Prosecute war crimes, group says

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), at its international congress in Sweden in August, adopted a resolution condemning the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. The resolution called upon the governments of the United States and of the coalition partners to immediately withdraw all troops and all private sector military and military-related contractors from Iraq. It further called upon the United Nations and the international community to prosecute those responsible for starting the illegal war and for crimes against humanity and to hold them responsible for reconstruction and the payment of reparations.

– WILPF Portland (Oregon) Branch newsletter
PeaceMeal Nov/December 2004


Sarin probable ‘Gulf war syndrome’ cause

The Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, a Congressionally-chartered panel of scientific experts and veterans, released its first major report on November 12. Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses is the name used to describe the chronic health problems reported for over 13 years by veterans who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, earlier referred to as "Gulf War Syndrome." Based on the latest research findings from hundreds of scientific studies and government reports, the Committee concluded that a substantial proportion (25 to 30 percent) of veterans who served in the Gulf War suffer from chronic and often debilitating illnesses characterized by fatigue, loss of muscle control, persistent headaches, dizziness and loss of balance, memory problems, gastrointestinal difficulties, respiratory conditions, and skin abnormalities.

For the large majority of ill veterans, the illnesses are not explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness. Rather, the ill veterans exhibit evidence of neurological problems, including a significant excess in the rate of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Accumulated research supports a probable link between Gulf War illnesses and exposures to neurotoxins such as sarin encountered in the war.

The report’s findings represent a major departure from the previous government position and actions on the multi-symptom conditions affecting Gulf War veterans. U.S. authorities have long denied that any troops were affected by nerve gas, as no soldiers showed the classic symptoms of acute exposure. But it now appears that very small, repeated exposure can also do serious harm. Experiments on animals have shown that exposure to doses of sarin too low to cause observable or immediate effects causes delayed, long-term nerve and brain damage similar to that seen in veterans.

Troops could have had low level exposure to chemical weapons throughout the war. A Senate investigation in 1994 heard that each of the 14,000 chemical weapons alarms around the troops went off an average of two or three times a day during allied aerial bombardment of Iraq — a total of between one and two million alarms. All were said to have been false alarms. However, more sophisticated sensors brought in by the Czech military did detect small amounts of sarin and other chemical agents in a few instances during the war, and evidence has been mounting that soldiers may in fact have been exposed to sarin.

There was another possible source of exposure for the thousands of troops stationed near Khamisiyah in southern Iraq in March 1991. After the fighting was over, a large chemical weapons dump was blown up, creating a plume of gas which would have contained sarin and which could have affected at least 100,000 allied soldiers, possibly far more.

In addition to sarin exposure, more than 250,000 troops ingested the substance pyridostigmine bromide, or PB, an anti-nerve gas pretreatment with significant side effects of its own. U.S. troops were given PB pills to take only if a chemical attack was imminent. PB was an "investigational" drug at the time and the FDA had given the

military special permission to allow its use. Soldiers were supposed to take the drug only in very limited, controlled doses, but investigators have found that many soldiers took multiple doses in the mistaken belief that they would build up an immunity to chemical weapons exposure. Some recent studies have implicated PB as a possible factor in Gulf War illnesses, although the FDA recently approved the drug for use again in the 2003 Iraq war.

Gulf War vets were exposed to other chemicals as well. Some suspect that insecticides and pesticides could be to blame for their illnesses. During the war, the military routinely doused the camps with pesticides containing Dursban, which was banned for residential and commercial use by the EPA in 2000 because of significant health concerns. Some soldiers also tied Dursban-laced flea collars around their necks and hands. Soldiers’ uniforms were also impregnated with permethrin, used to control body lice and other insects.

Treatments that improve the health of veterans with Gulf War illnesses are urgently needed. But federal research has fallen short, in large part because studies have not asked important questions and have focused on stress to explain the veterans problems. Although more than $200 million has been spent on the federal research effort to date, that effort has not succeeded in identifying treatments that substantially improve the health of ill veterans. Furthermore, there are no programs in place to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments currently being used or to identify and develop treatments that may hold promise for these conditions.

In response to the report’s findings, Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Anthony J. Principi announced that VA will no longer fund research studies that focus on stress as the primary cause of Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. The Committee urges that up to $60 million be spent over the next four years to monitor and research the health of Gulf War veterans and their children.

The 143-page Committee report is available online at www1.va.gov/rac-gwvi/docs/ReportandRecommendations_2004.pdf

– compiled from BBC News, The Associated Press, Newsweek, and the Research Advisory Committee report
PeaceMeal Nov/December 2004

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)


Light at the end of the tunnel ?

