Examining The Kay Report

Andrew Sullivan has been reading the Kay Report to Congress and finds that the media spin doesn’t match what the report actually says:

The administration claimed that Saddam had used WMDs in the past, had hidden materials from the United Nations, was hiding a continued program for weapons of mass destruction, and that we should act before the threat was imminent. The argument was that it was impossible to restrain Saddam Hussein unless he were removed from power and disarmed. The war was legally based on the premise that Saddam had clearly violated U.N. resolutions, was in open breach of such resolutions and was continuing to conceal his programs with the intent of restarting them in earnest once sanctions were lifted. Having read the report carefully, I’d say that the administration is vindicated in every single respect of that argument. This war wasn’t just moral; it wasn’t just prudent; it was justified on the very terms the administration laid out. And we don’t know the half of it yet.

Extracts from Kay’s report are available here. Kay’s report does not state that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction, nor does it say that the search has ended. If anything, the report gives some tantalizing clues that indicates that Iraq most certainly had something to hide.

With regard to biological warfare activities, which has been one of our two initial areas of focus, ISG teams are uncovering significant information – including research and development of BW-applicable organisms, the involvement of Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) in possible BW activities, and deliberate concealment activities. All of this suggests Iraq after 1996 further compartmentalized its program and focused on maintaining smaller, covert capabilities that could be activated quickly to surge the production of BW agents.

Indeed, the ISG found evidence of biological agent precursor stocks and laboratory equipment found in schools and mosques. While the Iraqis had months to clandestinely destroy documentation and sterilize labs, the presence of these precursors and the lab equipment clearly show that Iraq did have the capability of creating deadly stocks of biological weapons at any time. Given that the October 2001 anthrax attacks were carried out in such a way that the culprit is now likely untraceable, the threat from Iraqi BW programs was clear.

Kay found that Iraq’s chemical warfare agent production had been slowed by UN sanctions and Operation Desert Fox in 1998. Kay was unable to find evidence of significant chemical warfare production since 1991, although only a small percentage of Iraqi munitions facilities have been searched for such weapons which the Iraqis frequently place with conventional arms.

Iraq’s nuclear program had been stalled by UN sanctions, however, the Iraqis were merely biding their time until sanctions were lifted to renew their program. The scientific "brain trust" behind Iraq’s nuclear program had been saving the technical information and some of the technology needed to create a crash nuclear program in short order.

Furthermore, Kay found that Iraq was actively working towards buildingbuildingbuilding delivery systems including long-range ballistic missiles and UAV’s.

What Kay has found is that the Hussein regime had plenty of time to cover up any WMD programs, but there are still pieces of evidence that those programs did exist. Especially worrisome are the biological programs, which could create some of the most lethal pathogens on Earth in laboratories that could be hidden anywhere or moved in tractor trailers. A few grams of Sarin could kill dozens – a few grams of hemorrhagic fever serum could infect tens of thousands. Chemical weapons can’t replicate themselves, while biological agents can spread worldwide in a matter of hours.

Kay has found that Iraq was not cooperating with UN Resolution 1441 and had not ended all activities related to weapons of mass destruction as required by the cease-fire at the end of the first Gulf War. The only way to prevent Hussein from developing even more powerful weapons was to remove him from power. The only other solution would be a series of dangerous and ineffective sanctions that would have harmed the Iraqi people and left Saddam and his sons to murder, rape, and pillage the people of Iraq. To say that the removal of Saddam Hussein was an immoral act is to argue that it is better to leave tens of millions under the bootheel of tyranny and fail to act to prevent a biological or nuclear holocaust. Such a position is not only illogical, it is immoral as well.

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