Sarin Found In Iraq

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The Iraq Survey Group confirms that the nerve agent sarin has been found in a 155-millimeter shell attached to an exploded roadside bomb. Sarin was released and two U.S. soldiers have been treated for minor exposure. "It is a weapon that we believe was stocked from the ex-regime time," says Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, "and it had been thought to be an ordinary artillery shell set up to explode like an ordinary IED… when it exploded it indicated that it actually had some sarin in it."

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  1. I was wondering how long it would take for everyone here to dismiss this story, and how imaginative and creative the reasons would be. The gas was from Chechnya or somewhere else is a good one, as if anyone on this board has more expertise or knowledge about the bomb than the folks on the ground.

    No, I’m sorry, I deal strictly in facts, but enough about me. Let’s see what the Chechen Mujahideen have to say?

    http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/video/

    Hmmm… Improvised munitions, roadside bombs, cell phone and pager activated? Attacking Russian armor, yet completely identical to the tactics used in Iraq?

    Oh, and how about the ever present danger of missing Russian WMDs (which we know for a fact are out there somewhere)?

    It’s ok, you’ll find a hobby your good at some day. Globals politics just isn’t your thing.

  2. I was wondering how long it would take for everyone here to dismiss this story, and how imaginative and creative the reasons would be. The gas was from Chechnya or somewhere else is a good one, as if anyone on this board has more expertise or knowledge about the bomb than the folks on the ground.

    No, I’m sorry, I deal strictly in facts, but enough about me. Let’s see what the Chechen Mujahideen have to say?

    http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/video/

    Hmmm… Improvised munitions, roadside bombs, cell phone and pager activated? Attacking Russian armor, yet completely identical to the tactics used in Iraq?

    Oh, and how about the ever present danger of missing Russian WMDs (which we know for a fact are out there somewhere)?

    It’s ok, you’ll find a hobby you’re good at some day. Globals politics just isn’t your thing.

  3. BB manages to ask who is dismissing the story, and then dismiss the story, all within two sentences. Mote/beam.

  4. Don, that was fucking brilliant.

    “At the current rate of usage…”

    Heck, at the current rate of usage, you could probably stretch that out to 90-100 years.

    😉

  5. Oops, sorry for the double post. I was trying to catch a few typos (one of which I missed, so blah).

  6. “hgm14, the existance of large stockpiles of Iraqi gas shells is pretty much a closed question.”

    I’m not sure of that. Not too long ago, I knew someone who worked on a program dealing with WW1 poisen gas shells that had been buried and forgotten until discovered by new developements. That’s in the US. In a country the size of Iraq, it is possible that some hidden stocks of WMDs exist.

    The most likely senario for this particular shell is that it is indeed an Iraqi round, but that the insurgents didn’t know what it was, or didn’t know how to employ it for best results.

  7. hgm14, the existance of large stockpiles of Iraqi gas shells is pretty much a closed question. But it is entirely possible that a stray shell here or there could have avoided destruction, and that a coordinated effort to find such shells could yield the odd live round.

    Yes, that’s absolutely a possiblity.

    I doubt the aerial bombing of Desert Fox, and the middle of the night dumping of materials in the desert just ahead of the UN teams thereafter, were able to provide completely reliable demolition.

    The use of the single shell, this late in the game, targetted unwisely at military in a combat zone, argues for a round scavenged by Iraqis.

    Have there been any stories of Chechen separatists using gas shells?

    No, the Chechens have yet to use any chemical weapons, and to be honest, I rather doubt they ever will. The thing, as I mentioned while replying to the other guy, is that Russia does have their own missing WMD problem, which I’m sure everyone has heard about. It’s also quite obvious that there are Chechens of some sort in Iraq, very possibly helping to supply, organize and train insurgent forces.

    The problem is that there’s nothing concrete in either direction. It would be in the best interest of the Neocons to just keep their mouths shut until we find an actual stockpile.

    Sorry if I gave off the wrong idea.

  8. “That’s the nerve gas that barely qualifies an a WMD even when released in a crowded subway station.”

    If the sarin used in Japan had been properly made, it would have killed almost everyone exposed to it. Luckily, it was a poorly synthesized batch done by amateurs.

