James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence in the Obama Administration, thought so.

From the Daily Beast:

Whether or not sensitive weapons technology was moved to Syria is a hotly disputed question in the intelligence community. James Clapper, now the Director of National Intelligence and formerly the director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, said in 2003 that he believed materials had been moved out of Iraq in the months before the war and cited satellite imagery.

If the Bashar al-Assad regime falls, and should the securing of the chemical and biological stockpiles of Syria be necessary, what would be the effect if some of those materials and munitions bear Iraqi markings?

Former Iraqi General Sada asserted that Saddam’s chemical stockpile was lifted, in his book “Saddam’s Secrets” and summarized by Investor’s Business Daily:

As Sada told the New York Sun, two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, and special Republican Guard units loaded the planes with chemical weapons materials.

There were 56 flights disguised as a relief effort after a 2002 Syrian dam collapse.

The IBD article also mentions Israeli General Yaalon’s assertions, and those of John Shaw regarding Russian assistance in the form of former KGB General Primakov:

There were also truck convoys into Syria. Sada’s comments came more than a month after Israel’s top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Moshe Yaalon, told the Sun that Saddam “transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria.”

Both Israeli and U.S. intelligence observed large truck convoys leaving Iraq and entering Syria in the weeks and months before Operation Iraqi Freedom, John Shaw, former deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, told a private conference of former weapons inspectors and intelligence experts held in Arlington, Va., in 2006.

According to Shaw, ex-Russian intelligence chief Yevgeni Primakov, a KGB general with long-standing ties to Saddam, went to Iraq in December 2002 and stayed until just before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

Anticipating the invasion, his job was to supervise the removal of such weapons and erase as much evidence of Russian involvement as possible.

An interesting statement from Brian Sayers, the director of government relations for the Syria Support Group:

We believe that if the United States does not act urgently, there is a real risk of a political vacuum in Syria, including the possibility of a dispersion of chemical weapons to rogue groups such as Hezbollah.”

What of a regime such as Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq that was suspected of actively attempting to peddle such weapons?

Should these suspicions surrounding Iraq’s possible pre-invasion transfer of its remaining chemical stockpile be confirmed, the silence being heard in the media regarding them will have been deafening.

*************************************************************

Just in case folks still wanted to debate the existence of Syria’s stockpile, I think we might have our answer. How many carry Iraqi markings? How many, Russian?

 




Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Air Force, Army, Foreign Policy, Hard Power, History, Homeland Security, Marine Corps, Navy, Proceedings, Uncategorized


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  • Diogenes of NJ

    Well that’s what happens when you give them a long time to get ready for what’s coming; or maybe those 17 UN resolutions were suppose to confuse them. I remember reading reports (I’m sure it was open source – for plausible deniability sake) of something like 6,000 trucks scurrying across the Iraq border into Syria.

    What do you figure the shelf life on that stuff is? The two part stuff ought to still be in pretty good shape.

    Here’s a hint – next time don’t let them know you’re coming until after you have arrived. (Insert knock-knock satirical remark here.)

    Now I’ve done it – I can’t get Barnacle Bill out of my head!

    - Kyon

  • Robbie the Aussie

    An edition of Air-forces Monthly some time back carried a very well written story on this topic with the satellite images of said exit.
    The Israeli air strike into Syria some time after (which went largely unreported) may have eliminated some of the threat as it took the Syrians six months to bury the site under a huge mound of dirt (satellite pics of this event abound. Give them notice you are coming, don’t expect everything to be where you thought it would be. Don’t ever let politicians plan military strikes again (and again)

  • Patrick Donnelly

    That is a pic of a Saddam look-alike, not the original.

    You may also wish to preserve credibility by being a little more sceptical of such reports from third parties. Justifying action against Syria is not easy, but that means that you should allow the shills to do so and perhaps address their sources? Always easier and may keep the blog going for longer!

    GL!

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Wow. And I thought it was the Pep Boys. Manny, Moe, and Jack.

