chasing saddam's weapons
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photo of inspectorsJoin the Discussion:  Eight months into the search, the U.S. has still not found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What are your thoughts? Would the failure to find WMD invalidate the case for going to war?
 

Dear FRONTLINE,

...

the message is not were there any WMD but: was the intelligence right or wrongfully presented to the public in a way to justify invasion?

I guess the intelligence was full of assumption as a surrogate for accuracy. The rest is the business of the spin doctors. US public has now to live with it, leaving their child in an hostile country where the population's hearth is hard to gain due to years of political hypocrisy. Please think of it on Nov. 4, 2004.

Jean-Pierre Moreau
Rigaud, Qu»bec

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was unable to watch the program (am hoping there will be a repeat of it to watch), however I read the transcripts. I found it very interesting and informative. It is refreshing to know there is a journalist who is taking this very delicate field of information seriously and reporting on it factually. I thought it was refreshing to hear David Kay's honest views and beliefs, other than his usual response of needing more time (which I feel was to appease the administration).

I did notice, however, that the report did not include the knowledge of Iraqi Scientists now being under the US payroll and how that might affect the search for WMD in the future. I look forward to hearing more about this move to place the Scientists under US payroll and what affect the administration is hoping for.

Julia O
Denver, CO

Dear FRONTLINE,

Another masterpiece of reporting from Frontline. Whether agree or disagree, we as Americans must contiue to have free speech, express are thoughts and make Take this nation back.

As a Republican and someone who voted for Bush, I believe he cannot be trusted and therefore He will not receive my support in 2004.
Over 500 soldiers dead, 10,000 innocense in Irag, our wondeful county has Blood on our hands. David Kay has quit, and claims there are NO WMD. The inspectors for the UN were actually correct and were doing there job. Actually Saddam the Villain was telling the truth when he said "We have no WMD". Bush called him a liar..who is the lair now.

Chuck Kuhn
Novato, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched your episode about the Iraq Survey Group with much anticipation. My husband is currently working in the ISG in Baghdad. I enjoyed being able to see the pictures of Camp Slayer, and it made me understand the challenges my husband has to deal with everyday. (Fortunately, he does have access to email, so we are able to keep in touch.)

I do agree with the other posters that the reporting was far from being objective. My husband emailed me that "it was almost as if the show was produced by Al-Jazeera." I know for a fact that the ISG has discovered important intelligence information, and that the people there are proud of the job they are doing for the USA and the world.

Christie Partee
Grapevine, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

Perhaps the biggest evidence that there are no weapons of mass destruction is that Sadam did not use them when he was attacked. It was obvious to me that President Bush would have to be either a fool or a madman to allow our troops to be slaughtered if he really belived what he told the American people and still invaded Iraq. I believe that Bush is neither a fool or a madman and that he lied to the American people.

One need only look at the difference in the way the United States treated Iraq and the way it's treating North Korea to see that this is so. Unlike Iraq, North Korea really DOES have weapons of mass destruction and will use them if attacked. We don't see the United States nearly so eager to invade THAT country - and for good reason. There would be a real blood bath if we did so!

We will probably never know why Bush really invaded Iraq. I suspect it's Iraqi oil and a natural gas pipeline from Kurdistan that can now go through Iraq. However it's clear to me that it wasn't weapons of mass destruction.

Michael Wallis

Dear FRONTLINE,


I am grateful that you have provided the fair and balanced reporting done by the BBC correspondent in Chasing Saddam. David Kay's resignation today and his statement to Reuters that Iraq had no stockpiles of WMDs or any active weapons programs during the 1990s verifies the accuracy of your report.

There was plenty of evidence before the war that Iraq had destroyed its WMDs in the early 1990s and the failure of the UN inspectors to find weapons at the sites identified by the US government should have given the Bush administration and the mainstream media pause in its relentless beating of the war drum. But the mainstream media failed to tell us that the massacre of the Kurds took place in the 1980s when Saddam, as our ally, was fighting the Iranians. As we know Donald Rumsfeld visited Iraq at that time and shook Saddam's hand. (Is he also suffering from Alzheimers as Reagan was while in office?) Paul Wolfowitz has admitted in his Vanity Fair interview that the threat of WMDs was a strategy for selling the war to the American public and Paul O'Neill has confirmed that the Bush administration began planning to attack Iraq at its very first NSC meeting. Colin Powell and George W. Bush have even had to admit recently that there was no concrete evidence of links between Saddam and AlQuaeda.

Given the thousands of American and Iraqi lives lost and the billions of dollars that the US has already spent in Iraq and will spend in the future, I wonder if the American public would have supported this war if they had been told the truth. Of course, given the corporate interests that control the mainstream media, there's not much chance that we will ever hear the real story.