  9. hgm14 said:

    “No, I’m sorry, I deal strictly in facts, but enough about me.

    hgm14 also said:

    “All this proves is that someone with nerve gas is smuggling the munitions into the country. Probably Chechen Mujahideen. I’ll bet you that shell (and many more) was looted from a Russian armory, rather than an Iraqi one…”

    Sounds to me like he’s dealing strictly with rank speculation rather than facts.

  10. Sounds to me like he’s dealing strictly with rank speculation rather than facts.

    You’re right. This is speculation. It doesn’t change the fact that, well, deal in facts. It does illustrate your ability to put things into context as being sub-par. 🙂

    If I had said “Well, maybe aliens put it there, or George Bush!” …That would be rank speculation. This is speculation based on certain facts, observations, analysis, etc. Quite simple.

  11. hqm wrote: “The problem is that there’s nothing concrete in either direction. It would be in the best interest of the Neocons to just keep their mouths shut until we find an actual stockpile.”

    Maybe it would be in his best interest to take his own advice?

  12. The “Chechnya source” explanation is a clever move by the anti Iraq posters, particularly because a 155mm shell from Chechnya or Iraq would be exactly identical, i.e., both made in the USSR in the 80’s.

    To agree with an earlier post…Iraq is 170,000 square miles. Remember the discovery some months ago of several MIGs buries under the sand?

    IMO, destroying WMD’s was the most damage Saddam could have done to Bush, and he relished giving the order. But the place is huge, and buried WMD is not out of the question.

  13. Britton,
    I thought that was ricin, which is deadlier than sarin. Though I’ve been wrong before.

    Obviously, we need to hire insurgents to help us find the WMDs. They seem to do a better job than we are.

    In all seriousness, one shell is a random occurance, two is a coincidence and three is a trend. One poison gas shell in a nation the size of California with countless foreign fighters entering and a cornucopia of terrorist groups, you can’t tell where this came from. Until we see more of this, I’m not going to worry that they found Saddam’s stash. For all we know they could’ve gotten it from Syrians in North Korea or Pakistan or Lord knows who. I’m not dismissing it, but it is still just one shell. If there’s more, I’ll reconsider.

    I will restate a point I’ve made previously, poison gas is a pretty weak WMD, conventional weapons do the job far better. The WMDs I fear are nukes and infectious biological weapons. Those can fuck shit up, the gas is just a more cruel, painful and indescriminate way to take people out than conventional weapons.

  14. “If I had said “Well, maybe aliens put it there, or George Bush!” …That would be rank speculation. This is speculation based on certain facts, observations, analysis, etc. Quite simple.”

    Nope.

    It’s STILL just rank speculation.

    Quite simple.

  15. Thank God we invaded Iraq, sustained thousands of casualties, killed thousands of Iraqis, alienated ourselves from the rest of the world, and forced naked Iraqis to simulate oral sex in order to find that sarin gas shell.

  16. From a Strict Interpretationist perspective, even a single shell of gas from an Iraqi source confirms that Saddam had WMD in violation of UN resolution. Even if SH did not know that he had some gas left, it is still a violation. Invasion justified.

    There remains for the doves the unlikely and unwelcome prospect that Bush is actually on the best path for future peace.

    Amusing, no?

  17. I would just like to observe that the chemical weapon in question was not used on Americans until after we invaded. I argued prior to the invasion of Iraq that the Iraqi gov’t would not use WMD on the US unless invaded, because using them as a first strike would be suicide. My stance was always that WMD were not sufficient reason to invade as long as we had deterrent capabilities.

    So finding this single chemical weapon changes nothing for me. Criticize my stance on its merits if you like, but don’t try to claim that I’m inconsistent.

    And I suspect that a lot of people here would agree that WMD were not the main reason to invade Iraq.

  18. Obviously, you’re all wrong. This shell was obviously created recently. Under an M-13 level of secrecy, George “Dumbya” $hrub ordered U.S. sarin to be placed in an Iraqi shell in order to show that there were WMDs in Iraq. That’s the only solution that makes sense.

  19. thoreau,

    Yours seems like a naively cold-war mode of thinking, perhaps suited for the back-benches of the RAND institute back in the ’50s, but not here in the real world today.

    The threat wasn’t necessarily that iraq proper would attack the u.s. with wmd’s. The threat was that hussein, or one of his sons, would use them to aid terrorists in their attacks on the u.s. or u.s. allies, particularly israel.

