Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Duelfer: "the world is better off"
from the mind of  Daredemo.

I spent some time going through a transcript of Charles Duelfer's report to the Senate Armed Services Committee on October 6. CSPAN has the testimony and question and answer session archived here. I highly recommend watching it in its entirety. I have not yet seen the transcript posted anywhere publicly, but was able to take advantage of one of the few benefits of academia and grab a copy off Lexis Nexus. Figured I'd crop out some interesting tidbits below. There was a lot of interesting information here, so this post is looking long...

As a sort of introduction, I thought it would be useful to start of with Duelfer's own description of what the purpose of his report is:

The relationship between Iraq and the rest of the world has been complicated and dangerous for three decades, a dilemma that has confounded the international community through much of recent history. Three wars, devastating sanctions, and an endless progression of international crises have eroded or ruined thousands of lives.

The region and Iraq are both complicated and unstable, and obviously very dangerous. Weapons of mass destruction have added to the uncertainty and risk posed by an unpredictable and clearly aggressive regime in Baghdad.

This report is not simply an accounting of the program fragments that we have examined in the aftermath of the recent war and the ongoing conflict, nor is it my aim merely to describe the status of a program at a single point in time.

The complexity and importance of the question deserves a more synthetic approach, in my opinion. Instead, the objective of this report is to identify the dynamics of the regime's WMD decisions over time. I want to identify the area under the curve, not just a single point on a trend line that may be going up or down.

In other words, this problem deserves calculus, not algebra, and thus the report I have prepared attempts to describe Iraqi WMD programs not in isolation, but in the context of the aims and objectives of the regime that created and used them, which is not to say that I'm not going to look at the artifacts and what we did find at the given point in time when we began work.


His full prepared statement is here. Read it. No -- seriously, go read it & come back. I'm only going to deal with the Q&A session here. These are the chunks I thought the most interesting -- we start of with the chair of the committee Senator Warner:

WARNER: ...And my question will be very simple, it's asked frequently, it's discussed frequently: Is it your professional judgment that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein now in custody facing the rule of law?

DUELFER: Well, in my opinion, there was a risk of Saddam Hussein being in charge of a country with that amount of resources and with that amount of potential for both good and evil. What Iraq was under Saddam and the potential for what it could be, there was an enormous difference. The trends I think are important.

DUELFER: Our analysis and this study was to not look at a single point in time, but to look at dynamics and trends. He clearly had ambitions with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He clearly had a strategy and tactic to get of the restraints of the U.N. sanctions. He was clearly making a great deal of progress on that.

But for the intervention of the events of 9/11, I think the world would be in a very different position right now.

WARNER: In conclusion, the world is better off with his now facing -- in custody -- the rule of law to account for his crimes?

DUELFER: I am analyst, and I realize I'm in a political world right now.

WARNER: No. It's just that I have to...

DUELFER: Analytically, the world is better off.

Warner's questions were the first in the testimony, and as head of the committee. As you can see they were direct, and to the point. Remember when the Duelfer report first came out? Remember the headlines? "US 'Almost All Wrong' on Weapons" (Washington Post), "Report: No WMD stockpiles in Iraq" (CNN), etc. etc. Why not "World is better off"?

Now the media's headlines are indeed based on statements he made -- in fact in his response to the next question:

DUELFER: It is clear that Saddam chose not to have weapons at a point in time before the war.

Interesting. Well there we go, Bush lied, we're all wrong. It clearly was all a waste of time -- lets stop reading and go home! But wait:

DUELFER: When we look at the frame of reference that Saddam saw around him -- I mean, he saw U.N. sanctions, he saw forces around him, he saw diplomatic isolation after 9/11, he saw his revenue streams dropping -- he chose at the point in time to allow U.N. inspectors in.

As an analyst, I look at that and say, "Well, were those conditions sustainable?" And I find it hard to conclude that those conditions were stable or sustainable.

So while Saddam chose not to have weapons at that point in time, the conditions which caused him to make that decision were, A, not sustainable; B, extremely expensive not just for the international community, but for the Iraqis themselves.