May 1, 2003 – 138 U.S. troops dead – "Mission accomplished" – President George W. Bush

Sept. 8, 2004 – 1,000 U.S. troops dead – "making good progress" – President George W. Bush

As American military deaths in Iraq surpassed the 1,000 mark, top Pentagon officials said that insurgents controlled important parts of central Iraq and that it was unclear when American and Iraqi forces would be able to secure those areas. In Baghdad, foreigners were kidnaped from their guarded offices and homes, and suicide attackers struck key diplomatic and commercial centers, underscoring the inability of U.S. and Iraqi forces to bring security to even the most vital areas of the capital. And in Fallujah, where U.S. forces have not patrolled since April, Iraqi militants have strengthened their hold on the city. Fallujah and the surrounding Anbar province are the center of a Sunni Muslim insurgency bent on driving the U.S. out of their country.

Despite the mounting deaths and growing turmoil, President Bush speaks with bravado almost every day in campaign speeches about how he is "winning" in Iraq. But, according to leading U.S. military strategists and prominent retired generals, Mr. Bush’s war is already lost.

W. Andrew Terrill, professor at the Army War College’s strategic studies institute — and the top expert on Iraq there — said: "If you are a Muslim and the community is under occupation by a non-Islamic power, it becomes a religious requirement to resist that occupation. Most Iraqis consider us occupiers, not liberators." The anti-U.S. insurgency is expanding and becoming more capable as a consequence of U.S. policy.

"I don’t think that you can kill the insurgency," Terrill said. "We have a growing, maturing insurgency group. We see larger and more coordinated military attacks. They are getting better and they can self-regenerate. The idea there are X-number of insurgents, and that when they’re all dead we can get out is wrong. The insurgency has shown an ability to regenerate itself, because there are people willing to fill the ranks of those who are killed. The political culture is more hostile to the U.S. presence. The longer we stay, the more they are confirmed in that view."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at a news conference that the American strategy in retaking rebel-held strongholds hinged on training and equipping Iraqi forces to take the lead. But Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Iraqi forces would probably not be combat-ready until the end of this year.

Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, said: "The idea that we’re going to have an Iraqi force trained to defeat an enemy we can’t defeat stretches the imagination. They will be tainted by their very association with the foreign occupier." He added: "I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true."

The Central Intelligence Agency gave President Bush a report in July that presented a bleak outlook for Iraq. The classified document, known as a National Intelligence Estimate, predicted three possible scenarios ranging from a tenuous stability to political fragmentation and civil war. But President Bush dismissed the gloomy report, saying that the CIA was "just guessing."

Retired general Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of U.S. Central Command, stated: "The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options. We’re conducting a campaign as though it were being conducted in Iowa — no sense of the realities on the ground. It’s so unrealistic for anyone who knows that part of the world."

The officials’ assessment underscored the difficulty of pacifying Iraq in time for elections scheduled for January. The elections are for an assembly that is to write a new constitution next year. There is increasing concern in the administration over plans for the election, with some officials saying that if significant parts of the Sunni areas cannot be secured by January, it may be impossible to hold a nationwide balloting that would be seen as legitimate. Putting off the elections, though, would infuriate Iraq’s Shiite majority. Mr. Rumsfeld warned that the violence would intensify as elections approached.

In an unusual step for a Pentagon that tends to avoid citing body counts as a measure of success, Mr. Rumsfeld said American and allied forces had probably killed 1,500 to 2,500 Iraqi militants in August. Other American officials are more pessimistic about the prospects for regaining control of the embattled areas. One noted, for example, that attacks on American forces rose from 700 in March to 2,700 in August.

Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, remarked that the tension between the Bush administration and the senior military officers over Iraq was worse than any he has ever seen with any previous government, including during Vietnam. "I’ve never seen it so bad between the office of the secretary of defense and the military. There’s a significant majority believing this is a disaster. The two parties whose interests have been advanced have been the Iranians and al-Qaida. Bin Laden could argue with some cogency that our going into Iraq was the equivalent of the Germans in Stalingrad. They defeated themselves by pouring more in there. Tragic."

– compiled from Associated Press, Salon.com, and The New York Times
PeaceMeal Sept/October 2004

Progress? Progress?? Progress???

