To hear a number of leading Democrats tell it, the report issued last week by David Kay, the chairman of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), was proof positive that President Bush had effectively committed a war crime: He launched a war of aggression on the pretext that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and now, thanks to Dr. Kay, we know that wasn’t true.
There is only one problem with this highly partisan attack, and the parallel media reporting that has taken a similarly pollyannish line about the Kay report: No responsible reader could take any comfort from its findings, let alone construe them as an indictment of the Bush Administration and its decision to liberate Iraq.
While the President’s critics may not wish to be bothered by the facts, they are, as the saying goes, “stubborn things.” And those laid out by Dr. Kay and his colleagues paint a picture of Saddam Hussein as despot relentlessly engaged in the pursuit of the most devastating weapons known to man. The Iraq Survey Group’s inability to date to locate the weapons the UN previously determined were in Saddam’s hands should be a matter of grave concern – and redoubled effort. Its report certainly is not cause for, as some have suggested, shutting down the ISG and reallocating its resources elsewhere.
Consider, for example, the following facts that belie the conclusion Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction:
o The Kay team has thus far been able to examine only 10 of the 130 known ammo depots in Iraq, some of which are as large as fifty square miles. It would be folly to say on the basis of a less-than-ten-percent sample whether WMD are to be found in the remainder.
o These depots are filled with immense quantities of ordinance. Since the regime made no appreciable effort to distinguish which contained high explosives and which were loaded with chemical or biological agents, establishing exactly what is in such facilities is a time-consuming and dangerous task.
o In addition to the known depots, there are untold numbers of covert weapons caches around the country. These caches have been the source of much of the ordinance used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to attack American and coalition forces. Whether any of these contain WMD remains unknown at this juncture. But if they do, IEDs could, in the future, be vastly more devastating – especially to unprotected Iraqis in proximity to the attack.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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