October 27, 2004 | National Review Online (The Corner)

The Plot Thickens

As Kathryn has pointed out, it was heartening that the Washington Post today was willing to follow the trail where NRO yesterday suggested it leads: Back to U.N. official Mohammed El Baradei, who may have attempted to influence an American election by providing misleading information to the MSM.

The Washington Times lede editorial this morning is on the same theme: “It appears that from the IAEA on down to the New York Times and CBS News, which planned to run the story on Oct. 31, the whole point behind the missing-cache story was to create an 'October Surprise' on the eve of that election.”

Maybe that's all it is – an appearance. But as the MSM has pointed out on many other occasions, appearances do count.

I was on Fox & Friends about 8 AM talking about my NRO piece. I don't mean to suck up, but those guys really do their homework. E.D. Hill wove into the tapestry the memo first reported by ABC News' Martha Raddatz (a top-notch reporter, I've known her for 20 years) that an IAEA document shows that in January of 2003 there was just over 3 tons of RDX stored at Al Qaqaa – not the 380 tons reported by The New York Times.

Also significant: The Bill Gertz report that Russian special forces worked with Saddam's intelligence service to shred documents and remove weapons – including missile components and Chemical Weapons – to Syria.

Recall again that Gen. Michael DeLong, former Deputy Commander of the US Central Command, has said: “Two days before March 19, 2003, we saw quite a number of vehicles going into Syria. We could not go after them because we said we'd give Saddam 48 hours.”

General DeLong is among those who continue to believe that there were “WMD in Iraq before and during the war.” On what basis does he say that? “You have multiple-source intelligence,” he has noted. “Also, from other Arab leaders — as Tommy Franks says in his book — King Abdullah said Saddam has WMD. President Mubarek of Egypt said . Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. Other leaders who have chosen not to be named said the same thing. We had technical intelligence that saw the same thing. .a lot of WMD went into Syria. We've gotten indications some went into Lebanon, and probably some went into Iran.”

Another plausible scenario is raised in the Wall Street Journal's lede editorial this morning. It suggests that Saddam may have secretly – and illegally – destroyed his WMD stockpiles, while continuing to attempt to act in a way that would give the world the impression that he still had them – hoping thereby to deter the U.S. from daring to invade. But, the Journal adds: Saddam also clearly “intended to restart his weapons program the second U.N. sanctions were lifted.”



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