A couple of posts ago I cited this story, in which Judith Miller and William Broad quote skeptics who doubt that the alleged mobile weapons labs in Iraq really were meant to produce WMDs. Now I see that there's this, from The Observer:
Tony Blair faces a fresh crisis over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, as evidence emerges that two vehicles that he has repeatedly claimed to be Iraqi mobile biological warfare production units are nothing of the sort....
The Observer has established that it is increasingly likely that the units were designed to be used for hydrogen production to fill artillery balloons, part of a system originally sold to Saddam by Britain in 1987.
The article lists some reasons for skepticism about the WMD story. You've read some of these before, but not all of them:
* The lack of any trace of pathogens found in the fermentation tanks. According to experts, when weapons inspectors checked tanks in the mid-Nineties that had been scoured to disguise their real use, traces of pathogens were still detectable.
* The use of canvas sides on vehicles where technicians would be working with dangerous germ cultures.
* A shortage of pumps required to create vacuum conditions required for working with germ cultures and other processes usually associated with making biological weapons.
* The lack of an autoclave for steam sterilisation, normally a prerequisite for any kind of biological production. Its lack of availability between production runs would threaten to let in germ contaminants, resulting in failed weapons.
* The lack of any easy way for technicians to remove germ fluids from the processing tank.
Canvas sides? That's the one that strikes me as bizarre. (A British scientist quoted in the article feels the same way.)