The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

US Policy on Iraq

Iraq News, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1999

By Laurie Mylroie

The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .


X-URL: http://www.erols.com/
I.  SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE HEARING, EXCERPTS, JAN 28
II. INDYK, GULF STATES WANT LESS TALK, MORE ACTION ON SADDAM, AP, JAN 30
III. FRANCK RICCIARDONE BIO, USIS, JAN 21
IV.  AL HAYAT, RICCIARDONE: IRAQ LIBERATION ACT A BAD MISTAKE, JAN 31
V.   PITTSBURGH POST, JUDITH YAPHE, IRAQI OPPOSITION INCOMPETENT, JAN 29
    A. M. Rosenthal, Jan 29, wrote, "All Democrats and many Republicans 
decided long in advance of the [impeachment] trial that although they 
thought Mr. Clinton terribly naughty, his lying and obstructing justice 
are not grounds serious enough to be convicted.   .  .  [But] Bill 
Clinton gambled the moral, political and historic reputation of the 
Presidency-showing what he thought of the office and himself. He lied.  
He lied in private and in public, with or without oath.  He lied to 
friends, enemies, subordinates.  He proved what the Democratic Senator 
Bob Kerrey of Nebraska once said about him--'Clinton is an unusually 
good liar, unusually good.'" 
   Lying, particularly when authority lies, has implications.  And 
Clinton's lies have had national security implications.  Yet the couch 
potatoes that constitute the bulk of the US public do not seem to 
understand that.  They are, after all, not much interested in foreign 
affairs.  As William Safire, Jan 14, wrote, "Knock yourself loose 
calling all over the world to produce a column about the Syrian dictator 
Hafez al-Assad sending hoodlums to trash our Damascus embassy, and 
nobody cares.  But suck your thumb, stare at the wall and wonder in 
print what holds Bill Clinton's popularity up despite a year running 
Shame Inc. and--hoo-hah!-=more mail comes pouring in than from any Essay 
in years." 
   The Clinton administration will NOT be implementing the Iraq 
Liberation Act, although it will be paying lip service to it and 
claiming it is implementing the legislation.  But before addressing 
that, "Iraq News" thought to note that the Jan 28 Senate Armed Services 
Committee hearing was more contentious than generally reported.  
   Committee chairman, Sen. John Warner, [R Va] noted that since the end 
of the Gulf war, the US "has spent over $6.6 billion, not including the 
cost of Operation Desert Fox.  We put at risk the lives of thousands of 
US and Allied military personnel in an effort to contain Saddam Hussein 
and force his compliance with UN Security Council resolutions that ended 
the '91 war.  We must address publicly what have we to show for this 
tremendous investment . . ."
   Following Gen. Zinni's widely-reported deprecatory comments about the 
Iraqi opposition, Sen McCain [R Az] responded,  "Of course, it might 
have given us a greater opportunity if we had not allowed the last 
opposition group to be wiped out without responding," referring to 
Saddam's Aug 31 96 assault on the Iraqi Nat'l Congress in Irbil.   
   It will be recalled that following that attack, Clinton proclaimed 
that US interests lay in the South, rather than the North, hit some air 
defense sites with cruise-missiles, extended the no-fly zone, and 
proclaimed, "This has changed the strategic situation.  [Saddam] is 
strategically worse off than he was before these strikes began."  That 
is just one of the many lies Clinton has told about Iraq over the years 
and which have led to the present perilous situation.  Too bad that kind 
of lying doesn't make it into the impeachment hearings.
  Sen. McCain also had a sharp exchange with Zinni over why the US did 
not shoot down Iraqi airplanes or attack the airfields from which they 
took off and landed, saying, "If you want to sit and insult my 
intelligence and that of other members of the committee, that's fine 
with me.  But the reality is a reality."
  Sen. Warner seconded McCain, "I say I join you on this, because it 
ties in to my opening question of the cost-benefit of these continued 
high intensity air operations versus insignificant, in my research-- 
perhaps in closed we can get into it--ground operations by Saddam 
against his people.  And we are at risk, as Senator McCain says, of 
losing an aviator.  Even if an engine malfunctions, and that would 
complicate the situation enormously."
  Sen. Robb [D Va] suggested, "We appear to be continuing a policy of 
maintaining the status quo without significantly degrading Saddam's 
ability to threaten our pilots, among other things, and to wage war 
against his own people and his neighbors.  Why have we not ratcheted up 
. . . the proportionality of our response against Saddam?"
  Sen. McCain also pressed Zinni as to what Operation Desert Fox had 
achieved, asking about Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programs, 
"How much has that been set back?"  Zinni replied, "We didn't attack 
that.  That's very difficult because many of the plants that could 
produce that are pharmaceutical plants or agricultural chemical 
production plants.  It's easy in dual-use facilities like that, to 
produce it.  Biological it's even less difficult in labs."  
   McCain asked, "So conceivably they could continue their development 
of biological and chemical weapons, put it on a Scud missile and attack 
Israel?"  Zinni replied, "That's possible, yes, sir."
  Sen. Lieberman [D, Conn] said, "The report that Mr. Butler of UNSCOM 
submitted to the Security Council earlier this week just confirms all of 
our fears that Saddam and Iraq remain a threat, that they have weapons 
of mass destruction and capability to deliver them, and it gives--it 
should give all of us a sense of real urgency about trying to deal with 
this problem and him, particularly."  
   In response to Zinni's negative attitude toward the Iraqi Liberation 
Act,  Lieberman said, "I understand the negatives that come with 
