This news broke while I was tied up for a few hours. It’s not easy to make sense out of this at the moment. Here’s a statement from the Senator’s website:
U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, joined Congressman Peter Hoekstra, (R-MI-2), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, today to make a major announcement regarding the release of newly declassified information that proves the existence of chemical munitions in Iraq since 2003. The information was released by the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, and contained an unclassified summary of analysis conducted by the National Ground Intelligence Center. In March, Senator Santorum began advocating for the release of these documents to the American public.
“The information released today proves that weapons of mass destruction are, in fact, in Iraq,” said Senator Santorum. “It is essential for the American people to understand that these weapons are in Iraq. I will continue to advocate for the complete declassification of this report so we can more fully understand the complete WMD picture inside Iraq.”
Austin Bay blogged it as it unfolded:
I heard a report on Fox News about twenty minutes ago (5 PM Central) that Senator Rick Santorum claims coalition investigators in Iraq found chemical weapons — artillery shells filled with a chemical agent (perhaps sarin nerve agent). The Fox report said Santorum had fought with the Pentagon and White House to get the information declassified. I’d like to see Santorum put his evidence up on the web. Michelle Malkin and her team at Hot Air already had a post up on the story– Hot Air’s post says the artillery shells contained either “degraded mustard” or sarin. I gather the stocks are 1991 (Desert Storm-era) weapons (in other words, left over weapons). I’m not sure that means Saddam had an active chemical weapons program but if this report proves to be true chemical weapons stock would be a violation of UNSCR 687. Stay tuned.
The Corner posted some of the declassified information:
* Since 2003 Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.
* Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq’s pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist.
* Pre-Gulf War Iraqi chemical weapons could be sold on the black market. Use of these weapons by terrorists or insurgent groups would have implications for Coalition forces in Iraq. The possibility of use outside Iraq cannot be ruled out.
You can read the declassification letter from John Negroponte for yourselves.
Of course the question that springs to mind is why would the administration sit on this information? Captain Ed works through that question and has some interesting points but it still doesn’t make sense to me.
Glenn Reynolds has a nice roundup and I certainly agree with his take on the WMD issue:
Stay tuned. WMD wasn’t the big issue for me, but it certainly has been turned into a keystone of the war debate, which may turn out to have been a mistake for war opponents.
I supported (and still support) the war in Iraq for many reasons but an immediate WMD threat wasn’t high on my list of concerns either.
Radioblogger.com has audio and a transcript of Hugh Hewitt and Senator Santorum discussiing this revelation:
HH: That’s fine. Again, putting away the classified stuff, focusing on the unclassified and published reports, is it your impression, Senator Santorum, that there have been a number of such discoveries?
RS: It is my impression that there have been a number of such discoveries. It’s my impression that this is a very dangerous situation in Iraq, with the number of chemical weapons still believed to exist out there, and the threat that they might in fact get into the wrong hands. So Saddam, it is clear, from this report, had lots of chemical weapons around, and that people got their hands on them. So this is exactly what we were concerned about, that Saddam in fact had large stockpiles of chemical weapons, and would in fact…those chemical weapons could in fact get into the hands of people who would like to do harm to America.
You can listen to the interview in MP3 format here.
Excellent comments from Dan Riehl:
I realize 500 is a nice round number. But the fact is, we have been finding WMD in Iraq since May of 2004. It’s been reported, just not emphasized. These are all separate finds below. Has everyone started to believe the MSM spin we’ve been hearing on this? I stopped worrying about finding WMD a long time ago.
Check his post for proof.
What impact will this have on the “Bush lied” crowd? If you said “none whatsoever” you get a cookie. Via Stop the ACLU:
The truth is that it wouldn’t matter if we found huge stockpiles in underground facilities including a nuke, they would still try to conjure up some kind of countering talking point.
That said, it’s still nice to have the facts on your side.
Macsmind slaps down the Leftist spin machine before it can get cranked up:
Now some will say, “Yeah these were munitions that predated the first Iraq war, so they don’t count”. Idiots. The fact is that they were still in Iraq and Saddam did not declare them, AND the report says that they were hidden as to evade detection from the ISG. Even though they do not prove an ongoing WMD program in the 90s, they do show that both Saddam was still playing games and the coveted ISG and Hans Blix work left a lot to be desired.
I tried to contact Scott Ritter and get his take on this story but a call to my local Burger King lead nowhere. Give the one in your area a call. Maybe we can track him down.
Someone at the Pentagon doesn’t sound too happy about this:
Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.
“This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991,” the official said, adding the munitions “are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war.”
WTF? Seriously WTF? Is Barbara Streisand being credited as a “senior DoD official” these days?
Chris Lawrence at Outside the Beltway wants to know where the rest went:
Perhaps more disturbing is that Iraq’s weapons stocks remain largely unaccounted for. As Alex Knapp has noted repeatedly, and the administration documents seem to reinforce, there is strong evidence that terrorist groups in and around Iraq have been seeking chemical and biological weapons; we can only hope the ISG has been more diligent in finding these munitions than al-Qaida or the Sunni insurgents.
There’s still about the importance of this revelation. Chester takes a look at why the government may have decided to sit on this information.
More to come..