I thought there weren’t any

Since the invasion of Iraq a little more than three years ago, members of the United States military have found at least 500 chemical weapons there. Were it not for the efforts of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), we likely would have never known.
Late yesterday afternoon, he called a press conference and read from a declassified portion of a report from a Department of Defense intelligence unit: “Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq’s pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist.”
Read the declassified portion of the report.
Now, granted, the weapons were more than 15 years old, but regardless of the purity of mustard or sarin gas, they can pose significant harm. Clearly, Saddam Hussein lied when he said all of his weapons of mass destruction were destroyed before the invasion.
I know. Big shocker. Of course, the award for soundbite of the day goes to Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee:
“This says weapons have been discovered, more weapons exist and they state that Iraq was not a WMD-free zone, that there are continuing threats from the materials that are or may still be in Iraq… There is still a lot about Iraq that we don’t fully understand.”
The report was completed in April, but declassified only now. I guess I would have thought the Bush Administration, if it had known about the information, would have been the first to share it with the American people. Of course, it’s good news for the president regardless of when it’s released, but you would have to think sooner is better than later when your poll numbers are still in the high-30s to low-40s.
You really have to wonder what’s going on in the West Wing right now, and who has hijacked our president. The Iraq Survey group spends 16 months searching for WMD, turns up empty and we spend the rest of the Bush presidency watching our leader being used as a human punching bag.
And all the time, we could have been talking about how Iraq was trying to play the waiting game with the U.N., evidence in tow. Here’s what Fred Barnes, editor of the Weekly Standard, had to say about it all:
“We know it was there, in place, it just wasn’t operative when inspectors got there after the war, but we know what the inspectors found from talking with the scientists in Iraq that it could have been cranked up immediately, and that’s what Saddam had planned to do if the sanctions against Iraq had halted and they were certainly headed in that direction.
“It is significant. Perhaps, the administration just, they think they weathered the debate over WMD being found there immediately and don’t want to return to it again because things are otherwise going better for them, and then, I think, there’s mindless resistance to releasing any classified documents from Iraq.”
In other words, Republicans–the majority in Congress, in control of the White House–are too scared to confront Democrats on the issues when facts are on their side. That’s not exactly a confidence booster for GOP voters who are trying to decide if they want to show up in November or not.
God bless a majority of the members of the House of Representatives. They’re staying relatively united, supporting the president and his most recent successes in Iraq. For their part, Santorum and Hoekstra are working to find out what other “good news” we’ve been missing out on.
“We are working on the declassification of the report. We are going to do a thorough search of what additional reports exist in the intelligence community,” Hoekstra said. “And we are going to put additional pressure on the Department of Defense and the folks in Iraq to more fully pursue a complete investigation of what existed in Iraq before the war.”
You have to wonder why more Republicans–especially those in the West Wing–aren’t already doing this. It’s as the old saying goes: “Lead, follow or get out of the way.”