Patterico's Pontifications

6/21/2006

WMD Found: But How Big a Deal Is This?

Filed under: Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 4:13 pm



A few conservative bloggers are very excited by Rick Santorum’s announcement that some 500 chemical shells have been found in Iraq with degraded sarin and mustard gas. Hot Air has the details.

But I’m staying calm for now. My recollection is that we have found such material before, albeit in significantly smaller quantities, and the conclusion was that the material was probably left over and forgotten from the 1991 war.

Sure, this contradicts anyone who says Saddam *never* had WMD. But those people were always idiots. The question that interests most people is whether he had an active, ongoing program when we invaded. I don’t yet know whether today’s discovery sheds any light on that.

Stay tuned. I’d check Hot Air regularly for the best updates. I’m at the park.

UPDATE: I don’t mean to suggest that only an active program would have justified the invasion. Stockpiles of usable chemical weapons would also.

Old, unusable, forgotten ones probably wouldn’t.

It remains to be seen which this is.

UPDATE x2: Via steve in the comments comes a link to a Fox News article which says:

Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.

“This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991,” the official said, adding the munitions “are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war.”

I think if they were usable, it would be a different story. Since they apparently aren’t, it doesn’t sound too earth-shaking to me . . .

UPDATE x3: So if this is the huge revelation that some conservative bloggers (like See Dubya) appear to think it is, why did we hear it from Rick Santorum? And why is a senior Defense Department guy downplaying it?

59 Responses to “WMD Found: But How Big a Deal Is This?”

  1. Dodger or MacArthur?

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  2. It’s a big deal. a huge deal. A large number of people–whether you think they were idiots or not– think there were never any WMD’s, and a huge number think there were no WMD’s at the time we invaded. I’m going to look up some more stats on cubic volumes and such, but this is stuff we didn’t want in the hands of terrorists–like happened in the Tokyo subways– or fired on our allies or innocent people–like Saddam had already done at Halabja.

    I never expected to find 20-megaton MIRVs oiled up, nestled in secret Iraqi silos, pointing at Topeka. No one did. This is what we were looking for. We found it. Plus these are the violations of international law we were enforcing. We were justified in doing so.

    You can tell me that most of these were degraded or unfilled–fine, but when the marginally good ones go off in the subways of LA, New York and Boston all at once, it would be a nightmare.

    See-Dubya (a661de)

  3. Someone in the transcript on Instapundit said that 15 shells killed 5000 people in the Kurdish village.

    Do the math to figure out how major 500 is.

    Jeff (fccab8)

  4. Anyone thats has alwayssaid “WHERE ARE THE WMD’s?” are kindly asked to proceed to the WMD storage facility and take a HUGE whiff of the “old” shells

    Mark (44bda7)

  5. Do the math to figure out how major 500 [shells] is. – Jeff

    Santorum declared “500 munitions” had traces of degraded agent – you’re assuming these were individual shells. I believe the ISG indicated abandoned and unusable pre-1991 shell inventory had been found.

    The Pentagon held on to this because…?

    steve (ef79ec)

  6. Steve–never mind the Pentagon; George Tenet held onto this because…?

    This could have saved his butt had it come out in time.

    See-Dubya (a661de)

  7. Wonder how long it takes to verify the stuff’s identity and test the chemicals in it?

    Anwyn (01a5cc)

  8. If these are the same old depleted shells the Army found 3 years ago, Santorum needs to say so.

    steve (ef79ec)

  9. I think the argument would be that this is proof of Saddam continuing to ignore his obligations under the 1991 Cease-fire and any number of UNSC resolutions.

    Saddam was supposed to have destroyed all his chemicals, and his chemical production capabilities. This is proof that he didn’t. If he wasn’t willing to destroy even old, degraded weapons, how on earth could we trust that he wasn’t violating the rest of what he was supposed to be doing?

    Thus, he was untrustworthy, he was acting to maintain WMD, he certainly _wanted_ newer WMD (even if you believe he wasn’t actually making newer stuff). Potential threat.

    Dave (6001a6)

  10. Well it sure puts the torch to the fact that Saddam never was WMD free, and lied to the UN all along. 500 munitions is a big pile, you can’t fit that down a dry oil well … which is probably why they were still there.

    Wonder what the ‘more to come’ is all about? Russia? Syria?

    bill (26027c)

  11. in the video at Hot Air, Santorum quotes three U.S. Senators who said today that Saddam had no WMD’s. They may be idiots, as you say, but they are also U.S. Senators.

    See-Dubya (a661de)

  12. Today’s Pentagon reaction (via Fox News):

    “This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991,” the official said, adding the munitions “are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,200499,00.html

    ISG report:

    “While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad’s desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered.”

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/report/2004/isg-final-report/isg-final-report_vol3_cw_key-findings.htm

    steve (a1a49e)

  13. Okay, Steve, that second one is a report from 2004. The Negroponte document that Santorum is quoting from is dated today and refers to an ongoing discovery process.

