“Secret” WMD casualties in Iraq

| October 15, 2014

Mustard weapon destruction in Iraq

Eggs sends us a link from the New York Times which reports on the “secret” casualties of the Iraq War, they tell how there were casualties from Saddam Hussein’s non-existent chemical weapons program. The excuse for keeping the weapons and their casualties secret was that the weapons containers were old and degraded and didn’t fit the Bush Administration’s definition of WMDs.

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

You can read the entire 45-page FOIA here.

To me, 5000 chemical warheads is indicative of a chemical weapons program, and 500 tons of yellow cake uranium tells me that there was a nuclear program in Iraq. The concern now is that those 5000 warheads are in the hands of ISIS. The Obama Administration says that the weapons are degraded and not worth worrying about, but one of the encounters that US troops had with chemical weapons that the New York Times recounts happened in 2011.

The NYT stops short of blaming the US for the weapons troops found in Iraq, but they do say that the weapons were “US designed” as if we were designing Hussein’s chemical weapon program. But the weapons were activated by unnamed European manufacturers.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.

Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin.

But, regardless, the things still existed, Hussein wasn’t disposing of them and they were still potent enough to wound US troops as they tried to dispose of the things. So can we admit that there were indeed WMDs in Iraq now?

Category: Terror War

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Former 11B

These WMD and that’s a very generous description are pre-1991 and their existence was well known by the administration and the UN.

These are NOT the WMD we went to war over, which were supposed to have been newer, and not degraded. If these were the WMD that the administration was after then you’d better believe they wouldn’t have been so quiet about finding them. Moreover, there would’ve been a much more concerted effort to dismantle them as opposed to leaving them in bunkers for ISIS to find now


That is a lie. I read that very lie in the NYT article and got pissed there. I will not let this lie stand unchallenged. In 2002, the fact was stated time after time, “we know he had this many tons of chemical weapons prior to 1991, part of the ceasefire agreement was that Saddam have those weapons destroyed. He refused and kicked out UN weapons inspectors. Those chemical weapons are still unaccounted for. Saddam has one last chance to come clean and either produce those weapons or provide evidence they were destroyed.” And he never did. And we were told by the Left for nearly a decade “there are no WMDs”, NOT “there are no NEW WMDs”.

So spare me the revisionist history. It’s bullshit.


I was at Tajo for OIF II. We were attacked at least two times with those “non-existent” WMDs.


04 outside Baghdad my sister company was hit with chemical rounds. Had half a platoon getting deconed and quarantined. I hear people say there were no chemical weapons and no wmds it pisses me off. 10 years ive been saying from first hand experience it was there and we found it


Thank you MikeD. I got real pissed reading the article too. Being told, “well, there were WMD’s but they weren’t the RIGHT WMD’s” is bullshit parsing of the truth.

Saddam had a chemical weapons program and the Iraq was full of them. The left will NEVER stop lying about it, because God forbid President Bush was right.

The real scandal is if the troops who were exposed to this crap were not given prompt medical treatment once they were exposed. From reading the article, it sounds like they were not. But since it is the NYT, I have a problem believing half of what I read.


You’re correct in that those weapons were clearly still there (and now, seemingly, some are in the hands of ISIS), but during the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, the imagery most often used by the Bush administration was that of a ‘mushroom cloud’, and fears of nuclear WMD. Hence all the talk about centrifuges, yellow cake uranium, etc.

For example, in early September 2002, President Bush said that weapons inspectors concluded that Iraq was ‘six months away’ from developing a weapon. More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Iraq_Group#.22Up_to_the_Invasion.22

The above link also states that we knew he had the old weapons, but again, the focus WAS, in fact, on new developments. Another example, emphasis mine:

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Vice President Richard Cheney cited the New York Times article, and accused Saddam of moving aggressively to develop nuclear weapons over the past fourteen months to add to his stockpile of chemical and biological arms.

In short, yes, old WMDs have been found throughout the past few years, but none of the new developments, including nuclear capabilities, that were said to be imminent.

I’m quite happy to see any links to the contrary, mind you.


From 2004:

CNN claiming that the stockpiles being reported on today “do not exist”.

More information regarding the hunt for those stockpiles:


And here’s an excellent timeline of events drawn up in 2005:



Please restate your argument using a credible source. Wikipedia is NOT that source.

