"They were rockets. The tubes were used for rockets."
That's from "Australian Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Meekin, who commands the Joint Captured Enemy Materiel Exploitation Center, the largest of a half-dozen units that report to [David] Kay [head of the Iraq Survey Group]."
Meekin is quoted by Barton Gellman in today's Washington Post in an article bluntly titled "Search in Iraq Fails to Find Nuclear Threat." And it's just one aspect of a long list of reasons Gellman cites that demonstrate, once and for all, that the dreaded aluminum tubes — cited again and again by the Bush administration as a key piece of evidence for Iraq's supposed nuclear threat — were, as experts have said all along, not suited or intended for use in a nuclear program.
Gellman also notes that the administration itself is not behaving as though it believed its own hype about the aluminum tubes. The tubes sat, unguarded, unsought and unheeded, in a warehouse in Nasr for months after the U.S.-led coalition had seized control of Iraq. If, as the administration had claimed, these tubes represented a genuine nuclear threat, shouldn't they have been a priority for postwar inspection teams?
"They're not acting as if they take their own analysis seriously," said Joseph Cirincione, director of the nonproliferation project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "If they were so worried about these tubes, that would be the kind of sensitive equipment you'd think the administration would want to seize, to prevent it from going somewhere else — Iran, Syria, Egypt."
"They were rockets. The tubes were used for rockets." Anybody who said otherwise back in February or March was mistaken. Anybody who says otherwise today is a liar and a fool.