Tracking Number:  172673

Title:  "Cheney Affirms Baghdad Target Was Military Facility." Portions of Secretary of Defense Cheney's remarks to the Chamber of Commerce that a facility hit by allied bombs in which civilians were taking refuge was actually a military command-and-control facility. (910214)

Date:  19910214


02/14/91 * 1NE Tx CHENEY AFFIRMS BAGHDAD TARGET WAS MILITARY FACILITY (Excerpt: Cheney speech to C of C 2/13) (630)

Washington -- Following is an excerpt from Defense Secretary Cheney's February 13 speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

(Begin excerpt)

We've also gone after his command-and-control system and his military communication system, that part of his capability that allows him to direct and control his military forces, including those forces that currently illegally occupy Kuwait.

There has been some discussion just today, an allegation out of Baghdad that somehow we struck a civilian facility last night and caused a large number of civilian casualties. I think you all know that we sincerely regret any damage or any deaths caused to the civilian population. We've done everything we can to avoid that. Our forces, I think, have done an excellent job of targeting military targets and avoiding collateral damage to non-military targets.

But the facility that was struck yesterday, we've gone back and checked very carefully on. And it was indeed a military facility, a hardened bunker, camouflage painted on top, plugged into his military communications system. We did, in fact, drop two bombs on it. They hit with great precision, and there's no question in my mind or in the mind of our key people that we hit was a military target.

Some have suggested this morning on television, some of the "talking heads" that we've all grown familiar with in recent weeks as we've watched this affair unfold, that Saddam might now be resorting to a practice of deliberately placing civilians in harm's way, deliberately putting civilians on what he knows are military targets for us.

I have no way of knowing whether or not that was the case in this instance, but we do know that he had previously placed hundreds of foreign civilians held hostage all last fall at strategic sites throughout Iraq. We do know that he's threatened to place prisoners of war at strategic targets throughout Iraq. We do know that he is placing military equipment in civilian areas, especially in Kuwait, but also in Iraq.

GE 2 EUR414 And just this morning we received a new piece of intelligence that's interesting because of what it reveals about his practice with respect to his effort to try to blur the lines between military capabilities and civilian areas.

There is, in Iraq, a city called Ur, spelled U-R. It's a city of significant archaeological interest. It dates from the 27th century before Christ. Reputed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth, in addition to its longevity, it is of religious interest to the faiths of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity as the birthplace of Abraham. It's located on the Euphrates River approximately 105 miles northwest of Basra.

Ur contains ruins that span history. Of particular interest are the remains of the famed Saqqara pyramid, one of the first multileveled monuments ever constructed and the prototype for later structures built during the first kingdom of Egypt.

Recent satellite imagery obtained just this morning indicates that there are now two MiG-21s, a combat aircraft to the Iraqi air force, parked right next to the pyramid, obviously an effort to use the archaeologically significant facility to protect his military capabilities. Clearly, he's demonstrated repeatedly a willingness to use his population and cultural artifacts in an effort to shield and protect his military equipment.

We also know that he's previously used poison gas against part of his own population, the Kurds in northern Iraq. So I suppose the suggestion that he may have indeed encouraged civilians to occupy what he knew to be a military facility is possible. But as I said earlier, I have no way of knowing for certain whether or not that's the case.

(End excerpts) NNNN

File Identification:  02/14/91, EU-414
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Document Type:  TXT; EXC
Thematic Codes:  1NE
Target Areas:  EU
PDQ Text Link:  172673