Monday marked the twentieth anniversary of the second Gulf war, which detractors call the invasion of Iraq. I have always looked at it as the liberation, as do many Iraqis.
But most Americans have been taught a history of lies, a history forged by left-wing political activists and their allies in the media and rarely contradicted by those who knew the truth.
Even Britannica, the once authoritative encyclopedia, has bowed to the political orthodoxy, referring to Saddam Hussein’s “alleged” possession and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction.
That is the founding myth of the “Bush lied, people died” Democrats and the media.
So were there weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the time of the U.S. invasion?
Absolutely. We know that because the United States and its coalition partners assembled a team of over 1,400 special forces operators, scientists and intelligence analysts to scour Iraq for the evidence. And what they reported has been wildly mischaracterized – at times, even by the leaders of that very effort.
David Kay, a former IAEA inspector who became famous for his parking lot “standoff” with Saddam’s goons, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on January 23, 2004, that WMD stockpiles would not be found in Iraq. “I don’t think they existed,” Kay said.
“Stockpiles” quickly became the defining term. But in Kay’s interim report to the House intelligence committee, just four months earlier, he painted a very different picture. “We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002,” he said.
* A prison laboratory complex that may have been used for human testing of BW agents and “that Iraqi officials working to prepare the U.N. inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the U.N.” Why was Saddam interested in testing biological-warfare agents on humans if he didn’t have a biological weapons program?
* New research on BW agents, brucella and Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever, and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin that were not declared to the United Nations.
* “Continuing covert capability to manufacture fuel propellant useful only for prohibited Scud-variant missiles, a capability that was maintained at least until the end of 2001 and that cooperating Iraqi scientists have said they were told to conceal from the U.N.”
* “Plans and advanced design work for new long-range missiles with ranges up to at least 1,000 kilometers [621 miles] – well beyond the 150-kilometer-range limit [93 miles] imposed by the U.N.”
* “[C]landestine attempts between late 1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300-kilometer-range [807 miles] ballistic missiles… antiship cruise missiles and other prohibited military equipment,” Kay reported.
But guess what? The media largely ignored that testimony, focusing instead on the single word, “stockpiles.”
In testimony before Congress on March 30, 2004, Kay’s successor, Charles Duelfer, revealed that the ISG had found evidence of a “crash program” to construct new plants capable of making chemical and biological warfare agents. The ISG also found a previously undeclared program to build a “high-speed rail gun,” a device apparently designed for testing nuclear-weapons materials. That came in addition to 500 tons of natural uranium stockpiled at Iraq’s main declared nuclear site south of Baghdad, which the International Atomic Energy Agency told me had been intended for “a clandestine nuclear-weapons program.”
The Pentagon ultimately spent $70 million to quietly ship that natural uranium stockpile to Canada in 2007. But no one ever talks about that.
The inspectors also found hundreds of tons of agricultural chemicals used to make pesticides – and nerve gas. These were, in fact, stockpiles of binary chemical weapons.
In a summary of his three volume report to the CIA, Duelfer concluded that “Saddam was directing resources to sustain the capacity to recommence producing WMD once UN sanctions and international scrutiny collapsed” – a collapse that was only forestalled by the U.S. invasion.
But to the Democrats who voted to approve the Iraq war and who were desperately seeking to walk back that vote, no stockpiles meant “Bush lied, people died.”
Several White House advisors later acknowledged that Karl Rove instructed them to ignore new evidence of WMD in Iraq after the war. “Let these sleeping dogs lie; we have lost that fight so better not to remind anyone of it,” David Wurmser recalled.
In an oped in the Wall Street Journal in 2010, Rove admitted that failing to push back against the lies told about WMD in Iraq was his “biggest mistake” while in the White House. It was also a betrayal of the Americans who laid down their lives to defend us and a travesty of the truth.
So was the war worth the blood and treasure we spent on it?
Don’t ask the media, the Democrats, or Saddam Hussein supporters among Iraq’s Sunni population. Ask the gold star families.
And then ask those Iraqis who were the victims of Saddam’s Republic of Fear.
Ask the Kurds who earlier this month commemorated the thirty-fifth anniversary of the mass poison gas attack against the Iraqi city of Halabja that killed more than 5,000 civilians.
Ask the families of the more than 100,000 Iraqi Kurds who were massacred during Saddam’s genocidal Anfal campaign in 1988.
Ask the Shia in Basra, Karbala, or in Baghdad itself, who lived in constant fear of Saddam’s goons.