    See-Dubya (a661de)

  14. […] Other blog coverage: Captain Ed, Ace, Patterico, Michelle Malkin, […]

    BizzyBlog.com » MORE WMD Findings Revealed (475ea5)

  15. WMD found in Iraq? (UPDATED)…

    AllahPundit is on the trail of this developing story, first discussed by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) in a press conference earlier today earlier today.
    CNS (which you should take with a grain of salt) has a write-up of Santo…

    Sister Toldjah (1466f5)

  16. WMD found in Iraq? (UPDATED)…

    AllahPundit is on the trail of this developing story, first discussed by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) in a press conference earlier today earlier today.
    CNS (which you should take with a grain of salt) has a write-up of Santo…

    Sister Toldjah (1466f5)

  17. How could it be a document “dated today” when Santorum says he’s been pursuing this release for more than two-and-a-half months?

    steve (a1a49e)

  18. OK, hold it.

    I agree, nobody really expected to find a nuke-tipped missile, fueled up and ready to go, although that does seem to be the standard to which the Media and the Liberals would like to hold Bush.

    As I recall (from old REASON articles – and REASON doesn’t like the War) what we DID find is:

    Plenty of missile systems that Saddam wasn’t supposed to have, and which the ‘inspectors’ (can you say Laurel and Hardy?) didn’t find.

    Precursor chemicals for various Chemical agents – as I recall the feeble excuse the Left makes for this is that they could also be used to make insecticides. No word on why they were found in military installations.

    Feedstock for biomass. Not NECESSARILY for bioweapons, but that would seem to be the way to bet.

    Heavily contaminated Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical labs – most of them (again) on military installations.

    Even more equipment for playing with Nuclear material buried here and there.

    Tons (the number 11 comes to mind, but I’m unsure of it) of high grade Uranium ore.

    Papers, scientists, and engineers hidden in various locations, all pertaining to Bio or Nuclear development.

    We also have Q’adaffi’s word that he was working on joint development programs with Saddam. Given Q’adaffi’s record we can believe as little or as much of that as we like, but he did surrender several tons of contraband equipment.

    So the “We found to WMD’s” assertion has been so much Leftwing drivel for a long time. Not that they are going to give it up, any more than they are going to accept the historical evidence (from the KGB files, no less) that the American Communist Party was funded from the USSR, that the Rosenburgs were guilty as sin, or that Hiss was a Soviet agent.

    We are dealing with the Delusional, assorted Idiots, and Copperheads. They simply don’t give a damn what they attacks on Bush may lead to. They want their power back, and they don’t care what they have to do to get it.

    C. S. P. Schofield (c1cf21)

  19. […] Patterico is less than impressed. I don’t mean to suggest that only an active program would have justified the invasion. Stockpiles of usable chemical weapons would also. […]

    The Sundries Shack (0542f4)

  20. “Tons (the number 11 comes to mind, but I’m unsure of it) of high grade Uranium ore.” – C.S.P.Schofield

    “High-grade uranium ore?” “11 tons?”

    The US had shipped about 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium and other radioactive material out of Iraq for disposition in the US. It was at the 23,000-acre Tuwaitha Site C. The IAEA inventoried that before the war. The known stocks were found where they were supposed to be in the quantity documented in the last IAEA inspection.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iraq/tuwaitha.htm

    steve (a1a49e)

  21. Ah, come on… degraded shells would have killed only about a fourth of the troops if used..so they were not that important…

    deagle (4d1c90)

  22. “Plenty of missile systems that Saddam wasn’t supposed to have, and which the ‘inspectors’ (can you say Laurel and Hardy?) didn’t find.”

    Er, no. The Inspectors found the Al Samoud missile and ordered it destroyed, and Saddam did so.

    “Okay, Steve, that second one is a report from 2004. The Negroponte document that Santorum is quoting from is dated today and refers to an ongoing discovery process.”

    The Duelfer report from April 2005 (final addendum) mentioned that they had found some such old degraded shells.

    “ISG assesses that Iraq and Coalition Forces will
    continue to discover small numbers of degraded
    chemical weapons, which the former Regime mislaid
    or improperly destroyed prior to 1991. ISG believes
    the bulk of these weapons were likely abandoned,
    forgotten and lost during the Iran-Iraq war because
    tens of thousands of CW munitions were forward
    deployed along frequently and rapidly shifting battlefronts.
    • All but two of the chemical weapons discovered
    since OIF were found in southern Iraq where the
    majority of CW munitions were used against Iran in
    the Iran-Iraq war.”

