Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

WaPo Bombshell is old news

The "bombshell" in today's Washington Post, showing that U.S. intelligence had known since May 2003 that the "mobile biological weapons labs" in Iraq were just hydrogen generators for filling weather balloons was reported in the United Kingdon in June, 2003. Here's the story from The Guardian.

Iraqi mobile labs nothing to do with germ warfare, report finds

Peter Beaumont, Antony Barnett and Gaby Hinsliff
Sunday June 15, 2003
The Observer

An official British investigation into two trailers found in northern Iraq has concluded they are not mobile germ warfare labs, as was claimed by Tony Blair and President George Bush, but were for the production of hydrogen to fill artillery balloons, as the Iraqis have continued to insist.

The conclusion by biological weapons experts working for the British Government is an embarrassment for the Prime Minister, who has claimed that the discovery of the labs proved that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction and justified the case for going to war against Saddam Hussein.

Instead, a British scientist and biological weapons expert, who has examined the trailers in Iraq, told The Observer last week: 'They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were - facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.'

The conclusion of the investigation ordered by the British Government - and revealed by The Observer last week - is hugely embarrassing for Blair, who had used the discovery of the alleged mobile labs as part of his efforts to silence criticism over the failure of Britain and the US to find any weapons of mass destruction since the invasion of Iraq.

The row is expected to be re-ignited this week with Robin Cook and Clare Short, the two Cabinet Ministers who resigned over the war, both due to give evidence to a House of Commons inquiry into whether intelligence was manipulated in the run-up to the war. It will be the first time that both have been grilled by their peers on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee over what the Cabinet was told in the run-up to the war.

The curtain of censorship over North America at the time, however, meant that we never heard about it here. (I screamed and yelled about this at the time, wrote letters to the editor, etc. Got nowhere, of course.)

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