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"ACA's journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent."

– Hans Blix
Former IAEA Director-General
Iraq

Interview with David Kay

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David Kay, former lead inspector of the Iraq Survey Group, spoke with ACT editor Miles Pomper and research analyst Paul Kerr March 5 on the search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. In the wide-ranging interview, Kay urged Vice President Dick Cheney to come clean about the failure to find WMD in Iraq. He also addressed what really happened to Iraq's unaccounted for biological and chemical weapons, called for enhanced international inspections of suspected WMD facilities, and said the Iraq war was not worth waging on WMD-grounds alone.

ACT: The New York Times today reported that it now appears that before the war Russian scientists and technicians had violated United Nations resolutions by helping Iraq develop long-range missiles[1] . Did you come across evidence of that in your investigations?

Kay: Yeah, and we reported it in the October [ISG] report[2]. We didn't identify the countries in the report. Jim [James Risen of The New York Times] has gotten other people in the intelligence community to identify the country. I have said, I think the major reason it's important to continue the work of the survey group is to pull out this international procurement network. We really, you know, we've had a number of cases [like] the A. Q. Khan[3] one. Although I'm a little worried. A. Q. Khan is, everyone is focusing on him. [In fact] it's a remarkable series of networks that seem to be running now, providing both the technology and the equipment to countries. The unknown is: are they also doing it to groups, non-state actors? You don't know that. It's actually, the interesting thing about states. States are easier to penetrate, they have a fixed location, they have a structure that endures and so you can focus on them. And many of them, like the Libyans and the Iranians, are subject to international inspection, so you have a process for verifying the truth. Now, I think the most dangerous phenomenon to crop up in the arms area in the last decade, really since the fall of the Soviet Union. Although some of it existed before, you have to say the Iraqi network that supported their program certainly predates the fall of the Soviet Union.

ACT:
Vice President Cheney recently said that there might still be weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. Your mid-January report was obviously fairly skeptical of that possibility. Do you think he's being realistic? Do you think his comments are helpful?


Kay: I certainly think it's important to continue the search for reasons of the procurement network if nothing else, and I think all of us recognize that since Iraq had weapons pre-1991, it is possible that their efforts to destroy them were less than 100 percent complete. I mean, most things in Iraq don't run at 100 percent efficiency. So, I wouldn't be surprised if there turned out to be rockets or mortars with pre-1990 gas, and so it's worth doing. What worries me about the vice president's statement is, I think people who hold out for a Hail-Mary pass—and lo and behold maybe we'll find that stockpile a year or two years out so everyone keeps searching-delay the inevitable looking back at what went wrong. I believe we have enough evidence now to say that the intelligence process, and the policy process that used that information, did not work at the level of effectiveness that we require in the age that we live in. It's a little like the analogy I sometimes use [of NASA's troubled and nearly fatal Apollo 13 mission to the moon]: in Apollo 13, if when the astronauts had said, "Houston, we have a problem," mission control had responded, "Well, you're only a third of the way to the moon. Why don't you keep going and we'll see how serious this problem is? And if and when you get there you don't make it, we'll investigate and we'll fix it for the next one." I mean, it is very hard for institutions to fix problems while they're in denial as to whether the problem really existed. And I am concerned that statements by the vice president and others—principally the vice president and the administration—really raise that issue.

ACT: So you think they are in denial at this point?

Kay: Well, I think you can read that statement of the vice president and say that he certainly is in denial and is holding hope that well, maybe the weapons will eventually be discovered. I don't think… I think most others at the working level recognize the correctness of the assessment that those weapons don't exist. And one has to say about the president himself, you know the president created the commission, which was to look back at it, and I think that's a hopeful sign. What I really find a little bit strange politically is the president already, even in the [January 2004] State of the Union address, where he didn't refer to weapons, but he referred to program elements, the same terminology I used in October. The president seems to be well beyond the point, but as long as you have others in the administration say, "Well, they may turn up later," you actually—well, I mean, it's really stupid politics. Which isn't my concern, but it creates this impression that some in the administration think they may still be there, while others recognize that it's very unlikely they'll be there and are prepared to get along with the act of understanding what went wrong.

ACT: Prior to the war you were one the leading critics of the United Nations weapons inspectors' effectiveness, yet you've now said that the results of your search indicate that the UN inspectors and sanctions were more effective than any of the critics had thought.

Kay:
Well, when you get there, when you're on the inside and you have freedom to look at both what went on, as well as to interview the Iraqis who were involved, it's hard not to come away with the impression that they greatly UNSCOM[4] feared inspections and monitoring. And they clearly took steps in the '90s based on their belief that certain things would be found by the inspectors as they continued. And generally most inspectors, and this includes heads of the inspection process—if you go back and read statements from [former UNSCOM chiefs] Rolf Ekeus and Richard Butler, we focused on the limitations that the Iraqis were imposing on the inspections. And so we were looking at the difficulty that the inspectors had in operating, whereas the Iraqis, we now understand, were looking at the effectiveness the inspectors were achieving even with those limitations.

Now on sanctions I think the issue is somewhat more complicated. The Iraqis never really suffered greatly from lack of money as a result of sanctions. What sanctions did more than anything else—because the Iraqis defeated sanctions by resorting to black market, illegal activities—is clearly push an Iraqi decision-making system and economic system that was already corrupted and based on the Saddam Hussein family, loyalty, and all. It pushed it even more into the criminal vein and as it distorted the economic process of the country, it really played to the worst elements, which were really very bad, of the regime.

And so that the graft, the corruption, the figure which we've been given of about 60 percent of the skimming off the UN Oil-For-Food program went into new palace construction, an extraordinary figure. What sanctions did is it really, it drove the system to go underground, become corrupt, become clandestine, and much of the procurement of the weapons systems in the '80s were completely aboveground, arrangements with Western suppliers, mostly. Which were not hidden from view, by and large. And so, it really did have an impact that was distorting on their capability, and I think may have been the final thing that pushed them over the brink to what I call this vortex of total fraud and corruption that they were sinking into.

ACT: What about their ability to actually get necessary materials or dual use items and so on?

Kay: Well here again, it may be whether we're looking at the glass half full or half empty. They managed to continue to import a large amount of technology—both expertise and goods—that clearly were prohibited by the sanctions program. Now, clearly that amount is less than they would have been able to import if there had been no sanctions program. So I think it did inhibit their imports. It certainly made the imports more expensive in that they had to go a clandestine route for importation. Now, there's no evidence that money was a limitation on their program. What was a limitation was having the difficulty of getting it clandestinely and not always being able to openly procure from the best possible source, having to work through three middle men or so to get it, and getting it through a series of countries that trans-shipped it. So, I think it is fair to say that sanctions did limit the robustness of their program. Although I do think, I'm still struck, having spent the last six/seven months there, at how much they were able to get illegally. It just happened we were lucky that it was a system that was breaking down, so most of the stuff they got they weren't able to effectively use.

ACT:
What role do you think now is appropriate for UNMOVIC[5] and the International Atomic Energy Agency in Iraq? Should the UN be afforded access to the classified version of your report?

Kay: Well, first of all, let's talk about physical access in Iraq. There were former inspectors, UNMOVIC and UNSCOM inspectors, Australians, and Brits, and Americans, that still are part of the survey group. The difficulty of, for example, inviting UNMOVIC to come back in, or even the IAEA to come back in, is a physical security issue. The UN after its headquarters was bombed withdrew everyone because of the threat of violence. Every inspector that worked for me—and myself included-was weapons—qualified, and carried a weapon. We lived in facilities that were almost routinely mortared. I mean, these were very unsafe conditions, and I couldn't imagine, I don't think anyone could imagine… the UN just does not expose its people to that level of risk, and that's appropriate. No UNSCOM inspector was ever armed, or UNMOVIC inspectors. We all rejected that option at the first inspection when it was considered, but it wasn't considered even very long.

With regard to the free exchange of information, I think it is appropriate at some point for that information to be exchanged. The difficulty of exchanging, in at least the six months I was involved and I suspect the same thing is true now, [is that] just because an Iraqi tells you something, or just because you get some records, you're not at the end-game and you're not prepared. It's raw and you're still looking to see if it's true, seeking other verification. For example, Jim Risen's article is broadly true in today's Times about the Russian missile involvement. The difficulty during my period there is we didn't yet have the names of all the Russian engineers who were there. We were running them down, we were seeking as well to find out whether they had been involved with other countries, because Iraq's not the only proliferation problem in the world. At some point it is clearly appropriate to face the Russian government, as well as the various regimes—[for example] in the case of missiles, the MTCR[6] and you know, here are the cases. And Jim Risen made it clear it's not just Russian firms—there were firms from at least three or four other countries involved. All of that needs to pass into the MTCR, and maybe UNMOVIC. But certainly MTCR, because the concern is not just Iraq, it's other people, other countries.

More broadly, I think there is, and we're almost at that point now where we're going to have to turn long-term monitoring of Iraq over to two different groups. First of all, the Iraqis. We'd already started, before I left, the discussions with the Iraqi authorities about the creation of a national monitoring capability that would in fact continue to perform the appropriate national role in safeguarding its technology and, over the long-term, be responsible for determining anything that turns up that's been missed during inspections. But secondly, Iraq is going to be subject—and it's still subject, depending on how lawyers determine the state succession rules—to treaties it's already signed, like the [nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT], and its membership in the UN. Here again, there is this murky area of international law called state succession where you've got to determine whether the new government is still bound by everything the old government, the old state signed. I assume the answer is probably going to be yes, and all the UN resolutions as they relate to monitoring. So, there needs to be some international body that takes, and certainly the U.S. coalition is not the appropriate body for the long-term monitoring of Iraq's responsibility to its international agreements.

Those agreements, in most cases, have their own inspection reporting requirements. It also may be that in this region, given what's going on in Iran, for example, that the Iranians, Iraqis, and other states in the region, may decide, much like the Brazilians and the Argentines, to start with some sort of broader regional arms control agreement, which is not incompatible or in competition with their international obligations. But it would be a shame at this point, if in fact someone doesn't step forward in Iran or Iraq, and suggest regional security and stabilization ought to be something we think about and make this really a historic turning point. Because we went to war with the Iraqi government, we forget that Iraq's real enemies—and it has real enemies—are in the region because they went to war with Kuwait and with Iran. So some sort of regional stabilization that gave people on all sides of the borders confidence in what the others were doing would strike me as an appropriate one. And there again I think that's probably not, there's no role for the U.S. in that, other than [a] provider of technology as we help the other countries seeking to do that.

ACT: Do you think that they also may raise some uncomfortable questions about the Israeli nuclear program?

Kay: Well, that's, you know, that's been the historic problem with arms control in the Middle East. Everyone has said, "Well, we'll do it, but only if the Israelis do it." It strikes me that you've got a moment in time right now, with regard to the Iranian nuclear program, not their missile or chem or bio program, but their nuclear program-and with Iraq, where foresighted leadership might say "our objective is over the long run a more comprehensive Middle Eastern weapons of mass destruction-free zone." Well, we're not going to miss this opportunity to try to readjust the relationships between the two or three countries most involved. And just like, I don't, I would not view that as in competition with the IAEA, NPT, CWC[7], any of the other arms control agreements, nor would I view any competition with the ultimate objective of a nuclear free zone. One would like to think, even, that there would be the leadership that would say if we can do it between states that have a history of conflict of Iran and Iraq—I mean a million people were killed in that war in the '80s—we can maybe establish the mechanisms and competence that later we can do it with regard to other states in the region.

So, I mean, I think, it would be a shame if the traditional bugaboo of arms control in the Middle East—that is, the Israeli program—were to get in the way of real statesmanship now. And I think there is some possibility of that. I mean, the interesting thing to me that makes it a valid idea is you have a large number of Shias [Shiite Muslims] on both the Iranian and Iraqi side of the border. The Shias in Iraq are going for the first time in 35 years or so, play a role in government. So, for them, reestablishing a basis of cooperation of both the Iranian and Iraqi side, which involves some sort of arms control arrangement, would strike me as being an issue that is really quite separate from the Israeli issue, in terms of the domestic politics of Iraq.

ACT: In a recent speech at the U.S. Institute for Peace you mentioned that international inspections can play an important role in coping with future weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats. What do you think is the proper role for international inspections regimes such as the IAEA and UNMOVIC, and what's your opinion on suggestions that UNMOVIC be retained as some sort of permanent inspections body?

Kay: Well, let me deal with the first one and come back to the last one. I think the challenge right now is to try to find a way to break out of this old argument between those who support international institutions and treaties, and those who found them to be less effective and has concentrated on military unilateral military solutions, and to seek ways to make international inspections more effective. You've got to realize, if you just take the nuke programs, you've got the Iranians now saying they had an illegal nuclear program that the IAEA did not identify for about 18 years until recently. And the Libyan program seems, although the information—at least in the open press—is less, seems to have been going on through 12 and 15 years. Also not detected. So, quite apart from Iraq, there is this issue of, "Can we make inspections more robust, so that programs like this would indeed be detectable?" I think the answer is yes. I think a combination of intelligence capability and new inspection technology can make those organizations much more effective [and] we have an obligation to do that. I think in the process of doing that, then the role for the existing international institutions that have inspections regimes—that's principally CWC and the NPT—I think is very good, and is important to do. It still leaves us with this problem of biological [weapons], where we have a treaty, but we don't have an inspection [regime][8].

ACT: Doesn't it also leave us with the problem of missile proliferation?

Kay: Well, and missiles…you don't have inspections. What you've got-and clearly it's not working and that's important to understand—is you thought if you impose requirements on those states that have missile capabilities (who are members of the MTCR), that would be one way of controlling it. Now it's quite clear, as a result of what happened in Iraq, states didn't exercise that authority very well. And so indeed you do need to consider, I think, whether, in fact, there is an inspection capability that needs to be created around the missile area. In some ways that's going to be as difficult as biological, but it certainly needs to be done. The issue of retaining UNMOVIC, to me it's a hard one to understand, because how would that play against IAEA inspection capabilities? In other words, what would its mission be?

ACT: Hans Blix, the former head of UNMOVIC, has suggested that the organization concentrate on the biological and missile areas[9], that these could be somewhere that UNMOVIC could play a role.

Kay: Well, it, it might be, although I would think the recent history of negotiating BWC expansion would suggest that it's more likely to be done among specialists that are focused in the same way you did IAEA nuke inspections or CWC. The slice of those states that have the technical capabilities and have the programs make it easier than a sort of UN negotiation. I think the same thing. I mean the whole MTCR arose out of that similar belief. We need to reexamine that and say, "Would it be easier to get more effective regimes if we did it multilateral across all regime areas, or across those two that don't have major inspection capabilities right now?" I'm just not certain… I would hate to see anything that would weaken either the…legitimacy of the CWC or the impetus to improve NPT. I think the urgency on the nuclear area and on the chemical area, is such that I would hate to see, for example, the additional protocol become the last step in the modernization of the NPT while we wait for some broader international negotiation that would make UNMOVIC more capable. Now, if the argument is going to be, "well, we'll just make UNMOVIC capable for biological and for missiles, and we'll let the reformation of the NPT and the improvement of CWC just go along the natural [path]. I guess that makes, that's less of an issue in terms of how it impacts with… it doesn't strike me that's a logical nature. And so much of UNMOVIC came out of the Iraqi experience. I mean, it's the logical successor to UNSCOM. Actually, I think many states would be reluctant to become subject to something that had that sort of parentage. UNSCOM and UNMOVIC were designed for a defeated state that was in opposition to the UN. I would like to believe that we…some of the rights to go anywhere, anytime, anyplace, that UNSCOM pioneered and that UNMOVIC later took up, would be key parts of this reformation of the inspection process. But I'm not sure that it's going to be easy to negotiate that in terms of the parentage of UNMOVIC. I'm agnostic on this, as to which is going to be the easiest way.

ACT: What about long-term monitoring? Clearly any regime would be better than Saddam's, but still people say they have a history of developing nuclear weapons…

Kay: You mean for long-term monitoring of Iraq? Sure.

ACT: Right, but also what we're asking the Iraqi government to do, and we're probably in a position to do, is to accept being an exception. That they have to accept a regime of inspection, and other people don't. What if you applied that more broadly? What if you could keep, say UNMOVIC, as a body you use for the hard cases, for the the Iraqs of the world, the North Koreans, and maybe the Iranians of the world?Instead of kind of worrying about the problem of universalizing a regime, you keep a body of expertise for the times when a country does have to be subjected to extraordinary measures?

Kay: I think that's a possibility, although you realize that, take North Korea. The real political issue right now has been whether North Korea is an item that should pass from the IAEA to the Security Council[10]. And the only way you would energize something like UNMOVIC would be just passage across the transom, from the specific regimes, or something to do it. And the lessons are, that's very hard. I don't think the Iranians, for example, would take very well to the idea that their past cheating now justifies them being treated by an inspection regime that's called UNMOVIC because of the heritage of UNMOVIC. I don't think the Libyans would either. I mean, there's a real question: "Have you gotten this far with the Iranians because you've been able to keep it within the context of the NPT context without ripping to shreds?" Though—and the same thing is true with the Libyans—you've been able to do it without passing into the high pressure Security Council New York regime. And of course the North Koreans withdrew from the NPT rather than be subjected to that. It just depends on how the political dynamics work.

I think the important lesson that you do want to survive out of UNMOVIC and UNSCOM is the lessons that in certain cases you need expanded rights to provide security and confidence that the state is living up to its obligation. Now whether those expanded rights ought to be within IAEA, CWC, and you do have this fact that for two regime areas, missiles and biological, you don't have a fully robust organization. And so the question has to be, should we now push again on BWC and push to further institutionalize MTCR so it looks more like NPT, CWC, or should we just take it in to the UN? It strikes me the argument is not clear as to which is better on that one. In one sense, I feel better about an inspection process that doesn't draw artificial lines between nuke and chem and bio and missiles, because most states as they operate those programs don't draw those distinctions. So an inspection regime like UNMOVIC has an inherent advantage over stovepiping of the IAEA or some other. On the other hand, the reluctance to go the Security Council supported route, for political reasons, is so great I wonder if it would really be utilized. And in some ways, we're at the point that modernization of the IAEA/NPT inspection regime now for the first time really looks feasible, much more than just the Additional Protocols[11], because of Libya, because of Iran, because of North Korea. I would hate for that to die because, well, we're gonna wait and see if we can't enhance another inspection regime to take over the hard cases.

ACT: To make the perfect the enemy of the good.


Kay: Yeah, to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

ACT: Getting back to the ISG (Iraq Survey Group) experience. You attributed some of the difficulties to the inherent difficulty of conducting joint operations between different government agencies. How can future inspections operations better integrate intelligence and military aspects such as the coordination between the CIA and the Pentagon?


Kay: I think the fundamental flaw that we got into is, in all this run-up to the war, no one sat down and said, "Okay, we're going to win the war, that's obvious. What are we going to do about the weapons, and what's the organization to find and root out the weapons program?" and then taken a clean sheet of paper and said, okay, here's how we're going to do it. Instead, what happened is the military very late in the planning process created this organization called the 75th Exploitation task force, which was an entire military unit, very small military unit, that was charged with finding the weapons and follow the bulk of the forces into Iraq and Kuwait, rather late and without any capabilities. By June, it was recognized [that there was a problem]. Judy Miller from [The New York] Times did a brilliant series on the problems of the 75th. So then it was thought, "Well we've got to fix that, let's have an expanded organization called the Iraqi Survey Group."

Now the survey group was never in its original formulation intended to be just for WMD. It had prisoners of war—including the case of Kuwaiti prisoners of war—recovery of cultural artifacts, the looting of museums and all that, as well as WMD. And it was to be an entirely military organization. Military commander reporting to a military commander, DOD [Department of Defense] funded, DOD organized. It didn't actually have a CIA component at all in it. Well, when that didn't work either, then there was this quick decision to transfer the authority to the intelligence community, and have the intelligence community lead it, but using this organization that was a military organization. That's what I refer to as really being unworkable.

I think if you have to do this in the future, and let me say I hope we don't have to do this in the future, I think it would be far better to multilateralize it, and—well, it would be far better to avoid the war, but it you have to do it after a post-conflict, it probably… you ought to take a clean sheet of paper and create an organization that is either entirely military and led by the military to do it, or an organization that is staffed, reported, led by the intelligence community. For military assets, there are components of it that flow into it, but they are not a dominant military organization.

Like I say, I hope that will be the relatively rare case. For example, if you take the Libyan case…what you had was an intelligence-led collection effort that went in to remove equipment and to conduct interrogations. I think that would be my model. If you've got to do it, you do it with that intelligence focus. Now, the answer against that is: "You hadn't fought a war with Libya, it wasn't a dangerous battlefield. You didn't need the things you needed in Iraq. We needed people who could shoot, we needed helicopters, we needed force protection. So you needed a lot of things that you normally only get from the military." But I think the structure and the table and the way it was organized was just bound to cause problems. I'm actually remarkably surprised there were as few problems as there were.

ACT: Prior to the invasion last March, U.S. officials claimed to have intelligence Iraq was defeating inspections efforts through various denial and deception tactics. What evidence has emerged regarding Iraqi cooperation with UN inspectors?

Kay:
Actually, a fair amount of evidence. I think that's one case in which the claim is largely supported. That is, we have a number of interviews and interrogations that we conducted of scientists and engineers who had been interviewed by UNMOVIC who said that they had not told UNMOVIC the truth, and they then proceeded to take us to documents and equipment and records that they had sequestered away and given to us. And they said it simply was that they didn't believe that UNMOVIC could protect them from the secret police organization, intelligence organization of the Iraqi state, that they had been warned not to cooperate, they had been briefed, and they went into great detail about how they had been briefed prior to interviews. So, there was that.

There also were major discoveries of equipment and facilities, and the interesting thing about that is not so much that UNMOVIC didn't find—it's very difficult without intelligence to find stuff in Iraq or anywhere, and that includes the ISG. The interesting thing is, we got access to the records and to the people involved in the discussions in which the Iraqis themselves had decided which facilities they would reveal—put into the full final complete declaration 1441[12]—and which ones they would not. So it's quite clear the Iraqis took some out, [took some facilities] off the table. And we were able, because the Iraqis were more free to talk, to find those. We also discovered that the Iraqis had hidden certain facilities in places that are typically difficult for inspectors to go—mosques is one facility—the best English translation is Chamber of Commerce. It really, it was the Union of Industrialists, which had equipment which should have been declared to the UN of a biological-chemical nature. So, there was a fairly robust D&D [Deception and Denial ] program, considering what they had to hide. Which, I mean, they weren't hiding large production facilities or large stockpiles.

Now, I think it would be unfair to say that that was just designed to mislead UN inspectors. They were even more fearful of U.S. air-attack. So, a lot of the deception and denial techniques were designed to shield the facilities from being identified by—and this is over a long term, throughout the 90s—being identified by the U.S., because they feared air attacks, like Desert Fox[13].

ACT: In the lead up to the war in March 2003, several UN Security Council members formulated proposals to strengthen the UN inspection regime, give Iraq more time to comply. If these had been accepted, would they have garnered more Iraqi cooperation? Would the UN mandated monitoring and verification system have been effective in halting future Iraqi prohibited weapons activities?


Kay: I think you've got to distinguish between those measures that would have led to fuller Iraqi disclosure, or disclosure of Iraqi activities, and the question of whether those measures would have, in fact, inhibited a massive restart of the Iraqi program. I think the limitation on discovery and disclosure was the fear of the people involved of Saddam Hussein and his police. And I don't think any measures would have really overcome that fear. On the other hand, I think in retrospect it is obvious that rigorous inspections and accompanying sanctions played an important role in limiting the possibilities of the Iraqis to restart their program.

Now, some of their programs were more difficult to, for inspectors to limit and detect than others. The missile program is an interesting one because of [United Nations Resolution] 687, the [Persian Gulf War] cease-fire arrangement which allowed them to keep a missile program [of missiles with ranges not exceeding 150 km. So it was always a cat-and-mouse game throughout the UNSCOM years with the missiles: Were the missiles going to exceed a 150 mile range limitation or not, what was the payload, and all of that. I think that was, that was almost an inherent limitation that we had to live with regardless of how big our… but it…and it didn't limit the cooperation of foreign states.

I don't think the measures that were being discussed prior to the war would have detected the Russian assistance, for example, for that missile program. That assistance came in two forms: actual scientists and engineers who came to Baghdad who collaborated, and…they collaborated in a building that was not identified as part of the missile establishment. And then the collaboration continued when they went back to wherever they came from, and that was electronic and that probably wasn't discoverable. But I think vigorous inspection, I think it did lead to the Iraqi decision to get rid of their large stockpiles. I think…they viewed it as limiting their ability to restart the program while inspectors were there. So I think there was a gain from it. It would not have rooted out their capability, and it would not have stopped small-scale cheating, but I think it would have played a role in limiting a large scale restart of that program.

Now, a lot of this is something you know a lot better in retrospect than you knew at the time, and everyone ought to be on the up and up about this. Most intelligence reports from around the world said that the Iraqi chemical and biological programs had already been restarted and they had weapons. Turns out, I think, those reports were wrong, and now we know that they were wrong because inspections were more of a hindrance, and they feared them more in the mid-90s than we anticipated.

But the interesting question is: Why after '98 when the inspectors left didn't they restart the chemical and biological programs? The answer I have tentatively is two-form. One, is that the chaos and corruption was such that Saddam really just wasn't interested and they had limited capabilities to do it. They went for programs that were essentially science fiction, for detection and killing stealth aircraft instead. And secondly he thought, and most of the Iraqi senior scientists we interviewed thought, that the restart of a biological and chemical program was something they could do quickly. What they didn't have was the delivery system. So, I think what we ought to pay attention to that missile program. And the real question is whether that missile program would have been successful if the war hadn't intervened. …[Saddam Hussein] had pretty high range goals for them, to get up to 1000 kms. …By 2005, 2006, would they have had those missiles? My strong suspicion is that in fact they just weren't technically capable of doing that, even with foreign assistance. It would have taken them longer. They would eventually have gotten it, if the war hadn't intervened, but their own technical chaos, the declining state of efficiency of all of their manufacturing areas just would make that very difficult even with foreign assistance.

ACT: This obviously goes back to the question about UN enforcing its own resolutions, but UN Resolution 687 did mandate that there would be an ongoing monitoring and verification system to exist after Iraq was said to have dismantled its nuclear, chemical, biological, and extended missile programs. It wasn't just a question of saying "forgive and forget we'll go away now," even in a world where we lifted sanctions. It's true that it's harder to detect small scale cheating, but to get a missile of that type of range you have to have testing…

Kay: Well, unless you import it from the North Koreans or someone else.

ACT: I mean do you think that monitoring system could have done something to restrain them?

Kay:
Well, I think that monitoring system, the 687 monitoring system, which ended of course when the inspectors left in '98. I mean that was ripped out by the Iraqis. If they had progressed to full-scale monitoring, would it have limited the Iraqi restart of the program? I think, I'm confidant to say that I think it would have detected really large-scale restart on most of the programs. What I'm not confident of is whether in fact the international community would have responded. That's a quite different… for example, the League of Nations response to German rearmament was, "Oh so what?" And it wasn't that it wasn't detected—it was detected.

The other thing that complicates that answer, or at least my view of the answer, is that if sanctions had really come off, I think it would have been harder to detect a restart of the biological program or of the chemical program than otherwise. The monitoring program of 687 was very tough as long as Iraq's economy was essentially in the straightjacket of sanctions. Because you controlled everything that went in legitimately, and so you could look for the deviants, the outliers, for the things that weren't legitimate. And you had the on-site inspection accompanying the monitoring, which everyone forgets. It wasn't just technical monitoring, it was really inspectors still on the scene, and that's what I think the Iraqi's really feared.

So…you couldn't have stopped small-scale cheating. And small-scale cheating in the biological area is probably significant—but it would have detected, I think, industrial production of missiles. It might not have detected importation. It would have detected a restart of the nuke program easily.

ACT: Let me ask you a bottom-line question, you have said that despite your discoveries, you still supported the war because of the pre-war human rights situation and the related horrors that you discovered there. Just leaving that aside a minute, if it was just a WMD-based decision, do you think that invading Iraq was a wise decision?

Kay: Well, here again, it's the great advantage of thinking I know the truth. I think [that] not having discovered stockpiles of WMD, you come to the conclusion that if that was the only thing you considered, that all these other things were off the table and didn't matter to you, clearly it was not. It was not worth it. Now, that's my personal perspective, I understand how others could have a different perspective in the shadow of 9/11, if you looked at the record of Iraq, having continued to defy in many ways the UN, would you have, and you had on your table, intelligence reports [pointing to possession of chemical and biological weapons].

ACT: That was certainly the general framework that everyone was sort of given at the time.


Kay: I think that actually affected a lot of the analysis, and it's a lot of the reason why people didn't step aside and challenge… I mean it's unfortunate that the largest challenge to that sort of assumption [that Iraq had given up its WMD] came from people like [former UNSCOM inspector] Scott Ritter[14] who sort of destroyed their own credibility in other forms, and so it never became a respectable position. And I think we all—and I certainly include myself—bear responsibility for not having said, "Let's step aside, and regardless of the fact that it's Scott or someone else arguing this position, let's give it a legitimate shake, and look at the alternative that is a real possibility, and see what evidence fits that explanation." It just seemed to be such a convenient explanation. As additional pieces of evidence became available, people looked at them if they fit the puzzle of "Iraq is continuing to cheat, let's put them in that model," and never tried to look to see if there is another model there.

And this is an analytical failing, as well as a political and policy failing. The evidence that really counted—and this wasn't manufactured, this was real evidence that the Iraqis were continuing to cheat and deceive and try to acquire capabilities—seemed to come from multiple sources. So everyone focused on what fit the puzzle, where you knew what was the picture on the box cover and this was of Iraq continuing its programs. The evidence that didn't fit that puzzle was just sort of cast aside, not attempting to put it into another box that may have had a completely different picture on the cover.

