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http://www.arabnews.com/Article.asp?ID=25174 Where Are the Weapons of Mass Destruction? Andrew Gumbel, The Independent After three weeks of war, after the capture of Baghdad and the collapse of the Iraqi government, Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction — those weapons that President Bush, on the eve of hostilities, said were a direct threat to the people of the United States — have still to be identified. Many influential people have begun to wonder aloud if the weapons exist at all. The public surrender of a senior Iraqi scientist could yet backfire against the US and Britain. Lt. Gen. Amer Hammoudi Al-Saadi, who handed himself over to US forces on Saturday, continued to proclaim that Iraq no longer holds any chemical or biological weapons. He should know: The British-educated chemical expert headed the Iraqi delegation at weapons talks with the United Nations. The few “discoveries” trumpeted in the media — the odd barrel here, a few dozen shells there — have not been on a scale that could reasonably justify the unprovoked military invasion of a sovereign country, and in most cases have been proven to been no more than rumor, or propaganda, or a mixture of the two. If the casus belli pleaded by George Bush and Tony Blair turns out to be entirely hollow — and it should be stressed that we can’t yet know that — what does it say about their motivations for going to war in the first place? How much deception was involved in talking up the Iraqi threat, and how much self-deception? As Susan Wright, a disarmament expert at the University of Michigan, said last week: “This could be the first war in history that was justified largely by an illusion.” Even The Wall Street Journal, one of the administration’s biggest cheerleaders, has warned of the “widespread skepticism” the White House can expect if it does not make significant, and undisputed, discoveries of forbidden weapons. Before the war, American intelligence officials said that they had a list of 14,000 sites where, they suspected, chemical or biological agents had been harbored, as well as the delivery systems to deploy them. A substantial number of those sites have been inspected by the invading troops. Evidence to date of a “grave and gathering” threat: Precisely zero. Much of what has been unearthed points to something we knew about all along. In his State of the Union address in early February, President Bush was quite specific about the materials he believed Saddam was hiding: 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin and 500 tons of sarin, mustard and nerve gas. These days, he does not mention weapons of mass destruction at all, focusing instead on the liberation of the Iraqi people — as if liberation, not disarmament, had been the project all along. The administration has shown its embarrassment in other ways. On day two of the war, Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, said finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction was the invading force’s No. 2 priority after toppling Saddam Hussein — itself a reversal of the argument presented at the UN Security Council. A week later, Victoria Clarke, the Pentagon spokeswoman, pushed the issue further down the list, behind capturing and evicting “terrorists sheltered in Iraq” and collecting intelligence on “terrorist networks”. Now we are told that hunting for weapons is something we can expect once the fighting is over, and that it might go on for months before yielding significant results. “It’s hard work,” a plaintive Ms. Clarke said last week. Nonsense, say the disarmament experts. “It’s clear there wasn’t much,” said Professor Wright, “otherwise they would have run into something by now. After all, they’ve taken Baghdad.” Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector who spent four months badgering the United States and Britain in vain for reliable intelligence information about the whereabouts of lethal weapons, now says he believes the war was planned on entirely different criteria, well before his inspection teams went back into Iraq in December. The latest theory being touted in Washington by the usual unnamed government sources is that the Iraqis have moved their weapons out of the country, very possibly into Syria. This claim appears to have originated with Israeli intelligence. But the notion does provide the hawks in Washington with a compelling plot device not unlike the McGuffin factor in Alfred Hitchcock’s films — a catalyst that may or may not have significance in itself but that gets the suspense going and keeps the story rolling. If the Bush administration should ever seek to turn its military wrath on Damascus, the weapons of mass destruction it is failing to find in Iraq might just provide the excuse once again. Arab News Features 14 April 2003 -- __________________________________________________________ Sign-up for your own FREE Personalized E-mail at Mail.com http://www.mail.com/?sr=signup _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk