The Talking Lion

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

When it rains...

The WaPo has an article on the front page today revealing that the mobile biological weapon labs that were heralded initially as evidence of WMDs uncovered were, in fact, hydrogen producing facilities. And that "even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not [bioweapons laboratories]."
On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories." He declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

[...]

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.


This revalation of course is not even close to shocking. At this point it is clear what amazing liars of which this adminstration is made. But let's continue:

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.

The authors of the reports were nine U.S. and British civilian experts -- scientists and engineers with extensive experience in all the technical fields involved in making bioweapons -- who were dispatched to Baghdad by the Defense Intelligence Agency for an analysis of the trailers. Their actions and findings were described to a Washington Post reporter in interviews with six government officials and weapons experts who participated in the mission or had direct knowledge of it.


Ok, experts were dispatched by our gov't to investigate the trailers. They said that:
"There was no connection to anything biological," said one expert who studied the trailers. Another recalled an epithet that came to be associated with the trailers: "the biggest sand toilets in the world."

I'm glad we went to war over sand toilets (Weapons of Mass Defecation? Anyone? Anyone? Sigh..). The article goes on to talk about how the team was ignored ("experts arguing for both sides", guess which side won) and how the mobile biolab was used in the media campaign for the war. Back to the investigative team:
The technical team was assembled in Kuwait and then flown to Baghdad to begin their work early on May 25, 2003. By that date, the two trailers had been moved to a military base on the grounds of one of deposed president Saddam Hussein's Baghdad palaces. When members of the technical team arrived, they found the trailers parked in an open lot, covered with camouflage netting.

The technical team went to work under a blistering sun in 110-degree temperatures. Using tools from home, they peered into vats, turned valves, tapped gauges and measured pipes. They reconstructed a flow-path through feed tanks and reactor vessels, past cooling chambers and drain valves, and into discharge tanks and exhaust pipes. They took hundreds of photographs.

By the end of their first day, team members still had differing views about what the trailers were. But they agreed about what the trailers were not.

"Within the first four hours," said one team member, who like the others spoke on the condition he not be named, "it was clear to everyone that these were not biological labs."

News of the team's early impressions leaped across the Atlantic well ahead of the technical report. Over the next two days, a stream of anxious e-mails and phone calls from Washington pressed for details and clarifications.

The reason for the nervousness was soon obvious: In Washington, a CIA analyst had written a draft white paper on the trailers, an official assessment that would also reflect the views of the DIA. The white paper described the trailers as "the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program." It also explicitly rejected an explanation by Iraqi officials, described in a New York Times article a few days earlier, that the trailers might be mobile units for producing hydrogen.

But the technical team's preliminary report, written in a tent in Baghdad and approved by each team member, reached a conclusion opposite from that of the white paper.


The article goes on to explain why they came to the what-was-not conclusion based upon missing components necessary to any significant bio-weapons lab, mobile or not. And it turns out that the most probable explanation for what these trailers are is hydrogen producing facilities for waerther baloons - which is exactly what Iraqi officials said they were before the war.

Now why is this coming out now? I mean, the members of this team knew what these facillities were, and more importantly what they weren't. Why didn't they speak up after any of the administration's countless misrepresentations and flat out lies about the so-called WMD producing labs?

The technical team's preliminary report was transmitted in the early hours of May 27, just before its members began boarding planes to return home. Within 24 hours, the CIA published its white paper, "Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants," on its Web site.

After team members returned to Washington, they began work on a final report. At several points, members were questioned about revising their conclusions, according to sources knowledgeable about the conversations. The questioners generally wanted to know the same thing: Could the report's conclusions be softened, to leave open a possibility that the trailers might have been intended for weapons?

In the end, the final report -- 19 pages plus a 103-page appendix -- remained unequivocal in declaring the trailers unsuitable for weapons production.

"It was very assertive," said one weapons expert familiar with the report's contents.

Then, their mission completed, the team members returned to their jobs and watched as their work appeared to vanish.

"I went home and fully expected that our findings would be publicly stated," one member recalled. "It never happened. And I just had to live with it."

Fuck you, pal. You "live with it" while since your discovery 2000 American soldiers and at least 40,000 Iraqi civillians live no longer.

Like I said, that the adminstration lied to us is no longer even a passing novelty. But this story is some of the first reporting to actually break real lies the admin has knowingly told. And Bush, Cheney and the rest of the White House knowingly lied. You cannot convince me that the findings of the team specifically sent to investigate the trailers (findings which generated such anxiety in Washington) were not communicated to upper management.

So there you have it: Scandal 1045. Let's see if this is the straw that breaks the self-styled autocrat's back.

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