ACT: UNMOVIC had said that the ISG's findings added little to the evidence that UN inspectors found. How do you reconcile those claims?

Kay: Well I think that's wrong, for example, in the missile area. I think in the missile area if you just take public stuff that's in Risen's piece today and the October report, there's a considerable amount of stuff that UNMOVIC did not understand.

But on the other hand, I don't want this to be seen… I value what UNMOVIC found. I mean I think that it extended [the knowledge of] UNSCOM. What it really didn't resolve—UNSCOM in some ways made it harder to resolve—is this material balance issue. The missing… 500 liters of missing x, the missing y, which mostly dealt with material that UNSCOM had determined—correctly I think—that Iraq had imported, but that the Iraqis could not account for. UNSCOM didn't resolve that. I think in the end you'll find that ISG is able to resolve most of that.

You know, the war would have been completely different if Dr Blix—and it's not UNMOVIC's fault, don't misunderstand me, I don't think it's UNMOVIC's fault, I think it's Iraq's fault—but if Dr. Blix had been able to report to the Security Council that "all of these missing amounts we now understand where they were, they're accounted for, they did not go into new weapons, etc." Because of the Iraqi behavior and reporting, and the physical difficulty of resolving the material balance issues, no one was able to resolve that. And so I think we did add considerably, and the final report will explain in detail far more convincing—well UNMOVIC was unconvincing in the sense that they were unable to resolve it. I mean these were real differences, simply unresolvable. I think because the Iraqis are now able to talk, because we've got access to documentation, and we've been able to put that puzzle back together, you will in the following report find a pretty convincing case that says most of these amounts are accounted for and did not go into new weapons.

ACT: So what happened to these weapons? Were they destroyed or something else?


Kay: It varies. Some were destroyed. Some were destroyed in ways that the Iraqis were embarrassed to admit, how they had been destroyed. Some disappeared in the normal chaos and accidents that occurred. Realize they fought two wars they lost before this one—the Iran-Iraq war and the Persian Gulf War—and so, and those weapons, the unresolved amounts, revolved around importation of goods prior to the 1991 Gulf War and had been used to a large extent in the Iranian War. We figured out exactly in each one by piecing it together… and some of these explanations are terribly embarrassing to the Iraqis. Like I say, one major one involves disposal of weapons material and biological agents in ways that were not only not approved, but dangerous to the health of people in Baghdad, or thought to be. And so they just covered it up, and they weren't going to tell anyone that they had gotten rid of it that way. I don't want to go into exact details, I'll leave that to the next ISG report as you attempt to verify it. So, I mean I think it's unfair to say that the ISG has added nothing. In one sense, confirming, as I think we will confirm, some of UNMOVIC's conclusions, is an important add as well. But I think just on the missile area, I think it would be hard to sustain that argument.

ACT: Could we just go back to something you said about in terms of the records. One of the frequent arguments made is that when the Iraqis couldn't produce records, UNMOVIC would say you should have records to produce or if you don't have that you should have some personnel who did it. I know one explanation was that Iraqi society was just not as well organized as we had thought it to be. It sounds like what you're saying today is different, that there were ways to account for the weapons and they just didn't in many cases.


Kay: All of us-and that includes UNSCOM and UNMOVIC—all of us dealing with Iraq, knew that Iraq had tremendous record—keeping requirements, and they really kept records on almost everything. And so this inability to produce records on people that were involved on the destruction hung in everyone's mind as just not a credible explanation. I think what we have found out is that while there were some areas where records were not kept, the explanations for why they didn't keep records were not the ones they consistently gave to the UN. It was just reasons of protecting themselves and the regime from how they had destroyed certain things. That some of the records would have disclosed what they thought were importation networks that were not known about. There were a variety of reasons, not a single case. And there are some areas where, in fact, you're going to have to say the Iraqis were right. The chaos of the moment, losing two wars, led to some destruction and disappearance of stuff that was undocumented, and, you know, they were telling the truth.

And this gets back to really a fundamental point in the Iraqi case, which the Iraqis themselves have recognized, many of those under interrogation that is they got in the habit in 1991 of lying. They were caught in a series of lies, so that when they later told the truth in some cases—like why some of these records don't exist—no one would believe them because they were already convicted as consistent liars. It wasn't the fault of UNSCOM, it certainly wasn't the fault of UNMOVIC, and it largely wasn't the fault of the outside analysts. It was Iraq's fault for having ever gone down this way of such massive lying—principally in the initial stage to the IAEA, and then subsequently on the biological area and the chem area to UNSCOM. Or the missile area when you caught them with the gyroscopes they had imported and some turned up in the Euphrates. You know, they just, they lied about everything, so when they told the truth they didn't get credit for telling the truth. We thought it was just another lie.

ACT: Well, often they didn't have anyway to demonstrate they were telling the truth.


Kay: It's hard to demonstrate when you say, "We didn't keep records of this." How do you prove it? And it was hard because it came back to, "Okay well, bring the people involved who were there when it was destroyed," and they refused to do that. The explanation for that happens to be because those people were deadly fearful that if the regime understood—and the regime being Saddam—how they destroyed some of this material their heads would have been in a noose.

ACT: In your Jan. 28 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, you stated that Iraq was more dangerous than we had thought, citing the regime's lack of central control over personnel with expertise in WMD. Has the invasion exacerbated that situation by increasing the chances that these personnel could provide their expertise to terrorists or rogue governments? And what do you think of the current efforts to reduce the spread of that expertise?

Kay: Well, in one sense it has been exacerbated. That is, the ability to flee Iraq, to leave Iraq is probably much easier to do now than it was under Saddam, although a lot of people did it under Saddam. In one sense, probably less so. That is, unless they took the technology, records of the technology, or pieces of equipment home, they don't have access, a lot of that has been destroyed. So they've got what's in their mind, and they've got their technical capability. But there's not much else that they can get access to.

No, I worry—I think we all, who were there, worry—that we continue to come across cases of Iraqis that we wanted to talk to who had left the country and no one knew where they were. The efforts to set up the equivalent of a program to retain scientists and engineers like we set up in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union has been much slower in Iraq than it should have been. There are some efforts finally getting underway, but quite frankly the largest incentive to stay—and it was true in the Soviet Union too—is if you believe that the future is going to be better than the present and you see that progress is being made. Then most scientists will not go to the Sudan or even to the Gulf area. Iraqis are-we don't give them enough credit-they are very proud nationalists, very proud of their culture. They are extraordinarily family-centered organizations. So it's not a case of David Kay being willing to go to the United Arab Emirates…they've got to take both sides of their family's children, aunts and uncles, because they are responsible for them. And that's hard to do. As long as they believe that security and progress—economic progress, a legitimate way to make money and contribute—is in the near-term future, they'll stay in Iraq.

The greatest problem we have, of course, is giving them the confidence that there is physical security and that the economy is restarting. So I think that to the extent you can do that, and that there is a political process that will allow stability, the greatest fear the Iraqis have is not very much different than people who look at Iraq in this town is, that is civil war, breakdown of political society, failure to be able to restart the economy. So…anything we can do on that that benefits the average Iraqi also benefits the retention of the scientists.

There are special programs that are just now being pushed to try to target the scientists. It's too little too late, but …it's better to do it at anytime than not to do it. It's just been slow to get done.

ACT: You also said that the leading destruction of the facilities after the invasion hampered the ISG's ability to get a complete picture of Iraq's weapon program, and you made some comments earlier about the lack of prewar planning for securing those facilities. How would you assess the initial plans for locating and securing WMD there?

Kay: Practically useless. I do not think the U.S. military gave a very high priority to locating WMD. They gave the highest priority to WMD that might possibly be used against troops during the course of the war. And that was their great fear, so on the actual battlefront, attempts that were designed to deter any possible Iraqi use or to make it overwhelming that they would gain no advantage from using it, I think those activities were actually good.

But the longer-range issue of finding what was in the WMD, locating the infrastructure, and protecting it, was horrible. I mean, Tuwaitha—the principal nuclear research center that we know about—was essentially left unprotected. There was vast looting of radioactivity material and sources, looting of technical equipment. Records were destroyed. Now it was even worse in office buildings in Baghdad where the Military Industrialization Commission, for example, had its headquarters—those records were very, very valuable but they were looted and burned. The Ministry of Finance: looted and burned. And those went unprotected for well over a month, from April 9 to the end of May. I remember in May going out to the headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service and it was a field day. Anyone could go in and collect records and dig through. … These were unprotected. This was not a task that the military planned to take on or gave a high priority to.

ACT: You said earlier that the sanctions regime probably worked to force the Iraqis to go underground to use these underground networks to procure material. Do you think that those networks are inherently a bit of a black box, because you don't by definition know what's going on there. Do you think that may have contributed to some of the unease regarding all the suspicions that Iraq was maybe farther along in reconstituting…

Kay: Yeah, you're absolutely right. You saw bits and pieces of what they were getting through the network, and you tended to then worst-case analysis on they must be getting other things through, even though you didn't see it, but you saw a network existed, and that some things were getting through. So, it added to the problem of making sound analysis.

ACT: In terms of export control regimes people talk about choke points, the kinds of technologies you can control—you can't control Playstation 2s, maybe you can control other things. In terms of dealing with the sort of network, the A.Q. Khan network, but others. Do you think that expertise is maybe a choke point?


Kay: Yeah, you can control technical expertise. Though I now…

ACT: Or do you think there's another…

Kay: I now sort of look at your technical expertise as being almost like your Playstation II analysis. When you don't necessarily have to go to the country, but you can do it with a team operating out of a research institute in a capital somewhere else, or you can, as in the A.Q. Khan era, you can take the expertise on designing central parts of a centrifuge and take them to a factory in Malaysia that then translates them into hardware. The technical expertise never goes directly to Libya. We just forget, it's such a different world that there is the technical expertise is now pretty broadly spread in most of these areas that how you would control it. So I don't see it being an effective choke line.

I actually have come to the conclusion that international inspection is even more important now than it ever was. The on-the-ground examination of what's going on is irreplaceable as to what it can do. And so we've got to find a way to be sure that that inspection is as well-equipped and well-funded, organized, and with the maximum access possible, rather than believe that sitting back some place staring through space, or even with domestic export control laws, that you're going to be able to stop it that way. There's not going… I think the conclusion from Iraq—and I think out of Iran and Libya—is going to be there really is no substitute for effective inspections.

And really, the good news part of that story is: I think if there is effective inspection, the need for unilateral pre-emptive action becomes much less critical. And the type of pre-emptive action that you might need, if you were to need it, becomes much less. You don't have to defeat a country, you may at some point decide you have to take out a facility [if] international inspectors are being denied access. That's really a lot different.

NOTES

1. James Risen, "Russian Engineers Reportedly Gave Missile Aid to Iraq," The New York Tmes, March 5, 2004.

2. Kay testified before Congress regarding the October report about the ISG's findings. See http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_11/KayReport.asp

3. See "The Khan Network", March 2004 Arms Control Today, pp. 23-29. http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2004_03/Pakistan.asp

4. The UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) was formed in 1991 after Iraq's defeat in the Persian Gulf War to verify that Iraq complied with UN-mandated disarmament tasks. For a list of relevant UN resolutions, see http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_10/UNresolutionsoct02.asp

5. The UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission
(UNMOVIC) was formed in 1999 to carry out inspections in Iraq after UNSCOM inspectors were withdrawn the previous year. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/act/1999_12/unde99.asp

6. The Missile Technology Control Regime is an export control regime that aims to limit the spread of ballistic and cruise missiles. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/mtcr.asp

7. The Chemical Weapons Convention, a 1997 treaty ratified by 160 countries, which bans the use, development, production, and stockpiling of Chemical Weapons. It is administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/cwcglance.asp

8. The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) was signed in 1972 but lacks enforcement and verification provisions. Efforts to negotiate a binding protocol fell apart in 2001, when the Bush administration rejected a proposed draft and any further protocol negotiations, claiming such a protocol could not help strengthen compliance with the BWC and could hurt U.S. national security and commercial interests. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/bwcataglance.asp

9. See "Verifying Arms Control Agreements: An Interview with Hans Blix, the Outgoing Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC," Arms Control Today, July/August 2003, pp. 12-15.

10. In February 2003, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution declaring Pyongyang in "further non-compliance" with its obligations under the NPT and decided to report the matter to the UN Security Council. North Korea had ignored two previous resolutions calling for it to comply with its IAEA safeguards agreement, including reversing its January 2003 decision to withdraw from the NPT. See: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_03/nkorea_mar03.asp

11. In response to its failure more than a dozen years ago to discover secret nuclear weapon programs by Iraq and North Korea, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began an effort in 1993 to make it more difficult for states to illicitly pursue nuclear weapons. That effort eventually produced a voluntary Additional Protocol, designed to strengthen and expand existing IAEA safeguards for verifying that non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) only use nuclear materials and facilities for peaceful purposes. For more details see http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/IAEAProtocol.asp

12. Resolution 1441 required Iraq to allow "immediate, unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access" to "facilities, buildings, equipment, records, and means of transport which they wish to inspect," as well as a "currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other delivery systems."
For the full text see: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_12/unres_dec02.asp

13. A three-day air campaign launched by President Clinton in 1998 after UNSCOM inspectors withdrew from Iraq, claiming their inspections were being hampered.

14. See Scott Ritter, "The Case for Iraq's Qualitative Disarmament," Arms Control Today, June 2000.

Description: 
Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper and Paul Kerr

Country Resources:

Contrasting Views on Iraq's WMD

Paul Kerr

This material is adapted from the public version of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD Capabilities; CIA Director George Tenet’s Feb. 5 speech at Georgetown University; March 2003 and December 2003 reports from the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission; a March report from the IAEA; congressional testimony from former Iraq Survey Group adviser David Kay; and a Feb. 13 interview Kay gave to the Associated Press.

The Intelligence Community: October 2002

Chemical
Iraq has begun renewed production of chemical warfare agents, probably including mustard, sarin, cyclosarin, and VX. Iraq probably has stocked a few hundred metric tons of chemical weapons agents.

Biological
All key aspects of Iraq’s offensive biological weapons program are active and most elements are larger and more advanced than they were before the Persian Gulf War.

Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating biological weapons agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax.

Baghdad has established a large-scale, redundant, and concealed biological weapons agent production capability, which includes mobile facilities.

Nuclear
Most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. If Baghdad acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material from abroad, it could make a nuclear weapon within a year. Without such material from abroad, Iraq probably would not be able to make a weapon until the last half of the decade.

Iraq’s aggressive attempts to obtain proscribed high-strength aluminum tubes are of significant concern. All intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons and that these tubes could be used in a gas centrifuge enrichment program. Such programs can produce fissile material for use in nuclear weapons. Most intelligence specialists assess this to be the intended use, but some believe that these tubes are probably intended for conventional weapons programs.

Delivery Systems
Iraq maintains a small missile force and several development programs, including for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that is probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents.

Gaps in Iraqi accounting to UN inspectors during the 1990s suggest that Saddam retains a covert force of up to a few dozen SCUD-variant Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBMs) with ranges of 650 to 900 km.

