Fox News Continues Pushing Conspiracy Theory That Iraq Hid WMD In Other Countries
Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT
Fox News suggested that an attack in Syria might have involved chemical weapons from Iraq, pushing a conspiracy theory that Saddam Hussein hid WMD in other countries prior to the Iraq war. Fox made a similar claim just two days ago.
On March 19, the Syrian government and Syrian rebels accused each other of launching a chemical weapon attack within the country. The United States government has said there is no confirmation that such a strike occurred, but the United Nations announced on March 21 that it will investigate the accusations that chemical weapons were used.
On the March 22 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Fox News military analyst and birther Thomas McInerney: "What are the chances of the return address on these chemicals being from Iraq?" McInerney said that this was conjecture but that there was still a high probability of that being the case, explaining: "[W]e do know prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom that there was a lot of vehicles crossing the border into Syria ... I think that it would be a very high probability if we could get into those bunkers, that they would have Iraqi signatures on them."
The claim that Iraq transferred WMD to other countries before the U.S.-led invasion is not supported by evidence.
In 2004, the CIA's Iraq Survey Group (ISG) released a report that found that Iraq "ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program." The report further stated, "While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991."
The ISG also concluded that after 1995, Iraq "abandoned its existing [biological warfare] program in the belief that it constituted a potential embarrassment, whose discovery would undercut Baghdad's ability to reach its overarching goal of obtaining relief from UN sanctions." The report stated that Iraq appeared to have destroyed its undeclared stocks of biological warfare-related weapons in 1991 and 1992.
A 2005 Associated Press report stated that intelligence officials said they found no evidence "indicating that WMD or significant amounts of components and equipment were transferred from Iraq to neighboring Syria, Jordan or elsewhere." The AP report continued:
The Iraq Survey Group's chief, Charles Duelfer, is expected to submit the final installments of his report in February. A small number of the organization's experts will remain on the job in case new intelligence on Iraqi WMD is unearthed.
But the officials familiar with the search say U.S. authorities have found no evidence that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein transferred WMD or related equipment out of Iraq.
Last week, a congressional official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said suggestions that weapons or components were sent from Iraq were based on speculation stemming from uncorroborated information.
On the March 20 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News' Oliver North made a similar claim of the Iraq war, saying: "We got rid of a brutal despot who used chemical and biological weapons against his own people. Weapons of mass destruction that he probably exported to Sudan before we got there."