    If nothing else, evidence of chemical weapons in Iraq makes the argument that “Bush lied” about WMD’s a bit over the top. I’m not saying that the existence of a “single chemical weapon” (though I’d bet there are more) justifies the invasion, but it should give the war’s opponents pause before they attack the motives of the administration again.

  20. thoreau,
    For me, WMD was the main reason, connected with Saddam’s ties to terrorist groups, which were many. We could deter Saddam only to the point that we could trace any attack back to him. Hard to do that if he gives WMD to a terrorist group.

    And to hqm14, you are engaging in rank speculation. The fact is, you don’t know squat about where this bomb came from.

  21. Nope.

    It’s STILL just rank speculation.

    Quite simple.

    You just don’t comprehend context.

    Thank you, drive through.

  22. And to hqm14, you are engaging in rank speculation. The fact is, you don’t know squat about where this bomb came from.

    No, actually I’m not, and I’ve explained this. Among the things that are not “rank speculation”: My own.

    In fact, you haven’t brought anything to the table. First you accused me of making up the idea, now that I’ve proven you wrong, I see you’re (unsurprisingly) leeching your argument from someone else. Gee, what next?

    Oh well, I’ve made my point. If it didn’t sink in the first time, it’s not going to the second or the third. Maybe next time you’ll have something of value to bring to the discussion!

  23. “You just don’t comprehend context.”

    LOL

    Oh I’ve got your number all right.

  24. The fact is, you don’t know squat about where this bomb came from.

    Actually, I never said I did. I simply suggested a source.

    Guess that sort of argument always works better when it’s in YOUR words, huh?

  25. Oh I’ve got your number all right.

    If only you knew….

  26. Hey hgm14 – is English your second language? You sure don’t seem to understand the words “rank speculation” – with every response you’re just making yourself look like more of a jackass.

  27. “with every response you’re just making yourself look like more of a jackass”

    Yes but he’s a legend in his own mind!

    LOL

  28. Hey hgm14 – is English your second language? You sure don’t seem to understand the words “rank speculation” – with every response you’re just making yourself look like more of a jackass.

    abc- Can’t say it is. However, by the number of people (such as yourself) who don’t seem to understand it, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m not surrounded by foreigners! 😉

    So, let’s be honest here, are you one of these other tards that have been jumping on me in disguise?

    Sadly, no matter how many of you agree, you’ll still be wrong about what qualifies as “rank speculation,” (regular?) speculation, and simple fact based brainstorming. Screw semantics, though. I’m only going to take issue with two things:

    1) “Rank speculation” implies rotten, misleading, flawed, or plainly incorrect speculation.

    Russian chemical weapons in Iraq, via the Chechens, is an absolutely valid theory. Anyone who feels otherwise need only briefly study the tactics of the Chechen rebels. Better yet, simply view a few of those videos. Those are exactly how the attacks in Iraq usually happen, often using the exact same mechanisms. These people were trained how to do this by experienced guerrillas. There’s plenty more to it than that, but I’ve already expended all the necessary effort to validate this particular theory as possible.

    I have not rejected the idea that the shell was Iraqi. I have only suggested that perhaps it was Chechen? Is that speculation? Do I really care? No, but it’s not rank speculation, because it’s plausible.

    Now quit jumping down my throat and grow up.

  29. “The threat was that hussein, or one of his sons, would use them to aid terrorists in their attacks on the u.s. or u.s. allies, particularly israel.”

    Ok, so we’ve got Hussein but not the weapons. So who’s got them now? Terorrists? If the war was about WMD, we accomplished nothing.

    I’m sure some in the military intelligence community pointed this possibility out before. In fact, some may have said it was inevitable. The war may have been about preventing Saddam from creating an alliance with terrorists as a preferred vendor, but it was never about WMD in and of itself. We prevented Saddam from making a profit, and we may have added another layer of hassle for terrorists (or kept on from being removed). That will be about as effective in stopping terrorism as taking Sudafed off the shelf is at stopping meth labs.

  30. hqm14,
    Actually, I never said I did. I simply suggested a source.

    But earlier you wrote:

    Actually, the idea that WMDs of any sort could just magically turn up in the hands of insurgents (I’m talking en masse, not this one, puny little shell), AND be from some massive, undiscovered Iraqi stockpile just doesn’t make any sense.
    The munition stockpiles for the insurgents are almost certainly coming from elsewhere in the world by now.