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)


It’s between friends

by Gene Weisskopf, Vice Chairman

The war on Iraq is a glaring example of how a wedge can be driven between just about any social construct we have — nations, political parties, legal and social institutions, all the way down to families and friends. The ramifications of the war are so immense and the ripples are spreading so far that simply stating one’s views about the war is polarizing. While other Bush-inspired issues may irritate the skin of our social conscience, the war on Iraq has cut deeply, down to the bone, and the gaping wound is festering, not healing.

I find myself uncomfortable when I’m around people who say they support the war. That’s especially so for those who "guess" they support the war, and even worse when it’s friends or family who think the war is okay. To me, it’s as though those people are discussing plans for a lynching Friday night, or an upcoming orgy at the local elementary school — as though the death and destruction are just normal and fine.

All the blood is happening 10,000 miles away, and even television hardly shows us any of that. It’s the Alice in Wonderland effect, where the universe I’m living in must certainly be a different one than they’re living in. We look at the same issue, but they see white and I see black.

A long-time friend of mine has a son who was in the Marines until recently. My friend is rabidly against the polices of Bush and the Republicans, and yet when I asked him before the war started if his son would go to Iraq if ordered, he said: "Well sure, that’s what you do when you’re a Marine." To me, that’s going right down Alice’s rabbit hole. When I offered that his son could refuse to go, he laughed it off as being unreasonable to put that sort of onus on a person just starting out in adult life. So much for difficult moral decisions.

Someone else close to me is actually working at our so-called embassy in Iraq. When I suggested to a mutual relative that maybe another line of work would be better until we get rid of the Bush administration, that wasn’t an option. When I tried to explain that maybe what was going on in Iraq was really just a gang rape of another country that people shouldn’t participate in, I got a verbal slap in the face — and I had been trying to be diplomatic!

How long does it take for the carnage of this spiritual Titanic to finally sink in?

The United States invaded another country on utterly false pretenses, and now we’re going to occupy that country until we feel like leaving (to paraphrase the president). We’ve lost well over 1,000 soldiers, wounded thousands more, and inflicted the same on the Iraqis, but by a full order of magnitude greater. We have squandered a couple hundred billions of dollars so far, devastated Iraq’s infrastructure and social structure, and pulverized what was left of our nation’s dignity. At this point, the mere presence of our troops, contractors, and so-called embassy in Iraq are fomenting the chaos and killing.

The wedge we drove between our allies and ourselves is the same wedge that’s splintering our country. Sadly, it’s also an effective tool for politicians to divert attention from the neglect of important domestic issues, to shroud the voters in fear, and to shield themselves from criticism by waving the flag and telling us to support the troops — and their commander in chief.

But the wedge is draining the soul from our country, and I hate seeing it come between friends.

– PeaceMeal Sept/October 2004


kenoyer.jpg (14331 bytes)Remembered in passing

by Chris Mesford Kenoyer

As Memorial Day approached this year, it became apparent that the war was not over — mission was not "accomplished" — and we were approaching 800 U.S. casualties. In honor of the fallen, I erected my own personal memorial with the help of good friends and family. Each name needed to be remembered. I stood each name up in my yard, raised the flag, and posted a picture of a teardrop drawn by one of my students, Tyson Hicks, to symbolize my grief over their loss. So many names and an imperfect, impermanent memorial!

The numbers grew, and people needed to be subtly reminded in a nonpartisan way of how many fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, sisters, and brothers were lost.

I had this traveling blank billboard, this Chevy Blazer, which was a necessity to haul my son's stand-up bass to and from school. That necessity didn't entirely alleviate the guilt I felt at driving an SUV, compact and gas efficient as it is. So I made magnetic signs to post the numbers of American military dead in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I have become obsessed with checking the numbers every day, four times a day — Central Command, Department of Defense, Antiwar.com, all sources — checking to see if they are all caught up with each other, if all the fallen have been counted. The numbers change almost daily. My numbers change with them.

We can't be allowed to forget the true cost of war, the losses that cannot be recouped. Next Memorial Day I will have another homegrown memorial with every soldier's name honored. My car is not big enough for all the names. I might need the side of my house. The thought sickens me, but I cannot allow their names to be lost in campaign rhetoric.

Chris Mesford Kenoyer of Richland teaches Language Arts at Southridge High School in Kennewick.

– PeaceMeal Sept/October 2004


Lies on the record

The Special Investigations Division of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform - Minority Staff issued a report on March 16 titled Iraq on the Record: The Bush Administration's Public Statements on Iraq. The report is a comprehensive examination of the statements made by the five Administration officials most responsible for shaping public opinion on Iraq and the alleged threat it posed prior to the March 2003 "shock and awe" bombing and invasion: President George Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. The report and an accompanying database identify 237 specific misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq made by the five officials in 125 public appearances.