Iraq is deploying its new al-Samoud and Ababil-100 SRBMs, capable of flying beyond the UN-authorized 150-km range limit.

Iraq is developing medium-range ballistic missile capabilities.

UN Inspectors: March 2003

Chemical
Inspectors found no proscribed activities, or the result of such activities.

Biological
Inspectors found no proscribed activities, or the result of such activities. UN inspectors discovered no mobile facilities for producing weapons.

Nuclear
UN inspectors found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.They found no indication of resumed nuclear activities in new or reconstructed Iraqi buildings, or any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites. The UN found no indication that Iraq attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment.

Delivery Systems
UN weapons inspectors ordered Iraq to destroy its al Samoud missiles because their design was inherently capable of ranges greater than UN-permitted ranges. Baghdad was in the process of doing so when the invasion began. There was no evidence that Iraq was actually modifying the missiles to achieve a prohibited range. UN inspectors had not yet decided if the al-Fatah missiles, the most recent version of the Ababil, exceeded permitted ranges and they were still investigating Iraq’s UAV program as of the March 2003 invasion.

Postwar Inspections: February 2004

Chemical
Iraq did not have a large, ongoing chemical weapons program after 1991. Iraq’s large-scale capability was either reduced or destroyed by U.S. military actions during the 1990s, UN sanctions and inspections.

Biological
Iraq after 1996 focused on maintaining smaller, covert capabilities that could be activated quickly. Iraq concealed relevant equipment and materials from UN inspectors. Iraq had a prison laboratory complex that was possibly used in human testing of biological weapons agents. Additionally, Iraq had a clandestine network of laboratories and facilities. Iraqi scientists conducted some research that was possibly applicable to biological weapons.

The trailers discovered in spring 2003 were not intended for the production of biological weapons.

Nuclear
According to some Iraqi scientists and government officials, Iraq remained committed to acquiring nuclear weapons. Iraq began several small dual-use research initiatives in 2000, but there is no evidence that the research was applied to weapons production.

Iraq took some steps to preserve some technological capability from its previous nuclear weapons program. Several Iraqi scientists preserved documents and equipment from their pre-1991 research. There are indications that Iraq was interested, beginning in 2002, in reconstituting a centrifuge enrichment program. The use of the aluminum tubes is still undetermined, but experts agree that there was no centrifuge program.

Delivery Systems
Iraq was conducting R&D on several different projects designed to produce missiles with ranges exceeding the UN- permitted range. Iraq attempted to acquire technology from North Korea for surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 1,300 km and land-to-sea missiles with a range of 300 km. No such transfers actually occurred.

Unspecified sources have said Iraq ordered the development of ballistic missiles with ranges of at least 400 km and up to 1,000 km. It is unclear how far work on these had progressed. Iraq had two cruise missile programs.

However, Iraq halted engine development and testing on the second and disassembled the test stand in late 2002 before testing was complete. Iraq had several UAV programs. A prototype of one flew well beyond its permitted range during a 2002 test flight. Whether these vehicles were intended to deliver chemical or biological weapons is unknown.

CIA Director George Tenet: Feb. 5, 2004

Chemical
Saddam had the intent and capability to quickly convert civilian industry to chemical weapons production. Saddam had rebuilt a dual-use industry.

Biological
Iraq intended to develop biological weapons. Research and development (R&D) work was underway that would have permitted a rapid shift to agent production if seed stocks were available. The United States does not know if production took place. No biological weapons have been found.

Iraq after 1996 further compartmentalized its program and focused on maintaining smaller covert capabilities that could be activated quickly to surge the production of biological weapons agents.

There is no consensus within the intelligence community today over whether trailers discovered in Iraq in spring 2003 were for the production of biological weapons agents or hydrogen for the production of biological weapons agents or hydrogen.

Nuclear
Saddam Hussein did not have a nuclear weapon, but he still wanted one and Iraq intended to reconstitute a nuclear program at some point. There is no clear evidence that the dual-use items Iraq were attempting to acquire were for nuclear reconstitution.

Delivery Systems
U.S.-led inspectors have found an aggressive Iraqi missile program concealed from the international community. Iraq had plans for liquid propellant missiles with ranges of up to 1,000 kilometers.

Iraq had new work underway on prohibited solid propellant missiles. Iraq was in secret negotiations with North Korea to obtain some of its most dangerous missile technology.

The U.S.-led inspectors detected development of prohibited and undeclared UAVs, but the jury is still out on whether Iraq intended to use its newer, smaller UAV to deliver biological weapons.

 

 

 

 

 

This material is adapted from the public version of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD Capabilities; CIA Director George Tenet’s Feb. 5 speech at Georgetown University...

Kay Revives Fracas Over U.S. Intelligence on Iraq

Paul Kerr

The Bush administration is facing a formidable diplomatic and political challenge after a key official said that he expected any weapons hunt in Iraq will prove largely futile.

The CIA announced Jan. 23 that David Kay was stepping down as its adviser to the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), the task force charged with coordinating the U.S.-led search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) after the U.S.-led invasion of that country in March 2003. The same day, Kay began a series of public discussions of his results, further fueling the ongoing controversy over the failures of prewar U.S. intelligence and the Bush administration to accurately portray the status of Iraq’s weapons programs.

Kay said that he did not expect the search to turn up any significant chemical or biological weapons stockpiles and that he believed Iraq destroyed its prohibited chemical and biological weapons produced before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, either unilaterally or under the supervision of UN weapons inspectors who worked in Iraq from 1991 until 1998. Iraq did not resume large-scale production after destroying these weapons, and there is no evidence that it reconstituted its nuclear weapons program, he said.

Kay’s claims run counter to public speculation by President George W. Bush and administration officials that Iraq may have destroyed or moved its prohibited weapons just prior to the invasion or that the weapons remain hidden. The administration has set up an independent commission to investigate the matter, but critics question whether it will address some of the most pressing questions about the intelligence, particularly whether the president and other senior officials distorted or manipulated the information they were provided by the intelligence agencies.

Administration officials continue to emphasize that the ISG must finish its work before any conclusions about Iraq’s weapons programs can be reached. Kay told the Senate Armed Services Committee Jan. 28 that “85 percent of the major elements of the Iraqi program are probably known” but that the investigation’s results likely will be clouded by “an unresolvable [sic] ambiguity” because post-invasion Iraqi looting and destruction ruined the chances of recovering important evidence. Former UN weapons inspector Charles Duelfer has replaced Kay.


The ISG’s resources are not entirely devoted to the weapons search. Kay said he stepped down in part because the ISG’s personnel were being diverted to tasks such as combating the anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq.

Intelligence Controversy Heats Up

Kay’s resignation and subsequent remarks have ramped up the nearly year-long debate over the inaccuracy of the administration’s unequivocal prewar statements that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program and possessed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. Both flawed intelligence and officials’ misrepresentations of the intelligence data appear to be responsible.

Public opinion has shifted against the administration. In a Gallup poll taken in late January, 43 percent of those survied said they thought the Bush administration misled Americans about whether Iraq had WMD, up from 31 percent in a survey from May.

Kay told the Senate committee that U.S. intelligence collection efforts failed in Iraq because the intelligence community had grown reliant during the 1990s on information from UN weapons inspectors and failed to develop their own human intelligence sources. When inspectors were forced out in 1998 and that source of information of information disappeared, Kay said, intelligence analysts had to make judgments about Iraq’s weapons programs based on inadequate data. In particular, U.S. analysts were left to rely on foreign intelligence services, as well as on “national technical means,” such as satellite imagery and communications intercepts. Kay also pointed out that the intelligence community failed to understand the magnitude of Iraqi corruption, which led analysts to believe that Baghdad was more efficient at producing weapons than it actually was.

In a Feb. 5 speech at Georgetown University, CIA director George Tenet acknowledged that the intelligence analysis had been conditioned by Iraq’s past behavior. Specifically, the intelligence community believed Iraq was continuing to develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as prohibited missiles, because Iraq had developed weapons in the past and failed to account for them. The United States also had communications intercepts and satellite photographs indicating that Iraq was producing and concealing prohibited weapons, he said. Tenet acknowledged that the United States did not have enough of its own human intelligence in Iraq and that it relied on sometimes unreliable sources, such as defectors, for information.

What Tenet did not discuss is that, in addition to sometimes erring in its judgments, the CIA also sometimes failed to inform the public about important internal disagreements regarding Iraq intelligence. In particular, the classified version of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)—the most recent on Iraq’s WMD programs—contained numerous qualifications and caveats, but the public version omitted many of these. For example, the public NIE stated that Iraq was developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) “that most analysts believe probably is intended to deliver biological warfare agents” but did not note an Air Force assessment that stated the UAVs were probably for reconnaissance purposes.

Democrats were also quick to point out that White House officials also made statements that were apparently unsupported by the intelligence in either the classified or unclassified versions of the NIE. For example, Vice President Dick Cheney stated in March 2003 that Iraq had “reconstituted” its nuclear weapons program even though the evidence the administration had been using to support this claim already had been widely discredited. (See ACT, September 2003.) Also in March, Bush maintained that Iraq continued to possess “chemical agents,” although a September 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency study stated that “there is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons.” (See ACT, July/August 2003.) In addition, against the recommendation of the CIA, White House officials, including the president in his 2003 State of the Union address, claimed on several occasions that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Africa. (See ACT, September 2003.)

Investigation Ordered

The Commission

On Feb. 7, President George W. Bush appointed seven members* of a bipartisan commission to investigate intelligence failures used to justify the Iraq war.

 

Chairs:

Charles S. Robb, former Democratic senator from Virginia
Laurence Silberman, retired
Republican judge

Other members:

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.)
Lloyd Cutler, former White
House counsel
Patricia M. Wald, retired
Democratic judge
Richard C. Levin, president of
Yale University
Adm. William O. Studeman (Ret.), former CIA deputy director

Bush issued an executive order Feb. 6 establishing a commission to investigate U.S. intelligence capabilities to assess WMD threats. Although the commission’s task includes comparing U.S. prewar intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction with the ISG’s findings, there is no indication that it will examine U.S. officials’ public statements regarding Iraq’s weapons. The White House said the commission is “independent,” but the White House appointed the members. The commission’s report is due March 31, 2005.

Congressional investigations regarding Iraq intelligence have been underway for months, but none have made their conclusions public. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence circulated a draft of its investigation to other committee members Feb. 5. That investigation has focused on the quality of the intelligence community’s analysis on Iraq, but the committee announced Feb. 12 that it would expand the probe to examine whether administration officials’ statements were “substantiated by intelligence.” The committee will also investigate the intelligence activities of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, which reportedly provided raw intelligence to the White House indicating Iraq had illicit weapons.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith said in a June 2003 press briefing that his office’s effort “was not focused on Iraq” but stated that the Pentagon analysts found “linkages between Iraq and al Qaeda” and also “looked at” weapons of mass destruction.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is conducting its own investigation, but it is still unclear whether the committee has looked into the administration’s use of intelligence.

The Administration’s Defense

Although Bush concedes that much of the prewar U.S. intelligence regarding Iraq’s weapons programs was inaccurate and that such weapons may not have existed, he continues to defend the invasion. In a Feb. 8 television interview, Bush said that his decision to invade was made “on the best intelligence possible,” and he reiterated Tenet’s reasoning for believing Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

However, UN inspectors who had resumed work in Iraq in November 2002 reported just before the invasion that there was no evidence that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction or had reconstituted its programs. (See ACT, April 2003.)

Nevertheless, Bush said Feb. 8 that the ISG’s findings prove Iraq had the “capacity to produce weapons,” and he restated his belief that the invasion was justified because the risk of Iraqi WMD acquisition was intolerable in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. (See ACT, January/February 2004.)

Kay’s findings, however, provide little support for this argument. Although Secretary of State Colin Powell testified before the House International Relations Committee Feb. 11 that Iraq had “dual-use” factories that could rapidly produce illicit weapons, Kay told the Boston Globe Feb. 17 that Iraq did not have the ability to produce weapons on a large scale.

Kay reported in October 2003 that the ISG had discovered evidence of low-level, dual-use biological and nuclear research efforts and stated Feb. 5 that Iraq had conducted some chemical research as well. (See ACT, November 2003.)

Powell dismissed the role of UN inspectors and sanctions in a Feb. 2 interview with The Washington Post, asserting that “the inspectors were being deceived” and arguing that the “international community wouldn’t have kept constraining” Iraq.

Although the sanctions regime was weakening at the beginning of the Bush administration, that was not the case in March 2003. Several members of the UN Security Council proposed alternatives to invasion that would have augmented the inspections regime and continued sanctions. Additionally, UN Security Council resolutions required Iraq to allow UN monitoring to prevent future attempts at rearming.

Kay testified Jan. 28 that UN inspectors were more effective than he had previously thought but cautioned that Iraqi personnel had concealed material from the inspectors after they returned in 2002 that would likely not have been found.

Kay’s argument is difficult to assess. Demetrius Perricos, executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission told the Security Council in December that the inspectors were already aware of most of the information in Kay’s October report.

 

 

 

 

 

The Bush administration is facing a formidable diplomatic and political challenge after a key official said that he expected any weapons hunt in Iraq will prove largely futile.

Questions Over Iraq Intel Continue to Plague Blair

Dan Koik

British Prime Minister Tony Blair faces growing criticism over his decision to go to war in Iraq, despite being cleared by Lord Brian Hutton Jan. 28 of any wrongdoing in the events leading to the suicide of British weapons inspector David Kelly last year. Hutton, the law lord tasked with investigating Kelly’s death, concluded that the Blair government had not acted in a “dishonourable, underhand, or duplicitous” manner and that there was no conspiracy to “sex up” the dossier documenting Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD). (See ACT, October 2003 and September 2003.)

Instead, Hutton focused his recriminations on the BBC and its reporter, Andrew Gilligan, who first made the accusation that the government had knowingly made a false claim that Iraq was prepared to use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes. Hutton concluded that Gillian’s reports were “unfounded” and criticized the BBC editorial process for allowing the accusations to be aired and for defending the reporter during the ensuing public row with the prime minister’s office.

The report threw the BBC into turmoil and appeared to provide a needed boost to Blair’s weakening political position. The day after the report was released, BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies resigned; Gilligan and Director General Gregg Dyke followed shortly thereafter. Blair demanded and received an apology from the BBC.

Rather than producing a political clean slate for Blair, however, the Hutton Report has provoked a backlash by political opponents and much of the British public. Many believe that Hutton was unfairly biased in favor of the government and placed too much blame on the BBC. Critics are also unhappy that Hutton did not address the larger question of whether the British government overstated the case against Iraq. Polls show Blair’s reputation deteriorating. The Independent newspaper reported Feb. 7 that 51 percent of those questioned believed Blair should resign and 54 percent thought Blair exaggerated the prewar threat from Iraq.

