Sunday, August 22, 2004
The CIA has decided to scuttle its alternate history project, a science-fictional catalogue of the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam might have developed by the year 2008 had his regime not been toppled by U.S. forces in 2003:
Charles Duelfer, the head of the CIA's weapons search team in Iraq, said Saturday that a final report he expected to deliver next month would not forecast what Baghdad's unconventional arms programs might have looked like if the United States had not invaded . . . .Although this project appears to be dead in the water, there's another CIA report we'd very much like to read -- the one by senior analyst Hawthorne Abendsen, describing what life would be like in the USA in 2004 had Al Gore won the White House in 2000.
The prospect of a speculative report had touched off criticism on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, recently wrote a letter to acting CIA Director John E. McLaughlin, saying an effort to project what Iraq's weapons capabilities could have become would be "inconsistent with the original mission of the Iraq Survey Group" and "by definition, be highly speculative."