Monday, October 04, 2004
Did somebody gut a deer in here, or is that the stink of desperation?:
A report to be made public on Wednesday by the top American weapons inspector in Iraq will outline new details of attempts by Saddam Hussein's government to undermine United Nations sanctions as part of a plan to produce illicit weapons if those sanctions were lifted, Bush administration officials said Monday.
The report by the arms inspector, Charles A. Duelfer, will make clear that Iraq did not possess stockpiles of illicit weapons at the time of the American invasion in 2003, and that it had not begun any large-scale program for weapons production by the time of the invasion, the officials said. Those findings had previously been reported, based on an early draft of the document.
Mr. Duelfer's conclusion that Iraq clearly intended to produce illicit weapons if the sanctions were lifted had also been previously reported. But the final version of the document, in making that case, describes new evidence of concerted Iraqi efforts to bypass the sanctions while they were still in place and to undermine international support for them, the administration officials said.
That evidence is expected to be figure prominently in efforts by the administration to cast the report in a favorable light. With Election Day less than a month away, the White House has been seeking to persuade voters that the war in Iraq was justified even though the weapons stockpiles it cited as the main rationale for the invasion now do not appear to have existed . . . .
[O]fficials said the document did not describe any specific plan by Mr. Hussein to build chemical, biological or nuclear weapons once sanctions were lifted, but did include what they described as significant new disclosures about Iraqi efforts to subvert the sanctions and to whittle away international support for them. The officials said the evidence went well beyond longstanding American accusations that Iraq was seeking to evade the sanctions, but they declined to provide details.