    Not justifying action against Syria, by the way. When I was overseas, both Brits and Israelis whom I talked to had very few doubts that Saddam had chemical weapons, and that he moved them while Hans Blix fiddled around and dragged his feet.

  • Robert_K

    “Should these suspicions surrounding Iraq’s possible pre-invasion transfer of its remaining chemical stockpile be confirmed, the silence being heard in the media regarding them will have been deafening.”

    You’ve got to wonder if the media’s reluctance to investigate this story further is due the 2003 hysteria surrounding Iraq’s WMD program. Many in the media (and in gov’t) were burned by that one.

    If the US IC assessed Syria has Chem/Bio weapons, would anyone outside the gov’t take the assessment seriously? The US IC will have a credibility problem on this threat for some time to come and it will only be after a successful op, driven by credible intel, will it be restored.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Robert_k

    So what, then, if Syria’s stockpile includes chemical weapons materials with Iraqi origin/markings?

    What would be the hesitation of the media THEN to cover the possibility of such an occurrence?

  • Robert_K

    I think that would depend on how the info was acquired and reported.

    The media would likely have a different response if the report came about as an “undisclosed US intelligence official ” compared to a “former Syrian defense official has come forth to the UN with proof of the existence of Iraqi CBW weapons at site XYZ” as the primary source.

    Even if the US had irrefutable, “slam-dunk” evidence of the possession of Iraqi WMD in Syria, it could easily be spun by the Arab media as “having heard this before” and simply a fabrication to go to war.

    Any report from the US IC on Iraqi WMD programs will likely be met with global skepticism.

    If Iraqi WMDs are discovered in Syria, what should be the US
    response? Military action to secure them or is it simply partial vindication of pre-2003 assessments?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Might the converse be true?

    The media made great show of not finding any WMD (which is also untrue) in Iraq, and discounted the possibility that it had been moved to Syria, and extrapolated that to pound the previous administration about Iraq.

    What happens if US/British/French and even UN intelligence on Iraq was correct after all? What if the answer to the question “How could US intelligence have been SO WRONG?” be that it wasn’t wrong?

    Syria has acknowledged possessing chemical weapons. That isn’t the debate. The sudden concerns about Iraqi WMD in Syria now that they may be unsecured is curious, to say the least.

  • Robert_K

    Possibly, and I agree with you that the WMD issue was used to pound the Bush administration.

    Regardless of if Iraqi CBW weapons are discovered in Syria or not, the intel on Iraq’s WMD program was wrong – the degree to which it was wrong can be debated. Yes, small amounts of old CWA weapons were discovered (mostly by happenstance) which may put a check in the box for some to justify the invasion. However, the quantities discovered were not even close to what was anticipated. The target list of the hundreds of sites for SSE Teams to search were generated by the IC.

    If Iraq’s WMD’s were indeed moved to Syria prior to 2003 and national policy makers weren’t aware of that fact, wouldn’t that constitute a failure of the IC, particularly with all the assets in (and above) IZ since 1990?

    Discovering the Iraqi WMD would help vindicate the Bush administration but it doesn’t wash away the failures of the IC (and this is not an indictment of the entire IC – there were plenty of skeptics.)

    So what is the solution to Syrian/Iraqi WMD possibly being unsecured in the middle east? Does the US respond?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    I will not be so fast to say intel on Iraqi WMD programs were wrong. The Kay Report, which was selectively interpreted, had it right, IMHO. Agents like VX and GF needn’t be in “militarily significant amounts” when they are being offered for sale to AQ or other such organizations.

    While the Iraqis no longer possessed half a million rocket warheads or artillery projectiles filled with active agents, the amounts that WERE unaccounted for would make 9/11 look like a tiny sideshow.

    The Administration suspected in 2002/3 that Saddam was moving his stockpiles, while Blix dilly-dallied and was likely well-compensated for doing so. Meanwhile, the stockpiles moved, and money poured into pockets in the “oil for food” scam. So thought many of the Brits and Israelis I talked to, and they likely still do.

