General confident weapons of mass destruction will be found
WASHINGTON, May. 27 - The chairman of the
military Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday he believes it's "just a
matter of time" before U.S. military forces find weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq.
"We knew going in that a regime that had spent over a
decade trying to deny and deceive the United Nations and others about
its weapons of mass destruction program, that this would be very, very
tough," said Air Force Gen. Richard Myers.
But Myers, appearing on morning television shows from Arlington National
Cemetery, site of Memorial Day ceremonies, said he thinks that as U.S.
forces continue to capture members of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime,
the chances of finding weapons will improve.
Twenty-five people on
a list of 55 top-ranking Iraqis who were part of Saddam's regime are in
U.S. custody, and Myers said on ABC's "Good Morning America" that these
people were "deeply involved" in a weapons program.
administration charged that Saddam held weapons of mass destruction and
was seeking to develop more sophisticated weapons ? and that was cited
as the principal reason for invading Iraq.
But in the weeks
following the crushing of Saddam's regime, little has been found,
although U.S. forces have discovered two tractor-trailers that
authorities suspect were mobile biological weapons laboratories.
CIA and other intelligence agencies are reviewing the accuracy of
information they supplied the administration in the weeks preceding the
mid-March invasion of Iraq, said a senior U.S. intelligence official
speaking on condition of anonymity.
Asked Monday what he thinks of
the quality of that intelligence, Myers told NBC"s "Today" show he has
"high confidence in the intelligence data that we had before we went
Discovering weapons of mass destruction "is a matter of time," he said.
"We have two of the mobile laboratories" that Secretary of State Colin
Powell cited in a United Nations presentation to justify the war, Myers
"I think we're going to find what we were told we were going
to find," he said. " ... Given time, given the number of prisoners now
that we're interrogating, I'm confident that we're going to find
weapons of mass destruction."
Myers noted that the United States
now has roughly 140,000 troops in Iraq and that the number could rise
to 160,000 as the military works to bring about stability there.
"The stabilization phase that we're in right now is a very, very tough
phase," he told NBC. "You have to adapt very quickly to what you find
on the ground."
"When they opened up the prisons," he added, "they
let out tens of thousands of murderers and others into society. You've
got to deal with that."
Myers said the work by coalition forces to
bring order to Iraq is already "paying dividends" and said "the trend
lines on almost everything you can measure are up."
But Myers he quickly added that much work remains to be done.
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