Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Old News Again

You have to start thinking there’s a Plan behind all this news recycling going on.

What News is That?

Today, it’s a Washington Post with a strangely familiar story about conflicting technical findings about two trailers discovered in Iraq and initially thought to be mobile biological weapons laboratories. Surely this isn’t news, at least not new news, is it? According to the Post:

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.

Here’s how the Post’s Joby Warrick justifies the new story about old findings

The story of the technical team and its reports adds a new dimension to the debate over the U.S. government's handling of intelligence related to banned Iraqi weapons programs.

Ah, we had all the leakage from the outraged bureaucrats at Foggy Bottom at in UN circles, but now, you see, the technical team doubted the findings too, and this report was classified. (This helpfully demonstrates how much gets classified that has long ago become common knowledge or available by open source.)

I suppose I should acknowledge that the “gotcha” substance of the “new” revelations is that the findings of this technical team were transmitted on May 27th, according to the Post, 2 days before President Bush said on May 29th [sic] “we found the WMDs.” (His public statement to that effect appears to be May 30th 2003, according to the links I found.

Whether the President saw these results – they would have been sent to the DIA one would think – before he made his comments on May 30th (or 29th) is highly questionable. But even if he did, this means that one team of experts disputes another team. This was I the context of a steady stream of reports in May, June and July of 2003 about WMDs, program components and programs hidden from UNMOVIC, and so on.

Anyway, let’s do a little googling. In an odd coincidence of date, the first link we find is an entry from September 11th, 2003 at Front Page Magazine. This references an original New York Times report from 2003 (link no longer functional), reporting based on a leak probably emanating from the State Department’s Intelligence Branch. This can be found all over the left side and anti-Bush portions of the Blogosphere, as evidenced by the pasting of some or all of the following on myriad “Bush Lied” websites and blog postings:

..."Engineering experts from the Defense Intelligence Agency have come to believe that the most likely use for two mysterious trailers found in Iraq was to produce hydrogen for weather balloons rather than to make biological weapons, government officials say.

The classified findings by a majority of the engineering experts differ from the view put forward in a white paper made public on May 28 by the C.I.A. and the Defense Intelligence Agency, which said that the trailers were ["likely used"] for making biological weapons....

The State Department's intelligence branch, which was not invited to take part in the initial review, disputed the findings in a memorandum on June 2. The fact that American and British intelligence analysts with direct access to the evidence were disputing the claims included in the C.I.A. white paper was first reported in June, along with the analysts' concern that the evaluation of the mobile units had been marred by a rush to judgment." --NYT, 08.09.03

Not to be outdone by its NY competitors, it turns out the Washington Post had the story in January 2004, coincident with Weapons Inspector David Kay’s report to Congress, admitting that evidence of WMD stockpiles weren’t found by the Iraq Survey Group.

As reported in their story from January 2004, Washington Post reporters made contact with project engineer Thair Anwar Masraf, who claimed to have information on the two trailer-mounted production plants. Their source reported the following:

When Iraqi engineers told investigators that the discovered trailers were meant for hydrogen, the CIA dismissed the "cover story."

By July, with contrary evidence piling up, Kay described the trailer episode as a "fiasco." He told BBC Television, which broadcast the tape Nov. 23: "I think it was premature and embarrassing."

Even so, Kay's October report to Congress left the question unresolved. Kay said he could not corroborate a mobile germ factory, but he restated the CIA argument that the trailers were not "ideally suited" for hydrogen.

Had Masraf found Kay's investigator at the Palestine Hotel, he said he would have explained that Iraq actually used such trailers to generate hydrogen during the eight-year war with Iran. Masraf and his former supervisor at the Saad Co. said Masraf managed a contract to refurbish some of the units beginning in 1997.

According to the two men, Iraq bought mobile hydrogen generators from Britain in 1982 and mounted them on trucks. The Republican Guard used one type, Iraq's 2nd Army Corps another.

Iraqi artillery units relied on hydrogen-filled weather balloons to measure wind and temperature, which affect targeting. Munqith Qaisi, then a senior manager at Saad Co. and now its American-appointed director-general, said the trailers used a chemical -- not biological -- process to make hydrogen from methanol and demineralized water.

The feature that analysts found most suspicious in May -- the compression and recapture of exhaust gases -- is a necessity, Masraf said, when gas is the intended product.

In the late 1990s, the Republican Guard sent some of its trailers for refurbishment at the Kindi Co. The 2nd Army Corps signed a similar contract with Saad Co. Masraf said the first units were finished in 2001, including the two discovered by coalition forces around Mosul.

Qaisi's account may also clear up an unexplained detail from the May 28 intelligence report: traces of urea in the reaction vessel aboard one of the trailers. Qaisi said the vessels corroded badly because Iraqi troops disregarded strict orders to use only demineralized water.

"The stupid army pissed in it, or used river water," he said.

The CIA’s own “Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD,” dated 30 September 2004, online here, there’s this quote from Chapter 6, Biological Warfare, Key Findings:”

ISG [Iraq Survey Group] thoroughly examined two trailers captured in 2003, suspected of being mobile BW agent production units, and investigated the associated evidence. ISG judges that its Iraqi makers almost certainly designed and built the equipment exclusively for the generation of hydrogen. It is impractical to use the equipment for the production and weaponization of BW agent. ISG judges that it cannot therefore be part of any BW program.

According to an online history posted as “Historical Background, Office of the Historian, US Department of State, THE UNITED STATES AND THE GLOBAL COALITION AGAINST TERRORISM, SEPTEMBER 2001-DECEMBER 2003,” finds the following entry for June 2003:

June 26, 2003: The New York Times reported that the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research disputed the CIA’s conclusion that two Iraqi trailers were mobile biological weapons laboratories.

One Last Observation

A political one. The most commonly expressed sentiment by those suffering most from Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) for the past three years, has been the complete lack of traction with the public for their ravings.

No matter what gets reported, the complaints go, Bush never gets held accountable for the many lies, deceptions, power grabs and complete disregard for the Constitution. His critics fairly sputter when it comes to the recounting of abuses and deceits.

And yet, until now, no traction. The public still thinks George Bush has a handle on Iraq, and the Global the War on Terror.

But as we all know, public attitudes and perceptions have changed, haven’t they? The President’s popularity is at an all time low.

What occurs to me, is that the movers and shakers in the Democratic Party, aided and abetted by their friends in mainstream media (MSM), long ago concluded that the reason they couldn’t get the public to see things their way was that this President was just too darned popular. Because the public couldn’t see Bush as the evil incarnate the BDS victims have long seen him to be, they refuse to hear or accept the many “proofs” of his evil nature.

So why not recycle all those tired old news stories now? Find a plausible hook for a “new report,” dish the old dirt out again now that the President is almost as unpopular as Chirac in France.

Then they’ll start to see things our way, they must think. Surely they must.

UPDATE: Excellent wrap up from Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom , Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters comes to much the same conclusion. Confederate Yankee detects a certain biological odor with the WaPo story. Other links include Blue Crab Boulevard, George at Seixon, Sister Toldjah, and the Junkyard Blog.

More Links: Mudville Gazette

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