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Saddam Hussein: Secret History
U.N.Report: Iraq had no WMD after 1994
By Bill Nichols, USA TODAY
A report from U.N. weapons inspectors to be released today says they now believe there were no weapons of mass destruction of any significance in Iraq after 1994, according to two U.N. diplomats who have seen the document.
The historical review of inspections in Iraq is the first outside study to confirm the recent conclusion by David Kay, the former U.S. chief inspector, that Iraq had no banned weapons before last year's U.S-led invasion. It also goes further than prewar U.N. reports, which said no weapons had been found but noted that Iraq had not fully accounted for weapons it was known to have had at the end of the Gulf War in 1991.
The report, to be outlined to the U.N. Security Council as early as Friday, is based on information gathered over more than seven years of U.N. inspections in Iraq before the 2003 war, plus postwar findings discussed publicly by Kay.
Kay reported in October that his team found "dozens of WMD-related program activities" that Iraq was required to reveal to U.N. inspectors but did not. However, he said he found no actual WMDs.
The study, a quarterly report on Iraq from U.N. inspectors, notes that the U.S. teams' inability to find any weapons after the war mirrors the experience of U.N. inspectors who searched there from November 2002 until March 2003.
Many Bush administration officials were harshly critical of the U.N. inspection efforts in the months before the war. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in August 2002 that inspections "will be a sham."
The Bush administration also pointedly declined U.N. offers to help in the postwar weapons hunt, preferring instead to use U.S. inspectors and specialists from other coalition countries such as Britain and Australia.
But U.N. reports submitted to the Security Council before the war by Hans Blix, former chief U.N. arms inspector, and Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, have been largely validated by U.S. weapons teams. The common findings:
Iraq's nuclear weapons program was dormant.
No evidence was found to suggest Iraq possessed chemical or biological weapons. U.N. officials believe the weapons were destroyed by U.N. inspectors or Iraqi officials in the years after the 1991 Gulf War.
Iraq was attempting to develop missiles capable of exceeding a U.N.-mandated limit of 93 miles.
Demetrius Perricos, the acting executive chairman of the U.N. inspection teams, said in an interview that the failure to find banned weapons in Iraq since the war undercuts administration criticism of the U.N.'s search before the war.
"You cannot say that only the Americans or the British or the Australians currently inspecting in Iraq are the clever inspectors - and the Americans and the British and the Australians that we had were not," he said.
CLAIM vs. FACT: The President on Meet the Press
by David Sirota, Christy Harvey and Judd Legum
Feb. 8, 2004
President Bush sought to restore his credibility today and he clearly failed to do so.
CLAIM vs. FACT
PRE-WAR INTELLIGENCE HYPE
CLAIM: "I expected to find the weapons [because] I based my decision on the best intelligence possible...The evidence I had was the best possible evidence that he had a weapon."
FACT - WHITE HOUSE REPEATEDY WARNED BY INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY: The Washington Post reported this weekend, "President Bush and his top advisers ignored many of the caveats and qualifiers included in the classified report on Saddam Hussein's weapons." Specifically, the President made unequivocal statements that Iraq "has got chemical weapons" two months after the DIA concluded that there was "no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons." He said, "Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production" three months after the White House received an intelligence report that clearly indicated Department of Energy experts concluded the tubes were not intended to produce uranium enrichment centrifuges. He said, "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," three months after "the CIA sent two memos to the White House in October voicing strong doubts about" the claim. [Sources: WP, 2/7/04; Bush statement, 11/3/02; DIA report, 2002; Bush statement, 1/28/03; NIE, October 2002; WP, 7/23/03; Bush statement, 10/7/02; WP, 9/26/03]
CLAIM: "We looked at the intelligence."
FACT – WHITE HOUSE IGNORED INTELLIGENCE WARNINGS: Knight Ridder reported that CIA officers "said President Bush ignored warnings" that his WMD case was weak. And Greg Thielmann, the Bush State Department's top intelligence official, "said suspicions were presented as fact, and contrary arguments ignored." Knight Ridder later reported, "Senior diplomatic, intelligence and military officials have charged that Bush and his top aides made assertions about Iraq's banned weapons programs and alleged links to al-Qaeda that weren't supported by credible intelligence, and that they ignored intelligence that didn't support their policies." [Knight-Ridder, 6/13/03; CBS News, 6/7/03; Knight Ridder, 6/28/03]
IGNORING INTERNATIONAL INTELLIGENCE WARNINGS
CLAIM: "The international community thought he had weapons."
FACT – INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TOLD WHITE HOUSE THE OPPOSITE: The IAEA and U.N. both repeatedly told the Administration it had no evidence that Iraq possessed WMD. On 2/15/03, the IAEA said that, "We have to date found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq." On 3/7/03 IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said nuclear experts have found "no indication" that Iraq has tried to import high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge enrichment of uranium. At the same time, AP reported that "U.N. weapons inspectors have not found any 'smoking guns' in Iraq during their search for weapons WMD." AP also reported, "U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said his teams have not uncovered any WMD." [Source: WP, 2/15/03; NY Times, 3/7/03; AP, 1/9/03; AP, 2/14/03]
INFORMING CONGRESS OF INTELLIGENCE CAVEATS
CLAIM: "I went to Congress with the same intelligence. Congress saw the same intelligence I had, and they looked at exactly what I looked at."
FACT – CONGRESS WAS OUTRAGED AT PRESENTATION BY THE WHITE HOUSE: The New Republic reported, "Senators were outraged to find that intelligence info given to them omitted the qualifications and countervailing evidence that had characterized the classified version and played up the claims that strengthened the administration's case for war." According to Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), many House members were only convinced to support the war after the Administration "showed them a photograph of a small, unmanned airplane spraying a liquid in what appeared to be a test for delivering chemical and biological agents," despite the U.S. Air Force telling the Administration it "sharply disputed the notion that Iraq's UAVs were being designed as attack weapons." [Source: The New Republic, 6/30/03; Wilkes Barre Times Leader, 1/6/04; WP, 9/26/03]
CLAIM vs. FACT
PRE-WAR "IMMINENT THREAT" ASSERTION
CLAIM: "I believe it is essential that when we see a threat, we deal with those threats before they become imminent. It's too late if they become imminent."
FACT – ADMINISTRATION REPEATEDLY CLAIMED IRAQ WAS AN "IMMINENT THREAT": The Bush Administration repeatedly claimed that Iraq was an imminent threat before the war – not that it would "become imminent." Specifically, White House communications director Dan Bartlett was asked on CNN: "Is [Saddam Hussein] an imminent threat to US interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?" Bartlett replied, "Well, of course he is." Similarly, when White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether America went to war in Iraq because of an imminent threat, he replied, "Absolutely." And White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the reason NATO allies – including the U.S. - should support the defense of one of its members from Iraq was because "this is about an imminent threat." Additionally, the Administration used "immediate," "urgent" and "mortal" to describe the Iraq threat to the United States. [Source: American Progress list, 1/29/04]
BUSH'S THREAT RHETORIC BEFORE THE WAR
CLAIM: "I think, if I might remind you that in my language I called it a grave and gathering threat, but I don't want to get into word contests."
FACT – BUSH MADE FAR MORE DIRE STATEMENTS BEFORE THE WAR: While the President did call Iraq a "grave and gathering" threat, that was not all he said. On 11/23/02, he said Iraq posed a "unique and urgent threat." On 1/3/03 he said "Iraq is a threat to any American." On 10/28/02 he said Iraq was "a real and dangerous threat" to America. On 10/2/02 he said, "The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency" and that Iraq posed "a grave threat" to America. [Bush, 11/23/02; Bush; 1/3/03; Bush, 10/28/02; Bush, 10/2/02; Bush, 10/2/02]
SADDAM-AL QAEDA-WMD CONNECTION
CLAIM: "Iraq had the capacity to make a weapon and then let that weapon fall into the hands of a shadowy terrorist network."
FACT – ASSERTION BELIES PREVIOUS INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENTS: This assertion belies the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate which told the White House that Iraq would most likely only coordinate with Al Qaeda if the U.S. invaded Iraq. As the NYT reported, "[A] CIA assessment said last October: 'Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks' in the United States." The CIA added that Saddam might order attacks with WMD as 'his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him.'" Previously, the CIA had told the White House that Iraq "has not provided chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda or related terrorist groups." And David Kay himself said, " I found no real connection between WMD and terrorists" in Iraq. [Source: NIE, 2002; NY Times, 1/29/03; NY Times, 2/6/02; NBC News, 1/26/04]
DAVID KAY'S REPORT
CLAIM: "And when David Kay goes in and says we haven't found stockpiles yet, and there's theories as to where the weapons went. They could have been destroyed during the war. Saddam and his henchmen could have destroyed them as we entered into Iraq. They could be hidden. They could have been transported to another country, and we'll find out."
FACT – KAY ACTUALLY SAID WMD HAD BEEN DESTROYED AFTER 1991: David Kay didn't say we haven't found the stockpiles of chemical weapons because they are destroyed, hidden or transported to another country. Kay said that they were never produced and hadn't been produced since 1991. As he said, "Multiple sources with varied access and reliability have told ISG that Iraq did not have a large, ongoing, centrally controlled CW program after 1991. Information found to date suggests that Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce and fill new CW munitions was reduced - if not entirely destroyed - during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of U.N. sanctions and U.N. inspections." [Kay Testimony, 2004] - The entire Progress Report
Ex-U.S. WMD Hunter Kay Resigns, Contradicts Bush on Weapons
Jan. 23, 2004
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - David Kay stepped down as leader of the U.S. hunt for banned weapons in Iraq on Friday, and fired a parting shot at the Bush administration, while pressure mounted on Washington to hold early direct elections in Iraq.
In a direct challenge to the Bush administration, which says its invasion of Iraq was justified by the presence of illicit arms, Kay told Reuters in a telephone interview he had concluded there were no Iraqi stockpiles to be found.
"I don't think they existed," Kay said. "What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last (1991) Gulf War, and I don't think there was a large-scale production program in the nineties," he said.
Kay's departure had been expected but the manner of his going was not.
Kay said he believes most of what was going to be found in the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has been found.
The United States went to war against Baghdad last year citing a threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. To date, no banned arms have been found.
In his annual State of the Union on Tuesday, President George W. Bush insisted that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had actively pursued dangerous programs right up to the start of the U.S. attack in March.
Citing a report to Congress in October, Bush said Kay had found "dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations."
"Had we failed to act," Bush said, "the dictator's weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day."
The CIA announced earlier that former U.N. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, who has previously expressed doubts that unconventional weapons would be found, would succeed Kay as Washington's chief arms hunter.
Duelfer, 51, a former deputy executive chairman of the U.N. Special Commission that was responsible for dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, had previously expressed doubts that unconventional weapons would be found.
"I think that Mr. Kay and his team have looked very hard. I think the reason that they haven't found them is they're probably not there," Duelfer told NBC television earlier this month.
Senator Roberts Repeats Old "WMD Moved to Syria" Lie
Jan. 21, 2004
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts said there was some concern Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had gone to Syria, and Washington vowed to carry on searching for such arms in Iraq.
Roberts, a leading member of President Bush's Republican Party, said on Wednesday: "I think that there is some concern that shipments of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) went to Syria." He did not elaborate.
12 days earlier:
Rice: No Evidence Iraq Moved WMD to Syria
By Associated Press - January 9, 2004
WASHINGTON -- The United States has no credible evidence that Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria early last year before the U.S.-led war that drove Saddam Hussein from power, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Friday.
Saddam's Ouster Planned In 2001
Jan. 10, 2004
Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is the main source for an upcoming book about the Bush White House, "The Price of Loyalty."
"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go." Paul O'Neill
(CBS NEWS) The Bush Administration began laying plans for an invasion of Iraq, including the use of American troops, within days of President Bush's inauguration in January of 2001 -- not eight months later after the 9/11 attacks as has been previously reported.
That's what former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill says in his first interview about his time as a White House insider. O'Neill talks to Correspondent Lesley Stahl in the interview, broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2004.
"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," he tells Stahl. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do is a really huge leap."
O'Neill, fired by the White House for his disagreement on tax cuts, is the main source for an upcoming book, "The Price of Loyalty," authored by Ron Suskind.
Suskind says O'Neill and other White House insiders he interviewed gave him documents that show that in the first three months of 2001, the administration was looking at military options for removing Saddam Hussein from power and planning for the aftermath of Saddam's downfall -- including post-war contingencies like peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals and the future of Iraq's oil.
"There are memos," Suskind tells Stahl, "One of them marked 'secret' says 'Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq.'"
A Pentagon document, says Suskind, titled "Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts," outlines areas of oil exploration. "It talks about contractors around the world from...30, 40 countries and which ones have what intentions on oil in Iraq," Suskind says.
According to CBS News Reporter Lisa Barron in Baghdad, "The Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella group of former exiles, says it's not surprised by O'Neill's remarks. Spokesman Entifadh Qanbar tells CBS News that the Bush administration opened official channels to the Iraqi opposition soon after coming to power, and discussed how to remove saddam. The group opened an office in Washington shotly afterwards."
In the book, O'Neill is quoted as saying he was surprised that no one in a National Security Council meeting questioned why Iraq should be invaded. "It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this,'" says O'Neill in the book.
Questions About Iraq Weapons Haunt U.S. Election Year
Jan. 8, 2004
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The failure to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction looks set to dog the Bush administration in an election year amid persistent accusations it exaggerated evidence in making a case for war.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a liberal-leaning U.S. think tank, issued a report on Thursday that compared public and declassified intelligence information with statements made by administration officials.
It concluded that the administration made the threat from Iraq sound more dire than the underlying information.
"We have found and have gone to some length to define and lay out serious misrepresentation of the facts over and above what was in the intelligence findings," Jessica Mathews, president of the think tank and one of the authors, said.
In one example, she said U.N. weapons inspectors said the amount of biological growth medium that Iraq had could produce three times as much anthrax as it had declared if it used all that growth medium to produce anthrax.
President Bush in an Oct. 7, 2002, speech in Ohio, said: "The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for and is capable of killing millions."
Mathews said this was an example of how a possibility cited by the inspectors became a likelihood and then a stockpile in Bush's speech.
"And finally, biological agent is transformed into weapons" which would require highly sophisticated delivery systems if they were capable of killing millions, she said.
Joseph Cirincione, director of the non-proliferation project at Carnegie and an author of the report, said administration officials dropped caveats.
"In that process they changed something that is an opinion into a fact, and they consistently did this," he said at a briefing on the report.
"The problem is it gives a misleading impression to the public, to the (U.S.) Congress, about what you know and how certain you are about that knowledge," Cirincione said.
Analysts see signs of fading expectations of finding any chemical or biological weapons in Iraq -- such as the possibility that CIA adviser David Kay, in charge of the hunt for banned weapons in Iraq, may step down from that job.
The authors of the Carnegie report said they do not expect any large stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons to be found.
Former CIA Director Stansfield Turner said he was in general agreement with the Carnegie presentation, and that he believed no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had been found for several reasons.
"A combination of the intelligence people overestimating what was there, policy people exaggerating the intelligence estimates, combined with the fact that the inspections and destruction by the U.N. from '91 to '98 eliminated a lot of these and made it very difficult for the Iraqis to start it up again because they couldn't get the materials or the equipment," he told Reuters.
US WMD search team withdrawn from Iraq
Jan. 8, 2004
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A 400-strong US military team that has been searching for illicit weapons in Iraq have been withdrawn after finding nothing of substance, although a separate group looking for weapons of mass destruction still remains in the country, The New York Times reported.
"They picked up everything that was worth picking up," one US official told the daily, referring to the Joint Captured Materiel Exploitation Group, made up of technical experts headed by an unidentified Australian brigadier.
The withdrawal of the 400-member military team was seen by some military officials as a sign that the US government may no longer expect to uncover chemical or biological weapons in Iraq, the daily said.
A separate military team tasked with disposing of chemical or biological weapons in Iraq remains part of the 1,400-member Iraq Survey Group that has been searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq since Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown, a member of the survey group said.
However he told the paper that the group in question, known as Task Force D/E, for disablement and elimination, was "still waiting for something to dispose of." Iraq's Arsenal Was Only on Paper
Jan. 7, 2004
BAGHDAD - Barton Gellman, Washington Post - Investigators have found no support for the two main fears expressed in London and Washington before the war: that Iraq had a hidden arsenal of old weapons and built advanced programs for new ones. In public statements and unauthorized interviews, investigators said they have discovered no work on former germ-warfare agents such as anthrax bacteria, and no work on a new designer pathogen -- combining pox virus and snake venom -- that led U.S. scientists on a highly classified hunt for several months. The investigators assess that Iraq did not, as charged in London and Washington, resume production of its most lethal nerve agent, VX, or learn to make it last longer in storage. And they have found the former nuclear weapons program, described as a "grave and gathering danger" by President Bush and a "mortal threat" by Vice President Cheney, in much the same shattered state left by U.N. inspectors in the 1990s.
A review of available evidence, including some not known to coalition investigators and some they have not made public, portrays a nonconventional arms establishment that was far less capable than U.S. analysts judged before the war. Leading figures in Iraqi science and industry, supported by observations on the ground, described factories and institutes that were thoroughly beaten down by 12 years of conflict, arms embargo and strangling economic sanctions. The remnants of Iraq's biological, chemical and missile infrastructures were riven by internal strife, bled by schemes for personal gain and handicapped by deceit up and down lines of command. The broad picture emerging from the investigation to date suggests that, whatever its desire, Iraq did not possess the wherewithal to build a forbidden armory on anything like the scale it had before the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
David Kay, who directs the weapons hunt on behalf of the Bush administration, reported no discoveries last year of finished weapons, bulk agents or ready-to-start production lines. Members of his Iraq Survey Group, in unauthorized interviews, said the group holds out little prospect now of such a find. Kay and his spokesman, who report to Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet, declined to be interviewed.
US Republicans ready to resume Iraq weapons probe
Dec. 22, 2003
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Senate Republicans have signaled their readiness to resume a probe into pre-war charges that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which was halted more than six weeks ago amid bitter partisan bickering.
US President George W. Bush and other top administration officials had accused Iraq of secretly producing chemical and biological weapons in violation of UN resolutions -- charges that were used to justify the March invasion of the country.
No banned weapons have been found in Iraq since then, despite an intense search by a team of experts from the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency
The apparent change of heart came after the CIA acknowledged late last month that it "lacked specific information" about alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction when it compiled a 2002 intelligence estimate that served to justify the invasion.
Congressional Republicans also found themselves under renewed pressure last week after Bush, when asked in a television interview to clarify whether he had hard facts about Iraqi weapons or just feared Baghdad may acquire them, replied: "So what's the difference?"
Senator Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the remark was "a stunning revelation" of Bush's "thinking and of his decision to go to war."
"There is a huge difference between having something and seeking something," the lawmaker observed.
Saddam-Atta Memo is a Fraud
Dec. 19, 2003
Newsweek reports,"A widely publicized Iraqi document that purports to show that 9-11 hijacker Mohammed Atta visited Baghdad in the summer of 2001 is probably a fabrication that is contradicted by U.S. law- enforcement records showing Atta was staying at cheap motels and apartments in the US when the trip would have taken place... 'Terrorist Behind September 11 Strike Was Trained By Saddam,' ran the headline on the story written by Con Coughlin, a Telegraph correspondent and the author of the book 'Saddam: The Secret Life.' Coughlin's account was picked up by newspapers around the world and was cited the next day by NY Times [propagandist] William Safire. But U.S. officials and a leading Iraqi document expert tell NEWSWEEK that the document is most likely a forgery - part of a thriving new trade in dubious Iraqi documents." Even Ahmed Chalabi's group called the memo "clearly nonsense", and Coughlin said he had "no way of verifying it."
Coughlin's account was picked up by newspapers around the world and was cited the next day by New York Times columnist William Safire. But U.S. officials and a leading Iraqi document expert tell NEWSWEEK that the document is most likely a forgery - part of a thriving new trade in dubious Iraqi documents that has cropped up in the wake of the collapse of Saddam's regime.
"It's a lucrative business," says Hassan Mneimneh, codirector of an Iraqi exile research group reviewing millions of captured Iraqi government documents. "There's an active document trade taking place - You have fraudulent documents that are being fabricated and sold" for hundreds of dollars a piece. Mneimneh said he hadn't seen the Telegraph document that purports to place Atta in Baghdad. But he, along with senior U.S. law-enforcement and intelligence officials, said the claims of an Atta trip to Iraq in the months before the September 11 attacks were highly implausible - and contradicted by a wealth of information that has been collected about Atta's movements during the period he was plotting the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The Telegraph story was apparently written with a political purpose: to bolster Bush administration claims of a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam's regime. The paper described a "handwritten memo" that was supposedly sent to Saddam Hussein by Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, chief of Iraqi intelligence at the time. It describes a three-day "work program" that Atta had undertaken in Baghdad under the tutelage of notorious Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal, who lived in the Iraqi capital until his death under suspicious circumstances in August 2002.
The document, which according to Coughlin was supplied by Iraq's interim government, doesn't say exactly when Atta was supposed to have actually flown to Baghdad. But the memo is dated July 1, 2001, and Coughlin himself places the trip as the summer of 2001.
The problem with this, say U.S. law enforcement officials, is that the FBI has compiled a highly detailed time line for Atta's movements throughout the spring and summer of 2001 based on a mountain of documentary evidence, including airline records, ATM withdrawals and hotel receipts. Those records show Atta crisscrossing the United States during this period—making only one overseas trip, an 11-day visit to Spain that didn't begin until six days after the date of the Iraqi memo.
