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David Kay

Dr. David A. Kay (born c. 1940) is best known for heading the Iraq Survey Group and acting as a Weapons inspector in Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion.



Kay received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and also a Masters in International Affairs and Ph.D. from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.


Kay worked as the UN Chief Weapons Inspector from 1991 to 1992. Following that, he was Vice President of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) from 1993 to 2002. While at SAIC, he worked alongside Steven Hatfill until March 2002. Then, he was appointed as a Special Advisor for Strategy regarding Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Programs. He received the International Atomic Energy Agency's Distinguished Service Award and the U.S. Secretary of State's Commendation. (SAIC was contracted by the U.S. to build prototype Mobile Weapons Laboratories in fall of 2001)

After the 1991 Gulf War, Kay led teams of inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Iraq to search out and destroy banned chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he returned to the country, working with the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. military in 2003 and 2004 to determine if Saddam Hussein's regime had continued developing banned weapons.

Iraq Survey Group

The research of his team determined that the Iraqi unconventional weapons programs had mostly been held in check, with only small amounts of banned material uncovered (this included a number of vials containing biological agents stored in the home refrigerators of Iraqi scientists, for example). None of these substances had been "weaponized" — no such agents were found in missiles or artillery, and none could be easily installed. These discoveries indicate that some of the primary reasons President George W. Bush used for going to war with Iraq did not reflect the true situation in that country, and contradicted statements made by Kay himself in the lead-up to the war.

Before the 2003 war, as U.S. government officials were pushing the idea that Saddam Hussein was in possession of WMD, many people would direct reporters toward David Kay to reinforce their point of view. In September 2002, Kay told U.S. News & World Report that "Iraq stands in clear violation of international orders to rid itself of these weapons." His credibility as a former U.N. weapons inspector convinced many observers.

On January 23, 2004, Kay resigned, stating that Iraq did not have WMD and that "I think there were stockpiles at the end of the first Gulf War and a combination of U.N. inspectors and unilateral Iraqi action got rid of them."[1] Kay was replaced in his role by Charles Duelfer and spent the following days discussing his discoveries and opinions with the news media and the U.S. political establishment. He testified on January 28, 2004 that “[i]t turns out that we were all wrong” and “I believe that the effort that has been directed to this point has been sufficiently intense that it is highly unlikely that there were large stockpiles of deployed, militarized chemical weapons there.” However, Kay defended the Bush administration, saying that even if Iraq did not have weapons stockpiles, this did not mean the nation wasn't dangerous. Kay also blamed faulty intelligence gathering for the prewar WMD conclusions. On February 2, 2004, Kay met with George W. Bush at the White House and maintained that Bush was right to go to war in Iraq and characterized Saddam Hussein's government as “far more dangerous than even we anticipated” when it was thought he had WMDs ready to deploy.


Testimony Before House and Senate Committees

In testimony on the progress of the Iraq Survey Group on October 2, 2003 he revealed to House and Senate committees that the ISG had found that Iraq had a network of clandestine laboratories containing equipment that should have been (but was not) disclosed to UN inspectors. He also said that the ISG found an undeclared prison laboratory complex and an undeclared Unmanned Aerial Vehicle production facility. The Iraq Survey Group also found out that a UAV had been test-flown out to a range of 500 kilometers even though the agreed upon limit was 150 kilometers. Kay said that Iraq lied to the UN about the range of that particular UAV.

He testified that Iraq had done research on Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever and Brucella but had not declared this to the UN. Iraq also continued research and development work on anthrax and ricin without declaring it to the UN.

Kay told the committees that between 1999 and 2002 Iraq attempted to obtain missile technology from North Korea that would allow them to build missiles with a range of 1300 kilometers, far beyond the UN limit of 150 kilometers that Iraq agreed upon in UN Resolution 687. They also sought anti-ship missiles with a range of 300 kilometers from North Korea.

"With regard to delivery systems, the ISG team has discovered sufficient evidence to date to conclude that the Iraqi regime was committed to delivery system improvements that would have, if OIF had not occurred, dramatically breached UN restrictions placed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War," Kay testified.[2]

Subsequent Interviews

After the interview, Kay told National Public Radio that Iraq "had a large number of WMD program-related activities." He said "So there was a WMD program. It was going ahead. It was rudimentary in many areas." Kay also said that Iraq had been trying to weaponize ricin "right up until" Operation Iraqi Freedom; a claim not supported by the Iraq Survey Group final report.[3]

See also




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