Editorial: WMD's in Iraq

May 19, 2004

The Bush administration is being understandably quiet about the explosion of a nerve gas-filled artillery shell over the weekend in Iraq.

The administration is right to be cautious because the favorite cause of Iraq war critics has been the allegation that President Bush lied about Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

Right now, U.S. officials are more concerned about the threat the sarin-laden bomb presents to our soldiers in Iraq than making a point against critics of the war. Since the artillery shell was not labeled as containing nerve gas, it raises the question of whether thousands of others might also have been mislabeled to fool United Nations weapons inspectors.

If that's the case, and there are thousands of mislabeled shells circulating in Iraq, there's a danger that the insurgents and terrorists there might figure out a way to use them that would be far more deadly than the blast over the weekend.


U.S. officials also acknowledged Monday the finding earlier this month of an old artillery shell that apparently had been filled with mustard agent, another chemical weapon.

Saddam was supposed to have destroyed all such chemical weapons following the 1991 Gulf War. Apparently, he didn't do so.

Bush administration critics would have Americans believe that Saddam did the right thing with his weapons of mass destruction. President Bush has argued that in an age of global terrorism, the United States cannot afford to take the chance that such people as Saddam will do the right thing.

When questioned by the press about the supposed absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, President Bush has always answered that it's too early to tell whether those weapons exist or not.

It seems now that he was right.

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