It wasn't the only justification for the Iraq War, but it certainly has often been held up as the biggest. Although it has been claimed before that chemical weapons had been found in Post-Hussein Iraq, due to new documents uncovered by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the New York Times is now reporting it in a piece, "The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons."
While various news sources had reported the finding before, all assertions that Hussein had chemical weapons in some capacity (weapons-grade or not - they had been hidden from U.N. inspectors) were largely scoffed at as nothing more than supercilious bunk. Well, behold...
The news report from the Times explains the now not-secret revelation that there had been WMDs in Iraq, after all:
From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.
In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
The NY Times even published a map of all the cases when American military troops were exposed to the formerly 'non-existent' weapons of mass destruction:
As The Blaze's Oliver Darcy pointed out, the WMD discoveries were kept partly hidden from Congress.
Retired Army major Jarrod Lampier, who was there when the U.S. military found 2,400 nerve agent rockets in 2006 — the largest chemical weapons discovery of the war - said of the finding's import, "'Nothing of significance’ is what I was ordered to say.”
WMDs in Iraq vindicated, just like the "no blood for (no) oil" myth debunked? You know this is going to get good on Twitter. And it is.
The obligatory sassy Tweet:
Snark factor says a lot:
Regardless of how one feels about George W. Bush or the Iraq War, this report definitely looks like 'something of significance' to those who were told there were no WMDs in Iraq - not to mention the soldiers who were injured by them.
Justen Charters assisted with the creation of this report. This article was edited after publication.
Update: In response to denials of the veracity of this report and its import, this is the actual text of the "AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAQ RESOLUTION OF 2002," which passed the Congress:
"Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States
intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that
Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale
biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear
weapons development program that was much closer to producing a
nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;
Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire,
attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify
and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and
development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal
of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;
Whereas in Public Law 105-235 (August 14, 1998), Congress concluded that
Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened
vital United States interests and international peace and security,
declared Iraq to be in ``material and unacceptable breach of its
international obligations'' and urged the President ``to take
appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant
laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its
Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of
the United States and international peace and security in the
Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach
of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing
to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons
capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and
supporting and harboring terrorist organizations..."
Hussein kept chemical weapons (wmds) from UN inspectors and these stockpiles were not only discovered, but reports of soldiers being injured by them were suppressed and were only discovered due to FOIA request.
As a sample article of news publications that deny wmds even existed in Iraq, there is the 2005 news piece by NBC [recently removed - screenshot here], "CIA's final report: No wmds found in Iraq." CNN reported in 2004, "Report: No WMD stockpiles in Iraq."
This is what CNN concluded in 2004: "Saddam Hussein did not possess stockpiles of illicit weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003 and had not begun any program to produce them, a CIA report concludes."
But various reports from 2009 and 2010 show reports of soldiers discovering new chemical weapons stockpiles. A 2010 Wired article, for example, reported, "...WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction."
The headlines claiming that there were 'no wmd stockpiles in Iraq' are factually untrue (or are a "myth") and are corrected by a report that chemical weapons stockpiles not known to UN inspectors were newly discovered post-invasion. The New York Times article adds to what we know through FOIA request documentation by establishing that not only were weapons stockpiles discovered, but U.S. soldiers were injured by them.
The New York Times itself said it best: "Chemical weapons were found during the Iraq War but the public never knew about it. Until now."