    “There continues to be reporting that indicates terrorists
    and insurgents possess chemical or biological
    weapons, although there is no evidence
    indicating that they have obtained “functional”
    CBW weapons or agents from the former Regime’s
    programs. An insurgent captured in Fallujah stated,
    “If we had chemical weapons, we would have used
    them.”
    Iraqis seeking rewards have added toxic chemicals to
    unfi lled pre-1991 chemical munitions to fool Coalition
    Forces into believing that they had found CW
    munitions.”

    Negroponte mentions that 500 shells had been found since 2003, so its likely that a large portion of them were found before the Duelfer report, which even predicts more would be found. The unclassified Negroponte fax doesn’t give more data on whether they were filled or unfilled.

    At this point, Rick Santorum may end up with egg like Jason Leopold, or he may end up covered in glory.

    erg (8fcfb6)

  23. FLASH — For Immediate Distribution —

    OHASA has issued new regulations following the revelation of 500 WMD’s found in Iraq.

    All Dems, Lefties, Progressives, and so-called Liberals are instructed to close their eyes, cover their ears, and remove all mirrors and sharp pointy objects from their immediate vicinity. No exceptions, except Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) who may have gained some weight (which clearly is not her fault) and changed her hairdo. Note: Approach with Caution, she may not be wearing her lapel pin and has been known to react belligerently to instructions from authority figures.

    Turn off all radios and TV’s for at least 3 days, or until the NY Times, WaPo, and LA Times can figure out some way to duck this dirty trick, no doubt manufactured by the evil Karl Rove, who is well known to over eat, and occasionally pulls the wings off Junebugs, and who is obviously in league with Dick “quail killer” Cheney, the slippery rat. More regulations may be necessary as events develop.

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  24. Does This Change Anything…

    Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) have gone on the record (video courtesy of Hot Air) today as saying that the US has recovered more than 500 artillery shells containing sarin and mustard gas since 2003. That has quite a few fo…..

    A Blog For All (59ce3a)

  25. Patterico’s right, this is a nothing story.

    Munitions that have deteriorated to the point where they’re not usable don’t count as weapons of mass destruction. They may or may not count as weapons, or as weapons of any measure of destruction.

    And, if Jeff is referring to Halabja, that wasn’t artillery shells, it was bombs dropped by the Iraqi air force.

    Geek, Esq. (fc561e)

  26. Perfect. thanks, Black Jack!

    “Turn off all radios and TV’s for at least 3 days, or until the NY Times, WaPo, and LA Times can figure out some way to duck this dirty trick, no doubt manufactured by the evil Karl Rove, who is well known to over eat, and occasionally pulls the wings off Junebugs, and who is obviously in league with Dick “quail killer” Cheney, the slippery rat. More regulations may be necessary as events develop.”

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  27. Black Jack, you are so not with it. Don’t you understand that “we didn’t go to war over these particular 500 shells”? Don’t you recall all the Bush lies that we were only going to war over “new” WMDs? Were you not listening when he assured us that anything from 1991 didn’t count? Don’t you understand that the statute of limitations has run out on these particular rounds? And anyway, they can’t be fired from artillery pieces so since that’s the only way they could possibly do any damage that they simply don’t count?

    Don’t you know anything? You’re such a right wing extremist tool. Don’t you realize that “old” sarin and other nerve agents are absolutely harmless? That’s why we store all our old stuff right down town in public parks.

    Plus, good grief! a mere 500 rounds! Why can’t you see that this minor little tidbit doesn’t change a thing? Don’t you know any better? I mean the most plausible explanation for why Sadam didn’t disclose these to the inspectors was that he just forgot. After all, when you’re busy running the torture chambers and rape rooms and building palaces with “oil for food” money, you’re obviously too busy to keep up with a mere 500 “old” nerve agent rounds lying around in some Shia school yard. Good grief!

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  28. “OHASA?”

    Check back in a few days and see if you might need to reinstate your “inoperative post” disclaimer, Black Jack.

    steve (a1a49e)

  29. THIS IS HUGE! Look, what’s the news in politics today? Republicans are hurting, liable to lose control of one or more houses of Congress. President Bush’s favorability ratings are the lowest of his Presidency. Dire calls for impeachment.

    Why? A majority of Americans no longer support the Iraq war; a big reason for which is the false meme spread so broadly by our dominant media: No WMDs existed; Bush is dishonest. A fluctuating “majority of Americans, 51%, say the Bush administration deliberately misled the public about whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction — the reason Bush emphasized in making the case for invading”. How often have we heard that Bush lied about WMD intelligence, or that “intelligence was being fixed around the policy” of invading Iraq to deprive Saddam of WMDs?

    If the fact that WMD STOCKPILES HAVE BEEN FOUND IN IRAQ is well-publicized (looks like it will have to be paid media, perhaps during the campaign proper), this has the potential of killing the Democrats. It totally justifies the war, and seeing it through tough times. And more than that, in retrospect it cements the Democrats’ reputation as untrustworthy with our nation’s security. THIS IS HUGE (politically)!

