Tuesday, August 22, 2006


am not sure if i already front paged this - but emptywheel's latest on the mobile weapons lab story is out. the key message is that the egadministration essentially forward-dated their report so that they could continue to lie, and get the codpiece-in-chief to say 'we found wmd' - even though it had already been debunked.

Emptywheel's new piece is v v good, my only comment would be is that it does well and truly state the obvious, that Bushmin wanted it their way no matter where the real truth lay. What I don't get is how they thought that the early floating of the white paper would help put the matter to rest once-and-for-all.

There were Brits who were first-on-the-scene, and their findings got reported back to London and to Dr Kelly. It is fairly obvious that Judy was talking to him prior to June 7 ("I have no great confidence that it's a fermenter.."). I think this does allow Judy some credibility as she was accurately reporting the only dissent she was hearing.

Another point I would like to make is that there has been an assumption that the bogus labs would have been used to produce anthrax. This is a piss poor explanation of their purpose, even if they were real, Saddam could not have failed to have known that the US/UK forces who were likely to have faced him were full equipped, both by innoculation and with full NBC individual personal equipment, so as to counter the threat. Besides which anthrax is pretty unsuitable as a battlefield weapon in a defensive situation as it contaminates the defending side's land for generations to come. It's a shot-in-the-foot, esp. considering the other side has already had a shot-in-the-arm.

(I do think that Bushmin rely on the stupidity of the general public when it comes to NBC matters, and then turn to compliant journalists to do their dirty work for them. Either that or they are terminally stupid themselves for believing their own hype.)
i agree with simon that it does 'state the obvious' - but we also need to consider it in context. there was a LOT going on at this time, and EW has demonstrated just one of the tricks that was used. these people were very desperate and were fire-hosing one story after another - rather than looking for a 'once-and-for-all' solution. it appears that they were trying to run clean-up operations hither and tither - with each new lie just trying to buy a few more weeks.

re: "there has been an assumption that the bogus labs would have been used to produce anthrax." - i agree - the whole story is bogus. as i documented here, the whole 'mobile' thing appears to be a complete scare-story. the fixation on mobility is absurd (for one reason or other)

i've emailed Milton Leitenberg for his thoughts on my specific concerns - specifically these. he has just arrived home from a holiday to a full-ish email box - but says that he will reply in a few days and that "in a few days there will be a short "Part 3""

my email to him was as follows:
Hi Milton - I've been following your latest few posts online re Curveball and the mobile labs. Thanks for that.

I'm just a curious observer / blogger in this affair - but I wrote a series of posts back in May that might be of interest to you - starting here. (and with an update here yesterday)

There's one particular element that you didn't mention in your latest few posts - and perhaps you are unaware of the fact - there's another secret lab (in your White Paper you refer to the possibility that there's another program). From the final 2 paragraphs in Washington Post on July 3, 03:

Col. Bill Darley, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, said that Hatfill also designed a fixed or "static" nonfunctional bioweapons lab for use in training Special Forces in an unspecified location in the western United States.

Darley said he could not discuss details of how these labs have been used in training. The programs, he said, are at the heart of the "dark tactics, techniques and procedures" used to prepare troops for missions abroad.

We don't appear to have any knowledge of when this lab was built - and it may very well have predated the SAIC 'can.'

I also have a couple of questions, if you don't mind.

In your White Paper, you mention the Patrick/Hatfill collaboration/'novel design' - I'm somewhat surprised that these labs would be 'complete but not plugged in' - given:
a) the task at hand (Special Forces identifying and securing a possible lab), and
b) that there are any number of possible configurations for these labs. It would appear to me that the Special Forces would need training in all of the generic possibilities, rather than being exactly familiar with one possible 'novel' configuration.

Going further, I can't imagine any particular need to even develop a mobile lab at all, other than describing the possibile configuration of any lab (fixed or mobile) - with the added necessary stipulations for a mobile lab (e.g. 'must have good suspension' or some such.) Or possibly I'm being too simplistic.

Do you have any thoughts on that issue?

Secondly, the Washington Post article quoted above describes the Pentagon's desperation to put Hatfill back on the program (notwithstanding his recent firing and the revocation of his security clearance.) Is there any reason that they'd need a particular expert (given that the scenario that I described above appears to call for generic identification and securing of any presumed labs)?

One final thing, in your White Paper you refer to a July 2, 03 NYT article. I'll just point out that the article was written by Judy Miller (et al) and it might be relevant to consider that as we read the text. I have some suspicion that the NYT article may have been to pre-empt the WaPo article the following day. In that light, there are a few issues that can be conceivably read as misdirection in the NYT piece.
the plot thickens.


emptywheel said...

Re: Stating the obvious.

Yes, it does. But I really believe BushCo believed its date jujitsu gave it some kind of legal basis to make the claim it did. I'm not positive, but I think they did something similar with the Niger claim in SOTU. NIC told them Niger was baseless. So they got an updated version of the NIE (effectively backdating the NIE) and they made the claim anyway.

Two more things I wanted to mention that didn't make it into my post. First, from reviewing this, Judy appears to mention 3 teams:

Team Charlie
Unnamed team

There's basically a second team we know nothing about (or do YOU know anything about it, Simon). But that team basically agreed wholeheartedly with Team Charlie (which didn't appear to have any BW experts).

Also, the White Paper mentions some employees of the "fermenter" plant. I didn't include that detail because I want to take hte time to cross-check it with ISG (to see if this was considered credible evidence by Kay et al). I mention those employees because they seem to say exactly what BushCo would want them to.

Simon said...


Re: Stating the obvious.

I didn't mean that as a criticism in any way, your work is absolutely spot-on, Bushmin quite clearly pushed the envelope as far as it would go in order to be out there first with THEIR version of THEIR truth. I can't really see that it did give them any great legal basis for what they had done, being as the tumbling wreckage of their gravest misadventure still continues to come hammering down to earth around their ears. All it served to do was to further blind the already blind and buy them some more time before the eventual truth came out.

About the second team, all I know, as you are bound to know, is that it is Judy who said they were sent by the Pentagon. Who they were and what they saw and did still remains a mystery.

(Don't forget there were Brits with the first team, Team Charlie. They would have reported to their own higher authority, who would have in turn referred the detail to Dr Kelly.)

(About who said what, all I can say is that a couple of hundred bucks and your relative freedom over there can be like a million and your very own private tropical retreat somewhere else.)

lukery said...

thnx guys. great contributions again.

I wonder if there were any Hatfill-trained folks in either Team Charlie or in the TeamWithNoName.