Archive for the ‘UN INSPECTORS’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: A BRIEF GLIMPSE OF INSANITY   Leave a comment

A BRIEF GLIMPSE OF INSANITY

John Chuckman

The following transcript was mailed to me in a plain brown envelope. The anonymous sender scratched a note about it being found by a peace-demonstrator in a dumpster near CIA headquarters in Langely, Virginia. I have no way of authenticating it, although the tone is clearly plausible. The first part is irretrievably blurred, and it appears that a good deal more is missing.

ULTRA TOP SECRET
EYES ONLY: NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

(THIS IS WHERE GREASE AND WHAT SMELLS LIKE SWEET-AND-SOUR SAUCE MAKE SEVERAL PAGES UNREADABLE.)

PRESIDENT: “By the way, Condi’s happy ’bout your work at the UN.”

CIA DIRECTOR: “Thank you, Mr. President. We’re only too glad to help.”

PRESIDENT: “Condi’s gettin’ transcripts twice a day. Can’t say I’m happy ’bout
what I’m hearin’, but she says it’s good stuff we can use. She
calls ’em our bank account for defendin’ democrat values.

“Ya got every one of them goddam UN ambassadors bugged?

CIA DIRECTOR: “If I may brag a little, Mr. President, we’ve even bugged the
apartment of the French ambassador’s mistress.”

PRESIDENT: “I knew you guys’d come through for me. I was kinda pissed-off ya didn’t get more stuff tyin’ al Qaedas in with Iraq. Nobody gonna tell me
different – them bastards is as tight as two liberahs in a pay
toilet.”

(LOUD, PROLONGED LAUGHTER IS HEARD FROM BOTH PHONES.)

CIA DIRECTOR: “I’m sorry about that one, Sir, but we did try our best.”

PRESIDENT: “Well, we all know Arabs is tricky about coverin’ up their trail.
I reckon they’re somethin’ like Injuns.

“I got some other stuff here needs your help.”

CIA DIRECTOR: “Yes, Sir.”

PRESIDENT: “The Iraqs are pretendin’ to destroy them El Sandwich missiles.”

CIA DIRECTOR: “Mr. President, if I may, our best information indicates the al Samouds are being methodically destroyed.”

PRESIDENT: “Well, I guess that jus’ shows I got better information on that one
than you boyz. I know Iraq is pullin’ a fast one, an’ they ain’t gonna get
away with it!”

CIA DIRECTOR: “Yes, Sir, how can we help?”

PRESIDENT: “Well, I want ya to get right in there an’ bomb them missile sites.”

CIA DIRECTOR: “If you recall, Mr. President, our last assessment rated those missiles as not being a serious threat.”

PRESIDENT: “Damn, I know that, but we still gonna bomb ’em.”

CIA DIRECTOR: “I don’t see how we could do that, Sir, without killing a lot of
Iraqi technicians.”

PRESIDENT: “It seems as ya’ll ain’t gettin’ my drift here.”

“I don’t care ’bout their piss-ass missiles. Though we ain’t exactly
gonna say that to the press.

“It is the goddam Iraqs we wanna bomb. They’re screwin’ things up for
us bad. How can I be expected to lead a war with them out there
smashin’ up missiles? I mean this is serious, an’ ya’ll gotta get right on
it!”

CIA DIRECTOR: “But, sir, if we do that, we’ll kill the UN weapons inspectors supervising…”

PRESIDENT: “Shiiit, ain’t that jus’ collateral damage? Ya gotta take risks in
war. Hell, I learned that back durin’ Nam when I went
AWOL from the Texas National Guard on a hell of a bender.

“This here’s war, an’ it won’t bother me none.

“Anyhow, it’ll serve ’em right. What the hell they doin’ over there
interferin’ in my war? You boyz get a few dozen of ’em, an’
ol’ Blix ain’t gettin’ in our way again any time soon.”

CIA DIRECTOR: “Yes, Sir.”

PRESIDENT: “Hell, we tried getting’ ’em lost on wild goose chases with those
weapons tips of yours. It didn’t do a lick of good. They still over
there nosin’ into everything. They holdin’ up my goddam war!

“An’ the Iraqs destroyin’ missiles is makin’ me look bad. I’m
mighty puked of hearin’ from Frenchies an’ all them other whiners….

“I want ya’ll to figure out the best way of doin’ it. Maybe use them drain things of yours…”

CIA DIRECTOR: “Mr. President, you mean drones?”

