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What George Tenet doesn't say about WMDs
Posted: May 10, 2007 - WorldNetDaily.com
I talked to Dave Gaubatz last week before he had a chance to read At The Center of the Storm by former Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet.
But I can imagine what he might have said of Tenet’s blanket claim that “we at CIA had been wrong in believing that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.”
“Nonsense.” And the fully apolitical Gaubatz is in a position to know.
Upon retiring from the Air Force, with most of his twenty-year service spent in intelligence, Gaubatz went to work as a civilian Federal Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI).
After September 11, Gaubatz was enrolled in an intensive one-year crash program in Arabic and was thereafter dispatched to Saudi Arabia.
Among his assignments in Saudi was to collect intelligence on Saddam’s intent to use chemical or biological weapons against invading American forces. The Saudis with whom Gaubatz worked obviously took the threat seriously. Despite the heat, they wore protective equipment as did his own team members.
As Tenet himself would affirm, the Iraqi forces likewise believed that Saddam was loaded for bear. “Every military officer we debriefed told us that Saddam did indeed possess WMD,” he writes in his memoir.
The civilians were convinced as well. In southern Iraq, where Gaubatz was assigned after the war began, the locals kept gas masks handy and sealed off rooms in their houses to protect against a potential attack from their own military.
Given their fear of Saddam and his weapons, the Iraqis were not averse to cooperating with Gaubatz in his search for WMDs, his primary mission after the fall of the regime.
With the help of the Iraqis—engineers, doctors, police officers, government officials—Gaubatz and his small team identified four sites. The external signs of chemical activity were unmistakable: missile imprints, decontamination kits, atropine needles, and the like.
Says Gaubatz, “The Iraqis and my team had no doubt WMDs were hidden in these areas.”
That much said, extrication of the material was to be no easy matter. Three of the sites had apparently been constructed by temporarily damning the Euphrates so that huge subterranean vaults could be constructed beneath the riverbed.
Five-feet thick walls of reinforced concrete made casual penetration of the site impossible. In a high-risk area like this one, excavation would take significant military support, and at the time, there was no spare support available.
The final responsibility for hunting WMDs fell to George Tenet. This was an assignment the CIA shared uneasily with the Department of Defense through a mechanism called the Iraq Survey Group (ISG).
“Good people, but poor management,” says Gaubatz of the ISG. “Poor management results in disaster and failure.” The ISG concentrated its efforts in the north of Iraq and could not honor Gaubatz’s requests for assistance. “They were just overwhelmed,” says Graubatz.
Frustrated by ISG’s seeming inaction, and convinced “that no member of Congress or President Bush ever got the intelligence,” Gaubatz met with congressman Curt Weldon in the spring of 2006.
As a civilian employee, Gaubatz was in a position to speak out in a way that his military colleagues could not. “I have no doubt they would back me,” says Gaubatz.
“Let’s go and get the truth,” Gaubatz told Weldon, “then I am the only one who looks foolish.” The maverick Weldon planned to do just that, but the project stalled when the Iraqis working with Gaubatz were unable to get clearance to return to Iraq in a protected capacity.
Weldon was subsequently defeated for re-election by a candidate sponsored by Sandy Berger and his pals from the Clinton national security apparatus, Joe Sestak by name, himself a veteran of that apparatus.
As to the sites in question, Gaubatz has heard from his own sources that Iraqis and Syrians, with Russian help, moved the buried WMD to Syria. He is not certain when this happened. Others, who have made similar claims, believe the removal would have taken place during the slow build up to war.
Tenet makes only an oblique reference to Gaubatz’s find. He refers to a tip that “a significant amount of enriched uranium” was buried “underneath a riverbed.” According to Tenet, the tip “proved worthless.”
Gaubatz makes no claim about enriched uranium, but curiously, in the same week in July 2004 that Tenet quit the CIA, a credible story about enriched uranium surfaced.
The BBC reported on a press conference in which US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham claimed that the U.S. had removed 1.77 tons of enriched uranium from Iraq the month before. ["US reveals Iraq nuclear operation."]
Abraham called the removal a “major achievement.” He then described in detail how 20 experts from the US Energy Department had packaged the material and flown it out of the country in a joint operation with the Department of Defense. He wasn’t making this up.
As I reported earlier, however, just as suddenly as the story appeared, it disappeared. Not a word was heard of it from the major networks. The only American media to follow up on the story was WorldNetDaily.
As Tenet observes, if Saddam had “fissile material,” his people could have made a nuclear weapon “within a year.” Highly enriched uranium is a fissile material.
The specificity of the Abraham press conference and its dramatic withdrawal from the media suggest that the find was real. The “underneath a riverbed” tip that Tenet discounted echoes Gaubatz’s assertions on likely locations and may, in fact, have been the source of the find.
So why then has the Bush administration not boasted of this and other WMD finds? Tenet may very well provide the answer to this question.
“Sometimes,” he writes, “it is even useful to have positive accomplishments misperceived as failures, to throw foreign governments and rogue organizations off the scent.”
This would make all the more sense if the administration did not retrieve all of the WMDs, including enriched uranium, as seems more than likely.
For all the wrong reasons, the major media have fully obliged the Bush administration’s discretion. They prefer Tenet’s dubious claim that Saddam merely “pretended” to have WMDs.
And, as we have seen, they will turn a belligerently blind eye to any evidence to the contrary.
"Greinke's getting shelled again;
get him off your fantasy team now!"
- Jim Clark of Lenexa, Kansas
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