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[casi] WMD just a convenient excuse for war, admits Wolfowitz

>===== Original Message From eandubh <> =====
WMD just a convenient excuse for war, admits Wolfowitz
By David Usborne 30 May 2003

The Bush administration focused on alleged weapons of mass destruction as
the primary justification for toppling Saddam Hussein by force because it
was politically convenient, a top-level official at the Pentagon has

The extraordinary admission comes in an interview with Paul Wolfowitz, the
Deputy Defence Secretary, in the July issue of the magazine Vanity Fair.

Mr Wolfowitz also discloses that there was one justification that was
"almost unnoticed but huge". That was the prospect of the United States
being able to withdraw all of its forces from Saudi Arabia once the threat
of Saddam had been removed. Since the taking of Baghdad, Washington has said
that it is taking its troops out of the kingdom. "Just lifting that burden
from the Saudis is itself going to the door" towards making progress
elsewhere in achieving Middle East peace, Mr Wolfowitz said. The presence of
the US military in Saudi Arabia has been one of the main grievances of
al-Qa'ida and other terrorist groups.

"For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass
destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Mr
Wolfowitz tells the magazine.

The comments suggest that, even for the US administration, the logic that
was presented for going to war may have been an empty shell. They come to
light, moreover, just two days after Mr Wolfowitz's immediate boss, Donald
Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, conceded for the first time that the arms
might never be found.

The failure to find a single example of the weapons that London and
Washington said were inside Iraq only makes the embarrassment more acute.
Voices are increasingly being raised in the US - and Britain - demanding an
explanation for why nothing has been found.

Most striking is the fact that these latest remarks come from Mr Wolfowitz,
recognised widely as the leader of the hawks' camp in Washington most
responsible for urging President George Bush to use military might in Iraq.
The magazine article reveals that Mr Wolfowitz was even pushing Mr Bush to
attack Iraq immediately after the 11 September attacks in the US, instead of
invading Afghanistan.

There have long been suspicions that Mr Wolfowitz has essentially been
running a shadow administration out of his Pentagon office, ensuring that
the right-wing views of himself and his followers find their way into the
practice of American foreign policy. He is best known as the author of the
policy of first-strike pre-emption in world affairs that was adopted by Mr
Bush shortly after the al-Qa'ida attacks.

In asserting that weapons of mass destruction gave a rationale for attacking
Iraq that was acceptable to everyone, Mr Wolfowitz was presumably referring
in particular to the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell. He was the last
senior member of the administration to agree to the push earlier this year
to persuade the rest of the world that removing Saddam by force was the only
remaining viable option.

The conversion of Mr Powell was on full view in the UN Security Council in
February when he made a forceful presentation of evidence that allegedly
proved that Saddam was concealing weapons of mass destruction.

Critics of the administration and of the war will now want to know how
convinced the Americans really were that the weapons existed in Iraq to the
extent that was publicly stated. Questions are also multiplying as to the
quality of the intelligence provided to the White House. Was it simply
faulty - given that nothing has been found in Iraq - or was it influenced by
the White House's fixation on the weapons issue? Or were the intelligence
agencies telling the White House what it wanted to hear?

This week, Sam Nunn, a former senator, urged Congress to investigate whether
the argument for war in Iraq was based on distorted intelligence. He raised
the possibility that Mr Bush's policy against Saddam had influenced the
intelligence that indicated Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction.

This week, the CIA and the other American intelligence agencies have
promised to conduct internal reviews of the quality of the material they
supplied the administration on what was going on in Iraq. The heat on the
White House was only made fiercer by Mr Rumsfeld's admission that nothing
may now be found in Iraq to back up those earlier claims, if only because
the Iraqis may have got rid of any evidence before the conflict.

"It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them prior to
a conflict," the Defence Secretary said.

* The US military said last night that it had released a suspected Iraqi war
criminal by mistake. US Central Command said it was offering a $25,000
(315,000) reward for the capture of Mohammed Jawad An-Neifus, suspected of
being involved in the murder of thousands of Iraqi Shia Muslims whose
remains were found at a mass grave in Mahawil, southern Iraq, last month.


As scepticism grows over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq, London and Washington are attempting to turn the focus of attention to
Iraq's alleged possession of mobile weapons labs.

A joint CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency report released this week
claimed that two trucks found in northern Iraq last month were mobile labs
used to develop biological weapons. The trucks were fitted with hi-tech
laboratory equipment and the report said the discovery represented the
"strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biowarfare programme".
The design of the vehicles made them "an ingeniously simple self-contained
bioprocessing system". The report said no other purpose, for example water
purification, medical laboratory or vaccine production, would justify such
effort and expense.

But critics arenot convinced. No biological agents were found on the trucks
and experts point out that, unlike the trucks described by Colin Powell, the
Secretary of State, in a speech to the UN Security Council, they were open
sided and would therefore have left a trace easy for weapons inspectors to
detect. One former UN inspector said that the trucks would have been a very
inefficient way to produce anthrax.

Slαn a chara,
>> Donald Rumsfeld on the fate of Osama bin Laden:
> "He's either alive, or he's alive
> and injured badly, or he's dead.. . . ."

>> Abraham Lincoln on President James Polk, 1848 :
> ³Trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding
> brightness of military glory, that attractive rainbow that rises in showers
> blood ‹that serpentΉs eye, that charms to destroy ­ he plunged into war.²

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