Stepping up to the “red line”

| December 6, 2012

NBC News says that officials in the Obama Administration are admitting that Syria has loaded the precursor for their sarin gas weapons and they’re preparing to use it on rebels there. But, luckily, we have Hillary Clinton’s mouth on our side to warn the Syrians that they’re about to cross a “red line”. No, I don’t know what that means, either;

U.S. officials stressed that as of now, the sarin bombs hadn’t been loaded onto planes and that Assad hadn’t issued a final order to use them. But if he does, one of the officials said, “there’s little the outside world can do to stop it.”


Speaking Wednesday at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Clinton said the Syrian government was on the brink of collapse, raising the prospect that “an increasingly desperate Assad regime” might turn to chemical weapons or that the banned weapons could fall into other hands.

Well, the western world is clearly to blame because it took them this long to recognize the problem. And we had people from our own government who gave Assad the confidence to think he could remain in power with their support. Remember? Back during the Bush Administration? Some folks said he was wrong to isolate Assad, so they took it upon themselves to hug up to Assad. If you forgot, here’s a reminder;

Assad allowed Hussein to move his weapons of mass destruction into Syria, like Iran had allowed him to hide his air force a decade before. Assad did nothing to prevent support for insurgents from entering Iraq from Syria. And we should have dealt with the problem then. Now we’re staring down the barrel of chemical weapons used against a civilian population with nothing we can do to stop it. I guess we missed our opportunity to destroy the stockpile of weapons when those weapons were inert.

And the Pentagon’s solution is 75,000 troops. MOPP 4 sucks, take my word for it, those of you who missed that training in the good old days of the Cold War and the initial invasion of Iraq in 1991.

So I guess this Arab Spring shit just got serious.

ADDED: For those of you who think that Syria’s WMDs didn’t come from Iraq.

Category: Terror War

Comments (55)

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  1. Ex-PH2 says:

    For anyone who does not know it, those are the chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein tested on people in a village near where he was born. There were graphic images shown on the news back then. They are lethal. There were no survivors of that “test”.

    It is what the Syrian people will face if they are used, and what our troops will face if they are sent there.

  2. BruteForce says:

    No fly-zone over Syria. Destroy any artillery and aircraft visible.

    Or do nothing.

  3. Ex-PH2 says:

    This is a link to a video shot in 1988 after Saddam Hussein’s nerve gas attack on Halabja. It is gruesome. Be warned.

  4. 68W58 says:

    The Turks and the Israelis will both lose their minds if boy Assad pulls the WMD trigger. This is likely a last ditch bluff by the ophthalmologist. Hopefully he and his glamour girl wife get on a plane for Tehran before the end of the year.

  5. crucible says:

    The first (several) times I went into MOPP4 for real in ’91 I remember thinking “I picked a hell of a day to quit amphetamines”.

  6. Hondo says:

    Minor correction, Ex-PH2: Halabjah wasn’t near Tikrit; it’s about 9 mi from the Iranian border in eastern Iraq. Hussein’s hometown of Al Awja (near Tikrit) is over 100 mi to the ESE.

    And, for the record: Halabjah is hardly the sole documented use of chemical weapons by Hussein. He used them multiple times during the Iran-Iraq war. You just didn’t hear much about it at the time – or afterwards. It was one of those “inconvenient truths” the press didn’t find acceptable to publish.

    • Jonn Lilyea says:

      I remember seeing photos of a sarin attack on Kurds when I was in ANCOC in ’86, so I know there was more than one instance of Hussein using the nerve agent.

  7. rb325th says:

    Why when Clinton or Obama speak of “red lines” do I get images in my head of our old buddy Khadaffi back in the 80’s with his “if you cross this line I will kill you” moments?

    Oh and as to the WMD source, it is never too late to say I told you so to a bunch of ignorant assholes who insist Saddam was telling the truth.

  8. CI says:

    “For those of you who think that Syria’s WMDs didn’t come from Iraq.”

    Has that ever been corroborated outside of Sada’s claims?

  9. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Some people will only believe what they want to believe regardless of the facts with which they’re confronted. 500 tons of uranium wasn’t evidence that Hussein had nuclear ambitions, either.

