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WMDs in Iraq

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A discussion of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq has surfaced once again due to a New York Times report that the Bush administration covered up American troops’ chemically induced wounds. That lead to a story in The Daily Beast about how Karl Rove showed no interest in pursuing and publicizing the growing evidence of WMDs in Iraq.

Former senator Rick Santorum lost his seat in 2006 but remembers how he tried to bring the evidence of WMDs to the public. He and his staff began receiving photographs of discarded sarin and mustard-gas shells found by American troops. He even went public with the information at a press conference, and I remember covering it on the radio.

I also remember that story just died, and now we know why. Senator Santorum said that the Bush White House was not interested. He said that Karl Rove said something like: “We don’t want to look back, we want to look forward.”

Dave Wurmser (who served as a senior advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney) remembers a similar message from Karl Rove. Rove and his team blocked public disclosure of these findings and said, “Let these sleeping dogs lie; we have lost that fight so better not remind anyone of it.”

Everyone involved acknowledges that there was no “active chemical weapons operation in Iraq.” But that doesn’t mean there weren’t chemical weapons. But the mindset of the White House at that time was they weren’t going to change any minds. Most people accepted that there weren’t weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Opponents of the president accuse him and his administration of lying. Supporters merely said the intelligence was wrong. So the White House wasn’t interested in re-visiting the issue of WMDs.

The discussion has now surfaced again because of accusations that chemical wounds were covered up. There is some evidence that Sunni insurgent groups did use chemical weapon shells in some IEDs but these apparently were not weaponized.

Were there WMDs in Iraq? Yes, there were some, and now a decade later we are hearing about them once again.


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