News

STEALTH BOMBING

Iraq News, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1999

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.   GARY SICK, LETTER TO SECRETARY OF COMMERCE ON FBIS, OCT 7
II.  WASH POST, PEOPLE NEED THE FBIS MATERIAL, OCT 8
III. BBC, IRAQI OVERTURE TO US, OCT 7
IV.  PATRICK CLAWSON, "STEALTH BOMBING," TNR, SEPT 6
V.   L. MYLROIE RESPONSE TO CLAWSON & CLAWSON REPLY, TNR, OCT 18

      A serious problem has arisen.  The FBIS translations from media 
sources on the State Dep't's list of embargoed countries, including 
Iraq, are no longer publicly available.  That was a decision recently 
made by the Commerce Dep't.  If any readers would be prepared to write 
letters and otherwise try to help reverse that, it would be much 
appreciated.  Also, please let others know. 
  Letters about the decision should be sent to the Secretary of 
Commerce, Mr. William M. Daley at: FAX (most impact) 202-482-2741; 
E-MAIL; [email protected]; TEL 202-482-2000.  Copies should be sent to Sen. 
William Frist, Chairman of the Science, Technology, and Space 
Subcommittee of the Committee on Science, Commerce and Transportation 
FAX: 202 228 0326; TEL 202 224 8172.
    The FBIS translations of foreign media are, in the view of "Iraq 
News," the single, most important source of information for the study 
and analysis of political developments in the contemporary Middle East. 
They are available to the public on the internet by subscription from 
the "World News Connection," which is run by the Nat'l Technical 
Information Service (NTIS) of the Commerce Dep't. 
    On Fri, Oct 1, WNC sent out a note advising that over the weekend it 
would be upgrading its system for Y2K compliance. The notice also said 
that when WNC became available again on Mon, "You will notice some 
changes to the sources represented.  For example, we have deleted 
sources from the countries contained on the U.S. Department of State 
embargoed list."
     Thus, all items from media sources in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, and 
Libya are no longer available.  Moreover, all such items have been 
deleted from the WNC data base, which goes back to 1995.  Consequently, 
WNC's section on the Middle East/South Asia is a shadow of its former 
self.  Whereas there regularly used to be 100, 200, or even 300 items 
per day, now there are regularly less than 50.
   Why was this done?  Gary Sick, who runs Gulf 2000 at Columbia 
University, looked into the matter.  Sick learned that some people in 
the Commerce Dep't had become concerned about possible copyright 
disputes.  Technically, information from sources like INA, Babil, or 
Iraq Radio are subject to copyright.  NTIS would ordinarily pay a fee to 
use that material.  But a fee cannot lawfully be paid, because of the 
embargo.  Of course, this is nothing new. 
   To paraphrase Sick's Oct 7 letter of protest to Mr. Daley, the US 
bombs Iraq, starves its people, but it is cowed by a possible copyright 
dispute?  How about establishing an escrow fund?  And, as Sick noted 
regarding Iran, it is not a signatory to the copyright convention, so it 
can't sue.  
   Moreover, the Commerce Dep't wants to terminate NTIS altogether. Yet 
as Sick explained, "It is self-supporting from subscriptions and 
provides a well-tested delivery mechanism." 
   The Wash Post, Oct 8, picked up on Sick's letter, asking "Whatever 
happened to such pearls of wisdom as 'information is power' or 'know 
thine enemy'? . . . Could Secretary of Commerce William Daily please 
explain?
    Senate hearings on the fate of NTIS will be held Oct 21.

   It was widely reported, particularly in London's Arabic press, that 
Iraq gave Jordan's King Abdullah a message from Saddam to deliver to US 
officials.  
  As the BBC, Oct 7, stated, "King Abdullah confirmed that he is 
carrying a message though he would not divulge its contents.   . . Arab 
press reports now say his message contains proposals aimed at helping 
the Americans find a way out of the confrontation in which the two 
countries are currently locked.  Quoting Iraqi sources, the pan-Arab 
daily Hayat said the letter contained an offer to introduce a new 
constitution based on a multi-party system and respect for human rights. 
. . . The report says the letter also promises that Iraq would play an 
active role in the Middle East peace process, entering into talks with 
Israel . . . All this, of course, would be in exchange for Washington 
and its allies agreeing to lift sanctions and call off their 
confrontation with Iraq."
   Abdullah had breakfast with the Sec State Oct 12.  During the State 
Dep't briefing that day, Jamie Rubin was asked whether Abdullah had 
delivered a message from Saddam.  Rubin said, "There was no message from 
the Iraqi government delivered by King Abdullah to Secretary Albright.  
At this point, we have no reason to think there would be a message in 
his later meeting with the President."
   As "Iraq News" understands, the Iraqis did ask Abudllah to deliver a 
message, but the US asked Abdullah not to bring it ip.  So it seems 
there was a message, but it was not delivered.
   Of course, no reasonable person would believe that Saddam has changed 
his stripes.  Nor was Saddam likely to have thought that the US would be 
interested in his offer.  So why did he make it?  
   Was it part of an Iraqi diplomatic campaign to isolate the US and 
further erode the post-Gulf war constraints?  Was it deception, to 
encourage the administration to believe Iraq is pressed in order to lay 
the ground for the next blow coming?  Or was it made for some other 
reason?