    Trained Auditor (c1ffb6)

  30. This is precisely correct:

    “If there is convincing evidence that Saddam and his senior circle knew of stockpiles of WMD and had hidden them prior to the invasion, the refusal to release that information has greatly damaged the debate about the war, even though the invasion of Iraq rested on other compelling grounds than Saddam’s possession of WMD.

    The failure to find WMD has had a corrosive effect on the public debate and on some support for the war.” – Hugh Hewitt, 6/21/06

    Trained Auditor (c1ffb6)

  31. The WaPo writes [of the Santorum claims] that the munitions date from 1988 or before and were “buried near the Iranian border, and then long forgotten, by Iraqi troops during their eight-year war with Iran, which ended in 1988.”

    “The U.S. military announced in 2004 in Iraq that several crates of the old shells had been uncovered and that they contained a blister agent that was no longer active. Neither the military nor the White House nor the CIA considered the shells to be evidence of what was alleged by the Bush administration to be a current Iraqi program to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

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

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/21/AR2006062101837.html

    steve (a1a49e)

  32. Patterico’s challenge:

    “…a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.

    “This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991,” the official said, adding the munitions “are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war.””

    1) Anonymous source.
    2) “not the WMDs for which this country went to war.” – political message from an anonymous “senior DOD official”. Whose political message? I remember 5 distinct reasons we went to war and they were spelled out in the AUMF.
    3) People who are providing the official administration response go on the record.
    4) In 1988 15 shells similar to these killed 5,000 Kurds. 500 shells at half their lethality (assuming degraded material, but still properly deployed) would be capable of killing over 80,000 people.
    5) Though “degraded”, these armaments are still classified as “lethal”.

    “The question that interests most people is whether he had an active, ongoing program when we invaded.”

    That was not the case the President made for war. That was the “move the goalposts” after-action reasoning. The reason we went to war was because Saddam was being dishonest and we couldn’t take the chance of being wrong.

    NED

    NewEnglandDevil (2aa90d)

  33. I’m pretty baffled by the dancing. Everyone knows this guy had WMD at one point. Nobody rational denies that. But does this constitute evidence of usable weapons that would justify a war? Sure doesn’t sound like it.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  34. You’ll note the Pentagon official said that the weapons were unusable, and may already have been used outside of Iraq.

    What would you say to a witness you were cross-examining who let that slip?

    See Dubya (921613)

  35. The reason we went to war was because Saddam was being dishonest and we couldn’t take the chance of being wrong.

    Well, I totally agree. I’m not saying it was wrong to go to war based on what we knew. But I also think that, if we knew then what we know now, we might have made a different decision. I don’t think this changes that.

    The question is whether these are still usable, or at least whether they were when we invaded. If so, then you have an argument. If not, then sorry . . . this is no magic bullet vindicating all our decisions.

    [My second sentence originally read: “I’m saying it was wrong to go to war based on what we knew.” But I meant for the word “not” to be in there. I have fixed it above. — P]

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  36. ““The U.S. military announced in 2004 in Iraq that several crates of the old shells had been uncovered and that they contained a blister agent that was no longer active.” – WaPo via Steve

    Steve – These shells had sarin and mustard gas. Nice try. I’ll give you the liberal A for effort, but the conservative F because your answer was wrong.

    NED

    NewEnglandDevil (2aa90d)

  37. See-Dub,

    The story is badly written. I don’t know what he means.

    I keep saying “if” and “apparently” because we really don’t *know*. I think we should wait and see what else develops.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  38. I’ll give you this. If there’s still anyone so stupid that they honestly believe Saddam *never* had WMD (and See-Dub suggests that there are, even in the Senate), then this story will at least pierce that little bubble.

    I still don’t know whether it answers the Big Question of vindication. I sort of tend to think it doesn’t.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  39. “I’m saying it was wrong to go to war based on what we knew.”

    Does your model require perfect knowledge prior to action?

    NED

    NewEnglandDevil (2aa90d)

  40. I meant “not,” as should be clear from the context.

    I fixed the comment so it reads right.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  41. “Steve – These shells had sarin and mustard gas. Nice try. I’ll give you the liberal A for effort, but the conservative F because your answer was wrong.” – NewEnglandDevil

    Blister agents ARE mustard gas.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/intro/cw-blister.htm

    The “sarin” may refer to a 152mm binary Sarin artillery shell, found 16 May 2004. On Volume 3, page 99, [Duelfer] ISG Report: “The partially detonated IED was an old prototype binary nerve agent munitions of the type Iraq declared it had field tested in the late 1980s.”

    Santorum is likely combining published ISG data with the Iranian-border vesicant agent munitions — also dating from the late 80’s.

    “Last night intelligence officials reaffirmed that the shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.” – Ibid

    steve (a1a49e)

  42. steve – wish I knew more off the top of my head about chem weapons? thx for the link.

