Cannot rule out WMD moved to Syria
The CIA's chief weapons inspector said he cannot rule out the possibility that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were secretly shipped to Syria before the March 2003 invasion, citing "sufficiently credible" evidence that WMDs may have been moved there.This story suggest that much of the spin by mainstream media outlets on this story has been misleading. As Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has said, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." This is a much more logical statement than the earlier stories, because, in fact, no one making those statements was in a position to know with definity whether the weapons were moved and there was in fact some evidence that something was moved to Syria, based on satelite photos of truck convoys. Perhaps, Saddam wanted to make sure his mansion furnishing were safe and that he would have some clean suits when he had to getaway.
Inspector Charles Duelfer, who heads the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), made the findings in an addendum to his final report filed last year. He said the search for WMD in Iraq -- the main reason President Bush went to war to oust Saddam Hussein -- has been exhausted without finding such weapons. Iraq had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in the early 1990s.
But on the question of Syria, Mr. Duelfer did not close the books. "ISG was unable to complete its investigation and is unable to rule out the possibility that WMD was evacuated to Syria before the war," Mr. Duelfer said in a report posted on the CIA's Web site Monday night.
He cited some evidence of a transfer. "Whether Syria received military items from Iraq for safekeeping or other reasons has yet to be determined," he said. "There was evidence of a discussion of possible WMD collaboration initiated by a Syrian security officer, and ISG received information about movement of material out of Iraq, including the possibility that WMD was involved. In the judgment of the working group, these reports were sufficiently credible to merit further investigation."
But Mr. Duelfer said he was unable to complete that aspect of the probe because "the declining security situation limited and finally halted this investigation. The results remain inconclusive, but further investigation may be undertaken when circumstances on the ground improve."
He said that even if all leads are pursued someday, the ISG may never be able to finally determine whether WMDs were taken across the border. "Based on the evidence available at present, ISG judged that it was unlikely that an official transfer of WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place," his report stated. "However, ISG was unable to rule out unofficial movement of limited WMD-related materials."