Will the Head of the Administration's WMD Search Team in Iraq
Deliver a Weapon of Mass Deception?
by Bill Berkowitz
September 16, 2003
When the president needed someone to hawk his "Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are an imminent threat to homeland security" thesis to the American people, David Kay was the man. During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Kay was a ubiquitous presence on the cable news networks, backing the president's assertions. He testified before Congressional committees and had op-ed pieces published in several mainstream dailies. Although his pre-war predictions about the existence of WMD now appear less reliable than the clairvoyance of Johnny Carson's Karnac the Magnificent, the Bush Administration is counting on Kay, now the head of the WMD search team in Iraq, to bring home the bacon.
In early June, Kay temporarily traded in his pundit's garb to hire on as Special Advisor for Strategy in the effort to find Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Appointed by CIA Director George Tenet, Kay was given the responsibility of "refining the overall approach" for the weapons search. In announcing the appointment, Tenet claimed that "Kay's experience and background make him the ideal person for this new role. His understanding of the history of the Iraqi programs and knowledge of past Iraqi efforts to hide WMD will be of inestimable help in determining the current status of Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons."
Kay has had dealings with the CIA before. According to a late June Worldnet.com column by Gordon Prather, a physicist who was the army's chief scientist during the Reagan years, Kay was fired from his position as deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Iraq Action Team in the early 1990s because of his contacts with the U.S. intelligence community.
In an interview with PBS' Frontline, Kay said: "Once you were dealing in a clandestine, competitive environment, you needed access to satellite photography, access to signals intercept, access to measurements of leakage and contamination from the programs, so you could identify where it is. Access to defectors, who, after all, were not defecting to the U.N. They were defecting to national governments to use them.
"So, from the very beginning, you needed that expertise; but I can say for myself personally -- and I'm really only comfortable talking about myself -- although a number of us discussed this in the early days, I realize it was always a bargain with the Devil -- spies spying. The longer it continued, the more the intelligence agencies would, often for very legitimate reasons, decide that they had to use the access they got through cooperation with UNSCOM to carry out their missions."
Kay has also been involved with one of the nation's major defense contractors, serving as a Senior Vice President for the San Diego-based Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). The company's Web site proudly describes itself as "the nation's largest employee-owned research and engineering company, providing information technology, systems integration and eSolutions to commercial and government customers." According to a mid-August report by Katrin Dauenhauer and Jim Lobe in Asia Times, "Of the six billion dollars it [SAIC] earned in revenue last year, about two thirds came from the US Treasury, mostly from the defense budget."
SAIC, heavily involved with homeland security projects, has already acquired several reconstruction contracts in Iraq, and Kay and a number of other former company employees are firmly planted in country. The company "has been running the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council (IRDC) since the body was established by the Pentagon in February," Dauenhauer and Lobe reported. "SAIC is also a subcontractor under Vinnell Corporation, another big defense contractor that has long been in charge of training for the Saudi National Guard, hired to reconstitute and train a new Iraqi army." And SAIC is also running the recently established Iraqi Media Network (IMN) project, whose charge was to "was to put together a new information ministry, complete with television, radio and a newspaper, and the content that would make all three attractive to average Iraqis."
In a May 29, 2003 interview with TVP, Poland, President Bush uttered this outrageous and false statement: "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.... But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."
Soon, Kay will reveal what the 1200-strong Iraq Survey Group -- searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- has come up with. Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq and author of "Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America," recently wrote in The New York Times that Kay's search may prove fruitless because many of the records from Iraq's weapons programs had been destroyed or stolen by looters when the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate was ransacked after the U.S. took Baghdad.
The Directorate, "the government agency responsible for coordinating all aspects of the UN inspection teams' missions… was also supposed to monitor Iraq's industrial infrastructure and ensure compliance with the Security Council resolutions regarding disarmament, verification and export-import controls.
"As such," Ritter writes, it "was the repository for every Iraqi government record relating to its weapons programs, as well as to the activities at dozens of industrial sites in Iraq that were 'dual-use' -- used to manufacture permitted items but capable of being modified to manufacture proscribed material." While these archives might have led inspectors down some blind alleys, "seizing the directorate archive would have been a top priority for the coalition forces -- at least as important as the Iraqi Oil Ministry or the National Museum. And it seems highly unlikely that coalition leaders didn't know what the archive contained."
But fruitless is likely unacceptable to the administration. A recent short item in a column by the conservative Robert Novak indicated that Kay's upcoming report will be aimed at taking the heat off the administration: "Former international weapons inspector David Kay… has privately reported successes that are planned to be revealed to the public in mid-September."
Although no hard evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction has yet been found after four months of intense searching, according to the Boston Globe Pentagon officials are beginning to spread the word that Kay's team is prepared to claim that the Hussein regime purposefully "spread nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons plans and parts throughout the country to deceive the United Nations." Citing senior Bush administration and intelligence officials, the Globe reports that Kay will argue that after hoodwinking the UN inspectors, Hussein would quickly reassemble all the information and materials and "manufacture substantial quantities of deadly gases and germs."
The loyal David Kay appears poised to hand in a report marked by speculation, innuendo and circumstantial evidence. Kay's September surprise: He morphs into a weapon of mass deception.
Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His WorkingForChange.com column Conservative Watch documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the American Right.