Not Saussure

April 22, 2007

Tony’s bacon saved! Saddam’s WMD discovered at last — by Melanie Phillips

Filed under: Iraq, Wingnuts — notsaussure @ 5:16 pm

Remember how we all laughed hollowly when, back in 2003, Tony Blair was assuring us that

I have absolutely no doubt at all that we will find evidence of weapons of mass destruction programmes

and his official spokesman was saying that Mr Blair

“is absolutely confident that we will find evidence not only of weapons of mass destruction programmes, but concrete evidence of the product of those programs as well,”?

Well, it seems that, in the final weeks (one hopes) before he leaves office, Mad Mel Phillips has found them for him.

In fact, she’s not only discovered Saddam’s missing WMD but she’s also uncovered a conspiracy to conceal their existence. The conspirators include, it would appear, both the Republicans and the Democrats in the higher reaches of the US government. These conspirators would, it seems, include President Bush, who, remember, told a White House press conference on August 21 of last year that

Now, look, part of the reason we went into Iraq was — the main reason we went into Iraq at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn’t, but he had the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction.

The reason for this cover-up is that the weapons were, it seems, discovered but then lost through incompetence with the result that

The Republicans won’t touch this because it would reveal the incompetence of the Bush administration in failing to neutralise the danger of Iraqi WMD . The Democrats won’t touch it because it would show President Bush was right to invade Iraq in the first place. It is an axis of embarrassment.

See — it all makes perfect sense.

Briefly, bemused readers of the Speccie (well, I was bemused, anyway) this weekend (and of Melanie Phillips’ blog) were told by Ms Phillips about how ‘I found Saddam’s WMD bunkers.’ Not Mel personally, of course (rather a disappointment) but a chap called Dave Gaubatz, a former US Intelligence agent who reckons that

Between March and July 2003, he says, he was taken to four sites in southern Iraq— two within Nasariyah, one 20 miles south and one near Basra — which, he was told by numerous Iraqi sources, contained biological and chemical weapons, material for a nuclear programme and UN-proscribed missiles. He was, he says, in no doubt whatever that this was true.This was, in the first place, because of the massive size of these sites and the extreme lengths to which the Iraqis had gone to conceal them. Three of them were bunkers buried 20 to 30 feet beneath the Euphrates. They had been constructed through building dams which were removed after the huge subterranean vaults had been excavated so that these were concealed beneath the river bed. The bunker walls were made of reinforced concrete five feet thick.

This would seem to mean that Saddam had, at some stage, diverted the course of the river Euphrates which, one would have thought, someone might have noticed what with all the surveillance flights the US and the UK were running from 1991 onwards and spy satellites and so on, but apparently no one spotted what he was up to. Anyway,

‘There was no doubt, with so much effort having gone into hiding these constructions, that something very important was buried there’, says Mr Gaubatz. By speaking to a wide range of Iraqis, some of whom risked their lives by talking to him and whose accounts were provided in ignorance of each other, he built up a picture of the nuclear, chemical and biological materials they said were buried underground.‘They explained in detail why WMDs were in these areas and asked the US to remove them,’ says Mr Gaubatz. ‘Much of this material had been buried in the concrete bunkers and in the sewage pipe system. There were also missile imprints in the area and signs of chemical activity — gas masks, decontamination kits, atropine needles. The Iraqis and my team had no doubt at all that WMDs were hidden there.’

He went on to report this, but

to his consternation, the ISG told him they didn’t have the manpower or equipment to do it and that it would be ‘unsafe’ to try.’The problem was that the ISG were concentrating their efforts in looking for WMD in northern Iraq and this was in the south’, says Mr Gaubatz. ‘They were just swept up by reports of WMD in so many different locations. But we told them if they didn’t excavate these sites, others would’.

That, he says, is precisely what happened. He subsequently learned from Iraqi, CIA and British intelligence that the WMD buried in the four sites were excavated by Iraqis and Syrians, with help from the Russians, and moved to Syria. The location in Syria of this material, he says, is also known to these intelligence agencies. The worst-case scenario has now come about. Saddam’s nuclear, biological and chemical material is in the hands of a rogue terrorist state — and one with close links to Iran.

After his return to the US,

he tried to bring all this to light. Two congressmen, Peter Hoekstra, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Curt Weldon, were keen to follow up his account. To his horror, however, when they tried to access his classified intelligence reports they were told that all 60 of them —which, in the routine way, he had sent in 2003 to the computer clearing-house at a US air base in Saudi Arabia —had mysteriously gone missing. These written reports had never even been seen by the ISG.One theory is that they were inadvertently destroyed when the computer’s data base was accidentally erased in the subsequent US evacuation of the air base. Mr Gaubatz, however, suspects dirty work at the crossroads. It is unlikely, he says, that no copies were made of his intelligence.

