Bush and Obama: War Crimes or Lawful Wars?


Bush and Obama: War Crimes or Lawful Wars?

For Immediate Release: Nov. 3, 2011

Who: Ralph Nader; Center for Study of Responsive Law
When: Friday, November 18, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
What: Bush/Obama: War Crimes or Lawful Wars?
Where: 1530 P St NW, Washington, DC – Carnegie Institution building
Contact: Katherine Raymond, 202-387-8030, kraymond@csrl.org

(Washington, D.C.) – On Friday, November 18, Ralph Nader and the Center for Study of Responsive Law will host a public debate on the subject: Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s actions: war crimes or lawful wars?

Debaters arguing for the proposition that Bush and Obama engaged in war crimes

Bruce Fein is an attorney and constitutional scholar, and has consulted foreign nations on matters ranging from constitutional revision to telecommunications and cable regulation, and human rights. He appears regularly on national and international television, cable, and radio programs as an expert in foreign affairs, terrorism, national security, and has testified over 200 times before Congressional committees. .

Lt. Colonel Tony Shaffer is a highly experienced U.S. Army intelligence officer, and is nationally known as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for intelligence collection and policy, terrorism, data mining, situational awareness and adaptive/disruptive technologies. He is also a senior advisor to multiple organizations on terrorism and counterinsurgency issues and a member of the US Nuclear Strategy Forum.

Debaters arguing against the proposition that Bush and Obama engaged in war crimes

David B. Rivkin is a member of Baker & Hostetler Law Firm’s litigation, international and environmental groups and co-chairs the firm’s appellate and major motions team. He served in the White House Counsel’s office and the Department of Justice under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Prior to embarking on a legal career, Mr. Rivkin worked as a defense and foreign policy analyst, focusing on Soviet affairs, arms control, naval strategy and NATO-related issues, and served as a defense consultant to numerous government agencies and Washington think tanks.

Lee Casey a partner at Baker & Hostetler, focuses on federal environmental, constitutional and international law and Alien Tort Statute issues. He served in the Department of Justice under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He also advises clients on compliance issues under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), U.S. trade sanctions regimes, and federal ethics requirements. Mr. Casey’s practice includes federal, district and appellate court litigation, as well as matters before federal agencies. From 2004 through 2007 he served as a member of the United Nations Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, is a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory to tort law. He has served as a consultant on homeland security and constitutional issues. He also is a nationally recognized legal commentator.

Stuart S. Taylor is a lawyer, author and freelance journalist focusing on legal and policy issues, a “National Journal” contributing editor, and a Brookings Institution nonresident fellow. He has written many columns on this issue and has co-authored a piece titled “Looking Forward, Not Backward: Refining American Interrogation Law” through the Brookings Institution.

The event is free and open to the public. Please join us and invite your colleagues and friends to attend.The Debating Taboos series brings public attention and analyses to “taboo” topics. This is the third debate in the series.

A complimentary light lunch will follow the event.

HRW: Obama broke law not prosecuting Bush & Cheney

Human Rights Watch has stated its position on the Obama Administration’s lack of justice in the cases of Richard Bruce Cheney and George Walker Bush for war crimes and authorizing war crimes

Whitehouse Condemns Nation’s”Descent into Torture”During Bush Years

Sheldon Whitehouse laid the truth on the Senate floor the other night:

Full text from Sen. Whitehouse site at Senate.gov

June 9, 2009

Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I wish to now change the subject and speak about an incident that is not part of anybody’s proud heritage and that is the evidence we have recently heard about America’s descent into torture. I know it is an awkward subject to talk about, an awkward subject to think about. On the one hand, we, as Americans, love our country, we hate the violence that has been done to us, and we want more than anything to protect our people from attacks. On the other hand, torture is wrong and we have known it and behaved accordingly in far worse circumstances than now.

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The Truth About Richard Bruce Cheney

(Thanks to our friends’ site: NoQuarterUSA.net for heads up on this.  Thank you to Steve Clemons for allowing us reprint the full text with Col. Wilkerson’s and Steve Clemons’ express permission from The Washington Note.)This is a guest post exclusive to The Washington Note by Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, who is former chief of staff of the Department of State during the term of Secretary of State Colin Powell. Lawrence Wilkerson is also Pamela Harriman Visiting Professor at the College of William & Mary.Last night I was on Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC at the top of the hour. But before I came on, through the earpiece I listened to the five minutes that Rachel sketched as a lead-in. Most of it was videotape from the last few days of former Vice President Dick Cheney extolling the virtues of harsh interrogation, torture, and his leadership. I had heard some of it earlier of course but not all of it and not in such a tightly-packed package.

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Follow Up With Your Local D.A. Now That They Have The Bugliosi Book On Prosecuting Dick&W

From http://www.peaceteam.net

From We want you to know that we are gearing up for actions on many critical and substantive issues, health care, mass media issues, real food safety and more, and we will have much more on all these soon.However, this week there is a special priority. We told you that another activist group was sending copies of the Vince Bugliosi Book, “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder” to each and every local county district attorney in the country, nearly 3,000 books in the mail which were due to arrive at their destinations on or about Feb. 21, so they should be there by now.

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Truth and Consequences hearing

On Wednesday, March 4, 2009, Patrick Leahy convened a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the creation of a “Truth and Consequences Commission” to hear the abuses and remedies of the George Bush and Dick Cheney administration. Joining this panel were Thomas Pickering, Ret. Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, John Farmer, F.A.O. Schwarz, David Rivkin and Jeremy Rabkin.

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Richard Perle says…There are no NeoCons

Well blow me down…there are no such things as neoconservatives. That seems to be the invention of those loony leftist commie pinkos….or so Richard Perle wants you to believe:

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Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction

Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction
Salon exclusive: Two former CIA officers say the president squelched topsecret
intelligence, and a briefing by
George Tenet, months before invading Iraq.
By Sidney Blumenthal
Sep. 06, 2007 |

On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on topsecret
intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former
senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of
Saddam’s inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.
Nor was the intelligence included in the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which stated
categorically that Iraq possessed WMD. No one in Congress was aware of the secret intelligence that Saddam
had no WMD as the House of Representatives and the Senate voted, a week after the submission of the NIE, on the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. The information, moreover, was not circulated within the
CIA among those agents involved in operations to prove whether Saddam had WMD.

On April 23, 2006, CBS’s “60 Minutes” interviewed Tyler Drumheller, the former CIA chief of clandestine
operations for Europe, who disclosed that the agency had received documentary intelligence from Naji Sabri,
Saddam’s foreign minister, that Saddam did not have WMD. “We continued to validate him the whole way
through,” said Drumheller. “The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for
intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy.”
Now two former senior CIA officers have confirmed Drumheller’s account to me and provided the background to
the story of how the information that might have stopped the invasion of Iraq was twisted in order to justify it.
They described what Tenet said to Bush about the lack of WMD, and how Bush responded, and noted that Tenet
never shared Sabri’s intelligence with then Secretary of State Colin Powell. According to the former officers, the
intelligence was also never shared with the senior military planning the invasion, which required U.S. soldiers to
receive medical shots against the ill effects of WMD and to wear protective uniforms in the desert.
Instead, said the former officials, the information was distorted in a report written to fit the preconception that
Saddam did have WMD programs. That false and restructured report was passed to Richard Dearlove, chief of
the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), who briefed Prime Minister Tony Blair on it as validation of the
cause for war.
Secretary of State Powell, in preparation for his presentation of evidence of Saddam’s WMD to the United
Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, spent days at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., and had Tenet sit
directly behind him as a sign of credibility. But Tenet, according to the sources, never told Powell about existing
intelligence that there were no WMD, and Powell’s speech was later revealed to be a series of falsehoods.
Both the French intelligence service and the CIA paid Sabri hundreds of thousands of dollars (at least $200,000
in the case of the CIA) to give them documents on Saddam’s WMD programs. “The information detailed that
Saddam may have wished to have a program, that his engineers had told him they could build a nuclear weapon
within two years if they had fissible material, which they didn’t, and that they had no chemical or biological
weapons,” one of the former CIA officers told me.
On the eve of Sabri’s appearance at the United Nations in September 2002 to present Saddam’s case, the officer
in charge of this operation met in New York with a “cutout” who had debriefed Sabri for the CIA. Then the
officer flew to Washington, where he met with CIA deputy director John McLaughlin, who was “excited” about
the report. Nonetheless, McLaughlin expressed his reservations. He said that Sabri’s information was at odds
with “our best source.” That source was codenamed
“Curveball,” later exposed as a fabricator, con man and
former Iraqi taxi driver posing as a chemical engineer.
The next day, Sept. 18, Tenet briefed Bush on Sabri. “Tenet told me he briefed the president personally,” said
one of the former CIA officers. According to Tenet, Bush’s response was to call the information “the same old
thing.” Bush insisted it was simply what Saddam wanted him to think. “The president had no interest in the
intelligence,” said the CIA officer. The other officer said, “Bush didn’t give a fuck about the intelligence. He had
his mind made up.”
But the CIA officers working on the Sabri case kept collecting information. “We checked on everything he told
us.” French intelligence eavesdropped on his telephone conversations and shared them with the CIA. These taps
“validated” Sabri’s claims, according to one of the CIA officers. The officers brought this material to the attention
of the newly formed Iraqi Operations Group within the CIA. But those in charge of the IOG were on a mission to
prove that Saddam did have WMD and would not give credit to anything that came from the French. “They kept
saying the French were trying to undermine the war,” said one of the CIA officers.
The officers continued to insist on the significance of Sabri’s information, but one of Tenet’s deputies told them,
“You haven’t figured this out yet. This isn’t about intelligence. It’s about regime change.”
The CIA officers on the case awaited the report they had submitted on Sabri to be circulated back to them, but
they never received it. They learned later that a new report had been written. “It was written by someone in the
agency, but unclear who or where, it was so tightly controlled. They knew what would please the White House.
They knew what the king wanted,” one of the officers told me.
That report contained a false preamble stating that Saddam was “aggressively and covertly developing” nuclear
weapons and that he already possessed chemical and biological weapons. “Totally out of whack,” said one of the
CIA officers. “The first [para]graph of an intelligence report is the most important and most read and colors the
rest of the report.” He pointed out that the case officer who wrote the initial report had not written the preamble
and the new memo. “That’s not what the original memo said.”
The report with the misleading introduction was given to Dearlove of MI6, who briefed the prime minister.
“They were given a scaleddown
version of the report,” said one of the CIA officers. “It was a summary given for
liaison, with the sourcing taken out. They showed the British the statement Saddam was pursuing an aggressive
program, and rewrote the report to attempt to support that statement. It was insidious. Blair bought it.” “Blair was
duped,” said the other CIA officer. “He was shown the altered report.”
The information provided by Sabri was considered so sensitive that it was never shown to those who assembled
the NIE on Iraqi WMD. Later revealed to be utterly wrong, the NIE read: “We judge that Iraq has continued its
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in defiance of UN resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has
chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it
probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade.”
In the congressional debate over the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, even those voting against it
gave credence to the notion that Saddam possessed WMD. Even a leading opponent such as Sen. Bob Graham,
then the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who had instigated the production of the
NIE, declared in his floor speech on Oct. 12, 2002, “Saddam Hussein’s regime has chemical and biological
weapons and is trying to get nuclear capacity.” Not a single senator contested otherwise. None of them had an
inkling of the Sabri intelligence.
The CIA officers assigned to Sabri still argued within the agency that his information must be taken seriously,
but instead the administration preferred to rely on Curveball. Drumheller learned from the German intelligence
service that held Curveball that it considered him and his claims about WMD to be highly unreliable. But the
CIA’s Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center (WINPAC) insisted that Curveball was
credible because what he said was supposedly congruent with available public information.
For two months, Drumheller fought against the use of Curveball, raising the red flag that he was likely a fraud, as
he turned out to be. “Oh, my! I hope that’s not true,” said Deputy Director McLaughlin, according to
Drumheller’s book “On the Brink,” published in 2006. When Curveball’s information was put into Bush’s Jan. 28,
2003, State of the Union address, McLaughlin and Tenet allowed it to pass into the speech. “From three Iraqi
defectors,” Bush declared, “we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs …
Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed them.” In fact,
there was only one Iraqi source Curveball
there were no labs.
When the mobile weapons labs were inserted into the draft of Powell’s United Nations speech, Drumheller
strongly objected again and believed that the error had been removed. He was shocked watching Powell’s speech.
“We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails,” Powell announced.
Without the reference to the mobile weapons labs, there was no image of a threat.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff, and Powell himself later lamented that they had not been
warned about Curveball. And McLaughlin told the Washington Post in 2006, “If someone had made these doubts
clear to me, I would not have permitted the reporting to be used in Secretary Powell’s speech.” But, in fact,
Drumheller’s caution was ignored.
As war appeared imminent, the CIA officers on the Sabri case tried to arrange his defection in order to
demonstrate that he stood by his information. But he would not leave without bringing out his entire family. “He
dithered,” said one former CIA officer. And the war came before his escape could be handled.
Tellingly, Sabri’s picture was never put on the deck of playing cards of former Saddam officials to be hunted
down, a tacit acknowledgment of his covert relationship with the CIA. Today, Sabri lives in Qatar.
In 2005, the SilbermanRobb
commission investigating intelligence in the Iraq war failed to interview the case
officer directly involved with Sabri; instead its report blamed the entire WMD fiasco on “groupthink” at the CIA.
“They didn’t want to trace this back to the White House,” said the officer.
On Feb. 5, 2004, Tenet delivered a speech at Georgetown University that alluded to Sabri and defended his
position on the existence of WMD, which, even then, he contended would still be found. “Several sensitive
reports crossed my desk from two sources characterized by our foreign partners as established and reliable,” he
said. “The first from a source who had direct access to Saddam and his inner circle” Naji
Sabri ”
said Iraq
was not in the possession of a nuclear weapon. However, Iraq was aggressively and covertly developing such a
Then Tenet claimed with assurance, “The same source said that Iraq was stockpiling chemical weapons.” He
explained that this intelligence had been central to his belief in the reason for war. “As this information and other
sensitive information came across my desk, it solidified and reinforced the judgments that we had reached in my
own view of the danger posed by Saddam Hussein and I conveyed this view to our nation’s leaders.” (Tenet
doesn’t mention Sabri in his recently published memoir, “At the Center of the Storm.”)
But where were the WMD? “Now, I’m sure you’re all asking, ‘Why haven’t we found the weapons?’ I’ve told you
the search must continue and it will be difficult.”
On Sept. 8, 2006, three Republican senators on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Orrin
Saxby Chambliss and Pat Roberts signed
a letter attempting to counter Drumheller’s revelation about Sabri on
“60 Minutes”: “All of the information about this case so far indicates that the information from this source was
that Iraq did have WMD programs.” The Republicans also quoted Tenet, who had testified before the committee
in July 2006 that Drumheller had “mischaracterized” the intelligence. Still, Drumheller stuck to his guns, telling
Reuters, “We have differing interpretations, and I think mine’s right.”
One of the former senior CIA officers told me that despite the certitude of the three Republican senators, the
Senate committee never had the original memo on Sabri. “The committee never got that report,” he said. “The
material was hidden or lost, and because it was a restricted case, a lot of it was done in hard copy. The whole
thing was fogged up, like Curveball.”
While one Iraqi source told the CIA that there were no WMD, information that was true but distorted to prove
the opposite, another Iraqi source was a fabricator whose lies were eagerly embraced. “The real tragedy is that
they had a good source that they misused,” said one of the former CIA officers. “The fact is there was nothing
there, no threat. But Bush wanted to hear what he wanted to hear.”
Sidney Blumenthal

Yellowcake Dossier Not The Work of the CIA

Yellowcake Dossier Not The Work of the CIA
October 26, 2005
by Carlo Bonnini e Giuseppe D’Avanzo of La Repubblica
[translated at the request of Antiwar.com by Azzurra Crispino]
Anything found in [ ] are translator’s notes and not originally in the article.

For Nicolò Pollari, director of SISMI [sic Military Intelligence Agency of Italy] the rules of his job are non-negotiable. He tells La Repubblica: “I am the director of intelligence, and the only person I have spoken to in Washington on an institutional level, post September 11th, has been the director of the CIA, George Tenet. Obviously, I speak only to him.” But is it really true that our undercover agents have worked exclusively with the CIA? Or, were they co-opted by the clandestine parallel intelligence efforts headed by Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz over the “White House Iraq Group,” the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon, the National Security advisor’s office, who all were set out to find the necessary proof to bring about ‘regime change’ in Bagdad?

On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, Pollari, the director of SISMI meets in Washington with the staff of Condoleeza Rice, then White House National Security Advisor. This is done under the supervision of Gianni Castellaneta, currently the Italian ambassador to the US and then diplomatic advisor for Palazzo Chigi [Silvio Berlusconi’s official residence as Prime Minister of Italy]. La Repubblica is able to document the simultaneous travel of the Italian government and intelligence. At least one of the “unofficial” meetings Pollari holds is, as secret agents say, the the creation of a love triangle between policy, intelligence, and information.

A quick summary: the Military Intelligence of Italy under Pollari wants to confirm the Iraqi purchase of unprocessed uranium used to make a nuclear bomb. The game plan is clear. Antonio Nucera, assistant chief of the Center for Military Intelligence in Rome, gives the “authentic papers” regarding an attempted acquisition of uranium in Niger (old Italian “intelligence” from the 80s). These are then bundled with other false papers hatched together from official stationery and seals, recovered during a faked burglary of the Niger embassy. These papers are shown by Pollari’s people to CIA agents stationed in Rome. Meanwhile, a “deliveryman” for the Military Intelligence Agency, none other than Rocco Martino, delivers them to MI6 in London, run by Sir Richard Dearlove.

This is what gets the ball rolling. This will all be useful in understanding the second chapter of the great Italian deception — framing the proof used to justify military intervention in Iraq. Greg Thielmann, former director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research for the State Department, finds “the Italian report on uranium” on his desk. He claims not to recall the exact date, but it is roughly fall of 2001. The exact date may be important. We know three events coincide on the date October 15th, 2001. Nicolò Pollari, nominated on September 27th, becomes the head of SISMI, after having been the number two man at CESIS (the center coordinating intelligence for Palazzo Chigi). Silvio Berlusconi finally meets with George W. Bush at the White House and the first CIA report on the Italian evidence all occur on the same date: October 15th, 2001. One might call this nothing more than coincidence, except that it appears the Italians are desperately trying to get into the action. Berlusconi had difficulty, following an attack of “misunderstanding among civilizations,” getting a meeting with a White House far more preoccupied with meeting with moderate Arab regimes. Pollari is anxious to be on board with the Premier and the new direction. Col. Alberto Manenti, Pollari’s former boss and the newly appointed head of WMD unit at SISMI, also wants to be in tune with the new director. While Bush is showing Berlusconi the Rose Garden, writes Russ Hoyle, the CIA is taking action on the news Italian intelligence has just handed them on a silver platter: “negotiations between Niamey [the capital of Niger] and Bagdad regarding the acquisition of uranium began in the beginning of 1999. culminating in the authorization of the sale by the Nigerien government in 2000.” No additional documentation is cited able to show that the shipment of uranium actually took place. CIA analysts consider this first report “very limited” and “lacking in necessary details.” Analysts in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the State Department rate the information “highly suspect.”

