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 Post subject: Iraq's WMD Secreted in Syria,
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 8:57 pm 
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January 26, 2006 Edition

Iraq's WMD Secreted in Syria, Sada Says
BY IRA STOLL - Staff Reporter of the Sun
January 26, 2006
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/26514

The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.

The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, "Saddam's Secrets," released this week. He detailed the transfers in an interview yesterday with The New York Sun.

"There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands," Mr. Sada said. "I am confident they were taken over."

Mr. Sada's comments come just more than a month after Israel's top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Moshe Yaalon, told the Sun that Saddam "transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria."

Democrats have made the absence of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a theme in their criticism of the Bush administration's decision to go to war in 2003. And President Bush himself has conceded much of the point; in a televised prime-time address to Americans last month, he said, "It is true that many nations believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. But much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong."

Said Mr. Bush, "We did not find those weapons."

The discovery of the weapons in Syria could alter the American political debate on the Iraq war. And even the accusations that they are there could step up international pressure on the government in Damascus. That government, led by Bashar Assad, is already facing a U.N. investigation over its alleged role in the assassination of a former prime minister of Lebanon. The Bush administration has criticized Syria for its support of terrorism and its failure to cooperate with the U.N. investigation.

The State Department recently granted visas for self-proclaimed opponents of Mr. Assad to attend a "Syrian National Council" meeting in Washington scheduled for this weekend, even though the attendees include communists, Baathists, and members of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group to the exclusion of other, more mainstream groups.

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.

The flights - 56 in total, Mr. Sada said - attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

"Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming," Mr. Sada said. "They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians."

Mr. Sada said that the Iraqi official responsible for transferring the weapons was a cousin of Saddam Hussein named Ali Hussein al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali." The Syrian official responsible for receiving them was a cousin of Bashar Assad who is known variously as General Abu Ali, Abu Himma, or Zulhimawe.

Short of discovering the weapons in Syria, those seeking to validate Mr. Sada's claim independently will face difficulty. His book contains a foreword by a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, David Eberly, who was a prisoner of war in Iraq during the first Gulf War and who vouches for Mr. Sada, who once held him captive, as "an honest and honorable man."

In his visit to the Sun yesterday, Mr. Sada was accompanied by Terry Law, the president of a Tulsa, Oklahoma based Christian humanitarian organization called World Compassion. Mr. Law said he has known Mr. Sada since 2002, lived in his house in Iraq and had Mr. Sada as a guest in his home in America. "Do I believe this man? Yes," Mr. Law said. "It's been solid down the line and everything checked out."

Said Mr. Law, "This is not a publicity hound. This is a man who wants peace putting his family on the line."

Mr. Sada acknowledged that the disclosures about transfers of weapons of mass destruction are "a very delicate issue." He said he was afraid for his family. "I am sure the terrorists will not like it. The Saddamists will not like it," he said.

He thanked the American troops. "They liberated the country and the nation. It is a liberation force. They did a great job," he said. "We have been freed."

He said he had not shared his story until now with any American officials. "I kept everything secret in my heart," he said. But he is scheduled to meet next week in Washington with Senators Sessions and Inhofe, Republicans of, respectively, Alabama and Oklahoma. Both are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The book also says that on the eve of the first Gulf War, Saddam was planning to use his air force to launch a chemical weapons attack on Israel.

When, during an interview with the Sun in April 2004, Vice President Cheney was asked whether he thought that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had been moved to Syria, Mr. Cheney replied only that he had seen such reports.

An article in the Fall 2005 Middle East Quarterly reports that in an appearance on Israel's Channel 2 on December 23, 2002, Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, stated, "Chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria." The allegation was denied by the Syrian government at the time as "completely untrue," and it attracted scant American press attention, coming as it did on the eve of the Christmas holiday.

The Syrian ruling party and Saddam Hussein had in common the ideology of Baathism, a mixture of Nazism and Marxism.

Syria is one of only eight countries that has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty that obligates nations not to stockpile or use chemical weapons. Syria's chemical warfare program, apart from any weapons that may have been received from Iraq, has long been the source of concern to America, Israel, and Lebanon. In March 2004, the director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying, "Damascus has an active CW development and testing program that relies on foreign suppliers for key controlled chemicals suitable for producing CW."

The CIA's Iraq Survey Group acknowledged in its September 30, 2004, "Comprehensive Report," "we cannot express a firm view on the possibility that WMD elements were relocated out of Iraq prior to the war. Reports of such actions exist, but we have not yet been able to investigate this possibility thoroughly."

Mr. Sada is an unusual figure for an Iraqi general as he is a Christian and was not a member of the Baath Party. He now directs the Iraq operations of the Christian humanitarian organization, World Compassion.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:19 pm 
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Oh dear Goddess! THE NY SUN??????? You are really sourcing something to the Sun? I liked the article about the Alien Base on the moon better.

First of all, Bucky, you know nothing about weapons. Weapons don't just sit in a pile until you want them. No, oh most ignorant one. They have a shelf life. Ah, yes, they go *bad*. So why ship them anywhere? By the time they get there they are useless. And what would Syria want with an open invitation to be invaded by the US? You must think these people are mindless. Allow me to remind you that while Europe was in the *Dark Ages* it was these very same people who kept Western Knowledge, anmd even greratly expanded upon it. They are not stupid people, they are wise and long lived. Syria, even if Iraq had offered, would never had taken such a chance.

Lastly, if we were playing chess would you take your queen and both bishops and put them in your pocket? Well, ok you probably would, but a NORMAL person, would they? Not likely. And its not likely that someone about to face war with the US and the UK is going to send his finest weapons AWAY from the front. You seem to forget, Saddam was a general, a warrior, the kind of guy who would USE THEM!

So all in all, this is so transparent an attempt to thump the war drums to invade Syria that the really only amazing thing is there are idiots who are so unthinking as to believe it.

By the way, you have unanswered threads that need you attention.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 1:56 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:58 am 
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If only we weren't lied to about the facts before we went into Iraq, all the excuses that the Bushites could contrive and lie about would not even be part of these discussions. But it just goes to show what a few well placed lies can do to destroy a country. At the expense of a few minutes reading check out this list of things that were concocted to put us in the dilemma of security and personal spying we're involved in now.

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
WHAT WE WERE TOLD: IRAQ POSSESSED BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION

The Governments of Australia, the US and Britain were adamant that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction that it was ready to use.

Prime Minister John Howard told Parliament on March 13, 2003, that it was "inherently dangerous" for Iraq to have such weapons and it was in Australia's interest that it have "taken from her her chemical and biological weapons".

Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, released an intelligence dossier on Iraq's WMD in September 2002, saying it established "beyond doubt" that "Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons".

The dossier said that "intelligence indicates that as part of Iraq's military planning, Saddam is willing to use chemical and biological weapons ..."

Then US secretary of state Colin Powell told the UN in February 2003 that Iraq had rocket launchers and warheads holding chemical weapons.

"Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent," Powell said.

WHAT WE NOW KNOW:

The UN Iraq Survey Group led the official search for evidence of WMD in postwar Iraq, inspecting likely sites and interviewing key figures from the fallen regime.

In its three-volume report released on September 30 last year, the group concluded that Iraq had no formal strategy or plan for reviving its WMD program after the UNimposed sanctions following the 1991 Gulf War.

While Saddam Hussein believed in the power of WMD and wanted them, his intention was to wait till after sanctions were lifted to begin working on them again.

The survey group concluded that Iraq "unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991" and there were no credible indications that Baghdad had resumed production afterwards.

On biological weapons, the survey group said that Iraq abandoned its existing program in late 1995 in the belief that it constituted a potential embarrassment that would, if uncovered, lead to prolonging of UN sanctions.

Undeclared stocks of biological weapons and remaining holdings of bulk biological warfare agents were destroyed in 1991 and 1992.

The British Government's inquiry into pre-war intelligence failures, led by Lord Butler, concluded that prior to the start of the war in March 2003, "there was no recent intelligence that would itself have given rise to a conclusion that Iraq was of more immediate concern than the activities of some other countries".

