News

Richard Perle, and Others, On Iraq

Iraq News, OCTOBER 19, 1998

By Laurie Mylroie

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. R. PERLE, CALLS FOR RESIGNATION OF HEAD OF CIA NEAR-EAST, AEI, OCT 14
II. ISRAEL INCREASINGLY SEES IRAQ DANGER, FORWARD, OCT 9/ NER, OCT 19
III. BOSTON GLOBE EDITORS, OVERTHROW SADDAM, OCT 8
IV. STEINMANN, IRAQ FAILURE GROUNDED IN CLINTON, PUBLIC MORALS, OCT 18

   This is the 75th day without weapons inspections in Iraq.

    Richard Perle, Reagan administration Asst Sec Def and Resident 
Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, addressed AEI's Oct 14 
conference, "Rethinking the Middle East."  Perle focused on Iraq, 
sharply criticizing the CIA's Near East Division.  Explaining that it 
held many bad ideas, Perle said, "The most important  . . .  is the 
belief that the only way to eliminate Saddam Hussein's governance is by 
organizing a coup d'etat against him.   . . . [But] Saddam is a lot 
better at resisting coups than we are at perpetrating them.  So much 
better that every effort has failed, in many cases with significant 
losses of life.  And despite numerous failures, the most recent of which 
is still very much alive in the memory of a great many people, we 
continue to pursue that course.  
  "Not only is the [Near East Divison] wedded to the idea that we are 
capable of encouraging a coup that might bring Saddam down, but it is so 
committed to that view that it has resisted all alternative suggestions, 
including what I believe to be the most obvious, which is that we get 
behind the opposition to Saddam Hussein. And in fact, not only has the 
institution been unwilling to support an effort to get behind the 
opposition to Saddam Hussein, but I think it is fair to say that it has 
worked actively against any such suggestion . . . I'm afraid that 
despite the valiant effort by a great many in Congress, the 
administration will resist, continue to resist, in every way, putting 
those resources [provided for in the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998] to use 
or examine seriously the prospect of mobilizing the opposition to 
Saddam." 
   Perle called for the resignation of the head of the Near East 
Division "on the grounds of incompetence and a lack of the fundamental 
qualifications to hold that position.  The director of intelligence 
should explain why he's been there all this time, despite a record of 
one failure after another.  A select committee of the Congress should be 
established to conduct a thorough investigation of our institutions 
conducting operations in the region."
   Perle also discussed Scott Ritter's charge that the Sec State had 
blocked UNSCOM inspections, describing it as "the single most important 
issue facing us."  Perle reviewed the record since the Feb 23 Annan 
accord, noting that already on Mar 3, at US behest, Amb. Butler removed 
Ritter from an inspection team, only to replace him when faced by a 
revolt among senior UNSCOM staff.  
   Yet, on Mar 4, and subsequently, Madeleine Albright repeatedly 
asserted that under the Feb 23 accord, Iraq had promised UNSCOM 
"immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access."  In the inspections 
that ensued, an UNSCOM team visited the Ministry of Defense, which was 
hailed by the Sec State as a great achievement.  But there was nothing 
in the MoD and Perle suggested that we knew it.  He suggested that the 
administration had first posed the challenge regarding inspections and 
then implemented it in a meaningless way that was consistent with 
Saddam's interest.  He said, "I submit that the policy we are carrying 
out is one of avoiding inspections at critical times and in critical 
places."
   Perle also suggested that the proposed Congressional investigation 
"should include an effort to reconsider the competing claims of Scott 
Ritter and the Secretary of State.  I am inclined on the basis of the 
record as it has been established to believe Scott Ritter, but I can't 
prove [it]. . . . We ought to get to the bottom of it, and if it turns 
out that the Secretary of State discouraged inspections and lied about 
it, she should resign.  It strikes me as embarrassingly similar to 
others in the administration who redefine history and hide behind words 
that are given personal meanings. . . . The pattern at the upper reaches 
of the administration of misrepresentation, which has already done great 
damage in the White House, must not be allowed to infect the Department 
of State as well."

