Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Saddam and WMDs

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence wants to revisit the issue of whether or not Saddam Hussein had WMDs in late 2002. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the chair of the committee, argues that untranslated documents implicate Saddam actually had the WMDs just prior to the UN debates on invading Iraq: (HT: Captain Ed)

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is studying 12 hours of audio recordings between Saddam Hussein and his top advisers that may provide clues to the whereabouts of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
The committee has already confirmed through the intelligence community that the recordings of Saddam's voice are authentic, according to its chairman, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, who would not go into detail about the nature of the conversations or their context. They were provided to his committee by a former federal prosecutor, John Loftus, who says he received them from a former American military intelligence analyst.

Mr. Loftus will make the recordings available to the public on February 17 at the annual meeting of the Intelligence Summit, of which he is president. On the organization's Web site, Mr. Loftus is quoted as promising that the recordings "will be able to provide a few definitive answers to some very important - and controversial - weapons of mass destruction questions." Contacted yesterday by The New York Sun, Mr. Loftus would only say that he delivered a CD of the recordings to a representative of the committee, and the following week the committee announced that it was reopening the investigation into weapons of mass destruction.

The audio recordings are part of new evidence the House intelligence committee is piecing together that has spurred Mr. Hoekstra to reopen the question of whether Iraq had the biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons American inspectors could not turn up. President Bush called off the hunt for those weapons last year and has conceded that America has yet to find evidence of the stockpiles.

Mr. Hoekstra has already met with a former Iraqi air force general, Georges Sada, who claims that Saddam used civilian airplanes to ferry chemical weapons to Syria in 2002. Mr. Hoekstra is now talking to Iraqis who Mr. Sada claims took part in the mission, and the congressman said the former air force general "should not just be discounted." Mr. Hoekstra also said he is in touch with other people who have come forward to the committee - Iraqis and Americans - who claim that the weapons inspectors may have overlooked other key sites and evidence. He has also asked the director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, to declassify some 35,000 boxes of Iraqi documents obtained in the war that have yet to be translated.

Many politicians would rather not revisit the issue, and leave it as a "case-closed" status. However, it is very important that we discover the truth. As Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard has noted, there are mountains of evidence in the form of untranslated documents that could reveal a great deal of vital information about Saddam's regime prior to the U.S. invasion. Evidence that Hayes has cited as potentially revealing the link between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda.

Regardless of whether or not these untranslated documents reveal anything, there is enough of a chance that they might reveal something to warrant a full investigation of what they have to offer. The truth deserves to be found, and we should act accordingly.

Furthermore, as Ed Morrissey points out, if we happen to discover that the WMDs did in fact exist, we will have crucial information that could be used in discovering their whereabouts. If the WMDs exist, but are unaccounted for, we must undertake a very serious search to find them, and the sooner the better.