Political opponents jump to premature conclusions on Iraq weapons data

What others say

Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Efforts by political opponents to discredit President Bush have reached circus-style proportions.

Large weapons caches have not been found in Iraq, which must mean President Bush exaggerated the weapons threat of Iraq's Saddam Hussein to justify the Iraqi war, some political opportunists contend. Other critics say the inability to find such weapons in Iraq raises serious questions about the intelligence-gathering abilities of the United States and its allies.

But it's premature to reach any major conclusions.

Iraq admitted it had extensive programs to cultivate chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. It's undisputed that Saddam used chemical and biological weapons against his neighbors.

Before the war, Iraq refused to account for its previously known stocks of chemical and biological weapons agents, including 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent; 25,000 liters of Anthrax; 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin; and thousands of munitions able to deliver those agents.

Thus, there is no question that, at one time, Saddam had chemical and biological weapons. He was told by the United Nations to supply proof that he had disposed of them and he refused. Why?

Through satellite photos, phone intercepts and other intelligence sources, Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out a solid case about Iraq's treachery to the United Nation's Security Council in February.

Troops so far have found hints of Saddam's weapons, including thousands of gas masks secured for his troops and mobile labs that could have been used to produce dangerous chemicals.

Some Iraqi scientists in custody from the Iraq war have said the Iraqi weapons program was ordered destroyed just before the invasion. Saddam also had the time and the ability to move or dump weapons before the U.S.-led coalition liberated Iraq.

Regardless of what is eventually found, the extremes of Saddam's brutal reign are even greater than initially believed before the war.

He is believed to have killed at least 300,000 Iraqi people.

Massacres and graves. Terrorist training camps. Accounts of torture, snatched friends and relatives, and routine rapes and beatings all while Saddam, his family and cronies lived lavishly at the expense of the impoverished around them.

With its selective tolerance, the left never had a problem with Joe Stalin, either, and he killed more than 10 million people. But, then, he supported single-payer health care.

Whether Saddam's chemical agents are located or not, the United States and its allies did the Iraqi people and the world a big favor by ending his tyranny. As a happy byproduct, has anyone noticed that real progress is being made toward Mideast peace?

Florida Times-Union June 6

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