Following former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay’s admission that intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was wrong, Blair tasked ex-Cabinet Secretary Lord Robin Butler to lead a committee examining the quality of prewar intelligence. However, political opponents immediately criticized the structure and independence of the inquiry. Charles Kennedy, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat party, refused to participate, arguing that the inquiry’s focus is too narrow. Others say that Butler, who has directly served five prime ministers, is too much of an insider. As stated by The Guardian newspaper, “He consistently showed deference to those in power.”

Blair’s troubles were compounded by his statement before a raucous session of Parliament Feb. 4, when he stated he did not know that the “45 minutes” claim referred only to battlefield munitions. Robin Cook, the former House of Commons leader who resigned in protest over the war, expressed skepticism over Blair’s statement, saying that he himself had been aware of the distinction at the time and he doubted Blair had not been informed. In later testimony before Parliament, Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon said that the 45 minutes claim had not been an issue in discussions about Iraq before the war.

Michael Howard, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, called on Blair to resign, saying he had failed to ask fundamental questions about Iraq’s weapons capabilities before deciding to go to war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Prime Minister Tony Blair faces growing criticism over his decision to go to war in Iraq, despite being cleared by Lord Brian Hutton Jan. 28 of any wrongdoing in the events leading...

Intelligence and Arms Control Experts Analyze Powell's UN Speech, CIA Estimates on Iraqi Weapons One Year Later

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For Immediate Release: February 5, 2004

Press Contacts: Daryl Kimball, (202) 277-3478 x107

(Washington, D.C.): On Feb. 5, 2003 Secretary of State Colin Powell went before the UN Security Council using U.S. intelligence to make the case that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in defiance of its UN disarmament obligations. Almost one year later and ten months after the United States launched an invasion to disarm Iraq, no WMD have been found and the head of the U.S.-led postwar weapons search, David Kay, has resigned, stating that he does not believe that Iraq had stockpiles of prohibited weapons prior to the invasion. This morning CIA Director George Tenet spoke at Georgetown University to defend his agency's performance.

On Tuesday, Feb. 3, the Arms Control Association (ACA) hosted a one hour conference call for reporters on these issues with Greg Thielmann, former director of the Office of Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Joseph Cirincione, director of the Non-Proliferation Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball. Thielmann is also a new member of the ACA Board of Directors.

The transcript of the event is now available at:
<http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2004/Briefing_2_04.asp>

Key points made during the conference call include the following:

THE ADMINISTRATION'S FAILURE TO CONSIDER UN INSPECTORS' FINDINGS:

Cirincione and Thielmann noted that U.S. policymakers and intelligence agencies failed to take into consideration on-the-ground intelligence gathered after U.N. inspectors returned to Iraq on November 27, 2002 after a nearly four-year absence. The inspectors' findings should have led to a reconsideration of U.S. intelligence assessments made in the fall of 2002.

"Much of [the UN inspectors'] intelligence we simply ignored. The inspectors were making up for our lack of human intelligence. We had tremendous surveillance capabilities, but we didn't have people on the ground. Well, after November 27th, there were people on the ground. And these inspectors went to many of the facilities where there had been said there was suspicious activity, in the nuclear and chemical areas in particular, and they reported back that they found nothing. So we had new intelligence coming in, but it was ignored," said Cirincione.

Thielmann noted, "Within one month [of the return of UN inspectors], we were actually getting information which would resolve a lot of the prudent concerns that the intelligence community had about what was happening with new construction activity at sites previously associated with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons production. Almost without exception, those worst-case suspicions were found to be unfounded by taking a look at the equipment, by talking to people on the ground, by comparing things that the inspectors had seen before but had been blind to for a period of four years."

"So even at the time of the president's State of the Union address in January, there was already a lot of important information which we had acquired that would change the assessments that some of the intelligence professionals had been comfortable with in October," Thielmann added. He further stated, "There was no request in January, as far as I know, for the intelligence community to say, to itself and to the president, "What have we learned as a result of the return of the U.N. inspectors?"

"At the time of the president's speech, the IAEA had already delivered an interim judgment that the aluminum tubes account of the administration was incorrect. In February, a full month before the U.S. invasion, they arrived at a definitive judgment the aluminum tubes were not going into the nuclear weapons program," Thielmann noted. "We knew at that point, more than a month before the invasion, that the document on which the uranium in Africa was based was a forgery. The two most important legs, then, of the nuclear reconstitution theory had just collapsed," Thielmann said.

SENIOR OFFICIALS MISCHARACTERIZED THE PRE-WAR INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENTS ON IRAQ:

Thielmann and Cirincione noted that the intelligence community clearly made some errors in judgment, but senior Bush administration officials mischaracterized the intelligence assessments still further.

"The Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the
American people of the military threat posed to Iraq. I said that some of the fault lies with the performance of the intelligence community, but most of it lies with the way senior officials misused the information they were provided," charged Thielmann.

"The intelligence professionals made mistakes. There's no doubt about that. And that includes the intelligence professionals in my own office in the State Department's Intelligence Bureau. We made some assumptions based on the things that come as close to facts as exist in the intelligence world...," explained Thielmann.

However, Thielmann took issue with some of the characterizations in the October 2002 intelligence estimate, which were repeated by senior Bush officials before the war, and in today's speech by CIA Director George Tenet. Thielmann said, "I have a serious problem with a box in the [October 2002 National Intelligence] Estimate on confidence levels. That box says that there was only moderate confidence of the nuclear program status. It said that there was high confidence of the existence of biological and chemical weapon stocks. I cannot account for that statement of confidence on BW [biological weapons] and CW [chemical weapons] as being consistent with the detailed classified presentation, which is now part of the public record."

"It is the senior leadership of the CIA and the National Intelligence Council that has much to answer for in how they were characterizing the work of the intelligence professionals. They essentially slanted the intel to make the case against Iraq, to beef up the justification for a war against Iraq. There are a lot of examples ... from the detailed estimate to the summary statements in the estimate that show that many of the qualifications are already dropping away, the certainty level is rising, even going from the interior of the estimate to the key judgment summary," suggested Thielmann.

The ACA Web site includes important facts and analysis on Iraq's weapons programs, including:

-- A July 9, 2003 press conference transcript in which Thielmann, Cirincione, and former Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council Gregory Treverton, discussed U.S. intelligence and Bush administration claims regarding Iraq's WMD capabilities
<http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2003/iraq_july03.asp>

-- A September 2003 article, "What Happened to Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction" by former UN inspector Frank Ronald Cleminson on the lack of weapons finds in Iraq and the successful performance of the UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors <http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_09/Cleminson_09.asp>

-- Detailed chronologies of UN inspections and their record in Iraq
<http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_07-08/inspectors_julaug03.asp>, as well as the administration's charges about Iraq's weapons programs
<http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2003/adminstmtsiraq_july03.asp>

-- Commentary on the misjudgments on Iraq's proscribed weapons activities and the failure to pursue effective international inspections in Iraq <http://www.armscontrol.org/country/iraq/#editorial>

ACA's online Iraq resource section also contains additional authoritative "Arms Control Today" interviews with former weapons inspectors and detailed news reports on Iraq's weapons programs and disarmament dating back to 1997. All of these resources are available at:
http://www.armscontrol.org/country/iraq/

 

# # #

The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies. Established in 1971,the Association publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today.

Country Resources:

Intelligence and Arms Control Experts Analyze Powell's UN Speech, CIA Estimates on Iraqi Weapons One Year Later

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Printer Friendly

For Immediate Release: February 5, 2004

Press Contacts: Daryl Kimball, (202) 277-3478 x107

(Washington, D.C.): On Feb. 5, 2003 Secretary of State Colin Powell went before the UN Security Council using U.S. intelligence to make the case that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in defiance of its UN disarmament obligations. Almost one year later and ten months after the United States launched an invasion to disarm Iraq, no WMD have been found and the head of the U.S.-led postwar weapons search, David Kay, has resigned, stating that he does not believe that Iraq had stockpiles of prohibited weapons prior to the invasion. This morning CIA Director George Tenet spoke at Georgetown University to defend his agency's performance.

On Tuesday, Feb. 3, the Arms Control Association (ACA) hosted a one hour conference call for reporters on these issues with Greg Thielmann, former director of the Office of Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Joseph Cirincione, director of the Non-Proliferation Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball. Thielmann is also a new member of the ACA Board of Directors.

The transcript of the event is now available at:
<http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2004/Briefing_2_04.asp>

Key points made during the conference call include the following:

THE ADMINISTRATION'S FAILURE TO CONSIDER UN INSPECTORS' FINDINGS:

Cirincione and Thielmann noted that U.S. policymakers and intelligence agencies failed to take into consideration on-the-ground intelligence gathered after U.N. inspectors returned to Iraq on November 27, 2002 after a nearly four-year absence. The inspectors' findings should have led to a reconsideration of U.S. intelligence assessments made in the fall of 2002.

"Much of [the UN inspectors'] intelligence we simply ignored. The inspectors were making up for our lack of human intelligence. We had tremendous surveillance capabilities, but we didn't have people on the ground. Well, after November 27th, there were people on the ground. And these inspectors went to many of the facilities where there had been said there was suspicious activity, in the nuclear and chemical areas in particular, and they reported back that they found nothing. So we had new intelligence coming in, but it was ignored," said Cirincione.

Thielmann noted, "Within one month [of the return of UN inspectors], we were actually getting information which would resolve a lot of the prudent concerns that the intelligence community had about what was happening with new construction activity at sites previously associated with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons production. Almost without exception, those worst-case suspicions were found to be unfounded by taking a look at the equipment, by talking to people on the ground, by comparing things that the inspectors had seen before but had been blind to for a period of four years."

"So even at the time of the president's State of the Union address in January, there was already a lot of important information which we had acquired that would change the assessments that some of the intelligence professionals had been comfortable with in October," Thielmann added. He further stated, "There was no request in January, as far as I know, for the intelligence community to say, to itself and to the president, "What have we learned as a result of the return of the U.N. inspectors?"

"At the time of the president's speech, the IAEA had already delivered an interim judgment that the aluminum tubes account of the administration was incorrect. In February, a full month before the U.S. invasion, they arrived at a definitive judgment the aluminum tubes were not going into the nuclear weapons program," Thielmann noted. "We knew at that point, more than a month before the invasion, that the document on which the uranium in Africa was based was a forgery. The two most important legs, then, of the nuclear reconstitution theory had just collapsed," Thielmann said.

SENIOR OFFICIALS MISCHARACTERIZED THE PRE-WAR INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENTS ON IRAQ:

Thielmann and Cirincione noted that the intelligence community clearly made some errors in judgment, but senior Bush administration officials mischaracterized the intelligence assessments still further.

"The Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the
American people of the military threat posed to Iraq. I said that some of the fault lies with the performance of the intelligence community, but most of it lies with the way senior officials misused the information they were provided," charged Thielmann.

"The intelligence professionals made mistakes. There's no doubt about that. And that includes the intelligence professionals in my own office in the State Department's Intelligence Bureau. We made some assumptions based on the things that come as close to facts as exist in the intelligence world...," explained Thielmann.

However, Thielmann took issue with some of the characterizations in the October 2002 intelligence estimate, which were repeated by senior Bush officials before the war, and in today's speech by CIA Director George Tenet. Thielmann said, "I have a serious problem with a box in the [October 2002 National Intelligence] Estimate on confidence levels. That box says that there was only moderate confidence of the nuclear program status. It said that there was high confidence of the existence of biological and chemical weapon stocks. I cannot account for that statement of confidence on BW [biological weapons] and CW [chemical weapons] as being consistent with the detailed classified presentation, which is now part of the public record."

"It is the senior leadership of the CIA and the National Intelligence Council that has much to answer for in how they were characterizing the work of the intelligence professionals. They essentially slanted the intel to make the case against Iraq, to beef up the justification for a war against Iraq. There are a lot of examples ... from the detailed estimate to the summary statements in the estimate that show that many of the qualifications are already dropping away, the certainty level is rising, even going from the interior of the estimate to the key judgment summary," suggested Thielmann.

The ACA Web site includes important facts and analysis on Iraq's weapons programs, including:

-- A July 9, 2003 press conference transcript in which Thielmann, Cirincione, and former Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council Gregory Treverton, discussed U.S. intelligence and Bush administration claims regarding Iraq's WMD capabilities
<http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2003/iraq_july03.asp>

-- A September 2003 article, "What Happened to Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction" by former UN inspector Frank Ronald Cleminson on the lack of weapons finds in Iraq and the successful performance of the UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors <http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_09/Cleminson_09.asp>

-- Detailed chronologies of UN inspections and their record in Iraq
<http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_07-08/inspectors_julaug03.asp>, as well as the administration's charges about Iraq's weapons programs
<http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/2003/adminstmtsiraq_july03.asp>

-- Commentary on the misjudgments on Iraq's proscribed weapons activities and the failure to pursue effective international inspections in Iraq <http://www.armscontrol.org/country/iraq/#editorial>

ACA's online Iraq resource section also contains additional authoritative "Arms Control Today" interviews with former weapons inspectors and detailed news reports on Iraq's weapons programs and disarmament dating back to 1997. All of these resources are available at:
http://www.armscontrol.org/country/iraq/

# # #

The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies. Established in 1971,the Association publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today.

 

Description: 
Conference call for reporters with Greg Thielmann, Joseph Cirincione, and Daryl G. Kimball

Country Resources:

Iraq's Weapons: A Briefing with Joseph Cirincione, Daryl Kimball and Greg Thielmann

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PARTICIPANTS:
GREG THIELMANN, FORMERLY OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT'S OFFICE OF STRATEGIC PROLIFERATION AND MILITARY AFFAIRS, BUREAU OF INTELLIGENCE AND RESEARCH (INR);
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE;
DARYL KIMBALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

LOCATION: WASHINGTON, D.C.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2004, 9:35 A.M. EST

(Note: The following is a prepared introduction. The Federal News Service transcription began approximately 4 minutes after the event began.)

MR. KIMBALL: Good morning and thank you for joining this morning's teleconference press briefing about the ongoing controversy surrounding the prewar intelligence assessments of Iraq's unconventional weapons capabilities and how senior administration officials portrayed those assessments in making their case for an invasion of Iraq.

I am Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. We have two very articulate and well-known experts on these issues. Greg Thielmann is the former director of the Office of Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Greg is a new member of the ACA Board of Directors. Also with us is Joseph Cirincione, director of the Non-Proliferation Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Joe is a co-author of the new and very comprehensive Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report titled "WMD in Iraq: evidence and implications."

We scheduled this call to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 5, 2003 presentation on U.S. intelligence assessments to the United Nations Security Council. Little did we know that the former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay would over the past few day acknowledge publicly that he does not believe that those assessments were correct or that Iraq had any proscribed nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons stockpiles or the means to deliver them on the eve of the invasion last March. Nevertheless, Kay's remarks make our presentations and discussion here today all the more timely.

Joe will begin by providing us with an overview of Powell's statement, the sources of the intelligence assessments that he presented and how his charges stand up to the evidence today.

Greg will then describe how many of Powell's and other senior official's pre-war assertions about Iraqi WMD were known at that time to be based on dubious or discredited intelligence information and describe what the UN weapons inspectors had assessed to be the situation before the war and how inspections had contained Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile programs.

