We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them.
- President Bush, May 29, 2003
Now, I have posted the above quote a couple of times. It's from a TV interview, and the transcript can be found on the White House website
I was a bit surprised back then, and it later turned out that the statement didn't hold water. However, yesterday, when I opened the newspaper (online version here
), I nearly spilled my coffee.
The article was talking about a team of experts that had been sent to Iraq by the Pentagon, soon after two trucks had been discovered. The team consisted of nine experts from Britain and the USA - all of them with extensive experience in the fields involved in the making of bioweapons. Their task was to determine whether or not the trucks were the notorious "mobile biolabs" that had been cited as a reason for going to war.
The team was assembled in Kuwait, then flown to Baghdad. They began their work on May 25, 2003. "Within the first four hours, it was clear to everyone that these were not biological labs", one team member said. However, they proceeded with their work and came to the conclusion that the trailers were mobile units to produce hydrogen for weather ballons. They sent their report back to Washington on May 27. The report also dismissed the notion that the trailers could be easily modified to to produce weapons. "It would be easier to start all over with just a bucket", as one expert put it.
Nevertheless, two days later, Bush went on TV and declared, referring to the two trailers, "We found the weapons of mass destruction".
So what was the purpose of this statement? Why tell a lie in the face of evidence to the contrary? Was he confident that more WMD might surface, and in the meantime nobody would notice that the trucks were harmless, serving exactly the purpose the Iraqis had stated after Powell had accused them of possessing mobile biolabs in the UN Security Council?