Today’s Headline Hysteria

It appears that the mainstream press have decided to keep the “no WMD” story alive on a daily basis; today’s story is based on a Defense Intelligence Agency report from last September, a summary of which has been obtained by various news organizations. If you just saw the newspaper headlines, you would think this is a major news story: “Pentagon’s intelligence service reported no reliable evidence of Iraqi weapons last September;” “Pentagon report: No evidence of chemical weapons;” “US ‘doubted Iraq’s arsenal.'” You get the drift.
These sensational headlines are based on this sentence in the summary of the DIA report: “There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons.”
But the report also said:
“Although we lack any direct information, Iraq probably possesses CW [chemical weapons] agent in chemical munitions, possibly including artillery rockets, artillery shells, aerial bombs and ballistic missile warheads. Baghdad also probably possesses bulk chemical stockpiles, primarily containing precursors, but that also could consist of some mustard agent or stabilized VX.
“Iraq is assessed to possess biological agent stockpiles that may be weaponized and ready for use. The size of those stockpiles is uncertain and subject to debate. The nature, size and condition of those stockpiles is also unknown.
The report noted “unusual munitions transfer activity in mid-2002,” which “suggests that Iraq is distributing CW [chemical weapons] munitions in preparation for an anticipated attack.
“Iraq is steadily establishing a dual-use industrial chemical infrastructure that provides some of the building blocks necessary for production of chemical agents….Baghdad is rebuilding portions of its chemical production infrastructure under the guise of a civilian need for pesticides, chlorine and other legitimate chemical products, giving Iraq the potential for a small ‘breakout’ production capability.”
In short, there is no story here at all. It is worth noting, too, that a particular concern expressed was Iraq’s production of castor oil and chlorine in greater quantities than required for industrial purposes. Castor oil can be used to make ricin, a deadly poison for which there is no antidote. A gang of Islamofascists who were plotting to use ricin to commit acts of terrorism in England was broken up several months ago. Where they obtained their ricin has not been publicly revealed.

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