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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Sarin? What Sarin?

William Safire

You probably missed the news because it didn't get much play, but a small, crude weapon of mass destruction may have been used by Saddam's terrorists in Iraq this week.

The apparent weapon was sarin gas, a highly toxic nerve agent that causes victims to choke to death. Developed by the Nazis, it has been used in the past by terrorists in Japan to kill a dozen subway riders and panic thousands, and by Saddam Hussein, who produced tons of it to kill Iraqi Kurds.

Rigged as an "improvised explosive device," or roadside bomb, the 155-millimeter howitzer shell was accidentally detonated by a U.S. ordnance team. Two men were treated for what an Army spokesman called "minor exposure" to the nerve gas.

You never saw such a rush to dismiss this as not news. U.N. weapons inspectors whose reputations rest on denial of Saddam's W.M.D. pooh-poohed the report. "It doesn't strike me as a big deal," said David Kay.

Must-read it all.

Is it a rush to dismiss? or, as Gary Aldrich posits, A.D.D. ?