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If you want to know where the hotbeds of hysterical Republican activity are, you need look no further than Free Republic. Their site is a 24/7 hotbed of mass hysteria, where the screaming never stops. Their latest screamfest is over a recent New York Sun article quoting an Iraqi general under Saddam as saying that Saddam shipped WMD's to Syria in 2002 under guise of flood relief.

The Iraqi general's name is Georges Sada, who has written a book about it named "Saddam's Secrets." He says that Saddam managed the shipment by taking out all of the seats of two Boeing civilian aircraft and smuggling the WMD's to Syria.

First of all, in evaluating this claim, we have to take into account things that don't fit the facts. First of all, we don't even know what these WMD's supposedly were. How would we be able to fit them into a Boeing plane? If we are talking massive rockets or tubes, then it would be impossible to fit them into a commercial airliner, because the doors would simply not be wide enough for them to fit inside of a commercial airliner. Remember that Sada alleges that these were civilian aircraft.

Secondly of all, there were only two aircraft being used and 56 total flights (supposedly) between the two of them. It defies reason to suggest that merely 56 flights would be enough to get a whole country's WMD program out of Iraq into Syria without detection of any kind. Given the massive nature of the WMD program that Bush and Powell so hyped up, it would be impossible for Saddam to smuggle all of the evidence for his programs in just 56 flights in aircraft not designed for the purpose.

Thirdly of all, this tall tale defies the laws of physics. How could you smuggle these labs, alumunum tubes, rockets, and other such WMD's out of Iraq without weighing down the plane so much that it could not fly?

This makes Sada's claim an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence. Let me see how his testimony stacks up against the standards required. I wrote about my standards; here is how his claims measure up:

Physical:

None. All we have is Mr. Sada's word for it, as the Sun article lamely admits. There are plenty of people who are unhappy with the Syrian regime there; however, none have come forward to point out the locations of WMD's in Syria.

Experts:

According to the FR link and the Sun article, Mr. Sada served in the Iraqi Air Force and was the Number Two in command there. However, he had no direct involvement in the supposed activities, but bases his case on hearsay evidence:

Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.

"I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots," Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including "yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel." The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

Therefore, we cannot evaluate his testimony because he bases his word on the word of anonymous sources, not on his expertise.

Eyewitnesses:

None. As noted above, Mr. Sada had no direct involvement in this. The Sun article notes that there were ground convoys of trucks -- but fails to say whether the trucks went to Syria or whether they loaded the WMD's on the plane. That brings up another reason to disbelieve these claims -- the smuggling was done in the Summer of 2002, right as the US and the UK were stepping up their bombing campaigns in advance of their invasion of Iraq in 2003. If our forces had detected convoys of trucks that large, they would have been bombed.

It would stand to reason that if there had been such an attempt by Saddam, there would have been scores of eyewitnesses on both sides of the border who could come forward and verify that Mr. Sada's account is true. But the fact is, there are none. The burden of proof is on the right-wingers to come up with the evidence, not for us to disprove it.

None of which fazes the hysterical Republicans commenting on this article. Here are some choice samples:

Yep, couple this with Stephen Hayes' report on the terror ties that are being uncovered, and also with the former head of Romanian secret police who said he KNOWS that Saddam and the Ruskies had a plan to hide the weapons, and the wheels of the liberal-scums "Bush-lied" mantra are started to come off. Now, we'll all hold our breath for the NY Times to cover this story, right?

I am not holding my breath until the NYT, Wash Post, the networks, and all their small-time copiers report this. You could hand them actual, real-time video of these WMDs and they wouldn't report it.

Plus, satellite photos showed convoys of trucks heading for Syria--what was in those? And let's not forget that Iraq is a very big place: already they've found fleets of airplanes buried in the sand. What else is buried that we haven't found yet? More bodies, I'm sure, but there could be more WMD.

