Skip to comments.Meanwhile, Saddam's secrets rise from the desert
Posted on 08/16/2003 4:42:36 PM PDT by Pokey78
New revelations from the man leading the WMD survey team show that Saddam gave the order to fire his deadly weapons. Con Coughlin assesses the meaning of this little-acknowledged breakthrough
Thousands of miles from the febrile atmosphere of Court 73 of the Royal Courts of Justice in London where Lord Hutton is conducting his inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly, one of the British scientist's former colleagues was last week making yet another highly significant discovery in the hunt for Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction arsenal.
Dr David Kay, the American weapons expert who heads the 1,400-strong Iraq Survey Team that is conducting an extensive search for Saddam's biological, chemical and nuclear programmes in Iraq, made the startling revelation that the Iraqi dictator had ordered his commanders to fire chemical shells at invading coalition troops during the recent conflict.
Dr Kay's discovery, which will be contained in a congressional report to be published in Washington next month, is just the latest of a number of telling breakthroughs that have been made in Iraq by the survey team but which, because of the furore that has gripped the British media over the Kelly case, have gone largely unreported.
And if Dr Kay's recent predictions about uncovering the secrets of Saddam's various weapons of mass destruction programmes prove to be correct, then the painstaking investigation currently being undertaken by Lord Hutton into whether the British Government exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam would be rendered irrelevant.
Certainly many of the discoveries now being made by the survey team would come as no surprise to Dr Kelly who, irrespective of the doubts he expressed about the Iraqis' ability to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of Saddam giving the order, was under no illusion about the wider threat posed by the Iraqi leader's clandestine programmes.
Indeed, the reason that Susan Watts, Newsnight's science editor, and other BBC reporters such as Andrew Gilligan were in contact with Dr Kelly in the first place was that, because of the work he had undertaken as a member of Dr Kay's United Nations weapons teams in Iraq in the 1990s, he was well-acquainted with all aspects of Saddam's weapons programmes.
As Miss Watts made clear in her evidence to Lord Hutton last week, Dr Kelly "thought very definitely that there were [Iraqi] weapons programmes and that if there were to be any evidence of this, it might well be a lengthy process to find that evidence and a process of putting together pieces of information, and that that process was really only beginning".
The fundamental purpose of the work now being carried out by Dr Kay's survey team in Iraq is to complete the process to which Dr Kelly was referring, namely to bring to a close the painstaking weapons inspection process that was launched following the 1991 Gulf war - in which Dr Kelly played an important role but which, because of Saddam's various attempts to obstruct the process, was never completed.
Despite having to work in onerous conditions, Dr Kay and his inspection teams remain confident that they will be able to provide convincing evidence of Saddam's illegal weapons programmes.
When asked during a recent interview with the American NBC television network whether he would find evidence on Saddam's biological, nuclear and chemical weapons programmes, Dr Kay replied: "I think we will have a very strong case on all of those. I think we'll have a strong case on missiles as well."
That was undoubtedly Dr Kay's view when I spent time with him in Baghdad in the spring and he helped to corroborate documents discovered by The Telegraph that indicated Saddam was attempting to develop a ballistic missile with a range of 600 miles.
Since then Dr Kay has been recruited by America's Central Intelligence Agency to head the survey team. Apart from interviewing scores of Iraqi scientists who were involved in Saddam's various weapons projects, Dr Kay has seized a number of top-secret documents that reveal in extraordinary detail the lengths to which Saddam's officials went to conceal the various weapons programmes.
Dr Kay has also been assisted by the fact that Ba'ath party officials were meticulous in keeping records on every aspect of their work, from the deals they did with foreign governments to the frequent progress reports they delivered to Saddam.
Consequently he is more confident than ever that the survey team will eventually be able to provide a definitive account of Iraq's various weapons programmes. "I'm certain that we're going to find the truth," he said. "We want to understand the programme from the beginning to its end, to how it was proceeding at every step, to who was involved."
Dr Kay's discovery that Saddam actually issued the order to his commanders to use chemical weapons against coalition forces might also help to shed light on another crucial aspect: the involvement of British intelligence as the conflict in Iraq developed.
One of the great success stories of Operation Iraqi Freedom is that Saddam's commanders declined to implement Saddam's order because, prior to the war, many had been successfully persuaded by British intelligence not to fight.
No mention of this brilliant intelligence coup, of course, will be made at the Hutton inquiry because it is not deemed relevant to the more parochial issue of whether or not Saddam's forces could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.
My money is on the French and Germans.
My money is on the French and Germans.
What the US said to these Generals was "If you fire a WMD at us, we will NUKE you and ALL your country!" The Generals believed the threat as real (for once, they were right), and stood down and did not fire.
Saddam got pissed (remember, he killed his General of the Iraqi Air Force for "Gross Incompetence" or some such...) and had his Republican Guard/Baathist toadies collect the field WMDs, as well as his in process stuff, and had it shipped thru Syria to the Bekka Valley in Lebanon!
Now, we watch that area to see who makes an attempt to retrieve it, and let the IAF take them out!
Makes sense, no?
"In addition to sifting through and collating mountains of paper, Kay team scouts are also crisscrossing Iraq to examine sites and test tips received from local human intelligence, which has proliferated since the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein in Mosul on July 22. They are pinpointing unmarked mass graves scattered around Iraq from which more than 300,000 bodies of Saddams victims have thus far been disinterred.
One of the most horrendous discoveries so far is the secret graveyard of convicts abused as human guinea pigs of Saddams illegal programs. Kay sent a special team out to Baquba, northeast of Baghdad after a collection of videotapes was discovered in Iraqi central intelligence archives, on some of which Iraqi officers talked freely with dates and locations about prisoners and detainees subjected to biological and chemical weapons experiments. Some involved toxic chemicals or gases; others were infected with germs in varying quantities, their symptoms recorded from stage to stage until their death."
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