Chronological Jujitsu with the Bioweapons White Paper

Back in April, I speculated that Judy Miller had been leaked the CIA/DIA White Paper on the purported mobile bioweapons labs (MBL) to pre-empt the report of an expert team, the "Jefferson Team," sent to Iraq to investigate the trailers. Via Steve Aftergood and this report on the trailers (which I will follow-up with shortly and which lukery is busy working on as well), I found the White Paper itself. Based on the White Paper and a review of the evidence, I’m going to fine tune my theory.

Here’s the theory–this is speculative, but I wouldn’t even call it "outtamyarse" at this point, based on the evidence.

  • For some reason (because they knew the trailers were crap?) they sat on the story of them for up to 2 weeks (mid to late April to May 11–it took them 4 days to review the trailer)
  • They created the White Paper and briefed the White House on it–and leaked it to Judy–to pre-empt the Jefferson Team
  • They re-issued the White Paper, now dated after the Jefferson Team report, to justify ongoing administration use of the claim

One thing appears to be clear, though. The SAO quoted in Judy’s "balanced" June article claims the objections raised about the trailers were considered and dismissed. They may have been. But they weren’t considered in the analysis of the White Paper. In other words, the SAO dismissing objections about the MBL claims may have lied about having considered those objections. Go figure.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant, emptywheel.

    I note, in passing, that while running an unrelated Google search a long time ago, I chanced across a collection of Pentagon PowerPoint slides about â€Iraqi Denial and Deception Programs.†In Pentagon shorthand, this was often written as â€Iraqi D&D Programs,†which cracked me up because I’m a big D&D geek and I had no idea the Iraqis were, too.

    Now I read this and chuckle again: The Iraqis have used sophisticated denial and deception methods that include the use of cover stories that are designed to work. â€Cover stories that are designed to work†really sounds like what D&D (the game) is all about.

    Anyway, I’ll step aside now and let the commenters with something meaningful to say have a turn.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I should add one more point. There’s a problem with the explanation that most discrepancies can be explained because the trailers are updated models. The outlines of the Curveball story remains the same–7, and only 7 trailers. But if there were an ’updated’ model, then there’d be more than 7 trailers. This, of course, is not fatal to their theory, but it does reveal a fundamental illogic to their story.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh, and FWIW, I think the D&D connection is funny. I used to play D&D too, but I was a pain in the ass because I refused to play unless I could be a Paladin.

  4. Katie Jensen says:

    Very Interesting. I am so tired of the media not covering these in depth and life and death stories. I just don’t understand the apathy.

  5. seesdifferent says:

    ew: did you see Jason Leopold’s latest on Karl Rove at Truthout? They are maintaining he was indicted, and it is still sealed.

  6. Anonymous says:


    Oh man, that sounds like an insult. I actually look back on it now and wonder if I am too rigid and legalistic.

  7. William Ockham says:


    Not an insult at all. I admire Paladins (as you might guess from my moniker). No, this is coming from someone who always wanted to play a pacifist Barbarian, but never could convince a DM that I could make it work…

    On the subject of the post, I wish we could figure out a way to convince the media that understanding how they’ve been had in the past would prevent them from being had in the future.

  8. hewhoasks says:

    Very good. But I’m a chemist, I’ve made hydrogen using the same reaction, I saw even more in the white paper.

    The reaction is one of aluminum metal, lye, and water. So if those were found on the trailer then that would be strong evidence for hydrogen production being the purpose of the trailers, right? So what does the white paper say? It says aluminum resides were found (ding), it says there were tanks on the trailers, (ding ding – tanks for water), it says the trailers had been cleansed (by the Iraqis) to remove traces of the biological culture using â€caustic.†Well, what’s â€causticâ€? Caustic soda? Sure, and that’s plain old lye (ding ding ding.) So by reading the white paper I find that everything needed to make hydrogen was found. Well.

    And then there’s the cooling unit. I’ve made hydrogen using the reaction (as I said above.) what else do I get besides hydrogen? HEAT. Enough to boil the water. I did a small-scale reaction. On a unit the size of those on the trailers there’d be a lot more heat and there’d be major problems. If the lye solution boiled that would â€bump†hot lye through the plumbing, corroding valves and compressors. To prevent that the unit had a cooling unit. The cooling unit isn’t evidence the trailers were used for biological WMD culture, the cooling unit is evidence the trailers were used to generate hydrogen.

    What would be evidence that the trailers were used for biological WMD culture would be a full temperature control system for the â€fermentor,†but there wasn’t one, just as there wasn’t one shown in the drawings Powell presented at the UN. That means the Powell drawings were a lousy guess at what such a system would look like. The whole thing (the mobile biological culture systems to elude inspectors in Iraq) was the work of well-funded amateurs. Non-scientist amateurs.

    The compressor and gas bottles on the trailer were admitted in the white paper to be consistent with hydrogen generation (which is where that entire discussion should have made a full stop) but the white paper claimed they could have been used to compress and store a tell-tale off gas. Of course, following standard right-wing logical techniques, â€could have been†instantly becomes â€were.†But that’s nonsense (and whoever came up with that fable is definitely neither a scientist nor an engineer nor, for that matter, a person dedicated to the truth.) Had there been such an off-gas the simple thing to do wold be to burn it, creating combustion products that would mean nothing at all to the hypothetical inspectors sniffing the air miles downstream. Well if it’s that easy to avoid releasing the tell-tale off-gas then the inspectors would never be sniffing the air, would they?

    The fairy tale about that use of the compressor and gas bottles probably was concocted by someone who dimly knew that inspectors tracing illicit NUCLEAR WMD activity could find trace amounts of nuclear by-products and that those would reveal the illicit activity. Not knowing any better the fiction author turned that into the farcical off-gas tale.

    Of course we can now see that the Duelfer report pretty well demolishes the conclusion of the white paper and that, according to news stories last year, most of the â€Jefferson report†material made it into the Duelfer report – but the â€Jefferson report†is still classified.

    The issue that matters here is not the stupid trailers. The issue that matters is that the white paper was a crude lie, so crude that the white paper itself gave away the actual usage of the trailers (hydrogen generation.) Using the CIA to create and promulgate a political lie to give Bush fake WMD to cite is a criminal offense. It’s fully as criminal as would have been the transporting of WMD material to Iraq and then â€discovering†it. If an elected official took part in the lie that is sufficient grounds to impeach that official.

    The lie is also so crude that it’s not highly improbable that the CIA â€authors†of the white paper knew very well that the document was garbage and that they went along with somebody from outside the CIA who coached them (and coached them in a way they couldn’t refuse) in the major fables (about the cooling unit and the compressor and gas bottles) fully anticipating that as soon as the white paper were published and analyzed it would be very clear it was a lie. The subsequent uproar and investigation would result in the outside-influence person being identified, and if that outside person were an elected official, impeached.

    My point is: don’t let the white paper disappear into the past.

    If Tenet writes about the CIA/DIA white paper and tells the truth (and if the book is indeed published February 6) then the white paper will become very newsworthy.