dam real­ly did have WMD after all, but not in the way the Bush admin­is­tra­tion believed. A 9,000 word research paper with cita­tions to each cap­tured doc­u­ment has been post­ed online at LoftusReport.com, along with trans­la­tions of the cap­tured Iraqi doc­u­ments, cour­tesy of Mr. Ryan Mau­ro and his friends.

This Iraqi doc­u­ment research has been sup­ple­ment­ed with satel­lite pho­tographs and dozens of inter­views, among them David Gaubatz who risked radi­a­tion expo­sure to locate Saddam’s under­wa­ter WMD ware­hous­es , and John Shaw, whose bril­liant detec­tive work solved the puz­zle of where the WMD went. Both have con­tributed sub­stan­tial­ly to solv­ing one of the most dif­fi­cult mys­ter­ies of our decade.

The abso­lutists on either side of the WMD debate will be more than a bit cha­grinned at these dis­clo­sures. The doc­u­ments show a much more com­plex his­to­ry than pre­vi­ous­ly sus­pect­ed. The “Bush lied, peo­ple died” cho­rus has insist­ed that Sad­dam had no WMD what­so­ev­er after 1991 — and thus that WMD was no good rea­son for the war. The Neo­con diehards insist that, as in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the trea­sure-trove is still out there some­where, buried under the sand dunes of Iraq. Each side is more than a lit­tle bit wrong about Sad­dam’s WMD, and each side is only a lit­tle bit right about what hap­pened to it.

The gist of the new evi­dence is this: rough­ly one quar­ter of Sad­dam’s WMD was destroyed under UN pres­sure dur­ing the ear­ly to mid 1990’s. Sad­dam sold approx­i­mate­ly anoth­er quar­ter of his weapons stock­pile to his Arab neigh­bors dur­ing the mid to late 1990’s. The Rus­sians insist­ed on remov­ing anoth­er quar­ter in the last few months before the war. The last remain­ing WMD, the con­tents of Sad­dam’s nuclear weapons labs, were still inside Iraq on the day when the coali­tion forces arrived in 2003. His nuclear weapons equip­ment was hid­den in enor­mous under­wa­ter ware­hous­es beneath the Euphrates Riv­er. Saddam’s entire nuclear inven­to­ry was lat­er stolen from these ware­hous­es right out from under the Amer­i­cans’ noses. The theft of the unguard­ed Iraqi nuclear stock­pile is per­haps, the worst scan­dal of the war, sug­gest­ing a lev­el of extreme incom­pe­tence and gross dere­lic­tion of duty that makes the Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na deba­cle look like a mod­el of effi­cien­cy.

With­out point­ing fin­gers at the Amer­i­cans, the Israeli gov­ern­ment now believes that Sad­dam Hussein’s nuclear stock­piles have end­ed up in weapons dumps in Syr­ia. Debkafile, a some­what reli­able pri­vate Israeli intel­li­gence ser­vice, has recent­ly pub­lished a report claim­ing that the Syr­i­ans were import­ing North Kore­an plu­to­ni­um to be mixed with Saddam’s enriched ura­ni­um. Alleged­ly, the Syr­i­ans were close to com­plet­ing a war­head fac­to­ry next to Saddam’s WMD dump in Deir al Zour, Syr­ia to pro­duce hun­dreds, if not thou­sands, of super tox­ic “dirty bombs” that would pol­lute wher­ev­er they land­ed in Israel for the next sev­er­al thou­sands of years. Deb­ka alleged that it was this com­bi­na­tion factory/WMD dump site which was the tar­get of the recent Israeli air strike in Deir al Zour province..

Senior sources in the Israeli gov­ern­ment have pri­vate­ly con­firmed to me that the recent New York Times arti­cles and satel­lite pho­tographs about the Israeli raid on an alleged Syr­i­an nuclear tar­get in Al Tabitha, Syr­ia were of the com­plete­ly wrong loca­tion. Armed with this knowl­edge, I searched Google Earth satel­lite pho­tos for the rest of the province of Deir al Zour for a site that would match the unof­fi­cial Israeli descrip­tions: cam­ou­flaged black fac­to­ry build­ing, next to a mil­i­tary ammu­ni­tion dump, between an air­port and an orchard. There is a clear match in only one loca­tion, Lon­gi­tude 35 degrees, 16 min­utes 49.31 sec­onds North, Lat­i­tude 40 degrees, 3 min­utes, 29.97 sec­onds East. Ana­lysts and mem­bers of the pub­lic are invit­ed to deter­mine for them­selves whether this was indeed the weapons dump for Saddam’s WMD.

