Hard-to-Find Bioweapons

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According to the AP, Don Rumsfeld has declared that finding the bioweapons that largely underwrote the invasion of Iraq isn't going to happen until Iraqis lead the U.S. right to them.

"I don't think we'll discover anything, myself," Rumsfeld said at a town hall-style meeting with Pentagon employees.

"I think what will happen is we'll discover people who will tell us where to go find it. It is not like a treasure hunt where you just run around looking everywhere, hoping you find something."

Here's hoping. The lack of such weapons won't matter much in the U.S., where polls show that overwhelming majorities don't care about them. But either actually finding something–or fessing up to the mistake–may be essential to winning over world opinion (however grudgingly) to the notion that the U.S. action was justifiable.

NEXT: Sleepless in Damascus

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  1. “Hm, sorta like a Turkish chap hihacking an air-liner with candles, don’t you think? Do you feel sorry for a guy who pulls a stunt with a water-pistol, and gets shot?”

    No.

  2. http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/001308.html


    Short form: Team B was a group of people hired to review CIA data and conclusions about the Soviet Union and come up with an independent analysis. At every turn, they overestimated Soviet military power, economic size, economic growth, military research capablities, defensive capabilities and military spending. IIRC, they also completely misstated Soviet geopolitical goals and strategies, making it vastly more belligerent than it actually was. This was used to justify ending detente, increasing defense spending, and funding that permanent sinkhole Star Wars.

    Team B consisted of (among others): Richard Pipes, William Van Cleave, Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Thomas Wolfe, Gen. John Vogt, Foy Kohler, Paul Nitze, Seymour Weiss, Gen. Jasper Welch and Paul Wolfowitz. Its major promoters in the Ford White House included Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Bush, Sr. was head of the CIA at the time.

  3. Let’s face it…war became inevitable when a solid majority of the American people became persuaded of the necessity of it. And they did not become so persuaded because they were impressed by the defectors, or the satelite photos, or anything of that sort– or even because they took anybody’s word for it.
    Rather, they made their own risk-assesment, based on what was commonly and undisputedly known:
    1.) Saddam had a track-record of acquiring and using WMD, and lying about them.
    2.) Saddam had a hard-on for our society (he DID try to kill our president)
    3.) Saddam was acting like a man with something to hide, when he had it within his means to put any doubts to rest, and bluffed to his imminent peril.
    4.) WHAT (WMD) he would have been hiding, was to terrible to risk.

    It was a reasonable assesment of the risks, didn’t really depend on CIA reports, and should have been understood, if not accepted, by our allies.
    It really doesn’t matter whether he was bluffing. He shouldn’t have been bluffing. The North Koreans appear to be bluffing today. This is supremely unwise.

  4. When wargaming for nuclear or chemical or biological warfare, it makes sense to count on the worst case scenario, and plan accordingly. It’s a bit late to adjust course when your optimistic predictions about deadly weapons are off by just an order of magnitude or so…

  5. 15 Middle Eastern, mostly Saudi, mostly legal, guys with box cutters brought us to this.

    Historians are going to love it.

  6. “‘Weapons of mass conversion,’ maybe, but you never asked us about those, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.”

    Xrlq… that’s a good one.

    Nuclear explosives actually convert about 30% of their package into energy(on a good day). Everything else is just moving molecules around chemically. Just wait until we get near 100% conversion efficiency. We’ll need antimatter for that, but it will still work.

    After all, the US is still the only country to utilize weapons of mass conversion in warfare. And the US is still one of the largest possessors of NBC weapons. Aberdeen and Dugway Proving Ground both have been sites of experimentation until very recently. (Folks near Aberdeen recently had groundwater problems due to a faulty containment system in a chemical weapons storage area). USAMRIID at Ft. Detrick still conducts voluntary tests on soldiers (my cousin was involved in these tests – he died about five years ago of ‘unknown causes’). Our nuclear arsenal size is in upper percentile of the world. The likelyhood of use is actually increasing, due to a design doctrine towards smaller, field-deployed tactical units. Hypocrasy all around…

    What bugs me is that this label of WMD is being hung on anything, seemingly. The guy that tried to get on an airliner with Semtex in his shoes was charged, by the court, with attempting to use/possession of, a weapon of mass destruction. [???] What kind of precendent is that?

