The Worst of Intentions

by Christopher S. Carson (March 2010)



Dominic Lawson of the venerable Times of London indulged in a bit of soft-option psychotherapy to explain the mysterious enigma of a man who really believed he was right in deposing the Baathist dictatorship:

should have delivered up to the UN, that he retained the intent, not merely in theory, but was taking action on, for example, dual-use facilities that were specifically in breach of the United Nations Resolutions.” 

This finding, questionable as it was in the light of my article, was the only thing the American and British media ever reported on. But Mr. Duelfer had some important qualifications, too, and naturally these were ignored:

This was particularly important. Inasmuch as it is possible to gauge the intent of criminal, secretive regime, Saddam made every effort to retain the technical know-how and structural ability to rapidly surge production of CW precursors and chemical weapons themselves. The sanctions regime was eroding, and the UN’s Oil-for-Food program turned out to be a personal gravy train for both Saddam’s regime (not, of course, his people) and the UN bureaucrats like Kojo Annan and the French government ministers who “administered” it.

As Duelfer put it:

Duelfer added that site visits and debriefs revealed that Iraq maintained its ability for reconfiguring and ‘making-do’ with available equipment as substitutes for sanctioned items; he noted that Iraq at the time of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) probably had a capability to produce large quantities of sulfur mustard within three to six months. 

A former nerve agent expert indicated that Iraq retained the capability to produce nerve agent in significant quantities within two years, given the import of required phosphorous precursors. However, ISG said that it had no credible indications that Iraq acquired or attempted to acquire large quantities of these chemicals through its existing procurement 

While I certainly appreciate Mr. Duelfer’s academic modesty of expression here, common sense tells you that Saddam wouldn’t be experimenting on live people, with special poisons and gasses, in secret undeclared labs, under the control of his intelligence service, no less, for the good of mankind. He wasn’t working on vaccines or his famous “baby milk” formulas. He might actually have even been working on smallpox, for example, as Duelfer discusses in his Report. (Smallpox was the worst killer disease in the history of mankind before its supposed eradication in the early 1970’s by the WHO.)

a “break-out production capability” in BW existed at one site, the State Company for Drug Industries and Medical Appliances, SDI, at Samarra. ISG judged that Saddam could surge production of Anthrax spores within four months if he so desired. Let us assume that four months is not exactly a safe timeframe for our intelligence community to both detect and disrupt the anthrax threat before a hand-off to the terrorist group. To put it mildly.

Maybe this is why Dr. David Kay, Duelfer’s predecessor at ISG,
reported to Congress in October 2003 that one scientist was ordered to conceal reference strains of BW organisms like anthrax, ricin and Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever in his own refrigerator, which he turned over to ISG. The scientist knew of the location of other, much larger seed stockpiles, but these were unsurprisingly missing when ISG investigators showed up to collect them. Similarly, most of the hard drives, written reports, and lab samples suspected of being BW in refrigerators were deliberately and selectively vandalized and destroyed shortly before the coalition forces arrived, according to Dr. Kay.


Some chemical equipment

50 Al-Samoud II missiles

Santorum and Hoekstra then released a declassified portion of a report written by the National Ground Intelligence Center, which stated in part:

But Santorum pointed out another interesting revelation that had not been reported in the media, this time about the ISG:

In other words, the ISG of Kay and Duelfer, due to the deteriorating security situation, stopped exploiting field sites only “five months” after they arrived in a country the size of California. They spent the remaining 11 months of their tenure interviewing high-value detainees in jail, who might or might not have been lying to them. In his memoirs, Mr. Duelfer, for his part, seemed rather credulous about the veracity of the detainees like Saddam Hussein, Presidential secretary Abed Hamid Mahmud, Dr. Germ (Rihab Tahab) and the infamous Chemical Ali. After all, they had every reason to cooperate with us, now that they’re in custody, right? After all, they wanted things to go easier for them when the handover to Iraqi sovereignty occurred in mid-2004. 

One of my personal favorites is a document from 2001, not 1991:


In the Name of God the Most Merciful, The Most Compassionate


The Republic of Iraq

The Presidency of the Republic

The Military Industrialization Commission

Number 2/4/44

Date 13/1/2001


Subject: Detection Equipment

1. On 10/12/2000 a laboratory test was done on the new equipment and the results of the test was similar to the required quality compared with the Russian equipments

2. On the light of the above (1) a second equipment was received from the Ministry of Industry and Minerals and the total tests were done on it on 24/12/2000 using laboratory equipment to Chemical Detection Device (GSU-12) and with the presence of the Chemical Class representatives and the manufacturing party and its success was proven from the perspective of detection and reaction to NERVE AGENTS.


The Minister of Military Industrialization


End of translation

While doing so, he certainly had plenty of time, in the words of Colin Powell, “to keep, to hide from the inspectors.” While Powell was repudiating his own UN speech to the media, the Pentagon released one of its DOCEX Project Harmony documents, CMPC-2003-00011084-HT-DHM2A.

This document is a letter from the Director of the Criminal Department, Na’man Ali Muhammad, to the Director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, dated September 4, 1999. It stated in part:

1- Relocate all I[raqi] I[ntelligence] S[ervice] documents

3- Designate a group of employees from the Ministry of Health to replace the IIS employees

the al-Hakan germ warfare center, was helpfully guarded by an array of anti-aircraft missile batteries when UNSCOM showed up and was denied entry by the regime. It must have been some powerful chicken feed).

but according to a 1999 DIA report, when UNSCOM inspectors asked her about the al Hakam bioweapon facility, she flew into a satanic rage, screaming that it only processed chickenfeed. She literally smashed and trashed the furniture the inspectors were sitting on.

