David Kay, the US’ top weapons inspector in Iraq is stepping down from his post. CIA Director George Tenet has picked former UN inspector Charles Duelfer to finish where Kay left off.
This isn’t a great surprise. Kay had a thankless job. He had to search for weapons in a country bigger than California filled with empty desert and with former Ba’athist officials who were unwilling to talk. The Hussein regime also systematically destroyed documents, murdered witnesses, and systematically dismantled and hid anything that could lead to their WMD programs. Furthermore, Kay did not have the resources he needed because of the need to fight the ongoing insurgency in Iraq.
Duelfer is an interesting choice – he’s a skeptic on the idea of Iraqi WMDs, and wrote in the Washington Post that he believed that Hussein did not keep weapons stocks, but still maintained the ability to rapidly produce WMDs. Duelfer also has significant contacts with Iraqi scientists and Iraq Survey Group members from his time an UNSCOM.
It could be some time before the truth about Iraqi WMDs comes out. They could be hidden in the desert where no one may find them for year – they could be in Syria, or they could have been destroyed before the war. Without the documentation and eyewitnesses needed to find out, it will be a long and difficult search. However, when the world’s intelligence agencies and the UN all agreed that they were unaccounted for, and there is significant circumstantial evidence they did exist. the idea that they were all part of some titanic conspiracy seems very hard to believe.