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CIA gives up search and interrogation on Iraq WMDs

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) says it finished interrogating the nearly 105 Iraqi scientists it held in its search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In many cases their information was helpful, but in other cases the wrong people were detained, and were subjected to questioning by “inexperienced and uninformed” interrogators.

From an update to the Comprehensive Report of the Special Adviser to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD, “As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible. After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted.

“As far as the WMD investigation is concerned, there is no further purpose in holding many of these detainees. These individuals have shown no reluctance to engage in further discussions should the need for questioning arise about past WMD programs.”

Elsewhere, “Some may have other issues to account for, including Regime finance questions, but certainly some have been quite helpful toward the compilation of an accurate picture of the Regime’s WMD efforts and intentions over the last three decades.”

The comments were addenda and an accompanying note, supplemental to the original report, which was issued last autumn, and seen as the final report of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG). They were added by Charles Duelfer, head of the ISG, and Special Adviser to the Director of Central Intelligence in Baghdad.

Deulfer emphasised that more information is likely to emerge naturally, over time, from people with differing viewpoints and interests. And a backlog of documents recovered from the former regime remain to be examined.

He described the ISG investigation as hampered by:

  • The security situation
  • The quality of identification, detention, and interview of those involved in the Iraqi WMD effort
  • Other internal procedural weaknesses
  • Constant personnel rotations.

A preference for reinforcement of short-term security on the part of the coalition forces over anti-proliferation efforts, fear of arrest and detention on the part of the Iraqi personnel, and other factors in the continuing conflict of the post-war environment, all impacted on the effort by the ISG.

The report confirms the expressed opinion of former UN weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, that Iraq had no significant WMDs. “[T]here was not a single intelligence service in the world that said Iraq maintained massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction,” Ritter said at the time.

Duelfer summary of the intelligence obtained, as understood by the ISG, includes, “[T]he risk of Iraqi WMD expertise of material advancing the WMD potential in other countries is attenuated by many factors and is presently small …”

And, “So far, insurgent efforts to attain unconventional weapons have been limited and contained by coalition actions.”

Also, “There continue to be reports of WMD in Iraq. ISG has found that such reports are usually scams or in misidentification of materials or activities. In a very limited number of cases they have related to old chemical munitions produced before 1990.”

The new addenda included information on the Iraqi Military Industrial Commission, the “state-run military-industrial complex” which played a “central role in the evolution of all the Regime’s weapons programs”.

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