  10. Ex-PH2 says:

    Hondo, the video of Halabja was the only visual evidence I could find. I could not recall the exact location, or how many times Saddam did that, or exactly where they were. I think a lot of them were just written off by the press.

  11. Hondo says:

    Now, Jonn – don’t exaggerate. There were 550 metric tons of yellowcake, not uranium. At a typical 80% concentration of U3O8, that works out to only about 373 tons of purified uranium metal. (smile)

    Of course, based on public info about the “Little Boy” design that would yield enough HEU for somewhere around 80 Hiroshima-style (gun design, very inefficient) bombs. Or quite a few more using a more modern design.

  12. Hondo says:

    Ex-PH2: remember, Google and Google Maps are your friends. (smile)

  13. NHSparky says:

    As much as I hope that these weapons aren’t used, if they are, there’s no way in hell the loopy left can say Bush should have ignored the evidence of WMD’s in Iraq and prevented their use.

    Or they’ll just do as they’ve done to date and ignore it.

  14. USMCE8Ret says:

    Strong finger waving and admonishments by this administration won’t affect Syria, and considering the internet was (is?) shut down there, is enough evidence to me that once the Sarin or VX is used, it’s a method to control video of the tragedy from being shown on the world stage.

    Where is the UN in all of this? (Rhetorical question, yes…)

    I don’t think we should handle Syria unilaterally, but a no-fly-zone with coalition partners would be a start.

  15. SGT E says:

    In BCT we trained with our MOPP gear, but by the time I went to Iraq, we drew the JS-LIST stuff, put it in the bottom of a duffle bag, and it sat in that bag until we turned it in during demob…the only chemical training we did was firing in our gas masks on one range.

  16. Old Trooper says:

    When the rumors first started, I said this shit is getting serious, but others want to continue to believe that strongly worded messages from the metrosexual-in-chief will get the job done. Assad has nothing to lose, because he knows he’s done, anyway, and that makes him very dangerous.

  17. CI says:

    @10 Jonn – Sada’s claim is single source reporting. That doesn’t measure up to something actionable in DoD and the IC, so why would it automatically become fact for anyone else?

    The yellowcake was tagged by the IAEA from pre-existing stocks, and Syria has had a WMD program since the late 70-s-early 80’s.

    It doesn’t really matter to me whether Iraq moved WMD or not, I’m just interested in truth, not assumption.

  18. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    US politicians are drunk with their own style because their BS works so well on the American idiocracy. When it doesn’t work oustide of the US or the UN, they are lost and cannot understand why the head of some country isn’t doing what he was told the US wants to see done. When the s hits the fan, the congresscritters jump under their desks and tell inquirers, “This is very serious. We hope the president leads on this matter…blah, blah, blah.” Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour lasted 60 minutes. We have another 4 years of it.

  19. Devtun says:

    Wasn’t the election of the Messiah supposed to bring understanding and peace to the ME because of his “unique background”? Like Dubya was such a dunderhead and all, how could BO possibly not be a genius in comparison? Apologizing for American Exceptionalism and bowing incessantly seems to be really hitting the spot.

  20. UpNorth says:

    IF all else fails, Hillary will have Huma Abedin scold Assad fiercely, and warn him not to do anything to upset Obama’s vacation plans.

  21. Flagwaver says:

    I know I will cause a number of damp monitors, but…

    Does this mean Bush still lied? Or will Obama admit the large empty warehouses with a single mustard gas mortar round in Iraq might have held chemical weapons like SADDAM said?

  22. Adirondack Patriot says:

    President “Stand Down” did nothing when Americans were under fire and killed in Benghazi. Why should he send in troops to protect Syrians from killing Syrians?

  23. DefendUSA says:

    Oy. Not again. Those of us who understand what “WMD” really are, also understand that Hussein used and moved it way back before the shit hit the fan.
    You will never explain to someone who still wants to blame Bush for everything terroristic, (and economy related for that matter)that WMD’s are not just nuclear bombs. That’s what the left would like people to think.
    I reiterate…NBC…Nuclear, Biological, Chemical. All or the sum of them kill. I wish some people would stop being so frigging obtuse.