    According to Santorum, the report he is looking at (the classified portions, as well as what is published) says that some is “degraded” and some is not – thus weapons capable. Even if it is old stock, the fact that some exists that is still weapons capable is the pertinent point.

    In 1988 15 shells similar to these killed 5,000 Kurds. 500 shells at half their lethality (assuming some degraded material, but still properly deployed) would be capable of killing over 80,000 people.

    Hopefully we’ll get more of that report released and get some definitive answers as to whether your assertions have merit.

    NED

    NewEnglandDevil (2aa90d)

  43. esquirerumson – where did al-Qaeda acquire the truckloads of chemical agents they attempted to use to attack Amman?

    “there are lots of folks who would have been happy to put them to use (as CW, one way or another). That hasn’t happened, not even once;”

    Unless you have definitive proof that the AQ chem weapons were NOT from Iraq, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to suggest that they might have been from Iraq. It certainly puts your contention into question.

    NED

    NewEnglandDevil (2aa90d)

  44. Poor old Steve is still trying to alibi the idiots that don’t need an alibi. They need to be comitted to a mental facility. It doesn’t matter if the shells are 5 or 50 years old. They are ‘WMD’ and they were found in Iraq. Hanoi John Kerry made the flat statement that there were ‘no’ WMD in Iraq. No one said they found them in one place. They have been finding them scattered around so the blind U.N. (blinded by the million in their pockets) inspectors couldn’t find them. The release of this information confirms the information from the Saddam documents. It proves the WMD were and still are there, and that the documents captured in Iraq are correct. Some real barn burners to come. Bet on it. I’ll get up early and go crow hunting, the dim-wits and lefties like Steve will need quite a supply.

    Scrapiron (a90377)

  45. I’m surprised people are attempting to make such a big deal out of this.

    Yes, SH had chemical weapons. We knew that. Everyone knew that. He had huge stockpiles of them inspected and verified by the UN and agreed to be destroyed under the Gulf War I cease fire. He used them against the Kurds, he used them against the Iranians.

    The question has always been WTF happened to them? That’s what we do not know even now. Maybe he shipped them to Syria. Maybe he destroyed them. Maybe the Russians helped him get rid of them. Who knows? Finding an old pile of chem weap shells tells us nothing we didn’t already know.

    I’d like to think our intelligence agencies have some idea what happened to them – and they aren’t telling us for some (hopefully good) reason – but I don’t have much confidence in that.

    The “Bush Lied” crowd is never going to concede anything about this no matter what happens. There is no rational conversation to be had with the left on this issue. This changes nothing.

    Dwilkers (a1687a)

  46. The chief significance of this story, to me, is the ineptitude of the Bush administration in defending itself. Why was this still classified ? Apparently, what has been released is a small part of a larger report. Why should it be secret when the lefties are harping on such matters ? Santorum seems to have got wind of this (Sorry, bad pun) and tried to get the report released because of the Senate debate.

    Mike K (416363)

  47. In 1988 15 shells similar to these killed 5,000 Kurds. 500 shells at half their lethality (assuming some degraded material, but still properly deployed) would be capable of killing over 80,000 people.

    NED:

    Please provide a cite for this horse puckey. If you’re talking about Halabja, it wasn’t field artillery but rather BIG ASS BOMBS dropped from airplanes that cause the carnage.

    Geek, Esq. (825962)

  48. ned: “some exists that is still weapons capable”

    esq.: “Sorry, but I can’t fathom where you’re getting this. The document issued by Negroponte (pdf) says this: “Since 2003 Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.” Please explain the basis for you (or Santorum, for that matter) to make the leap that “degraded” is congruent with “weapons capable.””

    From the document:
    “pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist”

    “While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal.”

    Reading more carefully, the document states that we’ve found 500 chemical munitions – and that the most likely munitions remaining (yet to be found since they are ‘likely’, thus, unconfirmed) are projectiles. Therefore, some of the weapons which were already found COULD be bombs.

    Since this is only a couple of bullet points providing highlighted, but in no way necessarily comprehensive information from the report, it leaves many questions unanswered.

    It does however answer the question of: Were there unreported WMD munitions still in Iraq in violation of the UN resolutions? The answer is yes. The fact that there were at least 500 individual munitions is a significant volume – even if the chemical component is degraded, as the possession of the delivery systems themselves are a violation and they could be recharged with fresh chemical weapons.

    NED

    NewEnglandDevil (cc6b20)

  49. Surprise Surprise! Sadam Lied…

    Move along, nothing to see here. Ha!…

    Howie's Moisture Farm (59ce3a)

  50. “people who actually give a shit about the truth.”

    In your case, the appropriate synonym appears to be, “person whose mind is completely closed to the possibility that he is wrong, and is willing to provide the benefit of the doubt to Saddam Hussein (with all that entails) but not to our president who was working with the best available information.”

