FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraq’s Missing WMD Scientists

by MANO SINGHAM

As the furor grows over the continued failure to find Iraq’s supposed arsenal of weapons mass destruction, there is another twist to that story that is not receiving sufficient attention, and that is the fate of the Iraqi scientists who were supposedly working on the weapons.

Readers may recall that during the period prior to the invasion when the UN weapons inspectors were in Iraq, trying to find these weapons, the US government kept giving the inspectors so-called intelligence ‘leads’ as to where to find them, all of which turned out to be fruitless. This caused the inspectors to fume privately that their time was being wasted by these wild goose chases.

The US government then shifted its position and insisted that the weapons would soon be found if Iraqi scientists could be interviewed without the presence of intimidating government ‘minders’, so that the scientists could speak more freely. When that was done and did not produce the sought-for results, the US demand switched to insisting that the scientists and their families be allowed to leave the country and be given asylum elsewhere so that they would be truly free of Iraqi government influence and thus able to speak their minds. But the weapons remained elusive.

Now the government of Saddam Hussein is gone, and these same Iraqi scientists are in the hands of the US authorities. They have the most favorable conditions of all to reveal any damaging information that they might have since the US government, desperate to justify its invasion, would presumably reward any scientist who could point them to the weapons.

What is interesting is that nearly three months after Bush declared victory, not only do we not know whether these scientists revealed any important information, the scientists themselves are missing and being kept in undisclosed locations without contact with even their families. Their conditions are even worse than of those prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay.

Jonathan Steele reporting from Baghdad in the Sunday July 20, 2003 issue of The Observer (London) states that:

“The International Committee of the Red Cross, with an internationally recognized mandate to inspect detention centers around the world, has been urging the US to clarify the status of the three dozen Iraqi scientists and officials it holds. The authorities have given no details of their whereabouts and, unlike Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, the place where they are held has not been shown to journalists. Some detainees are believed to be imprisoned in solitary cells or in swelteringly hot tents near the vast US base at Baghdad airport.”

Steele also reports that around 30 other prominent Iraqis in the ‘pack of cards’ (people like the former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz) are being held in similarly secret conditions.

Presumably all these people have been repeatedly questioned by US authorities. One has to assume that if even a single one of them had revealed the existence of actual weapons or their locations or even merely plans for weapons, the Bush and Blair governments, increasingly under siege by their continued failure to substantiate the major argument they made for the attack, would have gratefully seized upon the news and made it public.

It could be that these two governments have in fact obtained such information and are holding on to it, waiting to reveal it with a flourish at some auspicious time. It could also be that, for reasons unknown, these scientists are refusing to talk.

But it is most likely that all these scientist captives are being held incommunicado because they are saying now what they kept saying all along, that there are simply no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to find. To release them might result in them revealing yet another gaping hole in the case for war.

It is time to demand answers to the question of why the Iraqi scientists are being held prisoner. Is their only crime that they cannot say what their captors want them to say? Have they become, in essence, political prisoners?

MANO SINGHAM is a physicist and educator at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He can be reached at: msingham@cwru.edu

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
Margaret Kimberley
Liberal Hate for the Green Party
John Davis
Lost Peoples of the Lake
Alex Richardson-Price
The Fight for a Six Hour Workday
John Wight
Why Palestine Matters, Even on the Pitch
Brian Cloughley
Hillary Clinton’s War Policy
Patrick Cockburn
A Battle to the Death in Syria
David Rosen
The Great Fear: Miscegenation, Race “Pollution” and the 2016 Election
Ben Debney
Worthy and Unworthy Victims of Child Abuse
David Barouh
Liberal Myths: Would Al Gore Have Invaded Iraq?
Graham Peebles
Democratic Revolution Sweeps Ethiopia
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
How Parasitic Finance Capital Has Turned Iran’s Economy Into a Case of Casino Capitalism
David Swanson
The Unbearable Awesomeness of the U.S. Military
Robert Fantina
The Olympics: Nationalism at its Worst
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail