Forty days after the invasion and occupation of Iraq, United States forces have yet to find the alleged Iraqi stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons.
The Bush administration has significantly increased the number of scientists and engineers searching for these weapons and begun to shift the argument away from one of the nation’s primary justifications for war.
Newspaper editorials continue to question the <U.S.’s credibility about weapons of mass destruction.
Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times carried an editorial titled, “Tell the Truth on Weapons.”
“The U.S. will face an embarrassing credibility gap,” said the Times, if the huge stores of chemical and biological weapons are not found.
“Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction is central to the legitimacy of the war,” the editorial said.
When the president raised the possibility last week that the weapons of mass destruction may have been destroyed at an earlier date, “Bush only made the skeptics’ eyebrows wiggle faster,” said the Times.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said, “President Bush’s suggestion Thursday that Saddam Hussein’s regime may have somehow disposed of Iraq’s biological and chemical weapons before the war started—with no mention at all of a prewar alleged Iraqi nuclear weapons program—sounds like the front end of an effort to tell the American public and the world that no or very little evidence is going to be found of such programs.”
“Bush’s argument … has the tinny ring of a ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse,” said the Post-Gazette.
The Pittsburgh editorial said, “The failure of find evidence of such programs or weapons will thoroughly cut the ground out from under a credible rationale for the Iraq war.”
Having already carried editorials about weapons of mass destruction, the New York Times said on Saturday, “Rather than a smoking gun, inspectors may wind up finding a bullet here, a barrel there and a chamber somewhere else.”
“That makes the credibility of the people doing the inspecting even more important,” said the editorial. “And it makes President Bush’s decision not to invite international inspectors to monitor the job seem even more misguided.”
The Oregonian said it did not know whether weapons would be found.
“But the United States and the allies had plenty of other good reasons to move as they did and when they did,” said the editorial.
The Gulf News, an Arab English-language newspaper, took the opposite view. “Suspicions are arising that there are no weapons of mass destruction, WMD, and that the whole issue was a ploy by America to get a toe-hold—or more—in Iraq,” the paper editorialized.