Dodd Harris points to a Joel Mowbry column that suggests US forces have already found WMD in Iraq but are withholding that information out of kindness, I suppose:

Why would the Bush folks keep such politically high-value information secret?

Possibly because, given the sheer number of guerrilla forces present inside Iraq, U.S. investigators believe it would be foolish to leak evidence piecemeal. Sources and methods of intelligence-gathering could be “compromised”–a polite way of saying those helping us or their families could get killed–and the U.S. team’s efforts could be hampered if other would-be informants hold back out of fear.

And with many of Saddam’s former henchmen still around, U.S. investigators tipping their hand could make it easier for Baathist thugs to destroy evidence or sabotage discovery efforts.

Not to be cynical here, but I’m pretty skeptical. While I still think there was a substantial WMD program ongoing in Iraq, this rationale for secrecy is rather farfetched.

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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.


  1. John says:

    How does your viewpoint accomidate the recent reporting of Iraqi scientists who say that there was no WMD program?

  2. James Joyner says:

    My guess is the scientists will be more cooperative once Saddam is killed or captured.

  3. John says:

    Okay, that’s fair, but still far-fetched in my book. But then if he’s killed or captured and they still stick to the same story? That will be an intersting spin to watch. I’m thinking of setting up a Futures Market in war justifications.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Anything’s possible, I guess. I think we’re going to find less than many of us thought was there. It’s implausible to me, though, that he went from a viable program to nothing at all and then let his country get invaded and his sons killed over weapons he didn’t have. But we won’t know for sure until we either find evidence or enough time has passed that it’s obvious we won’t.

  5. Kevin Drum says:

    It’s all very mysterious, all right.

    However, shortly after the war the administration was trumpeting every overturned jeep as a WMD find, so I kinda doubt that fear of guerrillas is what’s keeping their lips sealed now.

  6. Katewerk says:

    All I can say is that I detect a fair bit of hmmm… “relaxedness” in the administration’s responses to questions about WMD.
    It’s unlikely that they’re going to dig into an underground bunker and find a gazillion barrels labeled “sarin”. And that’s what the media is going to demand as “proof”.

    On the other hand, if they compile a dossier of the bits and pieces of documents and evidence and release it as a gazillion pages of evidence, it’s going to have the appropriate impact.

    But that takes time.


  7. L. Janis says:

    Frankly, I don’t think that we will find any WMD in the country. He had them at one point, but they could have all been destroyed after 12 years or maybe he only had a finite number of them and used them all up in the eighties. Or, maybe the Iraqi scientists are patriots and don’t want to cooperate with a country that invaded them.

  8. Paul says:

    However, shortly after the war the administration was trumpeting every overturned jeep as a WMD find


    I don’t remember anyone in the administration doing any such a thing. I remember many in the media (Judith Miller, JPost etc) doing that but I can’t remember one speech from one member of the administration did said that.

    But why let the facts get in the way of a good story? Right?