Over the last decade, observing what happened to the civilian infrastructure of Iraq under the sanctions is stark. I mean, here is a country with enormous talent. The people are educated, Westward- leaning for the most part. They had a great education system. And watching that decay under sanctions was not a pleasant experience. There was an enormous price for that.

Those are some of the factors. Others will look at the data and draw other conclusions. But my opinion is that the conditions were not sustainable over any lengthy period of time.

WARNER: Had he lost his life by whatever means and the assets that he then had under his control had fallen into the hands of one or several of his children, particularly his sons, they clearly presented an equal if not greater danger to the world if they had control and custody of those assets. Am I not correct?

DUELFER: Well, from the discussions of the top people around Saddam, his ministers, military leaders, they were not fond of Saddam's offspring. And these people had a high tolerance for tough behavior.

So I would have to agree with you that a succession from Saddam to one of his offspring, while it's a hypothetical and it's hard to imagine exactly how that would play out, but it was not a pleasant prospect.

So this seems to me like a pretty clear statement that something had to be done. That had we not removed Saddam or his sons we'd be in for some serious problems. Senator Levin questioned next, and concentrated on accumulating ammunition against the Bush administration. I guess he found some -- specifically Duelfer confirmed his belief that the aluminum tubes were to be used for rockets (suggesting that the suspicious tolerences that led us to believe they would be used for uranium enrichment may more be due to incompetence on the part of the Iraqis than anything else: "DUELFER: That is my judgment, recognizing that in Iraq, the types of logic that we apply here don't always apply there.") He also stated that he did not believe Iraq had an active nuclear program, however "there was an attempt to sustain intellectual capability and to sustain some elements of the program". Gotta get those sanctions removed first right? There was also discussion regarding the suspected mobile biological weapon weapons labs found earlier in Iraq:

LEVIN: All right. Let me just talk about those trailers. Those trailers...

DUELFER: The two trailers that were captured in Irbil and Mosul were for the production of hydrogen. In my judgment, my firm judgment, and the judgment of most of the people who have looked at them, or of our experts, they had nothing to do with biological weapons.

LEVIN: Well, thank you for that testimony. It just totally undercuts the statements which were made by the vice president.

Thank you.

WARNER: Were you able to give a full response to that question? I want to make sure that the record has all of your thinking on it.

DUELFER: The question of those two trailers is, to me, separate and distinct from the question of whether Iraq had a mobile biological weapons program. Our efforts to fathom that possibility departed from a source who subsequently turned out to be largely a fabricator. That does not mean that there was not an Iraqi mobile biological production capability. But we have not found evidence of that.

Again, the biology area is an area where because it takes very few people, it takes very little in the way of resources, it is one of the areas where I think there is some risk that we might find new information that might change the content of this report.

WARNER: And a very little area to conceal it, am I not correct?

DUELFER: It takes very little area to conceal.

In other words any biological program could take a very long time to find. Duelfer is very careful not to say there aren't any stockpiled bio weapons. There are several occasions in this testimony where Duelfer is pressed on this and he is always reluctant to make any definitive statement that they didn't exist. It appears he has not found evidence yet, but repeatedly emphasizes that its not hard to hide or transport them.

Senator McCain was up next:

MCCAIN:OK, let me lead you though a couple of questions here, because we only have six minutes. There is the belief purveyed by some -- this is in sort of aligned with what we were just saying -- that there was a status quo in Iraq where basically the sanctions were in effect. And things were fairly normal. And so therefore we really had a choice between the status quo and an attack on Saddam Hussein.

Isn't it more likely, as you have stated in previous testimony, the sanctions were being eroded, American airplanes were being shot at, as you just mentioned, businessmen all over Baghdad were thinking that it was a matter of time before the sanctions were lifted, we have a burgeoning scandal in the oil-for-food program, and there was not a status quo?

In other words, there was a steady deterioration of any restraints, real or imagined, that Saddam Hussein may have felt. Is that an accurate assessment of the situation in Baghdad?

