- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

CAMP AS SAYLIYA, Qatar — U.S. military officers are examining “very promising” documents that they believe will allow them to put together a comprehensive picture of Iraq’s secret weapons programs.Some of these documents, described as complex, technical and difficult to translate accurately, have revealed orders for chemical-weapons precursors, said the U.S. Central Command official in charge of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense. Precursors are materials that could have either military or civilian uses.In his first extensive interview to a journalist, Lt. Col. Tom Woloszyn said his objective is to put together a comprehensive “cradle-to-grave” portrait of a wide-ranging set of Iraqi programs to design, assemble and deploy weapons of mass destruction.He said he remains convinced that these exist and will be uncovered.He expressed fears that scientists may be withholding information out of fear of war-crimes prosecutions and said the possibility of them or engineers having smuggled some key elements of the programs out of the country before the invasion or in the guise of postwar looters was “one of our concerns.”He also said Saddam Hussein’s regime could have moved some of the materials to other countries or onto the high seas.But, he said, “I’m sure enough remains.”The commander of U.S. Army troops in Iraq, meanwhile, said American forces have collected “plenty of documentary evidence” suggesting that Saddam had an active program for weapons of mass destruction.Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, commander of the Army’s V Corps, said Saddam might not have used unconventional weapons against invading coalition forces because they were buried too well to retrieve before the coalition dash to Baghdad.”We’ve collected evidence, much of it documentary, that suggests there was an active program” for unconventional weapons, Gen. Wallace told Pentagon reporters in a videoconference from the Iraqi capital.”A lot of the information that we’re getting is coming from lower-tier Iraqis who had some knowledge of the program but not full knowledge of the program,” the Associated Press quoted him as saying. “And it’s just taking us awhile to sort through all of that.”Col. Woloszyn said his task is being complicated by reports of reputed chemical or missile finds and an overenthusiasm by officers in the field to display their finds to journalists.”It’s certainly trying at times when things are shown prematurely,” he told The Washington Times as he and team members, including an intelligence official, pored over photographs of what appeared to be three rocket-shaped cylinders.”Nothing more has been found that I can speak to,” he said.It is the comprehensive picture “put together like a giant puzzle, a mosaic,” rather than any spectacular finds, that would provide the necessary proof of Saddam’s weapons programs, he said.A major problem would be to convince scientists and engineers involved that they did not face arrests or war-crimes trials if they volunteered information.”They have to realize that we are not out to crucify anyone; we just want the truth,” said Master Sgt. Ricardo Soto, Col. Woloszyn’s colleague.Sgt. Soto, who worked as a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq in 1994 destroying chemical-weapons elements, pointed out that former inspectors from the United Nations would be able to do a better job now. Before, Iraqis generally had advance knowledge of the officials’ movements and potential informants had lied out of fear, he said.Col. Woloszyn estimated that about 1,000 people were involved in the weapons hunt in various ways.He believes a radio and leaflet campaign before the invasion may have succeeded in preventing firing or use of chemical and biological weapons but that it also made scientists and engineers fearful.”We said if you pull the trigger on these we will come after you. We were pretty blunt, and we suggested war crimes. So I’m sure a lot of people thought, ‘Well, if they will do that for people who just pull the trigger, what will they do to those who design them?’ “New radio messages have been aimed at ending this fear, he said.Col. Woloszyn has urged the new Iraqi leadership to start programs to re-employ scientists in peace-related activity to stop them from moving to other countries where clandestine weapons programs are being developed.”Iraq has got some very innovative scientists, and we need to make sure that their research now points to positive endeavors,” he said.

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