Monday, January 17, 2011

What the Media Does Not Reveal From the WikiLeaks Trove: That Fear of Saddam's WMD Was Entirely Justified

While the media have been quick to run with WikiLeaks’ U.S. State Department cable releases to undermine Washington’s efforts to effect stability in unstable parts of the world
complains James Zumwalt,
it is slow, if not silent, in giving credit where credit is due. Although other credible sources confirmed it before WikiLeaks did, in receiving similar disinterested responses from the media, it should be clear now that President Bush’s concerns about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program were well-founded.

…Despite [Joe] Wilson's claim [that he had debunked George Bush's yellowcake claim], a 2004 bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report found his visit actually supported evidence Saddam was undertaking a WMD effort, based on the 1999 incident.
…as Wired [Magazine's Noah Shachtman] reports, the WikiLeaks documents clearly show "for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction. . . . Chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam's toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents."

A September 2004 New York Times op-ed by the former head of Saddam’s nuclear research program supported this, as well. [Mahdi Obeidi] wrote:

"[T]he West never understood the delusional nature of Saddam Hussein’s mind . . . he lived in a fantasy world . . . . giving lunatic orders . . . he kept the country’s Atomic Energy Commission alive . . . Saddam fooled . . . the world . . . . [O]ur nuclear program could have been reinstituted at the snap of Saddam Hussein’s fingers."

Of note too is a January 2004 revelation by Syrian journalist defector Nizar Nayuf. He reported there were three locations in Syria where Iraqi WMDs had been transported prior to the 2003 invasion and were being stored. He also revealed some of these sites were being built with North Korean cooperation.

…Five years after Joe Wilson’s op-ed claimed no yellowcake was sold to Iraq — the ease with which Saddam could have snapped his fingers and reinstituted his nuclear program became apparent. In July 2008, in an operation kept secret at the time, 37 military air cargo flights shipped more than 500 metric tons of yellowcake — found in Iraq — out of the country for further transport and remediation to Canada.