Newsweek (3/3/03) on Iraqi defector Hussein Kamel's 1995 testimony to UNSCOM that Iraq had already destroyed its weapons of mass destruction (2/27/03):
Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect from Saddam Hussein's inner circle, told CIA and British intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors in the summer of 1995 that after the gulf war, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them. . . .
Kamel's revelations about the destruction of Iraq's WMD stocks were hushed up by the U.N. inspectors, sources say, for two reasons. Saddam did not know how much Kamel had revealed, and the inspectors hoped to bluff Saddam into disclosing still more. And Iraq has never shown the documentation to support Kamel's story. Still, the defector's tale raises questions about whether the WMD stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist.
See also FAIR's 2/27/03 presentation of this story:
Kamel is no obscure defector. A son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, his departure from Iraq carrying crates of secret documents on Iraq's past weapons programs was a major turning point in the inspections saga. In 1999, in a letter to the U.N. Security Council (1/25/99), UNSCOM reported that its entire eight years of disarmament work "must be divided into two parts, separated by the events following the departure from Iraq, in August 1995, of Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel."
Kamel's defection has been cited repeatedly by George W. Bush and leading administration officials as evidence that 1) Iraq has not disarmed; 2) inspections cannot disarm it; and 3) defectors such as Kamel are the most reliable source of information on Iraq's weapons. . . .
But according to Kamel's transcript, Iraq destroyed all of these weapons in 1991.
According to Newsweek, Kamel told the same story to CIA analysts in August 1995. If that is true, all of these U.S. officials have had access to Kamel's statements that the weapons were destroyed. Their repeated citations of his testimony-- without revealing that he also said the weapons no longer exist-- suggests that the administration might be withholding critical evidence. In particular, it casts doubt on the credibility of Powell's February 5 presentation to the U.N., which was widely hailed at the time for its persuasiveness. To clear up the issue, journalists might ask the CIA to release the transcripts of its own conversations with Kamel.
Kamel's disclosures have also been crucial to the arguments made by hawkish commentators on Iraq. The defector has been cited four times on the New York Times op-ed page in the last four months in support of claims about Iraq's weapons programs-- never noting his assertions about the elimination of these weapons. In a major Times op-ed calling for war against Iraq (2/21/03), Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution wrote that Kamel and other defectors "reported that outside pressure had not only failed to eradicate the nuclear program, it was bigger and more cleverly spread out and concealed than anyone had imagined it to be." The release of Kamel's transcript makes this claim appear grossly at odds with the defector's actual testimony.
The Kamel story is a bombshell that necessitates a thorough reevaluation of U.S. media reporting on Iraq, much of which has taken for granted that the nation retains supplies of prohibited weapons.