A story in the New York Times revealed that American soldiers found rotting, rusting, and forgotten chemical weapons shells that the U.S. had sold to Saddam Hussein during his war with Iran in the 1980’s.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.
Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.
All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin. Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.
In case after case, participants said, analysis of these warheads and shells reaffirmed intelligence failures. First, the American government did not find what it had been looking for at the war’s outset, then it failed to prepare its troops and medical corps for the aged weapons it did find.
No, wingnuts, this does not prove that President Bush was right about WMD’s all along. It’s roughly the same as finding an old Soviet warhead from World War II buried in a backyard in Warsaw and claiming that Mikhail Gorbachev was plotting to invade Poland.
The real crime is that the Pentagon for whatever reason decided not to train their soldiers on how to deal with the old ordnance when they encountered them, and covered up the injuries when they did.