“I Found Iraq’s WMD Bunkers” 17

I have been meaning to blog about this article for some time.

In it, Melanie Phillips claims to have learned from a Dave Gaubatz of the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations that “Saddam’s WMD did exist”. They were buried, then removed to Syria after the occupation.

This places Phillips in a minority of neo-cons who are still spinning the line about Iraqi WMD. Most, including Blair, have moved on to the “Hell, we got rid of Saddam, so what does it matter?” line. Plainly, others like Phillips feel their intellectual credibility is at stake. These are people whose fanatical world view does not permit of the possibility of having been wrong. Those weapons must exist.

So, Phillips buys the story of Mr Gaubatz, who tells us that the weapons were buried in four vast, thick, concrete bunkers in Southern Iraq.

He was, he says, in no doubt whatever that this was true.

This was, in the first place, because of the massive size of these sites and the extreme lengths to which the Iraqis had gone to conceal them. Three of them were bunkers buried 20 to 30 feet beneath the Euphrates. They had been constructed through building dams which were removed after the huge subterranean vaults had been excavated so that these were concealed beneath the river bed. The bunker walls were made of reinforced concrete five feet thick.

After we had invaded and occupied Iraq, in the massive search for Iraqi WMD, with Bush and Blair’s credibility vanishing by the hour, inexplicably nobody would listen to Mr Gaubatz saying he had found the WMD. From this account, apparently Mr Gaubatz did not feel that the discovery of Iraq’s WMD was important enough to put in his requests to the Iraq Survey Group in writing. I presume that is what Phillips means when she says he “verbally” told them, although of course writing also uses words and she intended to say “orally”.

And then what happened?

the WMD buried in the four sites were excavated by Iraqis and Syrians, with help from the Russians, and moved to Syria.

Now let us consider what Phillips is selling us here. Sometime after July 2003, with some quarter of a million coalition troops and other personnel occupying Iraq, four vast bunkers of WMD, presumably weighing hundreds of tonnes, were secretly excavated, some from thirty feet under the Euphrates, and then smuggled many hundreds of miles in trucks across the desert and across the Iraqi border, without anyone noticing or a single weapon being caught?

Don’t forget that these are not facilities hidden in deep desert near the Syrian border. They are under the Euphrates – the great river along which most Iraqi towns lie, and alongside which all the roads and other infrastructure run, in constant use by allied forces, who were also patrolling the river in boats.

Think about the building of these facilities in the first place. Iraq was under intense scrutiny from both satellite and aerial photgraphy. UK and US airforces were in constant sortie over the area described, which lies within the Southern no-fly zone. On the ground UN inspectors were roaming widely, poking into anything suspicious.

The Euphrates is not a stream. it is one of the great rivers of the World. Phillips tells us these great projects involved diverting the Euphrates around dams. And no-one noticed?

This story goes beyond the unlikely into the ludicrous. Phillips has obviously allowed political and atavistic hatred to override her powers of reason. Put starkly, the woman has gone barking mad.

All of which would be funny, except that she is given the widest access to all forms of media to broadcast her racial hatred against Arabs and Muslims, and her vile, hate-filled books sell well. Yet the rational can easily dissect her output as rubbish beyond the pale of reason.

Glad to see that she has made up with the Spectator though. On 21 January 2005 she wrote in her published diary

The Spectator. What kind of hatred of the Jews resides at that magazine…


Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

17 thoughts on ““I Found Iraq’s WMD Bunkers”

  • Sabretache


    I think you'll find that was Matilda (wink)

    Still, an apt reference – and her habitual lies were the death of her. We can but hope.

  • johnf

    For those wishing to address their comments slightly more directly to Ms Philips – yet another of those wretched marxist/trotskyite/68ers, here's her email:

    [email protected]

    As for the fantasies she's peddling, they've been around on the internet since a few months after the invasion, when it became obvious some lies were going to have to be concocted pronto to cover the inconvenient truth that there weren't no WMDs.

    A shameful piece of journalism.

  • johnf

    Meanwhile, Josh Marshall on talkingpointsmemo chronicles this bizarre offshoot of WMDs:

    When bureaucracy meets bamboozlement, or Where're Pynchon and DeLillo When We Need Them.