  24. martinjmpr says:

    I’m amused at the irony of the news media working themselves into a high dudgeon about Assad’s chemical weapons when they bent over backwards to dismiss the concern about Hussein’s. And my irony meter would explode if Obama tried to justify military action on the basis of WMDs, given how furiously Obama’s supporters decried Bush’s actions WRT Iraq.

    Also curious about why this is such a ‘red line?’ Seriously, we’re expected to believe that the “international community” will mobilize if Assad uses CW after they’ve sat on the sidelines while he used all kinds of conventional ones? Why would anyone believe that?

    And what difference does it make, really? Is being shot in the gut and left to die in the street any more pleasant than inhaling nerve agent and doing the “kickin’ chicken?” Or being burned alive by napalm? Or being blasted to pieces by high explosive?

    Dead is dead.

  25. Common Sense says:

    The Obama Admin picked up the phrase “red line” from Netanyahu, thinking it would make them sound tough.

    I don’t think it worked.

    Instead of speak softly and carry a big stick, they’re more about speak loudly and often and have nothing to back it up.

  26. Common Sense says:

    I should say, they have nothing they’re willing to use to back it up.

  27. Rock8 says:

    You are right John, the Western world is clearly to blame. Syria and N. Korea are the last two non-signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The fact that world community KNEW he had & used chemical weapons and did nothing is nearly criminal, especially since we invaded Iraq simply because they didn’t keep any paperwork on their CW destruction (yeah, I know it was a little more than just that). Now we are going to have to clean up this mess and it won’t be pretty.

  28. Hondo says:

    CI: when Iraq obtained their yellowcake is, bluntly, irrelevant. Stockpiling 550 tons of the stuff with no domestic nuclear power industry or plans for same is IMO prima facie evidence of interest in WMD production – specifically, nuclear WMD.

    Further: while the ISG found no evidence that Iraq moved WMDs to Syria before the 2003 war, it also explicitly stated that (1) many items appeared to have been moved from Iraq to Syria, and (2) they could not rule out the possibility of WMD’s having been among the items moved. Indeed, David Kay (who initially headed the ISG) was of the opinion that exactly this had happened.

    A small WMD stockpile moved to Syria just before hostilities is indeed plausible. Depending on the density of the liquid agent and/or it’s precursor, a single 53′ flatbed trailer could move between 16 and 21 short tons of chemical agent in 55-gal drums. A 2000-ton stockpile would thus require somewhere between 3 and 4 32-truck convoys to move.

    I have no idea whether or not that happened. But given Syria’s past support for Iraq and Hussein’s megalomaniacal nature, I would tend to believe that very likely.

  29. NHSparky says:

    And my irony meter would explode if Obama tried to justify military action on the basis of WMDs, given how furiously Obama’s supporters decried Bush’s actions WRT Iraq.

    Another point over which the MSM and left will remain conveniently and blissfully ignorant.

  30. martinjmpr says:

    I heard Medved this morning saying “if we go to war with Syria” and had to LOL.

    Obama is about as likely to go to war against Syria as he is to go to war against the moon. Of course, the US might commit to another proxy war like we did with Libya (where all of our “fighting” would be done with standoff weapons and/or by arming the opposition) but I can’t envision any scenario where US troops end up with boots on the ground in Syria (or Iran, for that matter.)

    The reason is simple: He has nothing to gain and everything to lose by doing so. The people who oppose Obama aren’t going to suddenly rally to his side, and too many people on his side now would abandon him if he tried to invade another country.

    Drones, aircraft and other standoff weapons? Sure, those would be used. But you can bet your bottom dollar that the plan would be carefully designed with one primary objective, and that would be to make sure that US casualties were ZERO. Even a commando-type raid seems unlikely to me given the likelihood of friendly casualties. Obama simply doesn’t want to take the risk and if that means the mission is half-assed, then so be it.

  31. PintoNag says:

    @30 On the blogs, the O supporters are counseling the administration to wait until the gas is used before taking any action — that way there is “proof” of WMD. So they avoid the Bush albatross, you see.