Denise Baker
Greensboro, NC

Dear FRONTLINE,


Though I have enjoyed previous presentations, I found Chasing Saddam's Weapons rather pathetic. The cut and paste face of President Bush carefully painted on a pipeline of an abandoned facility was obvious. Your graphic arts department, the writers and producers have an agenda; to influence the viewer to conclude that Iraq's WMD program does not exist. Why didn't they cut and paste Saddam's people stating that they do not posses WMDs over the footage of the dead and dying people of Halabja? The survivors of that chemical attack know that Saddam had WMDs, in fact the world knew it. Clinton knew it, remember Desert Fox? Apparently Frontline is suffering from a bad case of selective memory. Like I said.... pathetic.

Mark A, Flores

Mark Flores
San Diego, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for another excellent program relating to the war in Iraq and the issue of WMDs. Your thorough, balanced, and intelligent examination of this issue is a welcome contrast to the misinformation streaming out of the Bush Administration.

My fear, however, is that programs such as this are 'preaching to the choir', and that the majority of people who continue to support Bush don't watch PBS in general or Frontline in particular. How can this program be made available to an even wider audience? How can Collin Powell's starkly contradictory statements about Iraqi WMDs be made known to all the American people? Why isn't there more outrage when Bush tells ABC's Diane Sawyer that it doesn't really matter if there are WMDs, when that was the rationale given for months, in Bush's speeches to the American people and the UN. Thank God the Bush Administration has turned it's attention to more pressing matters of national security (as we heard in the State of the Union): steroids in sports, and gay marriage.

Mark Lombard
Chapel Hill, NC

Dear FRONTLINE,

Congratulations! You pulled it off! You did a whole hour report on nothing!

You project images of President Bush and Colin Powell speaking about Iraq's existing stockpiles of WMDs on discarded empty pieces of impotent weaponry! Am I the only one that noticed this?

While doing so, conspicuously absent are clips of our ex-President Clinton making those same assertions! What should we assume from this? Well, of course, Clinton was sincere and Bush intentionally lied (while looking at the same intelligence information)! I thought only the major media outlets and CNN pulled stunts like this! Where is your objectivity PBS?

I kept waiting for the evidence of your assertion that this administration was KNOWINGLY lying about stockpiles of WMDs in Iraq? Do you still possess that evidence? You didn't reveal it! Yet, you chose to craft your report so as leave this impression with your audience. Hmm...a case made from no evidence...isn't this what you accused the administration of doing?

And, Colin Powell...you make him appear complicit in this supposed lie. The same Colin Powell who said in Cairo, Egypt (Ittihadiya Palace)February 24, 2001: "And frankly they(sanctions-ds)have worked . He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place, but we are always willing to review them to make sure that they are being carried out in a way that does not affect the Iraqi people but does affect the Iraqi regime's ambitions and the ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction..."

Was Mr. Powell lying here also? Or, was there sufficient evidence that changed Mr. Powell's mind between this time and the time of the invasion? Why did you not explore this? Because it assumes Mr. Powell is an honest man and would not knowingly lie. Instead you wanted to cast him as a "lap dog" of President Bush. Frankly, I think you owe Mr. Colin Powell an apology.

With NO WMD EVIDENCE, you paint Bush and Powell as liars...such great liars that they are able to deceive most of the nation, members of Congress, the British, and other nations. Do you really expect us to swallow this garbage?

Truth is, no one knows RIGHT NOW whether WMD stockpiles in Iraq existed or exist BECAUSE THERE IS NO EVIDENCE! Even Iraqis who claim to have destroyed these KNOWN stockpiles, a regime of meticulous record keepers, cannot (or will not)produce evidence of their existence or their destruction! Now, why do you suppose this is?

I submit to you that someone knows the truth and it is the Iraqi scientists and Sadaam! But, as you reported, they aren't talking. Now, what do you suppose they have to hide?

Of course, NOTHING. That is what you would have us to believe. Am I the only one that this strikes as odd?

Don Stevens
Brenham, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your treatment of the shifting rationales(some would say lies) put forth by US govt as to why America invaded Iraq was nicely done. However, the lack of media scrutiny on contradictory statements as they were being made played a powerfully supporting role in enabling the Bush administation to actively mislead the public. Ignoring the media's coverage of the march to war ignores the part of the story that gets at the question the rest of the world is asking, "How could Americans let their govt fool them like this?"

Chris Drennen

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for your excellent reporting on Iraq's WMD.

I gave the Bush adminstration the benefit of the doubt in March 2003 when it used WMDs as its main justification for going to war. However, the adminstration has lost its credibility when it refuses now to admit that it could have been wrong.

Worse, to say that whether or not WMDs are eventually found is not important as long as Saddam is gone certainly gives the impression that the adminstration was set on going to war from the beginning.