WHAT WE WERE TOLD: IRAQ HAD MOBILE BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS LABORATORIES

Claims about Iraq's mobile laboratories first appeared in September 2002, with the intelligence dossier released by Blair saying a number were in use.

The following month the CIA went further, saying that Iraq had "large-scale" biological warfare production capabilities in mobile laboratories.

In February 2003, Powell provided details of Iraq's "biological weapons factories" to the UN Security Council, including artists' impressions of what they might look like.

Two trailers found in Iraq after the war that appeared to have been fitted out as mobile laboratories were initially used by the US as proof the pre-war reports were true.

In May 2003, US President George Bush produced CIA and other intelligence assessments that these trailers were proof of Iraq's WMD program.

WHAT WE NOW KNOW:

In June 2003, a report by UK intelligence agency MI6 and British biological warfare experts who inspected the two trailers concluded they were for the production of hydrogen to fill artillery balloons.

In August 2003, The New York Times revealed that, according to the US Defence Intelligence Agency, the most likely use for the two trailers was to produce hydrogen for weather balloons.

In its report in September 2004 the Iraq Survey Group, which hunted in vain for evidence of WMD, said it had interviewed 60 Iraqi scientists and other officials likely to be linked to mobile laboratories and inspected a number of sites. No evidence could be found for the existence of such mobile facilities.

According to the US presidential commission on intelligence released in March this year, the information about supposed mobile laboratories first came from a defecting Iraqi chemical engineer, codenamed "Curveball", in 2000.

Curveball was "run" by German intelligence officials, who warned the CIA in 2002 that the defector was "crazy" and most likely a "fabricator". "Virtually all of the intelligence community's information on Iraq's alleged mobile biological weapons facilities was supplied by ...

Curveball, who was a fabricator," the commission's report said.

WHAT WE WERE TOLD: IRAQ COULD LAUNCH WMD WITHIN 45 MINUTES

The British Government's intelligence dossier in September 2002 said that not only were Saddam's supposed WMD in place, but some could be deployed within 45 minutes.

It was this claim that led to allegations the British Government had "sexed up" intelligence reports and indirectly led to the death of British defence whistleblower Dr David Kelly.

The British claim of biological and chemical weapons standing ready to fire was supported by Powell in his crucial address to the UN Security Council in February 2003, in which he described how missiles with WMD warheads were hidden in western Iraq."

Most of the launchers and warheads had been hidden in large groves of palm trees and were to be moved every one to four weeks to escape detection," he said.

WHAT WE NOW KNOW:

No biological or chemical weapons have been found, let alone any that could be deployed within 45 minutes. Nor did Australia's SAS troops find any rocket launchers and warheads hidden under palm trees in the western Iraqi desert, where they were dispatched at the start of the war with the specific task of searching for such weapons.

The inquiry into Kelly's death led by Lord Hutton examined the 45 minutes claim and concluded that it was based on information provided by a single although normally reliable British intelligence source.

But Hutton said the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons section of Britain's Defence Intelligence Staff had concerns about the claim and wanted the language used in the dossier watered down and qualified with the words "intelligence suggests".

WHAT WE WERE TOLD: IRAQ WAS TRYING TO DEVELOP NUCLEAR WEAPONS

The Australian, British and US Governments told their citizens in the lead-up to war that Iraq wanted to develop nuclear weapons. Two pieces of evidence were used during late 2002 and early 2003 to support these claims. The first was that Iraq had attempted to obtain uranium from Niger, in Africa, and the second was Iraq's purchase of aluminium tubes that could be used to build centrifuges for enriching uranium.

Powell used Iraq's attempts to obtain uranium as evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions while giving evidence to a US Senate hearing in September 2002. A month later the US State Department released documents to intelligence agencies in October 2002 purporting to prove Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Niger.

In September 2002, the British Government's intelligence dossier on Iraq said that "there is intelligence that Iraq has sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa".

On the controversial aluminium tubes, Iraq claimed they were to make the bodies of rockets. But Powell told the UN Security Council in February 2003 that "Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb".

WHAT WE NOW KNOW:

There were serious doubts about the two crucial pieces of evidence long before they were used to justify going to war with Iraq. In February 2002, the CIA sent former US ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate the uranium claims. He reported that any transaction was unlikely to have occurred.