  32. NHSparky says:

    And in doing so only a couple hundred thousand (potentially more) dead in the process.

    Then again, Clinton sat on his ass over Rwanda which left nearly a million dead and got a pass on that one, why shouldn’t we expect the same over Syria?

  33. Detn8r says:

    I spent many, MANY hours in MOPP4 and then later in life, as a WMD Survey Team member in a Level “A” suit with either an SCBA or Re-Breather strapped to my back. Not a fun situation. During this training and work up, I came in contact with more that one of the inspectors that was sent into Iraq before we invaded. Everyone of them would say that WMD, not just Nuclear material, but Chemical and Biological material could be found in the country. they also stated that they knew of the transfer of this material to Syria long before we sent our first troops in. I will have to go on their word, as none of them could produce proof. Now, however, I want to believe their stories. And if their stories were true, there is some serious Methyl-Ethyl Bad Shit in the hands of Assad, shit very few of us are trained to handle.

  34. martinjmpr says:

    @33: Casualties only matter to the electorate if they are American and sometimes not even then. Clinton knew that, that’s why as soon as the US forces in Somalia got a bloody nose, he changed the ROE to “hunker in the bunker” and got them out of there as soon as he could.

    By the time we got to Haiti (Clinton’s first “war” and also mine) our security posture was such that that we spent most of our security efforts just trying to protect ourselves and ignoring the “mission” (whatever it was – I was there 6 months and I still don’t know.)

    Ditto for the Balkans operation where US forces lived in virtual lockdown while forces from other countries were free to mingle with the locals (even in peaceful and developed Hungary, we could only leave our camp on “official business” with harsh penalties for those caught violating the rules.)

    The democrats learned after Vietnam that body bags are bad for their political careers and so they do everything they can to avoid them, even if it means turning an otherwise sensible mission into a hopeless charade.

  35. Nik says:


    That sounds about right.

    On the other hand, why? Obama’s in office. He’s not getting a third term. No way in hell he’s getting impeached. He could murder a large family on live television and nobody would say a thing, at least in the MSM.

    People in the US don’t care what he’s doing to our own country, as long as they get their ‘Bama-phone. Why would they care what he does in some other country?

    Our electorate is stupid and evil in their selfishness.

  36. martinjmpr says:

    @36: Honestly, though, why the hell should the American people care? I’m an American and I can honestly say this whole thing gets a big “meh” from me. A dictator acting like a dictator and killing his subjects who rebel against him? Wow, that’s only been happening for the last 5,000+ years of human history. What makes this different? More significantly, what makes this our problem?

    I’m not an isolationist, but there are finite limits to what the US can do. Like Libya, this simply isn’t our fight, whether Assad uses chemical weapons or not, and it sure as hell isn’t worth an expenditure of US blood and treasure.

  37. Nik says:


    I’m just saying. If Obama is of a mind to do something, he’s got no reason to care what the electorate will think of it.

    As far as why? As I’ve said many times, I’m not a big fan of setting boot one in Syria. Big bug-fucking heaps of ugly, that would be.

    On the other hand, if we could eliminate that sarin gas (and other threats of it’s ilk) with little to no risk to ourselves, say…CIA operatives doing cia-things, laze a target, send a missle…preferably someone else’s expensive missile, to eliminate the WMD’s. If that’s possible, let’s go with that, and remove the threat of sarin being used against us or our allies in the future.

  38. martinjmpr says:

    @38: I don’t agree that Obama has no reason to cater to the electorate. He may not be able to run for reelection, but there are things he wants, and the biggest thing he wants is a legacy, followed by wanting to cement his party’s control of the government. If he antagonizes the voters and congress he blows both of those things.

    Nobody gets where they are in politics without having friends, and that includes Obama. Obama’s political friends and allies are counting on him not to put them into a losing situation, so it’s not like Obama has the ability to just say ‘screw that’ and do what he wants. If he tries, his friends will start to desert him and he will find it increasingly impossible to get anything done.

