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Sarin Gas in Iraq...
May 17, 2004 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Sarin gas bomb used in Iraq... Could this be the beginning of chemical warfare by the insurgents? Sarin is a particularly nasty one too that has been previously used by terrorists. Did the CIA actually call it correctly?
posted by darian (63 comments total)

 
Well, this attack demonstrates perfectly why conflating battlefield weapons like mustard gas or Sarin and barely-weaponizable-at-all ricin with nuclear weapons and contagious biological weapons under the heading of "Weapons of Mass Destruction" is misleading.

This attack managed to kill nobody.

Yes, Sarin is nasty stuff, but commonly available fertilizer bombs have proven to be far better at dealing death and destruction in Iraq.

Especially without the sophisticated weapons systems needed to deliver and disperse it, whatever stocks of Sarin Iraq may have do not constitute a threat to the United States so extraordinary as to justify war.
posted by bradhill at 9:04 AM on May 17, 2004


Ooooh boy, this thread is going to be fun.

Taste the cognitive dissonance...
posted by jammer at 9:06 AM on May 17, 2004


So they found one shell with sarin. Well, I guess it was all worthwhile then, wasn't it?
posted by pmurray63 at 9:07 AM on May 17, 2004


For what it's worth, David Kay was on NBC saying this was an old shell from before 91 and not, ahem, germane to the WMD that Saddam was supposed to have produced after 95.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:09 AM on May 17, 2004


Aum Shinrikyo had sarin - I guess we should've bombed Japan.

Again.
posted by stonerose at 9:09 AM on May 17, 2004


So now the rationale will switch back to WsMD, I take it?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:15 AM on May 17, 2004


For what it's worth, David Kay was on NBC saying this was an old shell from before 91 and not, ahem, germane to the WMD that Saddam was supposed to have produced after 95.
Doesn't sarin have a very short shelf life?
posted by darukaru at 9:24 AM on May 17, 2004


Did that one bomb contain the "500 tons of sarin" Bush cited as a reason for the war?

Gregg Easterbrook's The Smart Way to Be Scared has some perspective on a sarin attack:
The 1995 release of the nerve gas sarin in the Tokyo subways by the Aum Shinrikyo sect killed 12 people, fewer than a small, standard bomb might have killed in that crowded, enclosed area...A terrorist release of chemical weapons in an American city would probably have effects confined to a few blocks, making any one person's odds of harm far less than a million to one.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:25 AM on May 17, 2004


I'm surprised nobody's mentioned that the head of the Iraqi Governing Council was killed in a suicide attack today.

Doh.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:28 AM on May 17, 2004


One shell is not a smoking gun.

That being said, it does tend to lend credence to the argument that Iraq did not destroy all of its WMDs. Those that were not destroyed went somewhere. Syria, Pakistan, or perhaps into the hands of Al Qaeda or other such organizations.
posted by DWRoelands at 9:31 AM on May 17, 2004


I notice that no one can directly link these shells to Hussein as opposed to 'assumed to be destroyed but actually stolen by others'.
posted by mischief at 9:33 AM on May 17, 2004


From the BBC:
However, a senior coalition source has told the BBC the round does not signal the discovery of weapons of mass destruction or the escalation of insurgent activity.

He said the round dated back to the Iran-Iraq war and coalition officials were not sure whether the fighters even knew what it contained.
posted by talos at 9:36 AM on May 17, 2004


The 155 howitzer can launch high capacity shells over several miles; current models used by the United States can fire shells as far as 14 miles

First, 14 miles isn't a threat to the US at all. Second, I doubt Saddam had access to current models used by the United States. Who's to say this was even Saddam's anyway?

Antidotes to nerve gases similar to sarin are so effective that top poison gas researchers predict they eventually will cease to be a war threat.

I love how they put this blurb at the end, they hope you'll have stopped reading by then.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 9:40 AM on May 17, 2004


"paging Mr. Dark, Mr. Dark...please kick the shit outta this thread, Thank you"

Doesn't sarin have a very short shelf life?

I do not know...lets try google shall we?