  "Iraq News" has previously complained that the majority of Middle East 
experts who write about Iraq do not describe, or do not properly 
describe, the threat posed by Saddam's unconventional weapons 
capabilities.  Consequently, their policy recommendations fall short of 
what is necessary to address the problem.
   In The New Republic, Sept 6, Patrick Clawson of The Washington 
Institute for Near East Policy (TWI), wrote that the US bombing campaign 
in northern and southern Iraq has put Saddam "in a vise," while the end 
of [weapons] inspections was no great loss. . . Since these programs 
generally require facilities so large and distinctive that American spy 
satellites can find them, Saddam's nuclear and missile programs are 
somewhat more vulnerable to detection and destruction."
  That, of course, is nonsense and potentially dangerous nonsense at 
that.  As I wrote in a letter to TNR, Oct 18, "Patrick Clawson's 
conclusion in 'Stealth Bombing' (September 6)--that the United States 
needs to support the Iraqi opposition in overthrowing Saddam Hussein--is 
most welcome.  America's Middle East experts have lagged behind . . . in 
advocating such a course.  . . . [But] during the Gulf war, the United 
States did not know about Iraq's main nuclear weapons manufacturing 
center and did not target it. . . . Had Clawson accurately described the 
danger, his argument for supporting the Iraqi opposition would have been 
more compelling and the bankruptcy of present US policy would have been 
clearer."

  "Iraq News" is still exploring the question it asked in the last 
issue--why does the Israeli leadership say virtually nothing about the 
threat from Iraq sans UNSCOM/IAEA?  That has a significant impact, 
including in the US.  For example, if the Israeli Gov't spoke out about 
the problem, neither TWI nor TNR, both very supportive of Israel, would 
have written that there was no real danger of an Iraqi nuclear 
breakthrough. 

I. GARY SICK, LETTER TO SECRETARY OF COMMERCE OVER FBIS
October 7, 1999
Mr. William M. Daley
Secretary of Commerce
via fax: 202-482-2741
Dear Mr. Daley:
   I am writing with regard to two issues involving your Department that 
directly affect me and my colleagues in the academic and journalistic 
communities.
   1. In a recent note to subscribers, World News Connection (WNC) 
announced that "we have deleted sources from the countries contained on 
the U.S. Department of State embargoed list and, in addition, refined 
the representation of sources previously provided." This means that 
materials from such countries as Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Libya will no 
longer be published in WNC and that previously reported materials have 
been deleted from the data base.
   2. I understand that the Department of Commerce has proposed 
termination of NTIS.
   I am one of many scholars who have long relied on WNC and its 
predecessor FBIS to make available broadcasts of full texts of speeches, 
editorial comment in non-English newspapers, and facts that never make 
it to the Western media but are crucial for understanding other 
countries. Although this service attracts little public attention, it is 
widely used by scholars, journalists and policy analysts everywhere. 
Many university libraries (including Columbia) pay a hefty sum to make 
it available to their students.
   The embargoed countries--now deleted--are where WNC is most 
important, since their policy differences with the United States often 
make it difficult to get original materials, especially in good 
translation. They are also countries that tend to be under-reported in 
the Western media and that are particularly important in terms of policy 
developments. Because of the recent deletions of embargoed countries, 
much of this uniquely valuable information will no longer be available.
   As I understand it, the reason for this change of policy is a legal 
Catch-22.  Because of sanctions, the United States cannot pay copyright 
fees for these materials. So, rather than risk the danger of a legal
challenge, all such material will be tossed in the waste basket. The 
United States has unilaterally bombed Iraq, Sudan and Libya but we cower 
at the prospect of a copyright dispute? (Couldn't we just put the funds 
in escrow?) Were your lawyers aware of the fact that Iran is not even a 
signatory to the copyright convention, thereby removing any basis 
whatsoever for a suit?
   I find your decision to terminate NTIS even more incomprehensible, 
since it is self-supporting from subscriptions and provides a 
well-tested delivery mechanism. Any alternative arrangement would cost 
more and provide less service to the people who rely on it.
   The information provided through NTIS makes an irreplaceable 
contribution to U.S. national security. It informs us about other 
countries in ways that otherwise would be nearly impossible. It costs 
virtually nothing in comparison with almost any other national security 
system. It is not as sexy as a bomber or a missile, but its 
contributions to national security can be attested to by generations of 
policy-makers. I was in the White House during the Iranian revolution 
and the hostage crisis, and my respect for the power of this information 
was born at that time. I often found it more helpful than the reams of 
classified material that came across my desk at the NSC.
   Both of the decisions above were taken without any consultation with 
those who actually rely on the work of FBIS and NTIS. I have taken the 
liberty of alerting many of my colleagues in the academic and 
journalistic community about these developments. I am also sending a 
copy of this letter to Senator William Frist, Chairman of the Science, 
Technology and Space Subcommittee for his consideration in the upcoming 
hearings.
   I sincerely hope that you will reexamine both of these decisions.
Yours truly,
Gary G. Sick
Senior Research Scholar
Columbia University
cc: Senator William Frist
by fax: 202-228-0326

