Between March and July 2003, Mr. Gaubatz was taken by these sources to four locations - three in and around Nasiriyah and one near the port of Umm Qasr, where he was shown underground concrete bunkers with the tunnels leading to them deliberately flooded. In each case, he was told the facilities contained stocks of biological and chemical weapons, along with missiles whose range exceeded that mandated under U.N. sanctions. But because the facilities were sealed off with concrete walls, in some cases up to 5 feet thick, he did not get inside. He filed reports with photographs, exact grid coordinates, and testimony from multiple sources. And then he waited for the Iraq Survey Group to come to the sites. But in all but one case, they never arrived.
Mr. Gaubatz's new disclosures shed doubt on the thoroughness of the Iraq Survey Group's search for the weapons of mass destruction that were one of the Bush administration's main reasons for the war. Two chief inspectors from the group, David Kay and Charles Duelfer, concluded that they could not find evidence of the promised stockpiles. Mr. Kay refused to be interviewed for this story and Mr. Duelfer did not return email. The CIA referred these questions to Mr. Duelfer who won't respond.
"The ISG team was not organized nor outfitted for this mission in my opinion and were only concerned to look in northern Iraq. They were not even on the ground during the first few weeks of the war, and this was the most critical time to go out and exploit sites. I feel very comfortable in saying the sites were never exploited by ISG," he said. In one instance a few inspectors did come out once to follow one lead, Mr. Gaubatz said. But they lacked the equipment and manpower to crack the bunker. "An adequate search would have required heavy equipment to uncover the concrete, and additional equipment to drain the water."
Mr. Gaubatz said each site he visited had similar characteristics. "Everything was buried and under water. They would drain canals and parts of the rivers. They would build tunnels underneath and they would let the water come back in," he said. But the water would only be allowed back into the tunnels after concrete walls were installed sealing off the secret caches of unconventional arms, Mr. Gaubatz said. He added that the tunnels in all four sites were wide enough for tractors. One of the giveaways, he said, was that homes near the sites were equipped with gas masks and other items to protect against a chemical weapons attack.
One site outside of Nasiryah, near the main highway in an isolated area featured a rock nearby that said, "Death to America," in Arabic. At this site, Mr. Gaubatz found gas masks, boots, and an imprint of an al-Samoud missile in the ground nearby a canal used to flood the tunnel. Mr. Gaubatz said he could find a wall under the earth and in the water whose dimensions were 50 by 75 feet. Another site near Umm Qasr contained the remnants of military activity as well, Mr. Gaubatz said. He said that former senior Iraqi military officers and local farmers confirmed there was military construction over the course of six months in 2002.
Today, Mr. Gaubatz is the chief investigator for the Dallas County Medical Examiner. On the weekends, he trains Texas state troopers in basic counterterrorism and basic Arabic. When asked about the weapons hunt by his students, he says he tells them, "Before we can say there is no WMD in Iraq, we must first look. I have no doubts WMD was and is still in Iraq."