    So we both agree you don’t know squat about where they’re from, but that apparently does not stop you from knowing where they didn’t come from.

    Thank you, drive through.

    Do you say that a lot during the course of your work day?

  31. Earlier comments on (what was supposed to be) my second point:

    No, the Chechens have yet to use any chemical weapons, and to be honest, I rather doubt they ever will. The thing, as I mentioned while replying to the other guy, is that Russia does have their own missing WMD problem, which I’m sure everyone has heard about. It’s also quite obvious that there are Chechens of some sort in Iraq, very possibly helping to supply, organize and train insurgent forces.

    The problem is that there’s nothing concrete in either direction. It would be in the best interest of the Neocons to just keep their mouths shut until we find an actual stockpile.

    Sorry if I gave off the wrong idea.

    Wow, and to think, here I was being nice! Looks like I’m not the asshole (or a “legend in my own mind”), after all…

    Gilbert- Despite apparently working on the playground for you, calling me names won’t make me go away.

  32. Actually, the idea that WMDs of any sort could just magically turn up in the hands of insurgents (I’m talking en masse, not this one, puny little shell), AND be from some massive, undiscovered Iraqi stockpile just doesn’t make any sense.
    The munition stockpiles for the insurgents are almost certainly coming from elsewhere in the world by now.

    I agree with all this, but I’m not asserting it as the absolute truth, as some others been more than happy to do with their own (rather stale) theories.

    So we both agree you don’t know squat about where they’re from,

    Actually, if anything, this should read: “We both agree WE know squat about where they’re from.”

    Well, they’re either from Iraq, or they’re not. Making that distinction is pretty much ALL that matters right now.

    but that apparently does not stop you from knowing where they didn’t come from.

    I said it didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t say it couldn’t make sense to you either.

    Do you say that a lot during the course of your work day?

    Haha, no, I’M SUCKING UP YOUR TAX DOLLARS ON UNEMPLOYMENT, AND SPENDING THEM ON DRUGS AND PEACH TEA.

    Oh god, I love saying that to people.

  33. Mo- the Japanese subway attacks were sarin. Ricin may technically be deadlier by weight, but you could get some on you and simply wash it off without suffering any effects. It’s harder to deliver than sarin, which will be absorbed through the skin.

    It is possible to get dosed with well-made sarin and still live, assuming you soaked up a few stray parts-per-million if it was vaporized. An actual drop on your skin would kill you. They issue us atropine and 2-Pam-Chloride injectors to use in case of exposure, which will basically make the effects more manageable if you didn’t get enough agent to kill you outright.

  34. Doesn’t atropine cause delirium at high(er) doses, like scopolamine? How much do they give you in that little injector?

  35. “Gilbert- Despite apparently working on the playground for you, calling me names won’t make me go away. ”

    I’m not trying to make you go away.

    It’s amusing watching you twist around trying to self-servingly cast your own speculations as informed analysis while pompously declaring you only deal in “facts” and telling the “necons” they should keep their mouths shut about WMD stockpiles.

  36. It’s amusing watching you twist around trying to self-servingly cast your own speculations as informed analysis

    Blah, blah, blah… Stop with the tedious fluff. No one cares. No one is listening. No one wants to hear it.

    […]while pompously declaring you only deal in “facts” and telling the “necons” they should keep their mouths shut about WMD stockpiles.

    Fine! If you’re a Neocon, run your mouth about it! In fact, do so by all means. Maybe you should all dress up in flight suits and turn an aircraft carrier into a “MISSION ACCOPMLISHED” party boat, vintage banner included. Then, when it turns out there’s no stockpile, you’ll — yet again — be the people who look like jackasses in the public eye, and those fucking liberals will come out looking pristine! That’s just brilliant! Why I think I’ll shout it from the rooftops!

  37. I forget how much is in the injector, but standard issue is 2 autoinjectors of atropine and one of 2-Pam. Any higher dose has to be done by higher level medical personnel.

    Atropine sure will cause delirium at some point, but that’s the least of your worries if you just got dosed with nerve agent.

    Scopolamine is part of a very popular mild sedative used to prevent stomache cramps. I had some last week and it was very nice 🙂

  38. Actually, the idea that WMDs of any sort could just magically turn up in the hands of insurgents (I’m talking en masse, not this one, puny little shell), AND be from some massive, undiscovered Iraqi stockpile just doesn’t make any sense.