*Sorry, my college professors tell me that all the time and had to use it, but seriously…use someone other than Wikipedia*


Actually wiki is often one of the best sources online and compares favorably with many resources that people consider to be more credible. The problem with Wikipedia is that it can be edited by any moron and you may see it before someone with a brain fixes it. Especially on actively controversial issues. Most wiki articles have a footnotes section with links to sources. Follow those links and read those documents so you can get any nuances that you need and a more complete read on the source. Don’t ignore Wikipedia, just apply the same level of scrutiny you’d give apply my other source. But if you’re one of those people who sniffs apply my no says you use wiki so you’re stupid, then you’re basically committing the ad hom logical fallacy.

The Other Whitey

And what about the truck convoys loading up at known and suspected chem/bio weapon storage sites and hauling ass into Syria in the final days before the invasion in 2003? Bush’s major mistake was trusting Vladimir Putin, who made sure everything the Bush Administration told him, including dates, was passed to Saddam–in the words of Dennis Farina, “Sneaky fuckin’ Russian…”

Rumor has it that some of the security for those convoys was Russian Spetznaz.

Now why would Saddam be in such a hurry to move that much stuff out of Iraq before the invasion? And why would the Russians be so interested in helping him?


At least one of those was stopped at the Syrian border but no trace of bio agent was found so no one took notice. The general public; including the news media, never really reported on that even though a decent scrubbing would have removed all trace of a bio agent.

Former 11B

That’s ridiculous. We went to war because we were convinced that Saddam had started his NBC warfare programs back up again, not because he hadn’t destroyed decade-plus old chemical warheads that were degraded beyond their ability to cause mass destruction.

If we went to war over these old, degraded warheads then why did the Bush administration keep the discovery of these stockpiles so quiet? They were being hammered by the liberal media over the WMD issue, wouldn’t 5,000 warheads be a good way to shut them the fuck up?


Any time that the military found any of that crap, the left cried that it was not the proper WMD’s. Bush would have been hammered whether his administration talked about it or not.

Former 11B

What are you talking about? If the Bush administration had started this war because of the old WMD then the old WMD would have been the perfect evidence to back up his reasoning for going to war.


Wrong again.

What you’re missing is that in the eyes of the nay-sayers there is NO good reasoning for going to war with Iraq, and the liberal press was NOT going to allow a WHISPER of success to interfere with their narrative of ‘Bush Lied’.

Former 11B

Are you seriously saying that the Liberal media has so much power that they can shut up the President of the United states so effectively that he wouldn’t be able to state his case to the American people?

That’s absurd on its face. The President holds how many press conferences a year? He never seemed to bring this up at any of those.

Moreover Foxbews was and is the most watched cable news outlet in the country. If the liberal media refused to report on all the stuff we were finding then why didn’t he go to Fox?


What I am saying is the Bush administration talked about finding evidence of WMD’s in Iraq from the time of the invasion, but it wasn’t the “proper” WMD’s, or it wasn’t what Bush had promised to find when we invaded, so all of the talk was drowned out in the liberal echo chamber that worked overtime to convince us that “Bush lied, people died” “war for oil” and other bullshit that was perpetrated by the left to try and embarrass the administration.


Wrong Former 11B. I suggest you go back and read

S.J.Res.45 — 107th Congress (2001-2002) and
H.J.Res.114 – Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.

Please quit perpetuating the myth.


Ace of Spades has a good writeup on this. It’s currently bumped to the top of their website.



Blackfive does as well.


Indeed. Want the answer to “why didn’t they say anything”? Well, the NYT author of the article had been told about this back in 2003 and 2004. But for some reason (*cough*) he didn’t feel the need to report it back then. I can’t imagine why…



Let me set the record straight about the weapons that were found. They were not “old and degraded beyond their ability to cause mass destruction.” Chemical weapons aren’t like a pork chop left out too long. They don’t just go bad and you have to say “aww shucks” and throw them away. They stay viable as long as they are containerized. Some don’t even need to be containerized and they’re still effective i.e. mustard and VX.

I know guys that have funny little badges on their chests that dealt with a lot (A LOT) of those weapons and they were in very good shape.

It’s very funny how this was just a small blip on the media’s radar. Yes they did report it but in a whisper. Didn’t fit the agenda. Kinda like all the French ordnance over there with all the post 91 lot dates.