DUELFER: That is a very accurate assessment. We spent a fair amount of time analyzing exactly that and trying to understand the strategy and tactics which Iraq was using to encourage the decay of sanctions.

Duelfer also obliterates the "Bush Lied" fallacy:

MCCAIN: There's also the belief in some circles that this was an idea that was hatched, either in the Department of Defense or somewhere in the White House right after 9/11: Let's go attack Saddam Hussein, and we'll invent this weapons of mass destruction issue to sort of as a pretext for it. And there was really a hidden agenda there.

Why, in your viewpoint, did every single intelligence agency on Earth that I know of -- the British, our friends the French, the Germans, the Israelis -- every single intelligence agency believed, as our intelligence agency did, believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? How do you account for that?

DUELFER: Well, sir, that wasn't really my mandate. However, I do have an opinion.

MCCAIN: I'd appreciate your opinion.

DUELFER: I think there's a lot of factors that are involved in that. One, as I've mentioned before, Saddam had an experience where these weapons were vital to him. So why wouldn't he have them, sort of logically -- why wouldn't he?

Second, the United States had almost no contact with Iraq over more than a decade. To me, I sometimes forget that, because I spent a lot of time there myself, but that was because I was with the U.N.

That means that the analysts who were forced to make judgments about this were actually in a very poor position. They didn't have any ground truth. They spent a lot of time looking at computer screens, but not a lot of time talking to Iraqis, not a lot of time walking around Iraqi plants and getting a feel for them.

I mean, for example, if someone associates a particular vehicle with a chemical weapons program, as was done, there was something called a Decon (ph) vehicle. Well, if you spend much time in Iraq, you realize the Iraqis could be selling ice cream out of those vehicles. To associate a particular vehicle with a particular program, you know, it's that kind of a feel for the ground that was rare in the United States.

Also, Saddam, as we learned from talking with him, was deliberately ambiguous. He gave a speech, I remember quite well, in June of 2000 where he said, in essence, you cannot expect -- and he wrote his speeches himself largely, by the way -- but you cannot expect Iraq to give up a rifle and live only with the sword if its neighbors don't give up rifles and live with swords.

Now, that's kind of typical Saddam-ese. But it makes you think, well, he's saying he's going to hang on to his weapons of mass destruction.

So we asked him what he meant by that. He said, well, he had audiences in mind. This is a rare time I think he actually was candid.

DUELFER: He said he had two audiences. One was the Iranian threat, which for him was quite potent, palpable. The Iranian threat was very, very palpable to him. And he did not want to be second to Iran. And he felt he had to deter them. So he wanted to create the impression that he had more than he did.
MCCAIN: So every intelligence agency was fooled by him.

DUELFER: Well, including, to a certain extent, the Iraqi intelligence agency, because there were many Iraqis who were not convinced that there either were or were not special weapons within their arsenal.

In contemplating why we might not have had enough "ground truth" in Iraq, taking a peek at something like following link might be of use.

Teddy Kennedy, the conservative senator from Massachussets, was up next, little substance here as would be expected, but before we go there I thought it'd be useful to include a quote off a Left leaning website for some balance -- posted just prior to us taking action in Iraq:

Senators Kennedy and Byrd are now responding to the outcry with the following legislation:

* Senate Resolution 32 (introduced by Sen. Kennedy, co-sponsored by Sen. Byrd) urges the president to give UN weapons inspectors full support to finish their work and requires a vote of Congress prior to an attack on Iraq.
* Senate Resolution 28 (introduced by Sen. Byrd, co-sponsored by Sen. Kennedy gives the weapons inspectors the additional time which they have requested, asserts that we should "exhaust all peaceful and diplomatic means" before invading Iraq (which we have not done), and calls for the US to seek "specific authorization for the use of force" from the UN Security Council (which we do not have).

BTW, the pathetic parenthetical statement at the end was in fact false -- the authorization was given with the aid of John Kerry's vote. (you know the one where he voted to authorize the use of force, before his vote supporting the troops before he voted against them). Ok -- this now puts us in the proper frame of mind to look at Senator Kennedy's question:

KENNEDY:And we have to ask -- you have more than 1,000 people on your staff now. Press reports indicate that we've spent more than $900 million on the search for the weapons of mass destruction. And your testimony says that you've just obtained a large number of documents that's approximately equal to the total previously received since the end of the war and that it will clearly take many months to examine.