One FBI document, labeled "Law Enforcement Sensitive," states that during the summer of 2001, Atta "conducted extensive travel" that included visits in Florida, Boston, New York, New Jersey and Las Vegas. Indeed, this and other FBI documents show that during the last few days in June - when the presumed Iraq trip would appear to have occurred - almost all of Atta's movements are accounted for: On June 27, 2001, Atta flew from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to Boston. On the morning of June 28, he traveled from Boston to San Francisco (flying first class) where he switched planes and landed in Las Vegas that afternoon at 2:41 p.m. That afternoon, he rented a Chevrolet Malibu from an Alamo rental-car office, set up an account at an Internet café called the Cyber Zone and checked into the EconoLodge motel on Las Vegas Boulevard, a cheap motel in a neighborhood of seedy strip joints that is located barely two blocks from the local FBI office.
The FBI records show Atta logged onto his Cyber Zone Internet account five times over the next two days and then checked out of the EconoLodge at 3:30 a.m. on the morning of July 1. He then returned his rental car and boarded a flight to Denver at 5:59 a.m., landing in Boston later that day. A week later, on July 7, Atta boarded a flight from Boston to Zurich -the first leg on his trip to Spain. He returned to the United States on July 19, 2001. - Newsweek article
Head of U.S. Team Searching for Iraq WMD May Leave
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. team hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, David Kay, is considering leaving the job early next year, well before the Iraq Survey Group's work is complete, intelligence officials said on Thursday.
Kay's departure would be the latest setback to what has so far been a fruitless U.S. search for weapons of mass destruction, the main reason cited by President Bush and his top advisers to justify invading Iraq.
Since the war, Kay's search teams have found little that would validate the Bush administration's assertions that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction programs.
Senators were told Iraqi weapons could hit U.S.
Dec. 17, 2003
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday the Bush administration last year told him and other senators that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction, but they had the means to deliver them to East Coast cities.
Nelson, D-Tallahassee, said about 75 senators got that news during a classified briefing before last October's congressional vote authorizing the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Nelson voted in favor of using military force.
Nelson said he couldn't reveal who in the administration gave the briefing.
The White House directed questions about the matter to the Department of Defense. Defense officials had no comment on Nelson's claim.
Nelson said the senators were told Iraq had both biological and chemical weapons, notably anthrax, and it could deliver them to cities along the Eastern seaboard via unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones.
"They have not found anything that resembles an UAV that has that capability," Nelson said.
Nelson delivered the news during a half-hour conference call with reporters Monday afternoon. The senator, who is on a seven-nation trade mission to South America, was calling from an airport in Santiago, Chile.
"That's news," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a Washington, D.C.-area military and intelligence think tank. "I had not heard that that was the assessment of the intelligence community. I had not heard that the Congress had been briefed on this."
Iraq probably destroyed weapons in 1991: Blix
Dec. 16, 2003
STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Iraq probably destroyed its weapons of mass destruction back in 1991 as the country's former leaders claimed, former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix revealed.
"The Iraqis have consistently said ... that they were destroyed in the summer of 1991," Blix told reporters Tuesday, adding: "My guess is that there are no weapons of mass destruction left."
Speaking at a press conference in Stockholm announcing the creation of a new independent international commission on weapons of mass destruction, Blix said there was reason to look further into the Iraqi claims after the capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
"Saddam must have knowledge about what he ordered. He should know about what he built" and "he must have some information himself on when they... destroyed... their weapons of mass destruction," he said.
Blix said that the capture of Saddam Hussein was unlikely to bring the occupation forces in Iraq any closer to finding the elusive weapons, but that he may still tell investigators how Iraq acquired the weapons, developed them and eventually got rid of them.
A former Swedish diplomat, Blix was charged with searching for weapons of mass destruction in the 15 weeks leading up to the US-led invasion of Iraq.
He implicitly criticized the United States for making claims to justify its strike on Iraq that it couldn't back up.
"I think that much of what was said was not sufficiently well-based," he said.
Iraqi Missile Scientist Tried to Contact U.S.
Dec. 15, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An Iraqi scientist who headed Saddam Hussein's missile program has been meeting with the British military in Iraq and he said he didn't flee to Iran as believed by U.S. weapons hunters.
Modher Sadeq-Saba al-Tamimi said in an interview with The Associated Press that he tried several times to reach the American teams searching for weapons of mass destruction. Once, in July, he asked a friend who had already met with American missile experts to set up a meeting for him but the Americans never showed up. Later, he said, his British handlers assured him that they had discussed his case with the CIA, and he didn't need to worry about reaching them.
But it appears the messages didn't get to weapons hunters, who told The Associated Press last month that they believed Modher had gone to Iran and said they never interviewed him.
On Nov. 16, AP reported the U.S. weapons inspectors' comments that they were concerned Modher was providing expertise to the missile program in Iran, a country identified by Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The military officers assigned to the search, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they believed he crossed the Iraq-Iran border on foot after U.S. forces took Baghdad in the spring. The information was based on human intelligence. Colleagues of Modher said in recent interviews that they hadn't seen him since the war. They said they too believed he was in Iran.
Dr. Modher, as he is called by his colleagues, told AP in an interview at one his several residences in Iraq that he has not left Iraq for years. Modher, who has three wives and 14 children, said he stayed in one of his homes, located on the Iranian border, between March and May. His account couldn't be independently confirmed
After the AP story ran in November, Modher said he asked his British handlers to spread the word he was still inside Iraq.
"I gave all my information to the British liaison office," he told AP last week. "We had more than 25 meetings."
Within a week of the AP story, Modher was interviewed by a four-person team from the U.S. weapons search, he said. He identified the only member of the team that he knew as an American named John Larrabee who worked previously as a chief missile inspector for the United Nations during the 1990s.
Larrabee did not return an e-mail message seeking comment. A defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed Larrabee is working for the weapons hunt but declined to say whether he interviewed Modher.
Kenneth Gerhart, a Pentagon spokesman who is working with the weapons hunt, wouldn't talk about Modher's case.
Britain's Ministry of Defense declined comment as well. And messages left for one of Modher's British handlers weren't returned.
According to Modher, he and Larrabee had a five-hour meeting at Baghdad's convention center, the primary meeting point for Iraqis and members of the U.S.-led occupation authority.
Modher said he remains in contact with the British officials who gave him a military identification pass in July which says he is "cooperating" with the coalition. He showed the pass, along with letters from other military officials working with Iraq's new defense ministry, to AP.
Modher is considered to be Iraq's top missile expert. He was the father of the Iraqi Al-Samoud program and worked on Scud missiles like the ones that hit Israel and Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War.
U.N. inspectors destroyed the Al-Samouds on the eve of the U.S.-led war in March because several of them tested beyond the 93-mile range limit set by the U.N. Security Council after the 1991 Gulf War.
Modher argued then, and now, that the missiles were designed in keeping with the council restrictions.
U.N. Inspector: Little New in U.S. Probe for Iraq Arms
By Walter Pincus
Sunday, December 14, 2003; Page A27
The United Nations's top weapons inspector says most of the weapons-related equipment and research that has been publicly documented by the U.S.-led inspection team in Iraq was known to the United Nations before the U.S. invasion.
Demetrius Perricos, acting chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said in an interview and in a report to the U.N. Security Council that the only significant new information made public by the U.S. search team was that Iraq had paid North Korea $10 million for medium-range missile technology, which apparently was never delivered.
Perricos's assessments were his first public comments on the U.S.-sponsored search for weapons of mass destruction since he took over as acting chairman from Hans Blix, who retired in June. Perricos cautioned that his assessments were preliminary and made without access to classified working documents compiled by the Iraq Survey Group, the U.S. government team led by David Kay that is searching Iraq for evidence of weapons of mass destruction.
Still, the assessment shows that, even after Kay disclosed his preliminary findings, U.N. weapons inspectors remain skeptical of the Bush administration's prewar statements that Saddam Hussein had seriously breached U.N. resolutions barring chemical and biological weapons, and that such Iraqi weapons programs posed an imminent threat.
Last week, Perricos delivered an official quarterly report to the Security Council in which he said the findings made public by Kay were, for the most part, documented by the United Nations before the war.
"Most of the findings outlined in the [Kay] statement relate to complex subjects familiar to UNMOVIC," he said in the report. He qualified that by adding, "In the absence of access to the full [Kay] progress report . . . [the U.N. team] is not in a position to properly assess the information provided in the [Kay] statement."
Perricos said, for example, that U.N. inspectors had investigated reports that the prison lab was used to test effects of toxins on prisoners, but found no evidence of that.
The U.N. inspection team knew about most of the Kay group findings on Iraqi missiles, Perricos said. U.N. resolutions had restricted Iraq to delivery systems that could carry missiles no farther than 150 kilometers. Kay wrote that his findings to date were sufficient to show that Iraq had "dramatically breached U.N. restrictions," in part by converting SA-2 surface-to-air missiles into ballistic missiles with a range of 250 kilometers.
Perricos's report to the council, however, said U.N. inspectors had already inventoried and placed tags on SA-2 engines, so that inspectors could check later to make sure the engines were not used in delivery systems that would violate the distance restrictions.
Perricos, in comments similar to those made by Blix, his predecessor, said he believes most of Hussein's thousands of chemical and biological weapons had been destroyed by 1993, and that nuclear facilities had been dismantled. Much of that destruction was supervised by the United Nations after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and some was carried out independently by the Iraqis.
U.S. Still Holds 8 Iraqi Scientists
Dec. 9, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Eight Iraqi scientists remain in the hands of U.S. forces searching for weapons of mass destruction while dozens of other experts were cleared or released by U.S. intelligence, officials at the American-run Science Ministry in Baghdad told The Associated Press.
Those who remain in custody were involved years ago with former biological programs such as anthrax, suggesting the U.S.-led weapons hunt is holding out hope for success in that area after finding no evidence there were recent chemical or nuclear weapons programs before the war.
Many Iraqi scientists in those fields who claimed for years that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction have been rehired by the Science Ministry eight months after the United States went to war to disarm Iraq.
In one case, Alaa al-Saeed, the scientist who oversaw stockpiles of the deadly nerve agent VX, was promoted and is now in charge of overseeing other weapons scientists.
Senior U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, promised to find hidden Iraqi weapons and said Iraqi scientists would be key to a successful search. But with so few people in custody and no uncovered weapons, counting on the scientists may not produce the right results.
The Bush administration had argued before the war that scientists were afraid to tell U.N. weapons inspectors the truth. But those scientists say a lack of fear today has not changed their stories.
"We had meetings with British intelligence and American intelligence and we told them the truth," said al-Saeed, whose VX program was mentioned by President Bush in his State of the Union address last January.
"To the best of my knowledge, there are no weapons of mass destruction. They were either destroyed by U.N. inspectors or unilaterally by Iraq years ago and I still insist on that," he told AP in an interview at the Science Ministry.
U.S. officials were convinced al-Saeed was telling the truth, said Khidhir Hamza, the U.S.-appointed adviser to the ministry.
"The Americans thought he was good enough to keep on the outside and that he's all right. He's very cooperative," said Hamza, who in September gave al-Saeed the run of the National Monitoring Directorate, a government agency which employed most of Iraq's top weapons scientists.
Half of the detained group were on the U.S. "Most Wanted" list. Six were heavily involved with former biological weapons programs and two were experts on delivery systems. All continue to claim there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to U.S. officers involved in the hunt.
The CIA would not comment on individuals and David Kay, who leads the weapons hunt on behalf of the CIA, turned down a request for an interview. The names of those held were provided by al-Saeed and his staff.
The rest of the NMD's senior staff have been rehired, in part to keep them from leaving the country.
About 9,000 scientists, engineers and technicians who worked for Iraq's military industries or in weapons research have been hired back by the new ministry. Hundreds more have found jobs at the industry or defense ministries.
Hamza, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist who defected in 1994, wrote a memoir entitled "Saddam's Bombmaker." During dozens of media appearances, articles and testimony before Congress in the past two years, he claimed Iraq was actively trying to build an atomic bomb.
Like the claims made by other defectors before the war, Hamza's assertions have not been borne out by the evidence.
Kay said in a report to Congress in October: "We have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons."
Hamza refused to discuss the report.
"I'm just not going to talk about it," he said during an interview at his office, located inside the Baghdad Palace now serving as the headquarters for the U.S. occupation.
General: Israelis Exaggerated Iraq WMD Threat
Dec. 4, 2003
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli intelligence overplayed the threat posed by Iraq and reinforced the U.S. and British assessment that Saddam Hussein had large amounts of weapons of mass destruction, a retired Israeli general said Thursday.
The Israeli assessment may have been colored by politics, including a desire to see the Iraqi leader toppled, said Shlomo Brom, who was a senior Israeli military intelligence officer and is now a researcher with Israel's top strategic think tank.
Brom first raised his concerns in a report, "The War in Iraq: An Intelligence Failure?" The article was published this week in "Strategic Assessment," the quarterly bulletin the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, where he works as a researcher.
American and British leaders used the purported existence of the weapons, including chemical and biological agents, as the main justification for going to war with Iraq earlier this year.
Brom stopped short of accusing Israeli intelligence officials of intentionally misleading Britain and the United States.
His assertions could, however, undermine the reputation of the Israeli intelligence service, one of the most respected in the world.
In an article in Strategic Assessment, a publication of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, Brom said weapons of mass destruction probably would not be found in significant quantities in Iraq.
He said Israeli intelligence overplayed the potential danger before the war. Based on intelligence warnings that a U.S.-led invasion could trigger an Iraqi missile attack on Israel, possibly with chemical or biological weapons, the Israeli military ordered citizens to update their gas mask kits. As the war began, the military told Israelis to prepare for an imminent attack and carry the masks with them everywhere.
Israelis largely ignored the order, and even Cabinet ministers were seen without the kits. In the end, Iraq did not fire missiles at Israel.
Brom told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that "Israeli intelligence was a full partner with the United States and Britain in developing a false picture of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction capability."
Iraq Scientists Refute Bush Nuclear Claims
Nov. 30, 2003
By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent
Iraqi scientists never revived their long-dead nuclear bomb program, and in fact lied to Saddam Hussein about how much progress they were making before U.S.-led attacks shut the operation down for good in 1991, Iraqi physicists say.
Before that first Gulf War, the chief of the weapons program resorted to "blatant exaggeration" in telling Iraq's president how much bomb material was being produced, key scientist Imad Khadduri writes in a new book.
Other leading physicists, in Baghdad interviews, said the hope for an Iraqi atomic bomb was never realistic. "It was all like building sand castles," said Abdel Mehdi Talib, Baghdad University's dean of sciences.
Seven months after a U.S.-British invasion toppled Saddam's Baath Party government, Iraqi scientists have grown more vocal in countering Bush administration claims, used to justify the war, that Baghdad had "reconstituted" nuclear weapons development, and that it once was a mere six months from making a bomb.
At best, Khadduri writes, it would have taken Iraq several years to build a nuclear weapon if the 1991 war and subsequent U.N. inspections had not intervened.
His self-published "Iraq's Nuclear Mirage," a chronicle of years of secret weapons work and of a final escape into exile, is part of this senior scientist's emergence from a low profile in Canada - intended to refute what he calls a "massive deception" in Washington that led the United States into war.
Months of searching by hundreds of U.S. experts have found no trace of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in Iraq, just as U.N. inspectors found none before the war. No Iraqi scientists have confirmed the programs were revived in recent years.
Bush administration officials still speak, nonetheless, of a threat from such weapons - of Baghdad's "robust plans" for them, as Vice President Dick Cheney puts it - in defending last March's U.S. invasion of Iraq. They offer no hard evidence, however.
Khadduri, a U.S.- and British-educated physicist, writes that he did theoretical work on nuclear weapons as long ago as the mid-1970s, after joining Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission. By the late 1980s, as the secret bomb program accelerated, he was in a pivotal position as coordinator of all its scientific and engineering information.
The U.N. inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who dismantled the bomb program after Iraq's defeat in the 1991 war, saw Khadduri as a key source and conducted an all-day interview with him earlier this year in Toronto, where he has resided since 1998.
"Iraq's Nuclear Mirage," available via online booksellers, dismisses the U.S. contention that the atom-bomb establishment was somehow resurrected after the IAEA demolished it, U.N. inspectors were stationed in Iraq and Iraqi specialists were scattered.
"Where is the scientific and engineering staff required for such an enormous effort?" he asks. "Where are the buildings and infrastructure?"
The continuing U.S. weapons hunt amounts to no more than "investigating mirages," he says.
An ex-bombmaker still in Iraq is just as dismissive of the unsubstantiated U.S. allegations.
"There was no point in trying to revive this program. There was no material, no equipment, no scientists," former bomb designer Sabah Abdul Noor said in a recent interview at Baghdad's Technology University.
"Scientists were scattered and under the eyes of inspectors, totally scattered. To do a project, you have to be together."
Talib, the newly elected university dean, was an anti-Baathist who didn't participate in the bomb program, but was close to many who did. They vastly oversold their accomplishments before 1991, the physicist said.
"They put a lot of lies on Saddam Hussein," he said in a Baghdad interview. "They took a lot of money out of him through what you call, in English, bluffing." When their installations were finally demolished, it "saved their necks" by burying their mistakes, he said. "They could tell Saddam, `There's nothing left.'"
Khadduri, in his core position in the program, could attest to the overselling.
He writes that when he transferred top-secret documents of bomb program chief Jafar Dhia Jafar to an optical disc in 1991, he found the "blatant exaggeration" in a 1990 report to Saddam.
With its clever wording, Khadduri said in a telephone interview from Toronto, "one could easily have been convinced we had produced a couple of kilograms of enriched uranium instead of a couple of grams" - that is, about four pounds of bomb material instead of a fraction of an ounce.
A bomb would have required some 40 pounds of highly enriched uranium.
In a 1997 summary, the IAEA said there were no indications the Iraqis ever produced more than a few grams of such material. It also said there were "no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of amounts of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance."
Khadduri and others said the design and actual production of a bomb would have been an extremely difficult task.
It was an impossible quest, "all futility," said one of Baghdad's senior nuclear physicists, Hamed M. al-Bahili.
Al-Bahili, who joined the Atomic Energy Commission in 1968 but remained outside the weapons program, said his colleagues inside "all knew they wouldn't achieve results." As for whether the program was later revived, he said, "these American inspectors are wasting their time."
Case for war made up, say top names
November 11, 2003
By ANDREW GUMBEL in Los Angeles - INDEPENDENT
An unprecedented array of United States intelligence professionals, diplomats and former Pentagon officials have gone on record to lambast the Bush Administration for its distortion of the case for war against Iraq.
In their view, the very foundations of intelligence-gathering have been damaged in ways that could take years, even decades, to repair.
A new documentary circulating in the US features one powerful condemnation after another, from the sort of people who usually stay discreetly in the shadows.
They include a former director of the CIA, two former assistant secretaries of defence, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and even the man who served as President George W. Bush's Secretary of the Army until just a few months ago.
The two dozen interviewees reveal how the pre-war intelligence record on Iraq showed virtually the opposite of the picture the Administration painted to Congress, to US voters and to the world.
They also reconstruct the way senior White House officials - notably Vice-President Dick Cheney - leaned on the CIA to find evidence that would fit a preordained set of conclusions.
"There was never a clear and present danger. There was never an imminent threat. Iraq - and we have very good intelligence on this - was never part of the picture of terrorism," says Mel Goodman, a veteran CIA analyst who now teaches at the National War College.
The case for accusing Saddam Hussein of concealing weapons of mass destruction was, in the words of the veteran CIA operative Robert Baer, largely achieved through "data mining" - going back over old information and trying to wrest new conclusions from it.
The agenda, according to George Bush snr's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chas Freeman, was both highly political and profoundly misguided.
"The theory that you can bludgeon political grievances out of existence doesn't have much of a track record," he says, "so essentially we have been neo-conned into applying a school of thought about foreign affairs that has failed everywhere it has been tried."
The hour-long film - Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraq War - was put together by Robert Greenwald, a TV producer in the forefront of Hollywood's anti-war movement who never suspected, when he started out, that so many establishment figures would stand up and be counted.
"My attitude was, wow, CIA people, I thought these were the bad guys," Greenwald said.
"Not everyone agreed on everything. Not everyone was against the war itself.
"But there was a universally shared opinion that we had been misled about the reasons for the war."
Although many elements in the film are not necessarily new - the forged document on uranium sales from Niger to Iraq, the aluminium tubes falsely assumed to be parts for nuclear weapons, the satellite images of "mobile biolabs" that turned out to be hydrogen compression facilities, the "decontamination vehicles" that were, in fact, fire engines - what emerges is a striking sense of professional betrayal in the intelligence community.
As former CIA analyst Ray McGovern argues with particular force, the traditional role of the CIA has been to act as a scrupulously accurate source of information and analysis for Presidents pondering grave international decisions.
That role, he said, had now been "prostituted" and the CIA may never be the same.
"Where is Bush going to turn to now? Where is his reliable source of information now Iraq is spinning out of control? He's frittered that away," McGovern said.
"And the profound indignity is that he probably doesn't even realise it."
The starting point for the tarnishing of the CIA was a speech by Cheney on August 26 last year, in which he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville that Saddam was reconstituting his nuclear weapons programme and was thus threatening to inflict "death on a massive scale - in his own region or beyond".
Numerous sources say Cheney followed up his speech with a series of highly unorthodox visits to CIA headquarters in Virginia, in which he badgered low-level analysts to come up with information to substantiate the extremely alarming - but entirely bogus - contents of his speech.
