About Those WMDs

Earlier today, Senator Rick Santorum and Congressman Peter Hoekstra released a declassified document relating to discoveries of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Here are excerpts from Hoekstra’s press release:

U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, today announced that a declassified Army report provides further insight into the chemical and biological weapons programs in Iraq.

“Saddam’s use of chemical and biological weapons to murder thousands upon thousands of Iranians and his own people confirmed long ago that he had them and was more than willing to use them,” Hoekstra said. “The question has always concerned what happened to them.”

The unclassified summary report of the Army’s National Ground Intelligence Center states that since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 munitions containing mustard or sarin nerve agent. It also states that chemical munitions are assessed to still exist in Iraq.

“The unclassified report provides further insight into Saddam’s WMD, but it does not complete the picture of prewar Iraq,” Hoekstra said. “The report simply provides additional evidence on what the Iraq Survey Group has already concluded – that Saddam Hussein was not in compliance with numerous U.N. resolutions requiring Iraq to destroy all of its WMD.”

Here is the declassified document; click to enlarge:


This is certainly significant, but what they’re talking about is old munitions left over from, presumably, before the first Gulf War. This doesn’t appear to constitute evidence that Saddam’s regime had continued to manufacture chemical weapons in more recent years. What it does demonstrate is that the picture with respect to Iraq’s WMDs is much more nuanced than the usual “he didn’t have any” mantra. There is no doubt about the fact that Saddam had, and used, chemical and biological weapons. Nor is there any doubt about the fact that he eagerly pursued nuclear weapons. Further, the Iraq Survey Group report says that he had every intention of resuming his programs as soon as the coast was clear and the U.N. sanctions were behind him. Add to that the fact that hundreds of chemical weapons, at a minimum, were secreted in various locations around Iraq–as also shown by this document–and it is reasonable to conclude that, even though the CIA and nearly all other observers over-estimated Iraq’s WMD capabilities, the fear that Saddam might use such weapons, or slip them to a terrorist group, was well-founded.

SCOTT adds: Michael Ledeen writes:

Please point out to your readers that Negroponte only declassified a few fragments of a much bigger document. Read the press conference and you will see that Santorum and Hoekstra were furious at the meager declassification. They will push for more, and we all must do that. I am told that there is a lot more in the full document, which CIA is desperate to protect, since it shows the miserable job they did looking for WMDs in Iraq.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds comments:

Some future historians will have fun with the CIA’s bureaucratic turf wars. I just hope that they’re writing in English, and not Arabic . . . .

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