But isn't this a total waste of money? I mean, why does the search keep going on and on and on? And aren't we at the point where we have to admit the stockpiles don't exist?

...

KENNEDY: Well, my question is: Wouldn't the resource that you're spending to find weapons of mass destruction that evidently don't exist be better spent on weapons that do exist and that are threatening American servicemen every single day?

DUELFER: Sir, if I might just respond a bit on that. My task was not to find weapons of mass destruction. My task was to find the truth. You know, I am quite proud of the work that we have done to delineate the program and to describe in detail, which anyone else can examine, what we did find.

I'm not suggesting that we should continue searching this. I think, you know, the staffing and requirements to continue these small remaining uncertainties, resolving those, is small.

And you say "wild goose chase." And we've had a lot of people who have -- we've had a couple of people die. We've had many people wounded. And to tell them they've been involved in a wild goose chase to me it's not really what we're doing. We were meant to find what existed with respect to WMD. We weren't tasked to find weapons. We were tasked to find the truth of the program. And that's what we tried to relate. And I think it was a worthwhile endeavor.

Indeed.

We find some interesting stuff in Senator Reed's Q&A period:

REED:why didn't he simply hide small portions of this material?

DUELFER: Well, he wanted to get out of sanctions. That was his priority.

On a noninterference basis with that objective, he wanted to sustain -- as we understand it from talking with his advisers and him, he wanted to sustain the intellectual capabilities and some bits and pieces that are hard to duplicate of his programs.

This is particularly the case in the early years of the U.N. constraints, from '91 to, say, '95, and particularly the period of time during which his son-in-law, who was in charge of developing and had some pride of creation of these programs, was still around. But after he left in 1995, I think Saddam concluded that this business with the sanctions is going on longer than he expected. He did not anticipate the duration of these and he had to take other decisions to include getting rid of some of the production capabilities and other things.

REED: It seemed that the sanctions were working.

DUELFER: Well, again, if you look at a point in time and if you look at -- it depends on what you mean -- I hate to say this -- by "working."

The sanctions certainly were modifying Saddam's behavior. They were also having an enormous effect on the people in Iraq. And once Saddam elected to begin the oil-for-food program because of the devastation on the Iraqi population and because of the threats that that caused to his own regime, once those oil-for-food programs began it provided all kinds of leverage for him to manipulate his way out of sanctions.

So the sanctions were falling apart especially thanks to the oil-for-food program.

In Senatar Allard's Q&A session we find this (Referring to Iraq's WMD report submitted to the UN):

ALLARD: But you did see enough evidence there that raised suspicions about the accuracy of the 2002 report to the U.N. Security Council?

DUELFER: Well, there certainly were errors in that report.

ALLARD: Errors did exist?

DUELFER: Errors did exist, yes.

In other words, Saddam was in clear violation of Resolution 1440, but we knew that already... After a bit of discussion over what evidence Saddam may have had destroyed, we find again some interesting tidbits on the effectiveness of the prior administrations methods in dealing with Iraq:

ALLARD: On its face, we have a closed society. They agree to have inspectors come into their country in Iraq. Then all of a sudden you kick them out. I mean, that does raise suspicions about what's going on in the country as far as weapons of mass destruction, doesn't it?

DUELFER: Well, certainly in December 1998, when Desert Fox took place, there was four days of bombing. UNSCOM left Iraq. There was an enormous division in the Security Council at that time, because there was difference of opinion about whether that bombing should have taken place.

The Iraqis -- certainly Iraqis I spoke with were actually quite satisfied and pleased. One individual I spoke with I remember said, "Well, gee, if we knew that that was all you were going to" -- meaning the four days of bombing -- "we would have ended this earlier."