PRESIDENT: “Use whatever gets the job done. Get some
suggestions from the Rummy an’ the boyz

(THE TRANSCRIPT ENDS ABRUPTLY HERE.)

JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: TWELVE RUSTED PIPES   Leave a comment

TWELVE RUSTED PIPES

John Chuckman

My head turned when I heard on the radio that a number of chemical warheads had been discovered in Iraq, the words “chemical warheads” evoking powerful suggestions and images. Shortly after first reports, one of Mr. Bush’s spokespeople termed it “significant.” Within a day, restraint was thrown to the wind, and Mr. Bush claimed the find was solid “proof” of Iraq’s refusal to cooperate with arms inspectors.

I found a picture on the Internet of the U.N. inspectors in chemical-protective suits with their discovery spread on the ground in front of them. The “chemical warheads” resembled twelve rusted, 8-inch pipes, exactly the kind of junk you could find strewn in yards piled with corroded ’49 Ford transmissions, World War II relics, winches, and bedsprings on countless rural roads across America.

The “warheads” are the remains of 122mm Katyusha-style rockets (the same type of inaccurate and relatively ineffective small rockets used sporadically against northern Israel during the bloody occupation of Lebanon) that had been designed to deliver chemical weapons.

Of course, if you’ve been conditioned by Monty Python performances like former Secretary of Defense Cohen holding up a 5-pound bag of sugar on national television and asserting its volume represented all that was necessary to wipe out a country, you might still be concerned. His presentation came around the time when the seemingly custom-minted expression “weapons of mass destruction” was introduced to blur the immense differences between chemical/biological weapons and nuclear ones.

To put the “warhead” discovery into perspective, some 20,000 such munitions were surrendered by Iraq after Desert Storm a dozen years ago. I have no idea how many artillery rounds and rockets, of 122mm and greater size, were fired by U.S. forces during that brief war, but a hundred thousand is likely a modest estimate.
The American munitions weren’t loaded with chemicals, but in their accuracy and destructive power plus the hideous aftereffects of tons of vaporized uranium left for civilians to breathe, they likely were far more lethal than the Iraqi rockets of twelve years ago could ever have been. I say this because such rockets have a very limited range and very poor accuracy. The chemicals they contain also are subject to such untoward events as sudden wind shifts blowing the stuff back onto your own troops. Moreover, any modern army is equipped to avoid contact with such material.

Even in mint condition and in the substantial numbers of pre-Desert Storm days, such rockets represent a very limited threat. Any army general would trade them all for one American W-88 thermonuclear warhead with its guaranteed ability to obliterate instantly a city or an army and render a large area uninhabitable for weeks.

But of course, these weren’t 20,000 new munitions, they were twelve rusted remnants containing nothing – threatening stuff indeed.

Iraq has experienced two furious conflicts over the last two decades. Undoubtedly, there is tons of rusted war materiel scattered over the landscape, stuff that no one has records of or cares about. And Iraqis do have other things to occupy them, things like sheer survival under America’s horrific embargo and with much of their country’s basic infrastructure still in ruins.

Whether Bush’s statements reflect careless, offhand remarks or deliberate misrepresentations, they starkly highlight why he is neither trusted nor believed by millions of thoughtful people around the world. At his level of responsibility, and with the gravest consequences of war hinging on his words, it is reprehensible of him to twist language so that rusted pipes become proof of vast destructive plots.

Not long after the pipes’ discovery, there were revelations in The Daily Telegraph and The Times (of London) that three thousand pages of documents dealing with nuclear weapons had been found in the home of an Iraqi scientist.

This information, probably leaked to re-focus public concern after the rusted-pipe caper, made attention-getting headlines, but the details proved rather pathetic reading. As it turned out, the documents concern the project for producing fissile material that the entire world knows existed before Desert Storm, a costly project that according to Mr. Scott Ritter, former chief arms inspector, was destroyed by his technicians.

It does seem that Mr. Bush is willing to grab at any flimsy argument for war, and Britain’s Mr. Blair – the leak to the British papers almost certainly coming from his government – is never far behind in making sweeping claims that he cannot support.

When I think of the situation in Iraq, I have the painful image of a huge scab that has just barely closed over a terrible, bloody wound. Mr. Bush keeps telling us that rather than let the doctors keep the wound under examination, he wants to rip away the massive scab and slash still more deeply into the remaining flesh to make sure there is no infection.

Well, I have about the same trust in Mr. Bush as surgeon as I do as statesman. Let Mr. Blix’s experts carry on with inspections, and let the man who sniggered at souls waiting on death row keep his mouth closed until the full evidence is in.