Saddam’s apologists – who still live and speak publicly in Iraq and in the Arabic media – want you to believe that “millions” of Iraqis died in the war and that the United States decimated Iraq’s infrastructure so that even today they don’t have clean water or reliable electricity.
Iraqis have had twenty years and hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer aid to rebuild their infrastructure. If there are still gaps, blame the corrupt Iraqi politicians.
But Iraqis of all backgrounds today have one thing they could only dream about in 2003, and it is the most precious thing of all: their freedom. Americans purchased that freedom for them at great cost. What they do with it will be the legacy they leave their children.
Ken Timmerman’s latest book, And the Rest is History: Tales of Hostages, Arms Dealers, Dirty Tricks, and Spies, includes detailed accounts of his encounters with the heads of Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs.
Actually, I used to drive by Sadam Hussein on the way to work everyday. And yes there were WMDs buried in concrete bunkers under the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The WMDs fell into the hands of terrorists .
El Terryble says
I was told in a briefing in late 2008 in Iraq by an EOD specialist in Army SF that enough nerve agent to kill half a million people had been found amongst stock piles of conventional artillery shells and that some service members had been hospitalized due to coming in contact with chemical agents while guarding these conventional stockpiles where the chem-munitions were stashed.. This was in September of 2008 at Camp Taiji at an advisor training academy right after the team I was on arrived in Iraq to advise Iraqi units. He also said that that this information would be released publicly in March of 2009 after the 2008 Presidential election.
The guy could have been lying to us all, but it seemed legit at the time and doesn’t answer questions as to Musab al Zarqawi’s ties to the Saddam Regime, the Baathist regime offering safe haven to Zarqawi after he lost his leg in Afghanistan, and where did the Anthrax used in the 2001 attacks come from?
Don Davenport says
After several trillion spent, and thousands killed and injured, America didn’t even get as much as a T-shirt, let alone a barrel of oil.
The moron responsible for the fiasco then moves on to a quishy taxpayer-funded retirement painting hideous pictures that aren’t worth the nails they’re hung on.
David Ray says
I agree, but from a different perspective.
Bush wasn’t a fighter; he was rather consumed with making sure it “looked good”. (His refusing to even acknowledge Clinton staffers trashing the White House was my 1st clue.)
We could have & should have avoided this attempt to be seen as nice. We should’ve made sure we were absolutely feared.
The rules of engagement were pure bullshlt that tethered our armed services to become fodder – all to serve PR BS to placate leftists. (Rather than advertising the huge casualties we inflicted, brass hid them to that end.)
Top brass making a few trips on roads spiked with IEDs, rather than the cocktail circuit might have flushed a few heads out.
Snipers shooting from mosques got blank checks. They’d take shots & brazenly walk out unchecked.
Bombing the mosque to rubble would’ve ended that practice.
Someone sneaking around at night with a shovel? Shoot him, instead of prosecuting the shooter.
Colonel Allen West was prosecuted for making a jihadist sympathizer talk (the info saved a patrol from ambush.)
Want to subject our servicemen to fodder? Run the occupation like a police action . . . and so we did, but we looked nice.
GW refused to take out Al Sadar who remains a bug in our shorts today.
Mo de Profit says
Getting involved in islamic wars never ends well.
David Ray says
Not when we fight it like we’re trying to win a Miss Congeniality contest.
Kynarion Hellenis says
Our first one ended well. And Marines got a nice line in their anthem.
David Ray says
Of course, back then we didn’t have a 5 page check list we had to consult before engaging the enemy.
We were allowed to just walk right up and slaughter them.
Dana F Harbaugh says
Tell Thomas Jefferson that.
Dana F Harbaugh says
Thank you Kenneth. To the nay sayers… Google the words “Khamisiyah iraq”
Read the declassified testimony of the CIA and look at the images of the bunker complex, with over 100 buildings, EACH the size of a Super Walmart filled with weapons including 122mm rockets filled with Sarin, Cyclo-Sarin and VX gas. that were ostensibly destroyed in March of 1991. I was there, I flew through the jet black skies filled with burning oil and the weapons cloud drifting over the Gulf.
Do your homework, there’s NO WAY they found all the weapons… they were hidden in so many different places, and the West never had the patience to dig up the truth, nor the stomach to learn the reality of Saddam’s brutality.
David Ray says
It could’ve been worth it, and with far fewer casualties.