Keep this and Kerry's voting record in mind when you hear the Democratic party make the statement "stronger at home and respected abroad". A bit further in Sen. Allard's Q&A we get to some meat regarding where the WMD's might have gone:

ALLARD: I understand from your remarks there's a degree of uncertainty regarding involvement of the neighboring countries in Iraq's potential transportation of weapons of mass destruction or facilities.

ALLARD: For example, we saw reports that Iraq intelligence services would replace border security guards while cargo caravans crossed various border stations. Would you want to elaborate on those assertions and facts?

DUELFER: Well, our investigations looked a lot at what took place at some of the border points and surrounding the border crossing points, and this is described in some detail in our report.

Certainly, there was a lot of activity related to the transfer of prohibited conventional munitions. The Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service was involved in that. They had people at these border points. There was a lot of traffic back and forth. There were reports about WMD-related materials crossing the border.

But I still feel that we have not yet run down all the leads that we can on that. I'm not sure we'll ever be able to definitively answer that question, but I still think there are some avenues of exploration which we can pursue.

ALLARD: Are some of those papers in the volumes of information you just acquired believe that they could be there?

DUELFER: Well, the customs documents are not replicated in the book, but the discussion about some of the lines of inquiry we have had are included in that, including the role of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service.

Here's some more comments about where the WMD's might be from Senator Graham's Q&A:

GRAHAM: The only reason I mention it is, was there ever at any time that Saddam Hussein was engaged in trying to acquire a nuclear weapon?

DUELFER: He certainly was -- he had a very elaborate program. His top weapons designers freely admit that. They discussed that. The head of the program, Jafar Jafar, will tell you that after being imprisoned and only let out of prison if he agreed to begin a program, to run the nuclear weapons program, he did that, and that continued on until 1991.

GRAHAM: So what we know thus far from history is that he had chemical weapons within in house, he used them on people to survive, and that he was actively procuring nuclear weapons.

Now, was there ever any evidence that he transferred any material to a third country?

DUELFER: We have not come across evidence that he transferred WMD materials to a third -- well, let me rephrase it.

GRAHAM: (inaudible) to anyone?

DUELFER: We have some reports that we're trying to run down, as I mentioned earlier, of material moving out of Iraq just prior to the war.

But if your question means, was he sharing the wisdom and knowledge that he acquired about WMD, we haven't seen that, but neither has that been a particular emphasis of our investigation.

GRAHAM: But you're still searching out the issue of whether or not he may have moved some weapons material before the war?

DUELFER: That is correct.

Senator Nelson asked about countries and corporations involved in weapons trading with Iraq:

NELSON: But the report will name French, Russian, Polish and other companies that traded with Iraq, and some of the trade may not have been illegal, though much of it -- I take in the words of the report -- was clearly illegal. Is this accurate?

DUELFER: Sir, it was my view to put forward all the data -- names of people, companies, countries that were involved in this, because I felt it was important for people to understand that. And believe me, this was -- I had to argue on this.

However, with respect to the American names, and lawyers have told me that the Privacy Act, you know, prohibits putting out publicly American companies' names. But they are included in the report, which is an official document provided to official Americans.

...

BEN NELSON: But isn't it interesting that we print the names of petty criminals in the police blotter sections in weekly newspapers across the country, but somehow the names of these companies don't get in.

Now, apparently the Privacy Act doesn't relate to foreign companies. Was that ever discussed with you, or do you have any thoughts about that?

DUELFER: It evidently does not.

I would point out also that these data on the -- to which you're referring, oil vouchers (inaudible), that data is going to become public anyway. It's part of many investigations which are ongoing.

The U.N. has an investigation going on -- documents which we received from the Iraqi government.

So I think as a practical matter, the full disclosure of all of this is going to happen. But, you know, we can't be a part of that.

Here's some more insight into Saddam's strategy -- in answering a question about the decay of Saddam's WMD capability under sanctions:

DUELFER: Biology -- it's a small number of people that is required. The physical plant required is very small. So it would be easy for Saddam to conclude or assume that he has that capability and it's on the shelf. And I said this in my testimony. Because he was able to do it in the past, because the people are still there, because he can produce indigenously even if he has to start from scratch -- fermenters, spray-dryers, tanks and dispersal systems -- that is something which, in his mind, he says, "I can do that if I want to and it won't take me long to do it."