The Special Investigations Division compiled a database of statements about Iraq drawn from speeches, press conferences and briefings, interviews, written statements, and testimony by the five officials. The Iraq on the Record database contains only statements that were misleading at the time they were made. It does not include statements that appear in hindsight to be erroneous, but were accurate reflections of the views of intelligence officials at the time they were made.

The Iraq on the Record report is a summary of the database. To ensure objectivity, the report was peer reviewed for fairness and accuracy by two leading experts: Joseph Cirincione, senior associate and director of the NonProliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Greg Thielmann, former acting director of the Office of Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The findings are summarized below.

Number of Misleading Statements. The Iraq on the Record database contains 237 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq that were made by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice. These statements were made in 125 separate appearances, consisting of 40 speeches, 26 press conferences and briefings, 53 interviews, 4 written statements, and 2 congressional testimonies. Most of the statements in the database were misleading because they expressed certainty where none existed or failed to acknowledge the doubts of intelligence officials. Ten of the statements were simply false.

Timing of the Statements. The statements began at least a year before the commencement of hostilities in Iraq, when Vice President Cheney stated on March 17, 2002: "We know they have biological and chemical weapons." The Administration's misleading statements continued through January 22, 2004, when Vice President Cheney insisted: "there's overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government." Most of the misleading statements about Iraq — 161 — were made prior to the start of the war. But 76 misleading statements were made by the five Administration officials after the start of the war to justify the decision to go to war.

The 30-day period with the greatest number of misleading statements was the period before the congressional vote on the Iraq war resolution. Congress voted on the measure on October 10 and October 11, 2002. From September 8 through October 8, 2002, the five officials made 64 misleading statements in 16 public appearances. A large number of misleading statements were also made during the two months before the war began. Between January 19 and March 19, 2003, the five officials made 48 misleading statements in 26 public appearances.

Topics of the Statements. The 237 misleading statements can be divided into four categories. The five officials made 11 statements that claimed that Iraq posed an urgent threat; 81 statements that exaggerated Iraq's nuclear activities; 84 statements that overstated Iraq's chemical and biological weapons capabilities; and 61 statements that misrepresented Iraq's ties to al Qaeda.

Statements by President Bush. Between September 12, 2002, and July 17, 2003, President Bush made 55 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 27 separate public appearances. On October 7, 2002, three days before the congressional votes on the Iraqi war resolution, President Bush gave a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, with 11 misleading statements, the most by any of the five officials in a single appearance. Other misleading statements include his statement on October 2, 2002, that "the Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency"; his statement in the January 28, 2003, State of the Union address that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa"; and his statement on May 1, 2003, that "the liberation of Iraq . . . removed an ally of al Qaeda."

Statements by Vice President Cheney. Between March 17, 2002, and January 22, 2004, Vice President Cheney made 51 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 25 separate public appearances. They include his statement on September 8, 2002, that "we do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs . . . to build a nuclear weapon"; his statement on March 16, 2003, that "we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons"; and his statement on October 10, 2003, that Saddam Hussein "had an established relationship with al Qaeda."

Statements by Secretary Rumsfeld. Between May 22, 2002, and November 2, 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld made 52 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 23 separate public appearances. They include his statement on November 14, 2002, that within "a week, or a month" Saddam Hussein could give his weapons of mass destruction to al Qaeda, which could use them to attack the United States and kill "30,000, or 100,000 . . . human beings"; his statement on January 29, 2003, that Saddam Hussein's regime "recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa"; and his statement on July 13, 2003, that there "was never any debate" about whether Iraq had a nuclear program.

Statements by Secretary Powell. Between April 3, 2002, and October 3, 2003, Secretary Powell made 50 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 34 separate public appearances. Secretary Powell sometimes used caveats and qualifying language in his public statements. Those statements were not included in the database. Nonetheless, many of Secretary Powell's statements did not include these qualifiers and were misleading in their expression of certainty, such as his statement on May 22, 2003, that "there is no doubt in our minds now that those vans were designed for only one purpose, and that was to make biological weapons."