    The solution? Dunno. Don’t offer one here, either. Much of the bed we now lie in was made with and after the “Cairo speech”.

  • RickWilmes

    Hussein says he had no WMD and he feared Iran more than the US. If he did have WMD, why send them to Syria an ally of Iran whom Hussein feared more than the US?

    ‘Hussein’s fear of Iran, which he said he considered a greater threat than the United States, featured prominently in the discussion about weapons of mass destruction. Iran and Iraq had fought a grinding eight-year war in the 1980s, and Hussein said he was convinced that Iran was trying to annex southern Iraq — which is largely Shiite. “Hussein viewed the other countries in the Middle East as weak and could not defend themselves or Iraq from an attack from Iran,” Piro recounted in his summary of a June 11, 2004, conversation.

    “The threat from Iran was the major factor as to why he did not allow the return of UN inspectors,” Piro wrote. “Hussein stated he was more concerned about Iran discovering Iraq’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities than the repercussions of the United States for his refusal to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq.”‘

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/01/AR2009070104217.html

  • Mike M.

    I don’t know what will happen, but I know what SHOULD happen.

    Which is for every single person who accused the Bush administration of misleading the public about WMD to be forced to have a good, deep whiff of what those shells and bombs contain.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    That argument has always been a tortured bit of logic, Rick.

    And it doesn’t answer the mail regarding smaller stockpiles (“not militarily significant”, as the Kay Report labels) that could be peddled for hard capital to non-state actors who had that capital and lacked Iraq’s infrastructure and scientific capability.

  • RickWilmes

    Has David Kay recently publicly said that Syria has Iraq’s WMD?

    ‘Two days after resigning as the Bush administration’s top weapons inspector in Iraq, David Kay said Sunday that his group found no evidence Iraq had stockpiled unconventional weapons before the U.S.-led invasion in March.
    He said U.S. intelligence services owe President Bush an explanation for having concluded that Iraq had.
    “My summary view, based on what I’ve seen, is we’re very unlikely to find large stockpiles of weapons,” he said on National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition.” “I don’t think they exist.”‘

    http://articles.cnn.com/2004-01-25/world/sprj.nirq.kay_1_top-weapons-inspector-david-kay-large-stockpiles?_s=PM:WORLD

  • http://xbradtc.wordpress.com xbradtc

    Rick, if Saddam so fear the Iranians more than the US, why did he send his air force to sanctuary there during Desert Storm?

    Not every action by a dictator is fully logical when seen from OUR perspective.

  • Byron

    Robert K, the Islamic media, especially al-Jazzera, lies about what they had for breakfast..why should I give a flip what they say? Come to think of it, only the HuffPo considers them a source.

  • Robert_K

    Byron,

    It’s called global influence and your concepts of truth and lies are irrelevant.

    Why should you care? How do you think AQI received global support from the Muslim population from 2003-06 to kill US and coalition forces? Do you think the reporting of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal to the Muslim world was just bad press? Or did it have tactical significance?

    Here is an interesting quote from a recent army study on future national security challenges:

    “The conduct and results of military operations will be widely visible, the political sophistication of insurgent and terrorist media operations will increase, and media coverage of military operations will often be more important that the physical outcome of combat. This will challenge the ability of the U.S. to respond to adversary messaging in a timely fashion while ensuring consistency of messages and actions at all levels of command.”

    By the way, do you think the US media is truthful? Many feel that Al Jazeera (English) provides more unbiased reporting than many of the US networks. Beside HuPo, there are quite a few people in the Pentagon who watch it regularly.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “The conduct and results of military operations will be widely visible, the political sophistication of insurgent and terrorist media operations will increase, and media coverage of military operations will often be more important that the physical outcome of combat. This will challenge the ability of the U.S. to respond to adversary messaging in a timely fashion while ensuring consistency of messages and actions at all levels of command.”

    That quote is a professional embarrassment that all but abdicates the role of strategic messaging. We are not mature enough to do it right, and produce our strategic messages for people who live in Ohio instead of Teheran.