    All of your assumptions give Saddam the benefit of the doubt, and presume that all of the pertinent information is in the public sphere (unclassified).

    As far as usable vs. unusable – strawman/goal-post moving.

    In any case, you’ve done your homework, but your conclusions on this information are opinions based on assumptions. I suppose the argument is moot (from my perspective) since I support the war whether or not the WMD were found (based on all of the reasons given before the war, plus the unstated strategic reasons), and I assume you would not support it regardless of found WMD that meet your criteria (ever more stringent – first it is WMD, then a ‘stockpile’, now, ‘useful+stockpile’).

    NED

    NewEnglandDevil (cc6b20)

  51. A few conservative bloggers are very excited by Rick Santorum’s announcement that some 500 chemical shells have been found in Iraq with degraded sarin and mustard gas.

    This information is only available to people with family values.

    actus (ebc508)

  52. I hope more information emerges, but I am willing to pass on satisfying my curiosity if it protects us better (e.g., endangering sources, methods, etc).

    It is generally considered a fact that most CW munitions degrade over time and those of the (original lower) purity found by the ISG in Iraq degrade faster than those historically in US/USSR stocks. Thus, many assert, any produced before 1991 would likely pose little or no threat now. Even sarin binary shells degrade over time, though sufficiently slower as to still represent a non-trivial threat if properly delivered.

    This position seems to be absolutely refuted by the UNMOVIC findings. For example, I picked (literally at random) the 13th Quarterly Report dated May 30, 2003. See here:

    http://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/new/documents/quarterly_reports/s-2003-580.pdf

    Go to the top of Page 30 (“C. 155 mm shells filled with mustard gas”). Read the paragraph (labeled #119)and you will find:

    “Samples taken from the shells showed that the mustard gas produced over 15 years ago was still of high purity — 97 per cent purity.”

    The fact remains, though, that even 500 shells represent such a miniscule percentage of Iraqi munitions that nay-sayers can wave them away as rounding error, stray crumbs missed on the floor of a vast bakery, or such. Iraq was practically one huge ammo dump. Keep that figure of 500 in mind as you consider the numbers here:

    http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/chap5_annxH.html

    A few numbers from that url:

    – 9,758 munition caches found, not shells, but caches
    – one depot (An Najaf) had 87 bunkers, 42 warehouses, and 99 revetments for the storage of munitions, and
    – another depot (Arlington CEA) had 100 bunkers, 81 warehouses, ~1,000 revertments, 100 mud huts, and open storage.

    Here’s another relevant url:

    http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/an_nasiriyah_sw/nasiriyah_s06.htm

    There you will see that there were something like 6,000 mustard 155 mm shells at just that one location and that others had been bombed, scattering contents, etc.. In the aftermath of the first war, many will assert that there was no way even an army of accountants could have tracked all those shells down.

    jim (6482d8)

  53. I think this is huge because it neutralizes* the left’s most powerful attack against the Iraq war: That it isn’t worth the cost.

    Even as a conservative and generally strong supporter of the Bush Administration on most issues, the failure to find WMDs* tested my feeling that the invasion of Iraq was necessary. Sure there were other good reasons, but those other reasons are a lot more difficult to weigh against American casualties. That’s why the left clings to the “No WMDs” meme so strongly; it’s effective.

    Now that we’ve found stockpiles of WMDs*, we must ask: How many more are there? What happened to all of Saddam’s stockpiles? Was Duelfer’s team absolutely thorough? Are all their judgments well-founded?

    Candidly, depriving Saddam (and potential terrorists) of WMDs* that we had every reason to believe Saddam still had is the best justification for the invasion, and for sticking with it through hard times. Finding these stockpiles (with the likelihood that there are more) bolsters that justification.

    But I admit, I have no answer for why elements of the Administration continue to downplay the significance of finding these stockpiles of WMDs in Iraq. I’m prepared to reconsider when we learn more.

    * Do you notice how some of our friends on the left are so careful and nuanced now about WMDs and their definition, where some of them weren’t before? First no WMDs; then no “stockpiles”; then no “usable” WMDs; then “not the ones we thought we’d find”. I really think some will never be satisfied, regardless of WMD discoveries. But remember, many Americans think Bush deliberately misled them on the intelligence about WMDs; I think this puts the lie to that.

