Yesterday the Washington Post revealed that a Pentagon field report transmitted to Washington on May 27, 2003 stated that trailers found in Iraq “had nothing to do with biological weapons.” Nevertheless, top administration officials continued to claim for months that the trailers were evidence that weapons of mass destruction had been found.
The key question is: when did senior administration officials become aware of the Pentagon field report? (Yesterday, Scott McClellan said he was “looking into it.”)
The answer appears to be no later than early June. On June 7-8 prominent reports appeared in U.S. and British papers about the analysis. If top administration officials were not aware of the Pentagon report prior to these stories, it seems certain they were afterwards.
From the New York Times, A1, 6/7/03:
American and British intelligence analysts with direct access to the evidence are disputing claims that the mysterious trailers found in Iraq were for making deadly germs. In interviews over the last week, they said the mobile units were more likely intended for other purposes and charged that the evaluation process had been damaged by a rush to judgment.
From the Guardian, 6/8/03:
The intelligence agency MI6, British defence officers and technical experts from the Porton Down microbiological research establishment have been ordered to conduct an urgent review of the mobile facilities, following US analysis which casts serious doubt on whether they really are germ labs.
The British review comes amid widespread doubts expressed by scientists on both sides of the Atlantic that the trucks could have been used to make biological weapons.
Nevertheless, Vice President Cheney continued to make definitive statements about the nature of the trailers. Appearing on Meet the Press on 9/14/03, three months after the news reports, Cheney said, “We’ve, since the war, found two of them. They’re in our possession today, mobile biological facilities that can be used to produce anthrax or smallpox or whatever else you wanted to use during the course of developing the capacity for an attack.”
(HT: Progressive Wolf)