Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Iraqi prisoners are consistent: there was no WMD program

Iraqi Captives Deny Illegal Weapons (CBS) Senior Iraqi prisoners are all insisting during interrogation that Iraq had no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons' programs, U.S. officials said. The officials said they believe many of the prisoners are lying to protect themselves. The Bush administration has stood by its belief that Iraq possessed prohibited weapons and the means to make more, although none have turned up since the war started on March 19. The denials also mean U.S. officials aren't getting any information on places to look for the weapons it alleges are in Iraq. Addressing the lack of weapons finds so far, President Bush has said that cooperation by Iraqis would be important. By denying Iraq had weapons, the prisoners may be trying to distance themselves from Saddam's rule, one official said. "They are all sticking to that story," the U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "They've got every reason to lie, at least initially." Do they really? And what reason would that be? It's not like Saddam or his thugs have that much power over them anymore, so they can't exactly feel much threat from them. Could it be that they are worried about potential prosecution if WMD are found? Perhaps, but wouldn't it behoove them to cooperate with investigators in return for a lighter prosecution? Criminals and prosecutors make these kind of deals all the time. From where I sit, it looks to me like these people would have all the reason in the world to blab all they know about Saddam's alleged WMD program and very little reason not to. We have here a living example of the prisoner dilemma: if even just one of these high-ranking prisoners starts to blab then the others lose the leverage they might need to get better treatment. Do you really think they trust each other to remain silent? If they were smart and there were WMD then they would be dumping boatloads of information. They have to know that such information is as good as gold with the Bush administration. Yet we are supposed to believe that the discipline of Saddam's thugs is such that they all, to a man, continue to tell the same consistent lie: that there was no WMD program. I always believed that the Bush administration was lying (sorry, putting the emphasis on certain facts more than others) about what they thought Saddam had. But even with that I still considered it likely that he still had a nascent chemical/biological program of some kind (I never bought the nuclear theory). I'm beginning to think that there may never have been a WMD program of any kind after the Gulf War and that the exploitation teams will be lucky if they find decrepit supplies that haven't been touched in years. It's still early yet, but things are not looking good for the WMD theory. Ahhh! What am I worrying myself about this for? We won didn't we? Didn't we?

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