By early September, intelligence experts in Congress were clamouring for a so-called National Intelligence Estimate, a full rundown of everything known about Iraq's weapons programmes.
Usually NIEs take months to produce, but George Tenet, the CIA director, came up with a 100-page document in just three weeks.
The man he picked to write it, the weapons expert Robert Walpole, had a track record of going back over old intelligence assessments and reworking them in accordance with the wishes of a specific political interest group.
In 1998, he had come up with an estimate of the missile capabilities of various rogue states that managed to sound considerably more alarming than a previous CIA estimate issued three years earlier.
On that occasion, he was acting at the behest of a congressional commission anxious to make the case for a missile defence system; the commission chairman was none other than Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defence and a key architect of the Iraq war.
Iraqi Scientist Not Working on Bombs
November 8, 2003
By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent
BAGHDAD, Iraq - An Iraqi scientist killed in the U.S. invasion and now linked by arms hunter David Kay to possible nuclear weapons research was working on an advanced gun, not atomic bombs, fellow physicists say.
They and eyewitnesses also say Khalid Ibrahim Sa'id was killed not when he tried to "run a roadblock," as asserted by Kay, but when a U.S. tank crew blasted his civilian car without warning on an open street.
These accounts of the physicist's research and death, provided by 10 Iraqis and supported on key points by U.N. arms inspectors, challenge a core element of Kay's testimony Oct. 2 to congressional committees in Washington.
The Associated Press asked Kay's Iraq Survey Group to better detail its allegations about the late scientist, but the ISG repeatedly declined. The U.S. weapons hunters also have not disclosed any basis for such allegations to U.N. inspectors, although they had been expected to do so under U.N. resolutions.
President Bush endorsed Kay's work again Oct. 28, telling reporters his chief weapons investigator "continues to ferret out the truth." But Sa'id's longtime colleagues and friends sharply disagree, calling what they read in Kay's report "lies."
"Sa'id is a good catch for David Kay because he is silent. He can't defend himself," said nuclear scientist Sabah Abdul Noor, a friend for 30 years.
Those challenging the American's allegations include physicists known not to have supported Saddam Hussein's ousted Baath Party regime or its work in the 1980s on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Kay's mixed CIA-military Iraq Survey Group, staffed with weapons specialists, was deployed here to try to substantiate claims made by the Bush administration to justify the March invasion - assertions that Baghdad still possessed prohibited chemical and biological arms and had resumed its nuclear weapons program.
In his Oct. 2 interim report, Kay acknowledged that his teams had found no such weapons or nuclear program.
Instead, he shifted the focus to Iraqi "aspirations," "intentions" and "capabilities." In his 700-word nuclear section, that focus fell largely on Khalid Sa'id.
Kay told congressmen that beginning around 2000, Sa'id "began several small and relatively unsophisticated research initiatives that could be applied to nuclear weapons development." His report did not describe that research, however, and said, "These initiatives did not in and of themselves constitute a resumption of the nuclear weapons program."
It then added that "regretfully" the scientist was killed on April 8, as U.S. troops entered Baghdad, "when the car he was riding in attempted to run a Coalition roadblock."
"To begin with, this is a lie," Noor said.
He and other scientist friends said they learned how Sa'id died from his family and others, an account corroborated by three eyewitnesses in AP interviews.
That morning, the friends recounted, the Nissan Patrol utility vehicle carrying Sa'id, his driver and another man turned onto the main avenue of south Baghdad's Khadra district, for the physicist to check on his empty, shuttered home. They apparently were unaware that advancing U.S. tanks had reached Khadra, and a tank stood at the far end of the avenue.
"Anything that moved, they would shoot," said Mohammed Hassan, 36, an avenue resident who said he saw Sa'id's vehicle approaching. "People were running madly here and there with their children. People on foot were shot here," another witness, Jamal Abbas, 40, told the AP as he stood on the Khadra curbside.
People tried to signal Sa'id's car and another one to stop, but it was too late, the witnesses said. From a few hundred yards away, they said, the tank crew fired its cannon at both vehicles.
At least one shell struck the Nissan and turned it into an inferno, killing the driver and third man, and fatally wounding Sa'id, they said. He died four hours later in a hospital, friends said. The driver's body was left burning in the melting vehicle.
The witnesses said there was no "Coalition roadblock" for the Nissan to run, as asserted by Kay. "There was no justification at all for this. There wasn't any resistance here in Khadra," Hassan said.
As for Sa'id's recent research, physicists who observed it or worked with him said he had been trying, since 2000, to develop an electromagnetic or particle gun - unrelated to nuclear weapons. Such an advanced gun would, for example, fire its load at incoming aircraft.
Noor, a materials specialist, said he sometimes visited the gun project and consulted with Sa'id.
Sa'id, in his early 60s, was educated in the United States and at Britain's University of Reading, where he obtained a Ph.D. in solid-state physics. He was described by friends as a man of great energy, obsessed with his work and "Baathist to the bone."
He did have a background in nuclear weapons research; like Noor and many other Iraqi physicists, he was involved in Iraq's effort in the 1980s to develop a bomb, a program that failed and was dismantled after the 1991 Gulf War by inspectors of the U.N.-affiliated International Atomic Energy Agency.
Those U.N. inspectors kept watch on such scientists in the 1990s. Sa'id was not found to be working on prohibited projects during that period, a senior IAEA official told the AP from agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria. He asked that his name not be used because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issues.
In fact, in the lead-up to war earlier this year, the IAEA reported it never found evidence Iraq had resumed nuclear weapons work at all after early 1991.
Another longtime colleague, physicist Hamed M. al-Bahili, said he saw a film record of Sa'id's final project, showing model gun "engines" on stands in a small lab. Al-Bahili called it a failure. "They spent 2 1/2 years on it, so much money on it." Noor said the work "was in a primitive stage."
Molecular physicist Abdel Mehdi Talib, Baghdad University's dean of sciences, was a longtime friend of Sa'id's and next-door neighbor in Khadra, where many scientists live. He laughed as he read Kay's allegations, with its almost exclusive emphasis on Sa'id, saying his friend had fallen decades out of date on nuclear physics.
"What was Khalid, a one-man band? Playing the drums, the harmonica?" said Talib, recently elected dean by his colleagues in part because of his anti-Baathist background.
The university's physics department head, another longtime associate and anti-Baathist, also scoffed at Kay's contention.
"This paragraph is completely wrong," Baha Toama Chiad said.
Kay's ISG declined to explain why it chose to link this single scientist's recent work to possible nuclear weapons development.
Kay focused on Sa'id at another point in his congressional testimony as well, saying it was suspected the dead physicist had been "considering a restart of the centrifuge program" - Iraq's failed 1980s project to produce enriched uranium as bomb material.
His colleagues were visibly startled as they read this allegation of Kay's because, they said, Sa'id had never worked on enrichment. "I know men who did work on centrifuges, and they never mentioned such a thing," Noor said.
In Vienna, the IAEA official agreed. He said Sa'id had not worked on the old centrifuge program, or any enrichment activities. His belated involvement in centrifuge development, without support of pre-1991 specialists, "would be very illogical, like reinventing the wheel," the official said.
The ISG's Gerhart declined to specify any basis for the purported centrifuge link. "The ISG is not commenting on its findings or operations to the media at this time," he said.
Another leading physicist, Nabil Fahwaz of Baghdad's University of Technology, said repeated, unsubstantiated U.S. allegations of a revived Iraqi nuclear weapons program have been "so very wrong. ... After 1990 there was no activity."
Iraq Survey Fails to Find Nuclear Threat
No Evidence Uncovered Of Reconstituted Program
By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 26, 2003; Page A01
In their march to Baghdad on April 8, U.S. Marines charged past a row of eucalyptus trees that lined the boneyard of Iraq's thwarted nuclear dream. Sixty acres of warehouses behind the tree line, held under United Nations seal at Ash Shaykhili, stored machine tools, consoles and instruments from the nuclear weapons program cut short by the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Thirty miles to the north and west, Army troops were rolling through the precincts of the Nasr munitions plant. Inside, stacked in oblong wooden crates, were thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes.
That equipment, and Iraq's effort to buy more of it overseas, were central to the Bush administration's charge that President Saddam Hussein had resumed long-dormant efforts to build a nuclear weapon. The lead combat units had more urgent priorities that day, but they were not alone in passing the stockpiles by. Participants in the subsequent hunt for illegal arms said months elapsed without a visit to Nasr and many other sites of activity that President Bush had called "a grave and gathering danger."
According to records made available to The Washington Post and interviews with arms investigators from the United States, Britain and Australia, it did not require a comprehensive survey to find the central assertions of the Bush administration's prewar nuclear case to be insubstantial or untrue. Although Hussein did not relinquish his nuclear ambitions or technical records, investigators said, it is now clear he had no active program to build a weapon, produce its key materials or obtain the technology he needed for either.
Among the closely held internal judgments of the Iraq Survey Group, overseen by David Kay as special representative of CIA Director George J. Tenet, are that Iraq's nuclear weapons scientists did no significant arms-related work after 1991, that facilities with suspicious new construction proved benign, and that equipment of potential use to a nuclear program remained under seal or in civilian industrial use.
Most notably, investigators have judged the aluminum tubes to be "innocuous," according to Australian Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Meekin, who commands the Joint Captured Enemy Materiel Exploitation Center, the largest of a half-dozen units that report to Kay. That finding is pivotal, because the Bush administration built its case on the proposition that Iraq aimed to use those tubes as centrifuge rotors to enrich uranium for the core of a nuclear warhead. - Entire article
The botulinum B found in Iraq came from the U.S.
Oct. 18, 2003, Los Angeles Times
The botulinum B found in Iraq was probably bought legally and the bacterium has never been used to produce a weapon, scientists say. A suspicious sample of biological material recently found by U.S. weapons hunters in Iraq probably was purchased legally from a U.S. organization in the 1980s and is a substance that has never been successfully used to produce a weapon, experts said.
The single vial of botulinum B had been stored in an Iraqi scientist's kitchen refrigerator since 1993. It appears to have been produced by a nonprofit Virginia biological resource center, the American Type Culture Collection, which legally exported botulinum and other biological material to Iraq under a Commerce Department license in the late 1980s. The vial of botulinum B - about 2 inches high and half an inch wide - was the only suspicious biological material Kay reported finding. It was sealed and stored in the scientist's home with 96 other apparently benign vials of single-cell proteins and biopesticides.
In his 13-page declassified report, Kay said "a biological agent" could be produced from the botulinum sample. Speaking to reporters at the White House the next day, Oct. 3, Bush said the war in Iraq was justified and cited Kay's discovery of the advanced missile programs, clandestine labs and what he called "a live strain of deadly agent botulinum" as proof that Hussein was "a danger to the world."
"From the weapons side, it's not something to be concerned about," agreed Dr. Raymond Zilinskas, another former U.N. inspector who is now director of the chemical and biological weapons nonproliferation program at the Monterey Institute in California.
U.N. inspectors found no evidence that Iraq ever produced botulinum B in its laboratories. Zilinskas said the sample almost certainly came from American Type Culture Collection. "We know they bought their botulinum strains from the United States, including B," he said.
In 1994, an investigation by the House Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee determined that American Type Culture Collection had been a primary supplier of botulinum, anthrax and other pathogens to Iraq. The organization, based in Manassas, Va., shipped at least seven batches of botulinum strains to Baghdad in May 1986 and September 1988, according to records released by the committee.
Oct. 16, 2003: "Last week, Bush described the military spirit as high and said that life in Iraq is "a lot better than you probably think. Just ask people who have been there."
Many soldiers, same letter
Newspapers around U.S. get identical missives from Iraq
Oct. 11, 2003
WASHINGTON -- Letters from hometown soldiers describing their successes rebuilding Iraq have been appearing in newspapers across the country as U.S. public opinion on the mission sours. And all the letters are the same.
A Gannett News Service search found identical letters from different soldiers with the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, also known as "The Rock," in 11 newspapers, including Snohomish, Wash.
The Olympian received two identical letters signed by different hometown soldiers: Spc. Joshua Ackler and Spc. Alex Marois, who is now a sergeant. The paper declined to run either because of a policy not to publish form letters.
It's not clear who wrote the letter or organized sending it to soldiers' hometown papers.
Six soldiers reached by GNS directly or through their families said they agreed with the letter's thrust. But none of the soldiers said he wrote it, and one said he didn't even sign it.
Marois, 23, told his family he signed the letter, said Moya Marois, his stepmother. But she said he was puzzled why it was sent to the newspaper in Olympia. He attended high school in Olympia but no longer considers the city home, she said. Moya Marois and Alex's father, Les, now live near Kooskia, Idaho.
A seventh soldier didn't know about the letter until his father congratulated him for getting it published in the local newspaper in Beckley, W.Va.
"When I told him he wrote such a good letter, he said: 'What letter?' " Timothy Deaconson said Friday, recalling the phone conversation he had with his son, Nick. "This is just not his (writing) style." - Entire article in The Olympian
Many Troops Dissatisfied, Iraq Poll Finds
By Bradley Graham and Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 16, 2003; Page A01
A broad survey of U.S. troops in Iraq by a Pentagon-funded newspaper found that half of those questioned described their unit's morale as low and their training as insufficient, and said they do not plan to reenlist.
The survey, conducted by the Stars and Stripes newspaper, also recorded about a third of the respondents complaining that their mission lacks clear definition and characterizing the war in Iraq as of little or no value. Fully 40 percent said the jobs they were doing had little or nothing to do with their training.
The findings, drawn from 1,935 questionnaires presented to U.S. service members throughout Iraq, conflict with statements by military commanders and Bush administration officials that portray the deployed troops as high-spirited and generally well-prepared. Though not obtained through scientific methods, the survey results suggest that a combination of difficult conditions, complex missions and prolonged tours in Iraq is wearing down a significant portion of the U.S. force and threatening to provoke a sizable exodus from military service. In the first of a week-long series of articles, Stars and Stripes said yesterday that it undertook the survey in August after receiving scores of letters from troops who were upset with one aspect or another of the Iraq operation. Experts in public opinion characterized it as a useful gauge of troop sentiment. "The numbers are consistent with what I suspect is going on there," said David Segal, a military sociologist at the University of Maryland at College Park. "I am getting a sense that there is a high and increasing level of demoralization and a growing sense of being in something they don't understand and aren't sure the American people understand."
In recent days, the Bush administration has launched a campaign to blame the news media for portraying the situation in Iraq in a negative light. Last week, Bush described the military spirit as high and said that life in Iraq is "a lot better than you probably think. Just ask people who have been there."
But Stars and Stripes raised questions about what those visiting dignitaries saw in Iraq. "Many soldiers -- including several officers -- allege that VIP visits from the Pentagon and Capitol Hill are only given hand-picked troops to meet with during their tours of Iraq," the newspaper said in its interview with Sanchez. "The phrase 'Dog and Pony Show' is usually used. Some troops even go so far as to say they've been ordered not to talk to VIPs because leaders are afraid of what they might say."
The newspaper also noted in that interview that its reporters were told that some soldiers who had complained of morale problems had faced disciplinary actions known as Article 15s, which can result in reprimand, extra duties and forfeiture of pay.
"Intelligence gathered...leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." - George Bush, Presidential Speech, 3/17/03
Study: Wrong impressions helped support Iraq war
Knight Ridder Newspapers Oct. 02, 2003
WASHINGTON - A majority of Americans have held at least one of three mistaken impressions about the U.S.-led war in Iraq, according to a new study released Thursday, and those misperceptions contributed to much of the popular support for the war.
The three common mistaken impressions are that:
U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There's clear evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein worked closely with the Sept. 11 terrorists. People in foreign countries generally either backed the U.S.-led war or were evenly split between supporting and opposing it.
Overall, 60 percent of Americans held at least one of those views in polls reported between January and September by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, based at the University of Maryland in College Park, and the polling firm, Knowledge Networks based in Menlo Park, Calif.
"While we cannot assert that these misperceptions created the support for going to war with Iraq, it does appear likely that support for the war would be substantially lower if fewer members of the public had these misperceptions," said Steven Kull, who directs Maryland's program.
In fact, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. U.S. intelligence has found no clear evidence that Saddam was working closely with al-Qaida or was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Gallup polls found large majorities opposed to the war in most countries.
PIPA's seven polls, which included 9,611 respondents, had a margin of error from 2 to 3.5 percent.
The analysis released Thursday also correlated the misperceptions with the primary news source of the mistaken respondents. For example, 80 percent of those who said they relied on Fox News and 71 percent of those who said they relied on CBS believed at least one of the three misperceptions.
The comparable figures were 47 percent for those who said they relied most on newspapers and magazines and 23 percent for those who said they relied on PBS or National Public Radio.
The reasons for the misperceptions are numerous, Kull and other analysts said.
They noted that the Bush administration had misstated or exaggerated some of the intelligence findings, with Bush himself saying in May: "We found the weapons of mass destruction … and we'll find more as time goes by."
The Bush administration has also been a factor in persistent confusion.
Last month, for example, Bush said there was no evidence that Saddam was involved in the Sept. 11 attack after Vice President Dick Cheney suggested a link. Cheney, in a "Meet the Press" interview, had described Iraq as "the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9-11."
Why some news audiences had more accurate impressions than others was less clear.
Kull cited instances in which TV and newspapers gave prominent coverage to reports that banned weapons might have been found in Iraq, but only modest coverage when those reports turned out to be wrong.
Susan Moeller, a University of Maryland professor, said that much reporting had consisted of "stenographic coverage of government statements," with less attention to whether the government's statements were accurate.
The study found that belief in inaccurate information often persisted, and that misconceptions were much more likely among backers of the war. Last month, as in June, for example, nearly a quarter of those polled thought banned weapons had been found in Iraq. Nearly half thought in September that there was clear evidence that Saddam had worked closely with al-Qaida.
Among those with one of the three misconceptions, 53 percent supported the war. Among those with two, 78 percent supported it. Among those with three, 86 percent backed it. By contrast, less than a quarter of those polled who had none of the misconceptions backed the war. - To review the study, go to http://www.pipa.org
"David Kay is in charge of our effort now, with some 1,500 inspectors and analysts and experts. He will provide an interim report later this month, and I am confident when people see what David Kay puts forward they will see that there was no question that such weapons exist, existed, and so did the programs to develop one."Colin Powell
Meet The Press
September 7th, 2003
"The original tip on the trailers was provided by a defector working with Ahmad Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress and now a member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council in Iraq.
Kay No Longer Sure Trailers Were Labs
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, October 3, 2003
The CIA's man leading the hunt for suspected Iraqi weapons showed off a pair of trailers for news cameras this summer, and argued that the two metal flatbeds were designed for making biological weapons.
But faced with mounting challenges to that theory, David Kay is now conceding he could have been wrong and says he doesn't know whether Iraq ever had a mobile weapons program, as top Bush administration officials claim.
According to senior military officers involved in Kay's hunt, experts have been re-examining the trailers for several weeks. Until now, they were the only discovery the administration has cited as evidence of an illicit Iraqi weapons program.
In six months of searches, no biological, chemical or nuclear weapons have been found to bolster the administration's central case for going to war: to disarm Saddam Hussein of suspected weapons of mass destruction.
``On the basis of technical analysis on the two (trailers) that we have, it is not going to be possible to reach a determination,'' Kay told reporters Friday.
It was a different-sounding Kay from the one who confidently showed off the trailers to NBC Nightly News in its July 15 broadcast.
At the time, Kay told NBC: ``I've already seen enough to convince me.''
The original tip on the trailers was provided by a defector working with Ahmad Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress and now a member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council in Iraq.
Secretary of State Colin Powell included the information in his Feb. 5 presentation to the U.N. Security Council.
Two trailers were found in April and May, and the CIA later issued a paper saying the trailers were ``the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program.''
The findings were challenged by some intelligence analysts from the State Department and the Defense Intelligence Agency, who said they believe the trailers were probably used to fill hydrogen weather balloons.
But on Sunday, Sept. 28, Powell stood by the CIA's assessment during an interview with ABC.
``Even though there are differences within the overall intelligence community, the director of central intelligence examining all of the material with respect to that van and examining counterarguments as to what it might be, stands behind the judgment that what we found was positive evidence of a mobile biological weapons lab and (it has) not been discounted sufficiently.
Military scientists who analyzed the pair of trailers during the summer doubted they were designed to function as mobile laboratories, according to the three military officers involved in the weapons hunt.
One senior-ranking military commander involved in the search said some people believed the trailers were for making hydrogen for weather balloons. Few, he said, was certain they were for biological weapons.
One of the U.S. scientists involved in the hunt, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some investigators conducting the search believe the Iraqis could have tried to produce biological warfare agents inside the trailers, but not very well.
Also, it would have been hard, if not impossible, to hide the evidence. No traces of anthrax or any other warfare agent have been found during more than a half-dozen tests on the trailers.
Last month, Vice President Dick Cheney repeated the claim that the two trailers were ``mobile biological facilities'' that could have been used to make several biological agents, including smallpox.
One of the central arguments used by the CIA to support its initial findings is that one trailer had a fermenter. Smallpox, however, isn't grown with a fermenter and experts say it would be impossible to produce this specific virus in a trailer.
``There's no way that these particular labs could have been used to make smallpox,'' said Jonathan Tucker, a weapons expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies who authored ``Scourge,'' a recent book on smallpox.
In addition, Tucker said smallpox would need to be grown in a maximum containment laboratory, ``not in a trailer with canvas siding. If there had been a leak, it would have spread smallpox all over the country.''
