Posted: 5/12/2004 6:25:01 PM EDT
The Curious Lack of Curiosity About WMD
"Week after week after week after week," said Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., about President Bush's rationale for going to war with Iraq, "we were told lie after lie after lie after lie." Were we?
Jordan recently seized 20 tons of chemicals trucked in by confessed al Qaeda members who brought the stuff in from Syria. The chemicals included VX, Sarin and 70 others. But the media seems curiously incurious about whether one could reasonably trace this stuff back to Iraq. Had the terrorists released a "toxic cloud," Jordanian officials say 80,000 would have died!
So, I interviewed terrorism expert John Loftus, who once held some of the highest security clearances in the world. Loftus, a former Army officer, served as a Justice Department prosecutor. He investigated CIA cases of Nazi war criminals for the U.S. attorney general. Author of several books, Loftus once received a Pulitzer Prize nomination.
John Loftus: There's a lot of reason to think (the source of the chemicals) might be Iraq. We captured Iraqi members of al Qaeda, who've been trained in Iraq, planned for the mission in Iraq, and now they're in Jordan with nerve gas. That's not the kind of thing you buy in a grocery store. You have to have obtained it from someplace.
Larry Elder: They couldn't have obtained it from Syria?
Loftus: Syria does have the ability to produce certain kinds of nerve gasses, but in small quantities. The large stockpiles were known to be in Iraq. The best U.S. and allied intelligence say that in the 10 weeks before the Iraq war, Saddam's Russian adviser told him to get rid of all the nerve gas. It would be useless against U.S. troops; the rubber suits were immune to it. So they shipped it across the border to Syria and Lebanon and buried it. Now, in the last few weeks, there's a controversy that Syria has been trying to get rid of this stuff. They're selling it to al Qaeda is one supposition. We know the Sudanese government demanded that the Syrian government empty its warehouse in Khartoum where they've been hiding illegal missiles along with components of weapons of mass destruction. But there's no doubt these guys confessed on Jordanian television that they received the training for this mission in Iraq. . . . And from the description it appears this is the form of nerve gas known as VX. It's very rare, and very tough to manufacture . . . one of the most destructive chemical mass-production weapons that you can use. . . . They wanted to build three clouds, a mile across, of toxic gas. A whole witch's brew of nasty chemicals that were going to go into this poison cloud, and this would have gone over shopping malls, hospitals . . .
Elder: You said that the Russians told Saddam, "There is going to be an invasion. Get rid of your chemical and biological weapons."
Loftus: Sure. It would only bring the United Nations down on their heads if they were shown to really have weapons of mass destruction. It's not generally known, but the CIA has found 41 different material breaches where Saddam did have a weapons of mass destruction program of various types. It was completely illegal. But no one could find the stockpiles. And the liberal press seems to be focusing on that.
Elder: It seems to me that this is a huge, huge story.
Loftus: It's embarrassing to the (press). They've staked their reputations that this stuff wasn't there. And now all of a sudden we have al Qaeda agents from Iraq showing up with weapons of mass destruction.
Elder: David Kay said, in an interim report, that there was a possibility that WMD components were shipped to Syria.
Loftus: A possibility? We had a Syrian journalist who defected to Paris in January. The guy is dying of cancer, and he said, "Look, my friends in Syrian intelligence told me exactly where the stuff is buried." He named three sites in Syria, and the Israelis have confirmed the three sites. They know where the stuff is, but the problem is that the United States can't just go around invading Arab countries. . . . We know from Israeli and defectors' intelligence that the son of the Syrian defense minister was paid 50 million bucks to bring the stuff across the border and bury it.
Elder: Why would al Qaeda attack Jordan?
Loftus: Jordan is an ally of the United States. It's at peace with Israel. And Jordan has a long history of trying to prosecute terrorists. . . . There are a lot of reasons. . . . They want to make an example of them. They want to terrorize as many of the Arab states as possible. This is sort of a political dream for the president. The worst nightmare is al Qaeda gets weapons of mass destruction from Iraq. And it looks like it's coming true.
A Syria/Iraq/al Qaeda/WMD connection? Why, this calls for a congressional investigation.