Mar 24 2006

French Agent Had Goods On Hussein’s WMDs

Published by at 10:15 am under All General Discussions,Iraq

Major Kudos to Mark Coffey for bringing attention to this Walter Pincus story in the Washington Post yesterday (how did I miss this with all those google searches???). The story is about an incredibly high placed French spy in Hussein’s government:

Deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s last foreign minister, Naji Sabri, was a paid spy for French intelligence, which later turned him over to the CIA to supply information about Iraq and its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs more than six months before the war began in March 2003, according to former senior intelligence officials.


Over the summer of 2002, Sabri, as foreign minister, negotiated the terms U.N. inspectors’ return to Iraq, and in November 2002 he announced Hussein’s acceptance of the proposal.

Now that is an amazing bit of spy work. And it is clear why any information this man provided not going to come out prior to capturing Saddam – it could blow his cover. But there is more for the leftside of the political spectrum to pull their hair out over:

Publicly Sabri was insisting that Iraq had no prohibited weapons of mass destruction. Privately, the sources said, he provided information that the Iraqi dictator had ambitions for a nuclear program but that it was not active, and that no biological weapons were being produced or stockpiled, although research was underway.

Emphasis mine. Biological weapons do not take very long to reconstitute. Ricin is not that hard to produce if you have the castor beans. But one thing to remember is the term ‘plausible denialibility’. If Saddam did hand over know-how, or even small amounts from research, to terrorists the fact he had no stockpiles could simply be part of an elaborate alibi. It is clear Saddam did not want any links between terrorists acts and Iraq. But that does not mean he avoided links, it could also mean he did all he could to hide the links.

Another form of denialibility: point the finger at someone else. Hussein apparently distributed the chemical weapons to non-military elements (secret police? Terrorist liasons?):

When it came to chemical weapons, Sabri told his handler that some existed but they were not under military control, a former intelligence official familiar with the situation said. Another former official added: “He said he had been told Hussein had them dispersed among some of the loyal tribes.”

On thing to keep in mind is this source was one of many with varying stories on what was going on.  So while Pincus tries to squeeze out as many angles he can find suggesting Hussein was a misunderstood, unarmed leader of a sovereign nation which Bush was picking on, an objective risk analysis points to something different.  Another reasonable conclusion is Hussein had Chemical WMD, the ability to rapidly stockpile Bio WMD (they do not have a long shelf life) and was still eyeing a Nuclear program.  And, given the source’s family history with Saddam, it is very likely Saddam was shading the details to this man, that much more was happening behind cover.

As Mark Coffey says – the case for war is becoming stronger day by day.  And it will be 2006 that we realize what we dodged in 2003 by taking Saddam out of power.

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