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[casi] No WMD found at plant

So will we get an abject apology from FOX news and all the others who
reported that a huge chemical weapons complex was found?

Not in the least. Americans will believe that their case was proved just as
over two thirds think that Al Qaeda and Iraq are in cahoots and just as only
17 percent know that no Iraqis were 9/11 terrorists.

Search at Najaf yields no sign of chemical weapons
By Mark Huband, Security Correspondent, in London
Published: March 24 2003 20:18 | Last Updated: March 24 2003 20:18

Department of Defense officials said on Monday that no evidence of chemical
weapons production had been found at a facility close to the southern Iraqi
town of Najaf occupied by US forces on Sunday.

Forces from the US 3rd Infantry Division occupied the 100-acre site.
According to military officials, the site is surrounded by an electric fence
and the buildings within it are camouflaged, raising suspicion that it was
still in use. However, a Pentagon official said on Monday that the site had
probably been abandoned some time ago.

Two military sites described in a CIA assessment last year as part of Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction programme are now in territory occupied by US
and UK forces. Neither site - one at Nasiriya and the other at al-Khamisiya,
both in the southern part of the country - has so far provided evidence of
WMD production.

General Tommy Franks, the commander of US forces, said on Monday: "It's a
bit early for us to have any expectation of having found them . . . We'll
wait for the days ahead."

Responding to the first report of the Najaf site's alleged purpose, which
appeared in the Jerusalem Post, a senior western intelligence officer said
on Monday: "It's been in the interests of the Israelis to play up a whole
range of issues. A degree of healthy scepticism is very necessary."

Iraq is thought by intelligence services to have dispersed its chemical
weapons production among 16 sites, seven of which are around Baghdad.

Among the 2,000 Iraqi troops the US is now holding, several senior
officers - in particular, two army generals - are being interrogated with
the specific purpose of trying to establish a clearer picture of Iraq's WMD
arsenal. Documents seized by US special forces who captured two airfields in
western Iraq at the weekend are also being examined for leads on the WMD
arsenal, a US military spokesman said.

The Najaf site did not figure in either the US or UK intelligence analyses
of suspected WMD sites issued last year to bolster the case against
President Saddam Hussein. Nor did United Nations weapons inspectors suspect
or visit the site during their mission to unearth Iraq's WMD arsenal.

Intelligence officers and military officials believe that Iraq has
succesfully hidden a substantial amount of its WMD arsenal and research,
much of it buried and sealed. They are working on the basis that only the
occupation of substantial parts of the country will give them the
opportunity to prove that the WMD arsenal exists.

"I think we'll find weapons of mass destruction once we have had an
opportunity to occupy Baghdad, stabilise Iraq, talk to Iraqis that have
participated in the hiding and the development of it," said Lt Gen John
Abizaid of US Central Command.

Even so, the challenge to coalition forces to find the evidence with which
to justify the war to overthrow the regime is stark. Hans Blix, the chief UN
weapons insp- ector, said in the early hours of the conflict: "The paradox
is, if they don't find something then you have sent 250,000 men to wage war
in order to find nothing."

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