Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Like quite a few people, Andrew Gumbel's wondering where the WMDs are.
They were the reason the United States and Britain were in such a hurry to go to war, the threat the rank-and-file troops feared most.
And yet, after three weeks of war, after the capture of Baghdad and the collapse of the Iraqi government, Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction – those weapons that President Bush, on the eve of hostilities, said were a direct threat to the people of the United States – have still to be identified.
Many influential people – disarmament experts, present and former United Nations arms inspectors, our own Robin Cook – have begun to wonder aloud if the weapons exist at all.
Meanwhile another backtrack over the presence of WMDs has had to be performed:
US marines overnight reported finding five cannisters with a substance testing positive for chemical agents, but backed off a claim of finding 278 suspect artillery shells.
Officers with the marine's 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment said the canisters were found yesterday in a Baghdad schoolyard among large stocks of ammunition.
Corporal Chad Arva, a chemicals analysis specialist, said the contents of the canisters "tested positive three times for blister agents".
But battalion officers backed off an earlier claim they had found likely blister agents in 278 artillery shells.