II. WASH POST, PEOPLE NEED THE FBIS MATERIAL
Washington Post
No News Isn't Good News 
By Nora Boustany
Friday, October 8, 1999; Page A25 
   What ever happened to such pearls of wisdom as "information is power" 
or "know thine enemy?" Scholars, historians, journalists, policy 
analysts and diplomats will no longer be able to turn to the Commerce 
Department's World News Connection for material from countries under 
U.S. sanctions--such as Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Libya. 
The service provides full texts of speeches, information from national 
news agencies and editorial comment from non-English newspapers, not to 
mention facts that never make it into the media. 
   World News Connection is the division of Commerce that was designated 
as the successor to the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service for 
public distribution of materials on countries around the world. The 
embargoed countries, now deleted from the database, are where that 
source material is most important since it is often difficult to get 
original material in good translation, academics and policy analysts 
argue. 
  The World News Connection announced its policy change in a report 
about Y2K compliance. "In addition, you will notice some changes to the 
sources represented. For example, we have deleted sources from the 
countries contained on the U.S. Department of State embargoed list," 
said the notification buried deep in the report. 
   The legal catch is that because of sanctions, the United States 
cannot pay copyright fees for these materials. "The United States has 
unilaterally bombed Iraq, Sudan and Libya, but we cower at the prospect 
of a copyright dispute?" asked Gary Sick, a former member of the 
National Security Council. "Couldn't we just put the funds in escrow? 
This information makes an irreplaceable contribution to U.S. national 
security. It informs us about other countries in ways that otherwise 
would be nearly impossible." 
  In 1997, a congressional attempt to cut funding to the information 
service was defeated in the face of public protest, so the demand is out 
there. In fact, hefty subscription rates make the World News Connection 
financially self-supporting. The monitoring of television, radio, news 
agencies and the print media will continue, but the transcripts for 
countries under sanction will only be available to the U.S. government. 
Could Secretary of Commerce William Daley, who is responsible for the 
decision, please explain? . . .

