Pentagon reveals weapons tests

June 30, 2003, 10:07PM
Pentagon reveals weapons tests

Chemical, biological arms secretly tried on service members

By ROBERT GEHRKE
Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon used potentially dangerous chemical and biological agents in 50 secret tests involving military personnel in a decadelong project to measure the weapons’ combat capabilities, according to Pentagon findings released Monday.

The tests were done between 1962 and 1973 and involved 5,842 service members. Many were not told of the tests, some of which involved releases of deadly nerve agents in Alaska and Hawaii.

The information released Monday disclosed eight new tests that primarily used nonlethal bacteria and in some cases caustic chemicals. And it revealed for the first time experiments to find ways to use submarines to distribute biological weapons.

“Project 112” and “Project SHAD,” as they were called, were developed in 1961 to study the combat uses of biological and chemical weapons and methods to protect U.S. troops from such attacks. Initially it was believed that only simulated agents were used, but last year the Defense Department admitted that some of the tests used real chemical or biological weapons.

Most of the tests made public Monday used the benign bacteria bacillus globigii to simulate how biological weapons agents would spread through a hold of a ship.

“It bespeaks the time, the early ’60s, when we were in the Cold War, and we were concerned that Russia and perhaps China had chemical and biological capabilities that could be used against American troops and against us in the homeland,” said Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, deputy director of the Defense Department’s Deployment Health Support Directorate.

The United States scrapped its biological weapons program in the late 1960s and agreed in a 1997 treaty to destroy all its chemical weapons.

Ship logs reported no outbreaks of illness at the time, Kilpatrick said, but to date 260 service members have reported illnesses to the Veterans Administration that they believe are related to their presence at the test sites.

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
By MICHAEL HEDGES
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.