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These pages (including the back links) are a chronicle of the war until its end. This section is no longer updated regularly, but from time to time we do put articles of special interest about Iraq here.
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US War Commentary Follows the Pentagon

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 .as the image of the Iraqi leader tumbled to the ground the decades of pain and anger welled up and the crowd surged forward to jump on the statue to smash it to pieces. It is a true expression of their anger at over 25 years of rule, they are seeking to vent their anger at the government and joy that it has now fallen.
This is an historic moment and it took place in front of ordinary Iraqi people, US marines and the gathered media of the world. -
Rageh Omaar - BBC April 9, 2003 


The Coalition's Scorpion

Zuhair Kseibaty  

Al-Hayat     2003/06/17


The Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department, Richard Haass, admitted that he was unable at this stage to imagine a post-Saddam Iraqi state. This represents the height of humility, which can only be compared to the American inability to understand the societies of the region and their ideologies. In order to keep entertaining television watchers, he said, "I guess Iraq will not follow the model of the American Congress, nor the British system. It might not be entirely secular, but it might not be entirely religious either."

The reality of Iraq today is a long shot from being entertaining or exciting, especially since the administrator Paul Bremer, reflecting his administration's loss in Washington, does not know what he wants of and for the country, except to tighten the coalition's control over the land and oil. The only new thing that Haass said was that he admitted that several years would be needed to establish democracy in Iraq. By saying this, he unveiled the reality of the promises that President Bush made to his people to win their support in his decision of waging war against Iraq, and to the Iraqi people so that they wouldn't defend Saddam Hussein during the war.

Today, after several weeks of occupation, the situation of the coalition does not fare any better from that of the Iraqis who are suffering humiliation at the hands of those who came to liberate them from the oppressive regime of Saddam. It is obvious that there is no question of a new liberation battle now, even if the daily attacks on the American troops represent a problem for the coalition, which even thought it could reduce the number of troops only one month after toppling Saddam.

This is the new vicious circle that the invader troops have locked themselves in, and which was heightened by Bremer's failing to address the political forces in the country since he sought to minimize the opposition and reinforce the tribes' power, as if they were a school for democracy. He supposed that a decision to dissolve the Iraqi army and raise the banner of uprooting the Baathists would be enough to pave the way for his ambitions and push everyone - politicians, clergy and tribe leaders - to be reassured about the post-invasion project.

Theoretically, it was obvious that the resistance operations would increase, after the awakening of April 9, when Saddam's statue was toppled - an image that will never erase from minds of the Iraqi people all the dark suffering they went through. Every time the American soldiers will behave like cowboys and tighten their grip over civilians, the problem will get even worse. They can no longer convince anyone of the legitimacy of their actions just because they are following Baathists and groups of the former regime. For everyone knows that these groups in a country that was ruled by oppression might represent millions of people. Could the coalition eliminate them under the pretext of 'cleansing' campaigns?

The 'cleansing' of the school programs from Saddam's pictures and Baath party slogans is a much easier task. Neither the coalition nor Bremer, who is fond of putting big titles to his projects, understands that the most complex thing is being convinced that the Iraqis will not prefer occupation to persecution and oppression. The Baath party is still able, although it is dissolved, to bother the Americans, no matter what they did to the "desert's scorpion," and no matter how much the number of its partisans decreased... simply because they consider any attack on them or trap coming from the Baath party. The top administrator admitted that he had made a mistake; but it is too late if he wants to gain popularity among those who suffered the former regime's oppression and are now facing the coalition.

Furthermore, the scandal of President Bush and Premier Tony Blair who claimed the presence of weapons of mass destruction has raised general doubts over the occupation forces' intentions. Inventing an alibi for the war gives millions of people in the liberated country of Saddam added reason or incentive to refuse any formula suggested by Washington as a political map for their country.

While awaiting this map, which might be postponed to the next fall with the provisional administration, "the desert's scorpion" or anyone else will not be able to pretend to eliminate the resistance, Islamic or Baathist, for the victims of the occupation are the victims of the former regime and they don't have much to lose.

The occupation is neither needed nor desired, especially in Iraq where Bremer has fallen into the trap of the governor's ambitions and has minimized the roles and forces that can only watch the fate of the "desert's scorpion" hoping it will speed the departure of the occupation or at least establish an Iraqi rule that enjoys the citizens' support, thereby turning the coalition into a simple security tool.