Statements by National Security Advisor Rice. Between September 8, 2002, and September 28, 2003, National Security Advisor Rice made 29 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 16 separate public appearances. Although Ms. Rice had the fewest public appearances and the fewest misleading statements, she had the highest number of statements — 8 — that were false. These false statements included several categorical assertions that that no one in the White House knew of the intelligence community's doubts about the President's assertion that Iraq sought to import uranium from Africa.

The full Iraq on the Record report and entire searchable database are accessible at www.reform.house.gov/min.

– PeaceMeal March/April 2004

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)


Iraqi defector lied about WMD

The Bush administration’s prewar claims that Saddam Hussein had built a fleet of trucks and railroad cars to produce anthrax and other deadly germs were based chiefly on information from a now-discredited Iraqi defector code-named "Curveball." Curveball surfaced in a German refugee camp and claimed that he had been hired out of Baghdad University to design and build biological warfare trucks for the Iraqi army. U.S. officials never had direct access to the defector, but were provided his story by German agents. Dr. David Kay, who resigned in January as head of the U.S. weapons inspection team in Iraq, sought to confirm Curveball’s claims after the end of major combat. In an interview, Kay said that Curveball turned out to be an "out-and-out fabricator." Last summer, Kay’s investigators visited Curveball’s parents and brother in Baghdad, as well as his former work sites. They determined that he was last in his class at the University of Baghdad, not first as he had claimed. They also learned he had been fired from his job and jailed for embezzlement before he fled Iraq.

His story has since crumbled under doubts raised by the Germans and the scrutiny of U.S. weapons hunters. But it was a crucial part of the White House case for war, including Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the U.N. Security Council just weeks before the United States attacked Iraq. Kay said Powell’s account was "disingenuous" and added: "If Powell had said to the Security Council: ‘It’s one source, we never actually talked to him, and we don’t know his name,’ as he's describing this, I think people would have laughed us out of court."

Only later did the CIA learn that the defector was the brother of a top aide to Ahmed Chalabi — an Iraqi exile who was propelled to prominence by close aides to President Bush — and begin to suspect that he might have been coached to provide false information. Mr. Chalabi, a secular Shiite Muslim from a wealthy and influential Iraqi family, had not been in Baghdad since the late 1950s. In 1992 he helped found the Iraqi National Congress with CIA support for the purpose of fomenting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The INC has received millions of dollars from the U.S. government under the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of Central Command for U.S. forces in the Middle East, famously ridiculed Chalabi and company as "silk-suited, Rolex-wearing guys in London."

Chalabi previously served as chairman of the Petra Bank in Jordan, where he engaged in various cloak-and-dagger operations that ended abruptly in August 1989 when he fled the country "under mysterious circumstances." In 1992 he was convicted in absentia for embezzlement, fraud, and currency-trading irregularities, and sentenced to 22 years’ hard labor. He reportedly got away with more than $70 million. Allegations of self-dealing have followed him everywhere since.

Chalabi lobbied Washington for years to overthrow Hussein and claimed that he had spies inside the Baghdad regime. In 1998, Chalabi and Ahmed Allawi, who headed intelligence operations for the Iraqi National Congress, began feeding information to the U.N. weapons inspectors who were still in Iraq. Scott Ritter, a former chief U.N. weapons inspector said, "We got hand-drawn maps, handwritten statements and other stuff flowing in. At first blush, it looked good. But nothing panned out. Most of it just regurgitated what we’d given them. And the data that was new never checked out."

Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Vincent Cannistraro, a former senior CIA official and counterterrorism expert, said, "The [INC’s] intelligence isn’t reliable at all. Much of it is propaganda. Much of it is telling the Defense Department what they want to hear. And much of it is used to support Chalabi’s own presidential ambitions. They make no distinction between intelligence and propaganda, using alleged informants and defectors who say what Chalabi wants them to say, [creating] cooked information that goes right into presidential and vice-presidential speeches."

The CIA acknowledged in February that another defector whom Powell cited at the U.N., a former major in Iraq’s intelligence service, had lied when he said that Baghdad had built mobile laboratories to test biological agents. The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency twice debriefed that defector in early 2002 and reported his claims. But it then concluded that he did not have firsthand information and probably was coached by Chalabi’s exile group.

Since major combat ended in Iraq, U.S. and British intelligence officials have acknowledged that lies or distortions by Iraqi opposition groups in exile contributed to numerous misjudgments about Iraq’s suspected weapons programs. Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress is blamed most often.

Chalabi shrugged off charges that he had deliberately misled U.S. intelligence. "We are heroes in error," he said. "As far as we’re concerned, we’ve been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important."