    Trained Auditor (c0228a)

  54. 500 degraded sarin shells, and the neocons are trumpeting this as retrospective casus belli, along with the usual insults against “liberals” and anybody else expressing doubts about our mission over there, whatever it is.
    patterico asks “why did we hear this from rick santorum?” we heard this from rick santorum because he’s a fulminating, christwhoring demagogue in a tough re-election race, desperate for traction. i can’t believe that a majority of pennsylvania voters will be dumb enough to retain him.

    assistant devil's advocate (ea674f)

  55. esq. – I don’t have time for this, but quickly…

    ned: “pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist”

    Yes, in degraded, useless condition. (assumption by you – you don’t know that all is degraded and/or useless, the material/reports provided does not present absolute knowledge on quantity useless vs. quantity useful – even bullet items could be read “DEGRADED MUSTARD and sarin” or as you presume, “DEGRADED MUSTARD AND SARIN”. That simple bit of sloppy writing in a one sentence summary of an xxx-page report could demonstrate falaciousness of your argument).

    “chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal”

    Yes, which means that it’s probably wise to keep them out of the reach of children, and which means that they should be disposed of carefully, along with things like car batteries, pesticides and asbestos insulation, which “remain hazardous and potentially lethal.” (again, your assumptions as to their precise meaning)

    This language which you cite is a very long way from supporting this assertion you made: “some exists that is still weapons capable.” Saying that these leftover chemicals are “hazardous and potentially lethal” does not mean they are “weapons capable.” (fine – though your assertions to the contrary do not constitute proof)

    When asked how he knew that some of the weapons are still usable, Santorum didn’t cite this language which you’re citing. (point?)

    “some of the weapons which were already found COULD be bombs.”

    There is no indication whatsoever that a single CW “bomb” has ever been found in Iraq. By the way, in this interview, Hewitt repeatedly refers to the found items as “shells,” and Santorum never breaths a word of objection. (speculation on your part – no indication does not mean that no bombs were found, so you are assuming, why should Santorum object? He’s got x minutes to make his point, why quibble over minutia?)

    Aside from that, the bomb vs. shell issue isn’t what’s most important. A more important question is usable vs. unusable. The confirmed total count of _usable_ CW munitions (usable as CW, that is) found in Iraq is still as follows: one. (As stated earlier in my response, as far as my reasoning goes, and as I understood it, Saddam was not in compliance – not because he had operational stockpiles of WMD, that was not proven – but it was absolutely proven that he was consistently dishonest and was not cooperating with the searches. To YOU the question may be usable or unusable. The argument the president made was that we believe something, he’s acting guilty, and we can’t afford to be wrong.)

    “The fact that there were at least 500 individual munitions is a significant volume”

    Given the overall size of Saddam’s arsenal, 500 shells is most definitely not a “significant volume.” (semantic argument – who said it was a significant portion of his arsenal? no one. 500 is significant in that it is >> than what we’ve previously disclosed and represents a stockpile size.)

    I realize that statement is about mustard, and we are talking about mustard as well as other substances. But the point remains that when you start with many tens of thousands of shells, it’s completely unsurprising that one or two per cent are going to get lost, one way or another. Any result other than that is what should be considered surprising. (benefit of the doubt to Saddam, against the President)

    Duelfer explains this in various ways: “An Iraqi source indicated that when weapons were forward-deployed in anticipation of a conflict, the CW weapons often became mixed in with the regular munitions, and were never accounted for again. Another source stated that several hundred munitions moved forward for the Gulf war, and never used, were never recovered by retreating Iraqi troops. A thorough post-OIF search of forward depots turned up nothing—if the weapons were indeed left behind, they were looted over the 12 years between the wars. (or collected by Saddam for subsequent storage? Duelfer’s opinion DNE fact)

    … Iraq’s unilateral destruction of weapons in 1991 was far from perfect—a February 2003 UNMOVIC inspection at the Al Azziziyah Firing Range to attempt to account for 157 R-400 bombs by inspecting the debris turned up 8 bombs that had survived the 1991 explosions. (what bombs? I’m sure we found the last of them then…)

    By the way, we managed to lose track of 9 billion dollars in Iraq, in the form of literally hundreds of tons of cash. I don’t know why you think Saddam’s systems for keeping track of old useless shells (if useless, why keep them?)

    were more perfect than our systems for keeping track of hundred dollar bills. (our gov’t does a horrible job keeping track of money, or hadn’t you noticed? talk about a lame argument. So yes, I would hope that he did a *better* job of keeping track of WMD than we do with money – talk about damning with faint praise.)

    NED

    NewEnglandDevil (cc6b20)

  56. ARGH – almost forgot…

    esquire – where did AQ get the chem weapons they used to attack Jordan? Why is it that no one on the left – not a single person!! (LOL) – can tell me where those chem weapons came from?

    NED

    NewEnglandDevil (cc6b20)

  57. I realize your idea of “rational conversation” is to pretend that….

    You do? I don’t think you read my post.

    Tell us more about what you know about what I think esquirerumson.

    Dwilkers (a1687a)

  58. Re #23, FLASH — For Immediate Distribution —

    OHASA UPDATE — New Instructions added to initial report — Talking Points

    Comrades, (Dems, Libs, Proggies, and all Lefty fellow travelers) don’t fall for the trap. Soon to be replaced, Senator Rick “Sanitarium” (R-PA) revealed only a small part of a larger and more comprehensive report. So, while we’re holding our breath waiting for the other shoes to fall, don’t fritter away your personal integrity (yada, yada, yada) defending Saddam.