Pollari’s first contact with the American intelligence community is not particularly gratifying, but nevertheless useful. The director of SISMI is not a fool, he is quick to reconstruct where the main players fall in the sordid conflict underway in the Administration between those advocating prudence and a pragmatic outlook (State Department and the CIA) versus those who are merely looking for an opportunity to justify a pre-planned war. Gianni Castellaneta advises Pollari to “look in other directions,” while Minister of Defense Antonio Martino invites him to meet “an old friend of Italy.”

This old American friend is Michael A. Ledeen, an old fox of US parallel intelligence who was declared “undesirable” by Italy in the 1980s. Ledeen is in Rome on behalf of the Office of Special Plans, created by the Pentagon by Paul Wolfowitz to gather intelligence that supports military intervention in Iraq. A source from Forte Braschi [SISMI’s headquarters in Rome] tells La Repubblica: “Jeff Castelli, head of the CIA station in Rome, gives a cold reception to Pollari’s uranium story and lets the matter drop. Pollari understands this is merely a prelude to something else and talks to Michael Ledeen….” Some unknown reason moves Michael Ledeen back to Washington, D.C. But, at the beginning of 2002, Paul Wolfowitz convices Dick Cheney to explore in depth the Italian story on the uranium. The Vice President, states the Senate Selected Committee on Intelligence, asks the CIA one more time to know more about a possible acquisition of uranium from Niger. In that meeting, Dick Cheney explicitly states this shred of intelligence was gathered by “a foreign service.”

The Pentagon parallel intelligence then spreads this “new information,” according to which “there exists an agreement between Niger and Iraq for the sale of 500 tons of uranium a year.” The technical analysts smile at this declaration: 500 tons of uranium is an astronomical quantity, and the news is clearly devoid of any accountability. All independent reports, requested following the “Italian document” warn that the two mines in Niger, Arlit and Akouta, are not capable of extracting more than 300 tons a year. But the climate is what it is. George Tenet, hobbled by the holes in intelligence surrounding 9/11, puts on a good face and turns a deaf ear when the State Department (as told to La Repubblica by Greg Thielmann) states in opposition that “the information gathered in Italy is inconsistent; the Niger-uranium story is fake; and that a bunch of things told to us were lies.”

The source in Forte Braschi continues, “Pollari is extremely shrewd. He understands that in order to push the uranium story he cannot rely on the CIA alone. He has to work, as he was advised by Palazzo Chigi and the Defense Department, with the Pentagon and the National Security Advisor, Rice.” This claim could be nothing more than a malicious rumor (as is often the case in the world of spies) but confirmation of “alternate channels” Pollari creates with Washington are within grasp in an image and a meeting.

The image: Pollari is in Washington. He meets George Tenet, as often happens, in a reserved room of a hotel near Langley. Someone who assisted with the meeting tells La Repubblica: “Pollari must not trust his English very much, because he utilizes an interpreter when speaking to the director of the CIA. George, to get the ball rolling, reveals some information on Al Qaeda and Italy that the Agency has gathered amongst the Guantanamo prisoners. Tenet expects at least a smile, if not a thank you. Instead, he gets a face of stone. At first, this upsets him, but then he lets it go. But what strikes everyone most about Pollari is the way he keeps his central boss in Washington completely marginalized from everything.” This estrangement is interesting. In 2002 the head of the SISMI station in Washington is Admiral Giuseppe Grignolo, who has important experience in the proliferation of WMDs, an excellent relationship with the CIA and is very respected by CIA number two Jim Pravitt. The source from Forte Braschi recalls, “in reality, we wanted to keep the CIA out of our work and Pollari didn’t trust Grignolo because he’s too closely connected to Langley. So, he keeps all his moves quiet, leading [Grignolo] down the wrong path, like say having him focus unnecessarily on the criminal record of the new hires to the service who have perhaps spent a few years in the States… his more important meetings happen elsewhere. With Condi Rice, through Gianni Castellaneta and for the Office of Special Plans of Wolfowitz and Dough Feith, through Leeden. Castellaneta is the one who schedules the meeting in the office of the National Security Advisor.” When? What do they discuss? “What do you think they discussed in the summer of 2002? Weapons of mass destruction.” The date of the meeting? “That I’m keeping to myself… besides, all it takes is checking with the CAI [Commitato Aeronautico Italiano, the Italian version of the FAA] logs on planes scheduled to fly Ciampino-Washington.” [Ciampino is the Italian military airport.]

Getting the flightplans in Rome is difficult, but there’s better luck in Washington. An administration official tells La Repubblica, “I can confirm that on Sept. 9th, 2002, General Nicolò Pollari met with Stephen Hadley, at the time Deputy National Security Advisor under Condoleeza Rice. And just like October 15th 2001, September 9th 2002 is a date of coincidences. The issue of Panorama that will hit the stands with the date September 12/19 is going to press. This seems to be the customary in the “yellowcake affair.” Recall that “the deliveryman” for SISMI, Rocco Martino, contacts in October a journalist from the weekly magazine, at the time edited by Carlo Rossella, to sell them the document of this crooked affair. No one seems to remember that, in that September 12/19 2002 issue, coinciding with the secret meeting between Pollari and Hadley, Panorama finds a colossal scoop. The title of the article, “The War? It’s Already Begun,” tells the story of “a load of half a ton of uranium.” Further in the article, “the men of Mukhabarat, the Iraqi Secret Service, acquired it [the uranium] through a Jordan intermediary company in far-off Nigeria, where some merchants were selling it as contraband after having stolen it from a nuclear deposit in one of the republics of the former USSR. Five hundred kilos of uranium landed in Amman [the capital of Jordan]. From there, after seven hours by land, they reached their destination: a plant 20 km north of Bagdad, called Al Radhidiyah, well-known for its production and treatment of fission materials.” Later in the article, “… the alert pertains to Germany, where in previous years Iraq has tried to buy technology and industrial components from the “Leycochem” organization… including the coveted aluminum tubes for the gas centrifuges.”

It is important to note that all the ingredients for the recipe for war are present in this Panorama article, even if in an inexact context (Nigeria is not Niger, a grave lapse) and in some parts far-out (contraband from the former USSR to Africa in a truck): the five hundred tons of uranium that, from Africa, reach Baghdad; aluminum tubes for nuclear centrifuges. A reasonable observation can be made that the schema at work here in Italy seems to overlap completely with the ones sustained in the US CIA/New York Times scandal. Government asks for something; intelligence gives it; the media circulates it; and government confirms it. It’s a disinformation technique as old as the Cold War. Exaggerate the danger from the enemy, thereby terrorizing and convincing public opinion. In our own home, an even worse detail: the Prime Minister owns the magazine spreading this poisonous news. The same PM, who heads intelligence and wants to seem and be George W. Bush’s biggest ally, who is in turn anxious to go to war.

The groundwork now laid out, Pollari can now concentrate on a different but essential aspect of his gameplan, the promotion of SISMI and himself. He cashes in on the dividends from the last year’s obfuscated work, blinding parliament with news cautiously manipulated; revelations that would finally require a believable and documented reconstruction are instead met with a wall of secrecy from the state (that would be opposed by Gianni Letta on July 16th, 2003).

After his secret meeting with Hadley, Pollari has two audiences with the parliamentary committee overseeing secret services. In the first, the director of SISMI states, “we do not have documented proof, but we do have news that a central-African nation has sold pure uranium to Baghdad.” Thirty days later, Pollari states, “we have documented proof of an Iraqi acquisition of pure uranium in a central-African nation. We also know of an Iraqi attempt to purchase centrifuges, to be used to enrich uranium, from companies in Germany and possibly in Italy as well.” Leaving Parliament, Pollari still has the problem of how to get the fake document to Washington without his metaphorical finger prints on them. The “deliveryman” for SISMI, Rocco Martino, who has already gone knocking on MI6’s door, contacts Panorama’s Elisabetta Burba attempting to sell her the dossier. Is it the smokeseller’s own idea, was it suggested to him by Antonio Nucera, or from someone else? Burba, justly, goes to double check the information in Niger. There she invents a cover-up of dinosaurs, from the Tyrannosaurus Nigeriensis to the Velociraptor Abakensis.

In the meantime, she also speaks to some credible sources. Elisabette does her duty with tenacity and rigor, and comes to the conclusion that the story just does not jive, and doesn’t publish a single line of it. But in reality, everything has already happened, because the director of the weekly, Carlo Rossella, enthusiastic to have perhaps found “the smoking gun” (as he tells his staff), has already sent the documents to the American embassy, “as the best source of verification.” Does Pollari then warn the Prime Minister’s weekly that in regards to the uranium scoop, the whole thing is a fraud? It would appear not. Thus, Jeff Castelli and the CIA find they once again have to deal with this half-baked story, which they have been trying to avoid for a year. These documents are so obviously fake that they can only be hidden, if they do not want to be mortified when meeting with Dick Cheney. The arrival of the documents in Washington is hushed. On October 16th, 2002, the documents are given out to the various intelligence agencies by members of the State Department during one of their regular meetings, where four CIA members are also present. None of them recall if they have them or ever did. Mysteriously, in Langley the “Italian documents” are “lost” for three months in the counter-proliferation center’s vaults. First strike for the Italian documents. The uranium hoax will redouble with the addition of the tall-tale of the aluminum tubes. But that’s another story.

Former aide: Powell WMD speech ‘lowest point in my life’

Colin Powell Presents WMD Case to UN

Colin Powell Presents WMD Case to UN

Former aide: Powell WMD speech ‘lowest point in my life’

Programming Note: “Dead Wrong — Inside an Intelligence Meltdown” airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on CNN.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell presents the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in 2003.

(CNN) — A former top aide to Colin Powell says his involvement in the former secretary of state’s presentation to the United Nations on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was “the lowest point” in his life.

“I wish I had not been involved in it,” says Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a longtime Powell adviser who served as his chief of staff from 2002 through 2005. “I look back on it, and I still say it was the lowest point in my life.”

Wilkerson is one of several insiders interviewed for the CNN Presents documentary “Dead Wrong — Inside an Intelligence Meltdown.” The program, which airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET, pieces together the events leading up to the mistaken WMD intelligence that was presented to the public. A presidential commission that investigated the pre-war WMD intelligence found much of it to be “dead wrong.”

Powell’s speech, delivered on February 14, 2003, made the case for the war by presenting U.S. intelligence that purported to prove that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Wilkerson says the information in Powell’s presentation initially came from a document he described as “sort of a Chinese menu” that was provided by the White House.

“(Powell) came through the door … and he had in his hands a sheaf of papers, and he said, ‘This is what I’ve got to present at the United Nations according to the White House, and you need to look at it,'” Wilkerson says in the program. “It was anything but an intelligence document. It was, as some people characterized it later, sort of a Chinese menu from which you could pick and choose.”

Wilkerson and Powell spent four days and nights in a CIA conference room with then-Director George Tenet and other top officials trying to ensure the accuracy of the presentation, Wilkerson says.

“There was no way the Secretary of State was going to read off a script about serious matters of intelligence that could lead to war when the script was basically un-sourced,” Wilkerson says.

In one dramatic accusation in his speech, Powell showed slides alleging that Saddam had bioweapons labs mounted on trucks that would be almost impossible to find.

“In fact, Secretary Powell was not told that one of the sources he was given as a source of this information had indeed been flagged by the Defense Intelligence Agency as a liar, a fabricator,” says David Kay, who served as the CIA’s chief weapons inspector in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. That source, an Iraqi defector had never been debriefed by the CIA, was known within the intelligence community as “Curveball.”

After searching Iraq for several months across the summer of 2003, Kay began e-mailing Tenet to tell him the WMD evidence was falling apart. At one point, Wilkerson says, Tenet called Powell to tell him the claims about mobile bioweapons labs were apparently not true.

“George actually did call the Secretary, and said, ‘I’m really sorry to have to tell you. We don’t believe there were any mobile labs for making biological weapons,'” Wilkerson says in the documentary. “This was the third or fourth telephone call. And I think it’s fair to say the Secretary and Mr. Tenet, at that point, ceased being close. I mean, you can be sincere and you can be honest and you can believe what you’re telling the Secretary. But three or four times on substantive issues like that? It’s difficult to maintain any warm feelings.”

Rumsfeld denies Iraq arms claims

Nov. 8, 2003, 8:33PM
Rumsfeld denies Iraq arms claims
Backpedals from pre-war assertions
Hearst News Service

WASHINGTON — In the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said U.S. forces would be welcomed by the Iraqi citizenry and that Saddam Hussein had large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

Now, after both statements have been shown to be either incorrect or vastly exaggerated, Rumsfeld — with the same trademark confidence that he exuded before the war — is denying that he ever made such assertions.

In recent testy exchanges with reporters, Rumsfeld interrupted the questioners and attacked the premise of the questions if they dealt with his pre-war comments about weapons of mass destruction and Americans-as-liberators.

For example, on Feb. 20, a month before the invasion, Rumsfeld fielded a question about whether Americans would be greeted as liberators if they invaded Iraq.

“Do you expect the invasion, if it comes, to be welcomed by the majority of the civilian population of Iraq?” Jim Lehrer asked the defense secretary on PBS’ The News Hour. “There is no question but that they would be welcomed,” Rumsfeld replied, referring to American forces. “Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and the al-Qaida would not let them do. Saddam Hussein has one of the most vicious regimes on the face of the earth. And the people know that.”

But on Sept. 25 — a particularly bloody day in which one U.S. soldier was killed in an ambush, eight Iraqi civilians died in a mortar strike and a member of the U.S-appointed governing council died after an assassination attempt five days earlier — Rumsfeld was asked about the surging resistance.

“Before the war in Iraq, you stated the case very eloquently and you said … they would welcome us with open arms,” Sinclair Broadcasting anchor Morris Jones said to Rumsfeld as the prelude to a question.

Rumsfeld quickly cut him off.

“Never said that,” he said. “Never did. You may remember it well, but you’re thinking of somebody else. You can’t find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said.”

When testifying about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before the House Armed Services Committee on Sept. 18, 2002, Rumsfeld said Saddam “has amassed large clandestine stocks of biological weapons, including anthrax and botulism toxin and possibly smallpox. His regime has amassed large clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX and sarin and mustard gas.”

Last month, after U.S. weapons hunters reported to the administration and Congress that they have yet to find a single weapon of mass destruction in Iraq, Rumsfeld was asked about his earlier statements.

A reporter at a Pentagon news conference asked: “In retrospect, were you a little too far-leaning in your statement that Iraq categorically had caches of weapons, of chemical and biological weapons, given what’s been found to date? You painted a picture of extensive stocks” of Iraqi mass-killing weapons.

“Wait,” Rumsfeld interjected. “You go back and give me something that talks about extensive stocks. The U.N. reported extensive stocks. That is where that came from. I said what I believed to be the case, and I don’t — I’d be surprised if you found the word `extensive.’ ”

Iraq reportedly offered U.S. a deal to avert war

Nov. 6, 2003, 12:31AM
Secret message came via businessman

New York Times

WASHINGTON — As U.S. soldiers massed on the Iraqi border in March and diplomats argued about war, an influential adviser to the Pentagon received a secret message from a Lebanese-American businessman: Saddam Hussein wanted to make a deal.

Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, had told the businessman that they wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction, and they offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct an independent search. They also offered to hand over a man accused of being involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who was being held in Baghdad. At one point, the intermediary said in an interview, the Iraqis pledged to hold elections.

The messages from Baghdad, first relayed by the intermediary in February to an analyst in the office of Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy and planning, were part of an attempt by Iraqi intelligence officers to open last-ditch negotiations with the Bush administration through a clandestine communications channel, according to people involved in the discussion.

The efforts were portrayed by Iraqi officials as having the approval of Saddam, according to interviews and documents.

The overtures, after a decade of evasions and deceptions and a number of other attempts to broker last-minute meetings with U.S. officials, were ultimately rebuffed. But the messages from Baghdad raised enough interest that in early March, Richard Perle, an influential adviser to top Pentagon officials, met in London with the Lebanese-American businessman, Imad Hage. According to both men, Hage laid out the Iraqis’ position to Perle, and he pressed the Iraqi request for a direct meeting with Perle or another representative of the United States.

“I was dubious that this would work,” Perle said, “but I agreed to talk to people in Washington.”

Perle said he sought authorization from CIA officials to meet with the Iraqis.

Perle said that the CIA officials said they did not want to pursue this channel and indicated they had already engaged in separate contacts with Baghdad. Perle said the response was simple: “The message was, `Tell them that we will see them in Baghdad.’ ”

A senior U.S. intelligence official said this was one of several contacts with the Iraqis or with people who said they were trying to broker meetings on their behalf before the war. “These signals came via a broad range of foreign intelligence services, other governments, third parties, charlatans and independent actors,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Every lead that was at all plausible, and some that weren’t, were followed up.”

There were a variety of efforts, both public and discreet, to avert a war in Iraq, but this clandestine channel appears to have been a final attempt by the Iraqis to communicate directly with U.S. officials.

In interviews in Beirut, Lebanon, Hage said that the Iraqis appeared intimidated and scared by the American military threat. “The Iraqis were finally taking it seriously,” he said, “and they wanted to talk, and they offered things they never would have offered if the build-up hadn’t occurred.”

Perle said he found it “puzzling” that the Iraqis would use such a complicated series of contacts to communicate “a quite astonishing proposal” to the Bush administration. But former American intelligence officials with extensive experience in the Middle East say that many Arab leaders like Saddam have traditionally placed a high value on back channels of communication, although such informal arrangements are sometimes considered suspect in Washington.

Perle now downplays the importance of his contact with Hage. He said he finds it difficult to believe that Saddam would make serious proposals through that kind of channel. “There were so many other ways to communicate,” he said. “There were any number of governments involved in the end game, the Russians, French, Saudis.”

The activity in this back channel, which was detailed in interviews and in documents obtained by The New York Times, appears to show an increasingly frantic Iraqi regime trying to find room to maneuver as the enemy closed in. And it also provides a rare glimpse into a subterranean world of international networking.

Is Rumsfeld Losing His Mojo?

Is Rumsfeld Losing His Mojo?
Facing persistent enemy attacks in Iraq, the Defense Secretary now finds himself fighting battles at home

Sunday, Oct. 26, 2003
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was having one of his irregular chats with Senators last Wednesday, speaking in the secret, soundproof fourth-floor Capitol chamber used for highly classified conversations, when someone interjected the question that was on everyone’s mind. “What troop levels do we expect to have in Iraq a year from now?” asked Senator Bill Frist, the Republican leader. And with that, the Pentagon chief began to tap dance. His reply, according to a Republican Senator in the room, was a classic Rumsfeldian fugue—complete with interesting hand gestures—mentioning reductions and foreign troops and steady progress. Or, as the G.O.P. Senator described it later, “it was a five-minute, total nonanswer, just unbelievably obtuse.” Another Republican Senator put it this way to TIME: “Rumsfeld believes in his own magic.”

It is increasingly fair to ask: Does anyone else? For nearly three years as Defense Secretary, Rumsfeld has employed everything from smiling charm to podium-pounding bluntness in his battles with Congress, the Pentagon bureaucracy and his colleagues in the Bush Administration over who controls foreign policy. But his recent pronouncements, both public and private, have grown into a regular political distraction for a President who is already on the defensive for his handling of the Iraq war and its aftermath—both of which were designed largely by Rumsfeld himself.

Rumsfeld has lately kept busy strewing political wreckage on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. First, he wrote a frank memo about the war on terrorism that was at odds with much of the Administration’s public spin for the past several months. Then he alienated the one person, apart from Bush, on whom the Pentagon most relies for sustenance—Virginia Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. A former Navy Secretary, Warner went to the Senate floor to complain that Rumsfeld had in effect ignored his request for an investigation into Lieut. General William “Jerry” Boykin, a top Army officer in the war on terrorism, who had been preaching anti-Islamic sermons, in uniform, to evangelical Christian gatherings. When Rumsfeld denied ever seeing Warner’s letter—something of a stretch, as Warner not only faxed the letter to Rumsfeld’s office but also had it hand-delivered by Pentagon courier—lawmakers took the gloves off. “His treatment of the chairman of the Armed Services Committee is more disdainful than I have ever seen,” said Republican Senator John McCain. “It’s just not appropriate.”

Warner and Rumsfeld tried to patch things up later over sandwiches at Rumsfeld’s office. But what’s really eating Republicans isn’t just Rumsfeld’s manners; it’s his war. It was Rumsfeld who ordered his reluctant generals to keep the U.S. invasion force relatively small last winter in order to shorten the war—though that has left the U.S. with what many believe is an occupying army too small to pacify, disarm and rebuild the fractured Iraqi nation. Five Americans died in combat last week, and the Baghdad hotel where Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, was staying came under attack by rocket fire (he was uninjured). And it is ever more clear that one ramification of Rumsfeld’s win-it-fast design is that the President will be spending more time than he had planned to in the run-up to his re-election campaign convincing Americans that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are truly finished. Domestic initiatives are being squeezed out of the Bush script by the duration and cost of the two overseas rebuilding efforts.

You can’t understand what Rumsfeld is up to now unless you can picture the wringer he has just been through. Many lawmakers returned from summer vacation lugging complaints from voters about the mess in Iraq. Bush’s polls began to fall, and to halt the slide, the White House ran to the U.N., ostensibly to get help with troops and money but really to calm political anxieties at home. When that effort stalled, the White House tried a different tack: it leaked word to the New York Times that all Iraq policymaking was being centralized at the White House under National Security Council (NSC) adviser Condoleezza Rice, a figure almost as reassuring as Rumsfeld is controversial. The leak was a clear shot at Rumsfeld’s war-boss performance, but otherwise the Condi-in-charge move was almost entirely for show. The NSC isn’t set up for operational control of a project as complex as the reconstruction of a nation, and Rice has rarely displayed the muscle needed to keep Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell all on the same page. But then Rumsfeld spoiled the ploy. Instead of just keeping quiet and running things as he had before, he greeted the Rice leak with a loud Bronx cheer and suggested to foreign reporters that it wouldn’t change much of anything at all, which of course was true. A White House official, tongue in cheek, explained Rumsfeld’s remarks by saying, “The Secretary’s charm offensive is well known.”

Baroque as it was, that soap opera was merely a warm-up. On Oct. 16 Rumsfeld wrote a memo titled “Global War on Terrorism” that was quickly leaked to reporters. The memo, first reported by USA Today, reads like a report card for the Bush team since 9/11, and the marks aren’t great. “We are having mixed results with al-Qaeda, although we have put considerable pressure on them—nonetheless, a great many remain at large … we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us? The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorist costs of millions … It’s pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long hard slog.”

White House officials argued that Rumsfeld had merely raised issues he had raised before, and to an extent that was true. This was not the first time that Rumsfeld had asked if the government needed to remake itself against a new enemy. But Rumsfeld’s memo—for an Administration that had been touting its achievements overseas relentlessly for months—read like a grim descant of doubt at odds with the more optimistic line peddled almost daily to the public. A Bush aide searched for a silver lining: “If we were smart, we would take advantage of this to concede the obvious and talk about how we’re trying to solve the problem.”

Rumsfeld insisted that he had not leaked the memo himself. But it is widely believed inside the Pentagon that he was content to see it disclosed; the debate is much more about why. One officer explained that Rumsfeld wanted to make it clear that he didn’t really believe his own rose-colored rhetoric. Another said he was reasserting his authority over Iraq policy. But perhaps the savviest explanation is also the simplest. The U.S. is spending close to $500 billion a year on defense, at home and abroad, yet Americans feel only slightly safer. Some Bush hard-liners share Rumsfeld’s fear that the U.S. is going about it the wrong way. “This leak was no accident,” said an official. “It was leaked because they want to provoke the whole discussion about how we fight terror going forward.”

Whatever its next move, the Bush team is determined to keep its conservative flank happy and to capture the 4 million evangelicals that political guru Karl Rove believes sat on the sidelines in 2000. As the Boykin flap unfolded, Christian activists rushed to Boykin’s defense. Evangelical e-mail armies were pressed into service and encouraged to fire in the direction of the White House. After a few days of silence on Boykin, Bush told pool reporters on Air Force One, “He didn’t reflect my opinion.” Rumsfeld would go no further, pleading that the sound on the videotapes of Boykin’s incendiary remarks was too scratchy to be understood. In his dustup with Warner, Rumsfeld went so far as to say it was Boykin who requested a Pentagon probe—perhaps so evangelicals wouldn’t blame the Bush team for going after one of their own. Still, Boykin’s days are numbered. “His job effectiveness is over,” said retired Army General Barry McCaffrey.

As for Rumsfeld, he has been down before and has usually fought his way back to grinning, redoubtable prominence. You can almost hear him writing that memo now, and it would sound a lot like the one leaked last week: “Is our current situation such that, ‘The harder we work, the behinder we get?’ Do we need a new organization? What else should we be considering?”

—With reporting by Matthew Cooper, John F. Dickerson and Mark Thompson/Washington

From the Nov. 03, 2003 issue of TIME magazine

Terror suspects spill more ‘high value’ intelligence

July 24, 2003, 10:54PM
Terror suspects spill more ‘high value’ intelligence
Detainees are offered rewards in exchange for information

Associated Press GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — Terrorist suspects have become more compliant and are offering many more important intelligence tips, said the U.S. Army general who commands the prison where preparations are under way for military tribunals.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller said that three-fourths of the 660 or so detainees have confessed to some involvement in terrorism. Many have turned on former friends and colleagues, he added.

Miller said detainees are giving up information in “incentive-based interrogations.” Rewards include more recreation time, extra food rations to keep in their cells, or a move to the prison’s medium-security facility.

“We have a large number of detainees who have been very cooperative describing their actions, either terrorist actions or in support of terrorism — more than 75 percent” of them, Miller said in an interview Wednesday.

Some tips have led to more arrests, others revealed terrorist recruiting techniques, he said.

“In February we were able to get 35 `high value’ — the highest value — intelligence (pieces). … In June we had more than 225,” Miller said.

The prisoners’ statements, which Miller said have been verbal, could be used as evidence before the secret tribunals, unlike in the United States.

The prison’s location at this U.S. naval base at the eastern end of Cuba puts the detainees out of the jurisdiction of U.S. courts and constitutional protections, a situation that has been criticized by human rights groups as a violation of the detainees’ rights.

The prisoners are all suspected of ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network or Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban regime.

How Bush Misleads Himself

Sunday, Jul. 20, 2003

George W. Bush ducked the first question he was asked during a joint press conference with Tony Blair after the British Prime Minister’s brilliant speech to Congress last Thursday. The question had two parts. Did he take responsibility for the false claim in his State of the Union message that Iraq had recently sought to buy uranium in Africa? And why were the allies having so much trouble finding other countries to help us in Iraq? The President — who seemed a mite tetchy, as he often does when things aren’t going well — glowered: “I take the responsibility for making the decision…to put together a coalition to remove Saddam Hussein, because the intelligence…made a clear and compelling case [that Saddam] was a threat to security and peace.”

Right, but that wasn’t the question, and one wonders why Bush didn’t simply say, “Yep. My fault. Some hard-working guy at the National Security Council got a little overenthusiastic and stuck in that sentence. I didn’t take it out. Won’t do that again.” End of story. Instead, we have the two-week spectacle of Bushies on the run and the President undermining his reputation as a straight shooter by forcing his CIA director, George Tenet, to take the fall. Clint Eastwood would never do that.

Why has the uranium story puffed up so huge? It wouldn’t have been a very big deal without the deepening crisis in Iraq. But it also has ballast because it clarifies an aspect of George W. Bush’s essential character — specifically, the problem he has with telling the truth. I am not saying Bush is a liar. Lying is witting: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” This is weirder than that. The President seems to believe that wishing will make it so — and he is so stupendously incurious that he rarely makes an effort to find the truth of the matter. He misleads not only the nation but himself. Every worst-case Saddam scenario just had to be true, as did every best-case post-Saddam scenario. Bush’s talent for self-deception extends to domestic and economic policy. He probably believes that he’s a compassionate conservative, even though he has allowed every antipoverty program he favors to be eviscerated by Congress. This week’s outrage is the crippling of AmeriCorps, which he had pledged to increase in size. He probably believes that his tax cuts for the wealthy will help reduce the mammoth $455 billion budget deficit (which doesn’t include the cost of Iraq), even though Ronald Reagan found that the exact opposite was true and had to raise taxes twice to repair the damage done by his 1981 cuts. And Bush probably believed, as the sign said, that the “mission” had been “accomplished” in Iraq when he landed on the aircraft carrier costumed as a flyboy. He may even have believed that he was a flyboy.

But the country can no longer afford the President’s self-delusions. He is entering the most crucial six months of his presidency. As a team of experts hired by the Pentagon reported last week: “The window for cooperation may close rapidly if they [the Iraqis] do not see progress.” Which brings us back to the second part of the question the President didn’t answer last week: Why is no one helping us in Iraq? A simple answer: Why on earth should they? The situation is a mess, in large part because of American arrogance. We insisted on doing the reconstruction on our own (only 13,000 of the 148,000 troops on the ground are British). It seems plain now that going it alone isn’t working. Even Donald Rumsfeld came very close to admitting that on Meet the Press a few weeks ago. Asked if we should turn Iraq over to the United Nations, he said, “At some point, I think that–” and then he caught himself and said, “They’re already playing an important role.”

In fact, the current military situation is extremely dangerous, not just to the troops on the ground but to our national security in general. We are pinned down in Iraq and will be for years. We don’t have the forces to meet another challenge — in North Korea, or Afghanistan, or anyplace else. We don’t even have the forces necessary to relieve our tired troops in Iraq. Last week India made clear — as France and Germany have — that it won’t help us without the U.N.’s imprimatur. And now there is serious talk within the White House about going back to the U.N. and asking for help.

Help will not come easily. “You can’t have burden sharing without power sharing,” a diplomat told me. The U.N. was humiliated, and its weapons inspectors denigrated, by the Bush Administration before the war. Some public groveling from the President may now be in order. Indeed, Bush also owes the American people a speech explaining just how difficult the situation is, how long it’s likely to remain that way and how much it will cost. Last week he took “responsibility” for the war. Now he must take responsibility for the peace.

From the Jul. 28, 2003 issue of TIME magazine

Journalist says she gave uranium papers to U.S.

July 19, 2003, 10:12AM
Associated Press

ROME — A journalist for an Italian news magazine has come forward, saying it was she who turned over to U.S. diplomats some documents purportedly showing that Iraq wanted to buy uranium from Niger. The documents turned out to be forgeries.

In an interview published today, Corriere della Sera, a leading Italian daily, quoted Elisabetta Burba as saying her source “in the past proved to be reliable.” The journalist, who writes for the weekly Panorama, refused to reveal her source.

“I realized that this could be a worldwide scoop, but that’s exactly why I was very worried,” Burba was quoted as saying. “If it turned out to be a hoax, and I published it, I would have ended my career.”

The documents, later declared by experts to be forgeries, served as part of the basis for President Bush’s assertion in his State of Union address in January that Saddam Hussein was trying to get hold of material that could be used for nuclear weapons.

Bush attributed the information to the British government. Both the Bush administration and that of British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been under growing fire for using flawed intelligence to justify going to war against Iraq.

It has been previously reported that the U.S. Embassy in Rome received the documents from a journalist. The documents were shown to CIA personnel in Rome and sent to State Department headquarters in Washington.

Corriere della Sera quoted the journalist as saying she went to Niger to try to check out the authenticity of the documents. Burba told the paper she was suspicious because the documents spoke of such a large amount of uranium — 500 tons — and were short on details on how the uranium would be transported and arrangements for final delivery.

After her return from Africa, she said she told Panorama’s top editor “the story seemed fake to me.” After discussions at the magazine, one of the publications in Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s media empire, Burba took the documents to the U.S. Embassy.

“I went by myself and give them the dossier. No one said anything more to me and in any case the decision not to publish it was already taken — with no further way to check out the reliability of those papers, we chose not to risk. I informed my source that I wasn’t going to write anything and for me that affair was forgotten,” Burba was quoted as saying.

There was no answer at Burba’s home today. Offices of Panorama were closed for the weekend.


White House admits uranium claim was wrong

July 8, 2003, 1:00PM
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Amid questions about prewar intelligence, the White House is acknowledging that President Bush was incorrect when he said in his State of the Union address that Iraq recently had sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa.

The White House acknowledgment comes as a British parliamentary commission questions the reliability of British intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Democrats in Congress also have questioned how the Bush administration used U.S. intelligence on Iraq’s weapons programs.

Bush said in his address to Congress in January that the British government had learned that Saddam recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa.

The president’s statement in the State of the Union was incorrect because it was based on forged documents from the African nation of Niger, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Monday.

“The president’s statement was based on the predicate of the yellow cake” uranium “from Niger,” Fleischer told reporters. “So given the fact that the report on the yellow cake did not turn out to be accurate, that is reflective of the president’s broader statement.”

A British parliamentary committee concluded that Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government mishandled intelligence material on Iraqi weapons.

John Stanley, a Conservative member of the committee, said so far no evidence has been found in Iraq to substantiate four key claims, including that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa as part of an effort to restart a nuclear weapons program.

Claims about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction were a primary justification for the war, but U.S. forces have yet to find any such weapons. The House and Senate intelligence panels are looking into prewar intelligence on Iraq and how it was used by the Bush administration.

Fleischer’s remarks follow assertions by an envoy sent by the CIA to Africa to investigate allegations about Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. The envoy, Joseph Wilson, said Sunday the Bush administration manipulated his findings, possibly to strengthen the rationale for war.

Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador to the West African nation of Gabon, was dispatched in February 2002 to explore whether Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger.

Writing in a New York Times op-ed piece, Wilson said it did not take him long “to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.”

In an interview on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press,” Wilson insisted his doubts about the purported Iraq-Niger connection reached the highest levels of government, including Vice President Dick Cheney’s office.

In fact, he said, Cheney’s office inquired about the purported Niger-Iraq link.

“The question was asked of the CIA by the office of the vice president. The office of the vice president, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked, and that response was based upon my trip out there,” Wilson said.

Yet nearly a year after he had returned and briefed CIA officials, the assertion that Saddam was trying to obtain uranium from Africa was included in Bush’s State of the Union address.

The International Atomic Energy Agency told the United Nations in March that the information about uranium was based on forged documents.

After Bush repeated the British claim in his State of the Union address, the purported letters between Iraq and Niger were turned over to the United Nations, which found them to be forged.


Envoy: Iraq uranium findings ignored

July 6, 2003, 11:51AM
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Joseph C. Wilson, the retired United States ambassador whose CIA-directed mission to Niger in early 2002 helped debunk claims that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium there for nuclear weapons, has said for the first time publicly that U.S. and British officials ignored his findings and exaggerated the public case for invading Iraq.

Wilson said the false allegations that Iraq was trying to buy uranium oxide from Niger about three years ago were used by President Bush as a central piece of evidence to support their assertions that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program.

The Niger story — one piece of the administration’s larger argument that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction posed an imminent threat — was not debunked until shortly before the war began, when the United Nations’ chief nuclear inspector told the Security Council the documents were forgeries.

The White House has acknowledged that some documents were bogus, but a spokesman has said there was “a larger body of evidence suggesting Iraq attempted to purchase uranium in Africa,” indicating it might have involved a country other than Niger.

For the past year, Wilson has spoken out against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq but until he was interviewed by the Washington Post and wrote an op-ed article published in Sunday’s New York Times, he had never disclosed his key role in the Niger controversy.

He said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was not an immediate threat before the war.


General admits ‘we’re still at war’

July 3, 2003, 10:59PM
General admits ‘we’re still at war’
As violence rises, U.S. increases bounty on Saddam to $25 million

New York Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Two months after President Bush declared the end of major combat, the commander of allied forces in Iraq acknowledged on Thursday that “we’re still at war” and the United States announced a reward of up to $25 million for the capture of Saddam Hussein or confirmation of his death.

The statement from the Army commander, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, came on a day in which 10 American soldiers were wounded in three separate attacks.

With the violence seemingly escalating daily, the offer of a bounty for Saddam seemed to reflect the renewed urgency allied officials and military commanders attach to finding the deposed leader and his two sons, whose specter they believe is fueling the growing resistance to the American occupation.

“Until we know for sure, their names will continue to cast a shadow of fear over this country,” L. Paul Bremer, the American civilian administrator of Iraq, said in his weekly address to the Iraqi people.