(Note: This event was fed in progress at this point.)

MR. CIRINCIONE: (In progress)—but you know, within the intelligence community, there had been for some time suspicions about Saddam's chemical and biological weapons. And it all goes back, as does all of our intelligence estimates on Saddam—goes back to the unresolved questions from the UNSCOM inspections. At the end of that six-, seven-year period, UNSCOM had destroyed most of Saddam's arsenals, had destroyed most of the production capabilities. But there were several unresolved issues, really accounting issues, that had to do with tons of material that could be used for chemical weapons, but the inspectors did not know if it had been, and several thousand munitions that they knew had been built, but they couldn't account for their destruction. That was the basis, I think, of all intelligence that went on after that.

The intelligence community did take those unanswered questions, coupled them with past history and their assumptions about intent, and went on to start to make estimates, such as, "We believe it is likely that Saddam has restarted these programs. We believe it is probable that he retains stockpiles." And these estimates were picked up by experts, such as at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and repeated.

As recently as September 2002, the DIA was saying that there's no hard evidence of any stockpiles or production capabilities. And they went to pains to point that out.

[Secretary of State] Colin Powell in his testimony says exactly the opposite. Exactly the opposite when he says, "every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."

I just want to look at one of these-and it was one of the most dramatic, and he opened up early on in his testimony with this-where he showed photos of a facility at Taji, where it had been known that Saddam had in the past stored chemical weapons. He pointed out with this dramatic series of circles and squares where he said that we know there are four chemical bunkers. And he pointed out the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions. One of those signs, he said, was a decontamination vehicle. Very dramatic testimony, very convincing for many people listening to this.

I happened to be up at the United Nations last week and I spoke to U.N. inspectors. I asked them how they felt when they saw that testimony.

They told me, "We knew he was wrong when he said it." They told me that they went to the Americans after the speech and said, "That's not a decontamination vehicle. We've been to that facility. We've seen that truck. That's a fire truck."

The Americans didn't believe them. I raise this because it gets to this issue of intelligence. There's been sort of a focus on the intelligence produced by the intelligence agencies. But we were getting a great deal of intelligence from the U.N. inspections as soon as they began back on November 27, 2002. Much of that intelligence we simply ignored. The inspectors were making up for our lack of human intelligence. We had tremendous surveillance capabilities, but we didn't have people on the ground. Well, after November 27th, there were people on the ground. And these inspectors went to many of the facilities where there had been said there was suspicious activity, in the nuclear and chemical areas in particular, and they reported back that they found nothing.

On the eve of the war, [IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei] directly refuted some of the major claims that Powell also presented in his presentation on the nuclear systems. [The IAEA] had looked at the aluminum tubes and they found that they were not suitable for centrifuges. [The IAEA] had looked at the magnets that Iraq had imported and found that they were being used for other peaceful, civilian purposes. [The IAEA] examined the Niger claim, a claim that Powell did not include but the president did, and found that it was based on forged documents.

So we had new intelligence coming in, but it was ignored. One of the main purposes of Colin Powell's speech was not just to present the case for Saddam having large existing stockpiles and production capabilities, but it was to discredit the inspectors. If you go back and read his speech, he opens up his entire speech with a portrayal of an elaborate deception program that he says is designed to ensure that the inspectors will find absolutely nothing. So he had to discredit the findings that the inspectors were coming up with that there were no programs by portraying them as fools and portraying Saddam as engaged in an elaborate deception mechanism.

This view of the inspections largely prevailed in the United States. We now know that it was completely wrong. It's not just the intelligence on the stockpiles that was wrong, it was the administration's judgment of the value of the inspection process. We now know that the inspection process was working far better than the administration claimed, that they were finding what there was to find, and that if we had used them properly we could have put to rest many of the understandable suspicions we had about Saddam's programs.

Let me close there.

MR. KIMBALL: Thank you, Joe.

Let's turn to Greg. Just as another brief introduction for Greg, as you all recall, a few days ago David Kay said almost all of us were wrong. I think Greg needs to be put in the category of the almost because Greg's work when he was in government was part of or helped lead to the dissent that does appear in the National Intelligence Estimate, which apparently some senior officials in the Bush administration did not take note of. Specifically, the dissent regarding the allegations about the reconstitution of the nuclear program based on the uranium claim and the aluminum tubes claim. Perhaps Greg would like to describe a little bit about that further.

But, Greg, why don't you tell us a little bit more about what might have been known if officials might have taken a closer look at some of the caveats and the dissents, among other issues that you want to cover?

MR. THIELMAN: Thank you, Daryl.

I wanted to start out by repeating a couple of lines from the press conference that the Arms Control Association sponsored last July, in 2003, in which Joe Cirincione also participated. I made at that time three assertions. The Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed to Iraq. I said that some of the fault lies with the performance of the intelligence community, but most of it lies with the way senior officials misused the information they were provided.

And at the risk of spraining my shoulder by patting myself on the back, I really think that we now have-months after me saying what I think a lot of people knew at the time-an acknowledgement about the first part. The administration is finally admitting it did not provide an accurate picture and so the real question is who is to blame. Right now the hot issue is how much blame the intelligence community bears on this. Of course, there are a number of people and organizations that are trying very hard to make sure none of the blame rubs off on the White House.

So where we are right now is that most people accept that the intelligence community is at least partly responsible for this inaccurate reading, but it's very much up in the air with the public at large whether senior officials misused the information. So my fearless forecast is that if a year from now we return to this subject, all three of those statements that I made back in last July will be vindicated by the facts.

And let me go into some specifics here. The intelligence professionals made mistakes. There's no doubt about that. And that includes the intelligence professionals in my own office in the State Department's Intelligence Bureau. We made some assumptions based on the things that come as close to facts as exist in the intelligence world: the knowledge of what Iraq had done in the past in both the use of chemical weapons, the knowledge that [Saddam Hussein] was actively pursuing chemical and biological weapons research, that he had deceived U.N. inspectors in a number of important ways, and he had not resolved the accounting gaps problem in the 1990s when we were trying to close the books on the biological and chemical weapons issue.

And this was one of those intelligence community mistakes that I basically say was a mistake for mostly the right reasons. Because what the intelligence community said was that, based on all of these things, "we estimate," which is the intelligence community way of saying we're making a guess about something that we can't be certain of. As Daryl said, there were certainly people, like DIA, saying there's no hard evidence of any chemical weapon stocks. Even the classified details of the October National Intelligence Estimate admit that we do not know what chemicals the Iraqis might have. We do not know the amount of the chemicals that Iraq might have had. This is what the intelligence professionals were saying honestly about the evidence. One should not denigrate too completely what the intelligence professionals were doing.

I have a serious problem with a box in the [National Intelligence] Estimate on confidence levels. That box says that there was only moderate confidence of the nuclear program status. It said that there was high confidence of the existence of biological and chemical weapon stocks. I cannot account for that statement of confidence on BW [biological weapons] and CW [chemical weapons] as being consistent with the detailed classified presentation, which is now part of the public record.

This is a bad mistake of the intelligence community. I would like to know, and hopefully a future inquiry will reveal, was that box actually debated around the table during the coordination sessions of the estimate, or was it stuck in at the last minute by the National Intelligence Council? That is, to me, an important question. Because if in fact the intelligence professionals said that they had high confidence that Iraq had certain kinds of weapons, but they didn't know what weapons they were and they didn't know the amounts, that's an odd kind of conclusion.

Whatever the record, the intelligence community professionals-I wish that David Kay would have acknowledged that on the Iraqi missile program-in the detailed language of the estimates were very close to the mark about what Iraq was doing, and I think they can be proud of that. They also, in terms of what they said about the connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda, they were essentially correct, as far as we can tell. They were not the ones to create the impression of a close link here. That came from elsewhere.

So, moving up the chain here, it is the senior leadership of the CIA and the National Intelligence Council that has much to answer for in how they were characterizing the work of the intelligence professionals. They essentially slanted the intel to make the case against Iraq, to beef up the justification for a war against Iraq. There are a lot of examples I won't take the time to get into right now, of moving from the detailed estimate to the summary statements in the estimate that show that many of the qualifications are already dropping away, the certainty level is rising, even going from the interior of the estimate to the key judgment summary.

To use an example right up front, the first paragraph of the key judgments starts out that "We judge that Iraq has continued its WMD programs." Which means, you know, our best guess is that they have continued the programs. But then the next statement says, "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons." So what the intelligence experts would say is a judgment or an estimate has already, in the second sentence that has been summarized by the National Intelligence Council, become a certainty.

And that's just one little example of the ratcheting up of certainty and threat that has been done by the leadership of the CIA and the National Intelligence Council that in some respects betray the much more careful wording of the intelligence professionals.

I'm afraid to say as a former representative of the State Department that Secretary Powell ratcheted things up further in moving from what the senior leadership of the intelligence community had written and what he was doing to present the case to the public a year ago before the U.N. And as has already been mentioned by Joe and Daryl, the secretary of state continually reassured his listeners that this is not simply best guessing and estimation, "these are things we know," "We have multiple sources." And again and again we heard "there is no doubt that," "it is clear," "we know." Many of the times that this language was used it simply was not true. We did not know. There were doubts. So there is no other way to describe the language used by Secretary Powell other than to say that it was misleading the public and other countries in the world about the extent of knowledge of the intelligence professionals on these issues.

To move from what Secretary Powell said to what the White House was consistently saying is to take another giant leap into the realm of a combination of fantasy, hype, and exaggeration to get to the portrait of Saddam that President Bush presented to the nation. It was an odd combination of the already-exaggerated packaging of the senior intelligence professionals, like [CIA Director] George Tenet, with the wildly unrealistic products of the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon that was mostly cherry picking intelligence; choosing anything that would support the worst case against Saddam, no matter how much intelligence professionals disregarded it. And it was this combination of information produced by the cabal, by this rogue intelligence operation within the U.S. government, that the White House was obviously tolerating-in fact, Vice President Cheney, I believe, was the one leading it-that resulted in an America that is now fundamentally misinformed even to this day about, for example, the connection between Saddam Hussein and the perpetrators of 9/11.

So I will end this little introduction by saying that what is really most damning of the White House and the senior intelligence leadership-and I might even add to this the majority in the Congress-is what happened between November 2002 and the beginning of war in March 2003. This was the period in which the problem in the intelligence assessment of having no one on the ground was mitigated, if not resolved, by returning the U.N. inspectors to their previous activities.

I would note that a few days or one week after the U.N. inspectors hit the ground, the White House, other Cabinet members, the U.S. administration, were calling their mission a failure. They were denigrating the [inspectors'] competence. They were describing their efforts as feckless and doomed one week into the inspections.

Within one month, we were actually getting information which would resolve a lot of the prudent concerns that the intelligence community had about what was happening with new construction activity at sites previously associated with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons production. Almost without exception, those worst-case suspicions were found to be unfounded by taking a look at the equipment, by talking to people on the ground, by comparing things that the inspectors had seen before but had been blind to for a period of four years.

So even at the time of the president's State of the Union address in January, there was already a lot of important information which we had acquired that would change the assessments that some of the intelligence professionals had been comfortable with in October. There was no request in January, as far as I know, for the intelligence community to say, to itself and to the president, "What have we learned as a result of the return of the U.N. inspectors?"

At the time of the president's speech, the IAEA had already delivered an interim judgment that the aluminum tubes account of the administration was incorrect. In February, a full month before the U.S. invasion, they arrived at a definitive judgment the aluminum tubes were not going into the nuclear weapons program.

We knew at that point, more than a month before the invasion, that the document on which the uranium in Africa was based was a forgery. The two most important legs, then, of the nuclear reconstitution theory had just collapsed.

There was no effort, as far as I know, on the part of the White House or anyone else in the administration, to go to the intelligence community and say, "Before we invade this country on the assumption that the threat is as it was characterized several months earlier, how would we now characterize the threat?" One would think we would need to know, if only for the safety of the U.S. troops, let alone for the integrity of the decision to go to war. But it was not done. That, to me, is a very damning comment on whether or not this administration was trying to figure out what was going on in Iraq, or were they trying to build a case for war based on reasons other than weapons of mass destruction.

That's the end of my little comment.

MR. KIMBALL: I think it's very important that a lot of those points are being made. So much has happened, it's easy to forget important details.

Let me just open up the floor, so to speak, to questions for Greg or Joe. And if, when you ask your question, you can identify yourself. That would be helpful.

Q A basic question for Greg. This is Gary Thomas at VOA. I talked to David Kay actually a couple of days ago, and one thing he said struck me. He said that the intelligence was consistent. That is what was coming from allied agencies, such as the British and even the French, semi-allies I suppose, and the Germans that the intelligence was consistent. And that led him to believe, therefore, that it was a failure of intelligence, not an attempt at the political level to hype things up. Is that correct? Was the intelligence consistent? Why did they come to this conclusion if the intelligence coming from other allied sources was indeed the same or similar?

MR. THIELMANN: It's hard to know exactly what David Kay was talking about. I had the general impression from Kay that he is very BW/CW-centric. He doesn't really know the nuclear account as well.

On the nuclear account, the one that I'm most familiar with, I would just say that that is an inaccurate statement. When the aluminum tubes issue was being debated and we were consulting with URENCO, with the British and others, there was widespread support internationally for the U.S. Department of Energy and [the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research] interpretation that these aluminum tubes were not suitable for use in uranium centrifuge rotors.

MR. CIRINCIONE: May I just add three quick points?

If David Kay, in his most quoted statement says, "we were all wrong." If he means that those in the administration were completely wrong, that's true. If he means that all of us in assessing this threat were wrong, that is simply not true. It's useful to go back a year ago to the international press reaction to Powell's speech. Many, many capitals, either with posted editorials, interviewed officials who were not persuaded by Powell's speech, several U.N. ambassadors took to the floor immediately saying they weren't convinced of this. So it's not true that everyone thought this.

The second point, it's true that everyone had suspicions. Again, all our intelligence started from these unanswered questions left over from the UNSCOM inspections. So everyone had suspicions, but not everyone jumped to the conclusion that the U.K., U.S., and Israel did that these weapons posed a direct and immediate threat, and the only alternative was to go to war.

Third, I've spoken very recently to officials in the French government, for example, and the German government, and there were differences within their intelligence community, they said. They reminded me that all the Western intelligence services talk together and they all share a lot of information. Most of it comes from the superior intelligence capabilities of the U.S. But within those countries, people drew very different conclusions from the evidence that was presented.

So it's incorrect to say we were all mistaken, therefore we were all to blame for this misperception of the threat. It simply isn't correct.

MR. THIELMANN: I would just add to that, if you look now at what Robin Cook and Clare Short, the two British ministers that resigned in principle over Blair's conduct of this matter, they really gave the impression they were not convinced that the threat was the way that the U.S. was representing it, or even the way that their own prime minister was representing it. They were so upset at the discrepancy, in fact, that was one of the principal reasons that they resigned. And we have others, like Andrew Wilkie of Australia, who also resigned in principle, upset at the way the Australian prime minister was joining the U.S. political leadership's interpretation of the intelligence. So there is contrary evidence to what Kay has said.

