The argument that President Bush “lied” about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction keeps getting bandied about by the fringe (and not-so-fringe) left, despite the fact that multiple investigations and basic common sense make it clearly unsupportable. However, as Power Line finds, former Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri told the CIA that Saddam did have WMDs:
On the issue of chemical weapons, the CIA said Saddam had stockpiled as much as “500 metric tons of chemical warfare agents” and had “renewed” production of deadly agents. Sabri said Iraq had stockpiled weapons and had “poison gas” left over from the first Gulf War. Both Sabri and the agency were wrong.
It could be that Sabri was right – he did also say that Iraq had neither an active nuclear nor an active biological weapons program. He did say that Iraq was planning to use civilian insecticides to create nerve agents – and indeed in 2003, US forces found what they believed to be chemical weapons, but turned out to be insecticide. The Iraqis were working on chemical weapons preparations that were based on the same organophosphide synthesis as insecticides. None of these connections are conclusive, but they do support the Duelfer Report’s conclusion that Saddam Hussein had every intention of using dual-use technologies to reinstate his chemical warfare production capabilities once sanctions ended.
What this unquestionably shows is that the “Bush Lied!” argument doesn’t hold much water. The argument that the CIA should have ignored the word of one of Saddam’s own inner circle doesn’t seem to be a very logical one. Sabri believed that Saddam had at least chemical weapons, and it was reasonable to believe Saddam could have had more.
Of course, Sabri’s remarkable cooperation also lead to yet another CIA screw-up:
But, intelligence sources say, the CIA relationship with Sabri ended when the CIA, hoping for a public relations coup, pressured him to defect to the U.S. The U.S. hoped Sabri would leave Iraq and publicly renounce Saddam. He repeatedly refused, sources say, and contact was broken off.
Losing Sabri was a major mistake on part of the CIA, especially given how few sources we had in Saddam’s inner circle. Hopefully Porter Goss’ recent shakeups will help to prevent another debacle like that from happening again.