On March 20, the twits at FrontPageMag.com
interviewed Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot, who
stated without a doubt that Saddam shipped WMD off to Syria on the eve
of the Iraq invasion. McInerney was referring to documents
he believes prove that Saddam was hiding his horrible weapons. Of the 600 documents
that have been released to the public thus far, none, I repeat none,
say that Saddam shipped off his WMD to secret hiding spots.
It is clear that McInerney, a Fox News (sic) commentator, and the FrontPage
conspiracy nuts are desperate to find evidence that WMD existed in Iraq prior
to the invasion three years ago. They are also hoping to uncover ties between
bin Laden and Saddam. Many of the documents they hope will uncover these claims
contain forgeries, rumors, and disinformation. In short, they aren't the most
Nonetheless, here's an example of the hearsay propped up by McInerney:
"Yes, [Saddam shipped off WMD] to three locations in Syria and one
in Lebanon [Bekaa Valley] in the September-December 2002 time frame. This information
was provided by Jack Shaw, the former deputy undersecretary of defense for international
technology security. He charged that Saddam's stockpiles of WMD were moved by
a Russian Spetznatz team headed by Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian intelligence
chief, who came to Iraq in December 2002 to supervise the final cleanup."
I suppose if Jack Shaw says it's true, it must be. Right. Here's a guy who
in December 2002 released a report of Saddam's alleged crimes, but as Noam Chomsky
noted at the time,
"It was drawn almost entirely from the period of firm U.S.-UK support,
a fact overlooked with the usual display of moral integrity. The timing and
quality of the dossier raised many questions, but those aside, Straw failed
to provide an explanation for his very recent conversion to skepticism about
Saddam Hussein's good character and behavior."
On the flip side of the translation game, Saddam noted over and again that
Iraq had no WMD in 2002. In several of the documents now available on the Web
in English, Saddam Hussein is quoted as saying to his deputies:
"[The UN inspectors] destroyed everything and said, 'Iraq completed
95 percent of their commitment. We cooperated with the resolutions 100 percent
and you all know that, and the 5 percent they claim we have not executed could
take them 10 years to [verify]. Don't think for a minute that we still have
WMD. We have nothing."
McInerney and other war supporters have attempted to interpret the Arabic material
that has yet to be released in English. Letting the amateurs slug it out is
not likely to produce anything of quality or truth. Yet, many conservative bloggers
have tried to nail down Saddam's ties to bin Laden by highlighting documents
that seem to refer to a 1995 meeting between bin Laden and an Iraqi intelligence
officer in the Sudan. However, many intelligence officials claim such documents
must be taken with a grain of salt. Conversations were recorded over the radio;
others were only passed along by secondhand sources – but none have produced
any direct link between Saddam and a-Qaeda. Even so, a meeting between in the
mid-1990s doesn't mean Saddam had anything to do with 9/11, or that the two
were in cahoots against the U.S.
Besides, if a smoking gun did exist, wouldn't the Bushies be the first to point
it out? Why would they need an ex-fighter pilot on David Horowitz's neocon site
and a few right-wing bloggers to uncover the truth? As with most of Bush's PR,
the release of these documents is only meant to boost his dismal poll numbers.
Searching out justifications for the Iraq invasion are all the war's backers
seem to have left. I guess they all failed to read David
Kay's report on the matter of WMD. Even Charles Duelfer, another war supporter
like Kay who sought Saddam's nonexistent arsenal and wrote a report
about it, is convinced Saddam didn't have squat even before the first bombs
dropped in 2003.
Now, I think it is pretty simple (but obviously hard for the war supporters
to grasp): if Saddam didn't have WMD before the war began, then he didn't have
any WMD to ship off to Syria and hide. That means there was nothing to destroy,
It's just more fabrications from the seekers of the nonexistent smoking gun.
The only thing smoking right now, however, is the war crowds' continued lies
and smoldering reputations.