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Monday, October 6, 2003

HOW THE MEDIA HAVE BADLY MISINTERPRETED THE DAVID KAY REPORT ON IRAQI WMD

Have the media, especially prominent newspapers like the NY and LA Times and major TV networks accurately reported what David Kay, the head of the Iraqi Survey Group of several hundred trained personnel looking for Iraqi WMD, actually said in his interim unclassified report to the Bush administration and the Congressional Intelligence committees, given all the innuendo flying back and forth about the contents? Have they even accurately reported what the unclassified 10 page summary that the CIA put on its web site? Not according to Kay, in a lengthy and revealing interview yesterday on Fox News. A trained CIA specialist on WMD, Kay had been a member of the original UNSCOM inspection teams in Iraq under UN Security Council authority until late 1998, when the teams withdrew after deciding that Iraqi obstruction had made it impossible for them to do their work. In particular, the Iraqi government failed to comply with three new UN Security Council resolutions, passed between September and December of that year, that demanded full compliance with the inspection teams.

Remember, in 1995 --- four years into the UNSCOM inspections --- two of Saddam Hussein's sons-in-law fled Iraq and told the inspectors once they were in Jordan of their first-hand knowledge of Saddam's huge quantities of chemical and biological weapons. The brutal Saddamite government had no alternative but to concede the existence of these programs. Until then, despite four years of intensive inspections, UNSCOM hadn't been able to uncover any of those WMD stockpiles. Later, Saddam's sons-in-law returned to Iraq with assurances of their safety. Both were murdered within three days of their return. See global security.


DAVID KAY'S ACTUAL VIEWS

As we just noted, David Kay is the CIA specialist on WMD who heads the new Iraqi survey teams consisting of hundreds of trained specialists looking for them in Iraq. Last week, he gave a report to the Bush administration, then discussed it at length with the Congressional Intelligence committees, then let a 10 page public document be published at the CIA web site. Seizing on innunendo and selective quotes --- even from the published document --- the media tended to misinterpret the report and conclude that it was at odds with the Bush administration's position on WMD.

The facts are different. They appear much more clearly in a lengthy interview that David Kay had on Fox News yesterday.
1) Active and illegal programs for producing WMD, never covered in the Iraqi 12,000 page reply to the UN Security Council late December on its WMD inventory:

The unclassified report unveils, clearly, the following claim:

"We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002."

On this pivotal point, the actual position of Kay --- remember, the unclassified report is only 10 pages long --- comes out much more explicitly in the exchange with Tony Snow of Fox News in yesterday's interview:

TONY SNOW: Let's take a quick look at some of the headlines from this week characterizing your report. I want to get your reaction to them.

Here we see The New York Times: "No Illicit Arms." The Washington Post: "No Banned Weapons." The Los Angeles Times: "No Illicit Iraqi Arms." USA Today: "No Illegal Weapons." Is that what you found?

DAVID KAY: Well, we certainly found that — have not yet found illicit arms. But that's not the only thing the report says. In fact, I'm sort of amazed at what was powerful information about both their intent and their actual activities that were not known and were hidden from UN inspectors seems not to have made it to the press. This is information that, had it been available last year, would have been headline news.

SNOW: One of the things that you found, for instance, is the Mukhabarat, the secret service, in fact had a vigorous weapons program of its own. Tell us about it.

KAY: Well, we have found right now — and we're still finding them — over two dozen laboratories that were hidden in the Iraqi intelligence service, the Mukhabarat, were not declared to the U.N., had prohibited equipment, and carried on activities that should have been declared. Now, at the minimum, they kept alive Iraq's capability to produce both biological and chemical weapons. We found assassination tools. So we know that, in fact, they had a prohibited intent to them.

 

2) As for caches --- large supplies --- Kay's report did not find any, it's true, but he made it clear that they were likely to be found sooner or later. As he told the Fox interviewer yesterday, Tony Snow:, about chemical weaponry :

SNOW: There were claims before the war by Secretary of State Colin Powell that Iraq had weaponized and ready-to-use chemical weapons. He was very confident about the existence of chemical weapons. You have not yet found actual chemical weapons, correct?

KAY: Tony, it's important to stress the word "yet." We have not only Secretary Powell, we have Iraqi generals telling us that they had them. Unfortunately, they're not able to tell us where they are now. And that's why we're looking so hard.

SNOW: Biological weapons, you have found some strains; you think you're going to find more based on the testimony you've received?

KAY: Based on information leads, we have no reason to believe that we will not find more. But we're searching still.

 

3) On biological warfare agents, which can be produced and stored in a few containers, here is what Kay said:

SNOW: This is a cache that had been referred to by a scientist. The first bit of information paid off; you're still looking for the second one?

KAY: Exactly.

SNOW: And the second one is a large cache.

KAY: It's much larger. It contains anthrax, and that's one reason we're actively interested in getting it. SNOW: Now, you also talk about new research on biological capable agents, such as Brucella, Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever, Ricin and Naflotoxin (ph).

