Left Hook! The Blog
The effort seems to have been a humbling one for Kay. When it came up a dry hole, he quit, leaving it to Charles Duelfer, another conservative partisan, to finish the work and issue the final report.
The final report is very thorough in recording the facts, but it's written by Bush partisans, and, in their analysis, they spin like tops in order to make the information they're recording less damning of the administration. The facts they had collected in effect exposed a monstrous lie by Bush and his underlings, and, while these facts were inescapable, the team bent over backwards to try to soften the blow. Given the circumstances, this is absolutely unconscionable to me, but, given the Alice-In-Wonderland quality of this administration and its followers, I suppose it's unavoidable.
First, here are the spin-free conclusions of the Duelfer report with regrd to weapons of mass destruction:
"Saddam Husayn ended the nuclear program in 1991, following the Gulf War. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program."
"While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad's desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered."
"ISG judges that in 1991 and 1992, Iraq appears to have destroyed its undeclared stocks of BW weapons and probably destroyed remaining holdings of bulk BW agent."
"...ISG judges that Baghdad abandoned its existing BW program in the belief that it constituted a potential embarrassment, whose discovery would undercut Baghdad's ability to reach its overarching goal of obtaining relief from UN sanctions. In practical terms, with the destruction of the Al Hakam facility, Iraq abandoned its ambition to obtain advanced BW weapons quickly. ISG found no direct evidence that Iraq, after 1996, had plans for a new BW program or was conducting BW-specific work for military purposes... [T]here appears to be a complete absence of discussion or even interest in BW at the Presidential level [from the mid-1990s forward]."
"The former Regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival
of WMD after sanctions. Neither was there an identifiable group of WMD
policy makers or planners separate from Saddam."
Unfortunately, beyond that, the spinning starts.
An example of how it plays out in practice: While conceding that Iraq had utterly dismantled its chemical weapons capacity and destroyed everything that program was known to have produced, the report, in full spin mode, suggests that Iraq could theoretically cannibalize its legitimate chemical capacity, convert equipment being used for legitimate ends, move some things around, etc. and create a very crude, jury-rigged mustard gas plant capable of CW production for a short time. While this may theoretically be true (and it would just as theoretically be true of ANY country involved in domestic chemical production, none of which would be accused of having "chemical weapons" based on the fact), there wasn't a single scrap of paper in Iraq that even suggested this was ever a plan, or that the Iraqis would even know how to do it. Yet there it is, in the final report, described as a chemical weapons "breakout capability." The report concedes that
"The former Regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions. Neither was there an identifiable group of WMD policy makers or planners separate from Saddam."
...but suggests that Iraq was probably planning to restart WMD production at some point in the future anyway, a conclusion not based on ANY actual evidence, but upon, as the report describes it, the understanding of the character of Saddam Hussein proffered by some people who knew and worked with him. This "judgment," based, effectively, on nothing, is, as usual, treated as an ironclad fact and thrown into the section describing the "breakout capability," making it all sound very sinister, indeed, but, at the end of the day, the facts are still there in the report, even when hidden behind obfuscating weasel-words: there were no chemical weapons, no capability, beyond the absurdly theoretical, to produce any (the report concedes there wasn't a single production unit in the country configured for the production of anything related to CW), no plan to ever revive a capability, and no planners to do so.
This is what the report documents, in spite of the spin, with regard
to all of Iraq's WMD capabilities. They simply didn't exist. Many
conservative commentators have ignored the central conclusions of the report
and latched on to some of that spin as a means of angrily denouncing the
characterization of the report based on its conclusions. They may flail
about all they like, though; the report still documents that the Iraqis
went out of the WMD business in the early 1990s. They dismantled the programs,
destroyed the weapons, had no capability to create any more of them, no
way to store them, had made no moves to rebuild any of the programs, and,
in fact, had no plans to do so at any point in the forseeable future.
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