In Washington on Thursday, a group of senators just back from a three-day visit to Iraq were even more emphatic about the need to capture or kill Saddam.

“There’s a pervasive climate of fear that is impeding the recovery, particularly in central and southern Iraq,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “There is a fear that he will return, that he will come back.”

The $25-million reward for Saddam is the same amount offered for Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida. Bremer said up to $15 million apiece would be offered for similar information on Saddam’s sons, Uday and Qusay.

Bremer said in an interview on Sunday that the “general assessment” of people he talked to was that Saddam was still in Iraq. Referring to the recent capture of Saddam’s presidential secretary, Bremer said, “The noose is going to get tighter and tighter.”

While Bremer maintained that the threats and violence against American soldiers and civilians, as well as the Iraqis working with them, would not deter reconstruction, Sanchez made clear at a news conference on Thursday that rebuilding the country and fighting the enemy would have to take place side by side.

While saying the daily attacks on American forces did not appear to be centrally or even regionally coordinated, the commander acknowledged that there had been an “increase in sophistication of the explosive devices.” He said 25 soldiers had been killed in action and 177 wounded since May 1, when Bush declared the official cessation of major hostilities.

The multiple attacks on Thursday came a day after Bush essentially dared militants to attack American soldiers, saying, “Bring `em on.” The American-led alliance, he said, has adequate force to deal with the security situation.

Thursday’s attacks seemed to defy that assertion. They also suggested that sapping the resistance might not be as simple as capturing or killing Saddam. The attacks occurred in diverse locations: a Sunni area west of Baghdad that staunchly supported the former government, a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad that did not, and the center of the city.

In the Baghdad neighborhood of Kadhimiya on Thursday, a gunman opened fire on a group of soldiers from the 1st Armored Division on foot patrol at 2:30 a.m., wounding one of them. The soldiers returned fire, killing the gunman and wounding a 6-year-old boy with him, according to an American military spokesman.

In the city of Ramadi, about 65 miles west of Baghdad, six soldiers were wounded when their two-vehicle convoy drove over an improvised explosive device at 6:30 a.m. The city’s Sunni Muslim residents were among the core of Saddam’s base of support, serving as army officers and officials in his government.

In Baghdad, just before 10 a.m. Thursday, a man on foot fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a three-vehicle military convoy moving down Haifa Street, a busy thoroughfare. One Humvee was struck, wounding three soldiers, witnesses and a military spokesman said.

CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data

CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data
Bush Used Report Of Uranium Bid

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 12, 2003; Page A01

A key component of President Bush’s claim in his State of the Union address last January that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program — its alleged attempt to buy uranium in Niger — was disputed by a CIA-directed mission to the central African nation in early 2002, according to senior administration officials and a former government official. But the CIA did not pass on the detailed results of its investigation to the White House or other government agencies, the officials said.

The CIA’s failure to share what it knew, which has not been disclosed previously, was one of a number of steps in the Bush administration that helped keep the uranium story alive until the eve of the war in Iraq, when the United Nations’ chief nuclear inspector told the Security Council that the claim was based on fabricated evidence.

A senior intelligence official said the CIA’s action was the result of “extremely sloppy” handling of a central piece of evidence in the administration’s case against then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. But, the official added, “It is only one fact and not the reason we went to war. There was a lot more.”

However, a senior CIA analyst said the case “is indicative of larger problems” involving the handling of intelligence about Iraq’s alleged chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs and its links to al Qaeda, which the administration cited as justification for war. “Information not consistent with the administration agenda was discarded and information that was [consistent] was not seriously scrutinized,” the analyst said.

As the controversy over Iraq intelligence has expanded with the failure so far of U.S. teams in Iraq to uncover proscribed weapons, intelligence officials have accused senior administration policymakers of pressuring the CIA or exaggerating intelligence information to make the case for war. The story involving the CIA’s uranium-purchase probe, however, suggests that the agency also was shaping intelligence on Iraq to meet the administration’s policy goals.

Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), former chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence and a candidate for president, yesterday described the case as “part of the agency’s standard operating procedure when it wants to advance the information that supported their [the administration’s] position and bury that which didn’t.”

Armed with information purportedly showing that Iraqi officials had been seeking to buy uranium in Niger one or two years earlier, the CIA in early February 2002 dispatched a retired U.S. ambassador to the country to investigate the claims, according to the senior U.S. officials and the former government official, who is familiar with the event. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity and on condition that the name of the former ambassador not be disclosed.

During his trip, the CIA’s envoy spoke with the president of Niger and other Niger officials mentioned as being involved in the Iraqi effort, some of whose signatures purportedly appeared on the documents.

After returning to the United States, the envoy reported to the CIA that the uranium-purchase story was false, the sources said. Among the envoy’s conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because the “dates were wrong and the names were wrong,” the former U.S. government official said.

However, the CIA did not include details of the former ambassador’s report and his identity as the source, which would have added to the credibility of his findings, in its intelligence reports that were shared with other government agencies. Instead, the CIA only said that Niger government officials had denied the attempted deal had taken place, a senior administration said.

“This gent made a visit to the region and chatted up his friends,” a senior intelligence official said, describing the agency’s view of the mission. “He relayed back to us that they said it was not true and that he believed them.”

Thirteen months later, on March 8, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, informed the U.N. Security Council that after careful scrutiny of the Niger documents, his agency had reached the same conclusion as the CIA’s envoy. ElBaradei deemed the documents “not authentic,” an assessment that U.S. officials did not dispute.

Knowledgeable sources familiar with the forgery investigation have described the faked evidence as a series of letters between Iraqi agents and officials in Niger. The documents had been sought by U.N. inspectors since September 2002 and they were delivered by the United States and Britain last February.

The President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a panel of nongovernment experts that is reviewing the handling of Iraq intelligence, is planning to study the Niger story and how it made its way into Bush’s State of the Union address on Jan. 28. In making the case that Iraq had an ongoing nuclear weapons program, Bush declared that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

That same month, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice also mentioned Iraq’s alleged attempts to buy uranium, and the story made its way into a State Department “fact sheet” as well.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Government Reform Committee and a leading administration critic, wrote the president June 2 asking why Bush had included the Niger case as part of the evidence he cited against Iraq. “Given what the CIA knew at the time, the implication you intended — that there was credible evidence that Iraq sought uranium from Africa — was simply false,” Waxman said.

The CIA’s decision to send an emissary to Niger was triggered by questions raised by an aide to Vice President Cheney during an agency briefing on intelligence circulating about the purported Iraqi efforts to acquire the uranium, according to the senior officials. Cheney’s staff was not told at the time that its concerns had been the impetus for a CIA mission and did not learn it occurred or its specific results.

Cheney and his staff continued to get intelligence on the matter, but the vice president, unlike other senior administration officials, never mentioned it in a public speech. He and his staff did not learn of its role in spurring the mission until it was disclosed by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof on May 6, according to an administration official.

When the British government published an intelligence document on Iraq in September 2002 claiming that Baghdad had “sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” the former ambassador called the CIA officers who sent him to Niger and was told they were looking into new information about the claim, sources said. The former envoy later called the CIA and State Department after Bush’s State of the Union speech and was told “not to worry,” according to one U.S. official.

Later it was disclosed that the United States and Britain were basing their reports on common information that originated with forged documents provided originally by Italian intelligence officials.

CIA Director George J. Tenet, on Sept. 24, 2002, cited the Niger evidence in a closed-door briefing to the Senate intelligence committee on a national intelligence estimate of Iraq’s weapons programs, sources said. Although Tenet told the panel that some questions had been raised about the evidence, he did not mention that the agency had sent an envoy to Niger and that the former ambassador had concluded that the claims were false.

The Niger evidence was not included in Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s Feb. 5 address to the Security Council in which he disclosed some intelligence on Iraq’s alleged weapons programs and links to al Qaeda because it was considered inaccurate, sources said.

Even so, the Voice of America on Feb. 20 broadcast a story that said: “U.S. officials tell VOA [that] Iraq and Niger signed an agreement in the summer of 2000 to resume shipments for an additional 500 tons of yellow cake,” a reference to the uranium. The VOA, which is financed by the government but has an official policy of editorial independence, went on to say that there was no evidence such shipments had taken place.



© 2003 The Washington Post Company


U.S. peacekeepers receive new war-crimes exemption

June 12, 2003, 9:26PM
U.S. peacekeepers receive new war-crimes exemption
Los Angeles Times

UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council on Thursday grudgingly approved another one-year exemption for U.S. peacekeepers from prosecution by the newly established International Criminal Court, despite objections from some members that it puts the United States outside of international law.

Washington had pushed hard for the exemption, saying that its personnel were particularly vulnerable to politically motivated charges, and that it would not participate in peacekeeping operations without immunity. The measure does not “as some today suggested, elevate an entire category of people above the law. The ICC is not `the law,’ ” said U.S. deputy ambassador James Cunningham. “In our view, it is a fatally flawed institution.”

Although 12 of the council’s 15 members voted for the resolution, France, Germany and Syria abstained to register their opposition, charging that any immunity undermines the court before it has even begun.

In statements to the council, several diplomats put the United States on notice that the exemption was not designed to be permanent and that Washington was overreaching its legal limits.

But a European envoy said privately that most council members dared not vote against it at a time when transatlantic tensions are still high from the clash over Iraq.

GOP: No need for further probe of Iraqi arms claims

June 12, 2003, 12:35AM
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Republican leaders dismissed calls by Democrats for a full-blown congressional investigation into whether the Bush administration exaggerated prewar evidence of Iraqi weapons programs, while promising Wednesday to explore the matter thoroughly in routine hearings.

Sen. Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, called persistent Democratic appeals to probe the administration’s handling of the weapons of mass destruction question, “simply politics for political gain” and said Congress was already examining the matter.

“It isn’t like we haven’t had hearings on weapons of mass destruction; we have them every week and in some cases even twice a week,” he said.

But Democrats like Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, have called those hearings, often held in secret sessions, insufficient. Levin said Wednesday he was disappointed with the GOP position that a special congressional inquiry was deemed unnecessary.

Sen. John Warner, the Virginia Republican who heads the Armed Services Committee, said he has presided over three hearings on the issue of weapons of mass destruction since Baghdad fell and “the evidence that I have examined does not rise to give the presumption that anyone in this administration has hyped or cooked or embellished such evidence to a particular purpose.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell fended off a published claim by United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix that the Bush administration pressuring his team to overstate its findings before the United States launched war on Iraq in March.

Blix was quoted in the London-based Guardian newspaper Wednesday saying that while, overall, he had good relations with the Bush administration, “toward the end, the administration leaned on us,” hoping for stronger condemnations of Saddam Hussein in inspectors’ reports.

Blix also said he felt he was the victim of a smear campaign, but did not say who was maligning him inside or outside the Bush administration.

Powell praised Blix but brushed aside questions that Blix was smeared or pressured by U.S. officials.

Powell said he stood behind his February presentation at the United Nations outlining U.S. evidence of Iraqi weapons programs.

“More experts are going in,” he said. “And I think one should be careful about making judgments as to what was hyped or not hyped” until the process is complete.

So far U.S. troops and inspectors in Iraq have found little to confirm Powell’s prewar presentation that outlined a robust Iraqi program to make and potentially use chemical and biological weapons.

The strongest evidence found to date that Iraq had that capability is two tractor-trailers seized in northern Iraq that the CIA said may have been used as mobile weapons laboratories.

The issue of whether Iraq was capable of deadly chemical or biological strikes or of channeling such weapons to terrorists has become a political battlefield.

Some contend the public was misled by an administration bent on justifying war, while others call such arguments a transparent attempt to tarnish the president’s foreign policy triumph.

But a couple of recent polls show that, at least to this point, the public doesn’t care too much if the weapons are found:

· A CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll released last week found that 56 percent of Americans said that deposing Saddam was justified even if proof of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction are never found.

· A Fox News Poll released Monday said 69 percent of people would still believe the war was the right decision even if such weapons are never uncovered.

Democratic leaders, some of whom saw intelligence on the Iraqi weapons programs before the war and supported efforts to depose Saddam, have remained split on the issue.

Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat who is a ranking member on the intelligence committee, said prewar classified briefings she received from intelligence services were “convincing” on the issue of Saddam’s weapons programs.

“That so far the United States has found only trace signs of a weapons program … is cause for grave concern,” she said. “We do not need a frenzy, but we do need coolheaded analysis and a plan of action to get answers now.”

Of the major declared candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Florida Sen. Bob Graham have been the most aggressive in accusing the administration of what Graham called recently “a pattern of deception and deceit” on Saddam’s weapons capabilities.

But four leading Democratic contenders supported the resolution authorizing war — Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts, John Edwards of North Carolina and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Those four have either counseled patience in the search for proof or have stayed away from the debate.

A Pentagon team of 1,400 analysts is scheduled to begin the most exhaustive search so far for Iraqi chemical and biological weapons late this week.

Roberts expressed annoyance at unnamed intelligence agency officials whom he charged with leaking accounts to the members of the media that they felt pressured before the war to spin findings to support an invasion.

He also urged anyone with that opinion to meet in private with the committee, but said despite many briefings he had “yet to hear from any intelligence official expressing such concerns.”

Pentagon report found no evidence of Iraq chemical weapons

June 6, 2003, 12:17PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s intelligence service reported last September that it had no reliable evidence that Iraq had chemical agents in weaponized form, officials said today.

The time frame is notable because it coincided with Bush administration efforts to mount a public case for the urgency of disarming Iraq, by force if necessary. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others argued that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical and biological weapons and was hiding them.

Two months after major fighting in Iraq ended, U.S. officials have yet to find any chemical or other mass-killing weapons, although they still express confidence that some will turn up.

Rumsfeld recently raised the possibility that Iraq destroyed the weapons before the war started March 20. He also has said he believes some remain and will be discovered when U.S. search teams find knowledgeable Iraqis who are willing to disclose the locations.

In making its case for invading Iraq, the administration also argued that Iraq was seeking to develop nuclear weapons and that it might provide some of its mass-killing weapons to terrorists.

Today, a small team of United Nations nuclear experts arrived in Baghdad to begin a damage assessment at Iraq’s largest nuclear facility, known as Tuwaitha. It was left unguarded by American and allied troops during the early days of the war and then pillaged by villagers.

The arrival of the team — whose members are not weapons inspectors — marked the first time since the Iraq war began that representatives from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency returned to the country. The atomic energy agency had long monitored Iraq’s nuclear program.

In its report last September, the Defense Intelligence Agency said it could find no reliable information to indicate that Iraq had any chemical weapons available for use on the battlefield. But the agency also said Iraq probably had stockpiles of banned chemical warfare agents.

The existence of the DIA report was disclosed by U.S. News & World Report, and a classified summary was reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday. Two Pentagon officials who had read the summary confirmed today that it said DIA had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons.

A White House spokesman said a portion of the still-classified report is being taken out of context of the entire document’s conclusions, which match what the Bush administration argued all along.

“The entire report paints a different picture than the selective quotes would lead you to believe,” said Michael Anton, a spokesman with the White House’s National Security Council. “The entire report is consistent with with the president was saying at the time.”

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was a National Intelligence Estimate published at nearly the same time as the DIA report — and with DIA’s concurrence — that concluded Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

The DIA’s analysis is just one piece of an intelligence mosaic that Rumsfeld and other senior administrations could consider in making their own assessment of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons capability. Congress is reviewing the prewar intelligence to determine whether the administration overplayed the weapons threat in order to justify toppling the Iraqi regime.

Today, the Senate Armed Services convened a closed-door hearing focusing on the mission of the 75th Exploitation Task Force, which made the initial effort to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction at the conclusion of the war, and the follow-on search team, called the Iraq Survey Group.

The committee was hearing from Stephen A. Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence; Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the DIA; and an unidentified CIA representative.


Text of Rumsfeld’s recorded message

April 30, 2003, 5:04PM
Text of Rumsfeld’s recorded message
Reuters News Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Iraq Wednesday. Following is the text of an address he recorded in Baghdad and which is to be broadcast across Iraq on U.S.-run television and radio frequencies.

================= “Hello, I’m Don Rumsfeld, the American Secretary of Defense, I am pleased to visit Iraq — your country — to witness your liberation. The American people share your joy that tyranny is gone. We have watched you embrace your freedom — pulling down statues of Saddam Hussein, worshipping freely for the first time in decades, debating the future of your country and even raising voices in dissent without fear of torture and death.

“The coalition is committed to helping you as you take control of your country and make the transition from tyranny to freedom and self-government.

“Building a free society isn’t easy. It requires hard work and sacrifice. We know this is a difficult time for many of you. Even as you celebrate your new-found freedom you also want to see normalcy restored to your lives.

“You want to return to work so you can earn a living for your families, you want to see schools re-open, electricity restored and water running.

“Each day that goes by, conditions in Iraq are improving. In fact, in a number of parts of the country people already have more food, water and electricity than they had under the old regime. But some do not have these necessities and the coalition is working day and night to help provide them.

“Improvements in life in Iraq depend on finding the remnants of the regime and ensuring the Baath party’s influence is removed. The coalition has taken into custody a number of senior leaders from Saddam Hussein’s regime. In almost every case, it was with the help of the Iraqi people. We need your help to capture the rest of them. We also need to get rid of foreign fighters, those from neighbouring countries who are seeking to hijack your country for their own purposes.

“Please help remove this threat by approaching coalition forces with any information you may have about the activities and whereabouts of any foreign fighters in your area.

“We shared a common objective in the removal of Saddam Hussein and we share common objectives for a new Iraq:

— a free country where Iraq’s leaders answer to the Iraqi people instead of murdering the Iraqi people

— where the country’s wealth is used to benefit the people, not to line the pockets of a cruel dictator

— where Iraqi children can play and study and learn and grow and not worry whether they or their parents will be suddenly taken away by death squads.

“Back home in America I have three children and six grandchildren — the youngest is just one year old. I want the same things for them that each of you want for your children and grandchildren — safety, security and a just society where they have freedom to pursue their dreams.

“We are committed to helping you as you build a new Iraq where they will have those opportunities. Let me be clear: Iraq belongs to you. We do not want to run it. Our coalition came to Iraq for a purpose — to remove a regime that oppressed your people and threatened ours. Our goal is to restore stability and security so that you can form an interim government and eventually a free Iraqi government — a government of your choosing, a government that is of Iraqi design and Iraqi choice.

“We will stay as long as necessary to help you do that, and not a day longer.

“Thank you for listening.”