In March 2002, the US State Department's bureau of intelligence and research advised Powell that claims of Iraq's attempts to buy uranium were not credible.

In March 2003, as the coalition of the willing were going to war, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency told the UN that the documents supposedly showing Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from Niger were "not authentic" and the allegations were "unfounded".

The Iraq Survey Group, which searched for WMD after the invasion, found no evidence that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa or anywhere since 1991. On the contrary, it established that Iraq had declined an offer to buy uranium from a Ugandan middleman in 2001.

Concerns over the use of the aluminium tubes as evidence for Iraq's nuclear ambitions date back to August 2001, when the US Department of Energy's intelligence office assessed samples and said they were not wellsuited for a centrifuge and were more likely for making rockets. The International Atomic Energy Agency agreed with that assessment.

But the US in particular kept using the aluminium tubes to help prove the case for war during 2002 and early 2003.

The Iraq Survey Group concluded in its final report last year that Iraq had not tried to restart its nuclear weapons program after 1991.

The US presidential commission on Iraq intelligence found in March this year that the intelligence community "seriously misjudged the status of Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program".

LEGALITY OF THE INVASION
WHAT WE WERE TOLD: THE INVASION OF IRAQ WAS LEGAL UNDER EXISTING UNITED NATIONS RESOLUTIONS

Australia, the US and Britain argued that any invasion of Iraq would be legal without the need to obtain a further UN Security Council resolution. The argument was used by the leaders of all three countries after it became apparent in the lead-up to war that any new resolution would be vetoed in the Security Council by France.

John Howard admitted in his address to Parliament on March 18, 2003, in which he announced he had agreed to a US request to use force, that he would have preferred a new resolution authorising military action.

But the Government's legal advice on the right to take action under 17 previous resolutions dating back to 1990 - and in particular resolution 1441, that warned Iraq it faced "serious consequences" if it did not agree to new weapons inspections - was "unequivocal"."

The existing United Nations Security Council resolutions already provide for the use of force to disarm Iraq and restore international peace and security to the area. This legal advice is consistent with that provided to the British Government by its attorney-general," Howard said.

That advice from Britain's Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, publicly released a day earlier in the House of Commons, stated that authority to use force against Iraq existed from the combined effect of previous UN resolutions.

In the US, Bush told his nation that under existing UN resolutions "the United States and our allies are authorised to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction".

"This is not a question of authority, it is a question of will," he said.

WHAT WE NOW KNOW:

The legality of the war against Iraq was far from being as clear-cut as we were told.

The full version of the secret legal advice provided to Tony Blair by Goldsmith, which was released last month, said that wording of the key UN resolution 1441 "leaves the position unclear" and "arguments can be made on both sides".

"In these circumstances, I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force," Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith admitted in the advice that after hearing the arguments of Bush Administration experts during a visit to Washington, he accepted that a "reasonable case" could be made that resolution 1441 justified military action."

But regime change cannot be the objective of military action," he said in the advice dated March 7, 2003.

In September last year UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the BBC that "from our point of view and the UN charter point of view, it (military action against Iraq) was illegal."

SADDAM HUSSEIN'S REIGN OF TERROR
WHAT WE WERE TOLD: SADDAM HUSSEIN USED A HUMAN SHREDDING MACHINE TO EXECUTE OPPONENTS

John Howard famously provided additional credibility to claims that Saddam had his opponents fed into a human shredding machine when he referred to it in a televised address to the nation on the eve of the Iraq war.

"This week, The Times of London detailed the use of a human shredding machine as a vehicle for putting to death critics of Saddam Hussein. This is the man, this is the apparatus of terror we are dealing with," Howard said on March 20, 2003, while telling Australia he was committing troops to the invasion of Iraq.

WHAT WE NOW KNOW:

The human shredder, which was supposed to be at Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison, has yet to be found.

Last year Britain's Spectator magazine set out to track down the source of the shredder claim, starting with the Times article that was written by a British Labour member of parliament, Ann Clwyd.

