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].