So basically, we *all* got conned.
Sad thing is, I called this months ago, but darned if I can find anywhere that I actually wrote that down beyond a vague recollection that I mentioned it to my friend Wedge. In other words, I’ve got no proof.
What am I talking about? That Iraqi scientists were conning Saddam into bankrolling weapons programs that didn’t actually exist.
“After the onset of this “dark ages,” Dr. Kay said, Iraqi scientists realized they could go directly to Mr. Hussein and present fanciful plans for weapons programs, and receive approval and large amounts of money. Whatever was left of an effective weapons capability, he said, was largely subsumed into corrupt money-raising schemes by scientists skilled in the arts of lying and surviving in a fevered police state.
“‘The whole thing shifted from directed programs to a corrupted process,’ Dr. Kay said. ‘The regime was no longer in control; it was like a death spiral. Saddam was self-directing projects that were not vetted by anyone else. The scientists were able to fake programs.’
So how does a non-existent weapons of mass-destruction program look like one? Well, you have to have props if Saddam ever comes to visit. In other words, Saddam’s scientists set up what amounted to Potemkin villages. On top of that, there was evidence that the Iraqis continued research and development “right up until the end” to improve their ability to produce ricin. “They were mostly researching better methods for weaponization,” Dr. Kay said. “They were maintaining an infrastructure, but they didn’t have large-scale production under way.”
In other words, the CIA blew it. But the reasons they blew it may turn out to be less their fault, and more the fault of a corrupt scientific establishment that knew that they could get money from Saddam if they said that their program was going to develop wonder weapons. It’s a familiar story from post-1943 World War II Germany, now played out under the Arabian skies.
Moment of Zen