No uranium, no munitions, no missiles, no programmes
As the first progress report from the Iraq Survey Group is released, Cambridge WMD expert Dr Glen Rangwala finds that even the diluted claims made for Saddam Hussein's arsenal don't stand up
October5, 2003 Independent, UK
Last week's progress report by American and British weapons inspectors in Iraq has failed to supply evidence for the vast majority of the claims made on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction by their governments before the war.
David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), told congressional committees in Washington that no official orders or plans could be found to back up the allegation that a nuclear programme remained active after 1991. Aluminium tubes have not been used for the enrichment of uranium, in contrast to US Secretary of State Colin Powell's lengthy exposition to the UN Security Council in February. No suspicious activities or residues have been found at the seven sites within Iraq described in the Prime Minister's dossier from September 2002.
The ISG even casts serious doubt on President Bush's much-trumpeted claim that US forces had found three mobile biological laboratories after the war: "technical limitations" would prevent the trailers from being ideally suited to biological weapons production, it records. In other words, they were for something else.
There have certainly been no signs of imported uranium, or even battlefield munitions ready to fire within 45 minutes. Most significantly, the claim to Parliament on the eve of conflict by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, that "we know that this man [Saddam Hussein] has got ... chemical weapons, biological weapons, viruses, bacilli and ... 10,000 litres of anthrax" has yet to find a single piece of supportive evidence.
Those who staked their career on the existence in Iraq of at least chemical and biological weapons programmes have latched on to three claims in the progress report.
First, there is the allegation that a biologist had a "collection of reference strains" at his home, including "a vial of live C botulinum Okra B from which a biological agent can be produced". Mr Straw claimed the morning after the report's release that this agent was "15,000 times more toxic than the nerve agent VX". That is wrong: botulinum type A is one of the most poisonous substances known, and was developed in weaponised form by Iraq before 1991. However, type B - the form found at the biologist's home - is less lethal.
Even then, it would require an extensive process of fermentation, the growing of the bug, the extraction of the toxin and the weaponisation of the toxin before it could cause harm. That process would take weeks, if not longer, but the ISG reported no sign of any of these activities.
Botulinum type B could also be used for making an antidote to common botulinum poisoning. That is one of the reasons why many military laboratories around the world keep reference strains of C botulinum Okra B. The UK keeps such substances, for example, and calls them "seed banks".
Second, a large part of the ISG report is taken up with assertions that Iraq had been acquiring designs and under- taking research programmes for missiles with a range that exceeded the UN limit of 150km. The evidence here is more detailed than in the rest of the report. However, it does not demonstrate that Iraq was violating the terms of any Security Council resolution. The prohibition on Iraq acquiring technology relating to chemical, biological or nuclear weapons was absolute: no agents, no sub-systems and no research or support facilities.
By contrast, Iraq was simply prohibited from actually having longer-range missiles, together with "major parts, and repair and production facilities". The ISG does not claim proof that Iraq had any such missiles or facilities, just the knowledge to produce them in future. Indeed, it would have been entirely lawful for Iraq to develop such systems if the restrictions implemented in 1991 were lifted, while it would never have been legitimate for it to re-develop WMD.
Third, one sentence within the report has been much quoted: Iraq had "a clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses within the Iraqi intelligence service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research". Note what that sentence does not say: these facilities were suitable for chemical and biological weapons research (as almost any modern lab would be), not that they had engaged in such research. The reference to UN monitoring is also spurious: under the terms of UN resolutions, all of Iraq's chemical and biological facilities are subject to monitoring. So all this tells us is that Iraq had modern laboratories.
UN nuclear watchdog asks to review US WMD report
Oct. 3, 2003
VIENNA (AFP) - The UN nuclear watchdog that investigated alleged Iraqi weapons programs before the war said that it has asked for a copy of a report by a 1,200-strong US search team which says no weapons were found in Iraq.
Diplomats close to the U.N. nuclear agency reacted cautiously Friday to a report by the chief U.S. weapons hunter, saying only renewed international inspections will settle the question.
The diplomats also criticized the methods used by David Kay's inspection team, saying it relied too much on verbal statements by Iraqi scientists and not enough on concrete evidence.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "still has an inspection mandate in Iraq both under UN Security Council resolutions and under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to ensure that Iraq has no nuclear weapons-related activities," IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky told AFP.
"We therefore expect that Dr. Kay's findings will be shared with us . . . to enable us to fulfill our responsibilities," said Gwozdecky, referring to the report by David Kay, the head of the US team scouring Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.
A Western diplomat at the IAEA said the Kay report was "written in a way that is contrary to the way IAEA inspectors work."
"It's largely a set of statements and testimony from individual Iraqis which seem to be speculative in that there does not appear to be supporting evidence," the diplomat said.
"There are a lot of 'coulds' and 'may' and 'might haves.' But the IAEA works on the basis of what it can verify," the diplomat said.
He said the IAEA was anxious to see the findings on which the report was based.
He added that "even if we were to believe everything" in the Kay report "there's very little that indicates substantial difference from what the IAEA found in Iraq," when it declared it had no proof that Saddam had tried to develop nuclear weapons after losing the first Gulf War in 1991.
"The IAEA was aware of the possibility of bits and pieces of activity but again no evidence of a program, let alone actual weapons work," the diplomat said of the decade of IAEA inspections in Iraq.
"The (Kay) report is filled with the use of the words 'belief' and 'may' and 'could have' and these sorts of things," the nuclear expert told Reuters.
"This is not how the IAEA operates," said the expert, who supported the agency's pre-war inspections in Iraq. "They would not have given credence to statements by individuals without having corroborating evidence to support their allegations. The IAEA only states what it can verify."
THE DEAD MAN SAID...
The source also questioned Kay's reliance on testimony from senior Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission and high-level Ba'ath Party official Dr Khalid Ibrahim Sa'id, who was killed at a Baghdad roadblock by the occupation forces on April 8.
In his statement to U.S. lawmakers, presented behind closed doors on Thursday, Kay said: "Sa'id began several small and relatively unsophisticated research initiatives that could be applied to nuclear weapons development."
Calling that limited allegation "pretty pathetic," the nuclear expert close to the IAEA added that since Sa'id could no longer be questioned, his testimony should be treated with more than a grain of salt.
COLIN POWELL SAID IRAQ WAS NO THREAT
An investigation of files and archive film for John Pilger's TV documentary Breaking The Silence, together with interviews with former intelligence officers and senior Bush officials have revealed that Bush and Blair knew all along that Saddam Hussein was effectively disarmed.
Both Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, and Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's closest adviser, made clear before September 11 2001 that Saddam Hussein was no threat - to America, Europe or the Middle East.
In Cairo, on February 24 2001, Powell said: "He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."
Powell even boasted that it was the US policy of "containment" that had effectively disarmed the Iraqi dictator - again the very opposite of what Blair said time and again. On May 15 2001, Powell went further and said that Saddam Hussein had not been able to "build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction" for "the last 10 years". America, he said, had been successful in keeping him "in a box".
Two months later, Condoleezza Rice also described a weak, divided and militarily defenceless Iraq. "Saddam does not control the northern part of the country," she said. "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."
In his report, Pilger interviews Ray McGovern, a former senior CIA officer and friend of Bush's father and ex-president, George Bush senior.
McGovern told Pilger that going to war because of weapons of mass destruction "was 95 per cent charade."
Colin Powell's February 24, 2001 Press Remarks with Foreign Minister of Egypt Amre Moussa
"We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place, but we are always willing to review them to make sure that they are being carried out in a way that does not affect the Iraqi people but does affect the Iraqi regime's ambitions and the ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and we had a good conversation on this issue"
MOVING TARGET: "Acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 [congressional authorization for military force in Iraq] is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."
"We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th attacks."
- President Bush, Sept. 17, 2003
Bush Defends Intelligence As 'Darn Good'
July 14, 2003 Associated Press
WASHINGTON - President Bush defended the quality of intelligence he receives as "darn good".
(Too bad the intelligence wasn't "damn good". You'd think "damn good" would be the minimum standard required to start a war.)
Quotes on Iraq Smallpox Speculation
By The Associated Press
A look at comments made by Bush administration officials about Iraq and smallpox:
"One of the real concerns about Saddam Hussein, as well, is his biological weapons capability, the fact that he may at some point try to use smallpox, anthrax, plague, some other kind of biological agent against other nations, possibly including even the United States. So this is not just a one-dimensional threat." - Vice President Dick Cheney on "Meet The Press," Sept. 8, 2002.
"There were at least seven of these mobile labs that he (Saddam Hussein) had gone out and acquired. We've, since the war, found two of them. They're in our possession today, mobile biological facilities that can be used to produce anthrax or smallpox or whatever else." - Cheney on NBC's "Meet the Press," Sept. 14, 2003.
"Saddam Hussein has investigated dozens of biological agents causing diseases such as gas gangrene, plague, typhus, tetanus, cholera, camelpox and hemorrhagic fever, and he also has the wherewithal to develop smallpox." - Secretary of State Colin Powell , making a prewar presentation to the United Nations, Feb. 5, 2003.
"There's got to be a plan, if we go to war with Iraq and if there is some kind of smallpox epidemic, we've got to be prepared." - Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, Nov. 22, 2002.
"Iraq and North Korea are two of those countries that more than likely have some smallpox virus. So we have to be prepared." - Thompson in USA Today interview, Dec. 17, 2002.
No Evidence Iraq Stockpiled Smallpox
Sept. 18, 2003 Associated Press
Top American scientists assigned to the weapons hunt in Iraq found no evidence Saddam Hussein's regime was making or stockpiling smallpox, The Associated Press has learned from senior military officers involved in the search.
Smallpox fears were part of the case the Bush administration used to build support for invading Iraq - and they were raised again as recently as last weekend by Vice President Dick Cheney.
But a three-month search by "Team Pox" turned up only signs to the contrary: disabled equipment that had been rendered harmless by U.N. inspectors, Iraqi scientists deemed credible who gave no indication they had worked with smallpox and a laboratory thought to be back in use that was covered in cobwebs.
Fears that smallpox could be used as a weapon led the Bush administration to launch a vaccination campaign for some 500,000 U.S. military personnel after the Sept. 11 attacks, and to order enough vaccine to inoculate the entire U.S. population if necessary.
BLAIR WARNS IRAQ'S WEAPONS PROGRAM IS GROWING
Sept. 24, 2002
Iraq's program to build weapons of mass destruction is "active, detailed and growing," British Prime Minister Tony Blair told his country's parliament Tuesday.
Blair's statements coincide with his office's release of a 50-page statement detailing a burgeoning weapons program in Iraq -- a program Blair says flies in the face of United Nations sanctions.
"It [the British dossier] concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons," Blair said, "that he [Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein] has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes ... and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability."
White House sees enough evidence to topple Saddam
September 25, 2002
The Times, London
PRESIDENT BUSH heaped praise on Tony Blair’s "bold leadership" yesterday, insisting that the Government’s dossier on Iraq contained enough evidence to warrant toppling President Saddam Hussein.
The lack of fresh evidence should not detract from Saddam’s known past and future intentions.
Mr Bush, speaking after a Cabinet meeting, said of Mr Blair: "First of all, he’s a very strong leader and I admire his willingness to tell the truth and to lead."
White House praises Blair for Iraq remarks, dossier
Sept. 25, 2002 PBS News Hour
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House on Tuesday called Britain's dossier of evidence against Iraq "frightening" and praised Prime Minister Tony Blair for his strong defense of U.S.-led effort against Saddam Hussein.
"The 45-minute window under which Iraq is prepared to use biological and chemical weapons is one further sign of worries we have about Iraq and their militaristic intentions," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
Blair's dossier said Iraq has military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons and has tried to acquire "significant quantities" of uranium from Africa.
"The dossier they released is frightening," Fleischer said.
Watchdogs fault British defence secretary over Iraq dossier
Sept. 11, 2003
LONDON (AFP) - The parliamentary committee that oversees Britain's intelligence agencies said it was "disturbed" that Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon did not give full details of concerns among intelligence staff about a key September 2002 dossier on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.
In a report, the Intelligence and Security Committee said the initial failure by the Ministry of Defence to disclose concerns among defence intelligence staff was "unhelpful and potentially misleading."
The dossier, a key part of Prime Minister Tony Blair's efforts to build public support in Britain for a US-led war on Iraq, notably claimed that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons in just 45 minutes.
Defence official's Kelly testimony "rips apart" Britain's war case
Sept. 3, 2003
LONDON (AFP) - Britain's case for war against Iraq is "in tatters" following evidence from a British former defence official to the inquiry into the suicide of weapons expert David Kelly, London newspapers said.
Brian Jones, a former official from the Ministry of Defence's secretive intelligence wing, testified Wednesday that British intelligence officials were worried that a government dossier on Iraq's weapons ahead of war was exaggerated and that "significant" concerns were ignored.
Prime Minister "Tony Blair's case for invading Iraq was in tatters" after Jones' "damning" evidence, The Independent said Thursday.
"The case for war looks flimsier than ever -- and so does Mr Blair's defence" headlined the broadsheet's editorial.
"The whistleblower," headlined The Guardian above a picture of Jones, who testified that there had been fears that some statements in a September 2002 dossier about Iraq's ability to produce chemical weapons had been too strong.
"The charge could not have been more serious," said the Daily Mirror tabloid, adding that Jones' evidence was the "most devastating" yet heard at the judicial inquiry, now nearing the end of its fourth week.
"Shot to pieces -- Intelligence chiefs blow apart Downing Street claims that Iraq dossier wasn't 'sexed up'," headlined the Daily Mail tabloid, a fierce opponent of Blair's Labour government.
Also describing the government's case for war as being "in tatters", it added: "Our country is mired in a dangerous and expensive commitment (in Iraq), with not a sign of an exit strategy.
"And still there is no satisfactory explanation as to why this government ever led us to war."
U.N. Inspector Blasts British Dossier
September 1, 2003 AP
ATHENS, Greece - A British intelligence dossier "did not correspond to reality" by suggesting Saddam Hussein's regime could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes, the chief U.N. weapons inspector said in an interview published Sunday.
Dimitris Perricos said in Sunday's Eleftherotypia newspaper that inspections found no evidence supporting American and British accusations that Saddam possessed an arsenal capable of widespread death and damage.
"There is no doubt that the phrase of 'within 45 minutes' that was included in the British report did not correspond to reality," Perricos was quoted as saying.
The wording of the report is part of a high-level inquiry in Britain into the apparent suicide of government weapons scientist David Kelly, who was identified as the source for a British Broadcasting Corp. claim the government "sexed up" intelligence about Iraq's weapons programs to build support for war.
"The assertion that the Iraqis had a capability to inflict overwhelming destruction within 45 minutes is collapsing," said Perricos, a Greek-born nuclear expert who replaced Hans Blix in June as the top U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq.
Perricos said no "smoking gun" has been found so far in Iraq and that teams of American, British and Australian troops still are searching for evidence of chemical, biological and other weapons.
"No one, of course, should go to war for a (weapons) program if they do not know if the weapons have been created," he added. "From the inspections, no evidence was found that would justify a war."
Blix says Iraq's weapons declaration may have been true
Sept. 9, 2003
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Iraq may have been truthful when it told the UN Security Council in December that it did not have chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, a former chief UN weapons inspector said.
The declaration, submitted December 7 by the government of then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, was quickly dismissed as false and incomplete by the United States and Britain, which accused Baghdad of failing to disarm as required by Security Council Resolution 1441.
These charges were later used by Washington and London to justify the invasion of the country in late March.
But more than four months after US President George W. Bush declared victory in Iraq, former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said facts presented by Iraq in the 12,000-page document may have been accurate.
"With this long period, I'm inclined to think that the Iraqi statement that they destroyed all the biological and chemical weapons, which they had in the summer of 1991 may well be the truth," Blix told CNN television.
The retired Swedish diplomat, who headed the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission for Iraq, said his inspectors had worked in Iraq for three-and-a-half months in late 2002 and early 2003 and "did not find any smoking gun."
Blix said US and British experts had now been scouring Iraq for weapons of mass destruction for several months and had the opportunity to interrogate members of the Iraqi establishment in their custody.
"I cannot fail to notice that some of the things that they expected us to see that they have turned out not to be real weapons of mass destruction," said the former chief inspector.
A US investigative team headed top Central Intelligence Agency weapons analyst David Kay that began its own search for banned Iraqi weapons shortly after the fall of Hussein is to present its preliminary findings later this month.
But US officials indicate it may fail to produce any "smoking gun" as well. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who met with Kay during his visit to Iraq last week, sought to dampen expectations, telling reporters afterwards, "I'm assuming he would tell me if he had gotten something."
President George W. Bush did not mention the search for the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in his televised address to the nation late Sunday.
Blix said top US officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice were anxious to get evidence implicating Baghdad in violations of Resolution 1441 in the run-up to the war.
"They would have hoped and they would been happy to see if we had said, 'Here Iraq has violated, here they have, here is the smoking gun. We have found it,'" said the ex-arms inspector. "And when we didn't do that, well, then they were disappointed. And then they overinterpreted their own intelligence."
He said he did not want to suggest that top US officials were wilfully and consciously lying, but he said he believed Washington was too willing to jump to conclusions.
"I said in the Security Council that if something is unaccounted for, it doesn't necessarily mean that they exist," Blix said. "And I think there was that tendency to jump to that conclusion."
U.N.: Iraq Unable to Support Nuke Program
Sept. 8, 2003
VIENNA, Austria - U.N. inspectors found Iraq's nuclear program in disarray and unlikely to be able to support an active effort to build atomic weapons, the nuclear agency chief said Monday.
Reiterating that his experts uncovered no evidence of such a program, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said in a report to the agency's board of governors that there was "no evidence that Iraq had resumed such activities."
ElBaradei stressed that his teams had to withdraw ahead of the U.S.-led war before they could complete their inspections. But he said what they saw in the months preceding their pullout suggested the Iraqis were in no position to build a nuclear weapon.
"The agency observed a substantial degradation in facilities, financial resources and programs throughout Iraq that might support a nuclear infrastructure," ElBaradei said in a report to the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors, who are meeting at the agency's Vienna headquarters this week.
"The former cadre of nuclear experts was being increasingly dispersed and many key figures were reaching retirement or had left the country," ElBaradei said.
Rep. Henry Waxman has introduced legislation to
Oh, What A Tangled Web We Weave....
"The danger to our country is grave and it is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given." - George W. Bush White House press release, September 28, 2002
Bush: 'We Found' Banned Weapons
President Cites Trailers in Iraq as Proof
Washington Post, May 31, 2003; Page A01
KRAKOW, Poland, May 30 -- President Bush, citing two trailers that U.S. intelligence agencies have said were probably used as mobile biological weapons labs, said U.S. forces in Iraq have "found the weapons of mass destruction" that were the United States' primary justification for going to war.
In remarks to Polish television at a time of mounting criticism at home and abroad that the more than two-month-old weapons hunt is turning up nothing, Bush said that claims of failure were "wrong." The remarks were released today.
"You remember when [Secretary of State] Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons," Bush said in an interview before leaving today on a seven-day trip to Europe and the Middle East. "They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two.
Iraqi Trailers Said to Make Hydrogen, Not Biological Arms
New York Times, August 9, 2003
Engineering experts from the Defense Intelligence Agency have come to believe that the most likely use for two mysterious trailers found in Iraq was to produce hydrogen for weather balloons rather than to make biological weapons, government officials say.
The engineering team that has come to believe the trailers were used to produce hydrogen includes experts whose task was to assess the trailers from a purely technical standpoint, as opposed to one based on other sources of intelligence. Skeptical experts had previously cited a lack of equipment in the trailers for steam sterilization, normally a prerequisite for any kind of biological production.
David Kelly Disputed Bush and Blair's ClaimsIn an interview with Polish television in May, Bush said, "We found the weapons of mass destruction." He was referring to two trailers with laboratory equipment but no pathogens. "For those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong. We have found them."
It was known that as a former United Nations weapons inspector, Dr. Kelly was at odds with the statement made, by both George Bush and Blair, who claimed that two alleged mobile chemical weapons labs had been found. Dr. Kelly told the press, that he had examined the alleged labs in person and agreed with the Iraqi's explanation; the two vehicles were intended for the production of hydrogen to fill artillery balloons.
Nonetheless, as of July 17th the White House was still using those two trailers as proof that "biological weapons have been found" in Iraq.
Q: Do you think that -- the truth is there are facts on the ground right now that -- you can go back to statements from 1998 and such, but there are facts on the ground now that are raising questions about the situation as presented or laid out by the President, what we could expect, what you all believed would happen, what you believed you would find. Now we have facts on the ground that are undermining the quality and the credibility of those comments.
MR. McCLELLAN: I differ. I think we're beginning to learn the truth and we've seen some of the evidence of Saddam Hussein's desire to seek nuclear weapons, going back quite a while. We've seen some of the evidence of his weapons of mass destruction program through two mobile biological weapon labs that have been discovered. And that's in -- we've only been there, what, 120 days.
If you have not really followed those news stories about David Kelly, this one in particular is worth a glance:
Dr. David Kelly, 59 was a former United Nations weapons inspector who had advised the British Government on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Dr. Kelly was reported missing by his wife. His body was later found about 2 miles from his home. His body lay, on the crest of a hill near a copse, of ash and oak trees, where, according to the police, he apparently slit his left wrist.
David Kelly Believed Iraq Had "No Usable" Weapons
August 12, 2003
LONDON (Reuters) - British expert David Kelly believed Iraq had few if any weapons of mass destruction, a BBC journalist who interviewed him told an inquiry into the scientist's death Tuesday.