  The Forward, Oct 9, reporting on congressional efforts to pass the 
"Iraq Liberation Act," described the enhanced sense of the Iraqi threat 
being felt in Congress and in Israel.  "Senator Lieberman, a Democrat 
from Connecticut, is warning that within three months time, Saddam 
Hussein will be completing new missiles capable of hurling weapons of 
mass destruction at Israel and beyond. . . . 'Saddam Hussein continues 
to be a direct threat to the United States and its allies in the Persian 
Gulf region,' Senator Lieberman, one of the bill's sponsors, told the 
Forward.  'The United States must take action to support the democratic 
opposition with an aim toward replacing Saddam Hussein's murderous 
regime with democracy.'" 
  Yet the AEI's David Wurmser explained, "The administration is 'still 
pursuing the hope [Saddam] will be removed by an internal coup.'"  
Indeed, an unnamed State Dep't official cautioned that the legislation 
"could disrupt UNSCOM . . . 'We wouldn't be in favor of anything that 
weakens that capacity."  That, even as the Nixon Center's, Peter Rodman, 
scoffed at the notion, "The administration has acquiesced in the 
neutering of UNSCOM . . . There will be no solution to UNSCOM as long as 
[Saddam] is in power." 
   The Forward also explained, "Israel is so concerned with the 
situation regarding Iraq that the question of Saddam Hussein was taken 
up in Washington last month when Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Mr. 
Clinton and Secretary Albright, an Israeli official said."
   Indeed, The Near East Report, Oct 19, interviewed Israeli ambassador, 
Zalman Shoval, who said that "the Iraqi situation . . . 'is especially 
worrying.'  The Iraqis have successfully blocked UNSCOM weapons 
inspections 'and there are sufficient indications that they have not 
given up on any of their [unconventional] weapons programs.'  He said 
that 'unless the world--led by the United States--will very soon face 
these worrying realities, one day all of us will wake up to a situation 
that will endanger' the entire world."  That has long been the view of 
"Iraq News," which welcomes the Israeli Gov't 's awakening to the US 
failure to address the Iraq threat, however belated.  "Iraq News" will 
shortly attempt to explain that by addressing the strategic intelligence 
failure that occurred in Israel, as a result of the way Rabin/Peres 
pursued the peace process, and which caused many Israelis to lose sight 
of the Iraqi threat.  

   The editors of the Boston Globe, Oct 8, again called, as they long 
have, for Saddam's overthrow, denouncing the UNSG's dealings with 
Baghdad, "Because this shell game [with UNSCOM] is so obvious and 
potentially so dangerous to everyone within the reach of Saddam's 
anthrax or VX weapons, there is no justification for the deal that UN 
Secretary General Kofi Annan has reportedly offered to Saddam's 
consiglieri, Tariq Aziz. . .  
   "Saddam has been able to entice Annan into negotiating matters that 
should be the province of the Security Council because the Clinton 
administration has drifted along on the illusion that its policy has 
kept Saddam in what Secretary of State Albright calls a 'strategic box.' 
In reality, he has busted out of his box. . . . If the administration 
cannot employ force to make Saddam comply with Security Council 
resolutions, Saddam will be allowed to rearm his regime with weapons of 
mass destruction. . . This is an intolerable prospect . . . 
   "There is another alternative.  It is implicit in  . . . the Iraq 
Liberation Act. . . . Former undersecretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz 
recently outlined to the Senate a practical plan of helping Iraqis get 
rid of Saddam.  Give the Iraqi opposition the proper equipment and 
allied air cover to protect it from Saddam's planes and tanks, Wolfowitz 
proposed. . .  The Wolfowitz plan deserves serious consideration.  The 
only way to disarm Saddam is to liberate Iraq from his tyranny."

    Finally, David Steinmann, who just finished four years as president 
of the Jewish Institute for Nat'l Security Affairs and now serves as 
Chairman of JINSA's Board of Advisers, distributed an e-mail 
commentary/introduction to yesterday's Wash Post story on Russian 
military aid to Iraq.  He related the failure of the administration's 
Iraq policy to Clinton's own moral failings, which, Steinmann suggested, 
reflected a more general US problem.  
   Steinmann wrote, "None of what is written below-that Russian firms 
were helping Iraq rearm with missiles and biological weaponry in 1994, 
just 3 years after the Gulf War and while Iraq was loudly proclaiming 
its innocence-should come as a surprise to anyone, least of all the 
Clinton administration.  Enough information has leaked out abut these 
activities so that anyone interested has known for years that Iraq is 
lying about its intentions and cheating on its obligations under the 
agreement that ended the Gulf War.  How much more the administration has 
known and concealed in order to hide its own impotence is not known but 
is likely a lot more damning. . . .
   "Mr. Clinton is a unique phenomenon in American political history.  
Sure, he has been helped by an extraordinary economy and by an absence 
of actual war abroad.  Sure, his behavior at home has been a disgrace to 
his office and an embarrassment to the American people. . . . But his 
popularity has stayed constant-and high.  Why?  Mr. Clinton is 
continuingly popular because a majority of the American people are just 
like him. . . . 
   "One of the most flawed Presidents ever to hold the office continues 
to do so with the approval and support of a large majority of the 
American people.  And our foreign policy continues to reflect the same 
character flaws and failures which inhibit all of the President's 
actions and behavior. If something terrible happens.  If some 
consequence of these failings produces a war in which American soldiers 
start dying in large numbers, or some despot somewhere uses a weapon of 
mass destruction in so horrifying a fashion that we have to ask, how 
could we let that happen?-then we may start to question our loyalty to 
the President. . . . The bill will one day be presented for the failings 
of our foreign policies now.  It is likely to be a very expensive bill. 
One which will shock us and anger us.  But whether we will have the 
intelligence and hindsight to understand that Mr. Clinton was running an 
open tab for eight years, and then left his successor(s) to pick up the 
check, is something only time and history will tell. . . . We know 
there's a storm coming.  We just don't know when.  All the signs are 
there.  If we get caught off guard, we'll have no one to blame but 
ourselves--and our stubborn insistence on identifying with a scoundrel 
when we should have known better."