    On the contrary, there is no magic. If a stockpile is found or its location known by the insurgents, then whether large or small it will turn up in their hands. There is no sense to make of that; it rests on who finds it first. That there are undiscovered WMD is a reasonable assumption given that there has never been a full accounting. Full accounting is a set of standards to which you will hold accountable CEOs and CFOs of large companies, but not leaders of large states?

  39. Iraq had one of the largest armies in the world at one time. Armies have munitions, and I guess big armies have lots of munitions. I recall reading last summer about the fact that most of the Iraqi Army ammo dumps were unguarded and being looted. Apparently the Army didn’t have enough troops to secure these facilities or didn’t consider it a high priority. Most weapons the insurgents are using probably belonged to the former Iraqi army.

  40. “Blah, blah, blah… Stop with the tedious fluff.”

    Good advice – you should take it.

    ” No one cares. No one is listening. No one wants to hear it.”

    So now you’re “channeling” the thoughts of others as well, eh?

    Better get the nurse to step up your dosage.

  41. Could the bombers have thought it was an ordinary HE shell?

    That would be my guess. If they actually knew they had sarin, they would probably have tried to make use of it in a more enclosed environment.

  42. IMHO, they didn’t know it was a chem shell when they maked an IED out of it. Chem shells dont have a whole lot of explosives in them, just enough to burst the shell and spread the agent. Also, they need to actually be fired and spin to mix the chemicals properly.

  43. Let’s say this is from an Iraqi stockpile. Wouldn’t that imply that Bush and Rumsfeld dropped the ball?

    Since a primary goal of the mission was to prevent terrorists from getting a hold of these materials and they were able to get them anyways, then the mission failed unless we can dig them up before the materials can be dispersed outside of Iraq. This would also imply either:
    a) That Rumsfeld’s small, quick and light doctrine didn’t work because we didn’t have the troops to secure the sites before they could be raided.
    b) If Saddam passed them off before the war, in anticipation of an invasion, then Bush’s saber rattling and eventual invasion made us less safe by giving Saddam the impetus to pass them off to an even less stable owner (as hard as that is to believe, at leas Saddam is a head of state instead of a random terrorist leader).
    Either way, it doesn’t speak well of Bush. My biggest pet peeve with the hawks is the insistence that Bush has been doing a good job and we need to stay the course. A lot of people, like myself, don’t think Bush is doing a good job even if we accept the hawks’ assumptions. Couldn’t we have a gotten a Republican challenger to Bush in the primaries? I think an effective challenger to Bush would do a lot to improve the discourse regarding the war and would help seperate the fight in Iraq from the fight for the White House.

  44. Finding the WMD is nice, but it was never the goal. The goal is to think at least 5 steps ahead of the Islamo-fascists. Iraq used to be a secular dictatorship where relatively few Al Qaeda operatives were working. Now we see the theocratic nutjobs come out of the woodwork. If Hussein’s regime had collapsed without US help those people would have taken up the reins of power. This wasn’t a pre-emptive war against Hussein, it was a pre-emptive war against the other people we have to worry about. Hussein just happened to be in our way. Now WE control the future of Iraq, not our enemies. This is important.

  45. “The goal is to think at least 5 steps ahead of the Islamo-fascists.”

    That’s not a goal, it’s an m.o.

  46. It’s not an m.o., it’s an excuse. Give me four steps between what happened and success, and I’ll lay out the reasons why everything is going my way for each and every headline you read.

  47. Right on joe. It also requires prophecy. You may think the terrorists are going to do A, B, C, and D, but if just one of those is wrong your whole plan is kaput.

  48. This would also imply either: a) That Rumsfeld’s small, quick and light doctrine didn’t work [or] Bush’s saber rattling and eventual invasion made us less safe by giving Saddam the impetus to pass them off to an even less stable owner

    The available evidence seems to be that Saddam (bizarrely enough) honestly didn’t think the United States was going to invade. So it’s unlikely that “saber-rattling” prompted him to give the weapons to terrorists. Either he gave them the weapons independently (in which case it could have happened anytime in the 11 years leading up to the invasion) or he didn’t give them the weapons at all. I think the latter is more likely.

