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[casi] Bad News from the Wall Street Journal

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Dear CASI friends: This article was distributed to Laurie Mylroie's
newsletter list, the antithesis, I should imagine, of CASI's list, only
I got myself on it to stay abreast of what's going on.  She is the
author of "Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War against
America."  As for the current administration in the U.S., I cannot
recall in my lifetime bamboozling on such a great scale-a kind of
political prestidigitation-"If you don't see it, it's there!"   Suzy

The Wall Street Journal
Dance of Saddam's Seven Veils
Iraq says it has no weapons? That's a material breach.
Friday, December 6, 2002 12:01 a.m. EST

Sunday is the deadline for Iraq to fess up to all of its secret weapons
programs, but we already have a suggestion of what that list will be
worth. "We have no weapons of mass destruction, absolutely no weapons of
mass destruction," said Iraqi Major General Hussam Muhammad Amin this

Well, that's a relief. This remarkable non-admission is the real Iraq
news this week, not the dance of the seven veils now being undertaken in
Baghdad by United Nations weapons inspectors. The latter couldn't be
more amusing if it had been written by the Friar's Club. The inspectors
pretend to be "surprising" the Iraqis about their inspection
destinations, while the Iraqis pretend to be cooperating.

This week they even managed a surprise visit to one of Saddam Hussein's
umpteen presidential sites and/or palaces. Iraqis claimed to be outraged
at this intrusion into their sovereignty, as if they haven't long ago
had the chance to conceal whatever they really want to keep secret.

The real, stunning surprise will be if the inspectors find something. In
recent years Saddam has developed mobile laboratories that can take off
in the opposite direction if they see a U.N. team heading their way. Nor
does he have to keep many of his lethal weapons actually in stock. As a
senior U.S. official told us this week, he's perfected the art of "just
in time inventory" and has the ability to cook up weapons on demand.
Some of the ingredients even have legitimate alternative uses, so Iraqis
will insist they aren't a problem.

The Iraqi report due this weekend could run to thousands of obfuscating
pages, and the Bush Administration says it likely will take a while to
respond. But the reality is that we already know Iraq has weapons of
mass destruction, both from intelligence information and from U.N.
inspections during the 1990s. All of this was laid out a couple of
months back in a dossier by Tony Blair's Labor government.

The Brits released another report on Iraq this week, this time reminding
the world about Saddam's human-rights abuses. But the earlier report is
more relevant to this weekend, demonstrating as it does that any
assertion that Iraq lacks mass-murder weaponry is one more lie.

Saddam's inventory includes:

. up to 360 tons of bulk chemical warfare agent, including 1.5 tons of
deadly VX nerve agent; . up to 3,000 tons of precursor chemicals for use
in chemical weapons; . growth media for the production of biological
weapons (enough to make more than three times the 8,500 liters of
anthrax spores that Iraq admits to having manufactured); . and more than
30,000 special munitions "for delivery of chemical and biological

The British dossier also performs a useful service by describing in
detail what it calls Iraq's "large, effective system for hiding
proscribed material." That includes forged documents, dual-use
facilities and hiding spots close to roads and telecommunications so
illicit items can be moved at short notice.

It's always possible the inspectors will get a break and stumble onto
something, much as inspectors got lucky with defections in the 1990s
before Saddam threw them out. But Saddam will always win a game of
inspect and pretend on his home turf. In the meantime, the world is left
to live with the knowledge that, as the British report also notes, Iraq
can get weapons of mass destruction ready for use within 45 minutes of
Saddam's order.

In the foreword to the report, issued on September 24, Prime Minister
Blair previews the charade we've been watching in Baghdad this week.
Saddam, he warns, will "do his utmost to try to conceal his weapons from
U.N. inspectors" and will "go to extreme lengths, indeed has already
done so, to hide these weapons and avoid giving them up." It's the same
old pattern of deceit that Saddam has gotten away with for more than a

But with the accounting due this weekend, the dance should finally be
up. As U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said this week, "The
United States knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The U.K.
knows that they have weapons of mass destruction. Any country on the
face of the Earth with an active intelligence program knows that Iraq
has weapons of mass destruction."

If Iraq asserts this weekend that it has no such weapons, then that will
on its face be a material breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions
demanding that he disarm. And a material breach means Iraq must be
disarmed by force. The U.S. and Britain ought to say so, the U.N. should
then bring its inspectors home, and the hour will be at hand to liberate
Iraqis and the world from Saddam Hussein's terror threat.

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