Could this be just a figment of the imagination? The answer lies in the possibility of seeing the weapons scandal spreading.

US News & World Report
Breaking News 6/13/03
Second intelligence report: "No Reliable Information" Iraqis Stockpiling Chemical Weapons

by David E. Kaplan and Mark Mazzetti


In October 2002, a classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared jointly by U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons. But one month later, the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a report stating that there was "no reliable information" showing that Iraq was actually producing or stockpiling chemical weapons, U.S. News has learned.

The DIA's classified November assessment mirrors a September analysis that the agency made on the same subject. That report was first disclosed by the magazine early this month, fueling a controversy about whether President Bush and top aides overstated the threat posed by Iraq in making the case for war. Administration officials deny manipulating intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs and say they are confident that the Defense Department eventually will find weapons of mass terror.

The newly-disclosed DIA report, classified "secret,'' is entitled, "Iraq's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapon and Missile Program: Progress, Prospects, and Potential Vulnerabilities.'' Its existence raises more questions about the quality of U.S. intelligence before the March invasion. In one section about Iraq's chemical weapons capabilities, the report says: "No reliable information indicates whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons or where the country has or will establish its chemical agent production facility." The report cites suspicious weapons transfers and improvements on Iraq's "dual-use" chemical infrastructure. Nonetheless, says a DIA spokesman, "there was no single piece of irrefutable data that said [Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein] definitely has it."

In recent days, President Bush has tempered his rhetoric about Iraq's terror weapons capabilities. "I am absolutely convinced, with time, we'll find out that they did have a weapons program," he told reporters this week. This departs from language used by his senior advisors before the war. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld perhaps was the most expansive: "There's no debate in the world as to whether they have those weapons. There's no debate in the world as to whether they're continuing to develop and acquire them. There's no debate in the world as to whether or not he's used them. There's no debate in the world as to whether or not he's consistently threatening his neighbors with them. We all know that. A trained ape knows that."

Yet, the DIA reports indicate that Rumsfeld's own analysts were more cautious in their conclusions about the threat posed by Iraq. "The DIA can be more conservative in their assessments, because they have a greater detachment from the policy makers than CIA does," says Patrick Lang, who worked as a top Iraq analyst for both agencies. The administration's handling of its intelligence dossier on Iraq, before the war, is under scruntiny by congressional committees. Those inquries could lead to public hearings.

Media contact: Richard Folkers, Director of Media Relations (202-955-2219 or rfolkers@usnews.com).

Broadcast media contact: Edie Emery, Goodman Media Internationl (202-423-6806 or edie@goodmanmedia.com).

ILos Angeles Times
June 18, 2003

New Hunt For Iraqi Arms Resembles Old

U.S., British and Australian teams will rely heavily on military intelligence but also use many of the U.N. inspectors' techniques.

By Bob Drogin, Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD — A sweeping overhaul of the search for Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction is creating an operation with striking similarities to the United Nations inspection system that Bush administration officials openly derided before the war, according to senior military and intelligence officials here.

Unlike the U.N. teams, however, the new weapons hunt will rely chiefly on "secret squirrels," as U.S. commanders call the growing army here of CIA and military intelligence operatives, National Security Agency eavesdroppers, British MI-6 agents and elite Special Operations teams whose very existence is classified.

In addition to the latest spy gizmos and techniques, the American, British and Australian teams will have the advantage in the postwar occupation of what one commander called "unfettered access to Iraqis at all levels," at gunpoint if necessary.

"We have a full deck of cards," added the official, who requested anonymity. "The U.N. had about 35."

But the 1,400 people in the Iraq Survey Group, as the new effort is called, will utilize many of the same highly intrusive investigative and covert intelligence-gathering techniques that U.N. inspectors secretly used between 1991 and 1998 to find and destroy vast quantities of illicit Iraqi weapons and production materials.

The U.N. inspectors collected more than a million pages of architects' blueprints, weapons designs, financial and customs records, as well as microfilm, videos and other media. They interviewed not only senior Iraqi weapons scientists and government officials, but also warehouse workers, factory accountants, lab assistants, office clerks and truck drivers.

