With the release of the Duelfer report on the Iraqi WMD program (or lack thereof), controversy is swirling around the report's conclusion that Iraq did not have WMD's.
Boiled down to its essentials, the report by the CIA-led Iraq Survey Group says Iraq had essentially destroyed what weapons of mass destruction it had in the early 1990s. Mr. Duelfer said Saddam Hussein had the desire, but not the capability, to restart those programs because of United Nations sanctions.
The status of Iraq's WMD programs has become a hot political issue because it was a key rationale for the Bush administration's decision to attack Iraq in 2003. In a highly charged election campaign, the new report is more fuel for the political fires.
This will undoubtedly provide more fuel for the fire of the "Bush lied" crowd. The fact that a virtual who's who of international leaders spent the 1990's repeatedly asserting that Saddam Hussein was pursuing WMD's is conveniently ignored.
While the MSM will continue to pound the point about Iraq's WMD's into our heads, they are less than enthusiastic about the report's other major conclusion. It appears that suspicions about corruption in the UN oil-for-food program were not only correct, they fell short of the true scope of illegal activity.
SADDAM Hussein believed that the United Nations system was so corrupt that it would protect his dictatorship from American aggression and allow him to complete quickly his quest for weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Detail from the full Iraq Survey Group report - compiled from scores of former Iraqi officials and captured intelligence documents - shows that Saddam was intending to resume his WMD programme as soon as UN sanctions were dropped.
His officials believed they could make WMD within two years - but the only flaw in their strategy was to think that Tony Blair and President George Bush would not invade Iraq without explicit UN permission.
Extraordinary detail from the report was reverberating around the world yesterday as the French government issued an angry denial that its ministers had privately assured Saddam they would use their UN veto to stop war in return for oil contracts.
The full text of the report shows that Saddam realised in 1995, after his son-in-law defected to Jordan, that he had no choice but to comply with UN weapons inspectors. He ordered the destruction of all documents - but told scientists to "preserve plans in their minds" and "keep the brains of Iraq’s scientists fresh".
His strategy was to use Iraq’s vast oil reserves as a lever to pull apart the international community, by bribing Russian and French officials. The report shows this policy carried out to a breathtaking degree.
Given that only 15 of Iraq’s 73 proven oilfields were being developed, Saddam’s officials started to offer lucrative deals to Russian and French oil companies, while personally targeting politicians considered corrupt.
Jacques Chirac, the president of France, was top of the list. Some 11 million oil-for-food vouchers were allocated to a businessmen named Patrick Maugein, who was "considered a conduit to Chirac", according to the report.
It also claims that Saddam’s officials paid the equivalent of £600,000 to the ruling French Socialist Party - and that Baghdad’s then ambassador to Paris handed the money to Pierre Joxe, the then French defence minister.
Russia, another of the five countries with the power to veto war under the UN system, was heavily courted. Saddam’s officials dealt directly with the oil companies, who he deduced were quickly assuming political power.
"Iraqi attempts to use oil gifts to influence Russian policy-makers were on a lavish and almost indiscriminate scale," it says. He targeted a "new oligarch class" and also bribed Lukoil, the oil giant, with oil-for-food vouchers worth $10 million.
Peter Rodinov, Russia’s energy minister, went to Baghdad in 1997 to discuss a $12 billion oil deal. Two years later, Russian experts travelled to Iraq to provide advice on missile-guidance systems.
Critics say that President Bush didn't work hard enough to get the UN on board with us in regards to Iraq. It's now apparent to anyone but the kool-aid addicts on the extreme left that the UN and some of our "allies" were bought and paid for by Saddam Hussein. John "did I mention that I was in Vietnam?" Kerry wants to give these corrupt yahoos a say in our national security. WRONG F'ING ANSWER, WAR HERO!