Behind 'Plot' on Hussein,
a Secret Agenda
ISM 469, June 19 2002
June 24, 2002. CSCAweb (www.nodo50.org/csca)
'Now that Bush has specifically
authorized American covert-operations forces to remove Hussein,
however, the Iraqis will never trust an inspection regime that
has already shown itself susceptible to infiltration and manipulation
by intelligence services hostile to Iraq. The leaked CIA covert
operations plan effectively kills any chance of inspectors returning
to Iraq, and it closes the door on the last opportunity for shedding
light on the true state of affairs regarding any threat in the
form of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction'
President Bush has reportedly authorized the CIA to use all
of the means at its disposal - including U.S. military special
operations forces and CIA paramilitary teams- to eliminate Iraq's
Saddam Hussein. According to reports, the CIA is to view any
such plan as "preparatory" for a larger military strike.
Congressional leaders from both parties have greeted these
reports with enthusiasm. In their rush to be seen as embracing
the president's hard-line stance on Iraq, however, almost no
one in Congress has questioned why a supposedly covert operation
would be made public, thus undermining the very mission it was
intended to accomplish.
It is high time that Congress start questioning the hype and
rhetoric emanating from the White House regarding Baghdad, because
the leaked CIA plan is well timed to undermine the efforts underway
in the United Nations to get weapons inspectors back to work
In early July, the U.N. secretary-general will meet with Iraq's
foreign minister for a third round of talks on the return of
the weapons monitors. A major sticking point is Iraqi concern
over the use-or abuse-of such inspections by the U.S. for intelligence
I recall during my time as a chief inspector in Iraq the dozens
of extremely fit "missile experts" and "logistics
specialists" who frequented my inspection teams and others.
Drawn from U.S. units such as Delta Force or from CIA paramilitary
teams such as the Special Activities Staff (both of which have
an ongoing role in the conflict in Afghanistan), these specialists
had a legitimate part to play in the difficult cat-and-mouse
effort to disarm Iraq. So did the teams of British radio intercept
operators I ran in Iraq from 1996 to 1998-which listened in on
the conversations of Hussein's inner circle-and the various other
intelligence specialists who were part of the inspection effort.
The presence of such personnel on inspection teams was, and
is, viewed by the Iraqi government as an unacceptable risk to
its nation's security.
As early as 1992, the Iraqis viewed the teams I led inside
Iraq as a threat to the safety of their president. They were
concerned that my inspections were nothing more than a front
for a larger effort to eliminate their leader.
Those concerns were largely baseless while I was in Iraq.
Now that Bush has specifically authorized American covert-operations
forces to remove Hussein, however, the Iraqis will never trust
an inspection regime that has already shown itself susceptible
to infiltration and manipulation by intelligence services hostile
to Iraq, regardless of any assurances the U.N. secretary-general
The leaked CIA covert operations plan effectively kills any
chance of inspectors returning to Iraq, and it closes the door
on the last opportunity for shedding light on the true state
of affairs regarding any threat in the form of Iraqi weapons
of mass destruction.
Absent any return of weapons inspectors, no one seems willing
to challenge the Bush administration's assertions of an Iraqi
threat. If Bush has a factual case against Iraq concerning weapons
of mass destruction, he hasn't made it yet.
Can the Bush administration substantiate any of its claims
that Iraq continues to pursue efforts to reacquire its capability
to produce chemical and biological weapons, which was
dismantled and destroyed by U.N. weapons inspectors from 1991
to 1998? The same question applies to nuclear weapons. What facts
show that Iraq continues to pursue nuclear weapons aspirations?
Bush spoke ominously of an Iraqi ballistic missile threat
to Europe. What missile threat is the president talking about?
These questions are valid, and if the case for war is to be made,
they must be answered with more than speculative rhetoric.
Congress has seemed unwilling to challenge the Bush administration's
pursuit of war against Iraq. The one roadblock to an all-out
U.S. assault would be weapons inspectors reporting on the facts
inside Iraq. Yet without any meaningful discussion and debate
by Congress concerning the nature of the threat posed by Baghdad,
war seems all but inevitable.
The true target of the supposed CIA plan may not be Hussein
but rather the weapons inspection program itself. The real casualty
is the last chance to avoid bloody conflict.