Friday, June 13, 2003

Covert unit hunted for Iraqi arms
Amid raids and rescue, Task Force 20 failed to find weapons

By Barton Gellman

June 13 — A covert Army Special Forces unit, operating in Iraq since before the war began in March, has played a dominant but ultimately unsuccessful role in the Bush administration’s stymied hunt for weapons of mass destruction, according to military and intelligence sources in Baghdad and Washington.

TASK FORCE 20, whose existence and mission are classified, is drawn from the elite Army special mission units known popularly as Delta Force. It sent a stream of initially promising reports to a limited circle of planners and policymakers in Washington pointing to the possibility of weapons finds. The reports helped feed the optimism expressed by President Bush and his senior national security advisers that proscribed weapons would be found.

Thus far, military and intelligence sources said, the expectations are unfulfilled.

Even skeptics of Task Force 20’s progress in the weapons hunt speak admiringly of the team’s exploits on its other assignments, in which its role was concealed. The team captured Palestinian guerrilla leader Mohammed Abbas in Baghdad in mid-April and the Iraqi scientists nicknamed Mrs. Anthrax and Dr. Germ; it fought a bloody battle behind Iraqi lines to prevent a catastrophic release of floodwaters from the Haditha Dam; and it retrieved Pfc. Jessica Lynch, an Army prisoner of war, from a hospital in Nasiriyah.


WMD - remember that was the principal reason we killed all those Iraqi civilians. And god only knows how many Iraqi soldiers.



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