Thursday :: Jun 12, 2003

Military and Intel Sources Tell the Post of More WMD Failures


by Steve

The Washington Post runs another Page One story in tomorrow’s edition on the Pentagon’s failure to find Iraqi WMDs, staying with a story that keeps having legs, apparently fed by some inside the intelligence and military communities. In this installment, Post writer Barton Gellman writes that Task Force 20, a lesser-known but specially trained operations unit has been inside Iraq since before the war looking for WMDs, using human intelligence sources just like Rummy wants to use now with his newly-arriving 1300 experts.

They have found nothing in over one hundred days of work.

A covert Army Special Forces unit, operating in Iraq since before the war began in March, has played a dominant but ultimately unsuccessful role in the Bush administration's stymied hunt for weapons of mass destruction, according to military and intelligence sources in Baghdad and Washington.

Task Force 20, whose existence and mission are classified, is drawn from the elite Army special mission units known popularly as Delta Force. It sent a stream of initially promising reports to a limited circle of planners and policymakers in Washington pointing to the possibility of weapons finds. The reports helped feed the optimism expressed by President Bush and his senior national security advisers that proscribed weapons would be found.

Thus far, military and intelligence sources said, the expectations are unfulfilled.
Task Force 20 has come no closer than its widely publicized counterpart, the 75th Exploitation Task Force, to the Bush administration's declared objective. Sources with firsthand knowledge of its mission and personnel, and others with access to its reports, said the team has found no working nonconventional munitions, long-range missiles or missile parts, bulk stores of chemical or biological warfare agents or enrichment technology for the core of a nuclear weapon. The administration cited all those components specifically as part of Iraq's concealed arsenal. The arms were forbidden to Iraq under U.N. Security Council mandate, and President Bush used them as his primary argument for war.

Until very recently, the principal focus of the U.S. Central Command, which directs the search for illegal weapons, was a methodical survey of the 87 top-priority facilities identified in the "integrated master site list" maintained at the Defense Intelligence Agency. More than 900 specialists and tens of millions of dollars of detection and laboratory equipment were devoted to the survey, and its leaders said publicly that they expected to find large caches of chemical and perhaps other weapons at the sites. That effort, a high ranking national security official said Wednesday, was "a waste of time."

The Defense Department's new public emphasis is on "people, not buildings," as one officer put it. Some officials said previously that Iraqis would have to lead the United States to the concealed weapons. But it is now clear, from an examination of Task Force 20's work, that the Defense Department and intelligence agencies have already put that strategy to the test for 100 days.
(M)any of those most knowledgeable about Task Force 20's work, some of whom observed it at close quarters, said there is no sign of decisive evidence in the information gathered to date. They said most of Task Force 20's successes --seizing files, wanted scientists and potentially "hot samples" of lethal substances -- came early in the war.

So the approach that Rummy plans to use to ferret out the WMDs that he and Bush know are there, like the kid looking for the pony in the pile or horseshit, has been in operation by Task Force 20 for over three months, with no success.

And if these weapons now magically appear when we flood the country with 1300 experts, we are supposed to believe that it is legit? Especially when military and intelligence sources inside the Administration are feeding this story of failure to the media?

Right.

Steve :: 9:48 PM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!