Unfinished Business

Sunday, Apr. 20, 2003
Unfinished Business
America’s war with Iraq won’t be complete until U.S. forces can resolve three key questions

Nothing but a battle lost, said Wellington of Waterloo, can be half so melancholy as a battle won. And so it is as the war in Iraq turns into a fight for peace and a nation’s soul. The conflict may be over, but the combat hasn’t stopped. Markets are open, but the lights are still out, and there are shortages of everything but flies. Iraqis are free to march through the streets demanding that U.S. troops pull out, and to walk up to Marines and ask why there aren’t more of them to help keep the peace. The oil wells have been kept safe, but many ancient treasures are lost. Bodies have piled up, and the gravediggers have disappeared, so it’s up to people to bury their own. Peace is painted in more subtle colors than the black, white and blood-red days of war.

The looting has subsided, partly because there is nothing left to take. U.S. troops who began last week as soldiers ended it as cops, trying to distinguish the bad from the worse. They did foil a bank robbery, recovering $3.68 million in American hundred-dollar bills from the thieves’ car. But the ransacking of Iraq’s national museum, home to some of the world’s most precious antiquities, left a wound in the country’s heart. General Tommy Franks took his victory lap through Baghdad, passing out cigars to his commanders and brushing off a legion of armchair generals who had cast doubt on his plan. Seven rescued prisoners of war were on their way home. Iraqis exchanged their dinars for dollars, 2,000 Saddams for one George Washington. For the first time in a generation, leaders from different regions and faiths and tribes met to imagine their future, and emerged with a 13-point platform.

The fact that both Saddam and his weapons were still missing made for some uncomfortable conversations in Washington—particularly when Saddam popped up again on TV. Virtually an entire air wing of Soviet-made MiG-25 fighters was found hidden in the desert, and more gold-plated AK-47s turned up in Saddam’s palaces. But there was no sign yet of the buried nerve gas or a proven biowarfare lab. Polls in America are reflecting relief that the worst is over, more than concern at what remains to be done. But failure to achieve all the ends for which the war was launched may exact a higher cost over time.

At every briefing for weeks, U.S. officials have been asked how we would know when the war was over. Now CNN has changed its running headline to the new iraq. A&E has a special called Saving Private Lynch. More than a dozen companies are looking to trademark the term shock and awe. “Victory in Iraq is certain,” President George W. Bush said last week in the Rose Garden, “but it is not complete.”

Leave it to Iraq’s tenacious ruler to taunt his enemies and torture his people when he’s supposed to be good and dead. Even after the second U.S. strike on a purported hiding place, even after his government had vanished and the statues had toppled, it required a leap of faith for the people of Iraq to believe he would never be able to touch them again. The streets of Baghdad itched with rumors. The Americans missed him by 10 minutes or 10 yards. He’s in Russia, in Syria, on an island off the coast of Spain. No, he’s right beneath our feet—he and a thousand guards hiding under the city in bunkers with a two-year stock of food and water, waiting to stage a coup when the U.S. withdraws. No, he left last fall and went to North Korea, which offered shelter in return for help with its nuclear program. No, Saddam and son Uday were shot by younger son Qusay, who fled to Syria and is secretly negotiating a swap with the U.S.: clemency in return for Dad’s dead body.

Among the vividest and most recurrent were rumors that on April 9, the day U.S. tanks rolled into Baghdad, Saddam appeared outside the Adhamiya mosque in the northern part of the city, rising from the sunroof of his limo to greet an adoring crowd, with Qusay at his side. So it was uncanny when something like that very scene played on Abu Dhabi TV late last week. The network said its source insists the video was made on April 9, two days after Washington launched a bomb strike that many suspected had killed Saddam.

The White House can argue all it wants that Saddam’s fate does not matter strategically. But it matters psychologically. For Iraqis, the new sighting confirmed their belief that, as a Baghdad resident put it, “we must see Saddam’s body hanging from a lamppost before we can be truly at peace.” Every fire fight, every explosion, every low-flying jet supports the widespread conviction. “No one believes Saddam is gone,” says Ramzi, a Kirkuk oil worker. As cabdriver Faras Ahmad explains, “We have all been trying to forget him, but he’s telling us, ‘I am still here.’ If he is alive, then Iraq is not safe.”

It will be days or weeks before U.S. intelligence analysts can confidently judge when the latest tape was recorded and what it means. At a glance, some officials doubted that a man who kept his own Republican Guards out of Baghdad for fear of mutiny would do a walkabout on the day his capital was stormed by a foreign invader. They suggested that the tape must have been made weeks earlier. But there had been clues for days that perhaps Saddam had escaped again. The U.S. had not yet sent a team to dig for proof—for his body or at least his DNA—at the site of the April 7 bombing. (Despite denials from Washington, officials at U.S. Central Command stuck by their claim that they have his DNA. Franks won’t say how the sample was obtained, but sources point to a dental lab found at one of Saddam’s palaces.) Pentagon officials now think that Saddam may have been hiding in a white-stuccoed house adjacent to the building that was destroyed: neighbors note that the house boasted five telephone lines and a wooden desk like the one Saddam sat behind during his television appearances early in the war. As many as 10,000 U.S. special-operations troops in the region are exploring palaces, tunnels, bunkers and other places where Saddam may be hiding—or where evidence may be found to help track him.

In the meantime, the Americans can take some satisfaction from a few big catches: after passing out the 55 playing cards depicting their most wanted, they began to take some tricks—two half brothers, the Finance Minister, a senior party official. Top science adviser Amir al-Saadi had surrendered the week before, and Imad Hussayn al-Ani, who is supposed to have been in charge of Saddam’s VX nerve-gas program, turned himself in on Friday. For good measure, Abu Abbas, mastermind of the Achille Lauro hijacking in 1985, was captured in Baghdad.

Saddam was not the only thing missing. For months before the war began, everyone from Bush on down argued that Saddam’s arsenal of biological and chemical weapons was so dangerous that destroying it was worth a war. They laid claim to information so certain that Colin Powell was able to provide graphic details to a U.N. audience in February. Pentagon officials were confident that the quality of their intelligence would lead troops to the illicit stockpiles fairly quickly once U.S. boots were on Iraqi soil. Now they’re adjusting the picture: the Pentagon says its soldiers are no more likely to stumble over a weapons cache than top U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix was. “Things were mobile. Things were underground. Things were in tunnels. Things were hidden. Things were dispersed. Now, are we going to find that? No, it’s a big country,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week. “The inspectors didn’t find anything, and I doubt that we will—what we will do is find the people who will tell us.”

However sanguine officials sound in public, in private the pressure is rising. The Pentagon dispatched an entire brigade—3,000 troops—to the search and offered $200,000 bounties for any weapons of mass destruction (WMD) uncovered. Local officers were authorized to make payments of $2,500 on the spot. “The White House is screaming, ‘Find me some WMD,'” says a State Department official, adding that the task is one of many suddenly facing the department. Members of the Administration must feel a new bond with Blix, since they are now the ones arguing that these things take time.

Even the hard-liners concede that they have confirmed absolutely nothing so far. Soldiers rooting around with rifles and test kits stumble on something suspicious, and it’s an instant headline. But barrels of nerve agent have turned out to be pesticide; tip-offs about weapons sites have gone nowhere; the buried or mobile bioweapons labs have so far failed to surface. A senior Pentagon official says U.S. forces have been to several “promising” sites in southern Iraq and have come up empty. “It’s there, but it’s well hidden,” a second Defense official insists. “It will take time to discover and verify because they took time—and effort—to hide it.” Some officials now question whether huge stockpiles will ever be found: it’s easy to hide a liter of anthrax, but not the factory-size facility needed to produce it.

The failure to turn up anything to date raises two possibilities, neither one good, says Joseph Cirincione, chief of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “It may be that there aren’t as many weapons as the President said, in which case we have a major intelligence failure, a huge embarrassment for the President and a huge blow to U.S. credibility—and that’s the good news,” he says. “The other option is that there are as many weapons as the President feared, and they’re no longer under anyone’s control.”

That second possibility underscores the urgency of the hunt. The prime rationale for the war was to prevent the proliferation of such weapons. Since every other government facility has been pillaged, there’s no reason to believe such marketable weapons are secure. “It’s not that no one knows where they are,” Cirincione says. “It’s that we don’t know where they are.” Iraqi detainees like al-Saadi and al-Ani are not likely to talk for fear of being prosecuted for war crimes. Both have been saying, as an intelligence official put it, “Weapons of mass destruction? What weapons of mass destruction? We have no stinking weapons for you.” But everyone else, down to the janitors, is expected to cooperate once fear of reprisal is removed. Then there is the political problem. The longer the hunt takes, the Pentagon concedes, the more likely it is that skeptics will charge that whatever is eventually found was planted by the U.S. In an interview with Der Spiegel, Blix said the information the U.S. provided to his teams before the war was “pathetic.” So it was not surprising when he said last week, “I think that at some stage they would like to have some credible international verification of what they find,” suggesting that if the U.S. ever does uncover something, it will have to call for inspections on itself.

At sunset last Monday, jay garner climbed to the top of the 4,000-year-old ziggurat in Ur in southern Iraq and looked down over the remains of the city of Abraham’s birth. The former three-star general, assigned to invent a democracy from scratch, was preparing to preside the next morning over the first freely convened meeting of Iraqi leaders in memory. “There we were, at the birthplace of civilization, and we were about to create a democracy,” says Garner. “I had tears in my eyes.”

That’s about as moist and mystical as it gets from Garner. For all the lofty dreams of planting liberty in fresh soil, the Bush Administration dispatched a pragmatist with a low-key manner and rolled-up sleeves to get the job done. “Jay’s way,” as his subordinates call it, involves no waffling, full accountability, foot on the gas, getting results. He has a staff of 200, but they were still stuck in Kuwait last week waiting to be told it was safe to set up shop in Iraq. “There is the physical thing—roads and bridges—we can do that; I have enough money for that,” Garner told TIME last week. “And then there is the government—that is harder. We are remaking human lives here.”

Just getting started was harder than anyone expected. Many ministries were looted, and some workers were still afraid to go to work. As an incentive, Garner’s operation will give each returning worker an emergency one-time payment of $20, equivalent to a month’s pay. As for order, some police officers went back to work in Baghdad, but all was not quiet there or in other cities. Those police officers were all products of the old regime, and many Iraqis were reluctant to accept them as arbiters of the new. In Kirkuk, says Ahmad Shakir, an Arab teacher from the Qadissiya district, Kurdish children with rocket-propelled grenades were going from house to house in his neighborhood, telling Arabs to move out in two days or die. “I went to the Americans to ask for help,” he says. “They said it was not their responsibility; go to the civilian administration. I came to the local Kurdish authorities, and they tell me, ‘Go ask the American soldiers.'”

As for finding a new generation of leaders, “It is like walking in a dark room holding your hands out, feeling for the walls and trying not to touch the furniture,” says Garner. Discerning who is credible and who is corrupt requires trial and error. The night before the conclave, Garner met with exile leader Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. He would not be attending in the morning—in many quarters there is deep opposition to him as a Pentagon puppet—but Garner wanted a chance to hear Chalabi’s take on the situation. Pressed and proper in a tie and herringbone jacket, despite more than a week of living in a crumbling warehouse, Chalabi told the American proconsul the looting must be stopped so that citizens would feel safe. “We do not want Iraqis turning to Americans to solve their problems,” Chalabi said. He wants Iraqis going to other Iraqis for help. But he didn’t talk of how an Iraqi Interim Authority would be run or of his own future role, if any.

The 80 leaders who met the next morning represented just a first round: about one-third were Iraqi exiles; the rest were drawn from inside the country. “At the beginning there was a sense of a standoff between the outsiders and the insiders, but as the day wore on, you saw them sitting down with each other at the tables. I thought that was a good thing,” says Garner. One Shi’ite cleric stood up and quoted Abraham Lincoln, much to Garner’s delight.

But outside the tent, people weren’t exactly celebrating. Thousands gathered to denounce the process or demand to know why they had been excluded. After Friday prayers, protesters swarmed the streets of Baghdad calling for Muslim unity. When a U.S. Marine patrol wandered around a corner into a Baghdad street filled with worshippers spilling out of a Sunni mosque, the flashes of anger and the wrestling for power captured in a second the challenge that American forces face. we reject foreign control, read the banners. The sheik’s sermon was a hymn to nationalism: Do not try to divide Sunni from Shi’ite, he said; we are all united in our desire to create an Islamic state free of both Saddam and America.

At the sight of the U.S. forces, worshippers rose and formed a wall to block them. The Marines did not understand Arabic, but they did not need to: the angry shouting made it clear that they were not welcome. A staff sergeant tried to calm the crowd, telling demonstrators, who did not speak English, that his troops meant no harm. He finally lost his temper when an Iraqi said, “You must go.” “I have the weapons,” the sergeant replied. “You back off.”

One stone tossed, one shot fired could have led to disaster. But the Marines retreated cautiously around the corner as the faithful were held back by their own men. Women peered at the soldiers from behind cracked-open doors, and children waved to them and gave them a thumbs-up as both sides edged back, for now. This is a new moment, a new mission, for the Iraqi people and for the soldiers in their midst, and the challenge for both is likely to grow as the future takes root.

—Reported by Brian Bennett, Aparisim Ghosh, Simon Robinson and Nir Rosen/Baghdad, Michael Weisskopf/Doha, Terry McCarthy/Kuwait City, Timothy J. Burger, Massimo Calabresi, John F. Dickerson and Mark Thompson/ Washington

Nuclear ‘discovery’ may be old news

April 10, 2003, 4:56PM
Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria — American troops who suggested they uncovered evidence of an active nuclear weapons program in Iraq unwittingly may have stumbled across known stocks of low-grade uranium, officials said today. They said the U.S. troops may have broken U.N. seals meant to keep control of the radioactive material.

Leaders of a U.S. Marine Corps combat engineering unit claimed earlier this week to have found an underground network of laboratories, warehouses and bombproof offices beneath the closely monitored Tuwaitha nuclear research center just south of Baghdad.

The Marines said they discovered 14 buildings at the site which emitted unusually high levels of radiation, and that a search of one building revealed “many, many drums” containing highly radioactive material. If documented, such a discovery could bolster Bush administration claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop nuclear weaponry.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Owens, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said officials there have not heard anything through military channels about a Marine inspection at Tuwaitha.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, which has inspected the Tuwaitha nuclear complex at least two dozen times and maintains a thick dossier on the site, had no immediate comment.

But an expert familiar with U.N. nuclear inspections told The Associated Press that it was implausible to believe that U.S. forces had uncovered anything new at the site. Instead, the official said, the Marines apparently broke U.N. seals designed to ensure the materials aren’t diverted for weapons use — or end up in the wrong hands.

“What happened apparently was that they broke IAEA seals, which is very unfortunate because those seals are integral to ensuring that nuclear material doesn’t get diverted,” the expert said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Several tons of low-grade uranium has been stored at Tuwaitha, Iraq’s principle nuclear research center and a site that has been under IAEA safeguards for years, the official said. The Iraqis were allowed to keep the material because it was unfit for weapons use without costly and time-consuming enrichment.

Tuwaitha contains 1.8 tons of low-grade enriched uranium and several tons of natural and depleted uranium.

The uranium was inspected by the U.N. nuclear agency twice a year and was kept under IAEA seal — at least until early this week, when the Marines seized control of the site.

The U.N. nuclear agency’s inspectors have visited Tuwaitha about two dozen times, including a dozen checks carried out since December, most recently on Feb. 6. It was among the first sites that IAEA inspectors sought out after the resumption of inspections on Nov. 27 after a nearly four-year break.

On at least one occasion, inspectors with special mountaineering training went underground there to have a look around, according to IAEA documents.

David Kay, a former IAEA chief nuclear inspector, said today that the teams he oversaw after the 1991 Gulf War never found an underground site at Tuwaitha despite persistent rumors.

“But underground facilities by definition are very hard to detect,” he said. “When you inspect a place so often, you get overconfident about what you know. It would have been very easy for the inspectors to explain away any excessive radiation at Tuwaitha. The Iraqis could have hidden something clandestine in plain sight.”

American intelligence analysts said before the U.S.-led campaign began that new structures photographed at Tuwaitha might indicate a revival of weapons work. IAEA inspectors checked but found nothing.

The Tuwaitha complex, run by the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission on a bend in the Tigris River about 18 miles south of Baghdad, was the heart of Saddam’s former nuclear program and was involved in the final design of a nuclear bomb before Iraq’s nuclear program was destroyed by U.N. teams after the 1991 Gulf War.

The IAEA, charged with the hunt for evidence of a nuclear program in Iraq, told the Security Council just before the war that it had uncovered no firm evidence that Saddam was renewing efforts to add nuclear weapons to his arsenal.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, clearly wary of any coalition claims, said this week that any alleged discoveries of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq would have to be verified by U.N. inspectors “to generate the required credibility.”

ElBaradei said the inspectors should return as soon as possible, subject to Security Council guidance, to resume their search for banned arms.


U.S. tests for possible chemical weapons

April 7, 2003, 5:33PM
Reuters News Service KARBALA, Iraq –

U.S. military officers said Monday initial tests on substances found in a central Iraqi town suggested the presence of banned chemical agents, but said they could turn out to be simple pesticides.

Maj. Michael Hamlet of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division said that initial investigations of 14 barrels found at a military training camp on Sunday revealed levels of nerve agents sarin and tabun and the blister agent lewisite.

He said the find could be the “smoking gun” which proved U.S. and British charges that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had been hiding banned weapons of mass destruction — the central plank of their case for military action to overthrow him.

But Gen. Benjamin Freakly, also of the 101st Airborne, said later that tests on substances at the camp and a separate agricultural site, both in the town of Albu Mahawish, could show they had a less sinister purpose.

“This could be either some kind of pesticide,” Freakly told CNN. “On the other hand it could be a chemical agent — not weaponized, a liquid agent that is in drums.”

A team of experts would carry out further tests as early as Tuesday on the substances, discovered in Albu Mahawish, on the Euphrates River between the central Iraqi cities of Kerbala and Hilla, site of ancient Babylon.

“If tests from our experts confirm this, this could be the smoking gun. It would prove (Saddam) has the weapons we have said he has all along,” Hamlet said. “But right now we just don’t know.”

The substances under investigation were found in three 55-gallon barrels and 11 25-gallon barrels, he said.

“They look like cocktails. They look like they’ve all got a bit of each in them,” said another officer.

Iraq is believed to have used sarin against Kurdish Iraqis in the 1980s.

The United States invaded Iraq on March 20 to overthrow Saddam and prevent him using banned chemical weapons. Many other members of the United Nations opposed the attack, saying U.N. inspectors should be given more time to disarm Iraq.

