If the Iraq Survey Group had found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction, its members would undoubtedly have been welcomed home with a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.
But, after nearly two years of futile searching and the expenditure of as much as $1 billion, it did not, and, as The Washington Post reports, most of the 1,200-member ISG team quietly returned to Washington last month.
That Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and the capacity to make more, along with a nascent nuclear-weapons program, was an article of unquestioned faith with President Bush and his top advisers. The presumed threat posed by those weapons was the administration’s principal justification for going to war.
The formal and subdued end of the search was anticlimactic. In September, chief U.S. weapons hunter Charles Duelfer issued a report that concluded Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no means of making them, and hadn’t had since the early 1990s. Why we — and other countries as well — didn’t know this is still a matter of debate. But the failure to find them has redounded hardest against American credibility.
Bush is adamant that the war was the right course of action — for different reasons now — and that he has no regrets about the invasion. Almost two years after, it almost doesn’t matter how we got there. We’re there and will likely have to stay there until we can hand over to a credible Iraqi government.
The members of the survey group who stayed behind are now focused on fighting anti-U.S. Iraqi insurgents. We know the insurgents are there.