Pho­tos of this com­plex tak­en after the Israel raid appear to show that all of the build­ings, earth­ern blast berms, bunkers, roads, even the acres of black­ened top­soil, have all been dug up and removed. All that remains are what appear to be smoothed over bomb craters. Of course, that is not of itself defin­i­tive proof, but it is extreme­ly sus­pi­cious.

It should be not­ed that the Amer­i­can inter­roga­tors had accu­rate infor­ma­tion about a pos­si­ble Deir al Zour loca­tion short­ly after the war, but ignored it:

“An Iraqi dis­si­dent going by the name of “Abu Abdal­lah” claims that on March 10, 2003, 50 trucks arrived in Deir Al-Zour, Syr­ia after being loaded in Bagh­dad. …Abdal­lah approached his friend who was hes­i­tant to con­firm the WMD ship­ment, but did after Abdal­lah explained what his sources informed him of. The friend told him not to tell any­one about the ship­ment.”

These inter­ro­ga­tion reports should be re-eval­u­at­ed in light of the recent­ly opened Iraqi secret archives, which we sub­mit are the best evi­dence. But the cap­tured doc­u­ment evi­dence should not be over­stat­ed. It must be empha­sized that there is no one cap­tured Sad­dam doc­u­ment which men­tions both the pos­ses­sion of WMD and the move­ment to Syr­ia.

More­over, many of Sad­dam’s own tapes and doc­u­ments con­cern­ing chem­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal weapons are ambigu­ous. When read togeth­er as a mosa­ic whole, Sad­dam’s secret files cer­tain­ly make a per­sua­sive case of mas­sive WMD acqui­si­tion right up to a few months before the war. Not only was he buy­ing banned pre­cur­sors for nerve gas, he was order­ing the chem­i­cals to make Zyk­lon B, the Nazis favorite gas at Auschwitz. How­ev­er odi­ous and well doc­u­ment­ed his pur­chas­es in 2002, there is no direct evi­dence of any CW or BW actu­al­ly remain­ing inside Iraq on the day the war start­ed in 2003. As stat­ed in more detail in my full report, the British, Ukrain­ian and Amer­i­can secret ser­vices all believed that the Rus­sians had orga­nized a last minute evac­u­a­tion of CW and BW stock­piles from Bagh­dad to Syr­ia.

We know from Saddam’s doc­u­ments that huge quan­ti­ties of CW and BW were in fact pro­duced, and there is no record of their destruc­tion. But absence of evi­dence is not evi­dence of absence. There­fore, at least as to chem­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal weapons, the evi­dence is com­pelling, but not con­clu­sive. There is no one indi­vid­ual doc­u­ment or audio­tape that con­tains a smok­ing gun.

There is no ambi­gu­i­ty, how­ev­er, about cap­tured tape ISGQ-2003-M0007379, in which Sad­dam is briefed on his secret nuclear weapons project. This meet­ing clear­ly took place in 2002 or after­wards: almost a decade after the State Depart­ment claimed that Sad­dam had aban­doned his nuclear weapons research.

More­over the tape describes a laser enrich­ment process for ura­ni­um that had nev­er been known by the UN inspec­tors to even exist in Iraq, and Sad­dam’s nuclear briefers on the tape were Iraqi sci­en­tists who had nev­er been on any weapons inspector’s list. The tape explic­it­ly dis­cuss­es how civil­ian plas­ma research could be used as a cov­er for mil­i­tary plas­ma research nec­es­sary to build a hydro­gen bomb.

When this tape came to the atten­tion of the Inter­na­tion­al Intel­li­gence Sum­mit, a non-prof­it, non-par­ti­san edu­ca­tion­al forum focus­ing on glob­al intel­li­gence affairs, the orga­ni­za­tion asked the NSA to ver­i­fy the voice­prints of Sad­dam and his cronies, invit­ed a cer­ti­fied trans­la­tor to present Saddam’s nuclear tapes to the pub­lic, and then invit­ed lead­ing intel­li­gence ana­lysts to com­ment.

