WMD found in Iraq: story buried and spun

Why did the WaPo bury this on page A 10???

Lawmakers Cite Weapons Found in Iraq

Thursday, June 22, 2006; Page A10

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) told reporters yesterday that weapons of mass destruction had in fact been found in Iraq, despite acknowledgments by the White House and the insistence of the intelligence community that no such weapons had been discovered.

"We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Santorum said.

The lawmakers pointed to an unclassified summary from a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center regarding 500 chemical munitions shells that had been buried near the Iranian border, and then long forgotten, by Iraqi troops during their eight-year war with Iran, which ended in 1988.

The U.S. military announced in 2004 in Iraq that several crates of the old shells had been uncovered and that they contained a blister agent that was no longer active. Neither the military nor the White House nor the CIA considered the shells to be evidence of what was alleged by the Bush administration to be a current Iraqi program to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Last night, intelligence officials reaffirmed that the shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

— Dafna Linzer

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  1. “Why did the WaPo bury this on page A 10?”

    Perhaps because the document in question is much ado about nothing. If anything, it undermines claims that the administration made in the run-up to the war, as I’ve shown in a post on my weblog, The Rockford Files (which I think you can access by clicking on my name above). That may be why the administration is keeping its distance from Santorum and Hoekstra on this one.

    Scott P. Richert
    Executive Editor
    Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture

    P.S. Longtime reader, first-time commenter. Keep up the great work.

  2. Actually, it looks like you can access it by clicking on my name below. Sorry about that.

  3. Ryan McMaken says:

    Mr. Richert is correct. Santorum and Hoekstra and either lying or are misinformed. Columnist Eric Margolis makes the correct observations:

    “US Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Pete Hoekstra, both Republican conservatives staged a press conference this week to crow weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. Pro-war groups are making a great rumpus about this canard.

    It is deeply disturbing to see two American lawmakers promoting an absurd lie to the public and media, and making fools of themselves.

    “Five hundred old artillery shells containing toxic agents mustard gas and nerve gas were found in Iraq, leftovers from the 1980-1988 war against Iran. These artillery shells were of medium calibre, to be fired from howitzers with a maximum rage of 18 miles. Their minimum 16-year old content were likely rendered largely inert by age and environment.

    “More important, these were battlefield weapons intended for use against Iranian troops. Calling them weapons of mass destruction is a nonsense. We might as well call machine guns wmd’s.

    “Embarrassingly for the senator and congressman, the components to make the mustard and nerve gas in the shells came from our allies in Europe – Germany, Holland, Belgium and Italy – and was secretly financed by the US Dept of Agriculture through Italian banks. The legislators who made this claim are either fools or charlatans – or both.”

    full comments here: http://www.ericmargolis.com/

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