Did Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) decide to go find the WMDs in Iraq on his own? And bring Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) along for the ride?
From columnist Tom Ferrick in The Philadelphia Inquirer
[Dave] Gaubatz, who lives in Dallas, is a former Air Force special investigator who served as a civilian employee in Iraq for a number of months in 2003.
While in Iraq, he acquired what he considered reliable information on the existence of WMD caches in four locations - not old stuff dating from the pre-Gulf War days, but recently produced gas and chemical weapons.
He never could get U.S. military officials to look into the matter. They apparently viewed it as too speculative and too much of a drain on personnel who were, after all, engaged in combat.
But he has persisted - even as evidence mounted that there were no WMDs to be found in Iraq.
Gaubatz said he first contacted Weldon and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R., Mich.), head of the House Intelligence Committee, to share his info and get them to prod the Defense Department and intelligence agencies to do the WMD searches in the locales.
Instead, Gaubatz said, Weldon latched onto the idea as a "personal political venture" and discussed a Hoekstra-Weldon trip to Iraq, under the guise of visiting the troops, that would detour to Nasiriyah.
Once there, Gaubatz said, the congressmen planned to persuade the U.S. military commander to lend them the equipment and men to go digging by the Euphrates for the cache Gaubatz believed to be there.
He said that Weldon made it clear he didn't want word leaked to the Pentagon, to intelligence officials, or to Democratic congressmen.
As Gaubatz told me: "They even worked out how it would go. If there was nothing there, nothing would be said. If the site had been [scavenged], nothing would be said. But, if it was still there, they would bring the press corps out."
Now, Dave Gaubatz (profiled by The New York Times here
) is not some reluctant witness to this aborted adventure. He tells the whole tale
on his website, which he started out of frustration after Weldon's adventure never happened. "I then established this website," he writes, "and have informed both Congressmen I will keep updating it until the suspected WMD sites in Iraq are inspected." Gaubatz, remember, says he knows four sites where there are WMD caches.
Gaubatz is the sole source on Weldon's aborted crusade, but there can be little doubt that he had Weldon's ear. After all, this is what Weldon told
a reporter in early June:
...Weldon said he knows of four sites in Basra and Nasiriyah that have yet to be searched for biological or chemical weapons. [my emphasis]
"I think the jury is still out on WMD," said Weldon, who also believes Saddam Hussein may have smuggled the weapons to Syria with Russian assistance prior to the March 2003 invasion.