U.N. inspections resumed last November, but Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told the Security Council in February that U.S. intelligence showed that the Baghdad regime was deceiving the U.N. teams and was concealing active programs to build chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Powell opposed extending the U.N. inspections, which had found no evidence of new Iraqi weapons programs. The U.N. teams were withdrawn shortly before U.S. troops invaded Iraq on March 20.

Brig. Gen. Steve Meekin, the senior Australian officer in the Iraq Survey Group, said the new effort "absolutely" resembles the former U.N. inspection system here because it will focus on collecting clues and not just searching buildings.

"We're changing our focus that way on almost a daily basis now," said Meekin, who is commander of a center studying captured military equipment, a key part of the new group. As a result, he said, both the number and quality of leads coming in are gradually increasing.

"We haven't had any single dramatic discoveries," Meekin said. "But we're getting closer."

The redesign was ordered after U.S. field commanders acknowledged that the hunt, as organized and implemented so far, probably would not find any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, one of the chief reasons President Bush had cited for taking the nation to war.

"Some people thought we'd just drive in and find fields of WMD, with neon signs saying, 'Look here,' " a senior Defense Department official here said. "We had to get expectations under control."

The shift in effort was symbolized by the quiet departure Monday of Army Col. Richard R. McPhee. He commanded the 75th Exploitation Task Force, a former field artillery brigade from Ft. Sill, Okla., that was reconfigured before the war to serve as the lead unit in the search for unconventional arms.

No announcement was made, but U.S. officials said command has passed to Keith Dayton, a two-star general from the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon's chief spy service. Dayton is considered an expert in collecting intelligence through interrogations or from informants. The nucleus of his staff will be intelligence officers, including several former U.N. inspectors.

Dayton's group won't be functioning fully for several weeks, officials said. Members ultimately will live in mobile trailers and operate from 100 workstations and a secure facility for top-secret communications that will be built in a ballroom at one of Hussein's former palaces that is located near the Baghdad airport. The team will also open two satellite bases in northern and southern Iraq.

Because they were forced to rely on a target list set before the war, the previous weapons-hunting teams spent most of the last two months picking through rubble or empty shells of former Iraqi factories, Baath Party offices, secret police centers, military camps and other sites that had taken the brunt of both U.S. bombing and postwar looting.

Most of the early weapons teams lacked translators, interrogators and transportation, as well as investigative expertise. They took hundreds of "wipes and swipes," as one officer here called it, of suspect substances for analysis at U.S. and British military laboratories. No germ agents, poison gases, or undeclared nuclear materials have been found.

The Iraq Survey Group plans to start anew by focusing on collecting and consolidating fresh clues.

The lead teams, working from an interrogation and debriefing center, already have been assigned to find and interview Iraqis. Others have begun translating and analyzing Iraqi documents and computer data. Still others will seek to unravel covert procurement networks outside Iraq.

"This is truly going to be looking for all the clues," said the Defense Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We haven't done that before."

Officials say any clues or raw intelligence will be instantly fed back to intelligence analysts, weapons specialists and others at the Pentagon's Central Command headquarters in Qatar. Information then will go to a new inter-agency intelligence center in Washington. Suggestions for follow-up will be fed back to officials in the field.

"There are thousands of analysts and others in the intelligence community who are chewing on this," the official said.

Three-member teams will be assigned at each level simply to look at the intelligence "with a different eye," another official explained, in case they see something others may have missed.

News headlines in the 1990s chiefly focused on the U.N. inspection teams' recurring struggles to gain access to suspected weapons sites in Iraq. But the teams steadily eliminated more of Hussein's unconventional weapons than were destroyed by coalition airstrikes during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, according to U.N. records.

Their success — especially at uncovering Hussein's germ warfare and nuclear weapons programs — was largely based on intense investigations of Hussein's clandestine weapons procurement programs, as well as the research, development and production systems, according to former U.N. inspectors.

Meekin said the weapons hunters have mostly revisited sites that U.N. teams already had searched, and have growing respect for the U.N.'s work. "We have not recovered anything that the U.N. had not seen," he said.


 Washington Times
April 15, 2003

Corruption at CNN
Peter Collins http://washtimes.com/op-ed/20030415-91009640.htm  

Mr. Eason Jordan's admission that CNN had to suppress the news from Baghdad in order to report it brought back memories for me.