III. BBC, IRAQI OVERTURE TO US
Thursday, October 7, 1999 Published at 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK 
Iraq 'makes peace bid' 
Iraq seeks end to bombing 
By Jim Muir in Cairo 
   Arab press reports say Iraqi president Saddam Hussein has offered a 
deal aimed at ending the confrontation between Iraq and the United 
States. 
   A message from the Iraqi leader is being carried by King Abdullah of 
Jordan, who is on his way to the United States for 10 days of talks with 
American officials, including President Clinton. 
Saddam bids to break deadlock
   Setting off for his second visit to Washington since he took the 
throne in February, King Abdullah confirmed that he is carrying a 
message though he would not divulge its contents. 
   The Iraqi leader has for some time been signalling his readiness to 
enter a direct dialogue with Washington. 
   Arab press reports now say his message contains proposals aimed at 
helping the Americans find a way out of the confrontation in which the 
two countries are currently locked. 
Constitutional reform
   Quoting Iraqi sources, the pan-Arab daily Hayat, said the letter 
contained an offer to introduce a new constitution based on a 
multi-party system and respect for human rights. 
   Qusai to take more prominent role Saddam's son, Qusai, would be given 
a more prominent leadership role, presumable with Saddam Hussein himself 
moving into the background. The report said the letter also promises 
that Iraq would play an active role in the Middle East peace process, 
entering into talks with Israel. 
   All this, of course, would be in exchange for Washington and its 
allies agreeing to lift sanctions and call off their confrontation with 
Iraq. 
   Since United Nations weapons inspectors were pulled out late last 
year, American and British jets have been involved in frequent attacks 
on Iraqi installations - the latest on Wednesday. 
   Since December more than 25,000 sorties have been flown to enforce 
the controversial no-fly zones over the north and south of the country. 
In the north alone, more than 1,000 bombs have been dropped on 250 
different targets. 
   But other international powers are deeply uneasy about their 
strategy, and their aim of overthrowing Saddam Hussein appears to be no 
nearer to fruition. 
Concrete 'bombs'
   The US is reported to have recently switched to bombing targets with 
concrete in place of high explosive in an attempt to keep civilian 
casualties to a minimum. 
   The bombs are said to destroy the target but cause minimal damage to 
the surrounding area. According to the US, Saddam Hussein has 
deliberately placed military facilities near civilian populations. 
    The Iraqi leader is now clearly signalling now that he wants to help 
the Americans break the deadlock; but there has been no sign so far that 
Washington shares that aspiration.

IV. PATRICK CLAWSON, "STEALTH BOMBING"
http://www.tnr.com/magazines/tnr/archive/0999/090699/clawson090699.html
V. MYLROIE RESPONSE TO CLAWSON & CLAWSON REPLY
The New Republic
October 18, 1999
Nuclear Presence
TO THE EDITORS:
   Patrick Clawson's conclusion in "Stealth Bombing" (September 6)--that 
the United States needs to support the Iraqi oppo-sition in overthrowing 
Saddam Hussein--is most welcome. America's Middle East experts have 
lagged behind certain national security figures in advocating such a 
course.  But, as someone consulted by a TNR fact-checker for this 
article, I would like to point out a major error.
   Clawson claimed that the end of the presence of U.N. weapons 
inspectors (UNSCOM) in Iraq was "no great loss," while "Saddam's nuclear 
and missile programs are somewhat more vulnerable to detec-tion and 
destruction" now because they re-quire such large facilities that spy 
satellites will be able to detect them. That is not necessarily so. 
During the Gulf war, the United States did not know about Iraq's main 
nuclear weapons manufacturing center and did not target it.  Moreover, 
Iraq's nuclear program is, in significant respects, more advanced than 
it was at that point.  After the August 5 defection of Saddam's 
son-in-law Hussein Kamil, who bad overseen Iraq's unconventional weapons 
programs, it was discovered that Iraq's nuclear program had continued 
after the war and that Iraqi scientists had solved the problem of 
designing a bomb small enough to fit on a missile. Thus, all Iraq needed 
to make a nuclear bomb was the fis-sile material. And, if Iraq managed 
to get such material, the weapons fabrication facility to turn it into a 
bomb would be small--undetectable by satellite.
   Clawson wrote only about inspections, failing to mention UNSCOM'S 
monitoring of Iraq's large industrial base. Dual-use equipment was 
tagged and regularly checked to insure that it had not been diverted for 
proscribed purposes.  The equipment for shaping the core of nuclear 
bombs was monitored while UNSCOM was there but is not any longer. The 
same is true about Iraq's missile program. Iraq is allowed to have 
limited-range "de-fensive" missiles. while UNSCOM was in Iraq, it could 
ensure that the country's declared facilities were not being used to 
build longer-range missiles. But who can tell now?
   Saddam's determination to retain chemical, biological, and nuclear 
weapons programs even in the face of punitive economic sanctions should 
be a matter of concern, particularly with UNSCOM's presence ended. Had 
Clawson accurately described the danger, his argument for supporting the 
Iraqi opposition would have been more compelling and the bankruptcy of 
present U.S. policy would have been clearer.
Laurie Mylroie
Publisher, Iraq News
Washington, D.C.
PATRICK CLAWSON REPLIES:
   Laurie Mylroie is correct that, if Iraq got hold of fissile material, 
it could produce a nuclear bomb in a small facility not detectable by 
satellite. Inspections would do little to solve this problem, because 
the facility needed would be so small that it could be hidden from any 
conceivable inspections regime. (Also, the necessary equipment is 
compact enough to be readily smuggled in.) This is one of the reasons 
the U.S. government puts such a high priority on its program with the 
former Soviet states to prevent diversion of fissile material.