    Politics is like a wolf pack – as soon as one of the members of the pack start to show weakness, they will be devoured by the rest of the pack, including their erstwhile allies. Obama has to try and get his agenda pushed forward while at the same time not antagonizing his own allies by picking fights he can’t win.

  39. Nik says:


    I guess I see it differently. Obama has the MSM so firmly in his pocket, almost none of them would dare say anything to put him, or his allies and “friends” in a bad light.

  40. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    While the Soviets were having their asses handed to them in Afgan during the 1980’s. Iran and Iraq were pounding each other with every outlawed weapon they could use. Chemical weapons were wildly used by Iraq against Iran and we monitored the use as best as we could (as we were supporting the enemy of our enemy).

    In the end Iran deaths were as much as 720K and Iraq as much as 375k. During the conflict I visited the beautiful Persian Gulf on occassion. The USS Stark relieved my ship the USS Hepburn in late April or early May 1987. We learned of the USS Stark incident by way of mariners ship to ship radio as we transitted from liberty ports towards Pearl on our way back to San Diego. Iraq accidently shot 2 Exocet missiles at that good ship, killed 37 and wounded 21, Seaman Recruit (E-1) Brian M. Clinefelter, age 19, was the most junior Sailor killed … and we accidentally shot down an Iranian commecial airliner the following year … that is all I have to about that.

  41. CI says:

    @ 29 Hondo – “when Iraq obtained their yellowcake is, bluntly, irrelevant.”

    It’s not irrelevant when one is trying to make the case that Syria’s WMD stocks came from Iraq, and the yellowcake referenced to buttress that claim dates from pre-1991; and that the claims against WMD in Iraq was based on an “active WMD program”.

    If a general premise exists that Iraq moved WMD across the border with Syria [and presuming that the shelf life even makes that argument valid today], I am asking if anyone has read corroborating accounts made in Sada’s book. I would be quite surprised that the previous Administration would not have ran backwards cheetah flips to confirm the account.

    I don’t think however, that the current Administration will do anything tangible if Assad uses his munitions against the FSA. Faux diplomacy and dithering will be the order of the day.

  42. Hondo says:

    Uh, CI . . . when Hussein obtained his yellowcake stocks is indeed irrelevant when considering evidence of intent to use same to produce WMD. Uranium has precious few nonmilitary uses other than commercial nuclear power production (Iraq wasn’t a producer of radiographic equipment or aircraft counterweights). And it’s military uses are generally (1) DU in AT rounds or armor, and (2) HEU in weapons. So please provide a plausible alternative explanation for maintaining a stockpile of several hundred tons of yellowcake that doesn’t include the intent to use it as feeder material for WMD. I can’t.

    Oh and don’t forget the Osirak raid a decade earlier.

    Further, yellowcake is the feed material for only one type of WMD – nuclear. Even if absolutely none of Iraq’s yellowcake ended up in Syria, that doesn’t prove no WMD transfer occurred. Chem and bio WMD in general do not use uranium. Transfer of undeclared chem or bio WMD could have occurred while known or suspected uranium ore stocks were left in place.

    Regarding shelf-life: if I recall correctly, binary chem munitions have a helluva long shelf-life; ditto dessicated bio agents (dessicated anthrax remains lethal as spores for literally decades). And I seem to recall that even nonbinary chemical munitions stored at Anniston Army Depot (and other locations) were quite potent – and lethal – up until the day that they were incinerated. Biggest problem as I recall was deterioration of the containers in which they had been stored, rendering handling them hazardous – not deterioration of the agents themselves.

    I rather doubt Hussein would have worried overmuch about safety issues during storage and transport.

    You also haven’t addressed Kay’s statement that he believed WMD transfer from Iraq to Syria in fact occurred pre-Mar 2003. Or the other evidence independent of Sada’s account of the transfer of something between Iraq and Syria in early 2003. A helluva lot of activity was observed that looks to have been related to the transfer of something between Iraq and Syria in early 2003. At least one other source indicated the material transferred was indeed WMD.

    At 20 tons/truck, over good roads 50 trucks could easily move around 1000 tons of chem WMD.

    Proof? No. Corroboration? IMO, to a degree yes. Just not full second-independent-primary-source corroboration.

