Thanks for all your emails pointing out those who actually stated that it was their view, before the Iraq war, that Saddam had no WMDs and had been effectively disarmed. The answer is: virtually no one. I thought we had a winner in Scott Ritter, and then I read this. Two sources check out. The first is the late conservative maverick, Jude Wanniski. In this report in June 2002, Wanniski proffered rebuttals of the case that Saddam was in any way a threat to the U.S. Money quote:
"Report: Saddam Hussein has been relentlessly seeking weapons of mass destruction.
My Finding: While Iraq had nuclear, biological and chemical weapon development programs during the Iran-Iraq war, which ended in 1988, there is no evidence he has been hiding any such efforts from international view since November 1991, when Iraq completed the destruction of all such programs in compliance with the UN Resolutions passed at the end of the Gulf War.
Report: The UN weapons inspectors were responsible for finding Saddam‚Äôs weapons programs.
My Finding: The UN inspectors found nothing before or since November 1991 that they were not shown by the Iraqi government.
Report: Iraq has weaponized anthrax.
My Finding: Iraq tried to weaponize anthrax during the war with Iran but gave up. No government has succeeded in weaponizing anthrax, unless one means delivering dried spores in envelopes."
Paul Krugman hasn’t cited Wanniski as one of his anti-war clairvoyant confreres. You can see why here. Krugman thought Wanniski was a "lunatic."
The other credible source is an important one, however. That source is Robin Cook, Tony Blair’s former foreign secretary, who resigned over the war. Read his personal statement in the House of Commons on March 17, 2003:
"Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term‚Äînamely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target. It probably still has biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions, but it has had them since the 1980s when US companies sold Saddam anthrax agents and the then British Government approved chemical and munitions factories. Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years, and which we helped to create? Why is it necessary to resort to war this week, while Saddam’s ambition to complete his weapons programme is blocked by the presence of UN inspectors? …
The longer that I have served in this place, the greater the respect I have for the good sense and collective wisdom of the British people. On Iraq, I believe that the prevailing mood of the British people is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but they are not persuaded that he is a clear and present danger to Britain. They want inspections to be given a chance, and they suspect that they are being pushed too quickly into conflict by a US Administration with an agenda of its own. Above all, they are uneasy at Britain going out on a limb on a military adventure without a broader international coalition and against the hostility of many of our traditional allies."
It stands up better than much of what I wrote at the time. But it is remarkable for one other thing: its rarety. The store is still open for latecomers, though, so if you find another example of a leading anti-war figure stating that Iraq had no more WMDs before the war, let me know.