The obvious question is, where are the weapons of mass destruction that supposedly prompted the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz quartet to invade Iraq?
The less obvious one is, where’s the massive search-and-secure operation that should be scouring Iraq to locate and control those stocks of chemical and biological weapons and WMD-related materials, technology and records?
The US military certainly has been looking for chemical and biological weapons as well as evidence of a nuclear bomb program (Iraq was never said to be in possession of nuclear weapons). But what is surprising–if not scandalous–is that two weeks after US troops moved into Baghdad the Bush Pentagon has not yet mounted a full sweep of Iraq for WMD, or even dispatched a sufficient amount of trained troops and specialists to conduct such a mission. It’s as if the Bush administration and the Pentagon had not bothered to listen to their own rhetoric about Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction while planning the invasion and occupation. Shouldn’t a mess of these units have been scrambling across Iraq–using all that prewar intelligence that allowed administration officials to declare without pause that Saddam Hussein controlled enough of these dangerous weapons to be a direct threat to the United States–within days, if not hours, of the collapse of Hussein’s murderous regime? Perhaps they should even have been among the forward-deployed troops. Yet while some US WMD-hunters are hard at work, the Pentagon acknowledges that nothing close to a full detachment has been sent to Iraq. As The Los Angeles Times reported on April 20, the Defense Department is still preparing to send “hundreds of additional investigators to speed up the search” for WMD and remains in the process of “assembling a ‘survey group’ with more than 1,000 experts to interrogate Iraqi scientists and sift through recovered documents to broaden the search for weapons of mass destruction.”
Is it dumb to ask, why wasn’t all this ready to go when the war started?
It’s not as if the invasion came as a shock. The Pentagon had months–actually, over a year–to ready WMD teams for Iraq. As early as November 2001, Bush warned Hussein that trouble would be coming unless he opened up Iraq to international weapons inspectors. That was two months before he designated Iraq an original member of his axis of evil. With so much lead time, why did the Pentagon not arrange for a force of specialists who could immediately be dropped into Iraq to find and control the weapons that were the reason for the war?
On March 20, the day after the bombing began, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted, “We have a serious task before us, and it is to remove that regime and find the weapons of mass destruction.” The following day, he identified several “specific objectives.” Number one was smashing the regime and its military. The second item on his to-do list was, “to identify, isolate and eventually eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, production, capabilities, and distribution networks.” (After that came driving out terrorists, delivering humanitarian relief, securing oil fields, creating conditions that would allow a transition to a new, representative government.) He noted that “we will…ensure their weapons of mass destruction will not fall into the hands of terrorists.” Days later, he remarked, “we’re there to eliminate the weapons of mass destruction in that country.”