Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Weaponized Drones: A Casus Belli To Attack Iraq

Senators Were Told That Saddam Hussein Could Deliver Biological and Chemical Weapons To America Via Unmanned Drones.

Critics of America's drone war occasionally ask its supporters to imagine how they would feel if unmanned aerial vehicles were Weaponized and sent by foreign powers to attack American cities. 

What's always forgotten is the time when the U.S. Senate confronted that possibility. It scared them. In fact, one senator said his alarm helped persuade him to approve the war in Iraq. 

Congress was told a lot of things about Iraqi weapons that didn't turn out to be true. We remember the talk of WMDs, but we've forgotten the drones.

Senator Bill Nelson recounted the episode for the Congressional Record in 2004. One of 77 senators to vote for the Iraq War resolution, he wanted to share information "that had a great deal of bearing on my conclusion to vote for that resolution," because it convinced him that the U.S. was in "imminent peril."

He continued
I, along with nearly every Senator in this Chamber, in that secure room of this Capitol complex, was not only told there were weapons of mass destruction--specifically chemical and biological--but I was looked at straight in the face and told that Saddam Hussein had the means of delivering those biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction by unmanned drones, called UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles. Further, I was looked at straight in the face and told that UAVs could be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack eastern seaboard cities of the United States. Is it any wonder that I concluded there was an imminent peril to the United States? 

It's interesting to revisit America's drone fears now that we've used the technology to kill more people than any other country, and to normalize its use in ways that may forever change the course of civilization. 

Via: "The Atlantic"

Below is additional information from "The Seattle Times":

The information was so startling that CIA Director George Tenet and Vice President Dick Cheney trooped up to Capitol Hill to brief the four top Senate and House leaders the day after Labor Day, 2002.

In the briefing, Tenet and Cheney presented what one participant described as a "smoking gun": New intelligence showed Iraq had developed unmanned airborne vehicles (UAVs) that could deliver chemical or biological agents.

In addition, they said, Iraq had sought mapping software that would allow it to produce sophisticated views of the eastern U.S. cities. President Bush hinted at the evidence in a speech on Oct. 7, 2002.

The UAVs were a major source of controversy, officials said. For many senior officials, this was some of the best evidence they had. 

"The UAV program, to me, that was more serious because that was a direct threat to our military," a high-ranking national-security official said later. "Those UAVs could get up and spread chemical or, worse, biological weapons."
The NIE, according to declassified portions made public last year, firmly stated that "Baghdad's UAV could threaten Iraq's neighbors, U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and if brought close to, or into, the United States, the U.S. homeland."
But the NIE included a dissent to this conclusion that, after the war, would be considered correct: The Air Force intelligence arm, the expert on UAVs in the U.S. government, strongly argued that the primary role of these aircraft was reconnaissance, "although CBW (chemical and biological weapons) delivery is an inherent capability."

Air Force officials have said this last phrase was added during negotiations in crafting the NIE, though they viewed the possibility as highly unlikely because the drones would be inefficient delivery vehicles.

Powell and his team stuck with the consensus position of the other intelligence agencies because a decision had been made that his speech should reflect the best judgment of the intelligence community.

The Air Force dissent was "perfectly logical," one State Department official said. "Some of the drones may have been reconnaissance, maybe all of them. But the weight of the intelligence community was that these were delivery vehicles. Given the history of Iraq's interest in UAV development, we couldn't discount it."

"There was a very strong dominant view on UAVs," another official said, "and that's what we went with."

No comments: