In his nationally televised address, Clinton described the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that was bombed by the U.S. as “associated with the bin Laden network” of terrorists. But U.S. officials told the New York Times that bin Laden had no direct investment in the plant. They said bin Laden was associated with the Sudanese military industrial complex, of which the factory was a part. Clinton also claimed that the plant “was involved in the production of materials for chemical weapons.” But U.S. officials told the Times that they’re not sure the material, discovered in a soil sample, was actually produced at the plant. They said the material may only have been stored or moved through there.
That is still the U.S. position. On September 1st, the Washington Post noted that the U.S. was resisting calls by Sudan and other nations for an inspection of the rubble and the plant site to search for chemicals related to the production of VX nerve gas. The Post said U.S. officials did not know if such a search would produce such evidence because it is still not known if the chemical had been produced there or simply stored there briefly and moved.
This is a far cry from Clinton’s original claims. Essentially, the U.S. position has evolved into something like “Trust me.” If they were confident of their claims, they would either welcome an international inspection of the plant site or produce that soil sample for testing by others. They have not done either. Are we supposed to trust an administration whose top spokesman, the president, has already been exposed as a consistent and outrageous liar?
It is important to remember that visitors to the site, including American journalists, found no evidence of chemical weapons-related activity. They only found medicines for sick people. The site was not heavily guarded and access to it was easy. A former British manager of the plant said it was not equipped to manufacture chemical weapons.
Faced with criticism of the military attack and evidence of the civilian nature of the facility in Sudan, the Clinton Administration has now claimed that the plant was linked to the Iraqi chemical weapons program. If that is the case, why didn’t we bomb Iraq, where actual VX gas has already been discovered? In fact, the U.S. has recently been caught secretly discouraging U.N. inspections of Iraqi chemical weapons sites, while publicly insisting they are a serious danger. This duplicitous policy broke into the open when U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter resigned and publicly complained that his work was being hampered by the U.S. Viewed in this context, the strike on Sudan was designed to shift our attention away from the emerging scandal regarding U.S. policy on Iraq.
Congress, which will soon be considering Clinton’s impeachment, should investigate the lack of evidence for the strike on Sudan. If, as seems likely, Clinton lied, then he should be held accountable. In our next broadcast, we’ll describe the lies that were told by other top officials, including Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, and Secretary of Defense William Cohen.