"(Saddam Hussein's weapons) program was small. He couldn't have killed very many people even if everything had gone right for him," reporter Andrew Gilligan, reading notes from his interview with Kelly, told the inquiry.
Another section of Gilligan's notes had Kelly referring to "no usable weapons" in Iraq.
Gilligan, whose BBC report in May accusing the government of "sexing up" the case for war with Iraq helped plunge Prime Minister Tony Blair's government into crisis, said Kelly blamed Blair's communications chief Alastair Campbell for transforming a pre-war intelligence dossier on Iraq's weapons.
Gilligan said he asked how the transformation happened. "Kelly said: 'Campbell'," the reporter told the inquiry.
Blow to Blair over 'mobile labs'
Saddam's trucks were for balloons, not germs
Guardian, UK Sunday June 8, 2003
Instead The Observer has established that it is increasingly likely that the units were designed to be used for hydrogen production to fill artillery balloons, part of a system originally sold to Saddam by Britain in 1987.
The British review follows access by UK officials to the vehicles which were discovered by US troops in April and May.
'We are being very careful now not to jump to any conclusions about these vehicles,' said one source familiar with the investigation. 'On the basis of intelligence we do believe that mobile labs do exist. What is not certain is that these vehicles are actually them so we are being careful not to jump the gun.'
The claim, however, that the two vehicles are mobile germ labs has been repeated frequently by both Blair and President George Bush in recent days in support of claims that they prove the existence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
During his whistle stop tour of the Gulf, Europe and Russia, Blair repeatedly briefed journalists that the trailers were germ production labs which proved that Iraq had WMD.
But chemical weapons experts, engineers, chemists and military systems experts contacted by The Observer over the past week, say the layout and equipment found on the trailers is entirely inconsistent with the vehicles being mobile labs. Both US Secretary of State Colin Powell, when he addressed the UN Security Council prior to the war, and the British Government alleged that Saddam had such labs.
One of those expressing severe doubts about the alleged mobile germ labs is Professor Harry Smith, who chairs the Royal Society's working party on biological weapons.
He told The Observer 'I am concerned about the canvas sides. Ideally, you would want airtight facilities for making something like anthrax. Not only that, it is a very resistant organism and even if the Iraqis cleaned the equipment, I would still expect to find some trace of it.'
His view is shared by the working group of the Federation of American Scientists and by the CIA, which states: 'Senior Iraqi officials of the al-Kindi Research, Testing, Development, and Engineering facility in Mosul were shown pictures of the mobile production trailers, and they claimed that the trailers were used to chemically produce hydrogen for artillery weather balloons.'
Artillery balloons are essentially balloons that are sent up into the atmosphere and relay information on wind direction and speed allowing more accurate artillery fire. Crucially, these systems need to be mobile.
The Observer has discovered that not only did the Iraq military have such a system at one time, but that it was actually sold to them by the British. In 1987 Marconi, now known as AMS, sold the Iraqi army an Artillery Meteorological System or Amets for short.
Experts Doubt U.S. Claim on Iraqi Drones
Agust 24, 2003
By DAFNA LINZER and JOHN J. LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writers
Huddled over a fleet of abandoned Iraqi drones, U.S. weapons experts in Baghdad came to one conclusion: Despite the Bush administration's public assertions, these unmanned aerial vehicles weren't designed to dispense biological or chemical weapons.
The evidence gathered this summer matched the dissenting views of Air Force intelligence analysts who argued in a national intelligence assessment of Iraq before the war that the remotely piloted planes were unarmed reconnaissance drones.
In building its case for war, senior Bush administration officials had said Iraq's drones were intended to deliver unconventional weapons. Secretary of State Colin Powell even raised the alarming prospect that the pilotless aircraft could sneak into the United States to carry out poisonous attacks on American cities.
The administration based its view on a Central Intelligence Agency finding that Iraq had renewed development of sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles - UAVs - capable of such attacks. The Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency also supported this conclusion.
While the hunt for suspected weapons of mass destruction - and the means to deliver them - continues, intelligence and defense officials said the CIA and DIA stand by their prewar assertions about Iraqi drone capabilities, some of which Powell highlighted in his Feb. 5 presentation to the U.N. Security Council.
But the Air Force, which controls most of the American military's UAV fleet, didn't agree with that assessment from the beginning. And analysts at the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency said the Air Force view was widely accepted within their ranks as well.
Instead, these analysts believed the drones posed no threat to Iraq's neighbors or the United States, officials in Washington and scientists involved in the weapons hunt in Iraq told The Associated Press.
The official Air Force intelligence dissent is noted in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons programs, parts of which were declassified last month as the Bush administration tried to defend its case for war.
"We didn't see there was a very large chance they (UAVs) would be used to attack the continental United States," Bob Boyd, director of the Air Force Intelligence Analysis Agency, said in an AP interview. "We didn't see them as a big threat to the homeland."
Boyd also said there was little evidence to associate Iraq's UAVs with the country's suspected biological weapons program. Facilities weren't in the same location and the programs didn't use the same people.
Instead, the Air Force believed Iraq's UAV programs were for reconnaissance, as are most American UAVs. Intelligence on the drones suggested they were not large enough to carry much more than a camera and a video recorder, Boyd said.
Postwar evidence uncovered in July in Iraq supports those assessments, according to two U.S. government scientists assigned to the weapons hunt.
"We just looked at the UAVs and said, 'There's nothing here. There's no room to put anything in here,"' one of the scientists said.
The wingspan on drones that Iraqis showed journalists in March measured 24.5 feet and the aircraft were built like large, white model airplanes.
The U.S. scientists, weapons experts who spoke on condition of anonymity, reached their conclusions after studying the small aircraft and interviewing Iraqi missile experts, system designers and Gen. Ibrahim Hussein Ismail, the Iraqi head of the military facility where the UAVs were designed. None of the Iraqis questioned are in U.S. custody.
Downing Street talked up Iraq's nuclear threat
August 25, 2003
LONDON (AFP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair sought to have Iraq's nuclear threat boosted in a dossier released last September to make the case for war, the press here reported, citing documents published as part of an ongoing enquiry.
"The prime minister... was worried about the way you have expressed the nuclear issue," said his director of communications, Alastair Campbell in a memorandum to John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee (JIC), dated September 17.
On the following day Campbell returned to the question of the Iraqi nuclear threat in an e-mail to Scarlett: "Sorry to bombard on this point, but I do worry that the nuclear section will become the main focus and as currently drafted is not in a great shape".
At that stage the dossier on Iraq's military arsenal, which was eventually published on September 24, 2002, stated that if international sanctions against Iraq were lifted then Iraq would need five years to produce a nuclear weapon, but that "this timescale would shorten if Iraq succeeded in obtaining fissile material from abroad".
On the morning of September 19, Campbell sent another message to the JIC chairman proposing a rewrite of the passage on the nuclear threat concluding with the words; "they could produce nuclear weapons in between one and two years".
That version appeared in the final version of the dossier.
Downing Street's desire to stress Iraq's nuclear threat was also revealed in an e-mail from Tom Kelly, an official Blair spokesman, in the week before the controversial dossier was published.
"The weakness, obviously, is our inability to say that he could pull the nuclear trigger any time soon," said Kelly.
POWELL'S U.N. SPEECH, 6 MONTHS LATER
Many claims used to justify war in Iraq don't pass test of time
CHARLES J. HANLEY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
August 10, 2003
The most detailed U.S. case for invading Iraq was laid out Feb. 5 in a U.N. address by Secretary of State Colin Powell. Six months later, after months of war and revelation, the Powell case can be examined in a new light, analyzed here by a journalist who watched from a nervous, skeptical Iraqi capital.
On a Baghdad evening last February, in a stiflingly warm conference room high above the city's streets, Iraqi bureaucrats, European envoys and foreign reporters crowded before a half dozen television screens to hear the reading of an indictment.
"There are many smoking guns," Colin Powell would say afterward.
For 80 minutes in a hushed U.N. Security Council chamber in New York, the U.S. secretary of state unleashed an avalanche of allegations.
Powell marshaled what were described as intercepted Iraqi conversations, reconnaissance photos of Iraqi sites, accounts of defectors, and other intelligence sources.
The defectors and other sources went unidentified. The audiotapes were uncorroborated, as were the photo interpretations. Little was independently verifiable.
But in the United States, Powell's sober speech was galvanizing, swinging opinion toward war.
Powell's "thick intelligence file," as he called it, had won them over.
Six months after that Feb. 5 appearance, the file looks thin.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told U.S. senators last month the Bush administration actually had no "dramatic new evidence" before ordering the Iraq invasion.
"We acted because we saw the existing evidence in a new light through the prism of our experience on Sept. 11," Rumsfeld said.
Meanwhile, President Bush's credibility has come under attack because he cited, in his State of the Union address, a British report that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. That allegation, which Powell left out of his own speech, has been challenged by U.S. intelligence officials.
How does Powell's pivotal U.S. indictment look from the vantage point of today? Powell has said several times since February that he stands by it, the State Department said last week. Here is a review of the major counts, based on both what was known in February and what has been learned since:
Powell presented satellite photos of industrial buildings, bunkers and trucks, and suggested they showed Iraqis surreptitiously moving prohibited missiles and chemical and biological weapons to hide them. At two sites, he said trucks were "decontamination vehicles" associated with chemical weapons.
But these and other sites had undergone 500 inspections in recent months. Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix, a day earlier, had said his well-equipped experts had found no contraband in their inspections and no sign that items had been moved. Nothing has been reported found since.
Addressing the Security Council a week after Powell, Blix used one photo scenario as an example and said it could be showing routine as easily as illicit activity. Journalists visiting photographed sites hours after the Powell speech found similar activity to be routine.
Norwegian inspector Jorn Siljeholm told AP on March 19 that "decontamination vehicles" U.N. teams were led to by U.S. information invariably turned out to be simple water or fire trucks. On June 24, Blix said of the entire Powell photo package, "We were not impressed with that particular evidence."
Amid Powell's warnings, a critical fact was lost: Iraq's military industries were to have remained under strict, on-site U.N. monitoring for years to come, guarding against the rebuilding of weapons programs.
Powell played three audiotapes of men speaking in Arabic of a mysterious "modified vehicle," "forbidden ammo" and "the expression 'nerve agents' " -- tapes said to be intercepts of Iraqi army officers discussing concealment.
Two of the brief, anonymous tapes, otherwise not authenticated, provided little context for judging their meaning. It couldn't be known whether the mystery vehicle, however modified, was even banned. A listener could only speculate over the cryptic mention of "nerve agents." The third tape, meanwhile, seemed natural, an order to inspect scrap areas for "forbidden ammo." The Iraqis had just told U.N. inspectors they would search ammunition dumps for stray, empty chemical warheads left over from years earlier. They later turned four over to inspectors.
Powell's rendition of the third conversation made it more incriminating, by saying an officer ordered that the area be "cleared out." The voice on the tape didn't say that, but only that the area be "inspected," according to the official U.S. translation.
Powell said "classified" documents found at a nuclear scientist's Baghdad home were "dramatic confirmation" of intelligence saying prohibited items were concealed this way.
U.N. nuclear inspectors later said the documents were old and "irrelevant" -- some administrative material, some from a failed and well-known uranium- enrichment program of the 1980s.
According to Powell, unidentified sources said the Iraqis dispersed rocket launchers and warheads holding biological weapons to the western desert, hiding them in palm groves and moving them every one to four weeks.
Nothing has been reported found, after months of searching by U.S. and Australian troops in the near-empty desert. Iraqi presidential science adviser Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi suggested the story of palm groves and weekly-to-monthly movement was lifted whole from an Iraqi general's written account of hiding missiles in the 1991 war.
Powell said Iraq was violating a U.N. resolution by rejecting U-2 reconnaissance flights and barring private interviews with scientists. He suggested only fear of the Saddam Hussein regime kept scientists from exposing secret weapons programs.
On Feb. 17, U-2 flights began. By early March, 12 scientists had submitted to private interviews. In postwar interviews, with Saddam no longer in power, no Iraqi scientist is known to have confirmed any revived weapons program.
Powell noted Iraq had declared it produced 8,500 liters of the biological agent anthrax before 1991, but U.N. inspectors estimated it could have made up to 25,000 liters. None has been "verifiably accounted for," he said.
No anthrax has been reported found. The Defense Intelligence Agency, in a confidential report last September, recently disclosed, said that although it believed Iraq had biological weapons, it didn't know their nature, amounts or condition. Three weeks before the invasion, an Iraqi report of scientific soil sampling supported the regime's contention that it had destroyed its anthrax stocks at a known site, the U.N. inspection agency said May 30. Iraq also presented a list of witnesses to verify amounts, the agency said. It was too late for inspectors to interview them; the war soon began.
Powell said defectors had told of "biological weapons factories" on trucks and in train cars. He displayed artists' conceptions of such vehicles.
After the invasion, U.S. authorities said they found two such truck trailers in Iraq, and the CIA said it concluded they were part of a bioweapons production line. But no trace of biological agents was found on them, Iraqis said the equipment made hydrogen for weather balloons, and State Department intelligence balked at the CIA's conclusion. The British defense minister, Geoffrey Hoon, has said the vehicles aren't a "smoking gun."
The trailers have not been submitted to U.N. inspection for verification. No "bioweapons railcars" have been reported found.
Powell showed video of an Iraqi F-1 Mirage jet spraying "simulated anthrax." He said four such spray tanks were unaccounted for, and Iraq was building small unmanned aircraft "well suited for dispensing chemical and biological weapons."
According to U.N. inspectors' reports, the video predated the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when the Mirage was said to have been destroyed, and three of the four spray tanks were destroyed in the 1990s.
No small drones or other planes with chemical-biological capability have been reported found in Iraq since the invasion. Iraq also gave inspectors details on its drone program, but the U.S. bombing intervened before U.N. teams could follow up.
'4 TONS' OF VX
Powell said Iraq produced 4 tons of the nerve agent VX. "A single drop of VX on the skin will kill in minutes. Four tons," he said.
Powell didn't note that most of that 4 tons was destroyed in the 1990s under U.N. supervision. Before the invasion, the Iraqis made a "considerable effort" to prove they had destroyed the rest, doing chemical analysis of the ground where inspectors confirmed VX had been dumped, the U.N. inspection agency reported May 30.
Experts at Britain's International Institute of Strategic Studies said any pre-1991 VX most likely would have degraded anyway. No VX has been reported found since the invasion.
"We know that Iraq has embedded key portions of its illicit chemical weapons infrastructure within its legitimate civilian industry," Powell said.
No "chemical weapons infrastructure" has been reported found. The newly disclosed DIA report of last September said there was "no reliable information" on "where Iraq has -- or will -- establish its chemical warfare agent-production facilities."
Many countries' civilian chemical industries are capable of making weapons agents, and Iraq's was under close U.N. oversight. The DIA report suggested international inspections, swept aside by the U.S. invasion six months later, would be able to keep Iraq from rebuilding a chemical weapons program.
'500 TONS' OF CHEMICAL AGENT
"Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent," Powell said.
Powell gave no basis for the assertion, and no such agents have been reported found. An unclassified CIA report last October made a similar assertion without citing concrete evidence, saying only that Iraq "probably" concealed precursor chemicals to make such weapons. The DIA reported confidentially last September there "is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons."
Powell said 122-mm chemical warheads found by U.N. inspectors in January might be the "tip of an iceberg."
The warheads were empty, a fact Powell didn't note. Blix said on June 16 the dozen stray rocket warheads, never uncrated, were apparently "debris from the past," the 1980s. No others have been reported found since the invasion.
"Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons. ... And we have sources who tell us that he recently has authorized his field commanders to use them," Powell said.
No such weapons were used, and none was reported found after the U.S. and allied military units overran Iraqi field commands and ammunition dumps. Even before Powell spoke, U.N. inspectors had found no such weapons at Iraqi military bases.
REVIVED NUCLEAR PROGRAM
"We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program," Powell said.
Chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei told the council two weeks before the U.S. invasion: "We have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq." On July 24, Foreign Minister Ana Palacio of Spain, a U.S. ally on Iraq, said there were "no evidences, no proof" of a nuclear bomb program before the war. No such evidence has been reported found since the invasion.
Powell said "most United States experts" believe aluminum tubes sought by Iraq were intended for use as centrifuge cylinders for enriching uranium for nuclear bombs.
Energy Department experts and Powell's own State Department intelligence bureau had already dissented from this CIA view, and on March 7 the U.N. nuclear agency's ElBaradei said his experts found convincing documentation -- and no contrary evidence -- that Iraq was using the tubes to make artillery rockets. Powell's scenario was "highly unlikely," he said. No centrifuge program has been reported found.
Powell said "intelligence from multiple sources" reported Iraq was trying to buy magnets and a production line for magnets of "the same weight" as those used in uranium centrifuges.
The U.N. nuclear agency traced a dozen types of imported magnets to their Iraqi end users, and none was usable for centrifuges, ElBaradei told the council March 7. "Weight is not enough; you don't have a centrifuge magnet because it's 20 grams," ElBaradei deputy Jacques Baute told AP on July 11. No centrifuge program has been found.
SCUDS, NEW MISSILES
Powell said "intelligence sources" indicate Iraq had a secret force of up to a few dozen prohibited Scud-type missiles. He said it also had a program to build newer, 600-mile-range missiles, and had put a roof over a test facility to block the view of spy satellites.
No Scud-type missiles have been reported found. In the 1990s, U.N. inspectors had reported accounting for all but two of these missiles. No program for long-range missiles has been uncovered. Powell didn't note that U.N. teams were repeatedly inspecting missile facilities, including looking under that roof, and reporting no Iraqi violations of U.N. resolutions.
"There are many smoking guns," the secretary of state said in a CBS interview later that Wednesday in February. "Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option."
The U.S. bombing began 43 days later, and on April 12 al-Saadi, the science adviser, handed himself over to the U.S. troops who seized Baghdad. His wife has not seen him since.
Inquiry Told Australia Govt Lied About Iraq Threat
August 22, 2003
CANBERRA (Reuters) - The Australian government lied about the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to justify its involvement in the U.S.-led war, an official inquiry into intelligence on Iraq was told on Friday.
A former senior intelligence analyst, Andrew Wilkie, who resigned in March in protest over Australia's case for war, said Prime Minister John Howard, a close U.S. ally, created a mythical Iraq by dropping ambiguous references in intelligence reports.
"The government lied every time it skewed, misrepresented, used selectively and fabricated the Iraq story...The exaggeration was so great it was pure dishonesty," Wilkie, formerly of the Office of National Assessment (ONA), told the inquiry.
The Niger timebomb
We have spoken to the Iraqi diplomat Britain accuses of trying to buy uranium for Saddam. If what he has told us is true, his evidence will blow apart one of Mr Blair's main justifications for war
By Raymond Whitaker, Independent, UK
10 August 2003
The man accused by Britain of trying to buy uranium in Africa for Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme - one of the Government's main justifications for waging war on Iraq - has denied the allegation, saying he is the victim of a forgery.
Britain has remained undaunted by proof that documents purporting to show an Iraqi uranium deal with the West African state of Niger turned out to be fakes. While the US admits it should never have made allegations based on the documents, Britain insists it has "independent intelligence" about Iraq's quest for uranium, pointing out that an Iraqi delegation visited Niger in 1999.
One Foreign Office official said: "Niger has two main exports - uranium and chickens. The Iraqi delegation did not go to Niger for chickens."
But the man who made the trip, Wissam al-Zahawie, Iraq's former ambassador to the Vatican, told The Independent on Sunday: "My only mission was to meet the President of Niger and invite him to visit Iraq. The invitation and the situation in Iraq resulting from the genocidal UN sanctions were all we talked about. I had no other instructions, and certainly none concerning the purchase of uranium."
Mr Zahawie, 73, speaking to the British press for the first time, said in London: "I have been cleared by everyone else, including the US and the United Nations. I am surprised to hear there are still question marks over me in Britain. I am willing to co-operate with anyone who wants to see me and find out more."
The Government's September dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction said the regime "sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, despite having no active civil nuclear power programme that could require it". The allegation found its way into President George Bush's State of the Union address in January. But as one element after another of this claim has been disproved, the Government has increasingly focused attention on Mr Zahawie's visit to Niger.
As The IoS first disclosed on 29 June, a former US ambassador, Joseph Wilson, was sent to Niger last year to investigate. He reported that there was nothing in the claims of a uranium deal, but the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said last month: "Ambassador Wilson's report also noted that in 1999 an Iraqi delegation sought the expansion of trade links with Niger. Uranium is Niger's main export ... this element of Ambassador Wilson's report supports the statement in the Government's dossier."
Mr Zahawie, who went to Niger in February 1999, said he knew of no other visit to the country that year by an Iraqi representative, and believed none had been there since.
The former ambassador believes suspicion fell on him because his name appeared in forged documents given to the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Last week the IAEA confirmed that two interviews took place with Mr Zahawie in Baghdad this year.
Mr Zahawie said he was summoned to Baghdad in February from Jordan to meet a team of inspectors from the IAEA. He was asked whether he had signed a letter on 6 July 2000 to Niger concerning uranium. "I said absolutely not; if they had seen such a letter it must be a forgery."
Later he was asked for a facsimile of his signature. He provided copies of letters he had written in Rome, and "those letters must have convinced the IAEA team that the document they had was a forgery". In early March, on the eve of war in Iraq, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, told the UN Security Council that the Niger documents were "not authentic".