Clwyd chaired a group called Indict, which had been campaigning against the Baathist regime that supported Saddam. She had written on March 18, 2003, that male prisoners were dropped into the machine "designed for shredding plastic" and their minced remains packed into plastic bags before being used as "fish food".

Indict had first mentioned the human shredder in public on March 12, 2003, using information it said it had got from an unnamed Iraqi dissident in northern Iraq.

An Iraqi doctor who worked in the hospital attached to Abu Ghraib prison told the Spectator in February 2004 that there was no shredding machine. "As far as I know (hanging) was the only form of execution used there," he said.

IRAQ'S LINKS TO TERRORISM
WHAT WE WERE TOLD: IRAQ SUPPORTED OSAMA BIN LADEN'S AL-QAEDA TERRORIST NETWORK

Colin Powell set out a powerful case for Iraq's support of al-Qaeda when he addressed the UN in February 2003.

Describing the "sinister nexus", he said Iraq's links to the terrorist network could be traced back to the mid-1990s, when Iraqi intelligence officials met regularly with senior al- Qaeda members.

"Iraq today harbours a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda lieutenants," Powell said.

Powell produced satellite photographs of a terrorist training camp run by Zarqawi, which he said was providing training in "poison and explosives". Although he admitted the training camp was in Kurdish northern Iraq, outside of the area controlled by Saddam, Powell said Zarqawi had received medical attention in Baghdad and an Iraqi intelligence agent was working with the terrorist leader."

Iraqi officials deny accusations of ties with al-Qaeda. These denials are simply not credible," Powell said.

WHAT WE NOW KNOW:

The US Congress' commission on the 9/11 attacks said in its final report, released last August, that in the early 1990s bin Laden had actually been supporting anti-Saddam rebels in Iraq. When bin Laden met a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in late 1994 or early 1995 to ask for weapons and space to establish training camps, there was "no evidence that Iraq responded to this request".

"There is also evidence that around this time bin Laden sent out a number of feelers to the Iraqi regime, offering some co-operation," the commission found. "None are reported to have received a significant response." On the contrary, said the commission, Saddam was trying to "stay clear of bin Laden".

In 1998 Iraq reportedly initiated new contacts with bin Laden, with a meeting in Afghanistan, then the home base of al-Qaeda. When Iraq offered bin Laden safe haven, the al-Qaeda leader declined, although friendly contacts continued.

"But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship," the commission report said.

INSIDERS WHO SPOKE OUT

Dr David Kelly
The British Ministry of Defence's most senior biological weapons expert and adviser to intelligence agencies on Iraq, Dr Kelly was the anonymous source for BBC reports in May 2003 that a dossier used by the Blair Government to justify invading Iraq had been "sexed up".
He was known to be particularly doubtful about the claim that Saddam Hussein's regime could deploy WMD within 45 minutes.

After being revealed as the BBC's source and grilled before a parliamentary inquiry, Dr Kelly was found dead in July 2003. An inquiry into Dr Kelly's death and his allegations by Lord Hutton concluded that the scientist had taken his own life by swallowing pain-killers and slashing his left wrist. The Hutton inquiry findings, released in January 2004, cleared the Blair Government of any serious wrongdoing in Dr Kelly's death and said the claims it had "sexed up" intelligence information were unfounded. In December, the paramedics who attended first at Dr Kelly's death raised doubts that he had committed suicide.

Rod Barton
A former senior Australian intelligence official and weapons expert, he resigned in protest from the UScontrolled Iraq Survey Group last year during its fruitless search for WMD. He claimed the group's report to the US Congress had been politically censored and distorted, with information deliberately omitted that contradicted previous US claims on Saddam's WMD. In February, he went public on ABC television revealing that he had provided advice before the war to the Australian and US governments that Iraq's weapons did not threaten either country. He also challenged the Federal Government's assertions that Australians had not taken part in interrogations of Iraqi prisoners, revealing he had interviewed one senior military officer himself.

Andrew Wilkie
The former senior intelligence analyst in Australia's Office of National Assessments resigned in protest a week before the start of the Iraq war, claiming it would "make Australia a more likely terrorist target". In August 2003 he told a parliamentary inquiry that the Government had deceived the public before the Iraq war, exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein by ignoring vital qualifications placed on intelligence about arms programs. Wilkie said intelligence information had been "sexed up" by the Government before being used in the public arena.

