Saddam kept pretense of WMDs to prevent Israeli attack
By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent
WASHINGTON - Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein pretended to have chemical weapons because, among other reasons, he feared that Israel might attack if it discovered he did not. This is revealed in a recently declassified internal report by the American military.
The report was compiled from many dozens of interviews with senior Iraqi officials and hundreds of documents captured by the American forces during and after the war.
Hussein made the above statement at a meeting with leaders of the Ba'ath Party, said Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, to American interrogators. Ali was in charge of using chemical weapons against the Kurdish forces at the end of the 1980s.
According to Chemical Ali, Hussein was asked about the weapons during a meeting with members of the Revolutionary Command Council. He replied that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) but flatly rejected a suggestion that the regime remove all doubts to the contrary," the report states. Ali explained that such a declaration could encourage Israel to attack, the report says.
The 100-page report has not been released yet, but some 9,000 words of it are to appear in the next edition of Foreign Affairs Magazine.
There is a growing tendency in the U.S. to declassify Iraqi documents captured after the war and release them. Hundreds of thousands of documents are expected to be released next week, following an agreement between the intelligence community, the National Security Council and American lawmakers.
The report details Hussein's reasons for deciding to continue deceiving the international community into thinking that Iraq had WMD, despite the fact that such deception could increase the chances of a military attack on the country.
Hussein did not believe until almost the last moment that the U.S. would send its forces into Baghdad, the report says. He was much more afraid of subversive elements in Iraq - mainly the Shi'ites and Kurds - and from regional powers - mainly Iran but also Israel - than of an American invasion.
This is why he decided to leave the bridges leading into Iraq standing, believing he would need them, and to maintain ambiguity until close to the invasion, causing Western intelligence to believe he had WMDs.
"Many months after the fall of Baghdad, a number of senior Iraqi officials in coalition custody continued to believe it possible that Iraq still possesed WMD capability hidden away somewhere. Saddam attempted to convince one audience that they were gone while simultaneously convincing another that Iraq still had them," the report says.
Senior Iraqi officials told their interrogators that Hussein had no idea what the true state of the country's weapons was, because everyone lied to him and refrained from giving him bad news for fear of being executed.
Hussein's deputy Tariq Aziz told interrogators, "The people in the military industrial commission were liars. They lied to you, and they lied to Hussein. They were always saying they were producing special weapons."
"A captured military industrial commission annual report of investments from 2002 showed more than 170 research projects. When Hussein asked for updates on the nonexistent projects, they simply faked plans and designs to show progress," the report says.
Many in Israeli intelligence still believe Hussein had chemical weapons, which were transferred to Syria before the war. Israel discussed this with the Americans, but the latter no longer believe that Israeli evidence is conclusive on the matter.
The report also describes how unprepared Iraq was for the American invasion. Many of its commanders were unsuitable, appointed for political reasons, including Hussein's son. In addition, the militias Hussein formed to protect his regime were not trained professionally
Saddam's Delusions: The View from the Inside
By Kevin Woods, James Lacey, and Williamson Murray
From Foreign Affairs, May/June 2006
Summary: A special, double-length article from the upcoming May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, presenting key excerpts from the recently declassified book-length report of the USJFCOM Iraqi Perspectives Project.
Kevin Woods is a defense analyst in Washington, D.C. James Lacey is a military analyst for the U.S. Joint Forces Command. Williamson Murray is Class of 1957 Distinguished Visiting Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy. Along with Mark Stout and Michael Pease, they were the principal participants in the USJFCOM Iraqi Perspectives Project.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The fall of Baghdad in April 2003 opened one of the most secretive and brutal governments in history to outside scrutiny. For the first time since the end of World War II, American analysts did not have to guess what had happened on the other side of a conflict but could actually read the defeated enemy's documents and interrogate its leading figures. To make the most of this unique opportunity, the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) commissioned a comprehensive study of the inner workings and behavior of Saddam Hussein's regime based on previously inaccessible primary sources. Drawing on interviews with dozens of captured senior Iraqi military and political leaders and hundreds of thousands of official Iraqi documents (hundreds of them fully translated), this two-year project has changed our understanding of the war from the ground up. The study was partially declassified in late February; its key findings are presented here.
Update on the documents:
Focusing on extensive documentation from previously overlooked sources, his book attempts to debunk the AP allusion to a widespread massacre of civilians by U.S. forces at No Gun Ri and show how veterans who allegedly witnessed this event and influenced others were not even present.
however this has been apparently debunked by further investigations by a Major Robert Bateman.
"Compelled by suspected fallacies in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press story of the alleged slaughter of South Korean refugees at No Gun Ri, Major Bateman presents an alternate explanation of the events through the perspective of the soldiers and their commanders, the 1948-50 South Korean civil war, and the broader state of U.S. military policy and force readiness. Focusing on extensive documentation from previously overlooked sources, his book attempts to debunk the AP allusion to a widespread massacre of civilians by U.S. forces at No Gun Ri and show how veterans who allegedly witnessed this event and influenced others were not even present."
The above is a direct quote from the link. You are correct, Parados, it says Major Bateman "attempts to debunk" the book by Hanley. I would think however that if the people that allegedly witnessed the event as written by Hanley were not even present, it sounds like his "attempt to debunk" may have been successful. And Bateman has extensive documentation in his "attempt to debunk." Okay, not proven, but suspicious.
You see nothing in the piece by Hanley that is opinion? I need not go past the first sentence: "BAGHDAD, Iraq - Exasperated, besieged by global pressure, Saddam Hussein and top aides searched for ways in the 1990s to prove to the world they'd given up banned weapons." This is a sentence constructed by Hanley, not any quotes from a tape.
To support this assertion, he uses short quotes out of context from different times and different settings. Now are we to ignore the long history of evasion and fooling and other tapes contradicting this statement in terms of Hussein and his people talking about hiding their weapons and programs?
Surely Parados, you are not so naive as to believe even the very first sentence describing Hussein, but even if we believe it, it may simply mean Hussein wanted to prove to the world they had no weapons even while they had them.
Surely Parados, with your skill at debating, you could find plenty of holes in many of Hanley's statements, that is if you wanted to.
Where is this tape talking about hiding?
There might be some complaints about Hanley's word choices but it isn't editorializing.
"The question becomes, do we have to disclose everything or continue to keep silent?" Kamel said to Hussein. "I think it would be in our interest not to, because we don't want the world to know about what we possess because it has become clear to the countries who are forced to be allies of the U.S. that our position is untenable."
Of the tapes, Duelfer said, "The tapes tend to reinforce, confirm, and to a certain extent, provide a bit more detail, the conclusions which we brought out in the report.
Okie, they were discussing whether they should disclose everything or keep silent, nothing about hiding weapons.
revel wrote:Okie, they were discussing whether they should disclose everything or keep silent, nothing about hiding weapons.
I guess it all depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.