"Iraq adopted the "binary" method of weaponization for sarin as well, in which the components of sarin gas are stored separately until use, when they are mixed.

The components of sarin are DF 2 and the alcohols cyclohexanol and isoproponal. Since Iraq manufactured DF 2 with a purity of 95 percent and imported alcohols of 100 percent purity, experts state that the detonation of its munitions could be expected to yield relatively pure sarin.

Iraq first told UNSCOM that it had produced an estimated 250 tons of tabun and 812 tons of sarin. In 1995, however, Iraq changed these estimates and stated that it had produced only 210 tons of tabun and 790 tons of sarin. For this reason, it is still uncertain how much tabun and sarin Iraq actually manufactured."
posted by clavdivs at 9:41 AM on May 17, 2004


[Gen. Mark Kimmet] said he believed that insurgents who rigged the artillery shell as a bomb didn't know it contained the nerve agent, and that the dispersal of the nerve agent from such a rigged device was very limited.

seems like a trace-material type of thing, though still unsettling.

i'll second Civil_Disobedient. i was really surprised this morning to see how much coverage the Sarin story got over the murder of Izzadine Saleem. it seems to be shifting now back to Saleem ...
posted by mrgrimm at 9:51 AM on May 17, 2004


Doesn't sarin have a very short shelf life?
The two components that actually create sarin (clavdivs mentioned them) are mixed after the detonation, so I guess the grenades are relatively durable as long as the container stays intact.
posted by tcp at 9:54 AM on May 17, 2004


Doesn't anybody find it odd that nobody seems to have noticed that this story originates with Fox News? I mean, doesn't it seem at all interesting that this is the same Fox News that gets talking points deliver to them from the White House on a daily basis? I don't mean to suggest that it isn't true, its just that it is so opportune. I mean wouldn't it be wonderful for our beloved leaders if the much longed for WMDs were discovered at this critical point in the campaign - that's military of course, not election - and we could just forget about all those naked Iraqi prisoners and other unpleasant stuff?
posted by donfactor at 9:59 AM on May 17, 2004


Thought 1:

Is anybody else picturing the shell-detonating insurgents sitting around their remote control going, "What the fuck? Baathist piece of shit didn't even blow up right!"

Thought 2:

Illiterate Iraqi hothead shows up Hans Blix, David Kay, offered position with CPA. Film at 11.
posted by Ptrin at 10:04 AM on May 17, 2004


Doesn't anybody find it odd that nobody seems to have noticed that this story originates with Fox News? I mean, doesn't it seem at all interesting that this is the same Fox News that gets talking points deliver to them from the White House on a daily basis? I don't mean to suggest that it isn't true, its just that it is so opportune.

from the article...

It also appears some top Pentagon officials were taken by surprise by Kimmitt's announcement of the sarin discovery; they thought the matter was classified, administration officials told Fox News.

I wonder why it was classified? I guess they were saving it for later.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:05 AM on May 17, 2004


Look at every major newspaper right now and compare to Fox. Every headline is "Head of Iraqi Governing Council Killed in Iraq".

Fox: "Chemical Weapons Found"

Considering how many times Fox has posted the "WMD Found" only to retract it, I wouldn't doubt if this was just another instance of misdirection.
posted by destro at 10:06 AM on May 17, 2004


"Omg, it's a sarin shell!" Noob.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:11 AM on May 17, 2004


You're right destro. That's nuts. Actually CNN.com is also leading with the sarin story, but with the somewhat less inflammatory headline: "Artillery round in Iraq emits sarin gas, U.S. military says".
posted by JeffK at 10:46 AM on May 17, 2004


We live in the age of lies
posted by Outlawyr at 10:48 AM on May 17, 2004


mefi/33145: Winner, most inflammatory and likely to be disproven by the time you're reading this comment post of the day.
posted by VulcanMike at 10:57 AM on May 17, 2004


Ah yes. : Lies

Americans Continue to believe Iraq supported Al Qaeda, had WMD's

"Study Finds Widespread Misperceptions on Iraq
Highly Related to Support for War. Misperceptions Vary Widely Depending on News Source

