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.”