No chemical or biological weapons have yet been fired at U.S. troops in 19 days of fighting, even after advance forces entered Baghdad in recent days. Some American soldiers have even been ordered to discard their chemical protection suits.

National Public Radio, reporting what appeared to be a separate discovery from the one in Albu Mahawish, said U.S. forces found a weapons cache of around 20 medium-range missiles equipped with potent chemical weapons.

NPR said the rockets, BM-21 missiles, were equipped with sarin and mustard gas and were “ready to fire.”

It said the cache was discovered by Marines with the 101st Airborne Division, which was following up behind the Army after it seized Baghdad’s airport.

Officers from the 101st Division and the 3rd Infantry Division at the airport were unable to confirm the report. U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar had no immediate comment.

On Saturday, a U.S. officer said first tests of a suspicious white powder and liquid found on Friday in thousands of boxes south of Baghdad indicated it was not a chemical weapon.

Over the weekend, U.S. Marines in the central Iraqi town of Aziziya began digging up a suspected chemical weapons hiding place at a girl’s school.

“We have always expected that this regime has chemical weapons and also possesses the will and means to use it,” Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks told a news conference at Central Command in Qatar.

He said the U.S.-led forces’ advance inside the country had removed some of the means and its blizzard of leaflets and messages warning Iraqi commanders not to use weapons of mass destruction had removed much of the will.

There had also been strikes early on in the campaign, he added, against Iraqi missiles — such as al-Samouds — which could have delivered chemical or even biological weapons into neighboring countries.

“That work continues but there’s also still capability,” Brooks said.

Troops show symptoms as tests confirm sarin

April 6, 2003, 11:50PM
Knight-Ridder Tribune News

ALBU MUHAWISH, Iraq — U.S. soldiers evacuated an Iraqi military compound early today after tests by a mobile laboratory detected the presence of sarin, a powerful nerve agent.

The testing came after more than a dozen soldiers from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division who guarded the military compound on Saturday night came down with symptoms consistent with exposure to very low levels of nerve agent, including vomiting, dizziness and skin blotches.

The soldiers, along with a Knight Ridder reporter, a CNN cameraman and two Iraqi prisoners of war, were sent for decontamination and hosed down with water and bleach.

A spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Qatar said the military was investigating.

If subsequent tests uphold the findings, it would be the first evidence of weapons of mass destruction, a cornerstone of the Bush administration’s rationale for the invasion of Iraq and something that eluded United Nations inspectors for months.

Early tests for chemical agents at the compound were inconsistent. Some showed the presence of so-called G-Series nerve agents, which include tabun and sarin, both of which Iraq has been known to possess. A hand-held scanning device also indicated the soldiers had been exposed to a nerve agent. Other tests, however, came back negative.

A senior defense official in the United States said Sunday night that the military was aware of “false positive” readings, and there were “no deleterious effects” on military personnel due to nerve-agent exposure.

More precise tests by an Army Fox mobile nuclear, biological and chemical detection laboratory indicated the existence of sarin and triggered the evacuation of the captured military compound by dozens of soldiers.

Sgt. Todd Ruggles, a biochemical expert attached to the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne said: “I was right” that the nerve agent was present.

Even as the tests were being done, high-ranking commanders hastened to the scene on Sunday to examine the sites, including Col. Joseph Anderson, 2nd Brigade commander; Brig. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, assistant commander of the 101st Airborne for operations; and Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, division commander.

They made no comment afterward on what was contained in the sites near the village of Albu Muhawish, on the Euphrates River about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

U.S. soldiers found suspect chemicals at two sites: an agricultural warehouse containing 55-gallon chemical drums, which was later sealed off, and the military compound, which soldiers had begun searching on Saturday. The soldiers also found hundreds of gas masks and chemical suits at the military complex, along with large numbers of mortar and artillery rounds.

“We do think there’s stuff in this compound and the other compound, but we think it’s buried,” said Army 1st Lt. Elena Aravjo of the 63rd Chemical Company. “I’m really suspicious of both of those compounds.”

Sarin, an odorless, colorless and tasteless substance, can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and is considered one of the most volatile of the nerve agents, chemical weapons experts have said. A cloud of sarin can dissipate after several minutes or hours depending on wind.

The soldiers, journalists and prisoners of war who tested positive were isolated as everyone else evacuated the area. After about 45 minutes, the group was walked single-file down a road for about a city block to where two water trucks awaited them. The men stepped between the two trucks and were hosed down as they lathered themselves with a detergent containing bleach.

Ex-Shell chief may run Iraq oil plan

April 1, 2003, 10:41PM
New York Times

A former chief executive of the Shell Oil Co. appears to be the leading contender to oversee the Iraqi oil industry after the fall of Saddam Hussein, industry experts who had spoken to the Bush administration said on Tuesday.

Those experts said the administration was still developing a plan for American involvement in the Iraqi oil sector, whose fields and facilities are dilapidated but whose employees are widely respected for their professionalism within international oil circles.

They said it appears that the executive, Philip J. Carroll, 65, would probably be responsible for Iraqi oil production, and that someone else would probably be named to run the refining and marketing of Iraqi oil.

After leaving Shell, Carroll went to run the giant construction company Fluor Corp.

He retired from Fluor in February 2002 and now lives in Houston.

Fluor, which is based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., confirmed recently that it was invited by the administration to bid on reconstruction work in Iraq, though it is unclear whether the company has been awarded any contracts.

The Bush administration has long insisted that the sale of Iraqi oil will benefit the Iraqis themselves.

But reviving the Iraqi oil industry, under the scrutiny of a skeptical world and the Iraqis themselves, will be a formidable task, industry experts said.

The administration and Carroll declined to comment on the possibility of his appointment to the oil post.

If the administration does tap Carroll, it will be relying on a career oil man who thrives on challenges, industry analysts said. Many analysts credit Carroll for reshaping Shell Oil, the American arm of Royal Dutch/Shell group, when he ran it in the 1990s, mainly by pushing the company to develop large reservoirs of oil and natural gas in the risky but potentially rich deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

At Fluor, Carroll quickly got rid of unprofitable old businesses and found promising new ones, said Michael S. Dudas, engineering analyst for Bear, Stearns & Co.

Dudas said Carroll was known for pulling together competent people to carry out major restructuring plans without micromanaging them, a trait that would serve him well if the administration decides to let the Iraqis control their oil.

“He would get very good people and check in with them frequently,” Dudas said.

“He would put the plan in place, but he would let them run with it.”

Intelligence on Iraq was wrong, top Marine says

May 31, 2003, 12:30AM
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — The top U.S. Marine commander in Iraq said Friday that U.S. intelligence was “simply wrong” in its assessment that Saddam Hussein intended to unleash chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces during the war, but he stopped short of saying there was an overall intelligence failure.

“It was a surprise to me then, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered weapons,” Lt. Gen. James Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said from Baghdad in a teleconference with reporters in Washington.

“It’s not for lack of trying,” he continued. “We’ve been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they’re simply not there.”

Conway said he still believes it is possible that weapons of mass destruction will be found. But his comments are likely to feed concern in Washington that the prewar intelligence on Iraq was flawed.

Amid the mounting criticism, CIA Director George Tenet took the unusual step of issuing a statement Friday denying that the agency’s assessments on Iraq were politicized.

“Our role is to call it like we see it — to tell policy-makers what we know, what we don’t know, what we think, and what we base it on,” Tenet said. “That is exactly what was done and continues to be done on intelligence issues related to Iraq.”

Conway, the Marine commander, acknowledged that “intelligence failure” is “too strong a word to use at this point.” But he said, “What the regime was intending to do in terms of its use of the weapons, we thought we understood — or we certainly had our best guess, our most dangerous, our most likely courses of action that the intelligence folks were giving us. We were simply wrong. But whether or not we’re wrong at the national level, I think, still very much remains to be seen.”

Conway’s remarks came as the Pentagon disclosed details of its plans to send a new team of more than 1,000 experts to search for evidence of proscribed weapons. Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s human intelligence service, will lead the effort.

In a separate press briefing Friday, Dayton appeared to acknowledge that it is possible that Iraq deliberately misled U.S. intelligence agencies, making them think that weapons were being produced and deployed even as they were secretly being destroyed.

“We may find out three months from now that there was an elaborate deception program and the stuff was destroyed,” Dayton said. “Do I think we’re going to find something? Yeah, I kind of do,” he said, adding that he still believes the United States’ sources of intelligence on Iraq before the war were credible.

The subject of the search for banned weapons is becoming an increasingly uncomfortable one for the Bush administration, with several influential lawmakers this week saying they believe the White House hyped the Iraq threat or was misled by the intelligence community.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was largely responsible for arguing the administration’s case for the war on Iraq to a skeptical international community, told reporters Friday that all of the evidence he presented at a prewar Security Council meeting was solid.

And Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, in an interview with Vanity Fair, sought to minimize the importance of weapons of mass destruction in the administration’s calculus for war.

“For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on,” Wolfowitz said in comments released Wednesday.


The Goal Is Baghdad, but at What Cost?

March 25, 2003

CAMP DOHA, Kuwait, March 24 — The way to Baghdad is through the Republican Guard. The United States Army and the Marine Corps are now moving up supplies and getting their forces into place to take the fight to Saddam Hussein’s most loyal units. According to the allied war plan, by the time the onslaught begins in earnest, the Iraqi troops will have been thoroughly pummeled from the air.

There is little doubt that the United States military has the skills, training and weapons to take the capital and dislodge the Hussein government. The questions are how long it will take, and what the cost will be in terms of casualties, both allied and Iraqi.

The Iraqis are trying to counter the allied strategy by carrying out guerrilla-style raids to disrupt the movement of troops and supplies and divert allied attention to threats in the rear. The advance on the Iraqi capital may also bring allied forces closer to the threat of chemical weapons, according to American officials. They are concerned that the Iraqis have drawn a red line around the approaches to the capital and that crossing it could prompt Mr. Hussein’s forces to fire artillery and missiles tipped with chemical or germ warheads.

Baghdad is what the United States military calls the center of gravity. It is the stronghold from which Mr. Hussein controls his forces, a bulls-eye for the American air war commanders and the final objective for American ground forces that have drawn up plans to fight their way to the gates of the capital, then conduct thrusts at power centers inside the city.

From the start, the campaign to take Baghdad was envisioned as a multifaceted effort.

It began with a cruise missile attack that was intended to kill Mr. Hussein. Government command centers and bunkers have been blasted with bombs and cruise missiles, attacks that can be expected to continue periodically.

For all the talk about waging a punishing air campaign, the United States has been holding back some punch. The Pentagon removed hundreds of strikes from its attack plan in an effort to limit civilian casualties and damage to civilian structures.

The calculation is that this approach will make it easier for American officials to receive public support and rebuild Iraq after Mr. Hussein is toppled. In contrast to the Persian Gulf war in 1991, Iraqi television is still on the air.

Should American air power destroy Mr. Hussein’s government — a prospect that seems increasingly unlikely — American ground forces would be rushed to Baghdad to fill the power vacuum.

Otherwise, the role of air power is to weaken the government’s command and control and knock out Iraqi air defenses, then provide United States ground commanders with air cover if American ground forces have to venture into the still-defended capital.

Airstrikes will also be directed against Republican Guard forces protecting the approaches to the city, including their command and control, artillery and tanks. The goal is to weaken the units and freeze the Republican Guard in place so they cannot drop back and prepare for urban warfare.

The land attack on Baghdad is still in its initial phases. The first step took place Sunday night when the 11th Attack Helicopter Regiment began to strike a brigade of the Medina.

To set the stage for the assault, the United States military hammered Iraqi radar and tried to suppress surface-to-air missiles. But the Iraqis had a low-tech solution: they deployed a large number of irregular fighters who were equipped with machine guns and small arms.

As the helicopters took off, they flew low off the ground to make themselves less inviting targets for surface-to-air missiles. But that made them vulnerable to the small-arms fire. Thirty of 32 Apache helicopters were struck by small-arms fire.

One helicopter went down, and its two-man crew was captured. The Army was so concerned that the Iraqis would get their hands on the technology that they fired two Atacms missiles today to destroy the helicopter. Because of bad weather after the action, the military had no report on whether they succeeded.

The Apaches destroyed only 10 to 15 Iraqi armored vehicles. American military commanders say they are rethinking their helicopter tactics as a result of the events of the past 24 hours.

The weather has also become at least a temporary ally of the Iraqis. American military officials are forecasting several days of cloudy weather with 10,000-foot ceilings and 30-knot winds that will create sandstorms. The bad weather will preclude helicopter attacks and make it more difficult for allied warplanes to attack the three Republican Guard divisions around Baghdad.

But the bad weather will not last forever, and American forces are using the time to get their forces into position and move up large amounts of fuel and supplies.

The marines, for example, are laying a long fuel pipeline in Iraqi territory. American forces are also trying to improve the security of their convoys by deploying more armed escorts on the ground and by helicopter in response to a wave of attacks by Iraqi fedayeen and other irregular forces.

During the stretch of bad weather, the Army hopes to keep the pressure on by firing Atacms surface-to-surface missiles. The weather will make it difficult for allied pilots to hit mobile targets, but the air war commanders could try to keep the heat on by dropping gravity bombs or cluster bombs.

When the moment comes to battle the Republican Guards full tilt, it will be through a combined arms attack involving artillery, close air support and tanks. Army and Marine forces will be involved.

After reaching the outskirts of the capital, American commanders envision a deliberate fight and say they are determined not to rush into the city.

Rather, their plan calls for patient reconnaissance to try to pinpoint the location of Mr. Hussein, his top deputies and the main defenders of his rule, including internal security organizations and elements of the Special Republican Guard. They are hoping that residents will provide the necessary intelligence.

The goal is to avoid house-to-house fighting that could result in large American and civilian casualties. Instead, allied commanders envision thrusts at crucial power centers. Army combat engineers might be at the front of a formation to destroy barricades and other obstacles. Tanks could follow, protected by light infantry to guard against attacks, rocket-propelled grenades and antitank weapons. The formations would also be protected by air power, including spotters that would call in airstrikes and Apache helicopters, which could fire Hellfire missiles.

“If there is to be a fight in and around Baghdad, we’re going to have to be very patient to establish the right conditions for us to engage in that fight,” Gen. William S. Wallace, the commander of the V Corps, said in a recent interview. “I think that means forming joint combined arms teams that include Air Force, Army aviation, light infantry, armored forces, engineer forces that together can go after a specific target, for a specific purpose.”

CIA relayed doubts on uranium deal

March 21, 2003, 11:56PM
Official: Facts on Iraqi purchase forged
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — CIA officials now say they communicated significant doubts to the administration about the evidence backing up charges that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Africa for nuclear weapons.

The charges found their way into President Bush’s State of the Union address, a State Department “fact sheet” and public remarks by numerous senior officials.

But that evidence was dismissed as a forgery early this month by United Nations officials investigating Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs. The Bush administration does not dispute this conclusion.

Asked how the administration came to back up one of its principal allegations against Iraq with information its own intelligence service considered faulty, officials said all such assertions were carefully tailored to stay within the bounds of certainty.

As for the State of the Union address, a White House spokesman said, “all presidential speeches are fully vetted by the White House staff and relevant U.S. government agencies for factual correctness.”

Questioned about the forgery during a recent congressional hearing, Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “We were aware of this piece of evidence, and it was provided in good faith to the (U.N.) inspectors.”

In the days preceding the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq, some intelligence officials had begun to acknowledge more openly their doubts about how this and other information was used to support charges that Iraq has a significant covert program to produce weapons of mass destruction.

“I have seen all the stuff. I certainly have doubts,” said a senior administration official with access to the latest intelligence. Based on the material he has reviewed, the official said, the United States will “face significant problems in trying to find” such weapons. “It will be very difficult.”

According to several officials, decisions about what information to declassify and use to make the administration’s public case have been made by a small group that includes top CIA and National Security Council officials. “The policy guys make decisions about things like this,” said one official.

Polls say U.S. public backs president, invasion of Iraq

March 21, 2003, 10:53PM
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Most Americans approve of the decision to begin military action against Iraq, according to polls released Friday.

The polls also show public support for President Bush surging with the invasion of Iraq, but not to the level of support for his father 12 years ago in the early days of the Persian Gulf War.

A Gallup poll conducted Thursday night — one day after coalition forces launched an aerial attack on Baghdad — found 76 percent of Americans supporting the decision to go to war.

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted the same evening showed 74 percent supporting the start of war against Iraq.

Strikingly strong support in the early days of a war is not surprising, said Richard Murray, a University of Houston political scientist.

“Whatever the debate about going into the war was, it’s over,” he said. “We are in combat. The American public rallies around the flag and the president of the United States during times of crisis.”

Media coverage of the events can also alter opinions. “You see tons of publicity about troops’ skill and bravery,” Murray said. “Those kinds of reports can make people feel good about what’s going on.”

The findings of the Gallup poll are nearly identical to the level of public support in the early days of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The decision to begin military action then won the approval of 79 percent of the adults surveyed by Gallup.

This week’s The New York Times/CBS Poll also found that 62 percent of those surveyed agreed that the timing of the attack was appropriate. Thirty-five percent said United Nations weapons inspectors should have been given more time before military action was begun.

The polls found the public rallying around the president, boosting his job approval ratings by 15 percentage points. Murray said that if the war is short-lived, the higher rating likely will not carry over to Bush’s re-election effort in 2004.

“More important will be the ongoing war on terrorism and what happens on that regard,” Murray said. “That’s not going to go away. This (war with Iraq) should be over soon.”

Two weeks ago, 54 percent approved of the way Bush was leading the country, according to the New York Times/CBS Poll. Thursday’s poll found 67 percent approving of how the president does his job.

Those numbers will rise quickly, but fall slowly, Murray said, adding that once hostilities are over, Bush’s approval ratings likely will go back to pre-war levels.

In 1991, then-President Bush’s job approval rating jumped to 82 percent in the early days of the Persian Gulf War, eventually peaking at 88 percent. Eighteen months later, voters turned him out of office and elected Democrat Bill Clinton.

Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are preparation for invasion of Iran

Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are preparation for invasion of Iran
by J. Griffiths 5:59pm Fri Mar 21 ’03

The ultimate purpose for the invasion of Iraq is not Iraq or Iraq’s oil. There is ample evidence, from sources available to the public, to indicate Iraq is not the final goal. Like Afghanistan, Iraq is being taken in preparation for the invasion of Iran.

I would like to resubmit this article in order to correct several inaccuracies that appeared in the original.

A fully footnoted version should be completed soon.

