About Iraq - Not So
Fast Colin Powell - Saddam did not Pose Imminent Threat - Conversation
with Robert Sheer Indicates Experts Said So
April 17th 2006
This week I read an article by Rorbert Sheer that said Colin Powell now
says that he and his department’s top experts never believed that Iraq
posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that Bush followed misleading
advice from Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim.
To that I say, not so fast Mr Powell, the time to come clean has long
passed. In fact, the window of truth-telling time for you ended when the
first US soldier was killed in Iraq.
This admission proves that Colin knew the truth and could have stopped
the freight train long before it made it to Iraq.
Picture this. The day before Congress is to vote on the resolution,
Colin Powell, the only Bush administration official with any hands-on
experience with war, schedules a public news conference on all the major
television networks, and says:
"Saddam does not pose an imminent threat, I do not believe we need to go
to war in Iraq, and I am quitting my job today because the
administration is about to engage us in a war I cannot support."
Think about that for a minute. And then think about how many members of
Congress would have voted differently if Colin Powell had stepped up to
But no, he just kept right on lying. For whatever reason, it matters
not. Mr Sheer asked Colin about the Niger statement in Bush’s State of
the Union speech. That was a big mistake,” Colin said. “It should never
have been in the speech."
"I didn’t need Wilson to tell me that there wasn’t a Niger connection,"
he told Mr Sheer.
"He didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know," Colin said. "I
never believed it."
When Mr Sheer asked why Bush played up the nuclear threat, he responded
like a little kid tattling on another kid to save his own butt, and
pointed the finger at the Vice President. “That was all Cheney,” he
That dog won't hunt. The fact is, of the liars who worked the hardest at
selling the case for war, Colin Powell holds the title for giving the
longest sales pitch on record when it comes to the nuclear threat, and
for that matter, for all WMDs in general.
Who among us can forget the tune Powell was singing when he took center
stage at the UN on February 5, 2003, and started his speech by swearing
to the truth of the evidence he was about to present.
"My colleagues," he told the world on live TV, "every statement I make
today is backed up by sources, solid sources."
"These are not assertions," he continued.
"What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid
intelligence," he said, "I will cite some examples, and these are from
Here's where Colin tells us about a big find by intelligence officials
in Iraq at the home of a nuclear scientist.
"When they searched the home of an Iraqi nuclear scientist," he said,
"they uncovered roughly 2,000 pages of documents."
To prove this "fact" Colin pulled out a few visuals. "You see them here
being brought out of the home and placed in U.N. hands," he told the
"Some of the material is classified and related to Iraq's nuclear
program," he added.
Next, Colin presented a litany of "facts" about Saddam's nuclear threat.
"Let me turn now to nuclear weapons," he said.
"We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his
nuclear weapons program," he warned.
"On the contrary," he continued, "we have more than a decade of proof
that he remains determined to acquire nuclear weapons."
"To fully appreciate the challenge that we face today," he said,
"remember that, in 1991, the inspectors searched Iraq's primary nuclear
weapons facilities for the first time."
"And they found nothing to conclude that Iraq had a nuclear weapons
program," he added.
"But based on defector information in May of 1991," he advised, "Saddam
Hussein's lie was exposed."
The next comment is particularly amusing as Colin inserts the word
"In truth," he said, "Saddam Hussein had a massive clandestine nuclear
weapons program that covered several different techniques to enrich
uranium, including electromagnetic isotope separation, gas centrifuge,
and gas diffusion."
"Saddam Hussein already possesses two out of the three key components
needed to build a nuclear bomb," he said.
"He has a cadre of nuclear scientists with the expertise," he added,
"and he has a bomb design."
"Since 1998, his efforts to reconstitute his nuclear program have been
focused on acquiring the third and last component," Colin said,
"sufficient fissile material to produce a nuclear explosion."
"To make the fissile material," Colin explained, "he needs to develop an
ability to enrich uranium."
"Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb," he
And here's where Colin swings into the "aluminum tubes" fairy tale and
briefly brushes up against the truth before getting back on message.
Saddam is so determined, he told the audience, "that he has made
repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes
from 11 different countries, even after inspections resumed."
"By now," Colin said, "just about everyone has heard of these tubes, and
we all know that there are differences of opinion."
"There is controversy about what these tubes are for," he admitted.
"Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in
centrifuges used to enrich uranium," he said.
"Other experts and the Iraqis themselves," he said, "argue that they are
really to produce the rocket bodies for a conventional weapon, a
multiple rocket launcher."
"Let me tell you what is not controversial about these tubes," Colin
told the audience.
"First, all the experts who have analyzed the tubes in our possession
agree that they can be adapted for centrifuge use," he said.
"Second," he continued, "Iraq had no business buying them for any
"They are banned for Iraq," he said.