In January 1993, I was in Baghdad as a reporter for CNN on a probationary, three-month contract. Previously, I had been a war reporter for CBS News in Vietnam and East Asia and in Central America for ABC News. I had also made three trips to Baghdad for ABC News before the Gulf War.

Now, Bill Clinton was about to be inaugurated and there was speculation that Saddam Hussein might "test" the new American president. Would the new administration be willing to enforce the "no-fly" zones set up in northern and southern Iraq after the Gulf War?

CNN had made its reputation during the war with its exclusive reports from Baghdad. Shortly after my arrival, I was surprised to see CNN President Tom Johnson and Eason Jordan, then chief of international news gathering, stride into the al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad. They were there to help CNN bid for an exclusive interview with Saddam Hussein, timed to coincide with the coming inauguration of President Clinton.

I took part in meetings between the CNN executives and various officials purported to be close to Saddam. We met with his personal translator; with a foreign affairs adviser; with Information Minister Latif Jassim; and with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

In each of these meetings, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan made their pitch: Saddam Hussein would have an hour's time on CNN's worldwide network; there would be no interruptions, no commercials. I was astonished. From both the tone and the content of these conversations, it seemed to me that CNN was virtually groveling for the interview.

The day after one such meeting, I was on the roof of the Ministry of Information, preparing for my first "live shot" on CNN. A producer came up and handed me a sheet of paper with handwritten notes. "Tom Johnson wants you to read this on camera," he said. I glanced at the paper. It was an item-by-item summary of points made by Information Minister Latif Jassim in an interview that morning with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan.

The list was so long that there was no time during the live shot to provide context. I read the information minister's points verbatim. Moments later, I was downstairs in the newsroom on the first floor of the Information Ministry. Mr. Johnson approached, having seen my performance on a TV monitor. "You were a bit flat there, Peter," he said. Again, I was astonished. The president of CNN was telling me I seemed less-than-enthusiastic reading Saddam Hussein's propaganda.

The next day, I was CNN's reporter on a trip organized by the Ministry of Information to the northern city of Mosul. "Minders" from the ministry accompanied two busloads of news people to an open, plowed field outside Mosul. The purpose was to show us that American warplanes were bombing "innocent Iraqi farmers." Bits of American ordinance were scattered on the field. One large piece was marked "CBU." I recognized it as the canister for a Cluster Bomb Unit, a weapon effective against troops in the open, or against "thin-skinned" armor. I was puzzled. Why would U.S. aircraft launch CBUs against what appeared to be an open field? Was it really to kill "innocent Iraqi farmers?" The minders showed us no victims, no witnesses. I looked around. About 2000 yards distant on a ridgeline, two radar dishes were just visible against the sky. The ground was freshly plowed. Now, I understood. The radars were probably linked to Soviet-made SA-6 surface-to-air missiles mounted on tracks, armored vehicles, parked in the field at some distance from the dishes to keep them safe. After the bombing, the Iraqis had removed the missile launchers and had plowed the field to cover the tracks.

On the way back to Baghdad, I explained to other reporters what I thought had happened, and wrote a report that was broadcast on CNN that night.

The next day, Brent Sadler, CNN's chief reporter at the time in Baghdad (he is now in northern Iraq), came up to me in a hallway of the al Rasheed Hotel. He had been pushing for the interview with Saddam and had urged Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan to come to Baghdad to help seal the deal. "Petah," he said to me in his English accent, "you know we're trying to get an interview with Saddam. That piece last night was not helpful."

So, we were supposed to shade the news to get an interview with Saddam?

As it happens, CNN never did get that interview. A few months later, I had passed my probationary period and was contemplating my future with CNN. I thought long and hard; could I be comfortable with a news organization that played those kinds of games? I decided, no, I could not, and resigned.

In my brief acquaintance with Mr. Jordan at CNN, I formed the impression of a decent man, someone with a conscience. On the day Mr. Jordan published his piece in the New York Times, a panel on Fox News was discussing his astonishing admissions. Brit Hume wondered, "Why would he ever write such a thing?" Another panelist suggested, "Perhaps his conscience is bothering him." Mr. Eason, it should be.

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