Thursday, February 20, 2003

US Jerking Inspectors Around

This is such bullshit:

CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips reports the U.N. has been taking a precise inventory of Iraq's al-Samoud 2 missile arsenal, determining how many there are and where they are.

Discovering that the al-Samoud 2 has been flying too far in tests has been one of the inspectors' major successes. But the missile has only been exceeding its 93-mile limit by about 15 miles and that, the Iraqis say,
is because it isn't yet loaded down with its guidance system. The al-Samoud 2 is not the 800-mile-plus range missile that Secretary of State Colin Powell insists Iraq is developing.

In fact, the U.S. claim that Iraq is developing missiles that could hit its neighbors – or U.S. troops in the region, or even Israel – is just one of the claims coming from Washington that inspectors here are finding
increasingly unbelievable. The inspectors have become so frustrated trying to chase down unspecific or ambiguous U.S. leads that they've begun to express that anger privately in no uncertain terms.

U.N. sources have told CBS News that American tips have lead to one dead end after another.

Example: satellite photographs purporting to show new research buildings at Iraqi nuclear sites. When the U.N. went into the new buildings they found "nothing."

Example: Saddam's presidential palaces, where the inspectors went with specific coordinates supplied by the U.S. on where to look for incriminating evidence. Again, they found "nothing."

Example: Interviews with scientists about the aluminum tubes the U.S. says Iraq has imported for enriching uranium, but which the Iraqis say are for making rockets. Given the size and specification of the tubes, the
U.N. calls the "Iraqi alibi air tight."

The inspectors do acknowledge, however, that they would not be here at all if not for the threat of U.S. military action.

So frustrated have the inspectors become that one source has referred to the U.S. intelligence they've been getting as "garbage after garbage after garbage." In fact, Phillips says the source used another cruderword. The inspectors find themselves caught between the Iraqis, who are masters at the weapons-hiding shell game, and the United States, whose intelligence they've found to be circumstantial, outdated or just plain