Chemical is somewhat more difficult. You know, it takes dozens of people in terms of the engineers, the production engineers and the chemists. It would be a bit more difficult depending upon the type of weapons system that you wanted to use. You know, if it's simple dumb bombs, that's one thing. If it's missile warheads, that's kind of another thing.

Interestingly, though, where he did choose to very openly violate the resolution was in the ballistic missile area, and that is an area where he tried to draw a distinction between weapons of mass destruction and long-range ballistic missiles.

But he also, I think, understood this is a long-lead item. Building -- indigenously certainly -- the types of missiles that he was building, the Samoud-2, that took a lot of time. And it was when he was in possession of a substantial amount of wealth, largely derived from the oil-for-food program, that he actually committed to those production programs, particularly around 1999 and 2000.

Senator Dayton queried about whether the foreign terrorists now in Iraq were able to obtain any of Iraq's WMD ("linkage" here is terrorists + Saddam's WMD's):

DAYTON: You see that possible linkage as still a threat?

DUELFER: I do. I was a little bit reluctant to put much more into the public report on that, because it's an ongoing, you know, force protection, kind of, an issue. But what we found -- the Army raided a facility called the Al Aboud (ph) laboratory in an area of Baghdad which is known as the Chemical Souk. And by chance they found a person there who was working on some ricin.

And so we quickly got involved in that. We quickly began to debrief him and, you know, pare down his contacts and work a link analysis, et cetera. We pursued a series of raids pursuant to that. And we, you know, put together a picture of a series of efforts and a number of individuals who were trying to, you know, put chemical agents of various sorts into munitions, including mortar rounds.

We think we've got most of that particular activity, not under control, but we understand it.

Now, these individuals were anti-coalition people. They were not people that we identified with foreign terrorists. But it has certainly been the case that characters like Zarqawi have expressed an interest in exactly this type of weapon.

But I think, you know, the resources of the ISG, the analysts and the ability to react quickly, allowed us to get ahead of this problem. And I'm quite proud of what the people did.

I.e. sounds like they've more or less nipped this one in the bud... This is good news. General McMenamin, Commander of the Iraq Survey Group answers more on this in a bit...

Her Majesty Senator Clinton asked questions as well -- nothing on the substance of the Duelfer report, but more along the lines of what contradictions she could find in statements over the past weekend from members of the current administration. That wasn't all that successful, but she did finally ask a useful question regarding how what we've learned from Iraq might apply to Iran or the DPRK...

CLINTON: Do you have any advice about, you know, the best way for the United States to try to degrade and decay such capacity, so that we can be assured that proliferation will not pose a threat to us or to others around the world?

DUELFER: Well, the decay that occurred in the Iraqi program was a function of the sanctions and, you know, the extraordinary limits put on this regime.

We looked at some of the activities of these scientists, in areas where we thought they might have been serving as a surrogate for nuclear-related activities. For example, there was a development program of a rail gun, which is an electromagnet -- it's like a magnetic device for firing projectiles. We thought that that might be a surrogate for development of nuclear expertise. We looked at a series of projects like that, but we found that it was inconclusive.

Drawing conclusions that would apply to a country like North Korea -- it's difficult, frankly, Senator, because they are so different. Iraq invaded another country and lost. It was subject to an extraordinary set of U.N. regulations. It fought a war with Iran. It had enormous natural resources. It has a population which is energetic; they're great builders.

It's in a different region where, you know, many would expect just objectively to see, you know, Iraq as a country and its people really should be the hub. But, by virtue of the leadership, you know the difference between what is in Iraq and what could be is huge.

I don't know. It's difficult for me to draw lessons for North Korea, but it's a very good question. Maybe others smarter than I can do it.


Here's where McMenamin talks a bit more about Insurgents getting their hands on WMD, in Senator Pryor's Q & A session:

PRYOR: Let me ask about a scenario that someone referred to a few moments ago, and you actually have it in your written statement -- it at least is referred to. Maybe I should ask General McMenamin about this.