At the direct request of the Sum­mit, Pres­i­dent Bush prompt­ly over­ruled his nation­al intel­li­gence advis­er, John Negro­ponte, a ca
reer State Depart­ment man, and ordered that the rest of the cap­tured Sad­dam tapes and doc­u­ments be reviewed as rapid­ly as pos­si­ble. The Intel­li­gence Sum­mit asked that Sad­dam’s tapes and doc­u­ments be post­ed on a pub­lic web­site so that Ara­bic-speak­ing vol­un­teers could help with the trans­la­tion and analy­sis.

At first, the pub­lic web­site seemed like a good idea. Anoth­er doc­u­ment was quick­ly dis­cov­ered, dat­ed Novem­ber 2002, describ­ing an expen­sive plan to remove radioac­tive con­t­a­m­i­na­tion from an iso­tope pro­duc­tion build­ing. The doc­u­ment cites the return of UNMOVIC inspec­tors as the rea­son for clean­ing up the evi­dence of radioac­tiv­i­ty. This is not far from a smok­ing gun: there were not sup­posed to be any nuclear pro­duc­tion plants in Iraq in 2002.

Then a bar­rage of near-smok­ing guns opened up. Doc­u­ment after doc­u­ment from Sad­dam’s files was post­ed unread on the pub­lic web­site, each one describ­ing how to make a nuclear bomb in more detail than the last. These doc­u­ments, dat­ed just before the war, show that Sad­dam had accu­mu­lat­ed just about every secret there was for the con­struc­tion of nuclear weapons. The Iraqi intel­li­gence files con­tain so much accu­rate infor­ma­tion on the atom bomb that the trans­la­tors’ pub­lic web­site had to be closed for rea­sons of nation­al secu­ri­ty.

If Sad­dam had nuclear weapons facil­i­ties, where was he hid­ing them? Iraqi infor­mants showed US inves­ti­ga­tors where Sad­dam had con­struct­ed huge under­wa­ter stor­age facil­i­ties beneath the Euphrates Riv­er. The tun­nel entrances were still sealed with tons of con­crete. The US inves­ti­ga­tors who approached the sealed entrances were lat­er deter­mined to have been exposed to radi­a­tion. Incred­i­bly, their reports were lost in the post­war con­fu­sion, and Saddam’s under­ground nuclear stor­age sites were left unguard­ed for the next three years. Still, the eye­wit­ness tes­ti­mo­ny about the sealed under­wa­ter ware­hous­es matched with radi­a­tion expo­sure is strong cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence that some amount of radioac­tive mate­r­i­al was still present in Iraq on the day the war began.

Our vol­un­teer researchers dis­cov­ered the actu­al move­ment order from the Iraqi high com­mand order­ing all the remain­ing spe­cial equip­ment to be moved into the under­ground sites only a few weeks before the onset of the war. The date of the move­ment order sug­gests that Pres­i­dent Bush, who clear­ly knew noth­ing of the specifics of the under­ground nuclear sites, or even that a nuclear weapons pro­gram still exist­ed in Iraq, may have been acci­den­tal­ly cor­rect about the main point of the war: the dis­cov­ery of Saddam’s secret nuclear pro­gram, even in hind­sight, arguably pro­vides suf­fi­cient legal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the pre­vi­ous use of force.

Saddam’s nuclear doc­u­ments com­pel any rea­son­able per­son to the con­clu­sion that, more prob­a­bly than not, there were in fact nuclear WMD sites, com­po­nents, and pro­grams hid­den inside Iraq at the time the Coali­tion forces invad­ed. In view of these new­ly dis­cov­ered doc­u­ments, it can be con­clud­ed, more prob­a­bly than not, that Sad­dam did have a nuclear weapons pro­gram in 2001–2002, and that it is rea­son­ably cer­tain that he would have con­tin­ued his efforts towards mak­ing a nuclear bomb in 2003 had he not been stopped by the Coali­tion forces. Four years after the war began, we still do not have all the answers, but we have many of them. Nine­ty per­cent of the Sad­dam files have nev­er been read, let alone trans­lat­ed. It is time to utter­ly reject the con­ven­tion­al wis­dom that there were no WMD in Iraq and look to the best evi­dence: Saddam’s own files on WMD. The truth is what it is, the doc­u­ments speak for them­selves.

John Lof­tus is Pres­i­dent of IntelligenceSummit.org, which is entire­ly free of gov­ern­ment fund­ing, and depends sole­ly upon pri­vate con­tri­bu­tions for its sup­port. The full research paper on Iraqi WMD, along with the sup­port­ing doc­u­ments and pho­tographs can be found at www.LoftusReport.com [2]