How Accurate is Your Memory on Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction?



By Patricia L Johnson

“The repetition of tentative news stories, even if they are subsequently disconfirmed, can assist in the creation of false memories in a substantial proportion of people.”

The above is a quote taken from the Psychological Science research study of March 2005 [1]Memory for Fact, Fiction, and Misinformation” Vol. 16, No. 3.

The study also determined “Once information is published, its subsequent correction does not alter people’s beliefs unless they are suspicious about the motives underlying the events the news stories are about.”

This study confirmed what the majority of US voters have hopefully been able to determine on their own which is the more we hear something on the news, the more likely we are to believe the statement is true, whether what we are hearing is fact or fiction.

Such is the case with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  Over and over again the public was advised by President Bush and V.P. Cheney that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could be used against the United States and the only way to eliminate the threat was for the U.S. to destroy the WMD’s.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released their bipartisan report titled POSTWAR FINDINGS ABOUT IRAQ’S WMD PROGRAMS AND LINKS TO TERRORISM AND HOW THEY COMPARE WITH PREPWAR ASSESSMENTS” on September 8, 2006.

This report was prepared by the 109th Congress, when Republicans held the majority in both the House and the Senate.

The SSCI committee members consisted of the following (8) Republicans – Pat Roberts, Chairman, Orrin Hatch, Mike DeWine, Christopher Bond, Trent Lott, Olympia Snowe, Chuck Hagel and Chambliss Saxby and  (7) Democrats – John Rockefeller, Vice Chairman, Carl Levin, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, Evan Bayh, Barbara Mikulski and Russ Feingold, along with three ex offico’s; Bill Frist, Harry Reid, and John Warner.  Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, as well as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee serve as ex officio SSCI members.

The report listed the following conclusions on Iraq WMD’s:

Conclusion 1:  Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.  Information obtained after the war supports the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research’s (INR) assessment in the NIE that the Intelligence Community lacked persuasive evidence that Baghdad had launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program.

Conclusion 2:  Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq’s acquisition of high-strength aluminum tubes was intended for an Iraqi nuclear program.  The findings do support the asssessments in the NIE of the Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) that the aluminum tubes were likely intended for a conventional rocket program.

Conclusion 3:  Postwar findings to not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq was “vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake” from Africa.  Postwar findings support the assessment in the NIE of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) that claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are “highly dubious.”

Conclusion 4:  Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that “Iraq has biological weapons” and that “all key aspects of Iraq’s offensive biological weapons (BW) program are larger and more advanced than before the Gulf war.”

Conclusion 5:  Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq possessed, or ever developed, mobile facilities for producing biological warfare (BW) agents.

Conclusion 6:  Concerns existed within the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIUA) Directorate of Operations (DO) prior to the war about the credibility of the mobile biological weapons program source code-named CURVE BALL.  The concerns were based, in part, on doubts raised by the foreign intelligence service that handled CURVE BALL and a third service.  The Committee has no information that these concerns were conveyed to policymakers, including members of the U.S. Congress, prior to the war.  The Committee is continuing to investigate issues regarding prewar concerns about CURVE BALL’S credibility.

Conclusion 7:  Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessments that Iraq “has chemical weapons” or “is expanding its chemical industry to support chemical weapons (CW) production.”

Conclusion 8:  Postwar findings support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq had missiles which exceeded United Nation (UN) range limits.  The findings do not support the assessment that Iraq likely retained a covert force of SCUD variant short range ballistic missiles (SRBMs).

Conclusion 9:  Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessments that Iraq had a developmental program for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) “probably intended to deliver biological agents” or that an effort to procure U.S. mapping software “strongly suggests that Iraq is investing the use of these UAV’s for missions targeting the United States.”  Postwar findings support the view of the Air Force, joined by DIA and the Army, in an NIE published in January 2003 that Iraq’s UAV’s were primarily intended for reconnaissance.

Information on threats to the United States is now provided to our leaders by one or more of the following agencies within the Intelligence Community:

  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • National Security Agency (NSA)
  • Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
  • National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)

In addition, the DOS, DOD, DOJ, FBI, DEA, DHS, DOT, DOE and all branches of the military contribute information on intelligence.

The rush to judgment on Iraq has cost this country dearly.  Thousands of U.S. troops lost their lives fighting in Iraq [4,423], while tens of thousands were wounded [31,942].  Spouses and children were left to fend on their own while our troops went charging off into the sunset to attack a country that we had no business being in, much less attacking.   Billions of dollars [$616 billion through June of 2008] of our tax dollars have been spent on military actions in Iraq that could and should have been spent in this country updating our crumbling infrastructure.

CRS prepared a report in June of 2008 indicating current year costs (constant dollars would be obviously considerably higher) on the following:


A cursory review will indicate that as of June 2008 we had already spent in Iraq, more than what the other five conflicts cost combined.

Many other countries around the world assisted us in our fight against WMD’s and hundreds of their troops were killed and/or wounded as well.  If you add the hundreds of thousands of civilians that were killed and/or maimed in Iraq and the losses that country took at our hands, the numbers are astronomical.

Was it worth it?

© 2014 Patricia L Johnson


Patricia Johnson

Patricia Johnson

Patricia L Johnson is a former special assignment writer/photographer and co-owner of the Articles and Answers News and Information sites.
Patricia Johnson
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2 Responses to How Accurate is Your Memory on Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction?

  1. Steve KovacsSteve Kovacs says:

    Hi Pat, Nice compilation of facts. What strikes me though is that everyone one of your points cited started off as “postwar findings show”. The cliche, “Hindsight is 20-20” has stood the test of time for ages because it is true. Going back and visiting issues in an antiseptic way with no fear, panic or hurried possibilities is great and much can be gleaned but not always possible. Does a leader chance not moving ahead when so many are whispering in his ear or other evidence seems to show or other intelligence agencies are saying that the country that hates us, hates you personally (Bush) may have WMD’s and may use them against you.

    War sucks and every other possibility should be tried before we commit. Since the dawn of time men have marched into war, quite often for terrible reasons. Let us learn by Iraq and other wars we have been a part of. My fear is that we have not learned much from them–but I have hope that every day that goes by we will learn and understand more from our past.

  2. It wasn’t really until after we went into Iraq that it was determined we missed the boat on the WMD’s and there’s no telling how long that took. Had the Iraqi’s surrendered the minute we wandered onto their turf, as the administration expected they would do, then it wouldn’t have taken so long. As it stands the fighting continued and you really cannot do too much checking for WMD’s when the bullets are flying. I’m not sure how long it took before the smoke cleared and it was actually considered ‘safe’ enough to check for WMD’s, but I imagine it was awhile. The investigation covered so many agencies and so many people that it’s a wonder they even completed it when they did.

    The problem with Iraq is it never was about WMD’s. In April of 2002 Saddam Hussein suspended Iraqi oil exports to us for a period of one month. At the time we were importing 795,000,000 barrels per day from Iraq. Over the next several months other issues also affected our oil supplies (labor strikes in Venezuela and a policy change on DOE deliveries to Strategic Petroleum Reserves) creating a shortage of crude. Saddam Hussein’s refusal to renew U.S. oil contracts in December of 2002, along with his promise to France and China to develop Iraqi oil fields put the target on Hussein’s back and the rest is history.

    There are no winners in a war and it should always be the very last resort, not the first and only time will tell whether or not we’ve learned from our mistakes.

    Thank you for the read and your comments Steve,

    Have a good day,


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