There's a scenario out there that I think we in the Congress are concerned about. What if insurgents team up with Saddam Hussein regime chemical weapons experts? What if they team up and, you know, could cause quite a bit of damage there?

Here's the question I want to ask the general: Do we have, in your view, sufficient resources on the ground in Iraq to prevent this?

MCMENAMIN: I would say, for the military commanders, the intelligence effort that we have to try to identify these people is sufficient at the moment.

One of the more successful programs that the Embassy is running is the scientist redirection program. We are working with the Embassy and the Ministry of Science and Technology to actually employ some of these former regime scientists, either here in the United States or in Iraq, which will also help the issue.

PRYOR: Now, so the answer to my question then is what? Do we have sufficient resources on the ground?

MCMENAMIN: Yes, sir.

PRYOR: We do. OK.

We're doing everything we can do to make sure that scenario doesn't happen?

MCMENAMIN: Sir, any time we get any notification of any type of chemical weapon, we send a team out, we interview sources, we run down sources. We run down everything from epoxy glue to baby powder to crude schematic drawings of missile systems that somebody took out of a book just so they can get some money.

So that possibility appears covered. In Pryor's Q & A he also asked Duelfer about whether he found evidence of Saddam passing anything on to Al Qaida. Duelfer said no. So once again, its good we got in there when we did.

It seems appropriate to close this off with some comments made by Duelfer to Senator Warner's final questions -- referring to the prospects of WMD scientists continuing in that line of work now:


You know, frankly, it's been my experience that most of these people would rather pursue other lines of business; that they want to pursue a line of business that allows them to, you know, earn an income. Most of these people didn't grow up thinking, "Gee, when I grow up I want to make anthrax." They were, kind of, channeled into that by a very odd regime.


And now that regime is gone, and these people can get on with their lives... Here's a bit of Duelfer's view of the future in Iraq:


Well, sir, it's, obviously, unrelated to my report, but I've spent a lot of time there.

My sense is that what they desire most, of course, is security. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out.

If they have a structure to step into, and they believe it is their structure, not a foreigner's structure, and that that structure is fair and represents Iraq, I think that'll happen.

I had a lot of very candid conversations with many Iraqis, even under Saddam. And there's lots of discussions of the different tribes, clans, the Shia, the Sunni. Many of them made the point to me, they said, "Yes, but, you know, over the last few decades, we have acquired our nationality. We are Iraqis first."

And the way Saddam dispersed favor and so forth, he tended to reward groups and so forth, and he fended off threats that way to himself.

But I think if there is a structure, that it is identified as an Iraqi structure, that it is seen as something which will contribute to their future, that there's a true, you know, possibility that that will happen.


So this ends my probably too verbose summary (?) of Charles Duelfer's testimony to the Senate Arms Committee. I erred on the side of verbosity here because the transcript of the Q&A session does not appear to be publicly available on the web. Though the video is, and should be watched!

What I think we've gotten here is yes, the details of the pre-war intelligence on Iraq were flawed. The aluminum tubes probably really were to be used to build rockets. We expected stockpiles, but have yet to find them. There's some chance those stockpiles ended up out of the country, but we may never know what happened to them.

But what is much much more important here is that whether stockpiles existed at the time of the invasion is not as relevent as Saddam's intent, and the conditions that existed surrounding the sanctions imposed on him. What we learn here is that those sanctions were, as Duelfer says in his report in as state of "free fall". They were not working, and near collapse. Further we find that we appear to have enough of a handle on things to prevent the existing WMD's in Iraq from landing in the hands of Al Qaida. Had the US not taken action when it did, those sanctions most likely would have disappeared, and Saddam would have definitely started rebuilding his arsenal. One then does not know where elements of that arsenal could have ended up. The threat was clear, and thanks to Bush's decision to take action has been eliminated. This war was certainly not the "wrong war the wrong way at the wrong time". It was absolutely the RIGHT war, the RIGHT way at the RIGHT time. As Duelfer said, and as the media should have taken as their headline for his report, "the world is better off".

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