I. R. PERLE, CALLS FOR RESIGNATION OF CIA HEAD, NEAR-EAST
AEI Conference
October 14, 1998
"Are US Defense and Intelligence Communities Equipped to Interpret and 
Deal with the Region?"
Richard Perle
[Excerpts, provided by AEI, are in quotes; additional material from my 
notes in brackets].
  "Are the resources of our government adequate to the challenge of 
dealing effectively with the region. The short answer is no, 
emphatically no. . . .
   "But because I believe you cannot separate institutions charged with 
implementing policy from the policies themselves. . . I am even less 
favorably inclined toward the policies than I am toward the institutions 
that are presently struggling with implementing them. A bad, weak, 
indecisive and vacillating policy would put impossible demands on even 
the most effective and energetic set of implementing institutions...
  [Quoting a former DCI], 'We the CIA, we the implementers of covert 
action cannot substitute for a bad policy,' and he was quite right...
  "If the institution itself is incapable of judging itself with a 
degree of objectivity, then the task [of investigating the bases of 
policy] becomes almost impossible and one is forced to look at the 
effects of intelligence operations and whether they have been successful 
of not...              
 "Here was the team we had assembled to advise us about events in Iran 
at a moment at which a crucial policy decision, or a sequence of crucial 
policy decisions, was being made about our attitude toward the Shah's 
continued tenure and events taking place, and the whole bunch of them 
were so ignorant of the crucial underlying facts that they could not 
even pronounce on whether a Xerox copy of a book written by the 
Ayatollah and in print for several years, they could not even speak to 
the authenticity of that book.  I began to realize already then that we 
had a problem with that part [NEA div] of the CIA, and when you look at 
events following the failure to understand what we were getting into 
when Khomeini came to power; remember that rise was greeted with 
enthusiasm in parts of the US government who were improperly advised as 
to the implications; when you look at the failure to anticipate Saddam 
Hussein's invasion of Kuwait; when you look at the failure to understand 
the extent of Saddam's progress in acquiring weapons of mass 
destruction, when you look at the record, it is chronic and it is 
unbroken and it is one failure after another....
  "As far as I can tell...there has been no real audit of the 
performance of Middle East Operations at the CIA, either on the 
analytical or operational side....
  "[There are many bad ideas ], the most important of which is the 
belief that the only way to eliminate Saddam Hussein's governance is by 
organizing a coup d'etat against him.  Well, I've got news for you.  
Saddam is a lot better at resisting coups than we are at perpetrating 
them. So much better that every effort has failed, in many cases with 
significant losses of life. And despite numerous failures, the most 
recent of which is still very much alive in the memory of a great many 
people, we continue to pursue that course.  Not only is the institution 
wedded to the idea that we are capable of encouraging a coup that might 
bring Saddam down, but it is so committed to that view that it has 
resisted all alternative suggestions, including what I believe to be the 
most obvious, which is that we get behind the opposition to Saddam 
Hussein.  And in fact, not only has the institution been unwilling to 
support an effort to get behind the opposition to Saddam Hussein, but I 
think it is fair to say that it has worked actively against any such 
suggestion...
  "I'm afraid that despite the valiant effort by a great many in 
Congress, the administration will resist, continue to resist, in every 
way putting those resources [from the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998] to 
use or examining seriously the prospect of mobilizing the opposition to 
Saddam...
  "I believe we do not now have an intelligence establishment that is 
capable of giving us a reasonably objective account of its Iraq policy. 
...
  "Within that controversy lies I think, the single most important issue 
facing us, and also at issue unavoidably is the credibility of the 
Secretary of State, since her account and Scott Ritter's accounts are 
diametrically opposed, or at least that's how I would read the 
statements that she's made....
  [Perle then recounted the US interventions in the UNSCOM inspections, 
going back to the period following the February 23 Annan accord.  
Already, on March 3, at US behest, Amb. Butler removed Scott Ritter from 
an inspection team that he headed then in Baghdad.  But there was a 
revolt among senior members of the UNSCOM team and Butler reinstated 