"Sometimes the exaggeration was so great it was clear dishonesty," he said. Prime Minister John Howard later accused Wilkie of "distortion, exaggeration and misrepresentation".

Scott Ritter
The former UN arms inspector in Iraq first went public in 1999 with claims that the US had used the supposedly neutral inspection teams to spy on Saddam's regime, including planting surveillance devices. Continuing to campaign against military intervention, he said in August 2002 that Iraq's weapons programs had been eliminated and it posed no threat. His claim that the British Secret Service was planning a disinformation campaign against Iraq in the late 1990s was investigated by the Blair Government's Butler inquiry into pre-war intelligence and found to be true. Earlier this year, Ritter wrote in The Age that the invasion of Iraq was "a crime of gigantic proportions".

Richard Clarke
The former chief counter-terrorism adviser to the National Security Council in the Clinton and Bush administrations revealed in March 2004 that there was no evidence that Iraq had supported al-Qaeda, despite claims made by President George Bush. "They wanted to believe there was a connection," he said. Later Clarke told the presidential commission inquiry into Iraq intelligence failures that he wrote a memo just seven days after the twin towers attacks in New York in 2001 saying there were no confirmed reports of Saddam ever co-operating with al- Qaeda on unconventional weapons. He said the Bush Administration's obsession with Iraq had diverted its attention from the war on terrorism and al-Qaeda.

THE ROAD TO WAR . . . AND BEYOND

2002
NOVEMBER 8, 2002
UN Security Council unanimously passes resolution 1441, which orders Saddam Hussein to accept the unconditional return of weapons inspectors or face "serious consequences".

Ten days later weapons inspectors return to Iraq for the first time in almost four years.

2003
JANUARY 27
UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix reports that Iraq "appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance ... of the disarmament that was demanded".

FEBRUARY 14
Blix indicates that slight progress has been made in Iraq's co-operation.

He voices doubts about key elements of the intelligence presented to the Security Council by then US secretary of state Colin Powell about Iraq's WMD.

MARCH 7
Blix attempts to delay a war, calling for more time to verify Iraq's compliance. Britain and US respond by setting a March 17 deadline for Saddam to comply.

MARCH 10
France says it will veto any attempt to have the Security Council pass a second resolution, as sought by the US, Britain and Australia.

MARCH 18
President George Bush issues an ultimatum to Saddam saying he and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Prime Minister John Howard tells Parliament that cabinet has agreed to commit Australian troops to any military action.

MARCH 20
The invasion of Iraq, codenamed Operation Iraqi Freedom, begins at 2.30am Baghdad time. John Howard tells the nation that Australian troops were committed to action "because we believe it is right, it is lawful and it's in Australia's national interest".

MAY 1
President George Bush declares victory in the "Battle of Iraq" beneath a banner reading "Mission accomplished". A further 1235 coalition troops have since died in continuing fighting. Total civilian and insurgent casualties are unknown.

JULY 18
The body of British whistleblower Dr David Kelly is found. Kelly was the source of allegations that intelligence about Iraq's WMD had been "sexed up".

DECEMBER 19
Saddam is captured.

2004
MARCH 1
The parliamentary inquiry into Australia's intelligence on Iraq before the war says the Government was more moderate and more measured in its pre-war statements than either Britain or the US. It recommends an independent review of the performance of the intelligence agencies.

SEPTEMBER 30
The Iraq Survey Group reports after an extensive search that Iraq's WMD capabilities were essentially destroyed after the 1991 Gulf War and there was no formal plan or strategy to revive them.

OCTOBER 9
John Howard's Government re-elected.

NOVEMBER 2
George Bush re-elected.

2005
MARCH 31
The US presidential commission on intelligence on Iraq before the war describes the mistakes made about Saddam's WMD capabilities as "one of the most public - and most damaging - intelligence failures in recent American history".

APRIL 17
Howard farewells 450 Australian troops leaving for Iraq to provide security for Japanese engineers in al-Muthanna in the country's south.

MAY 5
Tony Blair's Government re-elected.

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