The ex-ambassador's account is the first indication the forgeries, thought to have been sold to Italian intelligence by an African diplomat, included a document purporting to come from the Iraqi side.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "In the 1980s Iraq purchased 270 tons of uranium from Niger. The reference in the dossier was based on intelligence drawn from more than one source, and was not based on the so-called documents put to the IAEA."
Former foreign secretary Robin Cook said: "It is long overdue for the Government to come clean about what is this corroboration on which they build such an extravagant castle. At least let them hand it over to the IAEA."
Niger president flatly denies selling uranium to Saddam
August 3, 2003
NIAMEY (AFP) - Niger's president flatly rejected claims that his country had sold uranium to Iraq , as alleged by the United States and Britain as part of their justification for attacking Iraq.
The denial came on the same day that a British newspaper reported that the United States was telling the impoverished west African desert state to keep quiet on the issue.
"Against our wishes our country has been front-page news over an affair of the sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq: this affair is nothing else than an accusation without foundation," said President Mamadou Tandja.
The United States and Britain argued before the war on Iraq that the alleged uranium sales proved that Saddam Hussein was seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. The need to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was cited as a reason for the attack.
But subsequently doubts were cast on the claim and documents apparently proving that such sales had taken place were shown to be crude forgeries.
President Tandja, in a speech Sunday marking the 43rd anniversary of his state's independence from France, again rejected the claim.
He also noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, had cleared Niger of all suspicion.
"On the basis of convincing elements presented by the government plus the converging analyses of different experts and professional journalists, it emerges beyond question that our country did not sell uranium to Iraq," he said.
Even "the most competent authority in the matter, the IAEA, asked to look into the charge publicly cleared Niger of all suspicion before the United Nations Security Council," added the president, a former army officer elected head of state in 1999.
A British newspaper meanwhile reported Sunday that the United States had warned Niger to keep out of the row over uranium.
America silences Niger leaders in Iraq nuclear row
By David Harrison in Niamey, Niger The Sunday Telegraph UK(Filed: 03/08/2003)
America has warned the Niger government to keep out of the row over claims that Saddam Hussein sought to buy uranium for his nuclear weapons programme from the impoverished West African state.
Herman Cohen, a former assistant secretary of state for Africa and one of America's most experienced Africa hands, called on Mamadou Tandja, Niger's president, in the capital Niamey last week to relay the message from Washington, according to senior Niger government officials.
One said: "Let's say Mr Cohen put a friendly arm around the president to say sorry about the forged documents, but then squeezed his shoulder hard enough to convey the message, 'Let's hear no more about this affair from your government'. Basically he was telling Niger to shut up."
The dramatic American intervention reflects growing concern about the continuing row over claims that America and Britain distorted evidence to justify the war against Iraq.
It follows The Telegraph's exclusive interview with Hama Hamadou, Niger's prime minister, last week. Mr Hamadou said that the Niger government had never had discussions with Iraq about uranium and called on Tony Blair to produce the "evidence" he claims to have to confirm that Iraq sought uranium from Niger in the 1990s.
American officials denied that there had been any attempt to "gag" the Niger government. The Niamey official, however, said that there was "a clear attempt to stop any more embarrassing stories coming out of Niger".
He said that Washington's warning was likely to be heeded. "Mr Cohen did not spell it out but everybody in Niger knows what the consequences of upsetting America or Britain would be. We are the world's second-poorest country and we depend on international aid to survive."
Mr Cohen's intervention suggests that Washington is keen to draw a line under the "uranium from Africa" affair, although The Telegraph has also learned that senior American soldiers were in Iraq last week to investigate the movement of Niger's uranium.
Bush Aide Lies About Uranium Lies
July 22, 2003
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush's number two national security aide took the blame on Tuesday for a controversy over charges Iraq tried to buy African uranium, providing the latest version of how the false accusation came to be in Bush's State of the Union speech.
"I should have recalled at the time of the State of the Union speech that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue," Hadley said in a meeting with reporters that ran nearly 90 minutes.
He said he had failed to recall the CIA objections, which were included in two memos and a telephone conversation with Tenet in the days before Bush outlined his case against Iraq in an Oct. 7, 2002 speech in Cincinnati.
Wolfowitz committee instructed White House to use Iraq/uranium reference in State of the Union speech
By Jason Leopold
Online Journal Assistant Editor
WASHINGTON, July 16, 2003—A Pentagon committee led by Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, advised George W. Bush to include a reference in his January State of the Union address about Iraq trying to purchase 500 tons of uranium from Niger to bolster the case for war in Iraq, despite the fact that the CIA warned Wolfowitz's committee that the information was unreliable, according to a CIA intelligence official and four members of the Senate's intelligence committee who have been investigating the issue.
The senators and the CIA official said they could be forced out of government and brought up on criminal charges for leaking the information to this reporter and as a result requested anonymity. The senators said they plan to question CIA Director George Tenet in a closed-door hearing to find out whether Wolfowitz and members of a committee he headed misled Bush and if the Bush knew about the erroneous information prior to his State of the Union address.
Spokespeople for Wolfowitz and Tenet vehemently denied the accusations. Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, would not return repeated calls for comment.
The revelations by the CIA official and the senators, if true, would prove that Tenet, who last week said he erred by allowing the uranium reference to be included in the State of the Union address, took the blame for an intelligence failure that he was not responsible for. The lawmakers said it could also lead to a widespread probe of prewar intelligence.
At issue is a secret committee set up in 2001 by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called the Office of Special Plans, which was headed by Wolfowitz, Abrum Shulsky and Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, to probe allegations of links between Iraq and the terrorist organization al-Qaeda and whether the country was stockpiling a cache of weapons of mass destruction. The Special Plans committee disbanded in March after the start of the war in Iraq.
The committee's job, according to published reports, was to gather intelligence information on the Iraqi threat that the CIA and FBI could not uncover and present it to the White House to build a case for war in Iraq. The committee relied heavily on information provided by Iraqi defector Ahmad Chalabi, who has provided the White House with reams of intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons programs that has been disputed. Chalabi heads the Iraqi National Congress, a group of Iraqi exiles who have pushed for regime change in Iraq.
The Office of Special Plans, according to the CIA official and the senators, routinely provided Bush, Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice with questionable intelligence information on the Iraqi threat, much of which was included in various speeches by Bush and Cheney and some of which was called into question by the CIA.
In the months leading up to the war in Iraq, Rumsfeld became increasingly frustrated that the CIA could not find any evidence of Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons program, evidence that would have helped the White House build a solid case for war in Iraq.
In an article in the New York Times last October, the paper reported that Rumsfeld had ordered the Office of Special Plans to "to search for information on Iraq's hostile intentions or links to terrorists" that might have been overlooked by the CIA.
The CIA official and the senators said that's when Wolfowitz and his committee instructed the White House to have Bush use the now disputed line about Iraq's attempts to purchase 500 tons of uranium from Niger in a speech Bush was set to give in Cincinnati. But Tenet quickly intervened and informed Stephen Hadley, an aide to National Security Adviser Rice, that the information was unreliable.
Patrick Lang, a former director of Middle East analysis at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in an interview with the New Yorker magazine in May that the Office of Special Plans "started picking out things that supported their thesis and stringing them into arguments that they could use with the President [sic]. It's not intelligence. It's political propaganda."
Lang said the CIA and Office of Special Plans often clashed on the accuracy of intelligence information provided to the White House by Wolfowitz.
Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, the author of a May New Yorker story on the Office of Special Plans, reported, "former CIA officers and analysts described the agency as increasingly demoralized. George knows he's being beaten up," one former officer said of George Tenet, the CIA director. "And his analysts are terrified. George used to protect his people, but he's been forced to do things their way." Because the CIA's analysts are now on the defensive, "they write reports justifying their intelligence rather than saying what's going on. The Defense Department and the Office of the Vice President write their own pieces, based on their own ideology. We collect so much stuff that you can find anything you want."
"They see themselves as outsiders, " a former C.I.A. expert, who spent the past decade immersed in Iraqi-exile affairs, told Hersh in regard to the Special Plans people. He added, "There's a high degree of paranoia. They've convinced themselves that they're on the side of angels, and everybody else in the government is a fool."
By last fall, the White House had virtually dismissed all of the intelligence on Iraq provided by the CIA, which failed to find any evidence of Iraq's weapons programs, in favor of the more critical information provided to the Bush administration by the Office of Special Plans
Hersh reported that the Special Plans Office "developed a close working relationship with the (Iraqi National Congress), and this strengthened its position in disputes with the C.I.A. and gave the Pentagon's pro-war leadership added leverage in its constant disputes with the State Department. Special Plans also became a conduit for intelligence reports from the I.N.C. to officials in the White House."
In a rare Pentagon briefing recently, Office of Special Plans co-director Douglas Feith said the committee was not an "intelligence project," but rather a group of 18 people that looked at intelligence information from a different point of view.
Feith said when the group had new "thoughts" on intelligence information it was given; they shared it with CIA Director Tenet.
"It was a matter of digesting other people's intelligence," Feith said of the main duties of his group. "Its job was to review this intelligence to help digest it for me and other policy makers, to help us develop Defense Department strategy for the war on terrorism."
Jason Leopold spent two years covering California's electricity crisis as bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires. He has written more than 2,000 news stories on the issue and was the first journalist to report that energy companies were engaged in manipulative practices in California's newly deregulated electricity market. Mr. Leopold is also a regular contributor to CNBC and National Public Radio and has been the keynote speaker at more than two-dozen energy industry conferences around the country.
Scientists Still Deny Iraqi Arms Programs
U.S. Interrogations Net No Evidence
By Walter Pincus and Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 31, 2003; Page A01
Despite vigorous efforts, the U.S. government has been unsuccessful so far in finding key senior Iraqi scientists to support its prewar claims that former president Saddam Hussein was pursuing an aggressive program to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, according to senior administration officials and members of Congress who have been briefed recently on the subject.
The sources said four senior scientists and more than a dozen at lower levels who worked for the Iraqi government have been interviewed by U.S. officials under the direction of the CIA. Some scientists have been arrested and held for months, others have made deals in return for information and at least one has agreed to be interviewed outside Iraq.
No matter the circumstances, all of the scientists interviewed have denied that Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program or developed and hidden chemical or biological weapons since United Nations inspectors left in 1998. Several key Iraqi officials questioned the significance of evidence cited by the Bush administration to suggest that Hussein was stepping up efforts to develop new weapons of mass destruction programs.
The White House, for instance, has cited the case of nuclear scientist Mahdi Obeidi, who recently dug up plans and components for a gas centrifuge that he said he buried in 1991 at the end of the Persian Gulf War. The White House has pointed to the discovery as a sign of Hussein's continuing nuclear ambitions, but Obeidi told his interrogators that Iraq's nuclear program was dormant in the years before war began in March.
The sources said Obeidi also disputed evidence cited by the administration -- namely Iraq's purchase of aluminum tubes that various officials said were for a new centrifuge program to enrich uranium for nuclear bombs. Obeidi said the tubes were for rockets, as Iraq had said before the war.
Jaffar Dhai Jaffar, who once was jailed by Hussein for not working on the nuclear program and later came back to head it in the 1980s, was also interviewed recently by CIA personnel outside Iraq, and he, too, denied the nuclear program had been restarted.
Bush administration officials have hoped that extensive debriefings of former top officials of Hussein's government would provide some of the backing for its prewar assertion that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States. So far, the United States has discovered no undisputed physical evidence that Hussein had stocks of chemical or biological weapons or was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program.
As described by government officials and their families, the United States has used aggressive tactics to find and question key Iraqi scientists. Amir Saadi, Iraq's 65-year-old chief liaison with United Nations weapons inspectors since last year, has been held incommunicado since his voluntary surrender in Baghdad to U.S. military police more than three months ago, according to his wife, Helma.
The night before he gave himself up, Saadi saw himself listed on BBC satellite television as one of the men being sought by U.S. forces. In a recent interview at her home in Baghdad, Helma Saadi said that he told her, "I want to surrender. I want to cooperate. It will be just a matter of a few hours, and I'll be back."
Just hours before his April 12 surrender, Saadi gave a television interview to a German television reporter during which he said, "There were no weapons of mass destruction, and time will bear me out." It is the same sentiment he sent to U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix in a message that arrived at U.N. headquarters on March 19.
Saadi's surrender encouraged the wife and daughter of Gen. Hossam Amin, head of Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate, to get him to surrender, and he, too, has not been heard from since, Helma Saadi said.
Helma Saadi said her husband was a chemical engineer who worked on Iraq's rocket programs, not chemical weapons. He served in the military during his career and reached the rank of general, though after the Gulf War he was acting minister of oil and later minister of industry. After his retirement in 1994, when she said his position went to a Baath Party member, he was given the honorific title of science adviser to Hussein. She described that as a "way of keeping him and others on the payroll even after retirement and using them when needed."
Since her husband's arrest, Saadi said she has had no official notification of where he is being held, although she believes it is somewhere near Baghdad International Airport. She has had one communication with him, a June 15 letter delivered by the Red Cross that stated: "Today the Red Cross visited me and I was happy just to talk to someone. I am in good health and being treated correctly . . . love and kisses, Amer."
Helma Saadi believes he is being kept in solitary confinement, because he said in his letter he was glad to have someone with whom to talk. U.S. sources familiar with the process say Saadi may have knowledge of Hussein's chemical weapons program, and perhaps is being held to give testimony about that. His wife said she suspects her husband is being held out of sight because "he is telling the truth. . . . They have realized there are no weapons of mass destruction and the quagmire they have created. They want to hold someone as a scapegoat."
After hiring a lawyer, Helma Saadi sent a written request to L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator for Iraq. She did not receive an answer from Bremer to that letter or to one sent more recently. She did receive a response to a letter she sent asking whether her husband could be represented by a lawyer. On June 27, Col. Marc L. Warren of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps, assigned to Bremer's office, said her husband's status "is being investigated" under the Geneva Conventions to see whether he is entitled to prisoner of war status or some other category.
Meanwhile, former government officials, scientists and professionals are still being arrested.
Family members of Abdel Ilah Hameed, the former Iraqi minister of agriculture, were interviewed in Beiji and described his arrest. Hameed, a native of Hussein's home town, Tikrit, tried twice to surrender after he saw how U.S. troops were searching all homes, according to his son, Usama. On April 15 and 16, he was turned back by U.S. officers at checkpoints, although one took his name after the second attempt.
On April 22 at 3 a.m., soldiers backed by helicopters overhead knocked down the door, searched the house and took Hameed away, leaving his two older sons in plastic handcuffs that had to be cut away by a younger brother, Usama said. They have had no direct contact with their father since.
Two weeks ago, a professor whose expertise is satellite communications and who is the father of an Iraqi interpreter employed by Bremer's office was seized, according to another employee. "Coalition snatch-and-grab guys busted their door in at 2 AM and turned the house upside down for an hour, then hauled him off in handcuffs," this employee wrote in a message home. The wife told a friend that the troops did not say the reason for the arrest, and it took a day for other U.S. officials to find that the man was being held at the airport and being interrogated.
Sullivan reported from Baghdad.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
FAIR Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting 112 W. 27th Street New York, NY 10001
Bush Uranium Lie Is Tip of the Iceberg
Press should expand focus beyond "16 words"
July 18, 2003
Five months later, the truthfulness of one claim in George W. Bush's State of the Union address has become the focus of growing media scrutiny. The attention media are paying to this single assertion should be part of a larger journalistic inquiry into other misstatements and exaggerations that have been made by the Bush administration about Iraq.
In the January 28 speech, Bush claimed that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." That assertion was similar to claims made previously by administration officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell (CBS Evening News, 12/19/02), that Iraq had sought to import yellowcake uranium from Niger, a strong indication that Saddam Hussein's regime was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.
In fact, the Niger story, as documented by journalist Seymour Hersh (New Yorker, 3/31/03) and others, was based on crudely forged documents. In addition, the administration's own investigation in March 2002 concluded that the story was bogus. As one former State Department official put it, "This wasn't highly contested. There weren't strong advocates on the other side. It was done, shot down" (Time, 7/21/03).
Bush's use of the Niger forgeries has received considerable media attention in recent days. Much of this reporting has been valuable, and some outlets have broadened the inquiry beyond one passage in a speech. The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, for example, suggests (7/16/03) that the uranium claim remained in the State of the Union address because "almost all the other evidence had either been undercut or disproved by U.N. inspectors in Iraq."
Much media coverage, however, has focused narrowly on the Niger incident, putting the press is in danger of ignoring the most important question the story raises: Does the uranium claim indicate a larger pattern of deceptive claims made about Iraq? At minimum, the following assertions made by the Bush administration also deserve media scrutiny:
- Aluminum tubes: In the State of the Union address and elsewhere, the White House has claimed that Iraq was seeking to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes to use in processing uranium, tubes Bush said would be "suitable for nuclear weapons production." But a report in the Washington Post (9/19/02) months before Bush's address noted that leading scientists and former weapons inspectors seriously questioned the administration's explanation-- pointing out that the tubes, which would be difficult to use for uranium production, were more plausibly intended for artillery rockets. The Post also noted charges that the "Bush administration is trying to quiet dissent among its own analysts over how to interpret the evidence." Commendably, some reporters, like NBC's Andrea Mitchell (7/14/03), have questioned the aluminum tubes claim in recent reporting about Bush's State of the Union address.
- Iraq/Al Qaeda links: When Bush announced the end of hostilities in Iraq in a May 1 speech aboard the USS Lincoln, he said of the defeated Iraqi regime: "We have removed an ally of Al Qaeda." While a Saddam Hussein/Osama bin Laden connection was one of the administration's early justifications for going to war, it has produced no evidence to demonstrate this link exists. There is evidence, however, that the administration was deeply invested in proving such a tie, as former Gen. Wesley Clark attested recently on Meet the Press (FAIR Media Advisory, 6/20/03). Yet media accounts of Bush's USS Lincoln speech hardly raised an eyebrow over this attempt to keep the Iraq/Al Qaeda link alive.
- The trailers: Bush presented the discovery of two trailers in Iraq as proof that Iraq possessed banned weapons: "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories," he told Polish TV (Associated Press, 5/31/03). "They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." But serious questions had been raised within the administration about whether these trailers had anything to do with biological weapons-- doubts that soon emerged in a New York Times article (6/7/03). No evidence has been put forward confirming that the trailers were designed for anything other than the production of hydrogen for artillery balloons, as captured Iraqis had said (London Observer, 6/8/03).
- Weapons Inspections: More recently, Bush has flagrantly misrepresented the history of the prewar conflict with Iraq over weapons inspections, telling reporters on July 14, "We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in." In fact, after a Security Council resolution was passed demanding that Iraq allow inspectors in, they were given complete access to the country. The Washington Post (7/15/03), describing Bush's remarkable statement, could only say that his assertion "appeared to contradict the events leading up to war this spring." Joe Conason (Salon.com, 7/15/03) took note of "the press corps' failure to report his stunning gaffe. The sentence quoted above doesn't appear in today's New York Times report, for example."
- Powell's U.N. address: Some of the current reporting over the Niger uranium forgery notes that Colin Powell was less confident about the story, as evinced by the fact that he did not include the claim in his February 5 address to the United Nations. But Powell's speech had problems of its own. As pointed out by Gilbert Cranberg (Washington Post, 6/29/03), Powell embellished an intercepted conversation about weapons inspections between Iraqi officials to make it sound more incriminating, changing an order to "inspect the scrap areas and the abandoned areas" to a command to "clean out" those areas. He also added the phrase "make sure there is nothing there," a phrase that appears nowhere in the State Department's official translation. Further, Powell relied heavily on the disclosure of Iraq's pre-war unconventional weapons programs by defector Hussein Kamel, without noting that Kamel had also said that all those weapons had been destroyed (FAIR Media Advisory, 2/27/03).
- Other pre-war deceptions: Even when administration deceptions have been exposed by prominent mainstream outlets, the media in general tend not to recall them or draw connections. In October 2002, in a notable front-page article titled "For Bush, Facts Are Malleable" (10/22/02), Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank noted two dubious Bush claims about Iraq: his citing of a United Nations International Atomic Energy report alleging that Iraq was "six months away" from developing a nuclear weapon; and that Iraq maintained a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that could be used, in Bush's words, "for missions targeting the United States." While these assertions "were powerful arguments for the actions Bush sought," Milbank concluded they "were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States" and "there was no such report by the IAEA." But recent media discussions of Bush's credibility-- including in the Washington Post-- have rarely mentioned these examples.
An Unprecedented Deception
The President took the nation to war based on his assertion that Iraq posed an imminent threat to our country. Now the evidence that backed that assertion is falling apart. Richard Butler, the chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq in the 1990s and a supporter of the war, recently wrote, "Clearly a decision had been taken to pump up the case against Iraq." (1)
If the Bush administration distorted intelligence or knowingly used false data to support the call to war, it would be an unprecedented deception. Even if weapons are now found, it'll be difficult to justify pre-war language that indicated that the exact location of the weapons was known and that they were ready to deploy at a moment's notice. With a crisis of credibility brewing abroad and the integrity of our President and our foreign policy on the line, we need answers now.
Representative Henry Waxman has introduced legislation to create an independent commission to look into the gap between the intelligence and what's been found. Demand the truth now.
