New Intelligence Report Does Not Replace the Need for Independent International Inspections of Suspect Iraqi Biological Weapons Trailers

May 28, 2003

On May 28, 2003, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency released a joint white paper report on the trailers recently found in Iraq, entitled “Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants.” The report states that the United States is “confident that the trailer is a mobile BW production plant.”

However, no biological weapons agents were found on the trailers. Instead, the government’s finding is based on eliminating any possible alternative explanations for the trucks, which is a controversial methodology under any circumstances. Given the high stakes for the United States to prove the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, this methodology is particularly suspect.

Because this report does not provide any conclusive evidence that these trailers are bioweapons facilities, an independent international investigation of the trailers is necessary. A logical group to perform this investigation is UNMOVIC.

There are several problems with the report. The chief findings rely heavily on intelligence gathered from a single source-an Iraqi chemical engineer who revealed this information to the United States in 2000. However, much of the US intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has turned out to be flawed, including information derived from human sources. The report lists other additional human sources as supporting this defector’s information, but close scrutiny of their information shows only weak confirmation of this original story.

The selective use or disregarding of information raises questions whether the report was written with a preferred conclusion in mind, namely to support the claims presented by the United States about mobile biological weapons facilities. In addition, the disregard of Iraq’s alternative explanations about the purpose of the trailer and lack of Iraqi corroboration of the United States conclusion of the trailers’ purpose raises additional questions about the credibility of the study’s findings.

Because the United States has such a vested interest in proving the existence of WMD in Iraq, the report’s findings cannot be trusted without independent confirmation. An examination of the trailers by a United States-selected group of international experts is unlikely to have significantly more credibility. A credible independent inspection of the trailers is critical before these trailers are indeed determined to be mobile biological warfare production plants.

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