    My personal guess – and this is only a guess based on publicly-available information – is that Hussein likely put his WMD programs “on hold” after Gulf War II, but continued R&D on all aspects of his former WMD programs. Per Kay, Iraq appears to have retained the know-how and capability to reestablish production relatively quickly if/when sanctions were lifted.

    I’d also guess Hussein retained a small stock of undeclared pre-1991 chem weapons as an emergency reserve “ace in the hole”. And I’d further guess that stock of chemical weapons – as well as most of his technical info on WMD – went to Syria for safekeeping when it began to look like we were serious about going in in 2003.

    I could well be wrong. But it all adds up.

  43. CI says:

    @Hondo – Please don’t assume that I don’t know the use for yellowcake. You also seem to be confusing where I’ve claimed that Saddam didn’t at some point desire a renewed WMD program, with the basis for the 2003 invasion…which was an “active WMD” program. Any program would have to be “active” if reports of smuggling “weapons” would have to be believed. That is what I was attempting to get some…any…corroboration for. Citing yellowcake as proof of an active program [I don’t remember who brought it up initially] is a canard. The stocks held by Saddam were inventoried and tagged by the IAEA, and only removed by TF McCall in 2007 when sold by the Iraqi regime.

    “Oh and don’t forget the Osirak raid a decade earlier.”

    I haven’t forgotten the 1981 raid…still not relevant to an active WMD program post-1991, nor movement of weapons to Syria.

    Chemical munitions can indeed have a decent shelf life, though as the IAEA and FAS [among others] have attested to, the capability and standards of Iraqi production were so poor, that most found by inspections were badly deteriorating. Again, a claim that Assad is polishing Iraqi munitions for use against the FSA doesn’t add up.

    I will agree that it is plausible, that Iraqi scientists and technology could have been secreted across the border…possibly with some equipment and seed corn [as it were].

    What doesn’t add up, is faith in an unproven assumption, based on a couple of single sourced claims.

  44. Hondo says:

    CI: R&D alone into production/design constitutes an active WMD program. And I disagree about retention of yellowcake being a “canard”. Retaining stockpiles of massive quantities of strategic materials with no legitimate peaceful use (Iraq had no commercial nuclear power progam) is IMO good evidence of the existence of a WMD program as well as intent for future production. The date of acquisition of such materials is thus immaterial.

    Your suggestion that weapons smuggling implies an active program of WMD production is false. Weapons smuggled from Iraq to Syria could easily have been from retained (and undeclared) pre-1991 stocks. Iraq admitted to Iraqi use of close to 2,500 tons of WMD during the Iran-Iraq war. That leaves approximately 1,400 tons unaccounted for (they’re known to have produced approximately 3,900 tons). I doubt seriously that some of these unaccounted-for WMD were not retained after the Gulf War.

    And you still haven’t addressed Kay’s assertions that Iraq (1) did in fact move WMD and/or related material into Syria, and (2) had the capability to quickly resume production of WMD. The former directly supports my POV; the latter is evidence of a continuing Iraqi WMD program extending to 2003, albeit one stopping short of production.

  45. PALADIN says:

    Found this video today after reading about it at the Jawa Report.

    Things are definitely getting interesting….and sinister.

  46. CI says:

    @Hondo – “R&D alone into production/design constitutes an active WMD program.”

    I’ll concede that this can be construed as true, though much would depend on the level of tangible R&D. As it stands, it can also be merely a semantic disagreement.

    As for the yellowcake, you continue to assert that it’s presence [inventoried, sealed and inspected by the IAEA] is evidence of an active desire, if not program, for it’s malevolent use. Desire perhaps…but it’s also no easy feat to dispose of that amount of yellowcake. It left Iraq by way of 37 military flights to Diego Garcia, when a buyer [Canadian] was finally found. I’m trying to ascertain this,. but I believe any transaction of this yellowcake, was prohibited by sanctions, pre-2003.

    The problems with Kay’s assertion is that it is merely speculation. I too agree that it is not implausible that Iraq could have smuggled the core of a WMD program across the border to Syria….what I am interested in is corroborated evidence, not speculation. Blix and Duelfer’s ISG report both tend to contradict Kay statement, though still allowing for the remote possibility of some transfer of material or technical knowledge.

