It’s official. The Iraq Survey Group filed its final formal report this week having found no weapons of mass destruction and little in the way of credible programs to build them.
Most of the report – whose more than 1,000 pages are online at www.gpoaccess.gov/duelfer/index.html – was made public last fall, but a new 92-page addendum says the ISG found no evidence that any Iraqi WMDs were sent to Syria before the war for safekeeping.
Wrote Charles Duelfer, the CIA weapons hunter who headed the group, “As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible. After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted.”
A small search group remains in Iraq, but the document says continued reports of WMDs in Iraq “are usually scams or misidentification of materials or activities.”
Thus concludes an embarrassing episode for the Bush administration. That Saddam Hussein had WMDs and the will to use them was the administration’s key rationale for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The intelligence supporting that rationale turned out to be highly tenuous and often flat wrong, but the Bush administration would admit of no doubt or uncertainty. Recall the bullying rhetoric of then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice when questioned about the lack of hard evidence, a smoking gun: ” … we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
The lesson for Congress, the public and the press is this: There’s a reason healthy skepticism is called healthy.
(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)SHNS.com)