Exactly Jay! I was one of the guys for years who had a funny little badge on my chest. Fortunately I missed out on the live agents during my 2004 deployment. While the agents do degrade over time it takes a very long time for them to reach a level where they don’t have any effects.


“Didn’t fit the agenda. Kinda like all the French ordnance over there with all the post 91 lot dates.”

Thank you, thank you, and thank you for bringing that up!

I have pictures of a lot of that ordnance in the backs of my platoons trucks in 2003. Funny how nobody wanted to discuss how blatantly some European countries were ignoring the arms embargo PRIOR TO OUR INVASION!!

Included in the tons of ordnance we confiscated were modern shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles from France, munitions that were a direct threat to the ‘no fly zone’ operations of us and our allies.

The important stuff that was swept under the rug by the newsies, especially from the first couple years of the war, could fill volumes.


I spent 13 years in the chemical weapon disposal business. We destroyed agent munitions from WWII found in Okinawa to the stockpile the US had in Germany during the Cold War to the stockpiles stored here in the US. While it is true that agent will degrade over time, all of our testing showed that they were 70% or better pure agent (mustard, VX and G-Series). Degraded or not, that stuff will still ruin your day. We haven’t even mentioned the psychological effects of getting hit with agent.
Google Robert Wolz. He was exposed to cyclo-sarin (sp?) in DS and has gotten Congress and others to listen. Maybe that’ll help today’s exposed Vets.


There were reports of troops being exposed to blister and nerve (Sarin) agents from an IED back in 2004 in some mainstream media but no one seemed to give a shit. Amazing that the WMD was there and no one really seemed to acknowledge it’s existence because it was all pre 1991 manufacture.

2/17 Air Cav

I looked at the 45-page report and “heavily redacted” is an understatement. What’s left, after the redactions, the graphs, and the forms are eliminated is about a page, page and a half of info. Can we now move on to whether Von Paulus should have surrendered at Stalingrad?


If Friedrich had just held out for a few more weeks, von Richtofen and the 3rd Luftlotte would’ve been able to up the tonnage of delivered supplies. von Paulus was a quitter!


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot over.


Yeah, tell the family of a friend of mine who was exposed to these non existent WMD and who died last year of cancer that they weren’t there. And tell another friend of mine (same unit) who is currently being treated for cancer after being exposed at the same place in 2001-02. I’ve called bullshit all along on this due to info friends who were there told me – and not just the two mentioned above.


I spent three years in Iraq between 2004 and 2009. There have been over three hundred of us diagnosed with some form of leukemia or lung cancer who were in Mosul or Baghdad during 2004 and 2005. ( http://www.gulfwarchemicals.com/)

I get really tired of people saying there was “nothing” found. Trade me places any time asshole. (not you Parachutecutie, just these nay sayer fuckers!)


People are skeptical or think I’m lying when I tell them that we were attacked at least twice with chemical weapons at Taji in 2004. While the doctors I’ve seen haven’t stated outright that my “problems” are WMD related, they have hinted at it. And like you, I’m sick of those who continue to propogate the lie that there were no WMD in Iraq.

Farflung Wanderer

Jesus, that’s horrible. A chemical attack… I hope those guys are okay.

I really hate the media for propagating the myth that the Iraqis had no NBC WMDs. I’m really glad that they’re having to put their shit-covered foot in their mouth and take a good long suck on it now that things are spiraling out of control.


Again with Libtards, it’s not WMD enough to admit Bush is right. Add it with the 500 tons of yellow cake uranium saddam had that doesn’t count either.


This guy Former 11B is probably a Former 11B for a reason, couldn’t hack it. Now he is a reformed liberal islamist commie.


Where are you from former 11B? I doubt any real grunt would turn into a limp wristed Obama loving commie


The NYT was able to publish strategic information advantageous to the terrorists with dismaying frequency, but they could not find out about those wounded by these WMD?



God Bless our current President for stopping this evil.



2/17 Air Cav

Don’t you know his name?


Yes indeed, look at all the evil he stopped over there. People over there are so happy the evil is all gone that their heads are just popping right off their necks.

You’re a special kind of stupid aren’t you?

Farflung Wanderer

Please be a troll.

