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The faltering WMD casus belli
As the swelter of anger bubbles from the machination of misinformation that led to the faltering WMD casus belli for invading Iraq, the retreat and half-baked excuses of Bush, Blair, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Powell further expose the sharp edge of their deceit. Whether it was "intelligence" failure or "flailing" the intelligence, time will soon tell. In the meantime, the fig leaves keep falling.
During CNN's Late Edition with Colin Powell, reported by the Toronto Star on June 9, 2003, Powell claimed that "the two alleged mobile biological weapons labs, which are being studied by allied inspectors now in Iraq, are the same ones he described to the world last Feb. 5 at a U.N. presentation which was the result of four days and four nights of meetings with the CIA." "I stand behind that presentation," he said.
He further asserted, "I'll give you the killer argument why these vans were exactly what I said they were. I can assure you that if those biological vans were not ... what I said they were on the 5th of February, on the 6th of February Iraq would have hauled those vans out, put them in front of a press conference, given them to U.N. inspectors to try to drive a stake through the heart of my presentation."
Only if the Iraqis knew which vans he was talking about.
In an article published on the same day as Powell's interview, Peter Beaumont and Antony Barnett reported in the Observer that there is mounting indications that these vans were for "balloons, not germs."
The Iraqis concur.
According to the article, "Senior Iraqi officials of the al-Kindi Research, Testing, Development, and Engineering facility in Mosul were shown pictures of the mobile production trailers, and they claimed that the trailers were used to chemically produce hydrogen for artillery weather balloons. Artillery balloons are essentially balloons that are sent up into the atmosphere and relay information on wind direction and speed allowing more accurate artillery fire. Crucially, these systems need to be mobile. The Observer has discovered that not only did the Iraq military have such a system at one time, but that it was actually sold to them by the British. In 1987 Marconi, now known as AMS, sold the Iraqi army an Artillery Meteorological System or Amets for short."
Other experts who have examined the evidence agree and have cast doubt over the Bush administration's assertions. They argue that the lack of any trace of pathogens found in the fermentation tanks, the use of canvas sides on vehicles where technicians would be working with dangerous germ cultures, and the lack of an autoclave for steam sterilization all provide credence to the Iraqi argument that the labs were merely used for artillery balloons.
In fact, the American experts themselves concede that the van could, at best, serve only one stage of the process for biological weapons production. There would need to be three or four other stages in the process, or other complementary vans, to be able to produce Powell's less than heuristic claim.
Powell is not new to this misinformation game.
In my earlier article, "The demise of the nuclear bomb hoax," published on February 16, 2003, I referred to Geoff Simons' The Scourging of Iraq in which "Washington lied persistently and comprehensively to gain the required international support [for the Gulf war]. For example, the U.S. claimed to have satellite pictures showing a massive Iraqi military build-up on the Saudi/ Iraqi border. When sample photographs were later obtained from Soyuz Karta by an enterprising journalist, no such evidence was discernible."
Simons references an article by Maggie O'Kane, published in the Guardian on 16 December 1995, which revealed that the enterprising journalist was Jean Heller of the St. Petersburg Times in Florida.
Eventually, the U.S. commander -- none other than Colin Powell himself -- admitted that there had been no massing of Iraqi troops. But by then the so-called evidence had served its purpose.
So, was Powell really worried that the Iraqis might "try to drive a stake through the heart of [his] presentation"?
Well, it's never too late.
Imad Khadurri is a former Iraqi nuclear scientist based in Canada, Imad Khadduri encourages your comments: [email protected] . Copyright Imad Khadurri 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .