'[W]e were almost all wrong', David Kay on Iraq and WMD, January 28
'Former U.S. Weapons Inspector Testifies on Iraq Weapons Program, Congressional Report, January 28: David Kay Testifies,' January 28, 2004.
By Merle D. Kellerhals, Jr.
Washington -- Former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee January 28 that he was unable to find substantive evidence that the regime of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction or had an active weapons development program.
Kay said during questioning, "we simply have no evidence" Iraq had large or small stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons as late as 2002. "We've got evidence that they certainly could have produced small amounts, but we've not discovered evidence of the stockpiles."
Kay, who served as a special weapons advisor to CIA Director George Tenet, was brought in by Tenet to assist the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) -- a CIA and Pentagon team -- in its search for traces of WMD left from the now-defunct regime. Kay, who served in that capacity from June 2003 to January of this year, resigned the post January 23.
Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, a Republican of Virginia, ordered the hearing to determine the status of Iraqi WMD and related weapons development programs.
"Let me begin by saying, we were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here," Kay said of intelligence estimates indicating Iraq had an active weapons of mass destruction program. "I believe that the effort that has been directed to this point has been sufficiently intense that it is highly unlikely that there were large stockpiles of deployed militarized chemical and biological weapons there."
He said that it is theoretically possible in a country the size of Iraq that some weapons of mass destruction may be hidden, but given the ambiguity of the weapons search, that question may never be answered fully. "It's possible that they could be there and we could never find them," he said.
Kay added that the search should continue although based on his estimate, approximately 85 percent of the major elements of the Iraqi program are probably known.
Kay also said Iraq was clearly in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for an end to and full disclosure of WMD programs. "They maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their program. So there was a lot they wanted to hide because it showed what they were doing that was illegal," he said.
"In my judgment, based on the work that has been done to this point ... Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of [U.N. Security Council] Resolution 1441," Kay said during opening remarks. "Resolution 1441 required that Iraq report all of its activities: one last chance to come clean about what it had."
Kay said hundreds of cases of information, both from physical evidence and from testimony, showed that over the years Iraq had conducted activities that were prohibited by several U.N. resolutions, and failed to tell the U.N. about its activities. In addition, many Iraqi officials were instructed to hide material and keep the activities secret from the U.N.
Kay also said he did not think the former Clinton administration or the current Bush administration pressured intelligence analysts to reach conclusions that would fit a political agenda. "I deeply think that is a wrong explanation," he said.
Kay said two special vans found by coalition forces in Iraq that were first thought to have been used in biological weapons production were actually used to produce hydrogen for weather balloons or possibly rocket fuel. He said aluminum tubes found in Iraq that were thought to have been used for enriching uranium for nuclear weapons were actually used in a conventional missile program.
"I think the world is far safer with the disappearance and the removal of Saddam Hussein," Kay said during questioning. "I have said I actually think this may be one of those cases where it was even more dangerous than we thought. I think when we have the complete record you're going to discover that after 1998, it became a regime that was totally corrupt. Individuals were out for their own protection, and in a world where we know others are seeking WMD, the likelihood at some point in the future of a seller and a buyer meeting up would have made that a far more dangerous country than even we anticipated with what may turn out not to be a fully accurate estimate."
On January 27, President Bush said the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq earlier in 2003 and the toppling of Hussein's government had made the world safer.
"We know he was a dangerous man in a dangerous part of the world. We know that he defied the United Nations year after year. And given the offense of September 11, we know we could not trust the good intentions of Saddam Hussein because he didn't have any," Bush said. "There was no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a grave and gathering threat to America and the world."
Source: US State Department, Washington File, http://usinfo.state.gov.
© 2003 The Acronym Institute.