The ultimate purpose of the unprecedented actions and postures being taken by the current United States administration is not Iraq or Iraq’s oil. There is ample evidence from sources available to the public, to indicate that Iraq is not the real goal. Like Afghanistan, Iraq is being taken in preparation for the invasion of Iran. As surprising as it may sound, control of a certain pipeline route from Baku to the Persian Gulf, through Iran is the final goal.

The East Asia oil market has been clearly identified by the United States Department of Energy and other industry research groups as being the fastest growing and the most profitable oil market in the coming decades. The key to control of the East Asian oil trade, as I’ve explained below, is control of the shortest and most economical route for transporting oil from the Caspian Basin to the open sea. That route leads from the southern shore of the Caspian Sea directly through Iran to the Persian Gulf. Control of this route is also essential in maintaining some degree of control over the emerging giant economy of China. Control of this pipeline route is the ultimate trump card in the intensely competitive game being played out among contending world oil companies in the Caspian Basin. Finally, it is felt that control of this route and the resulting control of the East Asian market, will allow American oil companies to maintain their supremacy over an increasingly successful and confident European Union.

Please take a moment and read through the following paragraphs and let me know if it strikes you as particularly probable. Much of it can be sourced to the Dept. of Energy’s web site “Country Analysis Briefs” and “Caspian Oil Export Options”. Blair’s comments are quoted in the February 3rd issue of TIME. The remainder can be found on a variety of web sites relating to the Caspian oil fields, pipeline routes and projections of future oil demand in Asia. It is a fairly simple task to confirm the basic tenets of this article because they are discussed throughout all current oil industry publications and literature. A fully footnoted article will be completed soon. Until then, anyone looking for sources can find them easily enough on “dogpile” or “ask jeeves”. Simply type in “pipeline from Caspian Sea through Iran to Persian Gulf” or any of the other related topics.

The rise of a confident and successful European Union has presented an increasingly serious challenge to the dominance of American corporate interests.
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Major American corporations have responded by influencing Washington to attempt to counter this challenge in a wide variety of ways, NAFTA being one of the earlier responses and perhaps the example best known to the public. Almost certainly, the most central aspect of this global economic struggle is the competition to become the 21st century’s dominant player in the oil trade.

The Caspian Sea Basin has emerged as the key arena in the struggle among western powers for dominance in the post-Soviet Union era. Although moderately well reported in the Western European media, the American public has remained completely oblivious to the competition among the world’s major oil companies for advantageous position in the phenomenally rich oil fields of the Caspian Sea basin.

The U.S. Department of Energy has identified the oil reserves in the Caspian Sea region as, by far, the most important reserves for the next several decades. The DOE has reported the oil reserves (known and projected) of the Caspian Sea region to be comparable to those of the Arabian peninsula (for example) and to exceed those of the United States and Western Europe by two fold. “Caspian energy development is likely to be in high gear by 2015.”4 If suitable export routes can be secured by American or European Union oil interests, oil reserves in the Caspian Basin will mean comparative independence from the Gulf States.

These vast reserves were formerly unavailable to the west because the entire shoreline of the Caspian Sea was controlled by the Soviet Union and Iran. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the vast area around the Caspian Sea was broken up into a number of newly independent states. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan hold much of the land bordering the Caspian Sea. These newly formed states are represented by small oligarchies that have proved relatively eager to make deals with American and EU oil companies. Financially satisfying a very few key nationals in these new states has been sufficient to secure immensely profitable drilling and pipeline deals. From the perspective of western corporations, it’s almost like doing business in the Gulf region a half century ago.

Russia and Iran hold the remaining shoreline. Russia has its own corporate oil interests and, although as eager for profits as any other player, does not lend itself to one-sided oil development arrangements.
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On the southernmost shore of the Caspian, Iran, as explained below, controls the ideal pipeline route for shipping oil to the Persian Gulf and then on to India, Indonesia and China. This East Asian oil market is expected to be, by far, the most profitable in coming decades.

The incredibly oil rich area of the Caspian Basin, being fought over by every nation possessing a sizable oil industry, holds the promise for the West of comparative independence from oil now being supplied by the increasingly uncooperative Islamic states in the Persian Gulf region.

Unreported in the mainstream American media the intense struggle between American and EU oil interests for favorable positions in the oil fields of the Caspian Sea region is much more widely discussed in Europe. Contending players (in what the European media calls the reincarnation of the “great game” of Victorian times) include nearly every industrialized country on the planet.

Even China, whose oil consumption is expected increase 10 times faster than Europe’s in the next decade (A), has made attempts to tap into the Caspian oil fields. China, anticipating its vast energy needs in the coming decades, had plans for an 1,800 mile pipeline from the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, through Kazakhstan, to western China. The cost of this pipeline would have stretched China’s financial resources to the limit. To justify its construction, China needed assurances that a certain minimum number of barrels be available for pipeline transport each and every year. Initially, the government of Kazakhstan was willing to guarantee the requisite oil flow and China prepared to go forward with the plan. However, what some sources describe as “outside influences bent on derailing China’s pipeline plans” convinced or paid Kazakhstan to revise their oil export estimate downward. China was then forced to scrap any immediate plans for direct access to Caspian oil.

Preventing China from gaining direct access to the Caspian oil fields is absolutely essential to creating and maintaining the profit stream envisioned by corporate interests well connected with the current American Administration. In the opinion of the current United States administration, American corporations and their partners must control the export routes from the Caspian Basin that will supply China, India and Indonesia’s vast need for oil during the coming decades.
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The DOE has identified China as becoming the world largest oil consumer during the early part of this century. As the century progresses, the oil consumption of China together with Japan, the Korean peninsula. Indonesia and India is expected to increase at a rate ten times greater than American or European consumption. The DOE has further reported that East Asian oil sales will command substantially higher prices than oil sold in Europe or North America. These factors combine to make this particular market the most sought after prize of the “great game”. The control of the oil flowing to East Asia is one of the most important, if not the most important keys to global economic domination in the 21st century.

At present, all of the existing and proposed pipelines for oil export from the Caspian Sea run more or less westward to the Black Sea or the Mediterranean. A pipeline from the northern Caspian through Russia to Western Europe would be far too costly, and would put Russia in an intolerably strong position with regard to the European Union’s energy needs. Oil presently being piped to the Black Sea eventually must be transported by tanker through the Dardanelle’s to the Mediterranean, a route that is becoming increasingly troublesome due to congested traffic in the straits and Turkey’s “environmental concerns” read: financial demands.

Even under the best of circumstances, transporting oil through Turkey to the Mediterranean and then through the Suez Canal for
shipment to the Far East would be costly and politically unpredictable requiring the continuing consent of the numerous intervening Islamic nations.

DOE and EIA studies, available to the public, report the most economical export route for oil from the Caspian Basin to the East Asian markets as being a direct route through Iran to the Persian

The Iran and Libya Sanctions Act has prevented American companies from doing business with Iran. The underlying reason for the sanctions against Iran has been to discourage European oil interests from risking capital on a trans-Iran pipeline and buy time for American efforts to “create a more favorable political climate” in Iran. During the Clinton Administration, Dick Cheney was a very strong proponent for lifting this ban.

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Because of the enormous profits a trans-Iran pipeline would bring, Cheney, along with many other American oil industry
leaders, could see that the Sanctions Act would not be able to discourage EU oil interests for very long.

Even if these sanctions were lifted, the fundamentalist government of Iran would prove to be a difficult partner. This would leave American oil in a position not much better than its present problematic reliance on oil from the other Islamic States. It was decided that a regime change in Iran would be the only long-term way to protect the major investment that will be required to build an American owned Caspian to Persian Gulf pipeline. The purpose of the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act has been to reduce the possibility of non-American interests making a pipeline deal with Iran before that regime change can be affected.

Regardless of these circumstances, in the thinking of both the American oil industry and the EU oil industry, this pipeline route from the southern Caspian, directly through Iran to the Persian Gulf, is the key to dominance in the 21st century oil trade.

American oil has been forced to stand by idly while the EU (particularly France) has been gaining an progressively more strong position in Iran. Asking Congress to repeal the Iran Sanctions Act is considered a non-started by the Bush administration. Also, as explained above, this would still leave the fundamentalist government in power. For these reasons, a plan for affecting a regime change in Iran came to be of utmost importance.

To bring this about required a comprehensive and interlocking strategy that would have been nearly impossible to carry out under a Democratic administration. The chances for success in carrying out such an ambitious plan would have nearly as remote under a Republican administration less intimately connected to the oil industry. The accidental election of George Bush, with his intimate ties to the industry, provided American oil with an opportunity that was very unlikely to ever be repeated.

The invasion of Iran is no small undertaking. Iran is far more populous than either Afghanistan or Iraq. Also, Iran is better armed. The most prudent way to secure Iran is to first flank it on both sides (Afghanistan and Iraq).
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This provides both the best possible staging areas for the invasion of Iran and prevents retaliation from those two nearby countries. Also the future occupation of Iran would prove to be much more thorny without first pacifying the neighboring areas. Finally, any new government established in Iran that cooperates with western interests would be subject to constant destabilizing actions from Islamic fundamentalists in near-by states unless those states were first secured.

Presented in a completely candid manner, this plan would be sure to be seen as a blatant use of America’s military to enable the designs of private corporate interests. Some attempt needed to be made at manufacturing plausible justification for invasion of these three countries to create a degree of acceptance with the American public and the world community.

Sorting through recent domestic and world events that have seemed to justify armed intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq to determine which occurrences were “managed” is beyond the scope of this article. However, it is clear to most of the world, (outside the United States) that the current administration has intended all along to invade Iraq regardless what Saddam Hussein does or doesn’t do.

If Iraq doesn’t show the U.N. some weapons of mass destruction “they are hiding them and must be invaded”. If Iraq does show the U.N. some weapons, then “they have been lying to us and must be invaded”. Either way, it has been set up so there is absolutely no way Iraq can avoid invasion.

After Saddam Hussein’s regime has been toppled, do not expect the current administration to make any serious attempt at establishing a democratic government. Democratic governments are far too difficult to control by foreign interests. The uncertainties of the democratic process are very often not compatible with corporate timetables. As has been done in Afghanistan, in Iraq (and later in Iran) the Bush administration will encourage a state of controllable semi-chaos in each country. Rival factions and even some factions overtly hostile to the occupation will be allowed to remain at large. This serves the dual purpose of preventing the establishment of a popular democratic government and provides on-going justification for an American military presence. Minor firefights and skirmishes in the countryside will also divert media attention from corporate activities.

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A “likely” group of nationals will be selected by the occupying forces to speak for each country. To be selected, any group of nationals must meet the most important pre-requisite. They must be expected to demonstrate a cooperative attitude toward American corporate interests.

As a clear illustration of why the current Administration will not want to establish truly democratic governments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, look to Germany and Japan. Both of these countries were invaded and occupied by the United States. In both countries, the U.S. government went to great lengths over an extended period of time to establish truly popular democratic governments. As a result, both of these nations are stable sovereign entities that make their own independent decisions based on what they believe to be most favorable to their national corporate interests and/or people.

When dealing with legitimate, sovereign and democratic governments, particularly those who take the opinions of their ordinary citizens into consideration, global corporations, understandably find it far more difficult to carry out their plans in a swift, consistent and predictable manner.

The Tony Blair Factor:

Most of the world doesn’t believe the Bush administration has yet made a plausible case for war with Iraq. Many feel the current administration is squandering the respectability of the United States all around the world. In Europe, Korea and Japan, the talk among the average citizens is of “America-the-arrogant” and “America-the bully”. The vast majority of people in Western Europe (estimates range from 80-90%) not only do not believe the American Administration’s stated reasons for war but also believe the real reasons are being concealed.

Tony Blair, on the other hand, has assured Bush his unstinting support. In spite of the opposition of many in his own party, and widespread criticism from the British public, Blair has promised that Britain’s troops will fight alongside American forces in Iraq. What’s the story here?

Well reported is Blair’s aspiration to make Britain a central figure in the attempt to assure that the European Union is a dependable, strategic global partner for the United States. Corporate Britain is very troubled by the signs of a growing Franco-German alliance.
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Blair and corporate Britain are offended by the notion that France and Germany (not Britain) will determine the future of the European Union.

Less well reported, are corporate Britain’s troubles in the Caspian Sea oil fields. British oil is facing very stiff competition from the seemingly endless number of international oil companies fighting for dominance in the region. While France has been developing an ever more coy relationship with Iran, British oil is being rebuffed at every turn.

As much as 50% of the known oil reserves in the Caspian Basin lie under water. Although the boarders of the new Caspian States are fairly well defined, ownership of the sea itself is highly unsettled. Because they are in dispute and, so-to-speak, “up for grabs”, it is these offshore deposits that are being fought over most vigorously. Which nation’s corporate giants will reap the biggest profits hinges to a large extent on the claims and counter-claims to different regions of the Sea and the vast oil deposits beneath its waters.

To offer just one example among many: British Petroleum and Britain’s Aramco have been working closely with the government of Azerbaijan exploring an oil rich area known as the Araz-Alov-Sharg structure. In July 2001, Iranian military gunboats confronted a British Petroleum research vessel exploring this area. The Iranian gunboat ordered the B.P. vessel out of the waters, claiming they belonged to Iran. To add insult to injury, Iran announced its decision to award a license for the area to Royal Dutch Shell.

Britain owns approx. 20% of the Azerbaijani Caspian Oil Project. US Oil interests own approx 47%. Azerbaijan is providing their cooperation for a 20% share.

Little progress has been made among the littoral states as to how to divide control of the Caspian Sea. Understandably, very influential elements in corporate Britain see the present Iranian regime and increasing French investment in Iran as a major hindrance to a “successful outcome” in the new oil fields of the Caspian Basin. Both Britain and America see the current regime in Iran as a serious obstacle to securing their share of the profits from the vast Caspian oil reserves and the East Asian oil market during the next several decades.

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The Azerbaijani Project, however, is only one example of many current Anglo-American projects. Once the trans-Iran pipeline is in place, highly profitable deals will be made with all the Caspian States for transport of their oil to, what will be, the most profitable market of all: East-Asia. As the Chinese economy emerges in the next two decades, it will be, far and away, the most important consumer of world oil.

A fairly compact summary of Tony Blair’s motives for committing British troops in Iraq (and presumably later in Iran) was contained in remarks he made to British diplomats in early January 2003: “It is simply wrong”, he said, “for rich nations to expect the United States to do all the dirty work in the world.” By “rich nations” Blair meant nations with a significant corporate presence in the Caspian Basin. Then Blair got right to the point: “Such a policy is not just indulgent;” he said, “it risks sacrificing any chance of influencing post-conflict arrangements”.

What Tony Blair meant by “post-conflict arrangements” was perhaps unclear to the British public and completely opaque to the American public, but it was crystal clear to British corporations with interests in the Caspian Sea. It was equally clear to the American oil interests who have guaranteed British oil a percentage share of the future trans-Iran pipeline exports to the biggest market in the coming decades: East Asia.

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Jefferson’s foresight

The founding fathers were well aware that they had formed a completely new form of government. They were very conscious of the fragility of their experiment. This forced them to think deeply and broadly about the most serious threats to their new government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. They had to meditate on both the threats that existed in their time and also clearly envision threats that might emerge in the future. The institution of “corporate aristocracy” (as Jefferson referred to it) fit into both of those categories. Here are Jefferson’s comments, uttered almost 190 years ago.

“I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of their country.”

Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan. November 12, 1816.

We have already reached the point where the “moneyed corporations” no longer feel any need to “challenge” the government. They have already fully integrated themselves into it. The executive branch is already peopled by corporate men, the law makers find it nearly impossible to be elected without corporate financing and the administrators of the regulatory agencies (such as the SEC) are selected by an executive branch whose main concern is to avoid any threat to the corporate world’s ability to act unilaterally and without serious regulation of any kind.

Under these circumstances, there can be no real struggle between the government and the corporations. The only struggle is between corporations and a powerless and largely voiceless public. Since, when it comes to challenging or regulating the large corporations, the public no longer has any real representation in government, corporations have already reached the point where they can treat the public with the same contempt the aristocrats of centuries past treated the dirty and hungry peasants (not publicly, of course).

Although corporations have absolutely no democratic legitimacy, they exert a degree of control over domestic and foreign policy decisions that approaches autocracy. A point has now been reached where even some of the most uninformed

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Americans realize that, when it comes to global politics and in many cases, domestic politics as well, the United States government represents not the American people but the interests of large American corporations in general and a selected number of large corporations in particular.

One of the more blatant examples of this was the government’s transparently insincere attempt at corporate regulation following the stock market scandals of 2002. Despite the desperate appeals of the victimized public, nothing of substance was done.

Certainly, terrorists and heads of state that pose a real danger to the world must be identified and eliminated from all countries in which they operate. However, it is not some foreign born terrorist menace that poses the greatest danger to the American values of representation, equality, transparency and freedom. It is the “corporate aristocracy” of which Jefferson warned us, operating beyond the public’s gaze and now intertwined within the structures of the government agencies that were created to regulate it, that poses the most real and present threat to our endangered democratic ideals.

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(1) “U.S. Presidential Executive Orders signed in 1995 prohibit U.S. companies from conducting business with Iran. Furthermore, the U.S. Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 imposes sanctions on non-U.S. companies that make large investments in the Iranian oil and gas sectors.” Caspian Sea Oil and Natural Gas Export Routes, U.S. Energy Information Administration, June 2000 page 2

(2) “…routes through Iran to the Persian Gulf are the shortest and most economical for exporting oil from the Caspian Sea. In addition, the Persian Gulf routes would transport oil to Asia, where the demand for oil is projected to grow faster and command a higher price than the Mediterranean markets that most of the competing pipelines would serve.” Caspian Sea Oil and Natural Gas Export Routes, U.S. Energy Information Administration, June 2000 page 2

(3) “. . .several conflicts have arisen over mutual claims to different regions of the Sea, especially in its southern waters. In July 2001, Iranian military gunboats confronted a British Petroleum (BP) Azeri research vessel exploring the Araz-Alov-Sharg structure, ordering the ship out of waters Iran claims to own. Azerbaijan, for its part, has objected to Iran’s decision to award Royal Dutch/Shell and Lasmo a license to conduct seismic surveys in a region that Azerbaijan considers to fall in its territory.”
eia.doe.gov EIA Country Analysis Briefs, Caspian Sea
Region, Caspian Legal Status Unresolved,

(4) Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts, Section: World Energy Consumption 1970-2015, National Intelligence Council (NIC), December 2000, This paper was approved for publication by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under the authority of the Director of Central Intelligence

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(5) Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts, Section: China: How to Think About Its Growing Wealth and Power, National Intelligence Council (NIC), December 2000, This paper was approved for publication by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under the authority of the Director of Central Intelligence



(1) Time February 3, 2003: page 41
(3) Pipeline through Iran cheaper and more direct route to Asia
Alexander’s Gas & Oil Connections, News & Trends Central Asia
Volume 3, issue #16 – 09-06-1998

“Those that control the oil routes out of Central Asia will impact all future direction and quantities of flow and the distribution of revenues from new production, said energy expert James Dorian recently in Oil & Gas Journal on September 10.