Fox Viewers More Likely to Misperceive"

Press report

Study

"For release: 12 Noon, October 2, 2003 Contact: Steven Kull 202-232-7500

College Park, MD: A new study based on a series of seven nationwide polls conducted from January through September of this year reveals that before and after the Iraq war, a majority of Americans have had significant misperceptions and these are highly related to support for the war with Iraq. The polling, conducted by the Program on International Policy (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks, also reveals that the frequency of these misperceptions varies significantly according to individuals’ primary source of news. Those who primarily watch Fox News are significantly more likely to have misperceptions, while those who primarily listen to NPR or watch PBS are significantly less likely.

An in-depth analysis of a series of polls conducted June through September found 48% incorrectly believed that evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda have been found, 22% that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and 25% that world public opinion favored the US going to war with Iraq. Overall 60% had at least one of these three misperceptions. Such misperceptions are highly related to support for the war. Among those with none of the misperceptions listed above, only 23% support the war. Among those with one of these misperceptions, 53% support the war, rising to 78% for those who have two of the misperceptions, and to 86% for those with all 3 misperceptions. Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, “While we cannot assert that these misperceptions created the support for going to war with Iraq, it does appear likely that support for the war would be substantially lower if fewer members of the public had these misperceptions.”"
posted by troutfishing at 11:02 AM on May 17, 2004






Pop Quiz - Which is the general consensus of most experts on Iraq, Al Qaeda, and terrorism:

1) Either Iraq or Saddam Hussein were directly involved in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks or gave substantial support to Al Qaeda.

2) Very little evidence exists to support the preceeding claims.

posted by troutfishing at 11:40 AM on May 17, 2004



posted by troutfishing at 11:46 AM on May 17, 2004


In addition, of course, this has not been confirmed. With only a field test to go on it is still to early to say sarin was there at all... stay tuned
posted by edgeways at 11:46 AM on May 17, 2004


"Anybody who wants to harm American troops will be found and brought to justice. There are some that feel like if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they are talking about if that is the case. Let me finish. There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on."

- George W. Bush. 07/02/03
Message Recieved.
posted by Perigee at 12:09 PM on May 17, 2004


Man, I actually had an office pool bet that the U.S. would have planted something like this months ago.

I mean they had those anthrax envelopes in the mail weeks after 9/11

Bush is slipping.
posted by Peter H at 1:52 PM on May 17, 2004


Peter H - This is very, very minor.
posted by troutfishing at 2:10 PM on May 17, 2004


Is the Sarin Claim Bogus?

"Shorter version: this device, an Iraqi binary weapon, probably didn't have sarin in it at all, and the alerts were to cyclohexanol. Why?

1. bc the insurgent deployed the weapon as an HE round, thereby showing he didn't know what it was.

2. bc Iraqi binary weapons require the use to POUR IN THE SECOND INGREDIENT BY HAND AT THE LAST MINUTE.

Therefore, if there had been sarin, that would have required a level of care belied by the device's use, according to Gen. Kimmett. And if the shell was deployed as if it were an HE round, no sarin could have been present. Another false positive. Stratfor's coverage not only missed this, it also missed simple facts in the Kimmett account! "

http://www.agonist.org/archives/015755.html#015755
posted by johnny vagabond at 3:22 PM on May 17, 2004


troutfishing - ha, you think i don't know that?

CIA in ski masks and shitty handicam recordings is the new planted weapon of masked distraction.
posted by Peter H at 3:23 PM on May 17, 2004


Seems that, so far, what we have is *two* shells, one containing something that, on preliminary examination, *looks* like sarin (I've only seen field test results, which also went off when the Marines found a bunch of insecticide), and one with mustard gas - and there's nothing much to indicate that these shells even belonged to Hussein's Iraq in the first place. I notice that hasn't stopped the expected flood of 'all the liberals were wrong' that I've seen around and about today.