    Someone with seeds needs to get ahold of strategic messaging and do it right. Strong, unambiguous statements backed up by actions, including “I told you so” when it is ignored. We were piss-poor about it in Iraq, trying to tell everyone what good people the Christians were instead of letting them know how bad the bad guys were, and who we would kill and why.

  • Robert_K

    Why are you professionally embarrassed(to me this implies you are embarrassed about something pertaining to your profession)? You are neither an elected official nor a political appointee. Ensuring coherence between our nation’s words and actions is not a military responsibility. Once the nation’s political leaders create a strategic message, it is certainly a military responsibility to beat the IO drum “at all levels of command” with vigor.

    Interesting that you would attribute our poor IO with a lack a maturity. VOA worked pretty well during the cold war, the US has been a leader in global communications and use of the media for decades. I would say the problem is we were slow to adapt from the start and we were continually in response mode – often getting the wrong message out too late to be relevant.

    I’m not sure what your point is regarding Toledo and Tehran but the military’s honest communications with the US public has been an issue since Vietnam and was clearly a problem in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The pentagon attempted to insert some talking heads into the domestic media but that didn’t work so well. No GO/FO is going to get on TV and given an honest assessment of the situation if it isn’t good. It will always have a spin to it.

  • RickWilmes

    “Rick, if Saddam so fear the Iranians more than the US, why did he send his air force to sanctuary there during Desert Storm?”

    How much of the Iraqi Air Force sought sanctuary in Iran? Did Iran allow the planes to return to Iraq after the war or did Iran use the planes and parts for their own air force?

  • Tom

    The Syria WMD is the number one story on CNN, on the front page of NY Times, LA Times, Wash Post and there are numerous stories on the wires. Oddly enough, the only place I couldn’t find any reference was Fox News.

    I don’t think the media isn’t covering this, especially in light of Aurora and Penn State which are dominating the news.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Tom,

    My question is the sudden concern that flashed up regarding the possibility that significant portions of that stockpile were Iraqi. And not from those whom would be lining up to vindicate Bush.

    Haven’t seen much on that afterward, but the concerns are curious, IMHO.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Rick,

    Why are you quoting David Kay talking about large stockpiles? I mentioned that the 2004 report he submitted is accurate. But it doesn’t take large stockpiles of VX or GF in the hands of a terror group to make 9/11 look tame.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    The Administration let the Russians and the UN handle Syria:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444025204577542993398455980.html

    Well this is what you get. I hope that the Russian ships on their way to Syria are delivering gas masks and will haul out the WMD (cynicism). Not to worry, the President can be more flexible after the election.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/bombs-in-bulgaria-and-syria/2012/07/18/gJQAA4K9tW_blog.html

    I hope that the British can keep a lid on things at the Olympics.
    URR – allow me to introduce you to Cassandra.

    - Kyon

  • RickWilmes

    URR,

    According to the history of VX @

    http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/VX_(nerve_agent).

    Iraq did not produce VX because of production failures. It is also claimed that the only countries known to have and produce VX is Russia and the US.  Questions I have: 

    Did we provide Iraq with VX when he was our ally? 

    The VX Iraq used in the Iran-Iraq war, was it Russian or US made?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    You are quite the trusting soul, Rick.

    You cite the NWE page to tell me definitively that Iraq did not produce VX. But that same site also states what is in line with the historical facts.

    “Subsequent investigation after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq indicated that Iraq had indeed weaponized VX in 1988, and had dropped three VX-filled bombs on Iran during he Iran-Iraq War (ISG 2004b; CFR 2006).”

    As to whether the VX in Iraq’s possession was US or Russian, perhaps you can guess by the presence of General Primakov before 2003.

  • RickWilmes

    “You are quite the trusting soul, Rick.”

    Not a trusting soul URR, just trying to make sense of the whole mess.

    I agree with Col. Macgregor on the issue of Syria.

