If you have read Bill Gertz’s excellent new book, Treachery, then his latest bombshell in the Washington Times about a Russian link to the missing Iraqi weapons cache is absolutely unsurprising. Article excerpt:
Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein’s weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned.
John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, “almost certainly” removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.
“The Russians brought in, just before the war got started, a whole series of military units,” Mr. Shaw said. “Their main job was to shred all evidence of any of the contractual arrangements they had with the Iraqis. The others were transportation units.”
In his must-read book, Gertz reports in greater detail about Russia’s extensive business dealings, intelligence-sharing, and weapons sales with the Hussein regime. On p. 56-58, he recounts how Russian GPS jammers sold to Iraq caused trouble for our forces in the early days of the invasion. President Bush privately lashed out at Russian president Vladimir Putin; the administration went public on March 24 2003 with the information. But it didn’t deter Russia, which also supplied night-vision goggles, technical support, and Kornet-E missiles to Iraq, among other weapons and goods that endangered American troops. Gertz writes in the book:
The cooperation between Russia and Iraq continued up to the end of the Saddam Hussein regime. “There were literally hundreds of Russian specialists that were going through there trying to shred all evidence [of their involvement] in the days before the war started,” said John Shaw [deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security].
Jason at Generation Why shares some sharp thoughts:
This story debunks TWO of John Kerry’s campaign pillars. First, it destroys any notion that Russia would’ve been a willing ally in the coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein. They were cooperating with him in the months leading up to the invasion. The article says “Russia was Iraq’s largest foreign supplier of weaponry” and it appears they were helping Saddam hide those weapons to cover their own illegal dealings with the ousted dictator.
Second, it casts even more doubt on the attempted coordinated attack on the Bush administration by the New York Times, cBS and the Kerry Campaign. The information contained in this Washington Times article is likely one reason the coordinated attack was supposed to be launched about 24 hours before election day – to prevent time for the truth to reach the voters prior to their casting of ballots.
It’s a shame that John Kerry would so quickly, without all of the facts, jump on the bandwagon to accuse U.S. soldiers of incompetence and it’s incomprehensible he’d do so during a time of war. But then again, there’s a reason I agree with Mr. Kerry on the importance of Vietnam in this campaign – he’s shown his utter contempt and lack of confidence in the brave men and women who protect this country – just like he did 35 years ago.
Amen to that.
See also: Wizbang for a good summary of Bret Baier’s report (not up at FOXNews.com yet) on contradictory IAEA statements as well as mention of DOD satellite imagery showing trucks toting stuff from al Qaa Qaa. ABC News says it has documents showing that “the amount of missing explosives may be substantially less than the Iraqis reported.”
And there’s excellent coverage at Belmont Club.
Update: Hmmm. This will be used to undermine Shaw’s credibility (hat tip: Slantpoint). And, for what it’s worth, when asked about Shaw’s remarks, Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita told the Financial Times: “I am unaware of any particular information on that point.”
Update II: Regarding Shaw and the telecom contract issue, DOD issued this statement in August.
Update III: Justin Katz digs a little deeper.
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