Oh, and Fox News has recently changed their headline from "WMDs found in Iraq' to 'Chemical Agents found in Iraq'. Seems they're not sure either.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 3:26 PM on May 17, 2004


Peter H - Not that. The scale of the distraction.
posted by troutfishing at 3:28 PM on May 17, 2004


Damn. Anyone have the latest mass casualty figures from this terrible weapon of mass destruction incident....information now seems so very scanty after that first breathless Fox News report. Must be chaos over there....

I just hope it doesn't rank up there with the civilian body count from America's invasion and occupation of Iraq. That would be awful. Or hell, let's really hope it doesn't skyrocket into the number of Kurds and Iranians killed with chemical agents and the assistance of the United States.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:31 PM on May 17, 2004


You know, I have some ammonia and bleach in my kitchen too. I hope the DoD doesn't find out.
posted by moonbiter at 3:32 PM on May 17, 2004


Peter H - Or, to put if differently :

To those accustomed to thinking and planning on a global scale, we are as ants.
posted by troutfishing at 3:33 PM on May 17, 2004


moonbiter - I guess I'm a terrorist too.

When my dog started pissing in the bathroom, sometimes I would use bleach to clean up the piss, well....

The bleach interacted with the ammonia.

So, I terrorized myself!

Can I declare a "war on terror" against myself, the bleach, the dog piss, and the dog?
posted by troutfishing at 3:38 PM on May 17, 2004


To those accustomed to thinking and planning on a global scale, we are as ants.

Ah, gotcha. Thank you. Yes. I could buy that.

There's a parable about the pig and the ant. If a pig tries to eat an ant, the ant can crawl into a pig's nose and bite it (and live off the pig?), it goes somehow. Can't remember the point but I think it was something about not accepting your value through scale, or some hooey. Anyway...

On the ants scale: One bit of fun conspiratorial gossip I've heard is the reason WMD werent found immediately is because of some assumed civil war between the government and the military and the CIA. And that it got botched by Generals who arent any more comfortable with the Halliburton global takeover than we are. Obviously, for other reasons (the sake of their own power, that is) but it's a funny conspiracy to consider.

For someone born after Kennedy and during Vietnam (b.1974) it's fun to see Government return to its fabled roots. But it also very depressing, despite the entertainment.
posted by Peter H at 3:43 PM on May 17, 2004


To the credit of MeFi's small contingent of warbangers, I have noted none of them have come here to equating a couple of chem shells to a massive and ongoing WMD program.

Sadly, not every hawk is so intelligent.
posted by moonbiter at 3:51 PM on May 17, 2004


moonbiter, found this while back, see date, which was a highly ranked internet page by visitys that day. Ignored it because, if this was a full true story there would have been more info on it, everywhere.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:33 PM on May 17, 2004


this device, an Iraqi binary weapon, probably didn't have sarin in it at all, and the alerts were to cyclohexanol. Why?
My brother said they had false chemical alerts constantly during the first several months of the war. Why he left his chemical suit on during most of that time; safer than sorry was how he viewed it uncomfortably dressed.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:39 PM on May 17, 2004


Can I declare a "war on terror" against myself, the bleach, the dog piss, and the dog?

no, call yourself an Ill-trained pet owner for not cleaning up the piss first with a clean paper towel. What kind of analogy is that, does it serve a purpose, are you posing? Do you not believe a Sarin shell was found, I mean lets use foldys stupid, rarely followed up little gem about casualty reports from this incident, like it down plays the event because wide-scale carnage did not occur. (that
shell, if functional and fired from artillery could produce 3-5,000 casualties given the "right conditions"). But we have foldy saying the U.S. sold him the stuff so we are responsible as is the car dealer how sells a car to someone who kills and or is killed in or by said car. Wow, the logic.