    Furthermore, it’s not at all clear that terrorists have WMDs even now. Many of the roadside bombs are set by ex-military Ba’athist elements in Iraq, who may simply have waltzed off with some of the shells when they abandoned their posts during the war. It is hard to imagine how a war might have been conducted in a way that could have prevented such things from happening.

    Either way, it doesn’t speak well of Bush. My biggest pet peeve with the hawks is the insistence that Bush has been doing a good job and we need to stay the course.

    I’m not sure what hawks you’re talking about. Taking a look at just the blogosphere, for example, everyone from Instapundit to Andrew Sullivan to Tacitus to Little Green Footballs has voiced many concerns about the job Bush, Rumsfeld, et. al., are doing. They are (mostly) steadfast in their support of Bush primarily because, with the exception of Joe Lieberman, all the prospective Democratic Presidential candidates are manifestly worse.

  49. I preferred the old imbeciles who used to post here to the new ones.

  50. Dan,
    I understand why they are steadfast behind Bush vis-a-vis Kerry (or the other Dem candidates). You’re right about criticism from the warblogger side, but what alternatives have the hawks offered? As they say, the silence is deafening. There was no primary candidate choose from or to force Bush’s hand towards greater conservatism. There’s no grassroots campaign to get a man to better execute the war on terror. Instead we get a choice of the Democrats attempt at picking a guy to beat Bush and Bush. Neither of whom are at all attractive to me.

  51. Assuming that they didn’t know it was a sarin shell, it’ll be interesting to see what happens now that they know.

    Do they have more? Do they know how to distinguish the shell-that-was-sarin from HE shells in their posession?

    If they can identify sarin shells in their posession, will they monkey with them to try to get the binary components into a more effective form? Will they survive the effort?

  52. Rush Limbaugh was my choice for primary contender. The buzz alone, excuse my pun, would have boosted conservative principles. Nobody has attacked Bush’s spending and free speech positions more than Rush.

  53. First, this is probably an Iraqi shell left over from the mid-1990’s. The country is littered with ammo dumps, and some of them still have not been cleared out. They are simply huge, as in many square miles. Other ‘ammo dumps’ are simply caches of weapons stored around the country in private homes, sheds, you name it. The coalition forces stumble onto these caches regularly. A mustard gas shell turned up in one of them a week or so ago. Early in the war several mustard gas shells were also discovered.

    It’s also clear that the insurgents have access to stockpiles of regime weapons, because almost all the IEDs going off in Iraq are made from old artillery shells and other military hardware. They aren’t fertilizer bombs made in someone’s shed. They’re military weapons.

    The most likely scenario is that one of these caches had some unmarked chemical shells in them, and the insurgents detonated one without realizing what it was. The stuff about shells being smuggled in by Chechen rebels is not just rank speculation, it’s also a wildly unlikely theory, because we already know that the insurgents are using Iraqi regime weaponry, and we have no evidence of such weapons being smuggled in.

    That said, I don’t think this makes the ‘WMD’ case. An old shell filled with leftover sarin does not a WMD program make. Now, if it turns out that this shell was filled with Sarin within the last couple of years, that’s a different matter. Sarin has a relatively short active lifespan (on the order of 10 years), so it was almost certainly filled after the first Gulf war, and while the sanctions were in place. So technically it would be a violation of U.N. resolutions. But so were the mustard gas shells, and those have been found right from the start of the war. But they are old and not indicative of a program ongoing in, say, 2000.

    As for not finding WMD, it seems clear now that Saddam’s war fighting strategy was to melt his army back into the population and fight an insurgency. He knew he couldn’t take on the U.S. military. And all the delays with the U.N. gave him plenty of time to prepare weapons caches, set up communication lines and safe houses, and hide/destroy/ship out whatever WMD he had. In hindsight, it seems rather obvious that if Saddam was going to fight an insurgency we wouldn’t find his WMD, because guerilla war requires breaking the will of the invaders, because you can’t beat them on a battlefield. So getting rid of his WMD was absolutely essential – if the U.S. had found large stockpiles right at the start of the war, world opinion might have moved in the U.S.’s favor, and then the insurgency would have no chance of succeeding.

