The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .
I. L MYLROIE, THE THREAT OF BIOLOGICAL TERRORISM, JERUSALEM POST, APR 3 II. JESSICA STERN, BW TERRORISM IS STATE-SPONSORED, NYT APR 8 III. EXPERTS TO SENATE, BW TERRORISM IS STATE-SPONSORED, AP, MAR 5 Today's NYT, in an article entitled, "Experts Deny Iraq has Ended its Germ Warfare Program," reported the results of the Mar 20-27 meeting of the bw technical evaluation mission. Among other findings: Iraq's claim to have destroyed missile warheads containing bw could not be confirmed [i.e. Iraq still has them]. Also, Iraq acknowledged it had planned to deliver botulinum in a previously undisclosed manner, by spraying the toxin from airplanes. Also, Iraq did not provide information on "either the current status of biological weapons programs or state conclusively when such projects were terminated if they no longer existed." Is that to imply, as the article's title suggests, that Iraq's bw program is ongoing, or might be? The article, however, contains an important inaccuracy. It was not Hussein Kamil's Aug 95 defection that alerted UNSCOM to the existence of an Iraqi bw program. Already, on Apr 10 95, UNSCOM reported that Iraq had an undeclared bw program. That report blocked the strong momentum that had been building to lift sanctions, as it was thought then that the other proscribed programs had been taken care of. Hussein Kamil's defection in Aug merely revealed that the problem was much worse than anyone had thought. Why does Saddam hold on to that material, particularly as bw is the easiest of Iraq's proscribed weapons programs to reconstitute? Possibly that is an implicit threat—-try to overthrow me and I will use this material. The US should not give into such a threat, or be thought to. But maybe there is something more. Maybe Saddam holds on to that material, because he intends to use it? One reader, a bw expert, expressed the following concern. BW agents have genetic fingerprints. If a terrorist attack occurred, the ability to link the agent used in the attack to the stockpile from which it came would allow authorities to determine who was behind the attack. His concern was that that might be the reason why Saddam keeps his entire stockpile, rather than release some of it as a gesture to UNSCOM. Former CIA director, James Woolsey, speaking at the Apr 28 97. Sam Nunn Policy Forum, "Weapons of Mass Destruction and US Security," in Athens, GA, warned that if a major unconventional terrorist attack were carried out in the US, it would come as a big shock. Woolsey suggested a cw attack could result in 50,000 fatalities, a bw attack 500,000. He cautioned that the possibility of a false flag operation--Iraq using Iran or vice versa—could be a factor that might make it difficult to determine who was behind the attack and undermine prospects of retaliation, and therefore, deterrence. Fred Ikle, Undersecretary of Defense in the Reagan administration, wrote in The National Interest, Spr 97, "A century and a half into the Industrial Revolution, advances in science and technology have reached the stage where leading industrial nations can make weapons of mass destruction that are so lethal relative to their size and weight that they can be used to circumvent defenses—even in clandestine ways—for the purpose of annihilating a country's society without first defeating its military forces. . . . The morning after a major biological or chemical [terrorist] attack, or after a nuclear weapon has been used, the rules of warfare throughout the world will be profoundly transformed. Should such use go unpunished, or worse, should it benefit the perpetrator, tyrants, everywhere would be greatly tempted to acquire and eventually to employ these weapons." One would think that few issues could be more important than addressing the Iraqi bw problem—either take that material from Saddam, which is not really possible, or get rid of him. That, to be sure, is a major task and would make secondary every other Middle East issue, including the US Middle East policy perennial--the peace process, which has already supplanted Iraq on the US agenda. No doubt the peace process crew, whether in the US or Israel, is moved by good intentions. But given that Clinton clearly wants to avoid dealing with a major problem--Saddam and his WMD--that crew helps the administration dodge the problem, even as it acts as if none existed. For example, immediately after Kofi Annan's Feb 23 accord, the editors and columnists of Haaretz, the paper of Israel's center-left, wrote Feb 24, Feb 25, Feb 26, Feb 27 and many days thereafter, that as Iraq had been taken care of, the US should get back to the real issue--the peace process. But there is a serious Iraqi threat, including to Israel. A senior official, who has had extensive exchanges with the Israeli government over the Iraqi WMD problem, told "Iraq News" that he believes the Israeli Gov't is very concerned about Saddam. He believes that the position—-Iraq has only a handful of missiles which it is not going to use anyway, expressed by individuals like Hebrew U. Prof. Martin Van Crefeld, Wash Post, Mar 8, "Saddam's Not so Strong," ["Iraq News," Mar 13], is a line put out for public consumption. He believes that the Israeli Gov't does not want to reveal its concerns, lest that create public panic. If