Key documents on Iraq forged, experts say

March 7, 2003, 11:35PM
Washington Post

A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to have been fabricated, the United Nations’ chief nuclear inspector said Friday in a report that called into question U.S. and British claims about Iraq’s secret nuclear ambitions.

Documents that purportedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in Africa two years ago were deemed “not authentic” after careful scrutiny by U.N. and independent experts, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the U.N. Security Council.

ElBaradei also rejected a key Bush administration claim — made twice by the president in major speeches and repeated by Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday — that Iraq had tried to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes to use in centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Also, ElBaradei reported finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive sweep of Iraq using advanced radiation detectors.

“There is no indication of resumed nuclear activities,” ElBaradei said.

Knowledgeable sources familiar with the forgery investigation described the faked evidence as a series of letters between Iraqi agents and officials in the central African nation of Niger. The documents were given to U.N. inspectors by Britain and reviewed extensively by U.S. intelligence.

The forgers had made relatively crude errors that eventually gave them away — including names and titles that did not match up with the individuals who held office at the time the letters were purportedly written, the officials said.

“We fell for it,” said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents.

A spokesman for the IAEA said the agency did not blame either Britain or the United States for the forgery. The documents “were shared with us in good faith.”

The discovery was a further setback to U.S. and British efforts to convince reluctant U.N. Security Council members of the urgency of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Powell, in his statement to the Security Council on Friday, acknowledged ElBaradei’s findings but also cited “new information” suggesting that Iraq continues to try to get nuclear weapons components.

Last September, the U.S. and British governments issued reports accusing Iraq of renewing its quest for nuclear weapons.

President Bush, in his speech to the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 12, said Iraq had made “several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.”

Doubts about both claims began to emerge shortly after U.N. inspectors returned to Iraq last November. In early December, the IAEA began an intensive investigation of the aluminum tubes, which Iraq had tried for two years to purchase by the tens of thousands.

A number of independent experts on uranium enrichment have sided with IAEA’s conclusion that the tubes were at best ill-suited for centrifuges. Several have said that the “anodized” features mentioned by Powell are actually a strong argument for use in rockets, not centrifuges.

The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based research organization that specializes in nuclear issues, reported Friday that Powell’s staff had been briefed about the implications of the anodized coatings before Powell’s address to the Security Council last month. “Despite being presented with the falseness of this claim, the administration persists in making misleading arguments about the significance of the tubes,” the institute’s president, David Albright, wrote in the report.


Bush unmoved by global protests

Feb. 18, 2003, 11:24PM
Vows to maintain pressure on Saddam
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau WASHINGTON –

Insisting he wouldn’t be swayed by the weekend’s global antiwar protests, President Bush said Tuesday he would continue to press Saddam Hussein to disarm or face military invasion.

The president said to heed the protesters would be akin to taking policy advice from focus groups.

“Evidently some of the world don’t view Saddam Hussein as a risk to peace,” Bush said of demonstrations that drew millions to antiwar marches held in the United States, Europe, Australia and elsewhere. “I respectfully disagree. … War is my last choice. But the risk of doing nothing is even a worst option as far as I’m concerned.”

The president hailed as courageous those foreign leaders, particularly British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who have backed the White House on Iraq in the face of mounting criticism at home.

More than 1 million people turned out in London over the weekend to oppose Blair’s support of Bush on Iraq. And a new opinion poll shows Blair at his lowest public approval rating in more than two years.

But Bush said the magnitude of the worldwide demonstrations was irrelevant.

“First of all, you know, size of protest, it’s like deciding, well I’m going to decide foreign policy based upon a focus group,” said Bush. “The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon security, in this case the security of the people.”

Bush also noted he will meet with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar this weekend at his Crawford ranch. Aznar backs Bush’s Iraq policy, though he, too, is contending with public discord over that support. Several million protesters took to the streets in Spain as part of the global demonstration.

A protest coordinator said Bush missed the point of the events.

Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War, said those opposed to Bush’s Iraq policy also believe Saddam is a threat to peace and should be disarmed. But they do not believe military action is the answer, he said.

“He’s wrong to rush to war without giving viable alternatives a chance,” said Andrews.

Bush’s defiant stand against the protesters’ message comes as he lobbies a divided U.N. Security Council to back a new resolution authorizing force against Saddam. The U.N. group late last year passed a resolution requiring Iraq to dispose of its weapons of mass destruction.

Officials said the United States, along with the British, will be drafting language for the measure that would give Iraqi leaders one final chance to disarm before facing military action. The administration hopes to have the resolution considered within the next two weeks.

Although Bush reiterated his contention that another resolution was not necessary, he added, “We’re working with our friends. As I said, a second resolution would be useful.”

But a number of countries, led by France and Germany, have opposed an attack on Baghdad and instead are pushing for more weapons inspections.

Bush received some support from other European countries Tuesday when 13 incoming members of the European Union backed a declaration warning Saddam he had one last chance to disarm. Also, 10 former communist countries in Europe repeated their support for the White House’s stand on Iraq.

However, the White House suffered a setback when the Turkish government postponed a vote in its parliament on whether to allow U.S. troops to be based there. Turkish leaders, who are negotiating an economic aid package with Washington in return for providing access to U.S. soldiers, want more concessions.

While the president dismissed the weekend antiwar protests, the size and scope of the demonstrations clearly caught the attention of the administration.

At his morning media briefing White House spokesman Ari Fleischer suggested that past peace protests have been misguided.

Fleischer said he had gathered newspaper stories from 1983 describing large protests in Europe against NATO’s deployment there of medium-range cruise missiles aimed at the former Soviet Union.

He said that despite the demonstrations, President Reagan refused to back down. “As a result, the Berlin Wall came down, and the message of the protesters — better neutral than dead — turned out to be a false message,” he said.

Basing the cruise missiles in Europe may have increased pressure on the Soviet Union to come to the bargaining table, but the action was not directly linked to the fall of communism. In 1987 — two years before the Berlin Wall came down — Reagan and Soviet leaders negotiated an agreement that called for the elimination of all medium-range missiles in NATO countries and the Soviet Union.

Experts say peace movements aren’t necessarily ineffective. Mark Lawrence, a history professor at the University of Texas, said large demonstrations against the Vietnam War were a factor in President Lyndon Johnson’s decision against a run for re-election and kept the pressure on President Nixon to withdraw U.S. troops from Southeast Asia.

Lawrence said the political danger in current antiwar protests is that, much like the Vietnam-era demonstrations, the movement is drawing mainstream Americans who Bush may need in his 2004 re-election bid.

“This is starting to galvanize people well beyond the kind of lefty fringes that are accustomed to events like this,” said Lawrence.

Mandela rebukes U.S. for threats to attack Iraq

Sept. 2, 2002, 3:42PM
Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Nelson Mandela said today that he is “appalled” by U.S. threats to attack Iraq and warned that Washington is “introducing chaos in international affairs.” He said he had spoken with President Bush’s father and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

As several world leaders at a summit here urged restraint by the United States, South Africa’s revered former president issued a stinging rebuke to the Bush administration.

“We are really appalled by any country, whether a superpower or a small country, that goes outside the U.N. and attacks independent countries,” Mandela said before going into a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac. “No country should be allowed to take the law into their own hands.”

The United States has made toppling Saddam Hussein a priority, accusing the Iraqi leader of developing weapons of mass destruction despite U.N. resolutions that prohibit him from doing so. Vice President Cheney has argued in favor of pre-emptive military action to remove Saddam from power.

“What they are saying is introducing chaos in international affairs, and we condemn that in the strongest terms,” Mandela said.

The 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner said he tried to call Bush to discuss the matter but that the president was not available. Mandela said he instead spoke with Powell and former President George Bush. He also planned to speak by telephone with Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s assistant for national security.

A number of top figures from the previous Bush administration have spoken out recently against unilateral military action — raising speculation that the elder Bush shares some of their doubts. The former president, however, has kept silent on his son’s Iraq policy.

Chirac, who is in South Africa to attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development, said he shared “a common position on the assessment and approach of these issues” with Mandela.

South Africa’s current president, Thabo Mbeki, and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder also urged America to exercise restraint.

The two leaders met on the fringes of the summit and “agreed they were not comfortable with any military action being taken against Iraq,” said Essop Pahad, a Cabinet minister in Mbeki’s office.

In Moscow, Russia’s foreign minister said the return of international weapons inspectors was key to resolving the crisis over Iraq and warned that military action by the United States could touch off further troubles in the volatile Middle East.

“Any forceful solution regarding Iraq would not only complicate regulation of (the crisis surrounding) Iraq still further, but would also undermine the situation in the Persian Gulf and Middle East,” Igor Ivanov said after talks with his Iraqi counterpart, Naji Sabri.

The sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990 cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify the country’s nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs have been dismantled, along with the long-range missiles to deliver them.

Inspectors left Baghdad ahead of American and British airstrikes in December 1998 to punish Iraq for not cooperating with inspections. Iraq has barred them from returning.

Saddam said today that the United States insists on overthrowing him because it seeks to control all the oil in the Middle East.

“America thinks if it controls the oil of the Middle East then it will control the world,” the Iraqi leader told an envoy from Belarus, according to the official Iraqi News Agency.

“By destroying Iraq, America thinks it could control the oil of the Middle East and force the prices it wants on clients like France, China, Japan and other countries of the world,” Saddam said.

Saddam said the U.N. sanctions on Iraq were aimed in part to “prevent former Soviet Union countries from cooperating economically with Iraq.”

In a speech at the Johannesburg summit, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz railed against U.S. threats and demanded a lifting of the U.N. embargo that has crippled Iraq’s economy.

“The U.S. is threatening to launch another large-scale aggression against Iraq that would bring about more devastation and subsequently lead to further catastrophes on the environment,” he said.

In Baghdad today, Iraqi officials took journalists on a tour of a site suspected to have been part of Iraq’s nuclear program, but which the government says produced agriculture fertilizers.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s longtime rival Iran warned that it would not stand by if its neighbor is attacked. Only the Iraqi people — not a world power — should determine the country’s future, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in Teheran.

“Iran will not stand idle before such instability, because if a country decides to overthrow another country’s government, this will create a norm,” he said.

And a group of 37 Protestant and other church leaders from North America and Britain sent letters to their respective governments Friday expressing concern about “the likely human costs of war with Iraq, particularly for civilians,” the World Council of Churches said today. They warned an attack would strengthen those promoting extremism and terrorism.


Lawyers: Bush won’t need Congress’ OK

Aug. 25, 2002, 11:54PM
’91 resolution to attack Iraq is sufficient
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Lawyers for President Bush have concluded he can launch an attack on Iraq without new approval from Congress, in part because they say that permission remains in force from the 1991 resolution giving Bush’s father authority to wage war in the Persian Gulf, according to administration officials.

At the same time, some administration officials are arguing internally that the president should seek lawmakers’ backing anyway to build public support and to avoid souring congressional relations. If Bush took that course, he still would be likely to assert that congressional consent was not legally necessary, the officials said.

Whatever the White House decides about its obligations under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, some House and Senate leaders appear determined to push resolutions of support for ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein when Congress returns after Labor Day because they consider the issue too grave for Congress to be sidestepped. Administration officials say privately that military strikes against Saddam’s regime are virtually inevitable, although all the specifics have not been decided and action is not imminent.

Bush has said repeatedly he will consult lawmakers before deciding how to proceed but has pointedly stopped short of saying he will request their approval. The difference between getting legislators’ opinions, as opposed to their permission, could lead to a showdown this fall between Congress and the White House.

“We don’t want to be in the legal position of asking Congress to authorize the use of force when the president already has that full authority,” said a senior administration official involved in setting the strategy. “We don’t want, in getting a resolution, to have conceded that one was constitutionally necessary.”

War-powers disputes have occurred frequently since 1800, when the Supreme Court upheld President John Adams’ undeclared war with France. The Constitution grants the president the duties and powers of commander-in-chief of the armed forces. But because of the framers’ concern that an unchecked executive might make war in pursuit of glory or personal revenge, they gave Congress the power to declare war. The result is a murky separation of powers.

The 1973 War Powers Resolution was intended to bridge the roles by allowing the president to act unilaterally with military force for 60 to 90 days, with congressional approval required for troops to remain engaged in hostilities after that.

Whether to secure formal congressional support is among many questions confronting Bush as he decides on a course of action toward Iraq.


Rice Lays Out Case For War In Iraq

Rice Lays Out Case For War In Iraq
Bush Adviser Cites ‘Moral’ Reasons
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 16, 2002; Page A01

The United States and other nations have little choice but to seek the removal of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said in an interview broadcast yesterday, citing “a very powerful moral case” for action.

“This is an evil man who, left to his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his neighbors and, if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, on all of us,” Rice told the BBC. “There is a very powerful moral case for regime change. We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing.”

Rice noted that after Sept. 11, the most immediate threat was al Qaeda. But she said Hussein posed a looming threat that could not be ignored. “Clearly, if Saddam Hussein is left in power doing the things that he is doing now, this is a threat that will emerge, and emerge in a very big way.”

Rice’s comments represent one of the strongest and most detailed explanations by a senior U.S. official of the need to oust Hussein, and they follow a drumbeat of news stories about potential U.S. plans for military action in the Persian Gulf. Rice’s remarks came in response to questions by a British reporter and do not appear to be part of a new cMmpaign to convince U.S. allies or the American public that war is necessary or inevitable. But they offer a clear guide to the case the administration will make if President Bush decides to launch a war.

Rice’s comments were disclosed on the same day that Brent Scowcroft, one of her predecessors and a pillar in the GOP foreign policy establishment, offered a detailed critique of a possible rush to war.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Scowcroft said that there was virtually no support among allies for a war against Iraq and that it could “seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counter-terrorist campaign we have undertaken” and lead to broader conflict in the Middle East.

Other GOP officials, such as House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.), have also questioned whether military steps are necessary. The growing concern among some leading Republicans, and the near universal opposition overseas, has focused administration officials on the need to build a case – or risk the consequences of unilateral action.

Rice taped the interview for a BBC special on the Sept. 11 attacks, to be broadcast Sept. 6, and the BBC released portions of the interview yesterday. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the United States’ closest ally on Iraq, has come under intense pressure from some members of his party to speak against an invasion as opinion polls show a majority of Britons oppose participation in a U.S.-led war.

“The president hasn’t decided how he wants to do it or how he intends to make the case for particular methods,” Rice stressed before she began outlining what she called “a very stunning indictment” against Hussein.

“The case for regime change is very strong,” Rice said. “This is a regime that we know has twice tried and come closer than we thought at the time to acquiring nuclear weapons. He has used chemical weapons against his own people and against his neighbors, he has invaded his neighbors, he has killed thousands of his own people. He shoots at our planes, our airplanes, in the no-fly zones where we are trying to enforce U.N. security resolutions.”

Over the weekend, a senior Iraqi official declared the mission of U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq “finished,” suggesting Hussein will not allow the inspections to resume. The inspections – mandated by the armistice that ended the Gulf War in 1991 – were suspended in 1998 after Iraq denied access to Hussein’s presidential palaces.

The Bush administration has demanded the inspections resume. “Despite the fact that he lost this war, a war, by the way, which he started, he negotiates with the United Nations as if he won the war,” Rice said.

Rice made a forceful case that Hussein’s removal was a clear example of when the administration’s new doctrine of “preemption” – striking potential enemies first – would be justified.

“History is littered with cases of inaction that led to very grave consequences for the world,” Rice said. “We just have to look back and ask how many dictators who ended up being a tremendous global threat and killing thousands and, indeed, millions of people, should we have stopped in their tracks.”

Although the White House has insisted Bush has not made a decision to proceed with an attack, the administration in recent weeks has moved deliberately to organize Iraqi opposition groups for a post-Hussein era. Last week, administration officials met with key leaders of various opposition groups, and yesterday the State Department said it had resolved an accounting dispute with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), a London-based umbrella group, permitting funds to flow again.

State Department spokesman Philip T. Reeker said $8 million would be provided to the INC, permitting it to publish a newspaper, renew anti-Hussein television broadcasts into Iraq, maintain regional offices and operate humanitarian relief programs. Funding for the INC’s covert operations, meanwhile, has been transferred to the Defense Department, resolving a conflict between the two agencies about the effectiveness of the intelligence-gathering operation.

The State Department also disclosed that last month it began accepting bids from nongovernmental organizations to receive $6.6 million in humanitarian assistance, primarily for the Kurdish population in northern Iraq.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

Chretien Defends Staying Out of War

Apr 10, 2:22 AM EDT
Associated Press Writer

TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Jean Chretien on Tuesday defended Canada’s decision to stay out of the war in Iraq, saying its friendship with the United States would withstand tensions over the issue.

“Close friends can disagree at times and still remain close friends,” Chretien told parliament in his most detailed defense yet for keeping out of the war led by its neighbor and ally.

The U.S. government has expressed disappointment over Canada’s failure to support the war, and Canadian business leaders have warned of unfavorable trade policies, canceled business deals and reduced tourism as retaliation.

Chretien said he sought to give U.N. weapons inspectors more time to try to disarm Iraq.

“The decision on whether or not to send troops into battle must always be a decision of principle, not a decision of economics, not even a decision of friendship alone,” he said.

Chretien was responding to a motion calling for parliament to apologize to the United for not joining the war and for criticism of President Bush by members of Chretien’s Liberal Party.

He rejected the Canadian Alliance motion, saying it put a “chill” on free speech. Instead, he proposed a Liberal Party motion supporting a swift U.S. victory in Iraq and committing Canada’s help in postwar reconstruction.

The motion, expected to pass easily because of the party’s majority in the House of Commons, also supports the decision to stay out of the Iraq war and reaffirms Canada’s close ties to the United States.

“We would have preferred to be able to agree with our friends, but we have an independent country, make our own decisions based on our own principles,” Chretien said.

“While we are not participating in the coalition … let us be very clear this government and all Canadians hope for a quick victory for the U.S.-led coalition with the minimum of casualties.”

Opposition leader Stephen Harper called Chretien’s position nothing more than “damage control” because of growing support among ordinary Canadians for the war.

Polls have consistently shown the public supported the decision to stay out of war, but the margin of support has decreased with the success of the coalition forces in entering Baghdad.