The WMD find that isn’t

The guys that used a sarin-loaded chemical shell to build a roadside bomb probably had no idea what they were doing. If they DID know what it was they had, and they DID mean to cause some damage, they wouldn’t have used it to try and blow up a truck. They would tried to nerve gas a barracks or a market or something.

Whoever built the bomb probably just got the shell from someone who got it from someone who got it from someone who stole it from someone at some point in the past fifteen years. More than likely it came from one of the 7.2 gajillion square miles of barely-secured munitions dumps scattered throughout the deserts, hills, and kindergarten classrooms of Iraq. Or they found it in a mosque somewhere.

In any event, this IED and the just-disclosed find of some spoiled mustard gas a couple of weeks ago doesn’t really warrant the headline SARIN, MUSTARD GAS FOUND IN IRAQ in bold letters across the top of’s front page (story here). On the other hand, it probably warrants more than the total lack of notation on For once, MSNBC seems to have it about right: The story is linked from the headline box, but given billing behind the killing of the head of the Iraqi Governing Council and the prison abuse scandal. (As a side note, Nick Berg isn’t mentioned on MSNBC’s front page, but at least we learn that transsexuals have the green light for the Olympics.)

If we learn where this sarin shell came from, and find more like it, then we’ve got a story. Until then, this isn’t really much to get excited about. Bush supporters and those who support the invasion of Iraq (like me) would do well to remain calm about this story at this time.


  1. Considering the size and range of this particular artillery piece (155 and up to 14 miles), the fact that it is a class of ordinance that Saddam Hussein never declared to the UN weapons inspectors and its relative sophistication as a binary chemical weapons delivery vehicle, this find is actually a very, very big deal.

  2. This find COULD BE a very, very big deal. It might be the tip of the iceberg. Let’s find the rest of the iceberg before we go shouting ‘I told you so!’, though. You are totally right that Iraq had no business whatsoever possessing this shell. But we don’t know that this even came from the Iraqi military. At this point, it could have come from anywhere. If this is a big deal, it will still be a big deal tomorrow. If it’s not a big deal, let’s not make much ado about nothing. What threat is 155mm artillery to anyone outside of Iraq? Please note that I’m pro-invasion, though not for WMD reasons. I’m not apologizing for Saddam or the anti-war crowd. I’m simply asking that the Right remain calm about this unless/until more comes out. That’s all.