Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Rumsfeld urges caution over suspected chemical weapons.
The United States military said yesterday that fears that five soldiers, who suffered blisters while on duty near the central Iraqi town of Najaf, had been exposed to mustard gas were believed to be a "false alarm".
The clarification came after the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, urged caution over reports on discovery of chemical weapons. "We have to recognise that almost all first reports that we get turn out to be wrong", Mr Rumsfeld said when asked to confirm the report earlier in the day.
"It takes days to get samples of things from wherever they are in the battlefield into a place where they can take a look," he said.
Since the presence of chemical weapons in Iraq was kind of the predicate for this war, it's a little surprising to see someone as high up in the hierarchy as Rummo urging caution. I'd have thought they'd be more likely to pounce on the discovery of anything resembling a WMD as justification for what they're doing in Iraq, and if it turned out later not to have been a real WMD then by that point it wouldn't matter cos the propaganda point had been made. So this urging of caution surprises me, if no one else...