Chalabi, now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, retains strong support in the White House. He was a guest of First Lady Laura Bush at the president’s State of the Union address in January.

– compiled from The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The American Prospect, and Daily Telegraph (London), PeaceMeal March/April 2004

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)


Backpedaling on the rush to war

One year ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the Bush Administration's most comprehensive — and carefully worded — case for an alleged urgent threat Iraq posed to the United States and the world. In his February 5, 2003, testimony before the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Powell claimed that the evidence added up to "facts" and "not assertions," that Iraq had large stockpiles of horrific chemical and biological weapons, that it was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, and that it was building a fleet of advanced missiles.

david_kay.jpg (2987 bytes)Now a year later, many of Mr. Powell's gravest allegations have been disputed, if not disproved, by Dr. David A. Kay (photo), the Administration's own chief weapons inspector in Iraq. Dr. Kay, one of the true believers that weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) would be found, resigned on January 23 after nine months of intense but unsuccessful searching, saying, "I don't think they existed."

On the heels of Dr. Kay's resignation and subsequent testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, many in the Administration are subtly changing their assertions about Iraq's WMDs, including President Bush himself In his recent State of the Union address, Pres. Bush spoke of Saddam's "programs" rather than weapons. Remember that Mr. Bush made his case for war by warning of a "mushroom cloud." Clearly, Iraq didn't have anything like that — and Mr. Bush must have known it.

Questions began to arise about much of the administration's alleged evidence ever since the team of 1,400 American weapons inspectors arrived in Iraq. By April, the failure to find weapons stockpiles were already raising red flags. And "intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic were furious that briefings they gave political leaders were distorted in the rush to war," The Independent (U.K.), reported. One high-level source told the paper that "they ignored intelligence assessments which said Iraq was not a threat."

Chemical weapons: What Mr. Powell described as suspicious activities at sites Iraq had previously used to manufacture chemical weapons probably involved something far more benign: commercial chlorine-manufacturing activity.

Biological weapons: Trailers alleged to be mobile production facilities for biological weapons were more likely used to manufacture hydrogen for military weather balloons.

Nuclear weapons: Inspectors found a program that existed mostly on paper, except for a few blueprints and centrifuge parts that an Iraqi scientist, Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, dug up from his garden where they had been buried for 12 years.

Long-range missiles: Iraqi engineers were barely able to develop a missile that could stay within the 90-mile maximum range allowed under U.N. sanctions. The missiles were wildly inaccurate and would sometimes fly off in the wrong direction.

Dr. Kay said Iraq had all but abandoned its efforts to produce large quantities of chemical or biological weapons after the 1991 Gulf War. His team also learned that, sometime around the late 1990s, Saddam Hussein became increasingly isolated and divorced from reality. Government activities began to spin out of control into what Dr. Kay called a "vortex of corruption."

Iraqi scientists realized they could fake weapons programs — go directly to Mr. Hussein and present fanciful plans, receive approval and large amounts of money they used for other purposes. Whatever was left of an effective weapons capability collapsed into corrupt money-raising schemes by scientists skilled in the arts of lying and surviving in a fevered police state.

Following Dr. Kay's declaration that Iraq had no significant stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons when the invasion of Iraq began, both Democratic and Republican members of Congress pressed for an independent probe into pre-war intelligence failures. Following negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House, Pres. Bush announced on February 2 that he would establish an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the matter. The political damage from such an inquiry is potentially fatal in an election year, and President Bush earlier opposed one. But with executive control of the panel's mandate, Mr. Bush said he would call for the commission to report next year — after the election is over.

Some answers were found by The New York Times through examination of available intelligence information and interviews with current and former senior intelligence officials, several Iraqi engineers, Congressional officials involved in investigations of the CIA, and current and former Administration officials. The interviews and analysis suggest that the Administration’s case for war was based largely on limited, fragmentary, and mostly circumstantial evidence, with conclusions drawn on the basis of an assumption that Saddam Hussein would never dismantle old illegal weapons and would pursue new ones to the fullest extent possible.

Government officials, including some still serving in the Administration, argue that the case presented by Mr. Powell paid little attention to information that might have undermined the Administration's highlighting worst-case conclusions. "They took every piece of information that proved their point and listed it," a former senior intelligence official who took part in the pre-war debates said, referring to the senior CIA officials whose analytical conclusions formed the basis of Mr. Powell's presentation. "They would disregard or make fun of any contrary evidence. They forgot they were making mere guesses, and even guesses have to be taken with caution. They didn't hedge or caveat. Instead they would say we're right and you're wrong and it's a matter of national security."

