Belated, but still interesting:
Ha’aretz has revived the mystery surrounding the inability to find weapons of mass destruction stockpiles in Iraq, the most commonly cited justification for Operation Iraqi Freedom and one of the most embarrassing episodes for the United States. Satellite photos of a suspicious site in Syria are providing new support for the reporting of a Syrian journalist who briefly rocked the world with his reporting that Iraq’s WMD had been sent to three sites in Syria just before the invasion commenced.
The newspaper reveals that a 200 square-kilometer area in northwestern Syria has been photographed by satellites at the request of a Western intelligence agency at least 16 times, the most recent being taken in January. The site is near Masyaf, and it has at least five installations and hidden paths leading underneath the mountains. This supports the reporting of Nizar Nayouf, an award-winning Syrian journalist who said in 2004 that his sources confirmed that Saddam Hussein’s WMDs were in Syria.
One of the three specific sites he mentioned was an underground base underneath Al-Baida, which is one kilometer south of Masyaf. This is a perfect match. The suspicious features in the photos and the fact that a Western intelligence agency is so interested in the site support Nayouf’s reporting…
Intelligence agencies can get things wrong – very much so. But they don’t usually report something as being there which doesn’t exist, at all. Every intelligence agency in the world pre-liberation was convinced that Saddam had at least partially reconstituted his WMD program – we get there and find nothing conclusive (but even the inconclusive stuff was a strong indicator that his regime was up to no good). Did we and everyone else just get it flat wrong, or did the WMDs go somewhere?
If I’m ever asked about what I think were Bush Administration mistakes, the one I’ll refer to is the fact that we waited until March of 2003 before going in to Iraq. We should have gone in there a year earlier. By August of 2002, at the latest. We did the whole UN/WMD dance for political purposes – mostly to help Blair build the case for British involvement. All the delay did was allow Saddam’s forces to prepare the insurgency as well as, I’ll bet, allowing the Russians (and, possibly, the French) to move out Saddam’s WMDs.
Speed is the most vital thing in war, and this should remind us that if we’re ever going to fight, get in to the middle of it as fast as its physically possible to do so. Delay always and only plays in to enemy hands – we build our military to be instantly ready to go with overwhelming force even when not by-the-book fully up to snuff (in a fully ready unit there is a lot of redundancy “just in case”, as it were). We delayed and that not only cost us lives, but also allowed the circumstances to develop where the anti-American left, seconded by Democrats, to undermine the entire war effort.
Lesson learned – but, also, we now do have to be concerned. If Saddam’s WMDs did wind up in Syria, will they one day wind up in rockets in Lebanon aimed as Israel? In terrorist bombs for New York? We need to find out, for certain.