Ritter.  The next day, March 4, Madeleine Albright affirmed that under 
the recently concluded UN agreement, Iraq had promised UN inspectors 
"immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access" to all sites in 
Iraq.  She repeated that several times later in the week, while touring 
Europe.
  [The inspections occurred then, which included the Ministry of 
Defense.  But we know that there was nothing there.  It seems that the 
administration first posed the challenge and then implemented it in a 
meaningless way that was consistent with Saddam's interest.
  [On July 15, there was reason to believe that UNSCOM would carry out 
an inspection with important results.  But the deputy US UN ambassador, 
Peter Burleigh, met with Ambassador Butler and the inspection was 
postponed.  A very promising opportunity was not permitted to proceed.
  [On August 2, Scott Ritter was in Iraq for the rescheduled inspection. 
 On August 4, the Secretary of State told Butler that it would be a 
mistake to proceed.  On August 5 Iraq suspended all inspections and on 
August 7, Ritter was ordered to return home.
  [On September 1, on CNN, Wolf Blitzer asked Madeleine Albright why 
Ritter had charged that she was blocking UNSCOM inspections.  She 
replied, "I have no idea."  She also defended herself by referring to 
the inspection of the Ministry of Defense, which, she explained had 
never been inspected before.
  [On September 17, at the Carnegie Foundation, when asked to explain 
what had happened regarding the weapons inspections, Albright, referring 
to the cancellation of UNSCOM's last planned inspection, said I think 
[Butler] felt that it was better not to go ahead.  As Perle explained, 
Butler's "feeling" was the product of a conversation he had had with 
Albright on August 4].  
  "I submit that the policy we are carrying out is one of avoiding 
inspections at critical times and in critical places...
  "The head of the Near East division at the CIA, unless he's got a 
story to tell that I've never heard, and none of my investigations have 
revealed, that justifies his continuation in that job, should be removed 
on grounds of incompetence and a lack of the fundamental qualifications 
to hold that position.  The director of intelligence should explain why 
he's been there all this time, despite a record of one failure after 
another.  A select committee of the Congress should be established to 
conduct a thorough investigation of our institutions conducting 
operations in the region...
   "It is high time the Congress...inquire into the last 20 years, and 
they might even start with the last 12 months...
  "And finally, this investigation should include an effort to 
reconsider the competing claims of Scott Ritter and the Secretary of 
State. I am inclined on the basis of the record as it has been 
established to believe Scott Ritter, but I can't prove that Scott Ritter 
is right and the Secretary of State is wrong. She denies ever having 
interfered with inspection plans and he says that she did. We ought to 
get to the bottom of it, and if it turns out that the Secretary of State 
discouraged inspections and lied about it, she should resign. It strikes 
me as embarrassingly similar to others in the administration who 
redefine history and hide behind words that are given personal meanings. 
..
  "The pattern at the upper reaches of the administration of 
misrepresentation, which has already done great damage in the White 
House, must not be allowed to infect the Department of State as well.
 [In the Q & A, Perle explained that the success of the alternative 
approach for overthrowing Saddam-support for the Iraqi National 
Congress-would reflect so much on the failure of the CIA's Near East 
division that they could no longer consider it objectively.  At the 
operational level the problem is incompetence.  At the policy level it 
is an unwillingness to take risks; an extreme aversion to the use of 
force; and blinders to the options available to the US.  I think the 
President has no idea that there exists at least as good an option as 
those that have been tried.  Our policy is little more than clinging to 
sanctions and they are disappearing, because much of the world believes 
that sanctions hurt the Iraqi people too much.  
 [This administration was not ready for the military confrontation that 
would follow the blockage of inspections, assuming that the information 
about that inspection was correct and we would have discovered a great 
deal of information on concealment.  So they backed away from the 
confrontation, just as they backed away from getting involved in every 
confrontation that was worth the fight.
  [There is a failure of will that follows from a failure of analysis.  
There might be more will, if there were better analysis.  They fail to 
under the frailty of power.  I think Saddam Hussein would go the way of 
Ceausescu].