Opinion » Columnists
Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Rumsfeld: Saddam may have destroyed WMD before attack

Donald Rumsfeld insinuates that there may not have been a causus belli The US Defense Secretary has said many things in recent weeks. He even compared Hitler to Lenin. Now, after months of saying that the Ba'ath regime in Baghdad had Weapons of Mass Destruction, there comes the first statement that these may have been destroyed before the attack was launched.

Speaking in New York, the US Defense Secretary declared that he was surprised the Iraqi armed forces did not use these weapons in battle, as he had predicted, but "It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict."

If this is the case, then there was no justification whatsoever for the illegal and murderous campaign unleashed by the Bush administration against Iraq. If this was the case, and everything indicates that it was, where was the justification for the wholesale slaughter of Iraq's civilians?

If there was a deal between the US military and the top officials in the Iraqi Armed Forces, by which in return for safe passage for its commanders, the Republican Guard would not put up a fight around Baghdad, which turned out to be the case, who or what was the US Air Force bombing for days on end?

Civilians? In this case, the Bush administration faces serious accusations. If people are killed in a war which is unjustifiable under international law, the act is a war crime and those responsible are war criminals, meaning that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are murderers.

If Saddam Hussein's regime destroyed the WMD before the attack, they were complying with international law, meaning that Iraq was the victim of an illegal act of aggression. This being the case, reparations must be paid to the State of Iraq, indemnities must be paid to the families of the victims slaughtered by the vicious bombing campaign against civilian targets and those responsible should stand trial for the crimes they have committed.

If the Iraqi regime destroyed its weapons before the attack, Colin Powell's "evidence" presented to the UNO, claiming that Iraq had active WMD programmes, was a tissue of lies from beginning to end, making Powell himself a barefaced liar, at worst, or at best, a clown who stood there not knowing what he was talking about. If Iraq had active WMD programmes, the authorities would never be able to destroy everything in a few days. More likely, and if the Iraqi Armed Forces had such weapons, they were a few left-overs of old and out-dates weaponry.

If Iraq did not destroy the weaponry, where is it? This is not a question that will simply melt away, although the Bush administration must wish it were conveniently forgotten. It is a question which will be raised more and more, ever more pressingly and constantly, until the truth is found out.

The question is repeated for Messrs Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Powell to answer: Where are the weapons of mass destruction, the pretext upon which your administration attacked Iraq?

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