Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Frank Gaffney’s Lateline romancing

On ABC TV’s Lateline program on Monday night, Frank Gaffney (president and founder of the Centre for Security Policy, a leading Washington neo-conservative think tank) contradicted presenter Tony Jones’ statement that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD):

No, it doesn’t turn out at all that he didn’t have any. It turns out we haven’t found what he had. But what we did find, what the Iraq Survey Group did find, is plans to use the in place dual-use manufacturing facilities once sanctions were lifted to put chemical and biological agents in aerosol cans and perfume sprayers to be shipped to the United States and Europe. That was the plan for terrorist activity that we have confirmed was in place under Saddam Hussein’s regime. You haven’t heard a great deal about it. Perhaps it has not been reported adequately enough to the Australian people or, for that matter, to the American people. But it’s true. That’s the kind of thing that prompts me to say I believe it was absolutely necessary to prevent Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies from being able to operate as they would have been, had we not liberated and country...

One might ask why we “haven’t heard a great deal about” this shocking plot. It turns out that Gaffney’s bombshell is based on a couple of brief references in the Duelfer report, Annex A,

A former IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Service] officer claimed that the M16 directorate had a plan to produce and weaponize nitrogen mustard in rifle grenades, and a plan to bottle Sarin and sulfur mustard in perfume sprayers and medicine bottles which they would ship to the United States and Europe. The source claimed that they could not implement the plan because chemicals to produce the CW [chemical warfare] agents were unavailable.

Further down, the report notes that:

Both of these plans are extremely difficult to corroborate because:

  • The reporting on this activity states it was never carried out.
  • According to the source of the above information, only Fadil Abbas al-Husayni, Adnan Abdul Razzaq, Nu’man Muhammad al-Tikriti (the director of M16), and Tahir Jalil Habbush (the director of the IIS) knew details about the plans to produce chemical agent within M16.

In short, Gaffney’s Lateline bombshell is a beat-up of hearsay evidence provided by an unidentified Iraqi intelligence officer, the nature of whose testimony is not elaborated, and whose claims have not or cannot be corroborated.

Next casus belli, please.


UPDATE: Tim Dunlop has elaborated an excellent rebuttal of Gaffney’s disinformation on this post at his blog, Road to Surfdom. Good work, Tim.


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