    The term Weapon of Mass Destruction was originally intended to denote a device that killed indiscriminately over large footprints, caused excessive non-combatant casualties, and unnecessary suffering. Plastic explosives do not fall into these categories. If that were the case, the US, the largest user of plastic explosives in the world (for military and commercial uses), would be just as guilty, under the rule of precedent.

    So following the logic of the courts, are we to say that the intent and mode of application are the deciding factor in what a device should be termed?

    Example: I own a match. In fact, I own hundreds of them. Normally, these are very utilitarian devices. But if I were to light a fire in a forest and cause a forest fire, are the matches then a weapon of mass destruction?

    The tranistive property can’t apply to things like this. Especially when a doesn’t equal b to begin with. Common sense, people!

  7. For once, Nick soft-peddles the risks here. If we fail to find SIGNIFICANT quantities of WMD, winning ex post facto international support for the war will be the least of our problems. Our real problem will be that our credibility has been decimated.

    Look, I supported this war for a number of reasons – humanitarian reasons chief among them. But destroying Iraq’s WMD was a close second.

    I never necessarily expected we’d find them after just a couple weeks. The same people who are convinced now that there are no WMD are the same ones who were convinced we were losing the war after 10 days.

    Nevertheless, if we do ultimately fail to find significant quantities of WMD, the entire cassus belli (somebody check my latin) will have been proven false. It will be a monumental disaster for us.

  8. “weapons of mass conversion”

    Would that be a bomb that turns Islamist whakos into rebuplican-votin’, sport ute-drivin’ Protestants?

    “are the matches then a weapon of mass destruction?”
    -Here in Oregon, the soccer-mom-commie Senator from Protland trien to get simple rifles and bows classed as WMD.

    I love it here.

  9. The validity of the war’s justification will be a watershed-event for me. I suspect that it may be for many others as well. I would encourage those of you of more solidified partisan positions regarding this conflict not to underestimate the ramifications of verifying the war’s officially stated justifications, or the fallout if it does not come to pass.

  10. Andrew:

    The alleged assassination attempt against Bush I may be cut from the same cloth as the incubator babies:

    From Seymour Hersh, “A Case Not Closed”, New
    Yorker magazine, 1993:

    ‘In making its case, the Administration released a series of colour photographs comparing, among other things, the circuit boards of the
    radio-controlled firing devices seized in Kuwait and the circuit boards of what was said to be a similar Iraqi device. The photographs were made public by Ambassador Albright. ‘Even an untrained eye can see that that these are
    identical except for the serial numbers,’ she said, holding up photographs of the two devices. ‘Next we have a similar comparison of the insides of the two firing devices … As you can see, the selection of the components and
    the construction techniques in the two devices – including soldering, the use of connectors, and the wiring techniques et cetera – are also
    identical’.

    Hersh asked seven independent experts in electrical engineering and bomb
    forensics to look at the photographs.

    They all told him ‘essentially the same thing: the remote-controlled devices
    shown in the White House photographs were mass-produced items, commonly used
    for walkie-talkies and model airplanes and cars, and had not been modified
    in any significant way. The experts, who included former police and
    government contract employees and also professors of electrical engineering,
    agreed, too, that the two devices had no “signatures”. They said that there
    was no conceivable way way that the Clinton Administration, given the
    materials made public at the United Nations, could assert that the
    remote-controlled devices had been put together by the same Iraqi
    technician.’

  11. In his State of the Union address, President Bush made firm statements listing large quantities of specific chemical weapons,which implies that the US knew where they were.
    The President referred to Iraq as a “clear and present danger” to the United States. Iraq did not invade the US, did not have troops on our border. They did not even control all of Iraq.
    Isn’t it time for the warhawks to admit that they overstated their case?