    According to the Post, despite the fact that even the most confirmed yahoo now concedes that late Saddam-era Iraq had no WMDs, the UN has not and apparently cannot get around to shutting down the office charged with monitoring Saddam's weapons and disarming the now-disheaded Saddam Hussein.

    Writes Colum Lynch: "Every weekday, at a secure commercial office building on Manhattan's East Side, a team of 20 U.N. experts on chemical and biological weapons pores over satellite images of former Iraqi weapons sites. They scour the international news media for stories on Hussein's deadly arsenal. They consult foreign intelligence agencies on the status of Iraqi weapons. And they maintain a cadre of about 300 weapons experts from 50 countries and prepare them for inspections in Iraq — inspections they will almost certainly never conduct, in search of weapons that few believe exist."

    The reality of the situation is even more comic and bizarre then the headline. Even I wasn't completely sure I understood it after reading Lynch's article in the Post. But the essence of it seems to be this: the US and the Brits want to shut the thing down, but the Russians say the word has to come from the inspectors themselves. The inspectors, in turn, say they can't definitively say that Saddam/Iraq has been disarmed because they haven't been given access to the records of the Coalition-led Iraq Study Group.

    Meanwhile, the current head of the inspectors, a Greek weapons expert named Dimitri Perricos doesn't really seem to want to give up the gig. Indeed, Perricos warns that the Iraqi inspectorate should be kept going because insurgents, terrorists or some new Iraqi government could well reconstitute the weapons at some point in the future. (Hey, where was this guy when Bush and Cheney and Hanity really needed him, right?) Presumably, Martians might also reconstitute the weapons. But he seems not yet to have played this card.

    We quote form the Post quoting Perricos …

    "Look, Iraq is not Denmark," he said. "They've made botulin, anthrax, VX, sarin; they've made the whole spectrum of horrifying items, and they've used them. We don't know how things are going to develop in the region, and we want to be sure there are some controls."

    Last month, Perricos showed the U.N. commission's board satellite imagery of plundered Iraqi chemical factories that produce chlorine, which has been used by Iraqi insurgents in chlorine-bomb suicide attacks. He warned that insurgents may obtain more deadly chemical weapons on the black market, according to U.N. officials.

    You get the sense the Russians are getting a bit of a kick out of this.

    — Josh Marshall

  • Strategist

    Melanie Phillips has clearly been feeling threatened that Nick Cohen is stealing her crown as the commenterati's most obnoxious neocon brown-nosing fool. So here she is, showing Nick how it's really done.

    As you say, Craig, she can spew whatever she likes over the pages of the Spectator, but I agree that it is a serious issue that she should have such access to the BBC to spread her lies and hate.

  • DHM

    Congratulations on getting Phillips' name and the words "intellectual credibility" in the same sentence. If I'd not seen it with my own eyes I'd not have thought it possible.

  • Foddy

    Greetings. I haven't posted here before, but have just finished (and enjoyed) reading Murder in Samarkand. It's quite extraordinary – and desperately sad – to realise just how much up the US's arse the UK administration (I won't say Government, because there have been some honourable exceptions) has been.

    Fortunately, I think most people in the world realise that Tony Blair does not represent the vast majority of British opinion, and I don't think that the reputation of the UK has been as damaged as that of the US has. It is people like you, Craig, who have helped to ensure this state of affairs, despite the best efforts of Melanie Phillips and others to do the opposite. Looking at her views on other matters, it seems that she regards evolution as 'merely a theory', and defends the teaching of creationism in schools, so it is rather surprising that she is so willing to buy into the theory that these sites (which don't seem to have been investigated yet) used to house Iraq's WMD. I guess there are 'theories' and 'theories'?

    Her reasoning why these alleged WMD storage sites haven't been officially publicised is ridiculous. She claims that Republicans won't touch this "because it would reveal the incompetence of the Bush administration in failing to neutralise the danger of Iraqi WMD". What nonsense is that? In any case, as we have seen recently, what Republicans want is neither here nor there. If Bush wanted to regain even some small vestige credibility, he would have been all over this finding like a rash – if it had been genuine.

    It's amazing that an apparently educated journalist can come up with such tripe.

  • Craig


    Glad you enjoyed the book. Yes, Phillips doesn't believe in evolution, or in global warming.

