Saddam’s WMD: Technology Made In USA, Delivered by Rumsfeld

In a blockbuster story published last night by the New York Times, C.J. Shivers lays out chapter and verse on the despicable way the US military covered up the discovery of chemical weapons in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. Even worse is the cover-up of injuries sustained by US troops from those weapons, their denial of treatment and denial of recognition or their injuries sustained on the battlefront.

Why was this covered up, you might ask? After all, if George W. Bush would joke at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner about looking under White House furniture for Saddam’s WMD’s, why didn’t the US blast out the news of the WMD’s that had supposedly prompted the US invasion?

The answer is simple. The chemical weapons that were found did not date to the time frame when the US was accusing Saddam of “illegally” producing them. Instead, they were old chemical weapons that dated from the time Saddam was our friend. They come from the time when the US sent Donald Rumsfeld to shake Saddam’s hand and to grease the skids for Iraq to get chemical weapons to use in their war against Iran.

Chivers give us the details:

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.


The New York Times found 17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers who were exposed to nerve or mustard agents after 2003. American officials said that the actual tally of exposed troops was slightly higher, but that the government’s official count was classified.


Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin. Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.

But here is the real kicker:

Participants in the chemical weapons discoveries said the United States suppressed knowledge of finds for multiple reasons, including that the government bristled at further acknowledgment it had been wrong. “They needed something to say that after Sept. 11 Saddam used chemical rounds,” Mr. Lampier said. “And all of this was from the pre-1991 era.”

Others pointed to another embarrassment. In five of six incidents in which troops were wounded by chemical agents, the munitions appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies.

Good old USA technology, conveniently exported to European firms that we helped to build factories in Iraq to produce chemical weapons to be used against Iran. That is what caused injury to US servicemen who were routinely denied care and quickly sent back into battle because they weren’t missing limbs. Chivers talked to a number of those soldiers and their stories are so consistent they nearly blend together. Also consistent was the instant classification of the injuries, presumably because of the embarrassment to the Bush Administration they would cause should the press look into them too rigorously.

Sadly, though, the story is not yet over. The US left Iraq in 2011, knowing that chemical weapons were still stored in bunkers at Al Muthanna. At the end of Chivers’ report:

The United States had invaded Iraq to reduce the risk of the weapons of mass destruction that it presumed Mr. Hussein still possessed. And after years of encountering and handling Iraq’s old chemical arms, it had retroactively informed the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 2009 that it had recovered more than 4,500 chemical weapons.

But it had not shared this data publicly. And as it prepared to withdraw, old stocks set loose after the invasion were still circulating. Al Muthanna had still not been cleaned up.

Finding, safeguarding and destroying these weapons was to be the responsibility of Iraq’s government.

Iraq took initial steps to fulfill its obligations. It drafted a plan to entomb the contaminated bunkers on Al Muthanna, which still held remnant chemical stocks, in concrete.

When three journalists from The Times visited Al Muthanna in 2013, a knot of Iraqi police officers and soldiers guarded the entrance. Two contaminated bunkers — one containing cyanide precursors and old sarin rockets — loomed behind. The area where Marines had found mustard shells in 2008 was out of sight, shielded by scrub and shimmering heat.

The Iraqi troops who stood at that entrance are no longer there. The compound, never entombed, is now controlled by the Islamic State.

And ISIS appears to be putting those remaining stocks of chemical weapons to use:

Disturbing new photos of ethnic Kurds killed by Islamic State fighters are stoking fears the terrorist army may be using chemical weapons seized from Saddam Hussein’s old arsenals, according to a Middle East watchdog.

The pictures, obtained by the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), show the bodies of Syrian Kurds who appear to have been gassed by ISIS in the besieged Kobani region this July. That fighting came just one month after Islamic State forces surged through the once-notorious Muthanna compound in Iraq, the massive base where Hussein began producing chemical weapons in the 1980s, which he used to kill thousands of Kurds in Halabja in northern Iraq in 1988.

The US gifts to Saddam just keep on giving, long after Saddam’s death.

12 replies
  1. RUKidding says:

    Thanks. Some of us knew – or guessed – that there were chem weapons in Iraq provided by Team USA in ye olde Iraq-Iran War. Of course, the PTB like to pretend that these things – our “friendship” with Saddam (much like Mad Dog McCain’s current “friendship” with some of the ISIS leaders) – never happened and/or never involved gun & weapons running.

    Interesting that this is now coming out in the propaganda tabloid of record, the NYT. I daresay there’s been plenty of evidence about this before this, including the issues with injured military combatants.