...and moonbiter, afraid Mr.Klean is going to send him to supermaxshine prison for possession of cleaning products. His joke is fetid as he has no intent other then to scoff, scoff at what? Then he calls people 'warbangers', what is that, more humour? Give you some foresight moonshine, just wait till after june 30th, then you will see the real "warmongers" pop out, maybe not, but i cannot wait till we can give Iraq back to "the people". Jeebus, the governing councils attrition rate is like 20% no? Then some of you genius' wonder about "no plan". The insurgents ARE DISRUPTING THEM. Publish a list of potential leaders and that will turn into a death list for these insurgents to use for, Oh say, future reference?

excuse me, the rotating governing council.

now i'm going to watch Colonial House and complain of the various metal poisoning these people may be exposed too.
posted by clavdivs at 4:56 PM on May 17, 2004


Do you not believe a Sarin shell was found [?]

Ebay has proven there's one of anything out to the right buyer
posted by Peter H at 5:00 PM on May 17, 2004


But we have foldy saying the U.S. sold him the stuff so we are responsible as is the car dealer how sells a car to someone who kills and or is killed in or by said car. Wow, the logic.

ah ... but the car dealer would never insist he did not sell the car would he?

or would he break into the guys house and tear it up screaming "WHERE'S THE CAR WHERE'S THE CAR" - and insist the car is a weapon and not claim knowledge of the car?

nope.
posted by Peter H at 5:03 PM on May 17, 2004


possession of cleaning products. His joke is fetid

ha, i'm sorry but your use (mis-use?) of the word fetid actually makes for a pretty good pun!
posted by Peter H at 5:07 PM on May 17, 2004


thomcatspike: Ignored it because, if this was a full true story there would have been more info on it, everywhere.

I agree, it would be everywhere. Furthermore, if the story you link to was true it would be something for the hawks to crow about. [Of course, I think that the war a dumb thing to do for strategic and geopolitical reasons, so it wouldn't make a difference in my opinion anyway.]

But making a big deal about finding a handful of chem shells like some folks are is pretty pathetic. It is historical fact that Iraq possessed, at one time, chemical shells. No one denies this. That there might be a few still around is only to be expected -- try asking the Pentagon to account for every item supposedly in their inventory. To point to something like this as justification for the war just shows a lack of clear thinking.

clavdivs: Then he calls people 'warbangers', what is that, more humour?

It's my own shorthand name for "those that bang the drums of [this] war." Not really humorous, but then I am not a professional comedian either.

just wait till after june 30th, then you will see the real "warmongers" pop out, maybe not, but i cannot wait till we can give Iraq back to "the people".

Me too. "The people" should be the ones to choose their own fate. We have more important things to do, like ensure our own domestic security from the real threats that we face.
posted by moonbiter at 5:27 PM on May 17, 2004


or would he break into the guys house and tear it up screaming "WHERE'S THE CAR WHERE'S THE CAR" - and insist the car is a weapon and not claim knowledge of the car?

naw, that is what the repo man is for. Besides, the car dealer would say: "hey you bought it, your responsible.
posted by clavdivs at 7:15 PM on May 17, 2004


see how foldy is outraged, see him point fingers at the U.S. and no one else. See how he distorts and bends.
His graps of histories horror shows make him white with ribald chuckles and blanched remarks, attacking anything that seems warlike. Never does he posit a solution, he justs mouths chuckling outrage. Like some weeping cynic.


"Iran's entanglement with CW stems from the legacy of the Iran-Iraq War. From approximately 1983-1988 during the war with Iraq, Iran suffered extensive CW attacks, including blister (mustard) and nerve agents. By the end of the War, Iran appeared to have suffered as many as 50,000 chemical warfare casualties, of whom perhaps 5,000 died.[1]

The weak international response, particularly by the United Nations, to Iraqi use of chemical weapons against Iranian forces left Iran bitter about what it perceived to be a double standard in enforcing international agreements. Many Iranian officials concluded that their country had to develop the ability to retaliate in kind in order to deter chemical weapons use against it. In a public interview, the Iranian representative to the United Nations, Rajai'e Korassani, stated that "...if the Iraqi regime does not take any steps in putting an end to the crimes of the Iraqi regime, we will retaliate in kind, and in that case, we will certainly announce it."[2] However, several Iranian officials has never hidden his abhorrence of CW use in battlefield. There are some reports that between 1984 and 1988 Iran employed chemical agents on a limited scale during the war with Iraq; however, an intensive review of the open literature (including UN reports from that era) have failed to verify such claims.[3] This is despite near-constant Iranian rhetoric during the 1980s, invoking the threat of CW in retaliation if the world community failed to take any action against Iraq.

