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Truth-teller: David Kay told America that Saddam had no WMD — and they hated him for it

RIP: David Kay, who was honest

… Americans committed war crimes for Iraq

Earlier this week, a man who went from a distinguished academic to a person who was anathema to politicians in Washington passed away this week.

David Kay was reviled by those who lied their way into the war with Iraq that lasted for almost a decade. Kay was employed by the CIA and was leader of the Iraq Survey Group that learned that Saddam Hussein, the dictator of the country, did not have any Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

The presence of WMDs was the causis belli that the neocons used as a pretence to invade the country.

Here is the story.

David Kay’s problem

After a year looking for the elusive WMD, Kay had to admit that all of those who had promoted those lies were wrong,

On Jan. 28, 2004, David Kay sat alone at a polished table in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing room and publicly admitted what no U.S. official previously had said — that America had gone to war in Iraq based on egregiously bad intelligence.

“Let me begin by saying we were almost all wrong,” Kay began. “And I certainly include myself here. … Prior to the war, my view was that the best evidence that I had seen was that Iraq indeed had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out we were all wrong, probably, in my judgment. And that is most disturbing.”

With that, the quiet, unassuming Texan directly undercut President George W. Bush’s claims that Saddam Hussein’s vast arsenals of chemical, biological and perhaps nuclear weapons posed a direct threat to the United States and its allies, which of course had been the administration’s chief justification for taking the nation to war in Iraq in March 2003.

Bob Drogin, “The passing of a truth-teller,” Washington Post, August 23, 2022

The elusive search

The neocons in the Bush administration who pushed for the Iraq War contended two things, both of which were wrong. The first was the Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were tied together on the 9/11 attack. That has been proven to be a lie.

The second was the Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That, too was disproved by Kay,

After the March 2003 invasion of Iraq failed to find any weapons of mass destruction, or programs to produce them, Bush ordered the CIA to take over the hunt. [CIA Director George] Tenet quickly named Kay — an aide had seen Kay interviewed on TV — as head of the new Iraq Survey Group with the remit to find the missing WMDs.

But Kay was a political scientist, not a spy. He had never served in the military or been trained in espionage. He resented using his CIA-issued code name, “Buford S. Vincent.” And he refused the Pentagon’s request to wear military fatigues.

Over the next few months, Kay and his team of scientists, soldiers and spies in Baghdad investigated claim after claim of supposed nonconventional weapons, only to find the “intelligence” based on supposition and inference, not fact. He was distraught to realize that the United States had gone to war based on misjudgments and outright lies.

He was greeted as a heretic, a pariah. On earlier visits to CIA headquarters, he had been given a 7th-floor office down the hall from Tenet. Now, he was banished to a wing under construction, where his windowless room had neither a classified computer nor a secure phone. America’s chief weapons hunter heard about meetings on Iraq’s weapons after the fact, if at all. People avoided him in the halls. “I was contaminated, like Typhoid Mary,” he told me.

After a month, he quit.

Bob Drogin, Washington Post, August 23, 2022

RIP, Mr. Kay. You deserved better here on earth.

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