IRAQ ROUNDUP

Winds of Change has an excellent roundup of Iraq news this morning. Most notable is Tony Blair’s assertion that David Kay and company have found significant evidence of WMD programs including:

. . . a huge system of clandestine laboratories and plans to develop long-range ballistic missiles in Iraq.

Blair did not go into detail, but a spokesman for the prime minister on Tuesday said the findings were part of an interim report produced several months ago by the Iraq Survey Group, which is hunting for weapons of mass destruction.

“The Iraq Survey Group has already found massive evidence of huge system of clandestine laboratories, workings by scientists, plans to develop long range ballistic missiles”, Blair said in an interview with the British Forces Broadcasting Service.

Also especially noteworthy is this Washington Times report that most of the funding of the insurgency is coming from al Qaeda (something Stephen Metz and others had reported weeks ago with little fanfare) and funds skimmed from the UN Oil for Food program (something I hadn’t heard before).

To choke off the insurgency, Mr. Aufhauser said, Syria has to tighten its border controls and U.S. analysts must locate the billions of dollars the deposed regime is suspected of profiteering from the U.N. oil-for-food program.

“You have to make sure Syria gets serious about transfers of funds,” he said. “Either people are walking boxes of money over the border or transferring it through some kind of electronic means.”

If Damascus does not restrict the cash flow to insurgents, he said, the Bush administration has the right under the Patriot Act and existing presidential directives to unilaterally ban commerce with Syrian banks.

But there might be billions of dollars in stashed in metaphorical mattresses throughout Iraq, including money skimmed by favored businessmen from the U.N. humanitarian program.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.