MR. KIMBALL: One other quick, very quick point. Even within the U.S. intelligence community there was disagreement, as was mentioned, on the aluminum tubes, the uranium in Africa.

One issue that has come up again in the press in the past few days is the UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]. Even on that point, the administration charged that the unmanned aircraft probably were intended to deliver biological warfare agent. Powell said in his speech [they] could be used to carry out attacks in the U.S. The Air Force intelligence office had disagreed, saying that the UAVs were for reconnaissance. And that has proven to be correct afterwards, also. So there were doubts about that issue, the capability of delivery.

I'm sorry, there was a question that was about to be asked.

Q Yes, it's Ted Alden from the Financial Times. I have a question along similar lines for Greg Thielman.

The White House is also making the claim that this intelligence was also shared during the Clinton administration, that it was the same information. I mean, if you look at the public documents that doesn't appear to be the case. There does appear to have been a change.

I want your sense of whether there was a change in the intelligence from the Clinton years to the early part of the Bush administration, and also, if there was, was there new evidence that came in 2001 or early in 2002? Did we learn things about Saddam's programs that were not known, say, in 1998 or 1999 or 2000?

MR. THIELMANN: I will turn this over to Joe because I think his work and the Carnegie Endowment have done a lot of very close reading of the change between Clinton administration intel and Bush administration intel.

What I would say is that you have this very curious statement by Secretary Rumsfeld saying there really was no significant new intelligence information in the two years leading up to the war, which is quite an admission. There were some significant allegations: the alleged huge uranium acquisitions from Africa, and the aluminum tubes allegation. Had they been correct [they] would have been important, significant new intelligence.

But with those exceptions, what we really have is another couple years of not having people on the ground, allowing people to spin out more scary alternative scenarios for some of the things that one was seeing and a much greater credence attached, not necessarily by the intelligence professionals, but by the Cheneys and Rumsfelds that were using this rogue intelligence group, the credence attached to defector reports, many of which came from the Iraqi National Congress.

So that's really what the change in the actual hard intelligence was. For the whole four years that I was in the [INR Bureau], our conclusion was that there was not a dramatic change over those four years from the evidence we had available.

MR. CIRINCIONE: I would just quickly agree with that. In our review of the pre-2002 intelligence community reports-these are the declassified assessments that are presented to Congress every six months-we found that there was a consensus around four points. [One,]that most of Saddam's chemical, biological, nuclear and long-range missile capability had been destroyed. Two, there was no direct evidence that any chemical or biological weapons remained in Iraq, but they judged, this was a judgment, that some stocks could still remain and that production could be renewed, so these were caveated judgments. Three, that as Iraq rebuilt its facilities, some of this rebuilding for civilian purposes could be used to manufacture chemical and biological weapons. And the fourth was actually key, without an inspection regime, it was very difficult to determine the status of these programs.

So concern, absolutely. Worries, yes. Did some officials draw from that the conclusion that [Saddam] had those programs? Yes. I know this. I have talked with past officials. But that's not because they were told that by the intelligence agencies. Senior policymakers, including the president-and he said this-came to the conclusion that Saddam had these weapons, but it wasn't because of solid evidence that he had it. The intelligence agencies, as far as we can see from a review of the declassified information, never said that he had these weapons.

MR. KIMBALL: If I could just add one point. Greg Thielmann mentioned the Rumsfeld statement about there not being new evidence. I think the other part of that statement went something like, "but in light of 9/11 we looked at the evidence differently." So I think that everyone can read what they want into that. I think that's somewhat telling.

We have mentioned the inspectors a couple of times. Let me bring you back to something that Hans Blix said before, and then he said after the war, that I think is also important, which is that he warns that you should not equate not accounted for with existing; that is, you should not equate the questions about unaccounted for stockpiles or program dismantlement with the existence of those weapons or those programs. So this is, in my view, exactly what the senior officials did and some in the intelligence community did when looking at the evidence that was available.

Q This is Bill Nichols with USA Today, for anyone. Other than on missiles, did Powell get anything right in what he said at the U.N.?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Not that I can see. Secretary Powell was wrong on all his core assertions at the U.N. There isn't any major claim that has held up after over a year of searching Iraq. And even on the missiles, we knew at the time that Saddam had created missiles that were slightly over the 150-kilometer range; that is, they were going to 180-kilometer range. But how far along these programs were? We still don't have a good feel for that. An intention to develop them, certainly. But not a growing fleet of missiles and UAVs, as the secretary alleged. So I've gone through this and I've been looking at this very carefully, and I would say all of his major assertions we now know to be incorrect.

MR. THIELMANN: Let me just add one thing to what Joe said. I would still be a little bit more laudatory about the intelligence community on the missiles. We not only detected the testing of the Al-Samoud and the solid-fuel missile in ranges slightly in excess of U.N. allowances, but we also saw engine test stands being built that were suitable for testing significantly longer-range missiles. We saw mixers and other equipment being procured that would be appropriate for significantly longer-range missiles. And that was the one exception to the assessment that there were no weapons across the board. There was more activity and more official sponsorship of an active missile effort than in these other categories of WMD.

The worst part about the missile was that even though the intelligence community was very careful to point out the difference between what we cannot confirm that had been destroyed and something that actually exists, on the Scuds both Secretary Powell and George Tenet went beyond what I think most of the missile intelligence people would have said. They relied heavily on some defector reports to say they believed there may be up to a few dozen Scud-range missiles when the accounting problem would suggest there were only a couple of missiles of the 819 that we couldn't account for. So the intelligence community prudently and correctly said we can not ensure that there might not be a few Scud missiles. Secretary Powell and George Tenet said Saddam has up to a few dozen Scud missiles.

MR. CIRINCIONE: Yeah. And this is the way he starts his missile discussion; remember that Saddam wanted to strike not only his neighbors, but nations far beyond his borders. He then makes the claim of numerous intelligence reports and indicates-or he's careful here-but numerous intelligence reports indicate that Saddam retains a covert force of up to a few dozen Scud-variant ballistic missiles.

After that, he then goes into the details that the UNMOVIC inspectors were then uncovering and verifying that [Saddam] had an 180-kilometer range [missile]. He just says that they were over 150. He never gives you the information that they're 30 kilometers over 150, and that clearly, these are not missiles that can fly beyond the border. The fact was that at the time, UNMOVIC inspectors were in the process of uncovering this and starting a program to destroy those illegal missiles.

Q This is Mark Matthews for the Baltimore Sun. I have a question for Mr. Thielmann about intent. The prevailing view seems to have been that because Saddam had kicked out the inspectors, preferred to withstand sanctions, and had a history of cheating and deceiving, he must have had a strong intent to continue to produce weapons of mass destruction. Was there dissent from that prevailing view within the intelligence community? How strong was it? What alternative intentions were suggested?

MR. THIELMANN: I'm still convinced that Saddam had the intention to pursue some of these programs if the coast was clear. The point was, though, of course, with international scrutiny, the arms embargo, and then the return of inspectors, the coast wasn't clear at all, and that Saddam knew when he didn't have choices and options.

I would say that this is one thing about the Powell speech that was at least mostly correct, that is Saddam did have the intention of exploiting any opportunities the future might hold to pursue some of these programs. The point was, though, what was he doing at that time? He basically wasn't doing very much at that time, with the sole exception of the missile program.

But the interesting question is why, then, did he not cooperate more in demonstrating that he had actually destroyed the pieces of equipment? I have to concede that it was never seriously entertained by the intelligence community that he might be playing a double game, which is my leading hypothesis now; that is that he deliberately wanted both Western intelligence agencies and his own people to think that he was more active in unconventional weapons program than he actually was. In the case of his own population, he wanted to show that he wasn't being pushed around by the West, that Iraq had a proud and powerful future. And in the case of the West, with all of the banging of the drums about how much the world should fear biological and chemical weapons, it was apparently irresistible for Saddam to insinuate that he had those weapons, in order to deter U.S. military action.

MR. KIMBALL: This is Daryl Kimball.

Let me just jump in and note that, I mean, intentions, of course, are hard to measure. But regardless of intentions, there was an alternative to what ultimately happened and it's hard to assess now what would have happened if the weapons inspectors stayed in. But I think that a very strong case could have been made before the war, and even stronger case today, that with the kinds of inspections that were in place under UNMOVIC and with the stronger inspections that some of us were proposing-the Carnegie Endowment proposed an even tougher inspections regime-it is extremely probable that Iraq would not have been able to reconstitute these programs as Greg is suggesting. But that option was not pursued.

As we discussed earlier, the administration was within days of the UNMOVIC inspectors hitting the ground, was undercutting their capabilities by criticizing them in open. I think there are several examples of where we can point to where the U.S. was not fully working with UNMOVIC to help UNMOVIC do its job. So I think that another important point coming out of this whole experience is that international weapons inspectors in Iraq worked much better than anyone believed before the war, and that this is an approach that the United States needs to take another look at and think about how we can bolster international weapons inspections in other problem areas around the world, whether they be Libya, Iran, North Korea.

Q This is Gary Thomas again. I wanted to know from Greg and perhaps others of you who have talked to people still active inside the community, what is the reaction inside the community to the Kay assertions and to the commission that's going to be set up to determine what went on? Is there resentment? Is there any feeling that they're going to be scapegoated? What's the general sentiment about what's going on about this whole imbroglio?

MR. THIELMAN: I'm afraid you really need to get someone who's in closer touch with the CIA and DIA. I think that that's where the real anger is about the scapegoating the intelligence community. My own agency I think is less worried about that because it obviously had a better track record than the other agencies in terms of the official positions that were subscribed to. But I'm afraid I can't give a lot of firsthand witness on how individuals who are still serving are reacting.

Q This is Bill Nichols of USA Today again, for anyone who wants to answer. How much does this hurt Powell personally, his reputation as sort of the one reasonable, responsible member of the U.S. senior leadership during the run up to the war?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Well, Bill, I was just thinking about that today as I was reading the interview in The Washington Post. The longer Powell defends the administration's prewar position on Iraq, the more he tries to sort of excuse his mistakes, the more damage he's doing to his own reputation. And I was particularly struck by his end. I mean, he's still saying at the end of this Washington Post interview that his information was multi-sourced, it reflected the best judgments of all of the intelligence agencies that spent that four days out there with me-a little caveat there-there wasn't a word that was in that presentation that was put in that was not totally cleared by the intelligence community.

That statement is, at best, misleading. That's an example of what I mean; that the secretary of State, the individual with probably the most national, international respect of any figure in this administration, is doing a great deal of damage to his own credibility and reputation by not admitting the mistakes that were made, and by continuing to present his testimony, his past statements, as being completely backed by the intelligence agencies when we know that they were not.

MR. KIMBALL: We're focusing in this discussion on what happened a year ago. But let me just make it clear that I think I speak for Greg and Joe when I say that we think it's important to look at this because of what is going to be coming in the future, and it's important to look at the process and the intelligence-gathering process in order to do a much better job in the future.

One question that came to me when I read one of the press accounts about Powell's work at Langley in preparing his speech was who was in the room with him? Who was there? Were there people from all of the key agencies? Were there people from just one or two intelligence agencies? Colin Powell was going through tons of material. He alone, without help, could easily have made mistakes. But the key thing is who might have been there to help him look at this much more carefully.

Again, there were some other mistakes that the State Department made weeks earlier with respect to some of these facts. And I just want to remind you all of one little point that has been lost in all this, which is quite interesting. The first time the uranium in Africa charge was made publicly by the administration was not in the president's State of the Union address, but it was in a State Department fact sheet released on December 16th, 2002.

We at ACA have done some minor investigating on this. We have checked with Richard Boucher's office. The explanation that we got was that that was in there as a result of a draft speech that Ambassador Negroponte was preparing to deliver at the U.N. in response to the Iraqi declaration on their weapons program. The draft speech was changed in such a way as to delete that uranium in Africa reference. You'll recall George Tenet had already urged the president to take this out of his October 7th speech in Cincinnati. But it remained in the State Department fact sheet.

Here, we have an example of either sloppiness or someone somewhere in the chain trying to get this into a public document because it is a damaging allegation.

There are other examples of how the process was broken or misused that led to these dubious or discredited charges appearing in the senior-most officials' and agencies' statements and documents.

MR. THIELMANN: I just want to make sure that everyone understands that that December statement was not cleared or shown to the State Department's Intelligence Bureau, which was procedurally sort of incomprehensible-that the Public Affairs Office, addressing intelligence issues, would not check with the Intelligence Bureau in the department just to make sure that they were not releasing classified information. It certainly cries out for further investigation about why that was not done and who actually wrote those words.

I also wanted to underscore the importance of Daryl's question about how Secretary Powell was served in preparing the speech, because as an office director in INR, we were told that Powell said he wanted a J-2 or an intelligence officer at the hand of every senior State Department decision-maker at critical times. And here is the secretary of state, giving a speech all about intelligence, and as far as I know, he never had anyone from INR with him for any of these long discussions about what language to put in and what not to put in. Was he then saying that the CIA, in its Directorate of Central Intelligence role, was speaking for the entire intelligence community? That seems to be what he was saying, but it's very odd. One would like to see Powell questioned much more about why he wanted to cut himself off from his own intelligence apparatus.

Q This is Laura Iiyama. I work for Feature Story News. If we look at the difference between what happened in Powell preparing his speech, how much of the information was because he stripped out the caveats, and how much of it was because he was relying on Iraqi exile sources?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Let me give one example, which is really quite striking as we go back and look at this. It's this key issue, very dramatically presented, of the mobile production programs. This seems to be based almost exclusively on Iraqi defectors. He cites very carefully his sources for this, and this is what he says, "Although Iraq's mobile production program began in the mid-1990s, U.N. inspectors at the time had only vague hints. Confirmation came later, in the year 2000."

Again, he's showing U.N. inspectors completely missed this. We know it's happened. How do we know this? An Iraqi chemical engineer supervised one of these facilities. He was actually present during biological agent production runs. He was also at the site when an accident occurred in 1998. Twelve technicians died from exposure to biological agent. Very dramatic testimony, and as far as we know, completely untrue. There was no evidence whatsoever that there was an accident in 1998, that there were biological agent production runs, that 12 technicians died from exposure to biological agent.

But you have to understand what he's saying. He's saying in 1998 they had biological agents. They were producing them. How do we know? This guy told us. And he has a second source, another Iraqi civilian engineer, confirm the existence of these facilities. Then a third reported in summer 2002 that Iraq had manufactured mobile production systems mounted on road-trailer units on rail cars. Completely untrue. This is the basis for his information. As far as I know, there is no independent confirmation, other [than] the defector sources. This is a classic intelligence mistake.

I don't want to trample on Greg's territory here, but if you get defector information, you want to verify it by some means that you have confidence in. Instead, they verified it by other defectors. Now, I would want to be investigating, who were these guys? Where did they come from? What are we doing about this? How could we let something like this happen? Did this all come from the Iraqi National Congress? Who else provided us with these sources?

Instead, we have people going around town who were funneling these defectors with their false information to the White House and who are trying to avoid any responsibility for the massive disinformation that led this country to go to war. That's my quick answer to your question.

