Thursday, November 06, 2014

Army Sergeant: “I love it when I hear, ‘Oh there weren’t any chemical weapons in Iraq. There were plenty.’"

Last month the New York Times reported that US troops had in fact discovered chemical weapons in Iraq after all
writes Iraq War veteran Benny Huang.
Five thousand munitions containing nerve and blister agent were uncovered between 2004 and 2011. The revelation made headlines for a day or two before vanishing again.

As it turns out, the Bush administration knew about these weapons and, counter-intuitively, chose to keep them secret. Conjecture abounds as to why Team Bush would choose to withhold vindicating evidence. Some have suggested that no one wanted to look backwards at yesterday’s controversy.

 … “The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale,” write Pulitzer Prize winner CJ Chivers.

I can’t decide whether Chivers is deceitful or just another lazy journalist. Actually, those were exactly the weapons we were looking for. In November of 2002, President Bush asked the UN for, and received, Resolution 1441, which found Iraq in material breach of Resolution 667, the 1991 ceasefire agreement that ended the Gulf War. Resolution 667 demanded that Saddam destroy all of his chemical weapons and document the process to the satisfaction of UN weapons inspectors. He failed to do this.

 … The diplomatic push of 2002 was the world’s final warning to the dictator that he had to forfeit those weapons known to be in his possession in 1991. The resolution is crystal clear. Over and over again it refers to Saddam’s failure to discard his pre-Gulf War weaponry. CJ Chivers is not just moving the goalposts, he’s rewriting history.

The idea that Saddam didn’t have any WMD was a little wacky, and yet it was those of us who insisted that he did who were portrayed as conspiracy theorists grasping at straws. He used those weapons against Iranians and Kurds. We know that they existed in 1991. Did they simple evaporate?
We now know that they did not. Quoted in Chivers’s story was Jarod Taylor, a former Army sergeant who handled some of the weapons. He remarked, “I love it when I hear, ‘Oh there weren’t any chemical weapons in Iraq. There were plenty.’”

 … when the Times revealed that Saddam’s WMD were in fact not phantasmal, as we had been led to believe, I wondered if it was worth dredging up an old debate.

Yes, I decided. Because the truth matters.

The public deserves to know what really happened though it may never hear it because the Iraq War narrative is now so thoroughly rehearsed that it actively resists change. Tomorrow’s history books will probably tell an oversimplified and basically inaccurate story about an evil Texas oil man who sent his troops on a fool’s errand. That’s not the case and it’s important that the lie doesn’t become the “truth” because of constant repetition.

 … The leadup to the Iraq invasion may seem like ancient history now. Heck, most kids in high school today can’t even remember it. It’s not too late however, to insist upon the truth because truth has a value of its own.