So tell us something we didn't know. Remember Bill Gertz's reports in the Washington Times that in the run-up to the war, Russian trucks were picked up by our satellite intel at Iraqi weapons plants carrying some large loads (covered) to Syria? We all thought that the loads were WMDs. This would tehnd to confirm that this is exactly what happened.

Perhaps we should encourage our friends the Israelis to launch an attack on Syria while we bomb Iran. I bet that would shorten the war in Iraq and Afghanistan dramatically, save lives (on both sides), and find the WMDs. At which point, liberals woudl simply increase teh list of people who are obviously lying. In LibWorlkd, facts don't matter: truth is whatever serves the party and a lie is whatever doesn't.

The History Channel did a documentary on Saddam's WMD's and showed nighttime video of trucks moving "something" into Syria. Darned if I can remember the name of the documentary and even tried to find the story in the archives. Very powerful stuff and included his visuals of the many underground bunkers.

This is the sort of thing that people believe when they throw reason out the window, develop itching ears, and are willing to believe anything that makes the other side look bad no matter how flimsy the evidence is.

There are two levels of thought -- speculation and assertions. Assertions require complete proof, links, and evidence to back it up. Mr. Sada's assertions do not meet the burden of proof. In addition, there is the question of who he is associated with.

According to the article, Sada is associated with World Compassion, run by Terry Law. They perform charity work in Iran, Iraq, and other places. Who is World Compassion, and how do they fit into the picture?

Speculation is fine -- but there is good speculation and bad speculation. Good speculation is based on evidence and does not contradict known evidence, theories, or laws. Good speculation should give someone else something to work with so they can add something to the puzzle. A person with good speculation is always willing to be proven wrong.

Bad speculation, on the other hand, is a claim that defies reason, physics, or things we already know about the thing or person being speculated about. Bad speculation leads to bad factual assertions like this claim that Iraq smuggled WMD's off to Syria. It is unwilling to be proven false and frequently based solely on faith.

That is why I make no apologies for demanding that when people speculate on something or make a factual assertion, that they do the work to prove their case. This is why I demand that people do the work themselves rather than regurgitate the latest variation of the 9/11 bombing theory from What Really Happened or Wayne Madsen. If we do not hold each other to high standards of evidence when speculating or making claims about things, then we will not be credible when we try to debunk theories like this.

Originally posted to Stop the Police State! on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 09:25 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Only if you take a shower after Freeper mingling (4.00)
      Also - a minor typo.  Your third sentence reads:

      Their latest screamfest is over a recent New York Sun article quoting an Iraqi general under Saddam as saying that Saddam shipped WMD's to Iraq in 2002 under guise of flood relief.

      When you meant to say:

      Their latest screamfest is over a recent New York Sun article quoting an Iraqi general under Saddam as saying that Saddam shipped WMD's to Syria in 2002 under guise of flood relief.
  •  biggest problem (none)
    why on earth would Saddam send his WMD's to Syria?

    especially considering he couldnt do the same for himself or his sons.

    O'BRIEN: What if Jesus got this card? Would he be angry about it? He's be OK with it, wouldn't he? DONOHUE: Well, maybe he would, but I've never met him

    by PoliMorf on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 09:28:02 AM PST

  •  This is actually "old news" (none)
    Or maybe an old fantasy.  William Safire, for one has been pushing this for at least a year now.  One problem with this scenario is that instead of Saddam, the spaced-out delusional fantasist of past Repub propaganda, this story now requires we think of Saddam as the slickest military genius since Hanibal.  So which is it?
  •  Strange... (none)
    That was in the discussions right after the invasion as a possibility when nothing started to show up.

    Then someone pointed out that sattelite pictures would show that movement and asked that we see the photos.

    Suddenly...crickets began to chirp.

    Now it's back?

    "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

    by kredwyn on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 10:12:20 AM PST

    •  Reminds me (none)
      of a discussion I once had with a winger.

      Winger: "Of course Saddam had plenty of WMD. Everyone knows that."

      Me: "If he had plenty of WMD, why didn't he use his arsenal when the US invaded?"

