Dr. Kay and Everyone Else on Iraqi WMD

Maybe Saddam didn’t have an active WMD production program, but if any side of this discussion was snookered, so were they all. No one thought he didn’t.

Maybe Saddam didn’t have an active WMD production program, but if any side of this discussion was snookered, so were they all. No one thought he didn’t.

JINSA’s primary authority on Saddam’s holdings was UNSCOM, with the caveat that UNSCOM itself believed it had found all of Saddam’s weapons by 1995. In 1996, they were proven very wrong. Leaving Iraq in 1998, UNSCOM filed a report with the Security Council in January 1999 detailing what it believed were additional large caches of banned materiel that had not been accounted for. No intelligence service, including France and Germany–opponents of the war to the end–claimed to doubt the report, and it was those presumed caches that remained the object of American and UN interest.

The concern was active during the Clinton years. On 9 Oct. 1998, Democratic Senators, including John Kerry and Tom Daschle, wrote to the President, “[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.” Leading Democrats repeated that position through early 2003.

There is no single judgment that means more to JINSA than that of Dr. David Kay, just retired as head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), so we were very interested when he told The London Telegraph that “he did not believe there were stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq” or that “Saddam Hussein had produced weapons of mass destruction on a large scale in the 1990s. ‘I don’t think they existed. What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last [1991] Gulf War and I don’t think there was a large-scale production program in the 1990s.'”

But if the intelligence services were convinced that at least the stockpiles were there–which was the reason for the return of UN “inspectors” in 2002–where are they? Dr. Kay, again: “We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons… But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam’s WMD program. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved.”

It doesn’t take much to convince us that Syria has a hand in this, and it begs additional questions, but frankly, it does nothing to our view that Saddam was intent on achieving WMD and missiles to deliver them. Maybe the sanctions did more than we thought to prevent the acquisition of crucial components. If so, good. But not sufficient.

Nothing we have learned diminishes the truth of President Bush’s contention that, “Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late.”