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OK, dammit. Kerry, his comment today, and the IWR [View All]

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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-09-04 11:41 PM
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OK, dammit. Kerry, his comment today, and the IWR
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Edited on Mon Aug-09-04 11:42 PM by WilliamPitt
Please bookmark this post, because I am puking sick of typing it over and over again.

Kerry did not say he would still have gone to war in Iraq. This is what he said:

"Yes, I would have voted for that authority but I would have used that authority to do things very differently," Kerry said after a short hike from Hopi Point to Powell Point on the Grand Canyon's South Rim.

The 'Yes' vote on the IWR essential to the establishment of effective weapons inspections. Only the threat of force made the previous inspections effective. I asked Scott Ritter personally if his seven years in Iraq as an inspector would have been effective without the threat of force. He said the inspections would have been useless without the threat.

The US wrote Res. 1441. The US wrote "weapons inspections" into it. It was unanimously approved by the Security Council. The threat of force had to be there; Hussein had jerked around UNSCOM until we bombed him into compliance.

The threat of force got rid of the weapons from 1991-1998. The threat of force was needed to get rid of whatever he might have developed since. As Ritter said in my book, no one was absolutely sure they hadn't retained any of their weapons capabilities.

Are you in favor of weapons inspectors, backed by a unanimous UN Security Council, going in to make sure VX and other weapons were not being developed?

If you were in favor of weapons inspectors, YOU WERE IN FAVOR OF THE THREAT OF FORCE TO BACK THE INSPECTORS. There is no separating the two. Period.

====

PITT: Does Iraq have weapons of mass destruction?

RITTER: It's not black-and-white, as some in the Bush administration make it appear. There's no doubt Iraq hasn't fully complied with its disarmament obligations as set forth by the Security Council in its resolution. But on the other hand, since 1998 Iraq has been fundamentally disarmed: 90-95% of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability has been verifiably eliminated. This includes all of the factories used to produce chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and long-range ballistic missiles; the associated equipment of these factories; and the vast majority of the products coming out of these factories.

Iraq was supposed to turn everything over to the United Nations, which would supervise its destruction and removal. Iraq instead chose to destroy unilaterally, without UN supervision a great deal of this equipment. We were later able to verify this. But the problem is that this destruction took place without documentation, which means the question of verification gets messy very quickly.

(snip)

PITT: Isn't VX gas a greater concern?

RITTER: VX is different, for a couple of reasons. First, unlike sarin and tabun, which the Iraqis admitted to, for the longest time the Iraqis denied they had a program to manufacture VX. Only through the hard work of inspectors were we able to uncover the existence of the program.

PITT: How did that happen?

RITTER: Inspectors went to the Muthanna State establishment and found the building the Iraqis had used for research and development. It had been bombed during the war, causing a giant concrete roof to collapse in on the lab. That was fortuitous, because it meant we essentially had a time capsule: lifting the roof and gaining access to the lab gave us a snapshot of Iraqi VX production on the day in January when the bomb hit. We sent in a team who behaved like forensic archaeologists. They lifted the roof courageously, it was a very dangerous operation went inside, and were able to grab papers and take samples that showed that Iraq did in fact have a VX research and development lab.

Caught in that first lie, the Iraqis said, "We didn't declare the program because it never went anywhere. We were never able to stabilize the VX." Of course the inspectors didnt take their word for it, but pressed: "How much precursor did you build?" Precursor chemicals are what you combine to make VX. "How much VX did you make? Where did you dispose of it?" The Iraqis took the inspectors to a field where they'd dumped the chemicals. Inspectors took soil samples and indeed found degradation byproducts of VX and its precursors.

Unfortunately, we didn't know whether they dumped all of it or held some behind. So we asked what containers they'd used. The Iraqis pointed to giant steel containers provided by the Soviet Union to ship fuel and other liquids, which the Iraqis had converted to hold VX. The inspectors attempted to do a swab on the inside of the containers and found they'd been bleached out: there was nothing there. But one inspector noticed a purge valve on the end of the containers. The inspection team took a swab and found stabilized VX.

We confronted the Iraqis with their second lie. They took a fallback position: "OK, you're right, we did stabilize VX. But we didn't tell you about it because we never weaponized the VX. To us it's still not a weapons program. We decided to eliminate it on our own. As you can see, we've blown it up. It's gone, so there's no need to talk about it."

We caught them in that lie as well. We found stabilized VX in SCUD missiles demolished at the warhead destruction sites. The Iraqis had weaponized the VX, and lied to us about it.

We knew the Iraqis wanted to build a full-scale VX nerve agent plant, and we had information that they'd actually acquired equipment to do this. We hunted and hunted, and finally in 1996 were able to track down two hundred crates of glass-lined production equipment Iraq had procured specifically for a VX nerve agent factory. They'd been hiding it from the inspectors. We found it in 1996, and destroyed it. With that, Iraq lost its ability to produce VX.

All of this highlights the complexity of these issues. We clearly still have an unresolved VX issue in Iraq. Just as clearly Iraq has not behaved in a manner reflective of an honest effort to achieve resolution. And it's tough to work in a place where you've been lied to.

(snip)

Pitt: Considering everything you've experienced, how do you feel about the Iraqi government in general?

RITTER: The Iraqi government is firmly entrenched, having seen over thirty years of Ba'ath Party rule. The Ba'ath Party has seeped into every aspect of Iraqi life cultural, economic, educational, political. It's irresponsible to oversimplify what's going on there, to try to somehow separate Saddam Hussein from the rest of the political machinery. It doesn't work that way.

I'm realistic in understanding that the Iraqi government is much stronger inside Iraq than most people give it credit for. I don't think people should take the Iraqi government too lightly. It's a brutal regime that has shown a disregard for international law and a definite disregard for human rights. It's a regime that has shown as have many other governments around the world, including ours an ability to lie to people about policy objectives. There's no need to beat around the Bush. The Iraqis failed to tell the truth. I understand this cannot be accepted. But in the world of politics, if you cut off all activity with those who tell lies, no one would be do business with anybody.

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