The Syria/Iraq WMD connection

Jack Kelly, in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, wrote an opinion piece this weekend discussing the speculation on the connection between Syria and Iraq – specifically zeroing in on the possibility that Iraq, in an agreement with Syria, moved some of its WMDS to Syria prior to the war in Iraq. He mentions deputy chief of Saddam Hussein’s air force Georges Sadas recent claims, which I blogged about here, as well as some other interesting claims that are worth mentioning and discussing:

– Last month Moshe Yaalon, who was Israel’s top general at the time, said Iraq transported WMD to Syria six weeks before Operation Iraqi Freedom began.

– Last March, John A. Shaw, a former U.S. deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said Russian Spetsnaz units moved WMD to Syria and Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

“While in Iraq I received information from several sources naming the exact Russian units, what they took and where they took both WMD materials and conventional explosives,” Mr. Shaw told NewsMax reporter Charles Smith.

– Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong was deputy commander of Central Command during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In September 2004, he told WABC radio that “I do know for a fact that some of those weapons went into Syria, Lebanon and Iran.”

– In January 2004, David Kay, the first head of the Iraq Survey Group which conducted the search for Saddam’s WMD, told a British newspaper there was evidence unspecified materials had been moved to Syria from Iraq shortly before the war.

“We know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam’s WMD program,” Mr. Kay told the Sunday Telegraph.

– Also that month, Nizar Nayuf, a Syrian journalist who defected to an undisclosed European country, told a Dutch newspaper he knew of three sites where Iraq’s WMD was being kept. They were the town of al Baida near the city of Hama in northern Syria; the Syrian air force base near the village of Tal Snan, and the city of Sjinsar on the border with Lebanon.

– In an addendum to his final report last April, Charles Duelfer, who succeeded David Kay as head of the Iraq Survey Group, said he couldn’t rule out a transfer of WMD from Iraq to Syria.

“There was evidence of a discussion of possible WMD collaboration initiated by a Syrian security officer, and ISG received information about movement of material out of Iraq, including the possibility that WMD was involved. In the judgment of the working group, these reports were sufficiently credible to merit further investigation,” Mr. Duelfer said.

– In a briefing for reporters in October 2003, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper Jr., who was head of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency when the Iraq war began, said satellite imagery showed a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria just before the American invasion.

“I think the people below Saddam Hussein and his sons’ level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse,” Lt. Gen. Clapper said.

Former UNCSOM inspector Bill Tierney has speculated they were moved to Syria as well.

All this speculation brings me back to Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s visit to Syria in January 2002 – a visit where he admitted (unashamedly) that he alerted the Syrian head of state that in his view he thought the President had made up his mind to invade Iraq. That quote again in full (emphasis added):

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. The – I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I’ll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq – that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.

I firmly believe the WMDs were moved. When all the dust settles over the debate as to whether or not Iraq really did possess WMDs (and we know they did, even if the Democrats want to revise history otherwise), I hope Sen. Rockefeller is called to testify as to why he was alerting heads of state in Middle Eastern countries – one of which is an ally of Iraq – why he chose to give them advance warning of what he thought was going to be our course of action in Iraq after 9-11.

Read more commentary via Wizbang Bomb Squad and Villainous Company

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