On tonight's episode of Hannity & Colmes (Thursday February 16, 2006), co-host Alan Colmes repeated the false suggestion that Iraq's WMD "were destroyed in 1998 when Bill Clinton did pinpoint bombing." This is the second time that Newsbusters has addressed such a statement by Colmes.
One of tonight's guests was Bill Tierney, a former military intelligence officer and an UNSCOM inspector in Iraq from 1996-1998. As you'll see below, Tierney claims intimate knowledge of the 1998 Desert Fox strikes (to which Colmes refers).
From tonight's Hannity & Colmes (emphasis mine) (audiotape on file):
COLMES: The WMDs did not exist as far as we know when we went to war with Iraq, and David Kay said they were destroyed in 1998 when Bill Clinton did pinpoint bombing.
TIERNEY: I'm so happy you said that. I was on the targeting shop at CENTCOM. Alright? I'm gonna tell you something: Before we went in there, the Iraqis moved all their equipment out, except for a few massive machines that they couldn't move. That four days of bombing was a joke. They rebuilt everything.
COLMES: So David Kay?
TIERNEY: Well, David Kay doesn't know -- Actually, I know more about this than David Kay does.
In addition, check out what Tierney said in an eye-opening November 2005 interview for FrontPageMag:
"Operation Desert Fox was a perfect example of the uselessness of strike operations. Iraqis have told me that the WMD destruction and movement started just after Operation Desert Fox, since after all, who would be so stupid as to start a bombing campaign and just stop.
"... It was only after Saddam realized that President Clinton lacked the nerve for anything more than a temper-tantrum demonstration that he knew the doors were wide open for him to continue his weapons program. We didn’t break his will, we didn’t destroy his weapons making capability (The Iraqis simply moved most of the precision machinery out prior to the strikes, then rebuilt the buildings), but we did kill some Iraqi bystanders, just so President Clinton could say 'something must be done, so I did something'."
Finally, there was no claim by David Kay in his reports about Bill Clinton eliminating Iraq's WMD [link to Kay text]. Although Kay has stated that he believes that the 1998 Desert Fox strikes may have played a contributing role in dismantling Saddam's chemical weapons ("Information found to date suggests that Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced -- if not entirely destroyed -- during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of UN sanctions and UN inspections." [link to Kay text]), biological and nuclear weapons are an entirely different matter. In Kay's 2003 text, he mentions no such elimination of biological or nuclear weapons as the result of Desert Fox. (In fact, "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002.")