Missing WMD Scandal


"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," George W. Bush told the nation two days before he launched the war on Iraq. That definitive statement came after months of Administration assertions that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat because he had weapons of mass destruction and could hand them over to Al Qaeda at any moment. "We know for a fact that there are weapons there," Ari Fleischer declared in January. A month earlier Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "It is clear that the Iraqis have weapons of mass destruction. The issue is not whether or not they have weapons of mass destruction."

Two months after the fall of Baghdad, it is anything but clear. No WMDs have been found. The Pentagon has two trailers that the CIA says were manufactured as bioweapons labs, but no trace of biological agents has been detected in them (see Russ Baker's "'Scoops' and Truth at the Times," page 18). Former UN weapons inspectors say it would be virtually impossible to scour a bioweapons facility free of all residue--which means that even if those trailers were built to breed pathogens, they were not used. Speaking in Poland, Bush insisted, "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories." Those were the words of a desperate man.

In England Prime Minister Tony Blair has been rocked by claims that his government hyped the intelligence on Iraq's weapons. Members of Parliament have announced they will investigate, and anger is running high. Labour MP Malcolm Savidge said in a CNBC interview from London that if allegations on both sides of the Atlantic that legislators and citizens were misled into war are true, "I would say...that would clearly be a more serious issue than even Watergate. It would be a graver charge" and "fit into the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors, which we in Britain used to have as a basis for impeachment, and which, of course, you still have as a basis of impeachment."

In the United States, Bush and his team are also facing embarrassing questions.

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