Via Josh Marshall, it looks like Republicans are still promoting the misperception that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq (PDF). Here's what Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Senator Rick Santorum said yesterday according to the Washington Post:
Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) told reporters yesterday that weapons of mass destruction had in fact been found in Iraq, despite acknowledgments by the White House and the insistence of the intelligence community that no such weapons had been discovered.
"We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Santorum said.
The lawmakers pointed to an unclassified summary from a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center regarding 500 chemical munitions shells that had been buried near the Iranian border, and then long forgotten, by Iraqi troops during their eight-year war with Iran, which ended in 1988.
The U.S. military announced in 2004 in Iraq that several crates of the old shells had been uncovered and that they contained a blister agent that was no longer active. Neither the military nor the White House nor the CIA considered the shells to be evidence of what was alleged by the Bush administration to be a current Iraqi program to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
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.
More than three years after the invasion, two prominent members of the United States Congress, including the chair of the House intelligence committee, are trying to pass off buried chemical shells from the 1980s as proof that Saddam had WMDs. Unbelievable.
Update 6/22 8:07 AM: Sadly, the reports on Hoekstra and Santorum from FoxNews.com ("Report: Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq") and the Washington Times ("Chemical arms found in Iraq, report reveals") hype their claims and downplay the details. It's not hard to see how this could fuel further misperceptions among the public.
Update 6/22 3:24 PM: Drudge's headlines today are even more misleading out of context:
And some National Review writers at The Corner are arguing that the "discovery" is important. Sigh.