Have you ever noticed that it’s always politicians, media types, and either washed up or disgruntled, anonymous intelligence sources who claim there never was any WMD in Iraq? On the other hand, every single commander and deputy commander of CENTCOM says that Saddam did have WMD. So too do the inspectors with the closest knowledge of before and after inspections: Dr Butler, Dr Kay, Dr Duelfer, and most of the former UN inspectors. Is this subject one where the word of a former governor of Vermont is better than that of highly decorated generals and weapons inspectors who have served their country all over the world for decades? While Gov. Dean’s hands were sticky with maple syrup, people like General Zinni, General DeLong, General Franks, and so many others had their hands covered in the sands of the Middle East. While Rep. Pelosi works to blame President Bush for things as random and controllable as the weather, people like Dr. Kay and Dr. Duelfer were in 130 degree desert heat wearing plastic suits in toxic environments and being shot at. Perhaps it’s wiser to believe the professionals who serve with honor and for whom lying is a disgrace rather than a politician for whom pandering to constituents and the party base isn’t lying. It’s “spin.”
If one is to raise an eyebrow and for a moment believe the Generals, then the obvious question is, “What happened to Saddam’s WMD?” The former dictator declared them, and declared them destroyed but offered no evidence of their destruction; no wreckage, no contaminated sand, no documents, and not even witnesses. One must wonder how the most poisonous chemicals and biological agents ever made by man just disappear without leaving a trace, without anyone logging their destruction, and without anyone having done the destruction themselves. Moreover, if the WMD once did exist (as Saddam, the UN, and the Clinton and Bush Administrations as well as the world all acknowledge)….then where are they?
There are basically three claims as to what happened to Saddam’s WMD: they were flown to Syria, they were driven to Syria, and they were shipped out on Russian ships.
One of Saddam’s generals, General Georges Sada, has come forward with claims that Saddam moved his “special weapons” out of Iraq, to Syria in late summer 2002. He allegedly did this under the guise of humanitarian aid flights to Syria after there was a dam burst in July, and the shipments were made on modified civilian planes, by pilots Sada knows personally. On June 17, 2002, the Times of London reported that Iraqi nuclear centrifuge parts were being smuggled out of Syria-originally stored at the port of Tartus, they had been moved to Damascus International Airport and moved to points unknown from there-effectively corroborating Sada’s story. The Time’s report even cites the Dam break as a cover story, and that cover story is part of Georges Sada’s claims as well. In late summer 2002, we know from the Saddam tapes, from multiple mainstream media interviews with former Iraqi generals, and from the ISG reports that Saddam stunned his general staff by announcing to them that he was letting the UN inspectors back in because there were no longer any “special weapons” in the country.
Other shipments went by truck and storage payment was made to Syria through an arms smuggling front company run by Syrian Intelligence: SES International. That it did exist, was A Syrian Intel front company and was corrupt is not at all in dispute. SES Intl was one of those blatant Oil-For-Food cover companies used by Saddam to buy conventional weapons in exchange for UN oil vouchers. The Duelfer Report is ridden with information about SES International’s illegal sales-sales that Saddam was using to break his conventional arms containment. SES was cited by the Treasury Department as being a front for Syrian Intelligence, a sanction-breaking company, and was being used by Syria’s family to launder money. Assad’s family has also been caught by the UN using the collapsed bank of Al Madina as a similar front company involved in the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister.
Why believe General Sada? As a pilot himself and an investigator respected by Saddam himself, Sada was the general in charge of interrogating and guarding downed Coalition pilots during Desert Storm. Retired USAF Col. David Eberly (the ranking Coalition POW pilot) writes the introduction to Sada’s book and vouches for his credibility. Two British airmen vouched for his credibility in a book they co-wrote about their experience as POW’s at his hands. In fact, Sada dared to argue with Saddam’s insane son, Uday-who wanted the pilots executed, and Sada was jailed as a result. Opponents to the war should respect his opinion as he was given multiple awards for his peaceful efforts to prevent a war by anti-war groups prior to the invasion. Ali Ibrahim, another of Saddam’s former commanders, affirms Sada’s story. (“Ali Ibrahim al-Tikriti was a southern regional commander for Saddam Hussein’s Fedayeen militia in the late 1980s and a personal friend of the dictator. Units under his command dealt with chemical and biological weapons”). Perhaps most importantly, the details of his story-as well as all the stories in his book-are well-corroborated by mainstream media reports. Few details are not-except the contents of the planes and trucks that went to Syria. Sada says he knows what was in them, but the ISG, and mainstream media don’t. It’s sad they don’t have one of Sada’s pilots doing the cable news talkshow circuit.