The 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq listed many reasons for the eventual U.S. invasion in 2003—including concerns about Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons based on U.S. intelligence assessments.
U.S. intelligence assessments were correct about Hussein possessing biological weapons and pursuing a continued biological weapons program even if the assessments were wrong about the scale of the weapons and program, and the level of advancement of the program.
The Iraq Survey Group produced the Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD With Addendums (hereafter, the Duelfer Report). Volume 3 of the report noted the following about Saddam Hussein and biological weapons:
• Iraq declared the possession of 157 aerial bombs and 25 missile warheads containing BW agent. ISG assesses that the evidence for the original number of bombs is uncertain. ISG judges that Iraq clandestinely destroyed at least 132 bombs and 25 missiles. ISG continued the efforts of the UN at the destruction site but found no remnants of further weapons. This leaves the possibility that the fragments of up to 25 bombs may remain undiscovered. Of these, any that escaped destruction would probably now only contain degraded agent.
• ISG does not have a clear account of bulk agent destruction. Official Iraqi sources and BW personnel, state that Al Hakam staff destroyed stocks of bulk agent in mid 1991. However, the same personnel admit concealing details of the movement and destruction of bulk BW agent in the first half of 1991. Iraq continued to present information known to be untrue to the UN up to OIF. Those involved did not reveal this until several months after the conflict.
• Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha Al ‘Azzawi, head of the bacterial program claims she retained BW seed stocks until early 1992 when she destroyed them. ISG has not found a means of verifying this. Some seed stocks were retained by another Iraqi official until 2003 when they were recovered by ISG.
That was in 2004. Sometime during 2005-06 the 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion and its attached/subordinate units destroyed both chemical and biological weapons that the ISG did not find.
The 203rd MI Battalion served (at the time) as the tactical unit of the National Ground Intelligence Center, the Army unit responsible for providing general military intelligence, and scientific and technical intelligence on foreign ground forces. The Army recognized the 203rd and its attached/subordinate units with a Meritorious Unit Commendation. The MUC reads in part:
. . . Meanwhile the Technical Escort unit recovered, sampled and destroyed biological and chemical munitions . . .
|Imagery Courtesy of DOD. This image is a sample of|
a suspected Iraqi biological weapons facility in 2002 and
does not necessarily relate to the biological weapons
the article discusses.
That’s a noteworthy piece of information; one that never made headlines and does not appear to have been reported by the media or publicized by the DOD. Were these biological weapons the ones mentioned in the Duelfer Report or were they unknown ones? When were they manufactured? Were the biological components still lethal? Were other biological weapons found after that time? How many total biological weapons have been found and how do they relate to the information provided in the Duelfer Report?
The narrative that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based on lies is itself a lie. The AUMF disproves that there ever was a singular reason for invading Iraq has always dispelled that lie. However, it is now becoming clearer that some of the so-called failed intelligence on Iraq—including information on chemical and biological weapons—wasn’t as failed as many official and unofficial accounts would have the public believe. This latest information on Iraqi biological weapons, combined with rediscovered information on Iraqi chemical weapons, should force a reexamination of how big of a threat Hussein truly was, how much the IC actually got right, and why a large portion of American society has lied for so many years about why the U.S. invaded Iraq and what it actually found there.