    Our operatives (rocky raccoon, whistle blowers, or outed secret agents) in the intelligence services (no smirking allowed, till further notice) are working diligently to keep the really explosive stuff (no pun intended) classified and out of the papers (that’s the easy one), off the TV (no problem except for YOU KNOW WHO), and off the Blogs (we got almost half the action there too, but clearly that’s our soft spot. We’re working on it, but it’s a tough nut to crack. It must be that evil Karl Rove again.)

    DO NOT TAKE THE BAIT. Don’t fall into the evil Karl Rove’s insidious trap, no doubt instigated by Dick “quail killer” Cheney, REPEAT don’t defend Saddam’s behavior or claim he had NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

    Continue to challenge the claim Saddam had REAL WMDs but if you can’t wiggle out of a tough spot (get angry, call names, or walk out rather than respond unless you’re on live TV). If you really, really, can’t duck it, say they aren’t really WMD, or if they were WMD, they were OLD, LEFT OVER, INOPERATIVE, AND DON’T COUNT. (Repeat as necessary)

    We all know Saddam had WMD, but we’re never, ever, ever, going to admit it, (didn’t Joe Wilson and Richard Clark say there were no WMD (he haw), and boy o boy didn’t we get some really great mileage there, or what) but don’t say it anymore without instructions from John Murtha (unless he gets tagged as an unindicted coconspirator in the so-called AbScam scandal (which never happened, or if it did, which it didn’t, depends on your definition of AbScam or for having his hand in the till) or Cindy Sheehan (they can’t touch her, she has “absolute moral authority” or she did, damn that skinny blond, Ann Coulter, who obviously has an eating disorder) otherwise watch the Sunday news shows for the latest talking points (Tim Russert will take the lead, as usual, go Tim.)

    If you just can’t possibly avoid saying something, bring up Abu Ghraib or talk about how much we support out troops (Which as you know, we “really, really, really” support, except for the presumption of innocence, or any other time they actually need support, then feel free to unload on them, and don’t hold back. Hint: it’s a lot easier to kick them when they’re down.)

    So stick with the plan (and those silly guys in the GOP say we don’t have any plans, Ha Ha) and remember we got the horses in this race. We got Howard Dean, Harry Reid, Nancy Pilosi, and we got John Kerry and AlGore too. The GOP can’t touch us, the midterm elections are in the bag if we can just keep Osama bin Ladin from endorsing our candidates.

    Be patient and wait till we get the upper hand again. THEN IT’S OUR TURN GET EVEN. Our secret weapon is now on the job full time. THE DAN is all ours now, he’s tan, he’s rested, and he’s ready. AND, although he’s learned a few things the hard way lately, he’s still the best there is.

    HANG IN THERE, HELP IS ON THE WAY — COURAGE

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  59. esquirerumson –

    I chose the UNMOVIC quarterly report I cited randomly from the list. I think you understated the significance of that fact in your “14 shells” dismissal. There may have been a great many such purity results; I just am not about to study all 26 reports there, let alone the many supporting documents. Checking just the last report, the UNMOVIC group is still on record as feeling that any remaining mustard munitions “may still retain relatively high-purity chemical warfare agent (sic), like mustard gas.”

    I also think you understate the sarin binary shell significance. One sarin binary shell exploded in the IED. Reports made it clear that the two sarin precursors had NOT mixed before the detonation (this point is important, bear with me):

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,120268,00.html

    When that happened, there was considerable commentary on its significance. The left side of the ‘sphere, the UN believers, and others asserted that the Iraqi binary program had only produced a small, well-understood, and accounted-for number of such shells.

    In particular, Scott Ritter published in the Christian Science Monitor on May 21, 2004 the following:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0521/p09s01-coop.html

    He used what I called at the time preposterous math because he assumed the suspension of the physical forces associated with rotation, centrifugal force (or centripetal acceleration. It’s akin to assuming multiple failures of gravity. You see, he argued that the IED sarin shell must have been a dud retrieved downrange (he speculated ther might be as many as 15 such!)after having been fired from a gun in the past during testing. How his “duds” failed to mix the two constituent chemicals while rotating in flight he never explained. (or upon impact, for that matter, even if the shell body had remained intact) The internals of such a shell are simply manufactured with rupture disks that fail in a gross manner upon firing to assure mixing during rotation during the brief time of flight.

    My point here, today, to you, is that if the 500-odd shells (or others not mentioned in those reports) contain any number of unmixed binary shells, there WAS and perhaps IS a previously denied stockpile of them because those shells supposedly did not exist!

    jim (a9ab88)


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