    It is alarming that she is regarded as mainstream and invited regularly on to the BBC as a perfectly respectable intellectual, whereas I, like other anti-war thinkers, am regarded as "too red meat".

  • Cyrus Safdari

    Not sure which is worse – Iraq war promoters who still insist that WMDs existed, or the ones who now deny having made any claims about WMDs at all:

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tried to rewrite history last week when he denied making prewar claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction….

    His questioner persisted: "You said you knew where they were."

    Rumsfeld: "I did not. I said I knew where 'suspect' sites were."

  • Tonys Akiller

    Dear Foddy.

    I rather resent your implication of a tie between those who do not accept evolution and Melanie Phillips. One does not have believe in scientific shock-jockery of spun Darwinism to understand the taunts of a neo-fascist wannabe, thank you very much. Phillips's equally vile transatlantic twin, Ann Coulther, is cast from the same stuff as Ms. Phillips but cold Coulther's journeyman question of "How did an eyeball form" captures the essence of those (including many scientists) who have too many questions at this sage to believe what is said by those who have hijacked Darwinism.

    You display the white mans arrogance that western beliefs are superior to others, in this case relating to science. Has it escaped your attention that there are hundreds of thousands of monotheists out there in the ME, Africa, Asia, South America, America, Australia and yes, even Europe who are learned in the ways of science who also hold that spun Darwinism has no provable basis? Perhaps their view is that of primitives and can be ignored?

    I define 'spun Darwinism' as meaning "Natural selection is independent of the will or force of God". I have no way of knowing, but I am quite confident that those adhering to Darwin piracy, never believed in God in the first place, and that those who do think the case to negate God from nature isn't sustainable.

    What do you know of teaching creationism in schools? Have you ever seen a syllabus or set of learning/discussion objectives that such an approach to physical world would take, or are you just jumping on the 'instant express' and writing without any factual knowledge to back up your apparent dislike of it?

  • Craig

    Tonys Akiller,

    The problem is that there is a raft of beliefs held ny an identifiable group – the US fundamentalist right – that includes intolerant creationism, global warning denial and anti-arab racism. The Melanie Phillips package in fact. That has caused a knee jerk reaction to creationists (I don't mean that as a pejorative label – deists, or what you will).

    In fact it is perfectly possible to believe in creationism and be anti-war and liberal. It is just not common, so thanks for reminding us.

    Personally I have never had a problem believing both in God and broadly in "Darwinism", while remaining pretty flexible on what is meant by both.

  • hoagy

    I won't waste any time on Melanie Phillips. I'd just like to know how the lies told by Tony Blair that were supposed to be the justification for war, are now increasingly described as "mistakes" by politicians and the media. I even heard Greg Dyke on Question Time, implying these "mistakes" were now irrelevant in comparison to other priorities?;, 'Personal Ambitions', probably being the first one for many.

  • George Dutton

    I have to laugh otherwise I would cry when I read all this. It is just not credible that the USA and the UK Intelligence Services did not know what happened to Saddam's WMD BEFORE they invaded Iraq,they knew he had destroyed it all.

    As Jaffa, Saddam's nuclear expert said…"The Special Republican Guard on Saddam's orders came to visit me and took away all my tools to give him a nuclear bomb. I was told later by friends they had been destroyed along with all the WMD".

    That all this happened and the USA and UK Intelligence Services did not know goes way beyond the bounds of belief. They KNEW.

  • George Dutton

    As a follow up to my post above…

    It should not be forgot that after the illegal invasion of Iraq the USA put up hugh sums of money to anyone that could, would come forward to tell them what had happened to Saddam's WMD. No one came forward? strange, WHY??? there must have been some that knew where he had destroyed it all and would want to collect the reward. There were a couple of people that came forward with some WMD but it was a VERY small amount and was pre 1990 WMD still in old shell cases as was reported in the press. I suspect that some did come forward and told the USA what they already knew and the location where the WMD was destroyed. Could it be that the USA didn't want us to know to keep the lie that there was WMD hidden away somewhere. By telling us it had been destroyed BEFORE the illegal invasion would have brought up question's that the USA didn't want brought up. What happened to people that did come forward?,I dread to think. All very strange to say the least.

Comments are closed.