According to a report in The NY Times this past Sunday, between 2005 and 2006 The CIA purchased approximately 400 nerve agent rockets from a seller in Iraq to make sure the chemical weapons would not fall into the hands of terrorists. “The purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war.”
The weapons were up to 20-years-old but CIA believed the weapons were still viable, they were buying them keep them out of the wrong hands, and Saddam was hiding them.
The effort was run out of the C.I.A. station in Baghdad in collaboration with the Army’s 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion and teams of chemical-defense and explosive ordnance disposal troops, officials and veterans of the units said. Many rockets were in poor condition and some were empty or held a nonlethal liquid, the officials said. But others contained the nerve agent sarin, which analysis showed to be purer than the intelligence community had expected given the age of the stock.
The buying of nerve-agent rockets from an Iraqi seller in 2006 was the most significant recovery of chemical weapons until that point in the Iraq War.
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An earlier NY Times report (October) “found that the military had recovered thousands of old chemical warheads and shells in Iraq and that Americans and Iraqis had been wounded by them, but the government kept much of this information secret, from the public and troops alike. “
These munitions were remnants of an Iraqi special weapons program that was abandoned long before the 2003 invasion, and they turned up sporadically during the American occupation in buried caches, as part of improvised bombs or on black markets.
The potency of sarin samples from the purchases, as well as tightly held assessments about risks the munitions posed, buttresses veterans’ claims that during the war the military did not share important intelligence about battlefield perils with those at risk or maintain an adequate medical system for treating victims of chemical exposure.
The purchases were made from a sole Iraqi source who was eager to sell his stock, officials said. The amount of money that the United States paid for the rockets is not publicly known, and neither are the affiliations of the seller.
While America is debating the real existential threat of terrorism metastasizing
its way to our shores, and the President is still trying to figure out what to call the enemy some Democrats are still running with blinding speed away from their original support
for the Iraq War and the truth that WMDs and their components were found in
Bush/Cheney made serious mistakes in executing the Iraq
War, they didn’t have a plan to win the damned thing, nor did they have a
plan to “win the peace,” firing the entire Iraq army was just stupid.
They forgot that in a secular state the interests of the military is
maintaining order not pursuing the ideological religious civil war which
erupted soon as the American heroes ousted Saddam. Additionally,
Rumsfeld tried to win the War “on the cheap,” seriously underestimating
the manpower and resources needed to win the peace.
I am not trying to defend going into Iraq (or it’s execution) but claims
that the Administration lied to get us into Iraq simply belies the
truth. Did Saddam have WMDs? Heck yeah. He used nerve gas against his own
people. And there are too many reports of American troops finding chemical weapons.
Was he trying to get Nuclear weapons? Was the intelligence
wrong? Partially. We did not find Nuclear weapons however according to
the NY Times in November 2006 an archive of documents found in Iraq found the Iraqis were on the verge of building a bomb when we invaded Iraq.
Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written
in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of
making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after
the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.
In July of 2008 all the major news outlets reported:
The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program — a huge
stockpile of concentrated natural uranium — reached a Canadian port
Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week
airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.
The removal of 550 metric tons of “yellowcake” — the seed material for
higher-grade nuclear enrichment — was a significant step toward closing
the books on Saddam’s nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and
Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or
smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.
And don’t forget James Clapper, Obama’s director of National Intelligence, said in 2003 that materials for WMD had “unquestionably” been moved out of Iraq, to Syria or perhaps other countries, in an effort to “destroy and disperse” evidence just before the war began.
One of Saddam’s top generals, Georges Sada, in his book called Saddam’s Secrets, said truck convoys and 56 airplane flights moved tons of WMD into Syria.
It is very fair to criticize the Bush/Cheney preparation or execution of the War. Saying despite the fact that Saddam had WMDs we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq is also a valid argument, so is looking at the results 11 years later and saying it was a mistake. However to say we were lied to about WMDs is not only unfair, but it belies the truth.