Saturday, December 14, 2002

Gellman speaks -- okay, types. Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman yesterday conducted an online conversation with readers to discuss his Thursday bombshell, in which he wrote that terrorists linked to Al Qaeda may have smuggled nerve gas out of Iraq. (Click here, here, and here for my earlier posts on this.)

The transcript is worth reading in full, but here is the most salient exchange:

Fairfax, Va.: How certain are you that this transfer may have actually occurred? If it did occur, are any sources discussing specific plots in which the nerve gas might be used?

Barton Gellman: Many levels of uncertainty. One, whether the information that the CIA obtained is true -- it comes mainly from a single, sensitive source that's seen as credible, but it's not corroborated by another source yet (that I know of) and errors of interpretation are always possible. Two, whether those who got the chemical agent are working for al Qaeda. three, whether they got it out of the country (though age old smuggling routes are efficient). Four, whether any such transaction had Saddam's consent. Five, whether I know as much as (no I don't) what the US government knows, and whether what I do know is accurate (I have good reason to think so). No simple answers here, I'm afraid.

Thanks to RB for the link.

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