U.S. weapons inspectors in Iraq found new evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime quietly destroyed some stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons in the mid-1990s, former chief inspector David Kay said yesterday.
The discovery means that inspectors have not only failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but also have found exculpatory information — contemporaneous documents and confirmations from interviews with Iraqis — demonstrating that Hussein did make efforts to disarm well before President Bush began making the case for war.
The fact that Iraq disarmed at least partially before 1998 but did not turn over records to U.N. inspectors even when threatened with war has led Kay to conclude that Hussein was bluffing about his weapons capability to maintain an aura of power.
Methinks David Kay really covets the limelight after a career in obscurity. Otherwise, why continue to trickle this information out rather than just, oh, write all this in the report and then give the whole story in one interview?
Both sides of the debate are using Kay’s comments to support their case. It seems to me, though, that they have largely been exculpatory against the “Bush lied” charges. Kay has now said repeatedly that all the available evidence was that Saddam had weapons and weapons programs in place. Now, he says that the weapons were being destroyed in the late 1990s–meaning Saddam had been in violation of the post-Desert Storm treaty for nearly a decade–but intentionally hid that fact, thus failing to live up to another part of his treaty obligation. Had he produced the documents that Kay’s teams have recently unconvered, Saddam could have averted war. He did not.