Living in Denial


Well-Known Member
Dec 22, 2006
"GAFFNEY: The Iraq Survey Group, the guys who went in and did a forensic analysis of what was the status of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program, found -- contrary to what Glenn keeps saying -- that there was a hot production line for chemical and biological agents in Iraq..."

The Iraq Survey Group report is here. It's actually an impressive piece of work that reflects well on the CIA. While the "key findings" section—the only part anyone ever looks at—is highly spun and misleading, the body contains a great deal of information that's deeply embarrassing for the US government. (Or at least it would be, if anyone in Washington's political class ever read it.)

Anyway, Gaffney's statement that "there was a hot production line for chemical and biological agents in Iraq" is completely fanciful. Here's the ISG conclusion about Iraq's chemical weapons program (throughout, bold and italics are in the original; underlines are mine):

"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..."

And here's the ISG conclusion about Iraq's biological weapons program:

"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."

So where could Gaffney's claim about "a hot production line for chemical and biological agents" come from? Almost certainly from the description in the ISG report of the labs of the Iraqi Intelligence Services (IIS). This appears in the section on Iraq and chemical weapons:

"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 officials within and outside of M16 yielded very little information about the IIS’ activities in this area."

So you can see the process within Gaffney's mind: he took something the ISG report said "could have" occurred but for which there was "no evidence," and decided that the ISG report said it had in fact happened. No wonder Gaffney tells us Doug Feith is an "old friend" who is "thoughtful, careful and conscientious."

Still, you might say, these IIS labs sound pretty bad. What's this about testing "various chemicals and poisons"?

It's impossible to know for sure. Perhaps these labs served as Dr. Evil's headquarters in his endless quest for world domination. But the actual explanation is likely more prosaic. The chemical section of the ISG report has an annex examing this issue in detail. According to this annex, it appears the labs may have been involved in attempted assassinations of regime enemies in the eighties and early nineties (just as US labs have been). More recently the labs were in charge of testing Saddam's food:

"Exploitation of the M16 headquarters building revealed that the directorate had large amounts of laboratory glassware and analytic equipment, which could be used for both legitimate work such as food testing and forensic analysis, and illicit CW production and development. However, precursor chemicals required for CW agent production were not found among the various chemicals located at the headquarters building or its storage site in Djerf al-Naddaf...
The equipment, chemicals, and literature found at the [M16 headquarters in Karada] are consistent with sensitive reporting on the activities of the M16’s chemical forensics division, which does not have strong ties to CBW research or the development of assassination-related compounds.

• The M16 chemical forensic division was responsible for testing food for the regime. Other reports corroborate that there was an M16 division which had the ability to analyze chemical substances and test food and other items for the presence of poisons and toxins.

• According to a senior IIS official who has reported reliably in the past, this building served as the M16 headquarters, where research on toxins and their properties took place. However, the same source stated that the work was solely for defensive purposes.

• Laboratory analysis of several samples taken at the site revealed that the M16 had samples of potassium cyanide, the pesticides diazinon and Malathion, the herbicide glyphosate, and several other innocuous chemicals. It would not be unusual to find these chemicals at a laboratory examining foodstuffs for poisons or contaminants, because such a lab would need standards to which it could compare analytic results."

You may recall that back before the war, Saddam's paranoia about being poisoned was used as evidence of why he was a tyrant who had to be removed. Here's a relevant section from a May, 2002 article in the Atlantic:

"Fresh food is flown in for him twice a week—lobster, shrimp, and fish, lots of lean meat, plenty of dairy products. The shipments are sent first to his nuclear scientists, who x-ray them and test them for radiation and poison. The food is then prepared for him by European-trained chefs, who work under the supervision of al Himaya, Saddam's personal bodyguards."

But what's this statement in the ISG report about the IIS labs "planning to produce several CW agents including sulfur mustard, nitrogen mustard, and Sarin"? Isn't that important?

Nope. It's clear from the labs annex that this is the basis for Gaffney's claim that Saddam planned to "place the products of those lines into aerosol cans and perfume sprayers for shipment to the United States and Europe." But look carefully at what the labs annex says about this:

"Future Plans To Produce CW Agent
ISG is unable to corroborate the sensitive reporting that the IIS was planning to produce nitrogen mustard, sulfur mustard, and Sarin, but assesses that if plans to produce chemical agent within the IIS existed, the M16 chemical preparation division would have been the group tasked with carrying them out.

• A former Iraqi intelligence officer reported that the M16 chemical preparation division planned to produce and weaponize nitrogen mustard using CS rifle grenades. The source provided ISG with two grenade launchers and cases of CS grenades he claimed M16 officers were supposed to modify.

• The same source later reported that the IIS had a plan to produce Sarin and sulfur mustard, which the IIS planned to distribute to the US and Europe. The source claimed that the director of M16, Nu’man Muhammad al-Tikriti, gave him a perfume-bottling machine that was to be used to help carry out this plan.

Both of these plans are extremely difficult to corroborate..."

In other words, one unnamed Iraqi claimed that Iraq was going to do this at some point in the indefinite future. And the ISG didn't corroborate it.

It would be hilarious under any circumstance for Gaffney to say this amounts to "documented fact." But remember this all started with Gaffney's column defending Douglas Feith from accusations of shoddy cherry-picking of intelligence to reach predetermined conclusions. It's as if Gaffney were defending Feith from charges of wife-beating by punching his own wife in the face. No wonder these two get along so well.

In any case, Alan Colmes asks precisely the right question here: if this is "documented fact," why hasn't the Bush administration ever said anything about it? The answer is obvious: it's so preposterous that even Dick Cheney won't stand behind it.

And finally:

"GAFFNEY: What [the ISG report] said is they did not find large stockpiles of chemical weapons. What happened to them is a mystery they weren't able to explain... "
"There was evidence Saddam Hussein had actual stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. There is evidence they were removed across the border into Syria. I don't know."

What happened to them is a mystery they weren't able to explain? Right. Again, here's the ISG report on Iraq's chemical weapons:

ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991.

On Iraq's biological weapons:

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.

Gaffney, and this current administration, are fighting the pirates in never, never land. I sure Dick Cheney sees himself as Peter Pan; with Karl Rove as Tinkerbell. Bush? He is nothing more than Tinkerbell's magic wand.

submitted by Arch.