An investigation into the attack on the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum is warranted.
Various rumors and reports indicate there is now some doubt as to whether the plant was involved in the production of nerve gas. On Aug. 20 the Clinton administration directed U.S. military forces to launch a barrage of cruise missiles at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan and the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant.The attacks were in retaliation for the terrorist bombings on Aug. 7 of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that resulted in hundreds of deaths and were linked to terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
While no questions have been raised about the propriety of attacking the terrorist camp, plenty are surfacing regarding the Al Shifa plant.
According to a recent investigative story in the New York Times, "within days of the attack, some of the administration's explanations for destroying the factory in the Sudan proved inaccurate. Many people inside and outside the American government began to ask whether questionable intelligence had prompted the United States to blow up the wrong building."
In addition, senior national security advisers, who hours after the attack described Al Shifa as a secret chemical weapons factory financed by bin Laden, now concede they had no evidence directly linking bin Laden to the factory at the time the president ordered the strike. Nor are they sure the soil sample containing Empta, the suspected precursor chemical for VX, was made at Al Shifa or was just stored or shipped through there.
Washington's allegations that the Al Shifa plant was involved in the production of nerve gas may very well be correct. Surely there are scientific means to determine that.
Former President Jimmy Carter has called for an investigation to determine whether the plant really had a terrorist connection.
Because of all the rumors that the plant might not be connected to terrorist activities, it's in the best interests of the United States to accept Carter's proposal and either dispel or validate them.
An investigation - one that doesn't compromise U.S. intelligence - needs to take place. The sooner the better.