However, Bush preferred to fight like he was trying to win a court case in front of OJ jurists.
The tethering rules of engagement & Gitmo policy reflected his congenial mindset. (He accommodated leftist detractors at the expense of our armed servicemen.)
All of the Leftists were expecting to find mobile missile complexes with replete with nuclear tipped bombs, buried in the sands of the desert, ready to be launched on command.
When all that was revealed were research papers and a few stockpiles of nerve gas the Left started lying, as they usually do.
Ah yes, the “Putin apologist” argument. The question was never whether Saddam was a ruthless dictator. It was if it was in America’s interest. If the purpose was to turn Iraq into an Iranian client state then yes. By any other standard no. If it was to create ISIS then yes, otherwise no. If it was to create years of sectarian violence by an invasion with no rational plan for the post-war occupation then yes, otherwise no. That’s not “leftist history”, it’s what occured. I don’t give care about Iraq, Or Ukraine. I care about America. Lying about what happened there is revisionist baloney.
Ah yes, the “Putin apologist” argument. The question was never whether Saddam was a ruthless dictator. It was if it was in America’s interest. If the purpose was to turn Iraq into an Iranian client state then yes. By any other standard no. If it was to create ISIS then yes, otherwise no. If it was to create years of sectarian violence by an invasion with no rational plan for the post-war occupation then yes, otherwise no. That’s not “leftist history”, it’s what occured. I don’t care about Iraq, Or Ukraine. I care about America. Misrepresenting what happened there is revisionist baloney.
At this point I’m at a loss as to what in my post requires moderation. Seriously.
Phil Hartmark says
Thanks to Bushes longest telegraphed punch in all of human history Saddam had plenty of time to hide what needed to be hidden. I now think, in hindsight, that we had no business there and we essentially turned Iraq into an Iranian proxy. It’s sad that America continually chooses the wrong wars to wage and do not have the foresight to secure any small victories we do accomplish. USA… Haven’t won a war since 1945
David Ray says
I’m sure that endless caravan of trucks to Syria were carrying humanitarian supplies. [sarcasm]
El Terryble says
I think Iraq was a valid theater in the broader war against Global Jihad that was initiated against America by the jihadists of al Qaeda on 9/11. Iraq was strategically in the center of the Middle East bridging the Sunni-Shia divide, Saddam Hussein could not be allowed to maintain power after 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks that were never thoroughly investigated (that some rogue scientist at the Aberdeen proving grounds stockpiled Anthrax to release in such proximity to 9/11 is just not credible), and the proliferation of al Qaeda and Iranian proxies on Iraq’s battlefields (AQI, later to become the ISIS) shows that the war was necessary . Weapons of mass destruction were found – enough nerve agent to kill 500,000 people and blister agents interspersed with field artillery.
That said, America waged an incompetent campaign. There should have been summary executions for terrorists caught on the battlefield out of uniform as is stipulated and allowed in the Geneva Conventions. Prosecuting Marines and soldiers for doing their job as was done with the Haditha incident and with the Blackwater 5 were atrocities by our own government against the young men fighting our wars, we should have waged war from the shadows, clandestinely, not on the cable news, the Iraq sector should have never, NEVER distracted from the primary campaign in AfPak to eliminate the Taliban and find Osama bin Laden.
El Terryble says
Also, we shouldn’t have stopped with regime change in Baghdad, but removed the Shia terrorist regime in Iran, who was actively involved with harboring and aiding al Qaeda’s senior leadership before, during, and after 9/11, (and is months if not weeks away from acquiring nuclear weapons today) then used non-military methods to remove the regimes in Pyongyang and Beijing, or at least not given our Chinese Communist enemies Most Favored Nation trading status.
In retrospect, George W. Bush was a coward and a traitor to the cause of 9/11, whom let America’s greatest enemy, the Democrat Party, gain power at home and its leader, Barack Obama get credit for finding and killing bin Laden, which should have been his number one priority, while handing over the commanding heights of our economy to the CCP.
The Iraq campaign against the Global Jihad and its appendages did several things; it showed us that the only way to win wars is with the “no mercy” until the enemy is utterly destroyed or unconditionally surrenders that America used to win a two theater war in World War II, America has not won one single war since that time despite having nuclear weapons and moral superiority in every conflict since. And it taught us the primary enemy is Barack Obama and the Democrat Party, as well as false flag Republicans, like Mitch McConnell that aid them in turning America into a Marxist failed state and dictatorship.