MR. THIELMANN: I very much agree with what Joe said. When I listened to Powell's speech for the first time I had been retired for several months. I really didn't know what he was talking about a lot of the times when he was talking about the defectors. At least for the State Department's intelligence unit, we would look very skeptical about human intelligence coming from groups that were hostile to Saddam for obvious reasons of motivation.

These are people often getting paid to say bad things about Saddam, which is exactly what their own political and personal interests would have them do. To the extent that we could, we were always pressing the CIA to say, "Who is this guy? What has he said previously? Did that person have access?" And so forth. As manager of the office, I didn't often do this sort of individual assessment of contributors. But some of my guys were very knowledgeable about where this stuff was coming from and so I trusted them when they dismissed things as not being reliable or credible. Much of the reporting that Powell used was in that category of very shaky stuff.

MR. KIMBALL: In the Carnegie report-I'm glad you guys found this reference, Joe, I've been looking for this-you note that an assessment by the DIA, I think it was a 2001 assessment, that says "most of the information given about Iraqi defectors was of little value, much invented and exaggerated." That was reported by the L.A. Times and New York Times in August and September of 2003. INR wasn't the only intelligence agency that took this skeptical view of defector information.

Are there any other questions out there for Greg or Joe? If so, we can continue with maybe one or so more, but I want to close out if we've exhausted your questions.

Q One final question. I'd like to ask you what level of confidence you have that the inquiry is going to be indeed nonpartisan and fair in being able to judge what went on here?

MR. CIRINCIONE: So far I would say we can have very low confidence that this is actually going to be an independent investigation of what went wrong with the intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs. There are several reasons for that. Apparently, the president has realized or acknowledged that he is one of the targets of this inquiry.

MR. KIMBALL: Or he should be, Joe. It's another issue; what is the scope of it?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Well, you have an inherent problem when the vice president, whose office was involved heavily in shaping, collecting, and disseminating intelligence, is the person who over the weekend was organizing the scope and the mandate for this inquiry.

Any official who has been involved in the collection, dissemination, and use of this intelligence should immediately remove themselves from anything to do with the formation of this commission. That's sort of common sense. It's as if Enron was able to pick the inquiry or to pick the people who would look into its business practices. You really do have to have an independent commission to do that, and so far, we don't have that.

Second, it's a mistake to make the scope of this commission so broad that it takes resources and attention away from the main problem. It sounds like the president is talking about a commission that would sort of investigate the role of intelligence in the 21st century, which is a good thing to do. But what we need is an inquiry into the failure of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs. That's a very different inquiry, very different mandate.

Third, the timing of this. You would think if you were the president you would be hopping mad about the intelligence you were given. You would think if you were the secretary of state you'd be firing a lot of those people who were in that room with you in New York. But we have no sense of outrage, no sense of urgency. I think we've got to find ways to make this as apolitical as possible, but we shouldn't, as part of that, delay the lessons or the information that we can get from such inquiry. Our enemies aren't waiting out there for the election to be over. We need to know what went wrong with this, how to fix it, and how to start getting better intelligence as soon as possible.

So those are my concerns about the way this inquiry is being handled so far.

Q Joe, are you saying the vice president has a conflict of interest?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Both the vice president and the president have a conflict of interest here. They should not be involved in shaping this panel. The president's got to find a truly independent, hands-off source that can pull together this panel to make it crystal clear that it's going to be a thorough, no-holds-barred investigation. If the president handles this right, this commission could greatly help him with the credibility problem he's now suffering internationally and nationally. If he handles it wrong, it could blow up in his face and make the problem much, much worse.

MR. THIELMAN: I would just echo many of the things that Joe has said. If the fault belongs entirely to the intelligence community, President Bush should be the angriest man in town and someone who, not today but back in the fall when David Kay delivered his interim report, would have demanded immediate explanation of how this could have happened. But instead the president of the United States has said in interviews a big whatever. It doesn't matter whether it's actually weapons of mass destruction-related program activities or weapons that are on the verge of attacking American cities. The same thing is what Bush has essentially said. If someone has that attitude then there's obviously going to be no urgency in the work of a commission or any real desire to get at the roots of what happened.

I would also echo what Joe said about the critical national security urgency here. We are in a crisis situation with regard to North Korea. We're at a very delicate point with Iran. [In the former Soviet Union] a huge unconventional weapons stockpile issue still looms. There is not a minute to waste, really, in trying to restore the credibility of the U.S. intelligence community and to improve a system of intelligence that is absolutely essential to the nation defending itself. It has to be done urgently.

I agree that it should be more narrowly focused in order to get something to the public in time for the election. Some of the allegations made about the way that intelligence information was used are impeachable offenses. Why should this be delayed until after the democratic mechanism we have for making assessments of whether or not the political leadership's guilty of criminal malfeasance?

Q I have two questions. Dimitri Sidorov, Kommersant. The first question is some intelligence experts I talked to two days ago said that this independent commission is that professionals should be on board much more than political figures. Should the problem with U.S. intelligence be resolved within the intelligence community and not coming out of the political circle? This is the first thing. The question is how do you feel about that?

And the second question is if Mr. Tenet is capable of reforming the CIA? If not, why?

MR. KIMBALL: Let me take an indirect shot at that because I think it comes back to a point I just wanted to make to add to what Joe and Greg said. I agree with all the points that Joe and Greg made about the type of commission, the scope, et cetera. There's one other point that needs to be underscored, which is implied by what Joe said, which is that the scope of this investigation, while it needs to be narrowed and not so broad that it looks at every intelligence issue, it does need to be a little broader than what the president has outlined, in that it should not, in my view, simply be limited to how the intelligence community gathered this information and assessed, but also how his administration, the political figures, communicated that information to the public and to the world. That's clearly a part of this.

That's what I think Joe is saying when he says that the vice president was involved here, the president was involved. They were communicating this information. For that reason, it needs to be broader than what the president has suggested.

Another important point that I hope you all will raise in the days ahead about this commission is based on my experience with secrecy issues at the Department of Energy and U.S. national security questions. It is very important for these kinds of investigations to take place in the open, in the sense that the public needs to understand what the process is, what the questions are that are being asked. If you take this behind closed doors, come out a year later with findings, the credibility level of the process I think is going to be much lower. The intelligence community can be protected in an open type of investigation. But I think this needs to be an open type of investigation in order to restore the credibility that so clearly has been lost through this process.

MR. CIRINCIONE: I certainly agree, Daryl, that it should extend beyond the intelligence community.

MR. THIELMANN: This has to do with whether or not this should be done by the intelligence community inside. The intelligence community had its chance. They would have known within weeks of going into Iraq that very serious mistakes were made.

What they did instead-or maybe it was the president; I don't remember who ordered it-they established the Kerr commission. This is a group of, as far as I know, exclusively ex-CIA officers, many of whom are still on the agency payroll as consultants, assessing whether or not the CIA, which made more mistakes than any other of the intelligence agencies, did everything okay or not. If they really wanted the intelligence community to do an assessment of itself, then at the very least they should have had a commission that would include members of other intelligence agencies or people from the outside that had some intelligence experience. But that's not the approach they took.

Q Okay. And how about Mr. Tenet, if he has a chance to reform the CIA, or should he step down?

MR. THIELMANN: That's a political judgment anyone can make.

MR. CIRINCIONE: I think clearly there are many in this town who are trying to blame George Tenet for this, exclusively. Some have cast Tenet in the John Dean role.

We don't need a fall guy here. We need answers. Tenet clearly has failed to maintain the integrity of his agency in what appears to many to be a tremendous amount of pressure to produce an intelligence assessment that conformed with administration policies.

But he was not alone in this. There's no evidence at all that he was solely or primarily responsible for the intelligence failure. I would think that the issue of resignations is premature until we get a complete picture of what happened here and who was responsible for it.

MR. KIMBALL: All right. Thank you, everyone.

To close out, let me just recommend, mention Joe's organization's website, www.ceip.org, for their reports; also, www.armscontrol.org, where we have our July press conference and other information on this subject.

END.

 

 

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies to address security threats posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as conventional arms.

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Questions Remain Over Failure to Find Iraqi WMD; U.S. Begins Program to Employ Iraqi Scientists

Paul Kerr

The capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein Dec. 13 may yield new clues as to whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when a U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq last spring. During interrogations with U.S. officials, however, Hussein has reportedly clung to his pre-war claims that Iraq did not possess such weapons.

Iraqi officials repeatedly told UN weapons inspectors that they had unilaterally destroyed their prohibited weapons after the 1991 Persian Gulf War but never provided conclusive evidence that this was the case. UN Security Council Resolution 1441 required Iraq to account for its past weapons programs, and President George W. Bush and administration officials have cited Iraq’s failure to resolve these discrepancies as grounds for the invasion that toppled Hussein’s government.

Hans Blix, the recently retired executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), stated during a Dec. 16 press conference that he did not believe Hussein’s capture would result in new discoveries of prohibited weapons because Iraq probably destroyed most of them in 1991. Furthermore, Blix’s successor, Demetrius Perricos, told the UN Security Council Dec. 8 that the October progress report on the U.S.-led investigation into Iraq’s prohibited weapons programs contained little information that was new to the inspectors.

If proven true, Blix’s argument would counter U.S. speculation that Iraq may have destroyed its weapons just prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Bush has offered this theory as a possible explanation for the investigation’s failure to corroborate the administration’s pre-war claims that Iraq possessed prohibited weapons. (See ACT, May 2003.)

Before their work was halted by the invasion, UN inspectors were attempting to account for Iraq’s missing weapons by requesting further documentation and conducting interviews with Iraqi officials. The inspectors also analyzed soil samples taken from sites where Iraq claimed to have destroyed its biological weapons. A Nov. 26 UNMOVIC report stated that inspectors’ recent analysis of these samples indicates that Iraq did destroy biological weapons in the relevant locations but that the inspectors could not quantify the amount destroyed.

UN inspectors reported just before the invasion that Iraq had failed to resolve the issues surrounding its unaccounted-for weapons but added that inspectors possessed no evidence that Iraq either had weapons of mass destruction or had reconstituted its related programs. (See ACT, April 2003.)

The Iraq Survey Group (ISG), the organization coordinating the U.S.-led inspections efforts, has found little evidence to rebut the UN inspectors’ reports. David Kay, a former International Atomic Energy Agency inspector leading the ISG, reported in October that the current investigation had discovered evidence of some low-level, dual-use biological and nuclear research efforts but had found no actual weapons. (See ACT, November 2003.)

Kay also stated that Iraq had been conducting research and development on several different programs to produce missiles exceeding the 150-kilometer range permitted under relevant Security Council resolutions. Kay’s statement, however, contained no evidence that Iraq was actually producing such missiles. The November UNMOVIC report stated that the inspectors ordered Iraq to destroy its al Samoud missiles because their “design was inherently capable of ranges greater than 150 [kilometers]” but added that no evidence was found that Iraq was actually modifying the missiles to achieve this greater range.

Perricos told the Security Council that Kay’s statement generally contained little new information but added that the United States had not yet provided UNMOVIC with a copy of the full, classified version of the ISG report. Perricos also acknowledged that UNMOVIC had been unaware of allegations included in Kay’s report that Iraq attempted to obtain missile technology from North Korea and had a program to extend the range of a cruise missile to 1,000 kilometers. (See ACT, November 2003.)

Press reports that Kay may resign before the ISG’s work is complete have raised questions about the investigation’s future. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan did not deny the report but said Dec. 18 that the ISG “will continue and complete its work.”

Despite the lack of weapons discoveries, Bush defended the invasion in a Dec. 16 television interview, saying Kay’s findings proved Iraq had “a weapons program” and was “in material breach of Resolution 1441.” He added that there was no difference between Iraq having a “weapons program” and possessing actual weapons, arguing that the September 11 terrorist attacks demonstrated that the “possibility that [Hussein] could acquire [prohibited] weapons” was an intolerable risk.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld previously made this argument to the Senate Armed Services Committee in July, stating that the U.S.-led coalition did not invade Iraq “because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq’s pursuit of [weapons of mass destruction]; we acted because we saw the existing evidence in a new light—through the prism of our experience on 9/11.”

Iraqi Scientists Program Initiated

Department of State spokesman Richard Boucher officially announced Dec. 18 that the United States will begin a two-year program to support the civilian employment of Iraqi personnel with WMD expertise in an attempt to prevent them from assisting other countries seeking weapons of mass destruction. Arms Control Today obtained a draft proposal in November that sketched out the program’s general parameters. (See ACT, December 2003.)

The State Department will create an Iraqi International Center for Science and Industry that will identify the personnel to be included and “facilitate the development and funding of [employment] projects” designed to aid Iraqi reconstruction efforts. According to a department fact sheet, “Some of these programs will be up and running by February,” Boucher said.

The program will be funded by the State Department’s Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund and is initially expected to cost approximately $2 million, Boucher said. He noted that another $20 million may be needed for future projects, although that funding has not yet been decided.

 

 

 

 

 

The capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein Dec. 13 may yield new clues as to whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when a U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq last spring...

U.S. Plan Addresses Possible Spread of WMD Expertise from Iraq

The Department of State is developing programs to address concerns that Iraqi scientists, engineers, and technicians may assist other countries with their weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. One such initiative, the “Science, Technology and Engineering Mentorship Initiative for Iraq,” was sketched out in a recent State Department draft proposal obtained by Arms Control Today. The program would provide grants to Iraqi scientists for research and development activities at “institutions of higher education” and aim to lay the groundwork for the development of Iraqi basic science research.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Nov. 17 that Washington is “looking at programs to redirect [Iraqi personnel] with expertise in [WMD] technology to peaceful civilian employment.” Similar to existing programs the United States conducts with former Soviet weapons scientists, these proposed programs are designed to “keep Iraqi scientists from providing expertise to other countries…[and] to enable them to serve the economic rebuilding of Iraq,” Boucher said.

A State Department official interviewed Nov. 19 said the department began planning for the programs shortly after the end of major hostilities in Iraq, which President George W. Bush announced May 1.

Political Fracas Stalls Senate's Iraq Investigation

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s investigation into Iraqi intelligence has screeched to a virtual standstill after a draft Democratic staff memo surfaced a few weeks ago. The memo laid out a strategy for forcing an independent investigation into whether the Bush administration misused intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. No hearings have been held since the memo was leaked Nov. 4, and Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said in comments on the Senate floor that it will be impossible to return to “business as usual” until the Democratic senators on the committee “clearly repudiate the blatantly partisan strategy laid out in the attack memo.”

Returning fire, the committee’s ranking member, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) called charges that the draft memo represents a plan to discredit what the Intelligence Committee is doing and to politicize the inquiry “inaccurate and unfortunate.” He noted that “[i]t is disturbing that individuals are seeking to score political points and that a draft paper describing the rights of the minority to push for a full and fair review of these issues is being so grossly mischaracterized to try to deflect attention from the real issue.”

Meanwhile, on Nov. 6, President George W. Bush signed an $87.5 billion package for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan that includes $600 million for David Kay’s continuing investigation for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Congress approved the funding measure in October.

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