Australian inspector told soldiers no regional threat from WMD

Australian troops fighting in Iraq were told in an official briefing days before entering the country that Saddam Hussein did not have the capability to launch weapons of mass destruction against its neighbours.

Roger Hill, Australia's most experienced weapons inspector, yesterday told The Age that Iraq had possessed the remnants of weapons of mass destruction but its ability to use them on the battlefield was "almost zero".

"There is no question Iraq possessed materials, documents and possibly products," Mr Hill said. "But it did not have the ability to conduct attacks on its near or regional neighbours," he said. "I told our troops that. I also told people in the other coalition forces. But I was a lone voice."

Asked if the Australian Government was aware at the time of his assessment of Iraq's capabilities, Mr Hill said: "If they had asked me, I would have told them."

Mr Hill, who is widely acknowledged as Australia's top expert on Saddam's weapons programs, said that during the eight years he spent travelling to Iraq as a senior UN weapons inspector he was asked only once to brief officials in Canberra about the threat posed by Saddam.
They didn't know... and they didn't want to know.

Maybe that's one reason why intelligence screwed things up: they spent more time listening to Iraqi fraudsters than their own experts.

(Link via Hesiod)

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