Saturday, May 31, 2003
Attack That Balloon Maker! "BioWeapon" Trucks were used to pump up balloons
Slate -- The CIA report reveals considerable ambiguity about the nature of these vehicles. For example, it notes that Iraqi officials—presumably those currently being interrogated—say the trailers were used to produce hydrogen for artillery weather-balloons. (Many Army units float balloons to monitor the accuracy of artillery fire.) In response to this claim, the report states:
Some of the features of the trailer—a gas-collection system and the presence of caustic—are consistent with both bioproduction and hydrogen production. The plant's design possibly could be used to produce hydrogen using a chemical reaction, but it would be inefficient. The capacity of this trailer is larger than the typical units for hydrogen production for weather balloons.
One could ask: Since when was Saddam's Iraq considered a model of efficiency?
The report concedes that U.S. officials found no traces of any bioweapons agent inside the trailers. "We suspect," it states, "that the Iraqis thoroughly decontaminated the vehicle to remove evidence." That's possible.
The report also notes that, in order to produce biological weapons, each trailer would have to be accompanied by a second and possibly a third trailer, specially designed to grow, process, sterilize, and dry the bacteria. Such trailers would "have equipment such as mixing tanks, centrifuges, and spray dryers"—none of which were spotted in the trailers that were found. The problem, the CIA acknowledges, is that "we have not yet found" these post-production trailers. Question: Is it that they haven't been found—or that they don't exist?
Does it matter?
"I have absolutely no doubt at all about the existence of weapons of mass destruction," Blair told reporters on Thursday. Asked if it matters whether they exist, Blair replied, "It matters immensely because the basis on which the war was sold to the British House of Commons, to the British people, was that Saddam represented a serious threat."
It was, of course, sold on that basis to the Congress and to the American people, too.