Day by Day

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Finding WMDs - how hard can it be?

This past April, as the war in Iraq came to its statue-toppling climax, an Iraqi businessman made some alarming discoveries about two houses in his neighborhood, Baghdad's posh Mansour district.

First, two of his children brought home a pair of Kalashnikov assault rifles they had taken from a villa near his house. Its rooms were full of guns, grenade launchers, and ammunition. It had been left open, the contents free for the taking.

Then the businessman and his family learned about another mystery villa, one that stored information: file cabinets, computers, heaps of reports. Starting on April 9 - the day Baghdad fell - men who were apparently Iraqi intelligence agents spent three days at the house. Neighbors wandered over to see them burning files, computer disks, and videotapes.

The guards stopped the businessman from purloining two videos as souvenirs, but one of his sons - an enterprising eight-year-old - managed to spirit a videotape, a half-dozen audiocassettes, and a fistful of photographic negatives out of the house. The audiocassettes were recordings of unremarkable international phone calls made to or from Iraq. The negatives depicted UN weapons inspectors at work.
Read more: The hunt for a WMD |

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