From the latest Foreign Affairs,
According to Chemical Ali, Saddam was asked about the weapons during a meeting with members of the Revolutionary Command Council. He replied that Iraq did not have WMD but flatly rejected a suggestion that the regime remove all doubts to the contrary, going on to explain that such a declaration might encourage the Israelis to attack.
Oh, you little tease, you. Playing hard to get is a delicate game, because you can only bluff so long before the target of your flirtation wanders off with someone easy. Or, you know, in this awkward metaphor, invades your country and puts you in prison.
Saddam was insistent that Iraq would give full access to UN inspectors "in order not to give President Bush any excuses to start a war." But after years of purposeful obfuscation, it was difficult to convince anyone that Iraq was not once again being economical with the truth.
Ironically, it now appears that some of the actions resulting from Saddam's new policy of cooperation actually helped solidify the coalition's case for war. ... In 2002, therefore, when the United States intercepted a message between two Iraqi Republican Guard Corps commanders discussing the removal of the words "nerve agents" from "the wireless instructions," or learned of instructions to "search the area surrounding the headquarters camp and [the unit] for any chemical agents, make sure the area is free of chemical containers, and write a report on it," U.S. analysts viewed this information through the prism of a decade of prior deceit. They had no way of knowing that this time the information reflected the regime's attempt to ensure it was in compliance with UN resolutions.
What was meant to prevent suspicion thus ended up heightening it.
Given the history of deceit, one could understand the misinterpretation of those vague, emotionless communications intercepts we heard Colin Powell present at the UN in 2002. Hell, I myself can't get through an extended AIM convo without taking something the wrong way thanks to insufficient use of emoticons, so can I really expect more from seasoned professionals at the CIA?
Oops. Sorry. Our bad. Looks like we really screwed up your whole country over nothing, and we apologize.