Another theory, of course, which Ms Phillips doesn’t — for some reason — explore is that these reports never existed in the first place, since I can’t find any references in her article to Mr Gaubatz being able to show her copies he’d made (not, of course, that he’d have been allowed keep them, I suppose), but there you go. Cynics, after all, raise exactly the same objections to accounts of how the original golden plates which Joseph Smith Jnr apparently discovered buried in a hill near his home, and from which he translated the Book of Mormon, came to go missing, and Mr Gaubatz hasn’t suggested anything as improbable as the angel Moroni removing his files (on the other hand, he can’t produce — as apparently did Mr Smith with the plates — a collection of signed affidavits that people have seen them, so I suppose the evidence, if anything, is better for Mr Smith and the angel than it is for Mr Gaubatz and his WMD).

Ms Phillips anticipates these objections;

You may be tempted to dismiss this as yet another dodgy claim from a warmongering lackey of the world Zionist neocon conspiracy giving credence to yet another crank pushing US propaganda. If so, perhaps you might pause before throwing this article at the cat. Mr Gaubatz is not some marginal figure. He’s pretty well as near to the horse’s mouth as you can get.

Well, I wouldn’t dream of thus describing Ms Phillips, particularly not when the words ‘bonkers’ and ‘gullible’ are available, but let’s have a look at the source of this remarkable story. Mr Gaubatz might not be a marginal figure, or might not once have been, but after having looked at the website of his organisation, the Society of Americans for National Existence (or SANE), I’m not at all sure that ‘crank’ is too far off the mark. It contains the mission statement,

National Existence is political order experienced by men of the nation as a Rise to Being. Its opposite is a replacement of political order experienced by men, women, children and slaves as a Fall from Being. This Redirection in the experience of the Terms of Being (Self, Society, G-d and World) results in the collapse of Self into Society and all into World. The goal, wittingly or otherwise: a World State.SANE opposes this Redirection and its manifestations: chants of Racism, Democracy, Equal Rights, Human Rights, Women’s Rights, Animal Rights, and the always growing list of what is the Single Concept: Certainty/Uncertainty = Science/Open Society = World. To understand this reciprocal and how it affects a convergence of factors bent on the destruction of National Existence is to be SANE.

SANE is the first step back into the Present. And it is this step “back” to National Existence that will secure the present and protect the future.

That may make more sense if you write it in green ink, but I somehow doubt it.

Somewhat more comprehensible, though not necessarily wholly un-eccentric, are his reflections on the Virginia Tech massacre:

Simply because authorities might have learned that the suspect had had a dispute with his girlfriend does not rule out terrorism. Moreover, it gives the public a false sense of security.I want to emphasize that the unfortunate murders in Blacksburg may have erupted initially from a domestic dispute, but the media and the authorities must not rush to judgment to rule out terrorism in any murder, especially a multiple murder. Doing so puts our nation at risk.

This leads him, naturally enough, to a lengthy exegesis on Muslims, suicide-bombings and his Mapping Shari’a in America: Knowing the Enemy!

And when we’re done, we will produce an interactive digital map where you can click on any region, focus in on any state, then on any city or neighborhood, and find out which mosques and Islamic day schools are operating near your home or near a nuclear power plant or major water supply and see what they are preaching and how. You will learn who is leading their Qur’an studies and which imam and school of jurisprudence (or fiqh) they follow. We will then index that for you so you can understand the threat level.

All this, of course, might well appeal to the author of Londinistan, though I’m not sure what she’d make of the observation by his colleague at SANE, David Yerushalmi that

We have taken the position in this country that the American People and the Society we have formed is no longer about a People. It is now about legal categories. White Christians were at the founding of this nation a distinct people and privileged as such. Men of means among this people were given the opportunity for representative government. This is, for those of you flinching, not a thesis or “viewpoint”; this is historical fact.After the Civil War, this changed; with the move into the 20th century this change became a wholesale reformation. Today, you cannot speak of Christianity in the public sphere and if you mention “white” and “Christians” in the same sentence you will be set upon as a despicable racist by every “fair-minded” public person.

If, by the way, that seems an odd view for someone called Yerushalmi to hold, it’s not half as odd as his observation that

the Jewish problem for conservatives is a different and quite interesting affair. It is most interesting because so much of what drives it is true and accurate….There is much to despise about Zionist Israel. Zionists in the main were and are the Leftist intelligentsia of Europe and Russia. In fact, those who did not abandon Europe and the Slavic countries for Israel have either stayed behind to agitate for the European Union and the destruction of national existence on the Continent or journeyed westward to achieve their ends in America in the name of Civil and Human Rights.