While several Iranian leaders felt that developing a CW program would counteract the Iraqi threat and prove to be a strong deterrent, others within the clerical Islamic regime publicly condemned any use of chemicals on moral grounds, calling them un-Islamic. Disagreement over a course of policy action led to several contradictory published reports whether or not Iran decided to pursue a CW program. Although the status of its offensive capability is somewhat ambiguous, one can definitely conclude that Iran has a defensive program that can be re-engineered into offensive production, if Iranian national security is threatened."
posted by clavdivs at 7:23 PM on May 17, 2004


Well, one != stockpile.

And (0 deaths & 2 slight injuries) != WMD, unless the "M" stands for "mild".

Besides, the Pentagon is still reviewing the evidence as to whether it really was sarin or not.
posted by clevershark at 7:59 PM on May 17, 2004


clavdivs - you found your tongue. My last comment, though, was a toss-off. You needn't have bothered.

Great historical context in that last comment.
posted by troutfishing at 8:57 PM on May 17, 2004


clavdis - sorry but your car dealer metaphor doesn't work

but your repo man idea's a funny one: if the invasion of Iraq was a repo man; that accepts that Bush IS responsible and is sending thugs in to get his WMDs back. ya know? This is true.

I think Bush is acting more like a guy who hands (or plants) a bag of weed off to a smaller country, then complains about the threat of drugs and tells the world he knows where the dope is. and then shoots up the house in the name of freedom from the tyranny of drugs. what a hero.

Anyway, this is a circular argument. Pick better metaphors, though.
posted by Peter H at 9:24 PM on May 17, 2004


Everyone knows a car's primary purpose is to kill people.
posted by Mossy at 10:40 PM on May 17, 2004


see how foldy is outraged, see him point fingers at the U.S. and no one else. See how he distorts and bends.
His graps of histories horror shows make him white with ribald chuckles and blanched remarks, attacking anything that seems warlike. Never does he posit a solution, he justs mouths chuckling outrage. Like some weeping cynic.


clavdivs:

Impute much? Foldy speaks for him/herself. Everybody knows where foldy stands.

Hey look everybody! clavdivs is pointing out the obvious.

The emotional appeal to pile on "hate America firsters" is getting quite threadbear don't you think? I mean, who really is best to criticize the actions of one's government, but those who have had a lot of practice doing so? And it isn't always the case that those reprehensible HAFers don't recognize the criminalities of other regimes either. I assume foldy's continuing analysis comes from a deeply held recognition that well, to steal a bumpersticker slogan, "Regime Change Begins at Home."

So, you know? Deal with it or get yourself a time machine and a flight to Berlin or something. The best criticism comes from within. Anything else is war.

Funny that. . .
posted by crasspastor at 2:18 AM on May 18, 2004


Here's a timely post:
Infantile Outrage
posted by crasspastor at 2:46 AM on May 18, 2004


clavs is right about the binary form and the mixing of the chemicals. It's my understanding that both chemicals were present in the shell, but they didn't combine properly upon detonation because the liquids don't mix unless the shell is spun very rapidly, as a kind of built in safety device. The rapid spinning that produces the deadly chemical only occurs after the shell is fired from an artillery piece and is on its way to the target. It wasn't used correctly, and that's why this attack didn't produce any casualties.

Sarin is pretty nasty stuff, antidote or no, and is considered a WMD for very good reasons. I wouldn't so readily discount the 1995 Tokyo attack by Aum Shinrikyo as an example of how 'tame' sarin is:
On the morning of March 20, 1995, packages were placed on five different trains in the Tokyo subway system. The packages consisted of plastic bags filled with a chemical mix and wrapped inside newspapers. Once placed on the floor of the subway car, each bag was punctured with a sharpened umbrella tip, and the material was allowed to spill onto the floor of the subway car. As the liquid spread out and evaporated, vaporous agent spread throughout the car.

