12 May 2003

WMD search goes off the rails
From the UK Independent:

Every day for the last fortnight Salam Salom, a top Iraqi railwayman, has sat down with the Americans. They discussed the bomb-damaged track, the wrecked communications network, and the looters who descended on the rolling stock like a plague of locusts.

But one subject has not come up. There has never been any mention, he says, of chemical or biological weapons.

"They have not discussed this with me," he said, after yet another round of talks with a US army officer in the imperious monolith erected by the British in 1953 to serve as Baghdad's main railway terminal. "Perhaps they talked to the director-general about it, but it has not been raised with me."

If true, this is remarkable. The Americans are supposedly conducting an intensive search to find the illicit weapons programme whose alleged existence served as a pretext for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Three months ago, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, declared that the US had a first-hand description of mobile biological weapons factories that ran on wheels and rails so that they could be moved around to evade detection by UN inspectors.

Mr Salom is the traffic manager for the entire 2,000km rail network ? high up the pecking order in the Baathist-dominated management structure of Iraqi national railways. He may very well be a stranger to Saddam Hussein's closest military secrets, but one might expect him at least to be asked about the issue by US officials. Yet, he insists, there has been nothing.

This is interesting. The occupation has not restored basic services. The occupation has not even put much energy into the WMD search (apart from the prime minister's odd obsession with signposts). Nuclear sites were left unguarded while they were looted. None of the alleged WMD sites have checked out. The recent discovery of the WMD trailers, taken at its highest, would mean only that the arsenal to destroy the world consisted of a couple of molecules on a couple of trucks. If there was a gigantic arsenal you'd expect the liberating occupying powers to be looking for it as their first priority.

At minimum you'd expect the nuclear sites to have been secured against looting and the danger of transfer of nuclear materials to other governments or terrorist groups.

There are only two logical possibilities. The failure to search means either stellar incompetence (never impossible with the Bush administration) or that the occupation did not bother with searching and securing because they already knew there was nothing to search and secure.

Meanwhile the rubbish still rots in Baghdad streets and the Baghdad raj is being reshuffled amid plaintive cries from those being recalled that they were always going to be recalled. it's udnerstood a number of flying pigs have been despatched to Baghdad to bring these people home.

No comments: