Examiner | Bruce Baker, Top News Examiner
Published October 15, 2014 12:31PM EDT
It's been 11 years since George W. Bush ordered an American invasion of Iraq after the 911 World Trade Center attacks. Then, President Bush was convinced Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, had an active chemical weapons program. However, no weapons of mass destruction were found, as reported by the Administration at the time. Nonetheless, a shocking report out Tuesday by the New York Times says that WMD were found in Iraq after all, but the Pentagon did its best to hide the truth.
Watch video above of Huff Post Live talking about how weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq
Sources, namely former and retired U.S. and Iraq veterans, shared appalling stories of U.S. troops coming across dangerous abandoned chemical munitions during a span of time from 2004 to 2011. One such incident took place in 2008 with a team of military technicians charged with disposing of artillery left behind in the toils of war.
They told of handling shells that oozed of some pungent liquid that smelled acrid. "That doesn't look like pond water," said his team leader, Staff Sgt. Eric J. Duling. And after swabbing the discharge, the color indicated the presence of the agent mustard, a potent chemical weapon outlawed from past a war, that burns the skin, eyes, and airway of anyone exposed.
The sergeant gave the order: "Get the hell out." He knew the dangers of the WMD, and from that point on, an alleged government cover up ensued as officials tried desperately to keep the finding of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq from getting out to the public. The Times weighed in.
'The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm's way and from military doctors. The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war's most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds."
Recently, through the Freedom of Information Act, the truth finally came out: There were chemical weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, but not from an active Iraqi program at the time Bush ordered the famous, “Shock and Awe” invasion. All told, some 5,000 or more WMDs were located by military techs even when Pentagon officials say they were inert and posed no harm to humans.
"I felt more like a guinea pig than a wounded soldier," said a former Army sergeant who suffered mustard burns in 2007. This same veteran was denied medical treatment for "exposure to WMDs" and despite requests from his commander to be evacuated from theater, higher-ups denied requests.
Years later, soldiers in mass began reporting harmful effects from nerve and mustard gas agents. However, bureaucratic red tape is complicating their care. Some facilities are saying the ill effects reported by veterans are not related to the discovery of outlawed chemical weapons, based on the Geneva Convention Protocol, as ICRC explains.
"The use of chemical weapons is prohibited in international armed conflicts in a series of treaties, including the Hague Declaration concerning Asphyxiating Gases, the Geneva Gas Protocol, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Statute of the International Criminal Court. At present, only 13 States are not party to either the Geneva Gas Protocol or the Chemical Weapons Convention. Of these, at least three have made statements to the effect that the use of chemical weapons is unlawful, or have indicated that they do not possess or use them or that they are committed to their elimination. The prohibition is also contained in a number of other instruments."
So, why did the government allegedly conceal the fact weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq? After all, it was President George W. Bush's premise for invading the country in 2003 and targeting Saddam Hussein and Al-Quaeda for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001?
The NY Times suggests that the Bush Administration would have a hard time explaining why officials sent soldiers into harms-way after leading them to believe the WMDs were harmless. A second reason is that the outing of the information could possibly fuel attempts by ISIS to locate the remaining unearthed chemical weapons – and use them. Finally, and, arguably, the most damaging reason why the U.S. government didn't disclose the finding of chemical weapons was that most, if not all of them were allegedly manufactured in European and American companies before 1991.
Just last year, reporters visited a pair of abandoned bunkers that were contaminated by dangerous munitions left behind during the long occupation in Iraq. What they found was nothing short of alarming.
"Two contaminated bunkers — one containing cyanide precursors and old sarin rockets — loomed behind. The area where Marines had found mustard shells in 2008 was out of sight, shielded by scrub and shimmering heat. The Iraqi troops who stood at that entrance are no longer there. The compound, never entombed, is now controlled by the Islamic State," according to Times .