The Daily Bork

April 27, 2005

Spin spin sugar...

From NZ headlines...

No proof Iraq hid weapons in Syria

But the contents are slightly different:

President George W Bush and other US officials cited a grave threat posed by Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and Baghdad's efforts to acquire a nuclear arms capability as a justification for war. No such weapons were found but US officials said it was possible Saddam sent them to Syria for safekeeping.

The usual twist of the truth, but it is from Reuters afterall.

The new report posted on the CIA Web site said: "Based on evidence available. . . it is unlikely that an official transfer of WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place. However ISG was unable to rule out unofficial movement of limited WMD-related materials."

Sounds somewhat more conditional than the blanket headline statement! After all, what exactly constitutes official transfers?

It said investigators "found no senior policy, program or intelligence officials who admitted any direct knowledge of such movement of WMD."

No shit, really???

"Indeed, they uniformly denied any knowledge of residual WMD that have been secreted to Syria," the report said.

Backside. Covering of, perhaps?

Meanwhile, in a Swedish paper, the same news is presented under an editorial item.

Inga vapen förda från Irak till Syrien - No weapons sent to Syria from Iraq

After this headline the reader must plow through quite a lot of unrelated material about Allawi, nation building, Rice and Cheney. Then one comes to the material one expects. However, it is even more misleading. It has a brief statement saying the ISG found no evidence of the regime moving material (fast att det inte finns bevis för att regimen i Irak flyttade vapen till Syrien före invasionen), but no mention of the "unofficial" movement. Rather, they have the usual Swedish-press wet-dream about Hans Blix (I cannot for the life of me understand why they hold that man in such high regard). Basically stating that Duelfer has come to "approximately the same" conclusion as Blix did (ISG:s chef Charles Duelfer kommer i sin rapport - utlagd på CIA:s webbsida - fram till ungefär samma slutsats som FN:s utkastade vapeninspektör gjorde under svensken Hans Blix chefskap), although I haven't read the 90+ page report I somehow doubt very much that Duelfer is of such an opinion (that the sanctions worked and the weapons technologists were peacefully moved to civilian companies).

OK so I went and read it. Here is the relevant paragraphs from which the quotes have been cherry-picked. Needless to say, it is not at all as decisive as the new reports make out. Surprise surprise.

ISG formed a working group to investigate the possibility
of the evacuation of WMD-related material
from Iraq prior to the 2003 war. This group spent
several months examining documents, interviewing
former Iraqi offi cials, examining previous intelligence
reports, and conducting some site investigations. The
declining security situation limited and finally halted
this investigation. The results remain inconclusive,
but further investigation may be undertaken when
circumstances on the ground improve.

The investigation centered on the possibility that
WMD materials were moved to Syria. As is obvious
from other sections of the Comprehensive Report,
Syria was involved in transactions and shipments of
military and other material to Iraq in contravention
of the UN sanctions
. This indicated a flexibility with
respect to international law and a strong willingness
to work with Iraq—at least when there was considerable
profi t for those involved. Whether Syria received
military items from Iraq for safekeeping or other
reasons has yet to be determined. There was evidence
of a discussion of possible WMD collaboration initiated
by a Syrian security officer, and ISG received
information about movement of material out of Iraq,
including the possibility that WMD was involved. In
the judgment of the working group, these reports were
sufficiently credible to merit further investigation.

ISG was unable to complete its investigation and
is unable to rule out the possibility that WMD was
evacuated to Syria before the war
. It should be
noted that no information from debriefing of Iraqis
in custody supports this possibility. ISG found no
senior policy, program, or intelligence officials who
admitted any direct knowledge of such movement of
WMD. Indeed, they uniformly denied any knowledge
of residual WMD that could have been secreted to
Nevertheless, given the insular and compartmented
nature of the Regime, ISG analysts believed there
was enough evidence to merit further investigation.
It is worth noting that even if ISG had been able to
fully examine all the leads it possessed, it is unlikely
that conclusive information would have been found
At best, barring discovery of original documentary
evidence of the transfer, reports or sources may have
been substantiated or negated, but firm conclusions on
actual WMD movements may not be possible
Based on the evidence available at present, ISG
judged that it was unlikely that an offi cial transfer of
WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place. However,
ISG was unable to rule out unofficial movement
of limited WMD-related materials.

Now, go Google "iraq syria sudan chemical weapons" and ask yourself what may really be the case beyond a single quote pulled from an official government report.


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