The US weapons inspectors have gone home to stay. From today's Post:
The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley.The Duelfer report, issued at the end of September 2004, will stand as the final word on the matter. The White House acknowledges this reality, though no one from the intelligence agencies would speak on the record:
In interviews, officials who served with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said the violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas.
Asked if the ISG had stopped actively searching for WMD, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said today: "That's my understanding." He added, "A lot of their mission is focused elsewhere now."The off-the-record accounts sound pretty final:
Duelfer "is continuing to wrap things up at this point on an addendum to the report which will be issued sometime next month," McClellan said. "That's not going to fundamentally alter the findings of his earlier report."
Intelligence officials said there is little left for the ISG to investigate because Duelfer's last report answered as many outstanding questions as possible. The ISG has interviewed every person it could find connected to programs that ended more than 10 years ago, and every suspected site within Iraq has been fully searched, or stripped bare by insurgents and thieves, according to several people involved in the weapons hunt.Analysts continue to read old documents, but they are looking for evidence to charge politicians and scientists with war crimes. Some individuals have been held for nearly two years without charge, and were originally held because the Pentagon thought they were lying.
Satellite photos show that entire facilities have been dismantled, possibly by scrap dealers who sold off parts and equipment to buyers around the world.
"The September 30 report is really pretty much the picture," the intelligence official said.
Those who were not arrested have been disappearing, suggesting that they have been kidnapped or may be voluntarily working for other potential proliferant states.