Carmen Pang
Decatur, GA

Dear FRONTLINE,

The program on IraqŪs žweapons of mass destructionÓ failed to ask questions that have bothered me.
Since we know Iraq had a chemical weapons arsenal (they were used against the Kurds and Iranis) and we have found no trace of them÷ where are they now? Could they be cached somewhere underground in the vast desert, in Syria, or other neighboring nations? Could the intent have been to hide it until the U.S. and U.N. gave up in frustration? If they were destroyed as claimed, why can Iraq present no records of the destruction or even lead us to where the destruction was accomplished?
We know Iraq had a biological weapons program÷ Iraq admitted this. The same questions arise as for the chemical weapons arsenal.
We know Iraq had a nuclear weapons program÷ They received nuclear development technical information from Germany and North Korea. They also purchased eighty tons of yellow cake uranium, most of which was found and placed under guard by the U.N. inspectors. This uranium would have been useless and an extremely dumb purchase unless Iraq had the separators, the technical ability to enrich it and a use for the enriched product. We know there was a nuclear weapons program÷ We have testimony of some of the scientists involved. Where are the hardware, research, and data that constituted IraqŪs nuclear development program?
If all this was destroyed, why can no evidence of the destruction be presented or found? The fact that we can not find the weapons or evidence or their destruction is most troubling because it may indicate that someone else in that area of the world may now have access to them. There is no question that Iraq at one time had these weapons and programs, the question is what happened to them. The answer we get is similar to the answer we would get if we catch a child with his hand in the cookie jar, žI was just putting the cookies back.Ó From Iraq we get, žOh we destroyed all that but we didnŪt keep any of the records even though the U.N. said we should keep records and have U.N. witnesses. Oh yes, we also canŪt remember where we did the destruction.Ó
The fact that we have not found these weapons and programs is not exoneration as the program implied. To quote the SETI program, žAbsence of proof is not proof of absence.Ó Exoneration would be evidence that Iraq actually destroyed these programs.


William Patterson

Dear FRONTLINE,

I served with the ISG for six months, from May to November 2003. I think the program was very good, but I wish you had devoted a little more time in the presentation to conversations with the intelligence analysts and little less time with David Kay. His position regarding Iraqi WMD is well-publicized, while those of us who have no political ax to grind are seldom solicited for our observations.

The single note song Kay played repeatedly during his conversations on "Frontline" concerned Iraq's concealment efforts and evasions when dealing with inspectors, begging the question, "What were they hiding?" I wonder if it has occured to anyone in a senior role that all of those activities might have been a massive deception effort, intended to make other powers (perhaps Iran?) believe that the regime had WMD. Any regime can save a tremendous amount of national treasure by deceiving an adversary into believing it has WMD, rather than by actually building and maintaining stockpiles of WMD.

From the Trojan Horse to the inflated, dummy tanks used to prepare for the D-Day invasion of Normandy, leaders and policy-makers have displayed a remarkable susceptibility to well-planned deception efforts.

As a current member of the U.S. military, I am witholding my name from publication, but I would gladly correspond with anyone interested in discussing this important issue in private email conversation: rosewall@ix.netcom.com.

Rosewall

Dear FRONTLINE,

This program was an excellent summary of our intelligence failures. It is unfortunate, but quite understandable why our nation lacks the expertise necessary to be effective in this region of the world. The truth is that very few individuals of middle eastern descent enter the ranks of our intelligence agencys.

I think that President Bush in his heart of hearts believes he is doing the right thing. The world may be somewhat safer without Saddam. Additionally, I can think of a few other leaders that this world would be a lot safer without.

From this program it is quite clear that Saddam was bluffing his way. Towards the end of the program President Bush in his interview with Diane Sawyer told us that it doesn't matter if we find WMD, the world is just safer. In the begining I don't think too many of us knew the full story, but I remember truly hoping for all the families of our troops that President Bush was right.

Anthony Scarzello

Dear FRONTLINE,

Somebody below said "whether or not we find weapons of mass destruction makes no difference to me. We know he had them". This speaks about the mindset of the blind supporters of war and president Bush, no matter the facts. They already "know" stuff - it seems that their "faith" extends beyond God/religion to mundane things as well. He goes on to mix up what appear to be references to 9/11, Iraq and religious wars. He doesn't realize that Saddam was not as tied to Islam as the other countries in the Middle east - he was mostly secular. Nor does he realize that no tie has been established between Iraq and 9/11 - and note that 9/11 happened 2.5 years ago - plenty of time for us to atleast have some proof that there was a connection.

Coming to your reporting, there was a very interesting and short snippet of a Colin Powell speech in Feb 2001 where he said that Iraq does not have WMD. Any references for that speech? Can we get the transcript of that speech?

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

The U.S. State Department's web site has the text of Powell's February 24,2001 comments given at a press conference held while he was visiting Egypt. The quote cited is in the top third of the document. The url is: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2001/933.htm

Dear FRONTLINE,


As a daughter of a war hero, lifer in the USAF, who was raised on minute man bases, I am shocked that the public is not upset that instead of doing something about 9-11, the only man who had the power to do anything regarding those planes, watched the first one hit and fourteen minutes later went in to read a story to children at a school.

In every case Bush has ignored even his appointed aides if they did not agree with his agenda. I think he is in a class of his own when it comes to pulling the wool over the eyes of the American sheep.

Glenna Mayer
Jupiter, FL

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posted january 22, 2004

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