Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.

Headlines on Iraq's CIA Report Don't Tell the Whole Story  | e-mail post

The press today was littered with with headlines. Reuters via Yahoo said " U.S. Inspector Reports No Banned Weapons in Iraq" while the AP via Yahoo ran with " U.S. Report Finds No Evidence of Iraq WMD." That's a pretty representative sample. But if you go to the CIA site to get the voluminous (almost 200MB across 3 PDFs) report, you might get a different impression. [gateway page at CIA] The download is going horrible slowly, but I would encourage anyone to at least scan the brief "Key Findings" summary document. For example:
ISG uncovered information that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) maintained throughout 1991 to 2003 a set of undeclared covert laboratories to research and test various chemicals and poisons, primarily for intelligence operations. The network of laboratories could have provided an ideal, compartmented platform from which to continue CW agent R&D or small-scale production efforts, but we have no indications this was planned. (See Annex A.)
  • ISG has no evidence that IIS Directorate of Criminology (M16) scientists were producing CW or BW agents in these laboratories. However, sources indicate that M16 was planning to produce several CW agents including sulfur mustard, nitrogen mustard, and Sarin.
  • Exploitations of IIS laboratories, safe houses, and disposal sites revealed no evidence of CW-related research or production, however many of these sites were either sanitized by the Regime or looted prior to OIF. Interviews with key IIS offi cials within and outside of M16 yielded very little information about the IIS’ activities in this area.
  • The existence, function, and purpose of the laboratories were never declared to the UN.
  • The IIS program included the use of human subjects for testing purposes.
The report goes on to say:
Depending on its scale, Iraq could have re-established an elementary BW program within a few weeks to a few months of a decision to do so, but ISG discovered no indications that the Regime was pursuing such a course...Iraq retained technical BW knowhow through the scientists that were involved in the former program. ISG has also identifi ed civilian facilities and equipment in Iraq that have dual-use application that could be used for the production of agent...Some seed stocks were retained by another Iraqi offi cial until 2003 when they were recovered by ISG.
Basically, the net-net from the report is that Iraq preserved all of their intellectual property for developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons; planned to spin-up their weapons programs as soon as international scrutiny was over; were abusing the Oil-for-Food program to erode support for and enforcement of sanctions; and that they had developed procurement channels for getting sanctioned goods.

So, in a nutshell, while there were no WMD stockpiles in Iraq, there was clearly a lot of knowledge and material that, in the wrong hands, could have become a very real threat, even before Iraq itself might have started to spin up the programs again.

I'm also looking forward to seeing the final CIA list of countries and people who received oil vouchers, as part of the Oil-for-Alliances program I've been following the past few days (starting here). [Reuters via Yahoo]

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Wednesday, October 06, 2004
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