"I am no expert on centrifuge tubes," Colin said, "but just as an old
Army trooper, I can tell you a couple of things: First, it strikes me as
quite odd that these tubes are manufactured to a tolerance that far
exceeds U.S. requirements for comparable rockets," he said.
"Maybe Iraqis just manufacture their conventional weapons to a higher
standard than we do," he advised, "but I don't think so," he added.
"Second," Colin continued, "we actually have examined tubes from several
different batches that were seized clandestinely before they reached
"What we notice," he said, "in these different batches is a progression
to higher and higher levels of specification, including, in the latest
batch, an anodized coating on extremely smooth inner and outer
"Why would they continue refining the specifications," he asked, "go to
all that trouble for something that, if it was a rocket, would soon be
blown into shrapnel when it went off?"
And here once again, it gets worse as he goes along, because the high
tolerance aluminum tubes are only part of the story, according to Colin.
"We also have intelligence from multiple sources that Iraq is attempting
to acquire magnets and high-speed balancing machines;" he said, "both
items can be used in a gas centrifuge program to enrich uranium."
"In 1999 and 2000," he noted, "Iraqi officials negotiated with firms in
Romania, India, Russia and Slovenia for the purchase of a magnet
"Iraq wanted the plant," he said, "to produce magnets weighing 20 to 30
"That's the same weight as the magnets used in Iraq's gas centrifuge
program before the Gulf War," he explained.
"This incident linked with the tubes," he warned, "is another indicator
of Iraq's attempt to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program."
"Intercepted communications from mid-2000 through last summer," Colin
said, "show that Iraq front companies sought to buy machines that can be
used to balance gas centrifuge rotors."
"One of these companies also had been involved in a failed effort in
2001," he said, "to smuggle aluminum tubes into Iraq."
Now correct me if I am wrong, but the next statement does not indicate
to me that Colin never believed Saddam posed a nuclear threat.
"People will continue to debate this issue," he said, "but there is no
doubt in my mind, these elicit procurement efforts show that Saddam
Hussein is very much focused on putting in place the key missing piece
from his nuclear weapons program, the ability to produce fissile
"He also has been busy trying to maintain the other key parts of his
nuclear program," he advised, "particularly his cadre of key nuclear
scientists," he said
"It is noteworthy that, over the last 18 months," Colin continued,
"Saddam Hussein has paid increasing personal attention to Iraqi's top
nuclear scientists, a group that the governmental-controlled press calls
openly, his nuclear mujahedeen."
"He regularly exhorts them and praises their progress," he added,
"Progress toward what end?" He noted.
And then there is the little matter of the infamous trailers. Colin had
a lot to say on this topic during his presentation at the UN.
"One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick
intelligence file we have on Iraq's biological weapons," he said, "is
the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological
Next, he went on to share what they had learned about the trailers from
"eye witness accounts."
"We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on
wheels and on rails," he advised.
"The trucks and train cars are easily moved," he said, "and are designed
to evade detection by inspectors."
"In a matter of months," he explained, "they can produce a quantity of
biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have
produced in the years prior to the Gulf War."
Had I been watching this speech live, I know I would have thought,
According to Colin, four eye-witness sources confirmed that Saddam had
these mobile biological research laboratories.
Here he used the word "know" again.
"We know," he said, "that Iraq has at lest seven of these mobile
biological agent factories."
"The truck-mounted ones have at least two or three trucks each," he
said. "That means that the mobile production facilities are very few,
perhaps 18 trucks that we know of--there may be more--but perhaps 18
that we know of," he advised.
A month after the war began, the administration announced that two
weapons vans had been found in Iraq.
On May 21, 2003, in remarks after a meeting with Bahrain's Crown Prince
Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Colin was still rambling on about
the damn trailers.
“The intelligence community has really looked hard at these vans," he
said, "and we can find no other purpose for them."
"Although you can’t find actual germs on them," he continued, "they have
been cleaned and we don’t know whether they have been used for that
purpose or not, but they were certainly designed and constructed for
that purpose," he assured his audience.
"And we have taken our time on this one because we wanted to make sure
we got it right," he said.
"And the intelligence community, I think," he said, "is convinced now
that that’s the purpose they served.”
The next day, during an Interview with French Television on May 22,
2003, Colin elaborated further on the great discovery of the "weapons
“So far," he said, "we have found the biological weapons vans that I
spoke about when I presented the case to the United Nations on the 5th
of February, and there is no doubt in our minds," he said, "that those
vans were designed for only one purpose, and that was to make biological
Remember that, there was no doubt in Colin's mind when it came to the
And who can forget Bush's remarks to Polish television on May 30, 2003,
when he said:
"You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he
said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological
weapons," he said.
