I’ve barely had time to dip into the Iraq Survey Group’s report, but it’s apparent that the report is a treasure trove of information. No one could read even a small portion of the report and conclude that “Iraq had no WMDs” is a fair summary of its contents. Here are just a few tidbits I noted:
Senior military officers and former Regime officials were uncertain about the existence of WMD during the sanctions period and the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom because Saddam sent mixed messages. Early on, Saddam sought to foster the impression with his generals that Iraq could resist a Coalition ground attack using WMD. Then, in a series of meetings in late 2002, Saddam appears to have reversed course and advised various groups of senior officers and officials that Iraq in fact did not have WMD. His admissions persuaded top commanders that they really would have to fight the United States without recourse to WMD. In March 2003, Saddam created further confusion when he implied to his ministers and senior officers that he had some kind of secret weapon.
No wonder it was hard for our intelligence agencies, and other countries’, to get accurate information about Iraq’s weapons. Even Iraq’s own military commanders didn’t know whether the WMDs existed or not.
A major theme of the ISG report is Saddam’s continuing determination to acquire WMDs. This passage is typical:
Saddam asked in 1999 how long it would take to build a production line for CW [chemical weapons] agents, accordingto the former Minister of Military Industrialization. Huwaysh investigated and responded that experts could readily prepare a production line for mustard, which could be produced within six months. VX and Sarin production was more complicated and would take longer. Huwaysh relayed this answer to Saddam, who never requested follow-up information. An Iraqi CW expert separately estimated Iraq would require only a few days to start producing mustard