KAY: That's exactly right, and that's the things I'm surprised no one has paid attention to. The new strains they're working on, including Congo-Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever, are something that should have been reported to the UN In fact, all of the work should have been reported. It was not reported. This is activities, prohibited activities they've carried on. And this continued right up to 2003 in these four cases, unreported, undiscovered.

SNOW: Unreported and undiscovered. When you're analyzing how much information was kept from the UN, how would you characterize it?

KAY: Dozens of cases right now that are significant. The most significant, of course, is in the missile area, where we're talking about activity on four different fronts that would have provided missiles capable of exceeding the UN limit of 150 kilometers.

  4. Asked about Botulinum, one of the most toxic agents available these days,

Kay said they found it in the refrigerator of an Iraqi scientist. And asked what might have happened to the suspected large quantities of biological and chemical agents, Kay said that his teams have been following various tips and leads about their being shipped out of Iraq to other countries.

 

5. On the cooperation that the Kay teams have had with the Iraqi scientists who worked on these programs, Kay said the following in the exchange:

SNOW: You also talk about reference strains of biological agents. What does that mean?

KAY: Well, that's one of the most fascinating stories. An Iraqi scientist in 1993 hid in his own refrigerator reference strains for — active strains, actually would've — were still active when we found them — Botulinum toxin, one of the most toxic elements known. He was also asked to hide others, including anthrax. After a couple of days, he turned them back because he said they were too dangerous; he had small children in the house.

This is typical. We now have three cases in which scientists have come forward with equipment, technology, diagrams, documents and, in this case, actual weapons material, reference strains and Botulinum toxin, that they were told to hide and that the UN didn't find. SNOW: You believe that there are similar strains perhaps throughout Iraq right now?

KAY: We're actively searching for at least one more cache of weapons — of strains that we know exists.

SNOW: This is a cache that had been referred to by a scientist. The first bit of information paid off; you're still looking for the second one?

KAY: Exactly.

SNOW: And the second one is a large cache. . . .

 

6) Intimidation of fearful Iraqi scientists:

Later in the interview, Kay added that his teams have had some cooperation with three scientists, who have revealed a great deal, but others are intimidated . . . especially since (as Kay notes ) two scientists have been shot immediately after cooperating:

SNOW: And you also had a number of scientists coming forward and telling you that there were plans afoot that, if they were given the orders to create chemical or biological weapons, there was a certain timetable in which they would be able to produce them.

KAY: That's correct. We've had very senior scientists — and this is actually a good news story. People don't realize how many Iraqis we now have cooperating with us. That's one reason for my optimism that we'll get to the bottom of the program. But it would have taken them from weeks to months to restart mustard production, and for months to — the maximum estimate is two years on VX production.

SNOW: Now, a lot of these scientists — you talk about one scientist being assassinated the same day he talked to your people. KAY: Yes.

SNOW: Somebody else was shot six times. They're still subject to considerable intimidation?

KAY: They certainly are, and they report that to us every day. And that's why I guess I have great admiration for those who are talking to us. They're talking to us not for rewards; they're talking to us in the face of active threats against them for collaborating with us. SNOW: Why can't you protect them?

KAY: Well, you know, we could take everyone out of the country, but realize in Iraq you're talking about extended families. We are taking steps to try to protect them, but we're never perfect at that.

 

7. Nuclear weapons:

SNOW: Senator Carl Levin said the other day that there was no evidence that Iraq had restarted its nuclear weapons program. True or false?

KAY: Well, I think in the nuclear area there's evidence that they were putting small amounts of money and starting rudimentary experiments. But we haven't finished our examination there. On the basis of what we've examined, I think there is evidence that they were interested in restarting their nuclear program, but it was at a very early stage, based on what we have currently found.

 

Observe here that the recent investigation of the House of Commons Intelligence Committee in Britain --- which cleared the Blair government of deliberately exaggerating or misleading the British public about WMD, even though it faulted the government's intepretations of ambiguous intelligence reports --- stood by the claim of the Blair government that the Saddamite government had tried to buy uranium from Niger. This claim, remember, was repeated in the Bush State-of-the-Union address in January this year, specifying that British intelligence believed it. Here is what the House of Commons Committee said according to the Washington Post:

Britain's intelligence services were justified in continuing to claim that Iraq had expressed interest in obtaining "yellow cake" uranium from Niger, despite the CIA's assessment that the claim was false. "We have questioned the Secret Intelligence Service about the basis of its judgment and conclude that it is reasonable," the report said.

And there's more. As the previous two buggy articles on the Iraqi war noted, German intelligence went public in early 2002 and warned that Saddam Hussein's nuclear program was making rapid progress and his government would have nuclear warheads and operational missiles by 2005. Those missiles would be "capable of striking Western Europe. "

We also know from the Kay report that Iraq had contracted with the Stalinist North Korean regime, busy murdering a couple of million of its citizens through starvation when it isn't striving to acquire nuclear weapons, to deliver missiles to Saddam that would have a range of 800 miles --- far in excess of what the UN Security Council resolutions allowed. Only because of the diplomatic wrangles with the brutal North Korean regime, so the regime reportedly told Saddam, were the missile deliveries held up.



