Monday :: Jun 9, 2003

Bush's WMD Inspectors Have Nothing To Do


by Steve

This story about says it all. As Bush and his minions hide behind the “we based it on whatever the Intel community told us” defense, it has been confirmed today that the folks looking for WMDs based on the sites provided by that same intel community have come up dry. So dry, in fact, that they have nothing to do. So before Rummy and his Pentagon boys show up Saturday to begin planting WMD evidence, the current group of inspectors are filling their free time by being reassigned to other duties or going on training.

U.S. military units assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties, even as pressure mounts on President Bush to explain why no banned arms have been found.

After nearly three months of fruitless searches, weapons hunters say they are now waiting for a large team of Pentagon intelligence experts to take over the effort, relying more on leads from interviews and documents.

"It doesn't appear there are any more targets at this time," said Lt. Col. Keith Harrington, whose team has been cut by more than 30 percent. "We're hanging around with no missions in the foreseeable future."

Over the past week, his and several other teams have been taken off assignment completely. Rather than visit suspected weapons sites, they are brushing up on target practice and catching up on letters home. Of the seven Site Survey Teams charged with carrying out the search, only two have assignments for the coming week - but not at suspected weapons sites.

Lt. Col. Ronald Haan, who runs team 6, is using the time to run his troops through a training exercise. "At least it's keeping the guys busy," he said.

The slowdown comes after checks of more than 230 sites - drawn from a master intelligence list compiled before the war - turned up none of the chemical or biological weapons the Bush administration said it went after Saddam Hussein to destroy.

Ahead of the war, planners were so certain of the intelligence that the weapons teams were designed simply to secure chemical and biological weapons rather than investigate their whereabouts, as U.N. inspectors had done.

But without evidence of weapons, the CIA and other intelligence agencies have begun reviewing the accuracy of information they supplied to the administration before the March invasion of Iraq. Government inquiries are being set up in Washington, London and other coalition countries to examine how possibly flawed intelligence might have influenced the decision for war.

"The smoking guns just weren't lying out in the open," said David Gai, spokesman for the Iraq Survey Group. "There's a lot more detective work that needs to be done."

And that detective work will now be done by Keith Drayton and his 1300-member team of inspectors. It is important to remember that Drayton himself is the director of operations for Rummy’s Defense Intelligence Agency. His teams will be using leads from a new set of “intelligence sources”, but those sources have yielded nothing to date also.

Intelligence agents and weapons hunters have been speaking with scientists and experts for the past month, but those interviews have not led the teams to any illegal weapons and none of the tips provided by Iraqis have panned out.

Ironically, the same IAEA model that Bush discredited because it was taking too long will be used as the model for the new inspections. But at least some experienced former inspectors will actually be working with the effort from now on.

Unfortunately, it will not be a stretch for a man who heads up operations for Rummy’s intel service to plant evidence clearing his bosses of possible crimes.

Steve :: 2:37 PM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!