Tokyo was experiencing a coordinated, simultaneous, multi-point assault. The attack was carried out at virtually the same moment at five different locations in the world's largest city: five trains, many kilometers apart, all converging on the center of Tokyo. The resulting deaths and injuries were spread throughout central Tokyo. First reports came from the inner suburbs and then, very quickly, cries for help began to flow in from one station after another, forming a rapidly tightening ring around the station at Kasumagaseki. This station serves the buildings that house most of the key agencies of the Japanese government. Most of the major ministries, as well as the national police agency, have their headquarters at Kasumagaseki.

By the end of that day, 15 subway stations in the world's busiest subway system had been affected. Of these, stations along the Hbiya line were the most heavily affected, some with as many as 300 to 400 persons involved. The number injured in the attacks was just under 3,800. Of those, nearly 1,000 actually required hospitalization—some for no more than a few hours, some for many days. A very few are still hospitalized. And 12 people were dead.
It was certainly well planned from a tactical standpoint, and would have been a much more tragic incident if not for the reportedly low-grade sarin that was created by the organization due to lack of resources and lack of capable scientists. Not the same as a state-created military weapon.

Saddam had both the resources and scientists necessary to make extremely potent chemical weapons, and he used them with great efficiency against Iranians and Kurds. I do agree that without proper weapons systems, a random chemical shell or two doesn't amount to much of a threat, unless there are a lot more and the insurgents figure out a way to make them work without firing them from artillery.

But simply the fact that these shells exist in Iraq isn't shocking news to anyone. Everyone knew that they were in possession of weapons like this at one point or another, and one shell doesn't equal a stockpile. I don't know that this crowd could be convinced that Iraq had WMD even if inspectors found an underground warehouse with pallets and pallets of 55-gallon drums filled with VX neatly labeled "Saddam's WMD". But what do you expect when you have users claiming that it was the CIA who beheaded Nick Berg.
posted by David Dark at 11:07 AM on May 18, 2004


reading this thread it occurs to me that if the Bush admin had been clear about why they wanted to go into Iraq from the start, the debate wouldn't be this polarized/poisoned.

It's one thing to debate whether or not remaking the Middle East by force and protecting/expanding America's global influence is a good idea. It's another thing to be talking about all the BS put out there by the Bush crowd, making any rational debate about the real issues impossible. I think this is the main difference between Reagan and Bush. Love Reagan, hate him, or agnostic, the man, for the most part, said what he meant. Even if you disagreed with him, he was the great communicator, while BushCo is the Great Obfuscator. Even if you agree with the general thrust of the Bush Admin, you are left defending ridiclulous assertions, half-truths, and lies! It sucks.

It's a shame because we end up arguing over pointless quibbles rather then the real issues. At least that's one drunk's opinion.
posted by chaz at 11:16 AM on May 18, 2004


I don't know that this crowd could be convinced that Iraq had WMD even if inspectors found an underground warehouse with pallets and pallets of 55-gallon drums filled with VX neatly labeled "Saddam's WMD".

That is what they said they'd find, you know.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:43 AM on May 18, 2004


Rumsfeld says it wasn't necessarily sarin

This happens with every "discovery" of possible wmds.
posted by amberglow at 8:17 PM on May 18, 2004


It was SARIN !

No, it was DANGEROUS STUFF !

Err, it was ammonia and bleach....

Umm, actually it was Diet Coke.


As with dogs, the media will woof down up anything wrapped in a sufficiently sensational lie. With a dog - to feed it a medicinal pill - coat the pill in butter, then just stuff it down the dog's throat. Works every time.
posted by troutfishing at 6:38 AM on May 21, 2004


: "Saddam did so have WMD's, chemical weapons at least. I saw it on TV."

Mission accomplished.
posted by troutfishing at 6:40 AM on May 21, 2004


Sensational lie?

How did amberglow's buttercoated pill feel sliding down your throat, trout?

Woof.
posted by David Dark at 1:54 PM on May 26, 2004


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