    Again, I’m not ruling out your claims…I’m simply trying to run it down the rabbit hole to see if it is plausible or speculation, given that I see many people giving the assertion weight of fact.

  47. Hondo says:

    The sale of oil by Iraq was also prohibited, CI – until the “Oil for Food” program was instituted. Had Iraq ever offered to part with their uranium stocks, I can assure you the UN would have tripped over themselves in trying to expedite sale of same.

    And it would have hardly been difficult to move. Even allowing 10% for packaging/dunning/tiedowns, that’s only 600 tons. At 40 tons per 53′ flatbbed, that’s only a 15 truck convoy plus escorts. And it would have only taken one small ship to move that much cargo.

    Look, I don’t know if I’m correct or not either. But I’d rate the probability as well above 50% that some of the missing 1400 tons of pre-1991 WMD were (a) clandestinely retained by Iraq after the Gulf War, and (b) sent to Syria in early 2003. If we’re talking 500-1000 tons of agent, that wouldn’t have required more than the alleged 10 Mar 2003 50-truck convoy.

    I agree Kay’s assertion could be speculation. (He could also have been deliberately underplaying his degree of certainty in the matter.) However, given his former position as head of the ISG, I think anyone would have to agree that his opinion qualifies as a highly expert speculation. I’d be reluctant to doubt it unless and untill proven otherwise – which the final ISG report and it’s addenda did NOT do (they explicitly conceded the possibility as well as stating that they were unable to complete their investigation into the matter).

    It’s also IMO significant that the ISG report and addenda were apparently prepared without knowledge of the reported 2003 WMD convoy into Iraq.

  48. CI says:

    I’m not ruling out Kay’s assertion, but even with ‘non-media’ collection and reporting, I can’t corroborate his [or Sada’s] claims.

    1400 tons is indeed problematic, but mitigated by some degree by discoveries of deteriorating stocks, by the 75th Exploitation TF and other units, post 2003. I can’t seem to find a roll-up of how much tonnage was found.

    I harbor little doubt that the previous Administration would have made at least some use of evidence to justify OIF ex post facto, had that evidence existed.

    But I appreciate the back and forth…keeps the brain exercised.

  49. Ex-PH2 says:

    Aren’t you guys forgetting Gerald Bull, the person partially responsible for Iraq’s WMD development?

    He developed and built the supergun or HARP missile launcher.

    The Babylon Supergun was found during the Gulf War, documented and destroyed. It had a range of 600 kilometers. It’s eventual purpose was to launch the nukes under development by Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program.

    It mattered less at the time where the stuff was moved to or how it was moved, than that the means of long-range delivery was found and elminated. And, yes, I do remember the live images of incoming SCUD missiles being hit by Patriot missiles during the Gulf War.

    What matters now is whether or not Assad is actually going to use that crap on his own people. He is a cornered rat and that’s a nasty as you can get.

  50. martinjmpr says:

    @50: I agree with your last sentence but with regards to the one before it, I have to ask: Why does it matter?

    So it’s OK to drop bombs, howitzer rounds and napalm on your own civilians but we draw the lines at chemical weapons? Seems an odd and arbitrary place for a line.

    Dead is dead, why does it matter what weapons are used?

    Wasn’t the Iraq war justification that Hussein was keeping those weapons for use externally, to threaten and dominate the other Gulf states and to establish himself as the most powerful strongman in the region? Seems to me that an External use of WMDs is a matter of legitimate international concern.

    But as far as internal use of chemical weapons, what makes them different from other weapons? Again, it seems to me that the issue here is not what weapons are used (because dead is dead) the issue here is: When a dictator is being brutal to his own people, at what point does the US get involved and what is our ultimate mission?

    I do think there are times when we have to get involved in such internal struggles, but I don’t think this is one of those times and I can’t help but think that all this faux concern about chemical weapons (which we shrugged our shoulders and ignored when they happened in other parts of the world) is dragging us headlong into another military clusterf*ck.