    “Happily, in addition to the Sunni Arab Islamists determined to eliminate Assad’s secular regime, the growing Sunni Islamist majorities that are ejecting secular leaders from power from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean will celebrate the invading Turkish Troops as liberators.”

    http://futuredefensevisions.blogspot.com/2012/06/syrian-fiasco.html?m=1

  • RickWilmes

    Here we go. Turkey now has justification to move in.

    “ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s military has sent teams specially trained in dealing with chemical weapons attacks to the Syrian border region after Syria warned that it could used such weapons against forces from outside the country, Turkish media reports said on Tuesday.

    Dogan News Agency said the chemical weapons battalion, previously based in western Turkey, had been transferred to Konya in central Turkey two months ago and one group of the personnel had now gone to the Syrian border area.”

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-syria-crisis-turkey-chemicalbre86n1e2-20120724,0,5363476.story

  • Robert_K

    “As to whether the VX in Iraq’s possession was US or Russian, perhaps you can guess by the presence of General Primakov before 2003.”

    Why would the Soviets be supporting Iraq against their ally Iran in 1988? Production of VX is sophisticated process, how did Iraq acquire the technology in the 1980s?

    While this does not directly address the issue of where the VX used in the 1988 attacks originated from, GWU has compiled some interesting information on this topic.

    http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/

    Iraq admittedly produced VX (although you certainly can’t take Hussein at his word and this could have been another attempt to intimidate his neighbors).

    – UNSCOM presented evidence that suggests that, despite Iraq’s claims to the contrary, Baghdad was able to produce the deadly nerve agent VX in large, viable quantities. UNSCOM said, certain facts, in combination with Iraq’s attempts to conceal the VX-related activities until 1995, led the international expert team to the technical evaluation meeting to the conclusion that Iraq was able to produce VX in quantity and had obtained VX production technology.

    – Iraq has declared that it produced only 3.9 tons of VX. UNSCOM has documented that Iraq actually had precursors sufficient for the production of 200 tons of agent.

    – Iraq claimed that it lacked the technology for industrial production of VX. However, documentation obtained by UNSCOM reveals that Iraq had in fact obtained sophisticated technology for the production of VX.

    – Iraq stated that the VX it did succeed in producing had poor stability. Through sampling, however, UNSCOM said it has found traces of a VX stabilizer, indicating that in all probability the VX produced by Iraq was more stable than they have thus far admitted.

    http://www.fas.org/news/un/iraq/s/98062502_npo.html

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Robert_K

    I have heard it posited that the Islamic Revolution scared the living hell out of the Soviet Union (whose Muslim population was a large minority, and still is), and they hedged their bets with Iran by supplying a great deal of military hardware to Iraq during their war with Iran.

    If not, what was Primakov doing there?

  • Robert_K

    I’m sure the Soviets were concerned about the Revolution, just as they were with the various global uprisings in the 1960s. However they must have been pleased with the outcomes –the hostage crisis made the Carter Administration look inept, the debacle of Eagle Claw was a national embarrassment, the Shaw (a close ally of the US) was out of power, and US military support to a Soviet neighbor was halted.

    No doubt Primakov was up to no good in 2003 but that doesn’t help determine what the Soviets were up to pre-1988 when the first round of VX was produced. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were many unemployed soviet scientists with WMD experience out of work and looking to make a few bucks.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Robert_K

    You are correct on a lot of points. Primakov being in Iraq may have had everything or nothing to do with Soviet assistance to Iraq pre-1988, or post-1991 Russian aid. But it had something to do with something, to be sure.

    While the Soviet Union may have seen some upside to the Iranian Revolution, they realized that it represented open flame next to the powder kegs of their own SSRs, many of whom were largely to predominantly Muslim. As far back as 1982-83, Chechnya and many of the FSU “Central Asian States” were already considered ripe for Islamic Revolution. It was one of Gromyko’s great fears.

  • RickWilmes

    More information worth considering.