The Latest Examples
Every day brings new news that the Bush and Blair Administrations may have hyped the Iraq threat. Here are a few of the latest discoveries:
- The President's State of the Union claim that Iraq possessed an active nuclear program was based on fraudulent documents that included the forged signature of an official that weren't even in office at the time. (Washington Post)
- The dossier that Prime Minister Blair and Secretary Powell relied upon in critical presentations turned out to have been partially plagiarized from a graduate student's paper from 12 years ago. (Washington Post)
- The claim that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes, first made by Prime Minister Tony Blair, now appears to have been fabricated. (Guardian)
- Ambassador Joe Wilson, who was sent to Niger in February 2002 to determine whether Iraq was trying to purchase uranium materials there, concluded in a recent New York Times Op-Ed that "I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." (New York Times)
- An official British investigation into two trailers found in northern Iraq -- the trailers that the President referred to when he said, "We found the weapons of mass destruction" -- has concluded that the trailers were definitely not related to weapons production. As one scientist told a British newspaper, "They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were - facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons." (The Observer)
A Chart of Bush Lies about Iraq
Did George W. Bush Invade Iraq by Lying?
Why did Bush start a war that:
- Has killed more than 200 American servicemen and women, and seriously injured hundreds more
- Has killed thousands of Iraq civilians, many of them women and children
- Will cost American Tax payers more than $100 Billion, of money desperately needed here at home
- Has destroyed America’s credibility around the world
- Has already significantly damaged morale, confidence, and the readiness of the US armed forces
Here’s what Bush said:
"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.”
State of the Union Address – 1/28/2003
Iraq has 500 tons of chemical weapons:
- Sarin gas
- Mustard gas
- VX Nerve agent
Zero Chemical Weapons Found
Not a drop of any chemical weapons has been found anywhere in Iraq
“U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein
had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable
of delivering chemical agents.”
State of the Union Address – 1/28/2003
Iraq has 30,000 weapons capable of dumping chemical weapons on people
Zero Munitions Found
Not a single chemical weapon’s munition has been found anywhere in Iraq
“We have also discovered through intelligence
that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas."
State of the Union Address – 1/28/2003
Iraq has a growing fleet of planes capable of dispersing chemical weapons almost anywhere in the world
Zero Aerial Vehicles Found
Not a single aerial vehicle capable of dispersing chemical or biological weapons, has been found anywhere in Iraq
"Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people
now in custody reveal that
Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaida."
State of the Union Address – 1/28/2003
Iraq aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda
And implied that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11
Zero Al Qaeda Connection
To date, not a shred of evidence connecting Hussein with Al Qaida or any other known terrorist organizations have been revealed.
(besides certain Palestinian groups who represent no direct threat to the US)
"Our intelligence sources tell us that he (Saddam) has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."
State of the Union Address – 1/28/2003
Iraq has attempted to purchase metal tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as dozens of leading scientists declared said tubes unsuitable for nuclear weapons production -- months before the war.
"Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at [past nuclear] sites."
Bush speech to the nation – 10/7/2002
Iraq is rebuilding nuclear facilities at former sites.
Two months of inspections at these former Iraqi nuclear sites found zero evidence of prohibited nuclear activities there
IAEA report to UN Security Council – 1/27/2003
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
State of the Union Address – 1/28/2003
Iraq recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa
The documents implied were known at the time by Bush to be forged and not credible.
"We know he's been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."
VP Dick Cheney – “Meet the Press” 3/16/2003
Iraq has Nuclear Weapons for a fact
“The IAEA had found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq."
IAEA report to UN Security Council – 3/7/2003
"We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."
Bush Press Conference 7/14/2003
Iraq’s Saddam Hussein refused to allow UN inspectors into Iraq
UN inspectors went into Iraq to search for possible weapons violations from December 2002 into March 2003
Experts Accuse U.S. of Misrepresentation
July 10, 2003
BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer
WASHINGTON - As President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld defended their invasion of Iraq, a group of arms control experts accused the administration of misrepresenting intelligence information to justify the war.
When the war began in March, Iraq posed no threat to the United States or to its neighbors, a former senior State Department intelligence official said Wednesday.
Its missiles could not reach Israel, Saudi Arabia or Iran, said Greg Thielmann, who held a high post in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
But Thielmann, one of four critics at a session held by the private Arms Control Association, said the Bush administration had formed a "faith-based" policy on Iraq and took the approach that "we know the answers; give us the intelligence to support those answers."
"I believe the Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed by Iraq," said Greg Thielmann, who retired in September from his post of director of the strategic, proliferation and military affairs office in the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research.
"Some of the fault lies with the performance of the intelligence community, but most of it lies with the way senior officials misused the information they were provided," he said at a press conference held by the Arms Control Association.
President Bush ustified going to war based on the threat from Iraq's alleged biological and chemical weapons and nuclear weapons program.
"As of March 2003, when we began military operations, Iraq posed no imminent threat to either its neighbors or to the United States," Thielmann said.
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
Speech to VFW National Convention
August 26, 2002
Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.
George W. Bush
Speech to UN General Assembly
September 12, 2002
If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.
December 2, 2002
We know for a fact that there are weapons there.
January 9, 2003
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.
George W. Bush
State of the Union Address
January 28, 2003
We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.
Remarks to UN Security Council
February 5, 2003
We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.
George W. Bush
February 8, 2003
If Iraq had disarmed itself, gotten rid of its weapons of mass destruction over the past 12 years, or over the last several months since (UN Resolution) 1441 was enacted, we would not be facing the crisis that we now have before us . . . But the suggestion that we are doing this because we want to go to every country in the Middle East and rearrange all of its pieces is not correct.
Interview with Radio France International
February 28, 2003
So has the strategic decision been made to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction by the leadership in Baghdad? . . . I think our judgment has to be clearly not.
Remarks to UN Security Council
March 7, 2003
Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.
George W. Bush
Address to the Nation
March 17, 2003
Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly . . . all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.
March 21, 2003
There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. And . . . as this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them.
Gen. Tommy Franks
March 22, 2003
I have no doubt we're going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction.
Defense Policy Board member Kenneth Adelman
Washington Post, p. A27
March 23, 2003
One of our top objectives is to find and destroy the WMD. There are a number of sites.
Pentagon Spokeswoman Victoria Clark
March 22, 2003
We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
March 30, 2003
Obviously the administration intends to publicize all the weapons of mass destruction U.S. forces find -- and there will be plenty.
Neocon scholar Robert Kagan
Washington Post op-ed
April 9, 2003
But make no mistake -- as I said earlier -- we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about. And we have high confidence it will be found.
April 10, 2003
We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them.
George W. Bush
April 24, 2003
There are people who in large measure have information that we need . . . so that we can track down the weapons of mass destruction in that country.
April 25, 2003
We'll find them. It'll be a matter of time to do so.
George W. Bush
Remarks to Reporters
May 3, 2003
I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We're just getting it just now.
Remarks to Reporters
May 4, 2003
We never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country.
Fox News Interview
May 4, 2003
I'm not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein -- because he had a weapons program.
George W. Bush
Remarks to Reporters
May 6, 2003
U.S. officials never expected that "we were going to open garages and find" weapons of mass destruction.
May 12, 2003
I just don't know whether it was all destroyed years ago -- I mean, there's no question that there were chemical weapons years ago -- whether they were destroyed right before the war, (or) whether they're still hidden.
Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, Commander 101st Airborne
May 13, 2003
Before the war, there's no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical. I expected them to be found. I still expect them to be found.
Gen. Michael Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps
Interview with Reporters
May 21, 2003
Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we're interrogating, I'm confident that we're going to find weapons of mass destruction.
Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
NBC Today Show interview
May 26, 2003
They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer.
Remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations
May 27, 2003
For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.
Vanity Fair interview
May 28, 2003
It was a surprise to me then — it remains a surprise to me now — that we have not uncovered weapons, as you say, in some of the forward dispersal sites. Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there.
Lt. Gen. James Conway, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force
May 30, 2003
Do I think we're going to find something? Yeah, I kind of do, because I think there's a lot of information out there."
Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton, Defense Intelligence Agency
May 30, 2003
Cheney's ENERGY task was looking at Iraqi oilfields
Judicial Watch reports that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, as a result of Judicial Watch's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts." The documents are dated March, 2001, 6 months before 9/11/2001.
20 Lies About the War
Falsehoods ranging from exaggeration to plain untruth were used to make the case for war. More lies are being used in the aftermath. By Glen Rangwala and Raymond Whitaker
Independent, UK article 13 July 2003
1 Iraq was responsible for the 11 September attacks
A supposed meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, leader of the 11 September hijackers, and an Iraqi intelligence official was the main basis for this claim, but Czech intelligence later conceded that the Iraqi's contact could not have been Atta. This did not stop the constant stream of assertions that Iraq was involved in 9/11, which was so successful that at one stage opinion polls showed that two-thirds of Americans believed the hand of Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks. Almost as many believed Iraqi hijackers were aboard the crashed airliners; in fact there were none.
Saudi involvement in September 11 attacks: Newsweek
July 21, 2003
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A congressional inquiry points to suspicion over a potential role played by Saudi Arabia in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people, Newsweek magazine said.
The conclusions of a congressional joint intelligence inquiry, to be released Thursday, claim the Federal Bureau of Investigation failed to follow through on important evidence relating to the al-Qaeda network's presence in the United States, the magazine said.
The report contains evidence suggesting that Omar al-Bayoumi, a key associate of hijackers Khaled al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi may have been a Saudi government agent, sources told Newsweek.
It documents extensive ties between al-Bayoumi and the hijackers, while claiming the FBI failed to keep tabs on al-Bayoumi though it had learned he was a secret Saudi agent.
Among the evidence was the fact al-Bayoumi took part in a meeting in January 2001 at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles from there heading to a restaurant where he met future hijackers al-Mihdar and al-Hazmi, whom he took back with him to San Diego.
The Bush administration refused to declassify several key passages from the 900-page report, including a 28-page section that outlines the role played by Riyadh, removed from the final version, Newsweek claims.
Senator Bob Graham, a Democratic candidate for the 2004 presidential elections who supervised the inquiry maintains that the US administration was "protecting a foreign government," according to Newsweek.
An attorney for victims of the attacks who are suing a group of suspected financiers of al-Qaeda, Jean-Charles Brisard, said the report shows that "at each stage in the preparation of the attacks" Saudi Arabia operated as an effective financial and logistical "patron" to the terrorists.
Brisard said the Saudi government had thus been an essential "cog" in the attacks' successfully being perpetrated.
Brisard said certain parts of the report mention "help provided by Saudi diplomats working in Washington to assist in several suicide (hijackers)' arrival and stay in the United States."
Last week, Senator Richard Shelby told CNN that declassified information in the report would "shed some light, maybe not all the light" on the attacks.
"... I can tell you this, there are a lot of high people in Saudi Arabia, over the years, that have aided and abetted Osama bin Laden and his group," Shelby said, alleging the Saudis had done so via charities as well as directly.
2 Iraq and al-Qa'ida were working together
Persistent claims by US and British leaders that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were in league with each other were contradicted by a leaked British Defence Intelligence Staff report, which said there were no current links between them. Mr Bin Laden's "aims are in ideological conflict with present-day Iraq", it added.
Another strand to the claims was that al-Qa'ida members were being sheltered in Iraq, and had set up a poisons training camp. When US troops reached the camp, they found no chemical or biological traces.
3 Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa for a "reconstituted" nuclear weapons programme
The head of the CIA has now admitted that documents purporting to show that Iraq tried to import uranium from Niger in west Africa were forged, and that the claim should never have been in President Bush's State of the Union address. Britain sticks by the claim, insisting it has "separate intelligence". The Foreign Office conceded last week that this information is now "under review".
4 Iraq was trying to import aluminium tubes to develop nuclear weapons
The US persistently alleged that Baghdad tried to buy high-strength aluminum tubes whose only use could be in gas centrifuges, needed to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Equally persistently, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the tubes were being used for artillery rockets. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, told the UN Security Council in January that the tubes were not even suitable for centrifuges.
5 Iraq still had vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons from the first Gulf War
Iraq possessed enough dangerous substances to kill the whole world, it was alleged more than once. It had pilotless aircraft which could be smuggled into the US and used to spray chemical and biological toxins. Experts pointed out that apart from mustard gas, Iraq never had the technology to produce materials with a shelf-life of 12 years, the time between the two wars. All such agents would have deteriorated to the point of uselessness years ago.
6 Iraq retained up to 20 missiles which could carry chemical or biological warheads, with a range which would threaten British forces in Cyprus
Apart from the fact that there has been no sign of these missiles since the invasion, Britain downplayed the risk of there being any such weapons in Iraq once the fighting began. It was also revealed that chemical protection equipment was removed from British bases in Cyprus last year, indicating that the Government did not take its own claims seriously.
7 Saddam Hussein had the wherewithal to develop smallpox
This allegation was made by the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his address to the UN Security Council in February. The following month the UN said there was nothing to support it.
8 US and British claims were supported by the inspectors
According to Jack Straw, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix "pointed out" that Iraq had 10,000 litres of anthrax. Tony Blair said Iraq's chemical, biological and "indeed the nuclear weapons programme" had been well documented by the UN. Mr Blix's reply? "This is not the same as saying there are weapons of mass destruction," he said last September. "If I had solid evidence that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction or were constructing such weapons, I would take it to the Security Council." In May this year he added: "I am obviously very interested in the question of whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction, and I am beginning to suspect there possibly were not."
9 Previous weapons inspections had failed
Tony Blair told this newspaper in March that the UN had "tried unsuccessfully for 12 years to get Saddam to disarm peacefully". But in 1999 a Security Council panel concluded: "Although important elements still have to be resolved, the bulk of Iraq's proscribed weapons programmes has been eliminated." Mr Blair also claimed UN inspectors "found no trace at all of Saddam's offensive biological weapons programme" until his son-in-law defected. In fact the UN got the regime to admit to its biological weapons programme more than a month before the defection.
10 Iraq was obstructing the inspectors
Britain's February "dodgy dossier" claimed inspectors' escorts were "trained to start long arguments" with other Iraqi officials while evidence was being hidden, and inspectors' journeys were monitored and notified ahead to remove surprise. Dr Blix said in February that the UN had conducted more than 400 inspections, all without notice, covering more than 300 sites. "We note that access to sites has so far been without problems," he said. : "In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew that the inspectors were coming."
11 Iraq could deploy its weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes
This now-notorious claim was based on a single source, said to be a serving Iraqi military officer. This individual has not been produced since the war, but in any case Tony Blair contradicted the claim in April. He said Iraq had begun to conceal its weapons in May 2002, which meant that they could not have been used within 45 minutes.
12 The "dodgy dossier"
Mr Blair told the Commons in February, when the dossier was issued: "We issued further intelligence over the weekend about the infrastructure of concealment. It is obviously difficult when we publish intelligence reports." It soon emerged that most of it was cribbed without attribution from three articles on the internet. Last month Alastair Campbell took responsibility for the plagiarism committed by his staff, but stood by the dossier's accuracy, even though it confused two Iraqi intelligence organisations, and said one moved to new headquarters in 1990, two years before it was created.
13 War would be easy
Public fears of war in the US and Britain were assuaged by assurances that oppressed Iraqis would welcome the invading forces; that "demolishing Saddam Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk", in the words of Kenneth Adelman, a senior Pentagon official in two previous Republican administrations. Resistance was patchy, but stiffer than expected, mainly from irregular forces fighting in civilian clothes. "This wasn't the enemy we war-gamed against," one general complained.
14 Umm Qasr
The fall of Iraq's southernmost city and only port was announced several times before Anglo-American forces gained full control - by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, among others, and by Admiral Michael Boyce, chief of Britain's defence staff. "Umm Qasr has been overwhelmed by the US Marines and is now in coalition hands," the Admiral announced, somewhat prematurely.
15 Basra rebellion
Claims that the Shia Muslim population of Basra, Iraq's second city, had risen against their oppressors were repeated for days, long after it became clear to those there that this was little more than wishful thinking. The defeat of a supposed breakout by Iraqi armour was also announced by military spokesman in no position to know the truth.
16 The "rescue" of Private Jessica Lynch
Private Jessica Lynch's "rescue" from a hospital in Nasiriya by American special forces was presented as the major "feel-good" story of the war. She was said to have fired back at Iraqi troops until her ammunition ran out, and was taken to hospital suffering bullet and stab wounds. It has since emerged that all her injuries were sustained in a vehicle crash, which left her incapable of firing any shot. Local medical staff had tried to return her to the Americans after Iraqi forces pulled out of the hospital, but the doctors had to turn back when US troops opened fire on them. The special forces encountered no resistance, but made sure the whole episode was filmed.
17 Troops would face chemical and biological weapons
As US forces approached Baghdad, there was a rash of reports that they would cross a "red line", within which Republican Guard units were authorised to use chemical weapons. But Lieutenant General James Conway, the leading US marine general in Iraq, conceded afterwards that intelligence reports that chemical weapons had been deployed around Baghdad before the war were wrong.
"It was a surprise to me ... that we have not uncovered weapons ... in some of the forward dispersal sites," he said. "We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there. We were simply wrong. Whether or not we're wrong at the national level, I think still very much remains to be seen."
18 Interrogation of scientists would yield the location of WMD
"I have got absolutely no doubt that those weapons are there ... once we have the co-operation of the scientists and the experts, I have got no doubt that we will find them," Tony Blair said in April. Numerous similar assurances were issued by other leading figures, who said interrogations would provide the WMD discoveries that searches had failed to supply. But almost all Iraq's leading scientists are in custody, and claims that lingering fears of Saddam Hussein are stilling their tongues are beginning to wear thin.
19 Iraq's oil money would go to Iraqis
Tony Blair complained in Parliament that "people falsely claim that we want to seize" Iraq's oil revenues, adding that they should be put in a trust fund for the Iraqi people administered through the UN. Britain should seek a Security Council resolution that would affirm "the use of all oil revenues for the benefit of the Iraqi people".
Instead Britain co-sponsored a Security Council resolution that gave the US and UK control over Iraq's oil revenues. There is no UN-administered trust fund.
Far from "all oil revenues" being used for the Iraqi people, the resolution continues to make deductions from Iraq's oil earnings to pay in compensation for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
20 WMD were found
After repeated false sightings, both Tony Blair and George Bush proclaimed on 30 May that two trailers found in Iraq were mobile biological laboratories. "We have already found two trailers, both of which we believe were used for the production of biological weapons," said Mr Blair. Mr Bush went further: "Those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons - they're wrong. We found them." It is now almost certain that the vehicles were for the production of hydrogen for weather balloons, just as the Iraqis claimed - and that they were exported by Britain.
U.S. Army War College Scholars Warn of Wider Iraqi Insurgency
July 9, 2003
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - With guerrilla-style attacks escalating in Iraq, the United States may have to begin turning over peacekeeping duties to an international force within a year, or risk a wider insurgency, military analysts warned on Wednesday.
A wave of attacks that has killed 29 U.S. troops since President Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1, appears to stem from a resurgence of Iraqi nationalism among both Sunnis and Shi'ites in the face of U.S. occupation, said scholars at the U.S. Army War College.
"Even the (Shi'ites) are saying you need to think about leaving, and they're the ones we're getting along with at the moment," he added.
White House 'warned over Iraq claim'
9 July, 2003 BBC News
The CIA warned the US Government that claims about Iraq's nuclear ambitions were not true months before President Bush used them to make his case for war, the BBC has learned.
Doubts about a claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from the African state of Niger were aired 10 months before Mr Bush included the allegation in his key State of the Union address this year, a CIA official has told the BBC.
On Tuesday, the White House for the first time officially acknowledged that the Niger claim was wrong and should not have been used in the president's State of the Union speech in January.
But the CIA official has said that a former US diplomat had already established the claim was false in March 2002 - and that the information had been passed on to government departments, including the White House, well before Mr Bush mentioned it in the speech.
In his keynote speech to Congress in January, the President said: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
But the documents alleging a transaction were found to have been forged.
A former US diplomat, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, went on the record at the weekend to say that he had travelled to Africa to investigate the uranium claims and found no evidence to support them.
Now the CIA official has told the BBC that Mr Wilson's findings had been passed onto the White House as early as March 2002.
That means that the administration would have known nearly a year before the State of the Union address that the information was likely false.
CIA Analysts Said Felt Pressure on Iraq
Thu Jun 5
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - "Multiple" visits to the CIA by Vice President Cheney and a top aide over the past year created an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make assessments of Iraq data fit the administration's policy objectives, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The report cited an unnamed senior CIA official as saying that the visits by Cheney and his chief of staff to question the analysts "sent signals, intended or otherwise that a certain output was desired from here."
The disclosure comes amid growing concern that the administration exaggerated -- either deliberately or due to faulty intelligence -- the threat posed by Iraq's weapons.
Intelligence chiefs tell Blair: no more spin.
Richard Norton-Taylor and Michael White
Thursday June 5, 2003
MI6 and MI5 chiefs have sought the government's assurance that it will never again pass off as official intelligence information which does not come from them.
They are also insisting that any information used by Downing Street claiming to be based on intelligence should be cleared by them first.
Their demands, which the government has bowed to, reflect deep unease in the intelligence community about the government's attempt to use secret information to push its case for military action against Iraq.
Senior officials in the security and intelligence services made it clear that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq was not as great as ministers suggested.
Their insistence that intelligence must not be abused for political ends was prompted in particular by a second dossier published in February containing some material supplied by MI6 but mixed with other information lifted from academic sources.
That, intelligence sources say, was a "serious error". They were already concerned about pressure from ministers to find information that backed up the US claim - not supported by British intelligence - that al-Qaida was linked to Baghdad.
“No more bed-time stories ... these guys are here to wake you up.”
“A major contribution for those who want to take control of their own future,
not be passive subjects of manipulation and control.”
It was a day for the history books. On April 9th, 2003, millions of Americans sat glued to their television sets as U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens joined together to topple the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. Like the fall of the Berlin wall, the fall of Saddam’s statue appeared to be one of those iconic moments that proved - spontaneously and undeniably - that democracy would always triumph over totalitarianism, that freedom was the great equalizer.
