Joe Conason's Journal

The best evidence of the "imminent threat" of Iraqi WMD turns out to be a test tube in somebody's icebox.

Published October 7, 2003 6:26PM (EDT)

The latest embarrassment
Today's Guardian offers an additional gloss on the findings of chief inspector David Kay. That vial of biological gunk squirreled away by Saddam's scientists turns out to be a bit less terrifying than the president and the secretary of state have suggested:

"The test tube of botulinum presented by Washington and London as evidence that Saddam Hussein had been developing and concealing weapons of mass destruction, was found in an Iraqi scientist's home refrigerator, where it had been sitting for 10 years, it emerged yesterday ...

"While presenting his progress report to Congress, Mr. Kay did not say when and where the botulinum had been hidden but he told a television interviewer on Sunday that the scientist involved said he was asked to hide the botulinum in his refrigerator at home in 1993. Iraq admitted pursuing a biological weapons programme to U.N. inspectors two years later. It is unclear whether the Iraqi scientist had received any orders from the regime after that date.

"It is also unclear whether the vial contained the bacteria botulinum, from which the toxin is drawn, or the toxin itself, as Mr. Kay claimed in interviews over the weekend.

"Furthermore, the most lethal form of the germ is the A strain, while the form found by the ISG was the B strain."

So the best evidence of the "imminent threat" is a test tube in somebody's icebox. But the mystery remains: Why did the guy hold onto the botulism? (Maybe he wanted to set up a Botox clinic.)

California links
If you live in the Golden State, go vote before 8 p.m. PDT. (The astute Kos insists that support for Schwarzenegger has softened and turnout can still determine the outcome despite the week's dismal polls.) If you encounter problems voting or know others who have, see these usual links provided by Hesiod at Counterspin Central. If you would like to understand how the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger parallels the decay of American broadcasting, read today's Daily Howler.
[11:30 p.m. PDT, Oct. 7, 2003]

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