One generally assesses the truth of a discovery by the number and credibility of persons who attest to it, rather than by the speculations of those who can neither attest to it, nor refute it. By this standard, one must admit: Saddam Hussein continued his WMD programs long after the Gulf War of 1991 — even to the threshold of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
One-by-one, an impressive list of Baathist insiders have testified to the persistence of Saddam’s pursuit of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. And their credibility has been enhanced by corroborating evidence from the recently-released archives of the Baathist regime.
Item: In the spring of 1995, Hussein Kammel, Saddam’s son-in-law, briefed the dictator on the status of forbidden missile, chemical, biological and nuclear programs in Iraq.
“On the subject of missiles,” he said, in a taped conversation, “they [the U.N. inspectors] can bring up three issues… They are undeclared – one of them being the location. Secondly, they don’t know about our work in the domain of missiles. Sir, this is my work and I know it very well. I started it a long time ago, and it is not easy. The issues are more dangerous, a lot more dangerous than what they came to know.”
“With regard to the issue of the chemicals,” he continued, “… they [the inspectors] have a far bigger problem than the biological… Not the type of the weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use – none of this was correct. They don’t know any of this. We did not say we used them on Iran. We did not reveal the volume of the chemical weapons that we had produced. We did not reveal the type of the chemical weapons. We did not reveal the truth about the volume of the imported materials.”
Hussein Kammel also discussed nukes. “As for the nuclear,” he told his father-in-law, “we say we have disclosed everything but no. We have undeclared problems in nuclear as well…”
Remember: this was 1995 – years after the inspection regime began.
Item: nuclear scientist Dr. Thamir Ma’aman Mawdud contends that a key component of the Iraqi nuclear program remained operative into the new century – years after the expulsion of the U.N. inspection teams in 1998.
Dr. Mawdud told Saddam:
Iraq’s National Laboratory for plasma started in the eighties, sir. as you know. We started with the sources of plasma. In 1981 we started to create sources of plasma, which were used in the Iraqi nuclear program. The source of plasma that we created, started… through research and development, then simple test production — the first batches — then tests done through mathematical systems, then the production we achieved in the advanced stages at the end of the Nineties… Activity hasn’t died in plasma…
Item: In his memoirs, Saddam’s Secrets (Jan. 2006), Georges Sada, Vice Marshal of Iraq’s Baathist-era Air Force, claimed personal knowledge of persons involved in the mass transport of WMD stockpiles to Syria prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On June 4, 2002, a three-mile-long irrigation dam…in the northern district of Zeyzoun, Syria, collapsed, inundating three small villages… Many people and livestock were killed…. The Red Crescent, which is the equivalent of the Red Cross in our area, brought in aid workers to set up shelters and render medical care.
For him [Saddam], the disaster in Syria was a gift, and there, posing as shipments of supplies and equipment sent from Iraq to aid the relief effort, were Iraq’s WMDs [weapons of mass destruction]. Weapons and equipment were transferred both by land and by air… Eventually there were fifty-six sorties. Commercial 747s and 727s moved these things out of the country… Instead of using military vehicles or aircraft, Saddam’s agents had used the civilian airlines
My own knowledge of these transfers doesn’t come from any of the published reports, but from a man who was actually involved in the transfers — a civilian pilot who witnessed the commercial 747 going back and forth between Syria and Iraq at that time.
Item: Another prominent Saddam-era general claims knowledge of the mass-transfer of WMD stockpiles to Syria. Ali Ibrahim alTikriti, a personal friend of Saddam, served as the southern regional commander for the Fedayeen militia during the late 1980s. He defected shortly prior to the Gulf War in 1991. Intelligence analyst Ryan Mauro interviewed him in February of 2006.
“I maintain very close sources in Iraq and outside of Iraq,” al-Takriti told him. “Some of Saddam’s key scientists are personal friends of mine, as well as other key leaders in the former Iraqi military… I know Saddam’s weapons are in Syria due to certain military deals that were made going as far back as the late 1980’s, that dealt with the event that either [of the] capitols [Baghdad or Damascus – ed] were threatened with being overrun by an enemy nation — not to mention [that] I have discussed this in depth with various contacts of mine who have confirmed what I already knew.”
Al Takriti makes another claim – that Saddam’s transfers included programs and personnel as well as materials. He claims that Iraq centered some of its nuclear research activities in Libya. “There is no doubt,” said al-Tikriti, “that Saddam was attempting to use Libya as a laboratory to further his nuclear development just like he was attempting to do by sending his weapons to Syria. Saddam knew after the Gulf War he needed to start shipping his weapons and programs outside of his borders to avoid detection.”
None of the common views on WMD incorporated the information we have reviewed:
- The Left rabble assert, “Bush lied, people died.” This is the dominant line of the Democratic Party and its fellow travelers.
- The intellectual Left, led by the New York Times, contends that Saddam’s patterns of administrative deception were so elaborate that not even his generals and closest confidents knew that he no longer possessed WMDs.
- The Republican administration doesn’t argue the reality of Saddam’s WMD programs at the time of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Instead, the administration reiterates the general consensus of the world’s intelligence services (i.e., that Saddam had stockpiles of WMDs, and ongoing programs to produce them).
Taking these arguments in sequence:
–No one conversant in the history of Baathist Iraq disputes this fact: the prevailing opinion of spooks world-wide was that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD. President Bill Clinton certainly believed this when he advanced, and passed, his resolution advocating regime change in Iraq. Bush didn’t “lie” about this any more than Clinton did.
–The New York Times hypothesis that “no one knew” the status of Saddam’s WMDs has internal problems. WMD weapons programs develope in conjunction with conventional weapons programs. One must calibrate WMD materials to the missiles and warheads that deliver them. One must concern oneself with payload-weights, storage techniques, and unusual safety precautions. WMDs are, in the final analysis, ordnance. A WMD program cannot run on a separate track from the armed services. And sure enough, we find that the men who claim to know what became of Saddam’s WMDs are military men.
– Finally, the administration’s silence regarding the factual status of Saddam’s WMD stockpiles is a political miscalculation of the first order. True, the intelligence services of the French, the Germans, the Italians, the British, and the Russians agreed, in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, that Saddam had WMDs. True, the Democratic Administration of Bill Clinton shaped its own Iraq policy around that assumption. But in retrospect, what is being argued is an opinion, not its truth. And it is always possible to produce a dissident from that pre-war world-wide consensus – or even, as in the case of Joe Wilson, a born-again dissident who once endorsed that consensus.
The narratives of Hussein Kammel, Thamir Ma’aman Mawdud, Georges Sada and Ali Ibrahim al-Tikriti assert fact, not opinion. They should be carefully examined by those who care about the truth.