According to an eye-opener of a report, by the AP this morning, an Australian biological weapons expert, and former U.N. arms inspector, Rod Barton, quotes the head of a U.S. biological team sent to Iraq, in early 2004, as saying it was "politically not possible" to reveal that two alleged biochemical trailers, found in that country, weren't weapons of mass destruction, after all.
In his memoirs, due for release Monday in Australia, Barton also reports that the head of one of the biological teams that was on a quixotic, and futile, search for WMDs discussed how "difficult it is to say anything different," or differ in any way, from the official CIA position, something the Senate should keep in mind during upcoming Michael Hayden confirmation hearings. Moreover, Barton implies that former Agency director, George Tenet, was complicit in this flagrant attempt to stifle information which resulted from field reports by David Kay, and others, being withheld from the public, a charge that Mr. Tenet has denied.
As the Washington Post reported last month, the U.S. fact-finding mission told Washington, in confidence, that the two truck trailers they found in Iraq were not manufacturing bioweapons. Yet, armed with that information, the president still maintained that there were labs, in Iraq, designed for the purposes of mass destruction, and other administration officials, who were also in the know, corroborated this misinformation.
What is stunning about Rod Barton's claims is not that the president, CIA, and others in this administration knew, in advance, that there were no WMDs, and still proceeded to invade Iraq, nor that the president dismissed WMDs as the cause for taking this country to war in a memo to Prime Minister Tony Blair. What is stunning is the disclosure in Barton's memoir,"The Weapons Detective," that a senior CIA officer advised him that he couldn't publish his discovery that the trailers, in question, had no biological, or chemical teeth. By precluding a U.N. arms inspector from publishing his findings, findings that were contrary to the president's pretext for combat, a most insidious kind of censorship took place, one which has cost the lives of more than 2400 service men and women, as well as those of thousands of Iraqi citizens. As the AP reports, the fact that the two truck trailers were harmless was only finally made public in the Iraq Survey Group's last report in 2004.
While it has been said that "truth is the first casualty of war," when it becomes "politically not possible" for an administration to acknowledge having made a mistake, and when a government hides behind falsehood the way a murderer covers his tracks, it comes as no surprise that truth is not the only casualty.