Another problem for Dr. Germ’s credibility long after the Gulf War was those pesky, primate-sized inhalation chambers at al-Haditha. Humans are primates, but Taha denied ever using monkeys or other non-human primates for biological experiments and no evidence of ape use was ever adduced.

But back in 1995, Scott Ritter was more suspicious—not of Dr. Chalabi, but of Dr. Germ. He was convinced she was killing people with her germs. His team demanded to see documents from Abu Ghraib prison showing a prisoner count. Ritter discovered that the records for July and August 1995 were, of course, mysteriously missing. Asked to explain the missing documents, the Iraqi government angrily accused Ritter of working for the CIA and summarily denied UNSCOM access to the Baath Party headquarters.  Mr. Duelfer doesn’t mention any of this in his memoir, perhaps because it involved anthrax use after the Gulf War, and not before. It would upset his theory. [After resigning in protest from UNSCOM in 1998, Ritter told Congress and the media, “Iraq is not disarming,” and “Iraq retains the capability to launch a chemical strike.”]

Duelfer’s memory of his fine work at UNSCOM seems almost to have evaporated. On September 17, 1997, while waiting for access to a site, his UNSCOM inspectors witnessed and videotaped Iraqi guards moving files, burning documents, and dumping waste cans into a nearby river. At the exact same time, a second UNSCOM team (UNSCOM 199/203), this one in central Baghdad, was barred entry to their own target facility for about an hour, all the while watching the exact same thing going on. Maybe this time the Iraqis were trying to conceal goat food.

 Diane Seaman, entered the building, but this time she sidled through the back door. She caught several men running out with suitcases and started yelling for help. Ritter’s men ran them down. It turned out that the suitcases contained “log books for the creation of illegal bacteria and chemicals. The letterhead comes from the president’s office and from the Special Security Office (SSO).”  UNSCOM immediately attempted to inspect the SSO headquarters but was of course blocked. Why was Iraq making “illegal bacteria and chemicals” in 1997? Somehow I don’t think it was to feed all those herds of chickens and goats. But amazingly, this, or at least its moral equivalent, is what Duelfer seems now to believe.

OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan was quick to minimize the significance of the Declaration, so as not to justify the invasion retroactively. “These are legacy weapons, remnants,” Luhan told Global Security Newswire, but mysteriously wouldn’t say how many CW munitions were found or anything else about them, for that matter. The production facilities, he opined, were “put out of commission” by airstrikes during the 1991 conflict. But you would think that if these CW factories were reduced to rubble during the Gulf War, there wouldn’t be any need to declare them, would you? Apparently Iraq’s democratic government thought they were more important than Mr. Luhan did, or than Duelfer does now.

Duelfer figured that since none of the incarcerated Baathists he interviewed in Baghdad talked about such a transfer to Syria, it probably didn’t happen. “Someone among the people we interviewed would have described this,” he said to Ryan Mauro. But Don Bordenkircher, the national director of jail and prison operations in Iraq for two years, informed Mauro that he spoke to about 40 Iraqis, either military personnel or civilians assigned to the military, who discussed the movement of WMD’s to Syria and Lebanon, some of whom claimed to having actually been involved. I guess these guys didn’t rate very highly on Duelfer’s interview list either.

It was Saddam’s nuke program that should really have garnered the highest interest by the ISG.

We know about it not from Saddam’s jailhouse FBI interviews, where according to Duelfer’s memoir Saddam steadfastly denied everything except an intention to re-acquire WMD when sanctions had eroded. We know about it from his own mouth, in captured tape ISGQ-2003-M0007379, in which Saddam is briefed on his secret nuclear weapons project. This meeting must have taken place in 2002 or 2003.

According to John Loftus of the Intelligence Summit, which unveiled the tape at its annual convention in February 2006, the tape “describes a laser enrichment process for uranium that had never been known by the UN inspectors to even exist in Iraq, and Saddam’s nuclear briefers on the tape were Iraqi scientists who had never been on any weapons inspector’s list. The tape explicitly discusses how civilian plasma research could be used as a cover for military plasma research necessary to build a hydrogen bomb.”

Another document was translated by the Intelligence Summit, dated November 2002, describing an expensive plan to remove radioactive contamination from an isotope production building before UNMOVIC inspectors showed up on-site. But Charles Duelfer, strangely, doesn’t mention any radioactive isotope production facilities in Saddam’s Iraq in 2002, or any plans for making Hydrogen Bombs. Of these tapes, Duelfer hastily told CNN, “The tapes tend to reinforce, confirm, and to a certain extent, provide a bit more detail, the conclusions which we brought out in the report.”  Really.

The final line of evidence is David Gaubatz. Mr. Gaubatz was an officer in the US Air Force for 23 years, usually investigating murder, drug and other criminal cases for the Office of Special Investigations. According to the New York Times, Gaubatz retired in 1999 and worked as an investigator for Target, the retail chain, but soon returned to the AFOSI as a civilian.

Excited, Gaubatz called the ISG “every other day,” to no avail, pleading with them to send a team with heavy digging equipment. “They’d say, ‘We’re in a combat zone. We don’t have the people or the equipment,’ ” recounted Mr. Gaubatz to the NYT
Christopher Carson, formerly of the American Enterprise Institute, holds a masters degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University, where he was Bradley Fellow. He practices law in Milwaukee.

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