In his presentation, Mr. Powell made clear that his case was based mainly on human intelligence. Iraqi defectors and exiles had given dramatic accounts of WMDs, and their false information found an audience eager to believe the worst.

The Bush administration's campaign for war against Iraq was a spectacle of hype and innuendo. Allegations were made, held until discredited, and then supplanted with something else. Michael Kinsley, founding editor of Slate.msn.com opined in September 2002 that "The arguments have been so phony and so fleeting that it's hard to know what Bush's real motive is."

The grievous overstatement of Iraq's weapons capabilities has raised a fundamental question in Congress and among U.S. allies: how can a nation threaten to act pre-emptively against another government if the evidence of what kind of a threat it poses — and how imminent the threat may be — is that far off the mark?

Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, warned of damage to U.S. credibility around the world as a result of the intelligence debacle. Recalling former French President Charles De Gaulle's statement that he so trusted President John F. Kennedy's word he did not need to see satellite photos of Soviet missiles near Cuba, Biden told CNN: "No leader in the world would respond to President Bush that way today."

– with information from The New York Times and Reuters
PeaceMeal, Jan/February 2004

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)


What they said

President George W. Bush:

"The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our country is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons." – September 26, 2002

"Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." – October 7, 2002

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons." – February 8, 2003

"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." – March 17, 2003

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:

"The United States knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The U.K. knows that they have weapons of mass destruction. Any country on the face of the Earth with an active intelligence program knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction." – December 3, 2002

"We know where they [the weapons] are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad." – March 30, 2003

Vice President Dick Cheney:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." – August 26, 2002

Secretary of State Colin Powell:

"Hussein has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." – February 24, 2001

"We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more. ... A conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets. ...

"There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction. ...

"Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb." – February 5, 2003

"A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as plain as the nose on your face."

– Jiminy Cricket

– PeaceMeal, Jan/February 2004

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)


500 pairs of empty boots honor U.S. dead in Iraq

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More than 500 pairs of empty Army boots were arranged in formation in downtown Chicago on January 21 to serve as a reminder of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. The black boots, some dusty and dirty from use, were placed on the Federal Plaza with a display giving the names, ages, and states of all soldiers killed in the Bush administration’s pre-emptive war.

"These young men and women will not have died in vain if truth triumphs," said Michael McConnell, regional director of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker peace and social justice group that sponsored the memorial. He referred to the State of the Union address a day earlier in which President Bush urged the nation to stay the course. "We say reverse the course," McConnell said. "Admit that this war was fought under false pretenses."

The United States has not been able to find any banned weapons in Iraq, which was President Bush’s alleged justification for going to war (see article on next page).

524 American and 93 other coalition service men and women have died (as of February 1) since the beginning of military operations in Iraq, both from hostile and non-hostile causes.

One of the non-hostile causes is suicide. The Army’s suicide rate in Iraq has been about a third higher than past rates for troops during peacetime, according to Dr. William Winkenwerder, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. The Pentagon’s top doctor said January 14 that 21 suicides have been documented during 2003 among troops involved in the Iraq war. The issue of suicides so worried the military that the Army sent an assessment team to Iraq late last year to see if anything more could be done to prevent troops from killing themselves.

The Army also began offering more counseling to returning troops after several soldiers at Fort Bragg, N.C., killed their wives and themselves after returning home from the war.

Additional thousands of troops have been wounded, many suffering lifetime disabilities. About 2,500 troops are still waiting for medical care after returning from overseas, Dr. Winkenwerder said. The Pentagon is preparing for even more soldiers on "medical extension" after tens of thousands of troops are rotated home from Iraq this spring.

– information from The Associated Press
PeaceMeal, Jan/February 2004

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)


Suicide probe 'whitewash' clears Blair

LONDON - Lord Hutton, a conservative judge appointed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to investigate the suicide of weapons expert Dr. David Kelly (PeaceMeal, July/August 2003), issued a report January 28 absolving Mr. Blair and his government of any blame in the matter. Lord Hutton cleared Mr. Blair’s administration of any direct involvement in the suicide, but the BBC came under fire for its reporting of the scandal, prompting its chairman to resign.

According to two polls, around half the public believe the Hutton report to be a whitewash. Even among supporters in Blair's own Labor party, one-fifth hold that opinion. Lawyers interviewed said Lord Hutton's conclusions were one-sided and were not supported by all the evidence given to his inquiry.