    The big question now is whether this shell was just a stray that someone picked up by accident, or whether this is the first salvo in a new tactic – using Saddam’s WMD against coalition troops or civilians. Since using them would give the U.S. back its casus belli for the invasion, we can assume that IF the insurgents have WMD, and IF they start to use them, it will mean that they are desperate and have decided that their cause will be lost unless they use their final ace in the hole.

  54. Occam’s Razor, the simple and straight forward explanation is that this was looted from some old weapons stores that were overlooked by UNSCOM, UNMOVIC, the US, Sadam’s folks, or any combination of the above. We will all find out shortly. Like most chemicals these undoubtedly can be analyzed for their origin.

  55. Who gives a crap about sarin, when Kahn gave the bomb to everybody! WMD isn’t going to be launched in an artilliery shell.

  56. Dan H.

    “Saddam’s war fighting strategy…”???

    You are too funny.

    I can’t stop laughing at that post.

  57. “As for not finding WMD, it seems clear now that Saddam’s war fighting strategy was to melt his army back into the population and fight an insurgency.”

    …it also seems clear, now, that another part of Saddam’s war fighting strategy was to trick American troops into finding him in the bottom of a hole…

    You’re kidding, right Dan?

  58. “Don, that was fucking brilliant.

    “At the current rate of usage…”

    Heck, at the current rate of usage, you could probably stretch that out to 90-100 years.”

    Joe, I was talking about munitions of all types.

  59. Ah. Sarin. That’s the nerve gas that barely qualifies an a WMD even when released in a crowded subway station. One guy with a machine gun is a more effective WMD.

  60. If there were 155 mm shells of sarin to use against the Americans, why is this the first use? And why as an IED next to a road in the open air, rather than in an operation better designed to take advantage of the weapon’s capabilities?

    Could the bombers have thought it was an ordinary HE shell?

    Could it have been stolen from one of the unsecured armories during the looting?

    Passed to terrorist by the regime after the invasion began, as predicted by the CIA?

  61. Franklin Harris: Ah. Sarin. That’s the nerve gas that barely qualifies an a WMD even when released in a crowded subway station. One guy with a machine gun is a more effective WMD.

    Hey, an airliner makes a pretty effective WMD from what I?ve seen.

  62. The bombers almost certainly thought it was a standard munition. One of the least covered points on WMD is that they do not work well. Almost any military commander would chose high explosive artillery over any bio/chem round. And not for moral reasons… chem/bio are simply not very effective. Even this IED would have been more effective had the 155 been high explosive and not sarin. Except for the fact that we have created such hysteria about WsMD that this will perhaps scare some people. I knew this was coming. I wonder how much of a “SEE!!!!!!!” we will get from the neocons.

  63. I don’t know why we should see ANY of this “I TOLD YOU SO!” bussiness coming from the Neocons (although I know we will).

    All this proves is that someone with nerve gas is smuggling the munitions into the country. Probably Chechen Mujahideen. I’ll bet you that shell (and many more) was looted from a Russian armory, rather than an Iraqi one…

  64. I am certain that this shell was an oldie but goodie from the Iraqi arsenal. Iraq did not always mark it’s chemical rounds. Who would have known to destroy it even if they wanted to? Goldberg at NRO is already saying “the WMDs we find don’t count”. good thing we went in to Iraq and kept rounds like these from falling into terrorist hands to be used against Americans.

  65. Nice work, people. You’ve been polishing your dismissals and discounts for so long, you couldn’t even wait for the dreaded neocons to show up before unleashing the yawns.

  66. As I noted here:

    “Prosecutor Jerry Wilson says he isn’t abusing the law, which defines chemical weapons of mass destruction as ‘any substance that is designed or has the capability to cause death or serious injury’ and contains toxic chemicals.”

    I would argue that Lake Erie qualifies as a WMD. It is a substance, it has the capability to (and has) caused death or serious injury, and it contains toxic chemicals.

    Woo and yay! One time I waded in a weapon of mass destruction!*

    *As defined by the Patriot Act.

  67. Well, either way, the tactics of the Chechens and the Iraqi resistance are identical. Hence the plausible connection.

    If it did come from Iraq, it was probably in the hands of insurgents/terrorists/whatever you prefer to call them, prior to the US invasion. It would take a lot more than one shell to convince me otherwise.

  68. Nice work, people. You’ve been polishing your dismissals and discounts for so long, you couldn’t even wait for the dreaded neocons to show up before unleashing the yawns.