There’s whole screeds of this sort of stuff on Mr Gaubatz and Mr Yerushalmi’s website; all in all, it’s hard to resist the conclusion that Mad Mel’s informant and his chum are, not to put too fine a point on it, not just cranks but as mad as a box of frogs. As Jim Henley, of Looking Sideways, comments, having reviewed Mr Gaubatz’s personal website and discovered that ‘Dave Gaubatz was the 1st U.S. Civilian Federal Agent sent into Iraq at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003’, this ‘would explain an awful lot about what went wrong there’.

Mel returns to the WMD in a later post on her blog, which contains the jaw-dropping observation that

when it comes to Iraq, the western media behave collectively out of character. There is no openness to any facts that challenge the ‘line’. There is a mindset, so powerful as to amount to a kind of collective brainwashing, that it is been ‘proved’ that there were no WMD in Saddam’s Iraq. Any claim to the contrary, however authoritative or persuasive, is therefore brushed aside.

In this piece she reproduces a lengthy memo from John Loftus, sometime US Federal Prosecutor. Glenn Greenwald, writing in Salon, accurately summarises it thus:

(a) John Negroponte is persecuting various groups which are trying to bring the WMD conspiracy to light because (b) Negroponte is part of what they call the “Red Team” in the U.S. government, which is exceedingly loyal to China, which is crucial given that (c) the stolen-WMD-plot involved the subsequent transfer of “Saddam’s WMD technology to Syria and Iran” and that all happened (d) “because the Chinese Army created an international consortium of rogue states to develop the Islamic Bomb” (and Negroponte, it implies, is concealing that by persecuting these groups because he is an agent of China).

Mr Loftus, whatever his distinguished career with the Federal Government, seems to have suffered a reversal in fortunes of late; his website contains an apology:

I rarely make mistakes, but when I do I always admit them publicly. During the invasion of Iraq, I stated my firm opinion that Saddam had been killed in the first strike, and then apologized when I was wrong. The CIA later stated that they had been deceived by a double agent who falsely reported Saddam’s death in detail. On August 7, 2005 I made another mistake. For months my team of volunteers had been tracking a terrorist group, and we had all become quite frustrated about one federal agency’s footdragging. After the London Subway bombings, I correctly and publicly identified a California man, Iyad Hilal, as the leader of one of the the terrorist groups that had been banned by the British.

I did not realize when I gave his address that Hilal had moved, and an innocent family was living there. I am heartsick that the family suffered harassment and anxiety as a result of my mistake. I take full and complete responsibilty for my error in judgment. I will try very hard to ensure that I make as few mistakes as possible, and again apologize profusely to all of you, especially the Vorick family.

For this error of judgement, Fox News sacked him. Questions have also been raised about his credentials and veracity, to the extent that his ideological allies are refusing to attend conferences at which he participates.

And to think this appeared in The Spectator, once the paper of Addison and Steele and later Boris Johnson. O tempora, o mores!

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  1. And there was me thinking that ‘Mad Mel’ was at least taking a break from ‘Jihadis under beds’, oh well.

    Intresting form of journalism though….with opinion informing facts, and not vice-versa. If you belive that something must me true, then its will BECOME true. How very post-modern.

    The womans more than madder than box of frogs!

    Comment by EvilEuropean — April 22, 2007 @ 6:00 pm

  2. Isn’t this the guy who thinks he found the WMD in a dream?

    Comment by Alex — April 22, 2007 @ 9:40 pm

  3. I’m glad you wrote this. I’d been following it via Glenn Greenwald but your article does a great job of fisking Melanie Phillips. Her argument is incredible.

    Comment by Gracchi — April 23, 2007 @ 8:05 am

  4. Actually, correction: that’s William Tierney who thinks he found them in a vision. But they are promoted by the same guy, John Loftus.

    Comment by Alex — April 23, 2007 @ 9:08 am

  5. This comforts me in my decision to ditch the spectator. It’s been going downhill for a while.

    Comment by Pascal — April 23, 2007 @ 11:31 am

  6. Mel’s been on about this for ages. Let us take her at her word. Assume that there were WMD held by Saddam’s forces, and that coalition soldiers are now busily uncovering them day by day. Assume that therefore Saddam was in breach of Security Council resolutions, and that the war was justified under international law.

    Would anyone rather Saddam had those weapons, and was maintaining a stable if brutal control over Iraq, subject to the deterrence of the West (he declined to use WMD during 1991, when he certainly still had them) or would they rather religious extremists had them in an Iraq torn apart by religious infighting and political insurrection?

    Comment by Political umpire — April 23, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

  7. Ah, Political umpire, right about now in Melworld Saddam would be giving Osama bin Laden a bear-hug and a suitcase nuke, in that order. Lucky her manly white Christian warriors stabilised the place to rubble first, eh?

    Comment by Tom — April 23, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

  8. There is certainly a loot to know about this subject. I love
    all the points you’ve made.

    Comment by — October 20, 2014 @ 9:58 am

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