  12. Just to respond to one point:

    Stretch, what credibility? It is an axiom of those who detest Bush, conservative/patriots, Republicans, America, the West, “authority” (circles of Hell?) that we have no credibility and never did or will…finding the WMD won’t help, won’t change a single person’s perceptions.
    The hard left is decomposing, from a genuinely intellectual movement that naively expected to win arguments couched in facts or logic, to the post-modern, deconstructionist equivalent of Timothy MacVeigh-style, trailer-park/pamfleteering/ mail-order, paranoid-conspiracy theorists. The internet has only made it worse.
    And ever since the 70’s a certain strain of Libertarianism (Rothbard, Turcille) have wanted to bathe in this toxic-waste dump, just ’cause the anti-globalist kids (presumably) smoke dope and despise our Federal government (despise it principally because it acts under constraints, and is roughly accountable to Americans who own cars).

    I think this is the most interesting and important thread.

  13. I don’t understand. Before the war, the Bush administration said it had intelligence that proved Iraq had WMD. Now it says it can’t find the WMD without the help of Iraqis. What happened to all that pre-war intelligence? How could they have been so sure Iraq had WMD when they don’t even know where to begin looking for it?

  14. They’re in Syria.

  15. … and I have the forged documents to prove it…

  16. You need to understand that “pesticides” and “bio-weapons” are one in the same. That plant could have been making Diazinon at one moment, and VX after a few minutes of adjusting valves.

    Any nut-job with a C in organic chemistry can make this junk, That’s what is so scary.

  17. Well…it isn’t preposterous to believe that weapons were shipped to Syria, or destroyed, or have been moved away from the Coalition line of advance and well-hidden. Hell, some could even have been destroyed by Coalition bombing…or looted.
    I saw a documentary about the goofy holocaust denier who tried to prove that Austwitz didn’t contain trace-evidence of cyanide.
    It occurs to me that the evidence consists mostly of eye-witnesses (including confessions), not documents or forensic evidence.
    But the Holocaust-denier knows they’re all lying (Jews and Anglo-Saxon imperialists, like always).
    The American people have better sense than the Philedelphia lawyers…Saddam was a dangerous psychotic (I know– Libertarians can’t define mental illness, so…), and doing– at least– a very good impersonation of a guy with a gun (not a pointing finger) in his pocket.
    Hm, sorta like a Turkish chap hihacking an air-liner with candles, don’t you think? Do you feel sorry for a guy who pulls a stunt with a water-pistol, and gets shot?

  18. Why should the existence or nonexistence of WMD have anything to do with world opinion? If we were wrong on that count, so was every other country on the “Security” Council that voted for Resolution 1441, i.e., everybody. Our rift with the Axis of Weasels was/is over whether Iraq’s WMD justified the war, not over whether they existed at all.

    Then again, no matter what we find in Iraq, there will always be a few nut jobs who insist that we should have taken Saddam’s word that Iraq never had any WMD. Maybe the U.S. planted them, blah, blah, blah. Or, as I’ve previously blogged, maybe the accused war criminals will hire David Kendall to explain that the phrase “weapons of mass destruction” should be reserved for weapons capable of destroying mass. That, of course, would violate the first law of thermodynamics, so it goes without saying that Iraq never had any weapons with that capability. “‘Weapons of mass conversion,’ maybe, but you never asked us about those, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.”

  19. “In his State of the Union address, President Bush made firm statements listing large quantities of specific chemical weapons,which implies that the US knew where they were.”

    Huh?

  20. andrew,

    Can you writing anything that isn’t a fallacious ad hominem attack?

  21. Croesus

    What’s up?

  22. Rumsfeld said, “We know where they are, they are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north of that.” (March 31 – http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,926188,00.html)

    But now he says they won’t find them without help?

    I reckon the US government needs to be a bit less blustery when they talk, lest it comes back to bite them in the arse. Did they, or did they not know? Did they think they knew, then realised they were wrong?

  23. IF YOU WANT THE TRUTH ABOUT U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN BIO-WEAPONEERING….GO HERE:http://www.freedominion.ca/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=55

    I WAS USED AS A HUMAN TEST RAT IN 1969…

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