US Inspector Concludes Saddam Had No WMD At Time Of US Invasion
In what some observers see as a blow to the Bush campaign as it endeavors to raise questions about Kerry's credibility on Iraq, a report from US inspector Charles Duelfer, appointed by President Bush to investigate Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, concludes the Iraqi dictator had put his illicit weapons programs on hold following the 1991 Gulf War. Saddam's supposed WMD were one of the main justifications used by the Administration in the run-up to war.
The story led all three network newscasts, and provided some Democrats a new opportunity to express their opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq. As USA Today reports this morning, the report, "released four weeks before the presidential election, immediately became political fodder." The CBS Evening News reported, "It's the final word: Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction when President Bush launched the Iraq war. What's more, Iraq's weapons programs had fallen apart years earlier, thanks to sanctions imposed by the United Nations after the first Gulf War." NBC Nightly News opened its newscast saying, "There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and there haven't been for a long time." ABC Evening News notes Duelfer's report asserts that Saddam Hussein "intended to restart his weapons program, if he got the chance." On ABC News Nightline, Ted Koppel also opened his show with a reference to the new finding, "As the national argument over Iraq dominates this presidential campaign, one critical fact now appears undebatable. Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction or even have concrete plans to develop them."
Democrats reacted swiftly. On ABC Evening News, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin was shown saying, "Not only did he not have weapons of mass destruction," but "he chose not to have weapons of mass destruction. That is a 180 degrees different from what the administration was saying, prior to the war." Sen. Ted Kennedy told Duelfer, who testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, "You basically nailed the door shut on any justification for the war."