    ‘Speaking in Istanbul after a two and a half-hour meeting US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said they would work together with other parties to hasten an end to the increasing violence in Syria and to plan for “all contingencies” including the possibility of Syria using its chemical weapons.
    “We agreed to have very intensive operational planning. Our two ministries are coordinating but now we need to get into the real details of operational planning across both of our governments,” said Mrs Clinton.
    “Our intelligence services and our military have very important responsibilities and roles to play,” she said explaining that a joint US Turkish working group was being set up.
    “In the horrible event that chemical weapons were used, we discussed what that would mean in terms of response and of humanitarian and medical emergency assistance and what would need to be done to secure those stocks and prevent them being used or falling into the wrong hands,” she said.’

    http://m.ft.com/cms/69366f1e-e3b6-11e1-aa73-00144feab49a.html?catid=3

    And,

    “The Turkish General Staff (GS) has the plans, the prepositioned stocks, the equipment, the forces and the resolve to execute the intervention. In truth, many are anxious to do so. Prime Minister Erdogan has successfully populated the Turkish Army with Sunni Islamists who share his Ottoman aspirations to lead the Sunni Muslim Middle East and Central Asia.”

    http://futuredefensevisions.blogspot.com/2012/08/turkish-military-convoys-deploy-at.html?m=1

  • RickWilmes

    More evidence U.S. intelligence was wrong with it’s assessment on Iraq’s WMD.

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/05/a_classified_CIA_mea_culpa_on_iraq%20

  • UltimaRatioReg

    The interpretation of the last few pages of this previously classified document as being a “mea culpa” is stretching the meaning of the rest of it well past breaking.

    The Kay Report of October 2004 is interesting reading. It is not at odds with Iraq possessing dangerous quantities of WMD. While they may not have been “militarily significant”, they would be a mortal threat in the hands of a NSA who could transport and employ them. And the Kay Report does not contradict the notion that those stockpiles were moved prior to March of 2003.

  • http://www.facebook.com/douglas.andrews.9 Douglas Andrews

    The 2 Iraqi Generals who were moving the WMD”S to the Syrian border wrote books about it & were debriefed by the CIA. They live in the United States now & have for years.

    • Michael Reed

      If I may ask, what were the names of the two generals and the titles of their books?

      • dougiefresh85

        Georges Hormuz Sada, was the head of the Iraqi Airforce and His book is Called Saddams Secrets..

  • Truth2Powers

    Goodness. Folks should read the reports they refer to instead of blindly passing on someone else’s summary. The Kay Report tried to to inflate Saddam’s ambitions and elevate their own suppositions into reality, but admitted the following in their 2003 Report: “Multiple sources with varied access and reliability have told ISG [the Iraq Survey Group] that Iraq did not have a large, ongoing centrally controlled CW [chemical weapons] program after 1991. … Iraq’s large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced—if not entirely destroyed—during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox [Clinton's 1998 airstrikes], 13 years of UN sanctions and UN inspections.” There is no question that Saddam wanted WMD’s, but all of the credible evidence says he was unable to take any effective action to either acquire or develop them.

  • IdolHanz

    Saddam was cleaning house back in August 2002 with his murder of Abu Nidal and the start of the transshipment of his wmd to Syria and the Bekaa Valley.

  • Judy

    I remember reading about this back then and thinking why isn’t this being reported in the media. I also read about actual WMD’s found in Iraq when our troops were there as well and many of us who had read or heard it didn’t understand why it was being under reported, and virtually hardly reported at all. Pres George W. Bush–exonerated in my opinion and others’ opinions as well!

  • Ralph

    Fast forward to August 2013–Chemical weapons have been used in Syria by Assad, against his own people, thus crossing a red line mentioned earlier by the President. The President advocates missile diplomacy. The problem is–too many questions are being asked by too many people in too many places. One is who really did it , with what kind of help from whom, and why. Others are remembering that Hussain had help from the U.S. in creating the chemicals he used against Iran and the Kurds, and wondering whether claims that the Syrian rebels may have been responsible for crossing Obama,s convenient red line.

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