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Hannity

Chemical Weapons Found in Iraq!

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 22, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Our top story tonight, the nation abuzz today after word that coalition forces have found 500 chemical weapons, munitions in Iraq, since the invasion of 2003. Just a short time ago, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked about this new development at a Pentagon press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOURNALIST: Mr. Secretary, there's a lot made on Capitol Hill about these chemical weapons that were found and may be quite old. But do you have a real concern — are these weapons from Saddam's past, perhaps having an impact on U.S. troops who are on the ground in Iraq right now?

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Certainly. What's been announced is accurate, that there have been hundreds of canisters or weapons of various types found that either currently have sarin in them or had sarin in them. And sarin's dangerous, and it's dangerous to our forces and it's a concern.

So, obviously, to the extent we can locate these and destroy them, it's important that we do so. They are dangerous, and any of them, I'm sure, General Casey or anyone else in that country would be concerned if they got in the wrong hands.

They are weapons of mass destruction. They're harmful to human beings. And they have been found, and they not been reported by Saddam Hussein as he inaccurately alleged that he had reported all of his weapons. And they are still being found and discovered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLMES: What is the significance of this discovery? Joining us now, former coalition spokesman and FOX News contributor Dan Senor and former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright.

Dan, I contend that what Donald Rumsfeld just said is extremely misleading, that there's nothing new here. This stuff was already mentioned by the Iraqi Survey Group, and to suggest that we are somehow in additional danger that was unknown prior to this, I think is an incredible disservice to the American people.

DAN SENOR, FORMER COALITION SPOKESMAN: Well, look, Alan, first of all, you'll be shocked to know that I don't entirely disagree with you. I don't think there's anything necessarily new here, but it does validate things we knew a long time ago.

COLMES: It validates what we already knew. There's nothing new.

SENOR: Well, we knew that Saddam used chemical weapons against the Kurds and we knew he used chemical weapons against Iranians. But it's clear, or it seems to be clear, that these weapons were not available to Saddam in 2003 when we were going to war. They seem to have been available to him in the early '90s.

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: The Duelfer report said it. The Kay report...

(CROSSTALK)

SENOR: And Saddam never disclosed it back then, so in that regard...

COLMES: But we already knew that he didn't disclose. Let put up on the screen, in fact, what the report from which Rick Santorum read. And he was on the show talking about it last night. Here is what it says in that report.

"Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions, which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve gas."

Let me go to you, David Albright. When it says degraded, how dangerous are these munitions?

DAVID ALBRIGHT, FORMER WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, they can still hurt people. I mean, I don't know enough to know for sure that they're useless. I mean, I think they can still hurt people. They're not going to work as well as they would have when the materials were fresh.

One thing I would like to add, though, is I do believe what Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said is inaccurate. The inspectors started with a declaration by Iraq that it had over 100,000 chemical weapons either filled or unfilled. And Iraq tried to explain what it had done with those weapons. The inspectors investigated extensively what happened to, again, over 100,000 filled and unfilled chemical weapons.

Iraq said, very clearly, we don't know where all of them are. They even gave a case of 550 that they could not find after the Gulf War. So...

COLMES: So we already knew, Dan Senor, that this was the case. And also, let me show you what else was reported today in The Washington Post. Put it up on the screen. "Last night, intelligence officials reaffirmed that the shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq after the 2003 invasion."

So those using this to somehow justify the war and say Bush was right, that's not accurate, as well.

SENOR: Look, Alan, I don't think we should re-litigate this issue. I think people who are playing up the significance of this need to cool it and people who are playing down the significance and dismissing it need to cool it.

This is not how we're going to — whether Iraq is going to be won or lost today based on whether or not these WMD are valid as they relate to the prewar, you know, WMD accusations.

OLLIE NORTH, GUEST HOST: And troops on the ground that I talked to today said that these weapons are still dangerous. They're lethal, not just a matter of hurt somebody, as Alan said. They can kill people.

SENOR: Look, I'm sure that, if troops stumble upon these, they're still probably could be contaminated and could be a threat, in terms of an accident, stumbling upon them. It's not clear, though, that these were weapons Saddam was building up in the lead-up to the most recent Gulf War.

NORTH: But here's the major problem, and, David, I want you to chime in on this. These are weapons that, if, for example, terrorists used them instead of an explosive device and an IED, or a suicide bomber, these could kill people through the release of a chemical agent. David, you disagree?

ALBRIGHT: No, I don't disagree. I mean, I think that they're degraded, but some of the mustard gas could still be dangerous. Some of the sarin, if that shell was used properly as a chemical weapon, could be dangerous. And so I think it's very important to find these — I guess they're almost like orphan chemical weapons that can cause harm and, certainly, in the hands of terrorists could be used to blackmail and to threaten. So I think it's critical.

(CROSSTALK)

NORTH: In the U.N. report, there's listings of weapons that are "unaccounted for." How much chemical, biological and nuclear material is unaccounted for in Iraq today?

ALBRIGHT: Well, on the chemical, it's hundreds of weapons, and these 500 that have been found are part of that. And so I think it's commendable that the U.S. has gone to the trouble to try to continue finding these things.

My understanding, they're finding them in dribs and drabs.

NORTH: Right.

ALBRIGHT: I mean, there were some reports there were large numbers found, but later reports were that there were small numbers found and they're just adding up.

NORTH: In fact, I am told that some contractors are bringing these things in, turning them into the explosive ordnance disposal people. Dan, why keep this classified?

SENOR: Look, I think they should declassify it. I mean, to me, it is amazing that they just don't provide transparency. Look, I don't think people should hype it. I don't think people should downplay it. They should just put it out there. The reason there's reticence by the administration to declassify it is because they are concerned that if they send a message that they want re-litigate why we went into war, that we want to re-litigate the issue of WMD, that there are people within the intelligence bureaucracy who don't have the White House's agenda — don't share the White House agenda, and they will try to respond and knock it down. And they get into this battle.

NORTH: Set aside the issue of whether you go back and reinvestigate why you started the war, isn't this a good reason to have American troops on the ground in Iraq today?

SENOR: My view is there are two issues, Ollie. One is, if people stumble upon those weapons, if bad people stumble upon those weapons now and do things with it, it poses a threat to us and to our troops on the ground. That's a separate issue and should be dealt with entirely separately from whether or not we should re-litigate whether or not these weapons were found pre-war.

COLMES: We've got to run. Thank you, both, very much. Dan, David, thank you both.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

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