“If you don’t have goose bumps now,” said Fox News anchor David Asman as the extraordinary footage rolled, “you will never have them in your life.”
“Jubilant Iraqis Swarm the Streets of Capital,” read the New York Times headline.
Or did they?
In their eye-opening new exposé, Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq, Rampton and Stauber take no prisoners as they reveal - headline by headline, news show by news show, press conference by press conference - the deliberate, aggressive, and highly successful public relations campaign that sold the Iraqi war to the American public. April 9th seemed to confirm what Washington and pro-war pundits had been saying for months: that the Iraqi people would eventually come to see America as their liberator, not their enemy. Yet the American media chose to focus on headlines such as “Iraqis Celebrate in Baghdad” (Washington Post) rather than on a Reuters long-shot photo of Firdos Square showing it to be nearly empty, or the Muslim cleric who was assassinated by an angry crowd in Najaf for being too friendly to the Americans, or the 20,000 Iraqis in Nasiriyah rallying to oppose the U.S. military presence.
We’ve always known what good PR and advertising could do for a new line of sneakers, cosmetics, or weight-loss products. In Weapons of Mass Deception, Rampton and Stauber show us a brave new shocking world where savvy marketers, “information warriors,” and “perception managers” can sell an entire war to consumers. Indeed, Washington successfully brought together the world’s top ad agencies and media empires to create “Operation: Iraqi Freedom” - a product no decent, patriotic citizen could possibly object to. With meticulous research and documentation, Rampton and Stauber deconstruct this and other “true lies” behind the war:
- Top Bush officials advocated the invasion of Iraq even before he took office, but waited until September 2002 to inform the public, through what the White House termed a “product launch.”
- White House officials used repetition and misinformation - the “big lie” tactic - to create the false impression that Iraq was behind the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, especially in the case of the alleged meeting in Prague five months earlier between 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence officials.
- The “big lie” tactic was also employed in the first Iraq war when a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl named Nayirah told the horrific - but fabricated - story of Iraqi soldiers wrenching hundreds of premature Kuwaiti babies from their incubators and leaving them to die. Her testimony was printed in a press kit prepared by Citizens for a Free Kuwait, a PR front group created by Hill and Knowlton, then the world’s largest PR firm.
- In order to achieve “third party authenticity” in the Muslim world, a group called the Council of American Muslims for Understanding launched its own web site, called OpenDialogue.com. However, its chairman admitted that the idea began with the State Department, and that the group was funded by the U.S. government.
- Forged documents were used to “prove” that Iraq possessed huge stockpiles of banned weapons.
- A secretive PR firm working for the Pentagon helped create the Iraqi National Congress (INC), which became one of the driving forces behind the decision to go to war.
Weapons of Mass Deception is the first book to expose the aggressive public relations campaign used to sell the American public on the war with Iraq. It is a must-read for those who want to know how and why they bought this war.
Saturday, April 12, 2003
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush evoked upbeat images of Iraqis celebrating their freedom from Saddam Hussein on Saturday.
Recalling television pictures of a giant statue of the Iraqi president being toppled in the heart of Baghdad, Bush said the world this week witnessed a nation released from 24 years of iron rule by Saddam.
The capture of Baghdad has boosted President George Bush's popularity at home, with a new Newsweek poll showing his popularity rating at 71 per cent.
That is 18 percentage points higher than the 53 per cent approval rating he had on the eve of the war - the result, in part, of the poll's timing as television images were showing Saddam Hussein's statue brought down in central Baghdad to cheers from the crowd.
Why wasn't this the shot that was seen around the world?
Does the scene below look like the fall of the Berlin Wall?
The area circled in red is where U.S. marines, the press, and a small group of Iraqis gathered to pull down the statue of Saddam Hussein. No more than 150 people were involved.
The plaza was empty and sealed off by the Marines. It all occurred just opposite the Palestine Hotel where the international media are based. This was a carefully staged media event.
The pro-American Iraqis involved were members of Ahmed Chalabi’s Free Iraq Forces Militia... recently flown into Iraq by the Pentagon. Chalabi is a Washington favorite to head the new government.
The toppling of the statue was promoted as a massive uprising... does this event look massive to you?
Above Left: Chalabi and his “Free Iraqi Forces” militia are flown into Nasiriyah by the Pentagon on Sunday April 8th. Above Right: Same miltia member seen with Chalabi contingient greets US Marines in center of Baghdad moments before Saddam's statue is pulled down on April 9th.
"As people throughout Iraq celebrate the arrival of freedom, America celebrates with them," President Bush said, recalling the moment that symbolized U.S. victory -- a giant statue of the Iraqi president being toppled on Wednesday in the heart of Baghdad.
See the huge crowd of Iraqi people celebrating:
Another view, showing almost as many US Marines and reporters as Iraqis in the crowd:
Doctored Photo Updates and more info
New pictures of " crowd" in the square:
Picture 1 Picture 2 Picture 3 Picture 4
See Also: Eyewitness Report: The Toppling Of Saddam Statue: Video & Text
Embedded Photographer: "I Saw Marines Kill Civilians"
"These were the same soldiers who would topple down Saddam's statue in Baghdad three weeks later...
" In Baghdad, McCoy sped up the march. He stopped taking the time to search houses one-by-one. He wanted to get to Paradise Place as soon as possible. The Marines were not firing on the thickening population. The course ended with Saddam's statue being toppled. There were more journalists at the scene than Baghdadis. Its five million inhabitants stayed at home."
by MICHEL GUERRIN for Le Monde, April 12, 2003.
Translated for CounterPunch by NORMAN MADARASZ
Laurent Van der Stockt, a photographer working for the Gamma agency and under contract for the New York Times Magazine, followed the advance of the 3/4 Marines (3rd battalion, 4th regiment) for three weeks, up to the taking of Baghdad on April 9. He was accompanied by New York Times Magazine editor, Peter Maas. Born in Belgium in 1964, Laurent Van der Stockt mainly works in conflict zones: the first Gulf War, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Africa and the Occupied Territories. This is his eyewitness account of the Marines' march to Baghdad:
"Everything began at the Kuwait/Iraq border. I forced my way into the country and arrived at Safwan. American soldiers had seized the opportunity to tear up portraits of Saddam Hussein on the main street. They were doing this right in front of the local inhabitants, whose elation quickly vanished. The soldiers obviously didn't imagine that it was up to the Iraqis to be doing this, or that it was humiliating for them. These were the same soldiers who would topple down Saddam's statue in Baghdad three weeks later...
During the first few days, with colleagues from the New York Times and Newsweek, I tried to follow the convoys in a SUV by playing hide-and-seek. We were spending a lot of time then with the 1 500 Marines of the 3/4, commanded by Colonel Bryan P. McCoy. His troops gave us water, gas and food. In exchange for their tolerance, we respected the rules to not pass the convoy and to camp at such and such a place. We were just barely tolerated. The colonel could see that the 'few jokers were behaving well'. He knew we had experienced more wars than his own troops.
For McCoy, we were obviously interesting right from the start. We were the ones who could tell his story. Trust settled in between us. He let us drive at the head of the convoy. The Marines are generally less privileged than the army. They're trained to do the dirty work, the less honorary jobs. They have the oldest tanks, and the least up-to-date M16 rifles. They themselves translate 'USMC' (United States Marine Corps) by United States Misgodded Children, i.e. the US' forgotten children, forgotten by God.
Their motto is 'Search and Kill'. The 'Kilo' unit is nicknamed 'Killer Kilo'. The words 'Carnivore' or 'Blind Killer' are painted on their tanks. McCoy could snap with a 'Shame on You' a smile flashing across his face to the sniper who had just finished telling him: 'I've got eight, Sir, but only five'. Literally meaning: I've shot eight, but only five of them are dead.
I've never seen a war with so few 'returns'. The Iraqi army was like a ghost. It barely existed. Over the three weeks, I only saw the adversary fire a few short-range rockets and a few shots. I saw deserted trenches, a dead Iraqi soldier lying next to a piece of bread and some old equipment. Nothing that really made you feel that there was a real confrontation going on, nothing comparable to the massiveness of the means at the Americans' disposal.
On April 6, we were at the outskirts of Baghdad, facing a strategic bridge the Americans called 'the Baghdad Highway Bridge'. Residential zones were now much greater in number. American snipers got the order to kill anything coming in their direction. That night a teenager who was crossing the bridge was killed.
On the morning of April 7, the Marines decided to cross the bridge. A shell fell onto an armored personnel carrier. Two marines were killed. The crossing took on a tragic aspect. The soldiers were stressed, febrile. They were shouting. The risk didn't appear to be that great, so I followed their advance. They were howling, shouting orders and positions to each other. It sounded like something in-between a phantasm, mythology and conditioning. The operation was transformed into crossing the bridge over the River Kwai.
Later, there was some open terrain. The Marines were advancing and taking up position, hiding behind mounds of earth. They were still really tense. A small blue van was moving towards the convoy. Three not-very-accurate warning shots were fired. The shots were supposed to make the van stop. The van kept on driving, made a U-turn, took shelter and then returned slowly. The Marines opened fire. All hell broke loose. They were firing all over the place. You could hear 'Stop firing' being shouted. The silence that set in was overwhelming. Two men and a woman had just been riddled with bullets. So this was the enemy, the threat.
A second vehicle drove up. The same scenario was repeated. Its passengers were killed on the spot. A grandfather was walking slowly with a cane on the sidewalk. They killed him too. As with the old man, the Marines fired on a SUV driving along the river bank that was getting too close to them. Riddled with bullets, the vehicle rolled over. Two women and a child got out, miraculously still alive. They sought refuge in the wreckage. A few seconds later, it flew into bits as a tank lobbed a terse shot into it.
Marines are conditioned to reach their target at any cost, by staying alive and facing any type of enemy. They abusively make use of disproportionate firepower. These hardened troops, followed by tons of equipment, supported by extraordinary artillery power, protected by fighter jets and cutting-edge helicopters, were shooting on local inhabitants who understood absolutely nothing of what was going on.
With my own eyes I saw about fifteen civilians killed in two days. I've gone through enough wars to know that it's always dirty, that civilians are always the first victims. But the way it was happening here, it was insane.
At the roughest moment, the most humane of the troops was called Doug. He gave real warning shots. From 800 yards he could hit a tire and, if that wasn't enough, then the motor. He saved ten lives in two hours by driving back civilians who were coming towards us.
Distraught soldiers were saying: 'I ain't prepared for this, I didn't come here to shoot civilians.' The colonel countered that the Iraqis were using inhabitants to kill marines, that 'soldiers were being disguised as civilians, and that ambulances were perpetrating terrorist attacks.'
I drove away a girl who had had her humerus pierced by a bullet. Enrico was holding her in his arms. In the rear, the girl's father was protecting his young son, wounded in the torso and losing consciousness. The man spoke in gestures to the doctor at the back of the lines, pleading: "I don't understand, I was walking and holding my children's hands. Why didn't you shoot in the air? Or at least shoot me?"
In Baghdad, McCoy sped up the march. He stopped taking the time to search houses one-by-one. He wanted to get to Paradise Place as soon as possible. The Marines were not firing on the thickening population. The course ended with Saddam's statue being toppled. There were more journalists at the scene than Baghdadis. Its five million inhabitants stayed at home."
"Yet one of the division's early sources of bitterness was the fact that the Marines took credit for capturing the Iraqi capital."
"But it was only when the Marines came in on the east side of the river on April 9 and took up positions outside the Palestine hotel where all the media were that people thought Baghdad had fallen. We were already in there. The Marines even fired on us, thinking our tanks must be Iraqi. We had to radio them to stop it."
In the words of Sergeant Joseph:
"Our motto is 'Send Me'. We are adding the word 'Home'.
Jonathan Steele in Fallujah
Wednesday July 16, 2003 The Guardian
The doodles on the desk at the guardhouse tell it all. "Stuck here forever," an angry sergeant at the sand-blown US army base outside this desert town has scrawled with a felt-tip pen, alongside some scatological sketches.
This is the headquarters of the 2nd brigade of the 3rd infantry division. Their combat teams have roughly 4,500 soldiers and all were plunged in gloom yesterday.
No unit took more casualties than the 3rd infantry during the war: 36 in all. Yet one of the division's early sources of bitterness was the fact that the Marines took credit for capturing the Iraqi capital.
"The 3rd division's 1st brigade took Baghdad airport and our 2nd brigade was in Baghdad on April 5," says Sergeant Joseph. "We did a 'thunder run' with tanks that day and on April 7 we went into Baghdad with 2,000 troops and took it.
"But it was only when the Marines came in on the east side of the river on April 9 and took up positions outside the Palestine hotel where all the media were that people thought Baghdad had fallen. We were already in there. The Marines even fired on us, thinking our tanks must be Iraqi. We had to radio them to stop it."
Critic Accuses Media of Aiding U.S. War Propaganda
Thu May 1, 2003 ET
By David Morgan
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - It is one of the most famous images of the war in Iraq: a U.S. soldier scaling a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad and draping the Stars and Stripes over the black metal visage of the ousted despot.
But for Harper's magazine publisher John MacArthur, that same image of U.S. military victory is also indicative of a propaganda campaign being waged by the Bush administration.
"It was absolutely a photo-op created for (U.S. President George W.) Bush's re-election campaign commercials," MacArthur, a self-appointed authority on U.S. government propaganda, said in an interview. "CNN, MSNBC and Fox swallowed it whole."
In 1992, MacArthur wrote "Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War," a withering critique of government and media actions that he says misled the public after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
In MacArthur's opinion, little has changed during the latest Iraq war, prompting him to begin work on an updated edition of "Second Front." U.S. government public relations specialists are still concocting bogus stories to serve government interests, he says, and credulous journalists stand ready to scarf up the baloney.
"The concept of a self-governing American republic has been crippled by this propaganda," MacArthur said. "The whole idea that we can govern ourselves and have an intelligent debate, free of cant, free of disinformation, I think it's dead."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan denied the existence of any administration propaganda campaign and predicted the American public would reject such notions as ridiculous.
A Pentagon spokesman also denied high-level planning in the appearance of the American flag in Baghdad. "It sure looked spontaneous to me," said Marine Lt. Col. Mike Humm.
In fact, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that Americans were happy with Iraq war coverage, though many wanted less news coverage of anti-war activism and fewer TV appearances by former military officers.
But MacArthur insists that both Gulf wars have been marked by phony tales calculated to deceive public opinion at crucial junctures.
BABIES AND BOMBS
On the eve of the 1991 Gulf War, Americans were asked to believe that Iraqi soldiers tossed Kuwaiti infants from hospital incubators, leaving them to die. Not true, he says.
This time, MacArthur says the Bush administration made false claims about Iraqi nuclear weapons, charging Baghdad was trying to import aluminum tubes to make enriched uranium and that the country was six months from building a warhead.
The International Atomic Energy Agency found those tubes were for artillery rockets, not nuclear weapons. And MacArthur says a supposed IAEA report, on which the White House based claims about Iraqi weapons-making ability, did not exist.
"What's changed is that there's no shame anymore in doing it directly," MacArthur, 46, said of what he views as blatant White House and Pentagon propaganda campaigns.
Cynthia Kennard, assistant professor at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, said the Bush administration has mastered the art of building favorable public images and shaping messages to suit its own interests.
"It's put the journalism profession in somewhat of a paralysis," said Kennard, a former CBS correspondent who covered the 1991 Gulf War. "This is not a particularly glowing moment for tough questions and enterprise reporting."
As Harper's publisher, MacArthur oversees a 153-year-old political and literary magazine he helped save from financial ruin 20 years ago with money from the foundation named for his billionaire grandparents, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur.
While MacArthur accuses news outlets generally of avoiding opposition stands, his own magazine has been vitriolic toward Bush, describing the president in its May issue as a leader who "counts his ignorance as a virtue and regards his lack of curiosity as a sign of moral strength."
But MacArthur is not troubled by the thumping patriotism displayed by cable TV news outlets like Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel, which leads CNN and MSNBC in viewer ratings.
"All that means is that Murdoch knows how to run a circus better than anyone else. War and jingoism always sell. But the real damage was done by the high-brow press," MacArthur said.
"On the propaganda side, the New York Times is more responsible for making the case for war than any other newspaper or any other news organization."
He blames the Times for giving credence to Bush administration claims about the aluminum tubes. And when Bush cited a nonexistent IAEA report on Iraqi nukes, he says, it was the conservative Washington Times -- not the New York Times or Washington Post -- that wound up refuting the assertion.
The New York Times also reported an Iraqi scientist told U.S. officials that Saddam destroyed chemical and biological equipment and sent weapons to Syria just before the war.
The only trouble, MacArthur says, is that the Times did not speak to or name the scientist but agreed to delay the story, submit the text to government scrutiny and withhold details -- facts the Times acknowledged in its article. "You might as well just run a press release. Let the government write it. That's Pravda," he said.
Times spokesman Toby Usnik dismissed MacArthur's claims regarding the Times' war coverage as a whole: "We believe we have covered the story from all sides and all angles."
Fox had no comment on his remarks.
Editors across the nation also worked hard to avoid the grisly images of war, especially scenes of dead Iraqi civilians and Americans, while Europeans saw uncensored horrific images.
The Pentagon's decision to embed journalists with U.S. forces produced war footage that the 1991 war sorely lacked. But the coverage rarely rose to the standard MacArthur wanted.
"Ninety percent of what we got was junk ... I think probably 5 or 10 percent of it was pretty good," he said.
MacArthur says the character of the news media, and the government's attitude toward it, was best summed up by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a Pentagon "town hall" meeting.
Asked by an audience member what could be done to reverse the media's "overwhelmingly negative" war coverage, Rumsfeld said: "You know, penalize the papers and the television ... that don't give good advice and reward those people that do give good advice."
MacArthur said that translated as: "You punish the critics and you reward your friends. That's what he means. That's the standard currency of Washington journalism ... To show reality becomes unpatriotic, in effect."
All The Shah's Men:
An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror
by Stephen Kinzer
This mesmerizing account of how a CIA agent, the grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian government in 1953, provides a riveting, detailed account that sheds light on current Anglo-American oil politics in the Middle East. It's not an exaggeration to say that the British-American staged coup that put the Shah in power created the model, continuing through today, for CIA involvement in replacing governments that the U.S. finds fault with for one reason or another. With Iran, it was the nationalization of the oil industry, which had been a British concession, that set in motion the CIA-British coup. Even then, you see, it was about oil. Today, the U.S. is still paying the price, in its relations with Iran, for the 1953 coup and the U.S. support of the Shah and his secret police. As you read the book, you can't help but find eerie foreshadowings of Bush's Iraq policies.
Praise for All the Shah’s Men
"Stephen Kinzer’s brilliant reconstruction of the Iranian coup is made even more fascinating by the fact that it is true. It is as gripping as a thriller, and also tells much about why the United States is involved today in places like Afghanistan and Iraq."
–Gore Vidal, author of Lincoln, Burr, and 1876.
"Remarkable, readable, and relevant . . . All the Shah’s Men not only reads like an exciting, page-turning spy novel, it deals with the hard issues of today."
–Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
"A well-researched object lesson in the dismal folly of so-called nation-building. British and American readers of today should blush with shame."
–John le Carré, author of The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
and The Tailor of Panama
New York Times Special Report: The C.I.A. in Iran
The Central Intelligence Agency's secret history of its covert operation to overthrow Iran's government in 1953 offers an inside look at how the agency stumbled into success, despite a series of mishaps that derailed its original plans.
Written in 1954 by one of the coup's chief planners, the history details how United States and British officials plotted the military coup that returned the shah of Iran to power and toppled Iran's elected prime minister, an ardent nationalist.
The document shows that:
Britain, fearful of Iran's plans to nationalize its oil industry, came up with the idea for the coup in 1952 and pressed the United States to mount a joint operation to remove the prime minister. The C.I.A. and S.I.S., the British intelligence service, handpicked Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi to succeed Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and covertly funneled $5 million to General Zahedi's regime two days after the coup prevailed. Iranians working for the C.I.A. and posing as Communists harassed religious leaders and staged the bombing of one cleric's home in a campaign to turn the country's Islamic religious community against Mossadegh's government.
"The CIA is not now nor has it ever been a central intelligence agency. It is the covert action arm of the President's foreign policy advisers. In that capacity it overthrows or supports foreign governments while reporting "intelligence" justifying those activities. ) It shapes its intelligence, even in such critical areas as Soviet nuclear weapon capability, to support presidential policy. Disinformation is a large part of its covert action responsibility, and the American people are the primary target of its lies." - Retired CIA Official Ralph McGehee
PHOTO: Ralph McGehee receiving awards from the Vietnamese Special Police. Awards include a medal, a Viet Cong pistol, and the Viet Cong flag that flew over Saigon on Tet 1968.
Ralph McGehee receiving medal
from Chinese Nationalist general
My 25 years in the CIA
Ralph W. McGehee
From the cover: Deadly Deceits is a classic account of the deeds and deceptions of the CIA by one of the Agency's most prized recruits. Ralph McGehee spent 25 years in the CIA, from 1952-77. He entered a super-patriot at the height of the Cold War; he left disillusioned and shattered by what he had seen and learned, especially in Vietnam where he saw a tragic and senseless war develop.
"One of the most outstanding books written by former CIA agents." - - Alexander Cockburn & Jeffery St. Clair
"Deadly Deceits is essential reading for everyone who cares about freedom and dares to know what our CIA agents do in their name." - - Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General
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