Lord Hutton said he was satisfied that nobody involved in the matter could have foreseen that Dr. Kelly would take his own life. Kelly’s body was found near his home in a rural area in July, his left wrist slashed. He killed himself after being identified as the anonymous source of a BBC report alleging that the government sexed up claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to bolster support for war.

Critics had accused the government and Blair personally of cynically exposing Kelly to massive media scrutiny, thereby contributing to his death. Hutton concluded the government did not act in a "dishonorable, underhand or duplicitous" way in revealing Kelly’s identity.

Hutton said the allegation that government officials had used intelligence they probably knew was wrong — reported by the BBC in May — was unfounded.

Michael Howard, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, accepted Lord Hutton's conclusions, but still wanted an independent inquiry into why no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. Following President Bush's call for such an investigation in the U.S., Mr. Blair did likewise.

– compiled from The Associated Press, The New York Times, and The Independent (U.K.)
PeaceMeal, Jan/February 2004

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)


Intrigue surrounds scientist's suicide

In an e-mail sent hours before his death, Dr. David Kelly, recognized worldwide as a leading expert on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, warned of "many dark actors playing games." The message sent to a journalist appeared to refer to officials within the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) and British intelligence agencies with whom he had sparred over interpretations of Iraq weapons reports.

Dr. Kelly, 59, worked for the MoD and was formerly second-in-command of UNSCOM, the United Nations weapons inspection team in Iraq. His body was found in woods near his Oxfordshire home on July 18, days after he gave evidence to a House of Commons committee about an unauthorized briefing he gave to a BBC journalist regarding the Government's Iraq dossiers. He had apparently committed suicide the previous day by slashing his wrist and taking powerful painkillers.

Dr. Kelly had been suspected of being the source for a news report that Britain doctored information on Iraq's weapons programs in order to bolster the case for war. BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan said in May that a senior intelligence source told him the government "sexed up" intelligence on Iraq. The BBC refused government requests to reveal who the source was.

The MoD, however, revealed Dr. Kelly's name as the supposed "mole." Dr. Kelly felt shocked and betrayed by the leaking of his name, and said he was put under "intolerable" pressure by being placed at the center of the controversy. He also said he was put "through the wringer" during five days of grilling by MoD officials. The MoD said that Kelly had been told he had violated civil service rules by having unauthorized contact with a journalist, but "that was the end of it." It said Kelly had at no point been threatened with suspension or dismissal after admitting speaking to the BBC reporter. The BBC formally stated on July 20 that Kelly was the main contact for their defense correspondent Andrew Gilligan.

The Evening Standard raised the possibility that Kelly was "threatened with loss of pension, or prosecution under the Official Secrets Act." Neither of these is a small thing, but would bring massive humiliation to a man who had served his country for decades. Should he have been prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act, it could have meant imprisonment.

The death of Dr. David Kelly has been declared a suicide by police. But the circumstances leading up to his death are so ominous that some assert he was "the man who knew too much" and call for investigation of a possible wetwork. ("Wetwork" refers to the act of covertly killing somebody by order and making it look natural or accidental. – Editor)

The Government was accused of "running scared" of a full investigation into Dr. Kelly's death when Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected calls for Parliament to be recalled from its summer break to approve the scope of an inquiry. Doing so "would generate more heat than light," Blair said, and instead ordered a judicial inquiry.

Bill Cash, the shadow Attorney General, said: "The death of Dr Kelly is inseparable from the general handling of intelligence about the Iraq war. It is impossible to separate the two." He added: "The Government is in the dock. The Government should not decide without parliamentary debate and involvement on the terms of reference. The Government is trying to escape from a full inquiry."

According to a television journalist who spoke with Kelly's wife, Janice, the day his body was found, she said her husband felt stressed after appearing before the Commons committee. "She didn't use the word depressed, but she said he was very, very stressed and unhappy about what had happened and this was really not the kind of world he wanted to live in."

Dr. Kelly's wife and daughters issued a joint statement July 19 saying:"Those who are responsible for what has happened can be sure that we will not let the matter rest here." Kelly's sister added, "I think the politicians, especially the government, have a lot of questions to answer."

– compiled from BBC News, The Independent, Sunday Herald and Sunday Times (London)
PeaceMeal, July/August 2003

 (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

"The truth is, nobody — nobody — believes a word now that the Prime Minister is saying."

– British Member of Parliament on "Now – with Bill Moyers," PBS, July 18, 2003