    My Q: why is this “information” being published now? What is the purpose of it? My bias is that I simply cannot see the NYT publishing this without someone wanting it to become known now. I’m that cynical. There is next to no “independent” journalism in this country anymore. Let’s get real.

    • prostratedragon says:

      Why now indeed. And I too thought that back in the day I heard one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reports that some chem weapons had been found, but that they were too old supposedly to be of interest. Might have been on PDNN, but I might put it on the search queue.

      • RUKidding says:

        It’s so hard to keep it all clear in the memory banks bc Team USA has been involved in so many nefarious & destructive “activities” for all of my frickin’ life … but I could swear that I knew about the chem weapons – courtesy of OUR tax dollars & apparently (no surprise) hand delivered (well…) by none other than Rummy to his then BFF Saddam – being deployed by Iraq during the Iraq-Iran conflict. Well, I’m one of the few who has tried in various ways (harder before the Internet) to stay on top of what’s really going on.

        But this notion of the chem weapons in Iraq does not surprise me, and I could also swear I remember something about during W’s reign of error (Shock ‘n Awe, bitches…).

        So hard to keep track of the crooks, liars, murderers & creeps.

        • prostratedragon says:

          Aha. Maloy at Salon has tracked down some links.
          Which still leaves the question why now? Some in the comments over there suggest that impending liability to the service members they let handle that stuff without safeguards could be the reason. I got nothing.

          • scribe says:

            Try “another reason ISIS is soooo scary we have to have to have to put ground troops back into Iraq, just to clean up this mess”.

  2. ArizonaBumblebeeper says:

    The ultimate target for the so-called Global War on Terror is, and has always been, the destruction of the Islamic Republic of Iran and any of its allies in the region. That explains why the American government continues trying to topple President Assad of Syria, and it also explains why it doesn’t want anyone to know about the extent of its involvement in the Iraq-Iran war during the eighties, when Saddam Hussein was our ally. During that war, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iranians, the Americans looked the other way as Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran’s military. The Americans covertly helped the Iraqis obtain these weapons and reportedly may have helped Iraq target where the weapons would be used. That explains why the American government tried to push this story down the memory hole while hoping nobody noticed its dirty hands in the affair. As to the timing of this story, my suspicion is that neocons wanted the story out to help justify the need for our current efforts to destroy the Islamic State.

  3. dakine01 says:

    I guess you provide chemical weapons to the friends you have and not to the friends you wish you had

    Or somethin’ li’e dat…

  4. Ambrellite says:

    I recall the reports about the old chemical weapons being found, but never imagined the US would simply leave them there to be guarded by the Iraqi army, or that they wouldn’t be secured once the Obama administration took the reigns and managed the withdrawal, or secured once it became clear that the Iraqi army couldn’t contain ISIS.

    Granted, much of the stockpiles are aged and barely usable, but such weapons are still potent weapons of terror, which should be so obvious as to not need saying. Which is why it’s all the more ridiculous that we invaded Iraq on the pretense of removing the threat of Saddam’s WMD (because it could be given to terrorists!) and over a decade later we learn we simply left the WMD there to be picked up later by ISIS.

    I hope that part of the story isn’t true, because my outrage gland is already burnt out, and my irony gland can’t take it.

  5. Armando Gonzalez says:

    We, usually, are tempted to point out names. However, the political landscape, during the at least, the last 60 years, will give us a clearer idea how the American policy work in world. Usually, we only know one side of the coin. Remember: We frequently write or say “Alexander the Great” but this guy in the East is known as “Alexander the evil”. It is also the individual

  6. Les says:

    I recall that the bunkers had been bombed during the 1991 war and the facility would no longer be safe for anyone without the proper safety gear. ISIS wouldn’t be able to handle the materials to make bombs. In another report, French intelligence found that the chemical weapons attacks in Ghouta, Syria may have been the result of rebel stockpiles inadvertently being bombed by government forces.

  7. Dan says:

    But a lot of the pre-war claims by hawks were about pre-91 stockpiles. You just had to read them carefully to realise that, and the media generally didn’t.

    e.g look at Glen Rangwala’s summary from the time.

    Yes, the old stockpiles were militarily useless. Yes, that made the argument for war bogus, but that was clear at the time to the few who were paying attention.

    So I’m not sure it would have prevented the US from claiming the weapons as vindication. The people paying attention to the details would have been a few folks on the margins, who could safely be ignored.

  8. Judy Arbic says:

    I have heard about this information before !! It amazes me that oliticians are getting away with going to war under false pretences !!

    George Bush and his cronies need to be brought to justice, and the rest of the liers that fabricate lies to go to war ! Please keep me updated.

    Thanks, Judy Arbic

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