 

8. On missile delivery systems:

KAY . . . now, the one piece of evidence that confirms that is in the missile area, where exactly that's when it restarted.

SNOW: And you also found propellants. You mentioned that there are four classes. You had cruise missiles. You had the attempt to buy the Nodong missile from North Korea that can have a range of up to 1,300 kilometers, about 800 miles.. . KAY: Right.

SNOW: ... and a series of other things. You had rocket propellants, correct?

KAY: Well, the rocket propellants are really an interesting story I'm surprised no one has picked up on. We have Iraqis now telling us that they continued, until 2001 or early 2002, to be capable of mixing and preparing Scud missile fuel.

Scud missile fuel is only useful in Scud missiles, no other class of missiles that Iraq has. And yet Iraq declared that it got rid of all of its Scud missiles in the early 1990s. Why would you continue to produce Scud missile fuel if you didn't have Scuds? We're looking for the Scuds.

 

9. On violations by some countries that had side-stepped the UN trade embargoes and sold the Iraqis various kinds of weaponry, especially dual-use technologies:

SNOW: You also have reports of a number of nations engaged in illegal trade or dual-use technology trade with Iraq. Why won't you tell us who those countries are?

KAY: Because we're continuing to investigate to find the exact details and to be sure that we have absolute accuracy. Also, because we suspect that these same companies have been engaged with other proliferant regimes, so we want to get to the bottom of this. And let me say, it's not just dual-use. The equipment that we're after and the information we have relates to things that were clearly illegal to sell to Iraq. This is illegal procurement. It's not something that could have other uses. They shouldn't have had it.

SNOW: Were any American companies involved?

KAY: Not that we've discovered to date.

 

10. On terrorism and future weapons discoveries, including if any supplies were shipped across Iraqi borders to other countries:

SNOW: But how about in other weapons? Has anything else come across? Because one of the things you document is a very thorough program of trying to destroy evidence in the wake of the U.S. and British invasion.

KAY: We have discovered documentary evidence that relates to various terrorist connections, and what happens, Tony, when we do that, is we immediately turn it over. I have an FBI rep who's on the Iraq Survey Group. We turn it over to those people whose professional business is investigating those ties.

SNOW: So when you look at the totality of the investigation, in Iraq and in surrounding countries, what would you put the probability of finding weapons of mass destruction?

KAY: I simply don't know. I have tried to conduct a work program that guarantees us that if they are there, we will find them. Rather than estimate — I don't want to estimate. I want to have proof, and that's what we're driving toward that conclusion.

 

11. Finally, what about WMD stocks once more?

It may be as Kay implies and others have said --- including Rolf Ekeus, the Swedish head of UNSCOM (no, not Hans Blix: another Swede who headed the new Security Council inspection team when it briefly started up in December 2003) --- that Saddam decided to concentrate mainly on the R&D of nuclear, biological, and chemical programs, rather than move to the production stage. That would have meant a conscious effort to destroy the existing stocks of these weapons, many of them uncovered by UNSCOM in the 1990s. As Kay warns, with far more searching on the ground in Iraq to be carried out, we can't be sure.

Suppose, however, the stocks have either been destroyed or sent abroad. Does that mean Saddamite Iraq was no longer guilty of Security Council demands to give a full accounting of its WMD programs and stocks by December 8th last year and to then promptly move to full disarmament internationally verified by the UN inspectors.

Not at all. As Kay noted in his testimony to Congress, according to Charles Krauthammer, whether Saddam was still in the WMD business is no longer open.

``We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities,'' Kay testified, ``and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002'' -- concealed, that is, from the hapless Hans Blix.

Kay's list is chilling. It includes a secret network of labs and safe houses within the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service; bioorganisms kept in scientists' homes, including a vial of live botulinum; and my favorite, ``new research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever, and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin'' -- all ``not declared to the U.N.''


Of course, if someone has already made up his mind that the Bush and Blair governments were deliberately lying or twisting intelligence reports beyond recognition, the Kay interim report and its conclusions that Saddamite Iraq was still actively pursuing vigorous WMD programs won't alter their convictions. No help for it. The rest of us will continue to keep our eyes and minds open and wait for further reports. In the meantime, all of us might be left uneasy at the sloppy and partisan-biased ways in which Kay's report --- even in the unclassified summary --- was presented to the American public last week.







Replies: 1 Comment

The media seems to be suggesting we have lost our justification for the war with Iraq since weapons of mass destruction haven't been found. However, the fact that Saddam was concealing his programs seems that we have found all the justification we need for having gone to war. The blatently anti-war media is brain washing the american public by not reporting these important facts of Kay's report. The sad part is that only a small number of people who thoroughly inform themselves know this. We haven't found Saddam yet....does this mean he doesn't exist either? I think not.

Posted by Sam Ward @ 10/16/2003 07:45 PM PST