    Actually, the idea that WMDs of any sort could just magically turn up in the hands of insurgents (I’m talking en masse, not this one, puny little shell), AND be from some massive, undiscovered Iraqi stockpile just doesn’t make any sense.

    The munition stockpiles for the insurgents are almost certainly coming from elsewhere in the world by now. I highly doubt what few stockpiles they managed to save prior to the war have lasted this long.

  69. Chemical weapons can be effective under the right circumstances. Generally in warfare, HE works better. But there are exceptions.

    Given that Saddam has had a history of using these weapons, it is quite reasonable to expect that he still had some sitting around when the US invaded. Most likely the insurgents though the shell was HE. They would have used it in some other manner if they knew what it was.

  70. “I knew this was coming. I wonder how much of a “SEE!!!!!!!” we will get from the neocons.”

    I was wondering how long it would take for everyone here to dismiss this story, and how imaginative and creative the reasons would be. The gas was from Chechnya or somewhere else is a good one, as if anyone on this board has more expertise or knowledge about the bomb than the folks on the ground.

  71. hgm14, the existance of large stockpiles of Iraqi gas shells is pretty much a closed question. But it is entirely possible that a stray shell here or there could have avoided destruction, and that a coordinated effort to find such shells could yield the odd live round. I doubt the aerial bombing of Desert Fox, and the middle of the night dumping of materials in the desert just ahead of the UN teams thereafter, were able to provide completely reliable demolition.

    The use of the single shell, this late in the game, targetted unwisely at military in a combat zone, argues for a round scavenged by Iraqis.

    Have there been any stories of Chechen separatists using gas shells?

  72. Eric —

    Who is dismissing this story? A sarin gas round was found. Big deal. Saddam had WMD. Big deal.

  73. It is extremely likely that the Iraqi insurgents have large stockpiles of weapons. This is particularly true of those with ties to Saddam’s military.

    Saddam had huge quantities of munitions of various sorts. Much of this has been hidden around the country. Some has been found, some has been expended, and probably quite a bit remains hidden. At the current rate of usage, the insurgents probably have 50 years worth of munitions.

  74. Joe, basically I was responding to this:

    “The munition stockpiles for the insurgents are almost certainly coming from elsewhere in the world by now. I highly doubt what few stockpiles they managed to save prior to the war have lasted this long.

    Posted by hqm14”

    . . . which I simply don’t agree with.

    As far as the quantity of WMDs, well, I don’t know. There still could be huge stockpiles, or next to nothing.

    In any case, WMDs like sarin and other chemical agents in and of themselves would not be much of a threat to the US. Possibly terrorists could emply them, but historically they have done most of their damage with HE. What these sort of WMDs provide is a legal pretext to invade–and since it is clear that Saddam was in violation, the legal pretext remains valid.

    But to my mind the real goal of invasion was to begin restructuring a Middle East country so that we can tackle the root causes of terrorism (I don’t buy the idea that terror is a response to American forign policy). It may very well not work, and in any case it will be an expensive undertaking. Simply responding to terrorist attacks in a reactive manner is also expensive.

  75. OK, Don. But I still say my reading is funnier.

    BTW, when the President decides to lead our country to war, I’d appreciate it if he’s tell us the truth about wy, instead of hiding behind pretexts.

  76. Oh, ok. I thought you were giving us a lesson in dishonest rhetoric.

    Because that’s exactly what, say, Scott McClellan would come out with. (At one shell every year and a half)”…at current rates of usage…”

  77. I’ve got it! They put Al Capone away not for murder or extortion but for income tax evasion, right? Well, this is all part of a plan to get Saddam Hussein into the International Court not for mass murder or brutality, but for mislabeling a hazardous substance!

  78. Weapons of mass destruction – there are no such things. I can’t imagine how box cutters (legal tools – allowed on airplanes prior to 911) and a few unassuming members of the human race who have legally taken flight lessons could ever be a threat to an evil imperialist nation like ours. Our illegitimate un-elected leaders have hyped the ‘terror threat’ to advance their assault on the American people’s freedoms. Israel is the real threat to world peace – I know this because Syria, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and a host of other freedom loving countries and their leaders have said so. After all – the UN as the great protector of human rights hasn’t confirmed that there is an international islamo-terrorist web of vipers – so there is none. Long live the peaceful freedom loving UN and it’s supporters.

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