A team of American military engineers began an intensive effort today to excavate the site of a bombing on April 7 that military officials still think may have killed Saddam Hussein.
The operation, involving a backhoe, two bulldozers, two cranes and 17 dump trucks, appeared to be by far the largest American effort to discover whether Mr. Hussein was killed in the raid.
But no U.S. weapons hunters or intelligence officials have visited the heart of Iraq’s missile programs — the state-owned Al-Fatah company in Baghdad, which designed all the rockets Saddam Hussein’s troops fired in 1991 and again this year. Not only that, it’s not even on their agenda.
“We have the most sensitive documents here,” said Marouf al-Chalabi, director-general of Al-Fatah. “We were sure the Americans would target us, but they haven’t even dropped by.”
Plans for rocket engines, guidance systems and even missile warheads are strewn across the dusty office floors and swirl in the parking lot outside. Some have been blown into nearby bushes. “They’re scattered everywhere,” Chalabi said, marveling at the mess.
American missile experts who have accompanied U.S. weapons teams in Iraq expressed astonishment this week when told that the design plans and engineers behind the Iraqi Scuds and other missile projects were available. The experts, who couldn’t be identified for security reasons, said Al-Fatah wasn’t on any target list they had seen.
They sure as hell immediately secured the oil fields, and sent the troops necessary to accomplish that. But they never did put much effort into locating and securing the supposed weapons. Yes, the same weapons that were a terrible, unimaginable threat to our security. Weapons that not only Saddam could use against us, but terrorists could get their hands on. But after the war they didn’t even bother to send more than a few teams out to look for them — surely not a major effort to secure all these weapons before they could be used on us or dispersed to terrorists. It’s almost like they didn’t want to waste resource on something that was nothing more than a story – a pretense – an excuse.