"They're illegal," he advised.
"They're against the United Nations resolutions," he continued, "and
we've so far discovered two."
"And we'll find more weapons as time goes on," he said on live TV.
"But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices
or banned weapons," he claimed, "they're wrong.
"We found them," he announced.
Throughout the summer of 2003, the Bush administration held up the
trailers as trophies and called them "mobile biological laboratories."
In late June 2003, Colin declared that the "confidence level is
increasing" that the trailers were intended for biowarfare.
However, in the end, the "truth" emerged when the Iraqi Survey Group,
which conducted the fruitless search for WMDs, issued a report in
September 2004, that said the trailers were "impractical for biological
agent production," lacking 11 components that would be crucial for
making bioweapons. Instead, the report said, the trailers were "almost
certainly designed and built for the generation of hydrogen."
But here come to find out, the administration knew the trailer tale was
a big lie, and Bush knew it while he was running his mouth in Poland.
On April 12, 2006, the Washington Post reported that a "secret
fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already
concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons."
"Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission," the Post said, "transmitted
their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27,
2003, two days before the president's statement."
But getting back to Colin's speech at the UN, when trying to sell the
war, Colin went so far as to tell the world exactly what Saddam was up
to with the "weapons vans."
"Ladies and gentlemen," he told the audience, "these are sophisticated
They can produce anthrax and botulinum toxin, he said. "In fact," he
advised, "they can produce enough dry biological agent in a single month
to kill thousands upon thousands of people."
"We know from Iraq's past admissions," he said, "that it has
successfully weaponized not only anthrax, but also other biological
agents, including botulinum toxin, aflatoxin and ricin."
But Iraq's research efforts did not stop there, Colin warned the world.
"Saddam Hussein has investigated dozens of biological agents," he said,
"causing diseases such as gas gangrene, plague, typhus (ph), tetanus,
cholera, camelpox and hemorrhagic fever, and he also has the wherewithal
to develop smallpox."
As it turns out, the next line was a big selling point according to some
members of Congress.
"The Iraqi regime has also developed ways to disburse lethal biological
agents," he warned, "widely and discriminately into the water supply,
into the air."
"For example," he said, "Iraq had a program to modify aerial fuel tanks
for Mirage jets."
And he even had a video of an Iraqi test flight obtained by UNSCOM some
years ago, he said, that showed an Iraqi F-1 Mirage jet aircraft.
"Note the spray coming from beneath the Mirage;" he pointed out, "that
is 2,000 liters of simulated anthrax that a jet is spraying."
"There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons," he
said, "and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more."
"And," Colin warned, "he has the ability to dispense these lethal
poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and
The next line was another hit with the crowd, when it came to selling
"If biological weapons seem too terrible to contemplate," Colin said,
"chemical weapons are equally chilling."
He said, "Saddam Hussein has never accounted for vast amounts of
chemical weaponry: 550 artillery shells with mustard, 30,000 empty
munitions and enough precursors to increase his stockpile to as much as
500 tons of chemical agents."
Colin then pulled out photos and said, "I'm going to show you a small
part of a chemical complex called al-Moussaid (ph), a site that Iraq has
used for at least three years to transship chemical weapons from
production facilities out to the field."
"In May 2002," he said, "our satellites photographed the unusual
activity in this picture."
"Here we see cargo vehicles are again," he pointed out, "at this
transshipment point, and we can see that they are accompanied by a
decontamination vehicle associated with biological or chemical weapons
"What makes this picture significant," he explained, "is that we have a
human source who has corroborated that movement of chemical weapons
occurred at this site at that time."
"So it's not just the photo," he said, "and it's not an individual
seeing the photo."
"It's the photo and then the knowledge of an individual being brought
together to make the case," he advised.
I have to admit that this story sounds believable, and it would be easy
to prove as well. Colin can simply produce the photographer and then
follow up with the "human source."
Next he told the world about all the chemical weapons that Saddam was
"Our conservative estimate," Colin said, "is that Iraq today has a
stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent."
"That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets," he advised.
"Even the low end of 100 tons of agent," he continued, "would enable
Saddam Hussein to cause mass casualties across more than 100 square
miles of territory, an area nearly 5 times the size of Manhattan."
And on top of that, Colin said, "we have sources who tell us that he
recently has authorized his field commanders to use them."
"He wouldn't be passing out the orders," he informed the world, "if he
didn't have the weapons or the intent to use them."
A thought just occurred to me, I wonder if Saddam was watching this dog
and pony show live as Colin was performing. If he was, he no doubt told
anybody within ear shot, that the Bush administration sure had a lot of
gall calling him a liar.
By Evelyn Pringle
Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an
investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government.
Keywords and misspellings: politics poletics
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