Kay, Powell, Backtrack on WMD
It seems to me that David Kay’s resignation as weapons inspector in Iraq and his open admission that there simply are no “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq of any significance, has settled the issue. Kay snarkily went out suggesting that there may have been “programs” (read: vague plans and worthless offices).
He also hinted around that a lot of goods had been transfered to Syria last winter before the war, implying that these may have included chemical stockpiles. Kay offered no proof for this speculation, which comes out of the same Western and Israeli intelligence sources that said Saddam was 3-5 years from having a nuclear bomb. The Syrians have denied it. (Bashar al-Asad would have had to be brain dead to take delivery of Iraqi WMD on the eve of a US invasion of Iraq that had been hyped as grounded in Iraq’s possession of WMD!) [I now hear that Kay has retracted even this insinuation, saying he was misunderstood.]
So, the case has completely collapsed, and Kay is left with nothing but vague and unproved insinuations even in the small matters to which he continues to cling for whatever odd reason. Even Colin Powell is backtracking. Only Tony Blair seems so unwise as to try to maintain the case, and it is the sort of intransigence that may get him dumped by the Labor Party as an increasing liability.
Kay is trying to blame the US intelligence services and to protect the Bush administration. This, like much of Kay’s past work, is disingenuous.
It is true that the US had no human intelligence assets of any significance in Iraq, who could have done a simple site check of things that had looked suspicious in the satellite photos. Since the US spread around millions to Iraqi tribal sheikhs and others, the problem was not money. There is no good reason for the failure to develop such intelligence, except that it would have required that somebody go out and do recruiting in dangerous conditions and be able to speak Arabic, etc.
But Bush and his officials were the real problem. They were determined to go to war regardless of the intelligence. Neoconservatives in the Pentagon and the Rockingham Group in the British military cherry-picked and politicized vague “intelligence” (i.e. unsupported anecdotes) fed to them by figures like corrupt expatriate Iraqi businessman Ahmad Chalabi and very likely Israeli intelligence. The groups that wanted the war, wanted it so badly that the shakiness of the “intelligence” did not matter. The intelligence was just spun.
For a good account of how US intelligence got into this mess, seeRobert Parry’s “Why US Intelligence Failed”.