Thursday, November 04, 2004

We were too cheap (or stupid) to hire Iraqi chemical-weapons experts, so now they may be working for the insurgents:

More evidence of a major failure by the Bush administration to adequately prepare for the possibility of insurgency in post-war Iraq has surfaced amid claims by some rebels that they have acquired chemical weapons and are preparing to use them against U.S. forces in the besieged Sunni stronghold of Falluja.

The claims ... suggested that chemical-weapons specialists are lending their expertise to the guerrillas, a development that is causing growing anxiety in Washington.

Such a possibility was noted in the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Duelfer Report last month which detailed in an annex that a group of insurgents, called the “Al-Abud Network,” had worked with a civilian Iraqi chemist to build chemical weapons for use against Coalition forces.

The report, which was noted by Michael Roston at Columbia University in a paper published by Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF) last week said U.S.-led troops had nipped the plot in the bud but that al-Abud “was not the only group planning or attempting to produce CBW (chemical or biological weapons) agents...”

“(A)vailability of chemicals and materials dispersed throughout the country, and intellectual capital from the former WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programs increases (sic) the future threat to Coalition forces,” according to the Annex.

Why is this happening? It's the Pentagon having its usual manhood contest with the State Department:

...according to Roston, writing last week for Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF), it was [Undersecretary of State John] Bolton’s fellow-hawks in the Pentagon that ignored pre-war State Department recommendations to quickly hire Iraq’s WMD specialists to ensure that they did not go elsewhere for work.

... the State Department, which has tried to wrest control over the US$18 billion in reconstruction money that Congress approved for the Pentagon one year ago, has found only $2 million from an unrelated non-proliferation budget in funding to put Iraqi weapons scientists to work.

“The shortsightedness of this policy,” according to Roston, “is only making it more likely that the worst of America’s fears about WMD in Iraq will finally come true.”

(Link via BuzzFlash.)


This, of course, is in addition to the L.A. Times story "Soldiers Describe Looting of Explosives," which says that well after the fall of Baghdad there was massive looting ("It was looting like L.A. during the Rodney King riots") of some stuff at Al Qaqaa that wasn't positively identified as HMX or RDX but certainly could go boom. ("One soldier said U.S. forces watched the looters' trucks loaded with bags marked 'hexamine' — a key ingredient for HMX — being driven away from the facility.... "We found out this was stuff you don't smoke around," the soldier said.") That story is also here.

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