Alexander's Column

Saddam's WMD went to Syria...

By Mark Alexander · Oct. 31, 2003

One year ago, this column first reported that Allied Forces would be unlikely to discover Saddam’s WMD stores in Iraq – that the UN Security Council’s foot-dragging had provided Saddam with plenty of time to export his biological and nuclear WMD. Back then, I wrote, “There is a substantial body of intelligence supporting our position that Saddam shipped Iraq’s chemical, biological (weapons-grade anthrax) and nuclear WMD stores and components to Syria and into Lebanon’s heavily fortified Bekaa Valley, for points beyond.” In December, a senior-level intelligence source confirmed again that much of Iraq’s WMD had, in fact, been moved to and through Syria.

This week, there was, for the first time, official confirmation of our report. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, now director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, confirmed that U.S. surveillance satellites captured images of vehicle traffic dispersing WMD materiel to urban locations in Iraq and moving large quantities into Syria as well.

“Those below the senior leadership saw what was coming, and I think they went to extraordinary lengths to [dispose, destroy and disperse] the evidence,” said Gen. Clapper. “By the time that we got to a lot of these facilities…there wasn’t that much there to look at. There was clearly an effort to disperse, bury and conceal certain equipment prior to inspections.” Gen. Clapper added that there is “no question” that people and WMD materiel were moved by truck convoys into Syria.

So why wait until now to release this information? First, as we noted last year, the extent and accuracy of this information is a valuable intelligence asset, and the CIA, DIA and NSA are responsive only to U.S. national-security interests. Finding and destroying these WMD stores has everything to do with the likelihood that what we don’t find now will visit our shores in a most terrible way later. Undoubtedly General Clapper’s remarks were thoroughly vetted for their national security implications as we endeavor to contain Saddam’s WMD and make clear that any effort to move them will confirm their current location.

Secondly, because some Americans and their Leftmedia opinion-shapers have very short attention spans, recent claims by Ted Kennedy et al. that President George Bush “misled” the nation regarding the “imminent threat” posed by Iraqi WMD, have undermined some domestic resolve. It is critical that our national resolve remain high and that Americans understand how important it is to keep the frontlines of our war with Jihadistan on their turf, not ours.

And third, because this merely confirms what many Americans not blinded by political ambition, already knew: that Saddam’s most deadly WMD are still out there, still capable of inflicting catastrophic devastation in one or more major U.S. urban centers of an al-Qa'ida sleeper cell’s choosing, and still capable of wreaking havoc on the economic recovery now underway.

Quote of the week…

“I want to tell you something about this war against terror we are fighting in Iraq and around the world. The foreign terrorists, the Ba'ath Party sympathizers, the Islamic extremists who wantonly kill Americans and innocent people from many nations, have no idea what they are up against. … When we say we are going to win this global war on terrorism, we mean exactly that. We don’t mean a moral victory, or victory in some abstract sense. The reality of more than 3,000 dead in New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon does not allow for such nuances.” –Gen. John M. Keane, Army vice chief of staff, at his retirement ceremony earlier this month