Because, far as I can tell, it was the guys who went in during the Bush administration that handled the WMDs.



In case you dont get it:


And thanks again to God and President Bush for getting that 500 tons of yellowcake uranium out of Iraq! Sure, it wasn’t enriched, but it could have been refined down; U-235 is what, 0.7 % of the un-enriched metal (depending on the source).

And 2 kg of metal can go boom.


This article really doesn’t surprise me, nor many of the other vets I know and worked with on our respective deployments to the sandbox. Having worked on the Intel side of the house, I can tell you that there are a lot of times I’ve been irritated by what I saw in reports on this crap during my tours, for which I’ve been unable, and because of my SF312 still unable, to speak about on this issue. One thing to say though about the whole justification thing, that AUMF, was designed in order to ensure bad guys were not able to get ANY WMD munitions, as they could potentially reverse engineer them and use them against us later. That was the primary concern most of us looking at this issue had. Hence, any found, old or new, would be problematic. As to why they weren’t heavily reported on, I have two thoughts as to why that was the case up, up to this current report anyway. 1)As many people have suggested, they didn’t fit the narrative. 2)Our enemies read our open source, aka Main Stream Media, and if there were stories about this thing out there on a regular basis, there is a good possibility that the bad guys over there who watch our stuff would try to find out where the piles were so that they could get to them before we could get rid of them. May seem a strange reason to not tell anyone, but tactically it makes sense, like not telling our enemy when we are leaving makes sense to most reasonable people. I could go on, like I’m sure many of us could, but I think my points are fairly well placed with all the other outstanding anecdotal comments on here already. Rant over.


I was there from January ’04 to March ’05. Our job duties entailed working with Tetratech and their civilian EOD getting rid of munitions in Caches. While around Karbala at a place designated only as Site 1 we came accross two bunkers that contained numerous rounds found to contain mustard gas. There were many rounds that had degrated. At our sister site near Basera there was a man who turned in a container that was found to be sarin. He literally walked it to the front gate and handed it over as if it were a casarole.


There is a LOT of shit buried out in the western desert (oh yeah, right where ISIS is right now!) that we found and dealt with. Never a soldier’s responsibility to question why something is being classified and not revealed to the public. Whether it was precursors, production waste, or the actual weaponized concoctions, Saddam had TANKS of this shit buried out there. Maybe it was a typical oilman coverup: keep what we found secret and then no one will ask us to spend the money to SUPERFUND the whole damn Syrian Desert. (??)

Will we ever know?

Jesse Bogan

I have a short comment on chemical weapons degrading with age. There is a neighborhood in DC that has had something like a decade of excavation, and some houses condenmed because they were built in the 60s and 70s over a WW1 chemical weapons dumping ground. This was not discovered until long after the houses were built. The property was once owned by American University, and they were doing testing in the area, which then was out in the country. When the war ended, all this stuff was forgotten and buried. They considered it all to still be dangerous enough to clear out swaths of the neighborhood. I believe they are still finding some even today.


That is one of the sites that I work regularly. This site was the very beginning of our chemical weapons program and was called the American University Experimental Station. The CWM pulled out of the ground would have bitten you just like it would have over 100 years ago. Knowing this, it irritates me to no end hearing the talking heads on the big shiny box dismissing everything that ISIS can get their hands on as old and degraded.

Edward Wells

While I sense that I’m supposed to feel some sort of outrage based on the surface of this story, I nonetheless fail to see what the basic premise of wrongdoing is here. Essentially a small number of troops were exposed to very old chemical weapons while on duty in Iraq. This exposure, while not completely censored, was heavily downplayed by DoD and USG public relations. The reason for this downplaying is unclear but the negative motives implied in the article are conjecture, even though the actions are fundamentally wrong.

I just keep asking, why are we surprised or outraged that these events occurred? 17 incidents is nothing compared to the amount of total ordinance disposal that occurred over there. This isn’t a systemic issue or a conspiracy.

Also, the sad portraits of Veterans didn’t help me get over the “emotionally manipulative” gut feeling I was getting while reading. I’ve been a big fan of Mr. Chivers work, he has a great blog too so i’m disappointed in this article. Would love to hear others thoughts on this and FWIW I’m a former 0311 that did Fallujah ’05 and Ramadi ’06-’07