For all the abuse President George W. Bush took for not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it turns out there were plenty of chemical weapons uncovered.
According to The New York Times, U.S. forces found “roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs” in Iraq between 2004 and 2011, but the Pentagon withheld the information from the public.
Many of the munitions were from as far back as the 1980s when the Iran-Iraq war was in full swing, which did not support the rationale that Saddam Hussein had an active weapons of mass destruction program, The Times reported.
Even more disconcerting, The Times said that many of these weapons were “designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies.”
In addition, 17 U.S. troops and seven Iraqi police officers were wounded by exposure to nerve or mustard agents while handling and/or destroying these weapons.
The Times reported:
Jarrod L. Taylor, a former Army sergeant on hand for the destruction of mustard shells that burned two soldiers in his infantry company, joked of “wounds that never happened” from “that stuff that didn’t exist.” The public, he said, was misled for a decade. “I love it when I hear, ‘Oh there weren’t any chemical weapons in Iraq,’ ” he said. “There were plenty.”
The cumbersome process of dealing with the weapons also led to finds not being reported. Chemical warfare specialists, known as a technical escort unit, had to be summoned and that could take hours.
“I could wait all day for tech escort to show up and make a chem round disappear, or I could just make it disappear myself,” a tech told The Times.
The Times reported the Pentagon continued to keep the information secret over the years, even from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and that some soldiers exposed to the chemical weapons were denied treatment after returning home.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, a Fox News strategic analyst, called the story a “political stunt.”
Peters questioned the timing of the story, saying it was released just before the November election to divert attention away from President Obama’s “countless screwups.” He attributed much of the story to bureaucratic clumsiness, saying there is “no vast right wing conspiracy.”
Watch his appearance on “America’s Newsroom” here:
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