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Mark Alexander / May 9, 2003

Bad bugs, big bucks — The French Connection

President George W. Bush declared back in March: “War crimes will be prosecuted. War criminals will be punished. And it will be no defense to say, ‘I was just following orders’.” But the task of rounding up Saddam’s key Ba'athist henchmen and trying them for executing coalition POWs and forcing women and children to act as human shields just got tougher. We are shocked – SHOCKED – to report that many senior Saddamites, who were able to elude advancing coalition forces thanks to intelligence provided by the French, escaped through Syria, possibly to the EU, using passports provided by the French. To date, only 19 of the 55 most wanted Iraqis have been brought into custody, and only one of them is from the wanted list’s top ten.

Bad bugs and big bucks were the topics of other findings in Iraq this week. To the shock and awe of skeptics at home and abroad, the Pentagon confirmed this week that it has obtained incontrovertible evidence of Iraqi WMD production. The evidence came in the form of a mobile biological-weapons laboratory – a mobile lab fitting the precise description of one of the 18 semi-truck labs offered as evidence by Secretary of State Colin Powell before the UN Security Council on 5 February. In his announcement of the discovery, Stephen Cambone, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, concluded: “As time goes by and we learn more, I’m sure we’re going to discover that the [WMD] programs are as extensive and as varied as the secretary of state reported in his February address.”

While Sec. Powell noted in his testimony before the Security Council that the existence of the labs was “one of the more worrisome signs” of Saddam’s WMD development, UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix told the same body in March that there was “no evidence” of such labs, and only “food-testing mobile laboratories and mobile workshops” had been identified. So much for the utility of inspections with a regime intent on deceit.

Mr. Cambone reported that the “Integrated Master Site List” contains roughly 1,000 sites to be investigated, including about 600 suspect WMD sites identified prior to the war (70 of which have been visited so far), and another 49 or so developed as a result of the war. Cambone further noted that extensive documentation of Iraq’s WMD programs has been found – an amount of printed material so huge that translation is difficult, and analysis will take time. He emphasized that the most crucial concern now is proliferation – to identify lethal weapons likely still in the pipeline and to uncover front companies that might divert their products and services to other interested parties. Of course, as The Federalist has noted since last November, we believe Iraq’s nuclear and biological weapons and program capabilities were moved through Syria to other locations.

On the subject of suspicious Iraqi trucks, in the last hours before the war broke out, Qusai Hussein and other high-ranking Ba'athist Party members loaded up three tractor-trailers with $1-billion in U.S. and EU currency from Iraq’s central bank. Additionally, it is now known that most of the looting of Baghdad’s museums took place prior to Baghdad’s liberation, at the hands of other fleeing Saddamites. All likely crossed the border into Syria with their French passports, and perhaps on to Europe….

It is worth noting that the Leftmedia claimed erroneously that the looting of the museums was due to the negligence of coalition forces after the fall of Baghdad, however to date, U.S. forces have recovered and restored some 700 artifacts and 39,400 manuscripts looted from Baghdad’s National Museum.

Quote of the week…

“…[I]t was an honor for me to go on the USS Abraham Lincoln. I appreciate the chance to thank our troops. It was an unbelievably positive experience. And not only was I able to thank our troops, I was able to speak to the country and talk about not only their courage, but the courage of a lot of other men and women who wear our country’s uniform. I’m glad I did it. It was also a really good landing.” –President George W. Bush

On cross-examination…

“It is not widely known, but in time it will be widely known, the length to which the French government went to frustrate the U.S. initiative in the Mideast. It was not merely a matter of threatening a veto in the United Nations. The French…went so far as to share intelligence with Iraqi agents, giving them data useful in frustrating the American advance. …[T]he French government was willing to put all of its resources into frustrating the U.S. diplomatic, and subsequently military, offensive.” –William F. Buckley, Jr.

Open query…

“The battle over Iraq may be over, but the war on terror is not. Our nation continues to face a ruthless enemy – and thus a test of our national character. Do Americans have it in them to run not just a sprint, but a marathon? Do we have what it takes to prosecute the war on terror over the long haul?” –Gleaves Whitney

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