      Winger: "He was saving the stuff."

      Me: "What, for a rainy day? What could be worse for him than to have his country occupied and his arse hauled to jail?"

      Silence.

      •  Apparently there's a book out there... (none)
        by Saddam wherein he analyzes the Vietnam war. A friend of mine read it as part of a research project.

        She pointed out that he had some very interesting conclusions about the role of public opinion and how to go about swaying it one way or the other.

        I've often wondered whether or not anyone with any influence in the DoD read it. At this point, I suspect that the answer is "No." But I do think that there were a couple generals who'd read it and made recommendations in an attempt to counter the analysis.

        "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

        by kredwyn on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 11:18:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Let's play this big if out...... (none)
    Okay, say Saddam did have WMD's. Wouldn't it have been logical for the CIC to use the intel he had WITH the weapons inspectors in country instead of kicking them out and giving Saddam time to move them? If these so called WMDs were found wouldn't that have given us the ability to build a true coalition of the willing so we weren't essentially going it alone? So why didn't he do that? A) Because he's incompetent

                       B) Because he lacks vision and ability to plan

                       C) Because they were never there

                       D) all of the above

    Take your pick freepers. No matter how you slice it. Bush's "plan"(and I use this term very loosely because everyone under the sun has said that Iraq was NOT planned adequately) was a failure, a great big "F". A big ol' blot on him in history.

  •  They are just getting ready for WWIII (none)
    In the next few months, its possible the opening of WWIII will begin, with an attack on Iran by us or Israel, resulting in the entire middle east erupting in flames.  Iran, Syria, and Palestine will declare war on Israel and the united states, and the Shiite Iraqi army will turn on the American troops who just trained them if a religious call to war goes out.  

    And that's when all heck breaks loose.  The U.S. looks like the bad guy over there, and who knows, the Egyptian government could be toppled, who knows what would happen to our friends the Saud royal family.  There could be a huge revolution over the entire Middle East, and the U.S. would be faced with the dilemma of nuking Iran and possibly pissing off Russia and China, or call for a national draft to get enough troops to support Israel in the war.

    The Watchman Report

    If your heart is troubled with the moral and spiritual decline and hijacking of America, check out the page

    by PubPolSanford on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 10:17:38 AM PST

  •  yes, they were moved -- but did they exist? (none)
    Remember that we spend more than a year inspecting sites and interrogating personel reputed to be involved in WMD production and development.  There were no traces  of activities post-dating the first Gulf war.  So what was it that Saddam smuggled to Syria?  The chemical artillery shells that would be ready in 45 minutes to fire, were they not smuggled to Syria first?  Bacteriological weapons in the form of unaccounted for moldy ton of yeast that could be used as a nutrient for bacterial cultures?  Or in the form of antique canned meat, full of botulism toxins?  Or were it nuclear --- err, nuclear something?

    In case of chemical poisons, all evidence indicated that Saddam was never in possesion of chemicals produced so well that they would be of any use even after 10 years in storage, and that he did not produce anything new after the first Gulf war.  So the story is rather doubtful.  Saddam had motivation and a need to smuggle out things like cash and gold to fund anti-American guerilla; he clearly was planning to engage in that.

    If I were an Iraqi directing such an operation, I would remove skull and bones marking from barrels with chemicals, and I could well paint them on the barrels with cash.

  •  Did Iraqi Airlines even have 707's in 2002? (none)
    Iraqi Airlines had some 707's in the 1970s-1980's but I have doubts that Iraqi Airlines had any, or any operational, just before the war. Iraqi Airlines could not fly after the Gulf War and shut down with many airplanes being held by creditors at foreign airports. Limited internal flights were conducted by a 727, a 747 (gift to Saddam by Qatar) and a Russian Iluyshin 76. Other IA airplanes in Iraq were cannibalized and used for parts. I would like to see any evidence that IA had any 707's since 1990 and esp. during the timeframe of the alleged WMD move in 2002.

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