so, and the man is well-informed, it is puzzling, as there is no evident policy manifestation of that concern. Still, Iraq is a threat to Israel and others. As I wrote in The Jerusalem Post, Apr 3, "In the last Iraq crisis, Israelis geared up for an attack by missiles, perhaps carrying biological agents. But if Saddam meant to attack Israel with BW agents, wouldn't he be more likely to do so through terrorist means which are deniable and offer a technologically easier and more effective way to disperse such agents?" The consequences of such an attack, if carried out professionally and successfully, would be appalling, "Official US estimates for casualties produced by an airplane, flying upwind of a city, releasing an anthrax cloud, range from 100,000 to three million dead. An individual driving a car around a medium-sized city spewing anthrax out the tailpipe would cause some 70,000 fatalities, two individuals in two cards in two cities, 140,000." The sole effective protection is the anthrax vaccine, but it is in short supply. What the US has is going to the US military. There is none for civilians. Moreover, given the time lag between the time the attack occurred and the time authorities recognized there had been an attack, those who carried it out would have fled. It would be difficult to determine who was behind it. And, therefore, it would be difficult to deter. In The New Republic, Jun 3, 91, the late Uriel Dann, professor of history at Tel Aviv University, warned of Saddam's revenge, on a massive scale. Saddam retains and hides his bw program—-baldly, blatently, in our face—-and we respond only by saying that we will keep sanctions on and, meanwhile, tend to the peace process? No one in Israel, also a potential target, suggests otherwise, at least not publicly? And none of the major American Jewish organizations, save for JINSA, says a word? Why? The extreme severity of the bw terrorist threat underscores the importance of understanding the likely source of such a threat. As Jessica Stern wrote in the NYT, Apr 8, it is difficult to carry out a bw attack, "Few countries, and even fewer terrorist groups, if any are now capable of launching an open-air attack that would create mass casualties. . . . The most troubling prospect is state-sponsored terrorist attacks of the kind Iraq has threatened to carry out against Britain—-for example, by putting anthrax in duty-free bottles of alcohol, cosmetics, and perfume." Similarly, Col. David Franz, deputy Commander of the Army's Medical Research and Materiel Command, told the Senate last month that bw terrorism is difficult to carry out. Franz explained that for such an attack to be effective, it would require a "large well-funded terrorist program or state sponsorship," while Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee said, "For Saddam Hussein, biological agents may be the perfect terrorist weapon, because they require more time to take effect and could leave minimal telltale evidence implicating Iraq." But there is far from a consensus on that score. Many, including the FBI, seem to believe that bw terrorism does not require much expertise. If there were a bw terrorist attack, the FBI would be in charge of investigating the attack. At the height of the Iraq crisis, just before Annan's Baghdad accord, the FBI arrested two men in Las Vegas, claiming they planned to carry out an anthrax attack and blame it on Iraq. It turned out to be nothing like that at all. But it revealed something of the FBI's attitude concerning the expertise required to carry out a bw terrorist attack. The NYT, Feb 21, quoting an FBI spokesman, reported, "With a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of depravity, you have the makings of a horrendous event." If the prior assumption were, as the FBI maintains, that almost any Tom, Dick, and Harry could carry out such an attack, then following a bw attack, the FBI investigation would presumably range over a vast number of suspects. Chances of finding those responsible would be nil. Also the FBI might fall for a false-flag operation. A terrorist state might use American extremists, for example, to carry out such an attack. The FBI might catch the extremists, but not understand they were minor figures, and present them instead as major figures. The Clinton administration, more than any other, has made terrorism a law enforcement issue. That was noted and criticized in the Mar 1 96 report of the presidential commission on the future of US intelligence, which recommended "that the President by Executive order reaffirm that global criminal activities such as terrorism, narcotics trafficking, organized crime and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are national security matters and require a coordinated, multi-agency response. A law enforcement approach is inadequate." It is too easy to see how the U.S. is set up for a terrible scenario. Those in charge of Iraq policy don't seem to really recognize the possibility that Saddam might actually use the unconventional agents that he will not turn over to UNSCOM, perhaps in a terrorist attack, while those who would be charged with investigating such an attack do not seem to understand that that kind of attack, were it to occurs, would most likely be state sponsored, rather than the work of individual perpetrators.