destabilizing the regime, but there are such negatives about him staying 
there.  I continue to have this sense that he's a time bomb that's 
already exploded, but it's going to explode again and this time, the 
next time, a lot of people are going to be hurt because of the capacity 
that he has.  And therefore, I think a lot of us here feel that the 
risks of moving him out of power are less than the risks of keeping him 
in power.  And the question then becomes, how do we break through this 
policy gridlock, this roadblock and do what you've said, which is to get 
rid of Saddam."
  Indeed, the answer that the administration has come up with is 
essentially the same answer it produced following the defection of 
Hussein Kamil, which precipitated the revelation that Saddam retained 
enormous, proscribed unconventional capabilities.  Then, when members of 
the anti-Iraq coalition expressed concern about Saddam's retained 
capabilities, the administration assured them that it was taking care of 
the problem.  By that, it meant that it was going to overthrow Saddam in 
a coup.  The fate of that effort is brilliantly described by David 
Wurmser, in a book just published by AEI, "Tyranny's Ally: America's 
Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein."   As Wurmser wrote, "The CIA's 
efforts climaxed in spectacular failure in July 1996, when an Iraqi 
intelligence officer located in Baghdad contacted the CIA's station 
chief--over captured CIA communications equipment--and informed him that 
the Iraqis knew the detailed plans of the coup plot.  The Iraqi informed 
the American that all the Iraqi officers and agents who had been 
involved in the plot had been rounded up and executed.  Gloating to the 
CIA station chief in Amman, the Iraqi told the Americans to pack their 
bags and go home." [p. 25]  
   The Iraqi assault on the INC a month later destroyed the only other 
US option for overthrowing Saddam, although, as Wurmser noted, the US 
continued to deal with and support the coup-plotters, the Iraqi Nat'l 
Accord, even as it turned against the INC.
   In mid-Jan, Sec State Albright and Sec Def Cohen briefed the 
congressional leadership on the administration's new plan to overthrow 
Saddam, as mandated by the Iraq Liberation Act.  It has four components: 
1) military containment 2) diplomatic isolation; 3) a covert operation; 
and 4) the Iraq Liberation Act.  But, as Jim Hoagland, Jan 28, wrote, 
"Some were skeptical about the depth of the administration's conversion. 
Sen. Bob Kerrey (D Neb) noted that the Clintonites had avoided 
committing themselves to creating a democratic regime in Iraq . . . 
Kerrey argued that it would probably take US ground troops to promote 
that essential outcome.  Others worried that the administration was 
moving far too slowly."
   On Jan 19, the White House designated seven groups that would be 
eligible for military aid under the Iraq Liberation Act: the Iraqi 
National Congress; the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Talabani); the 
Kurdistan Democratic Party (Barzani); the Islamic Movement of Iraqi 
Kurdistan; the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Bakr 
al Hakim); the Movement for a Constitutional Monarchy; and the Iraqi 
National Accord.  The Movement for a Constitutional Monarchy refers to 
the Iraqi Hashemites, who had not previously been involved in opposition 
politics and which, "Iraq News" understands is a creation of UK 
intelligence, while the Iraqi Nat'l Accord is the group which has been 
promising that it could carry out a coup in Iraq since the fall of 1990; 
failed miserably in 1991; 1992; and 1996; and, about which, there is 
every reason to believe is thoroughly penetrated by Iraqi intelligence 
[see L. Mylroie, "The Future of Iraq," TWI, 1991; and L. Mylroie, 
"Iraq's Real "Coup," Wash Post, Jun 28, 1992]
   On Jan 21, Albright announced the appointment of Frank Ricciardone to 
deal with the Iraqi opposition, with the title of "Special 
Representative for Transition in Iraq."  Then, on Jan 27 and 28, 
following a trip to Russia, Albright visited Egypt and Saudi Arabia to 
explain the new US policy and introduce Ricciardone.   
   The Arab leaders have said little publicly about the US plan and what 
has been reported--they believe that change should come from within 
Iraq--can easily be attributed to their wanting not to be unduly 
provocative toward Saddam.  Indeed, as one US official told Reuters, Jan 
28, "It surprised me the extent to which they see Iraqi President Saddam 
Hussein as a threat and believe that something has to be done about it. 
 . . . What we've heard from very high levels is that the only solution 
is a change of regime." 
  Or, as AP, Jan 30, explained, Indyk told reporters that the Gulf 
states wanted to "talk less and do more" to remove Saddam.
   But, it seems, talk is what they are going to get.  Ricciardone 
looked to be a good choice as representative for the Iraqi opposition.  
He has long experience working on Iraq-related issues and was known as 
someone sympathetic to them.  But as al Hayat, Jan 31, reported, when he 
spoke to Iraqis in London, following his trip with the Sec State to 
Egypt and Saudi Arabia, he told them that "the Iraq Liberation Act was a 
disastrous mistake committed by President Clinton under pressure by the 
Congress."  He also "opened the door to expanding the list of designated 
groups to be awarded military and logistical assistance or to work 
alone, since he stressed that time constraints and political pressures 
were behind keeping the designation to seven groups only."    
   That is not how to unify the Iraqi opposition.  Rather, as Helle 
Bering warned Dec 23 [see "Iraq News, Jan 4], that approach fails to 
"sort out those with a real following from those who can best be 
described as 'three men and a fax machine.'" It encourages competition 
for US funding and favor.  And as there is no real US commitment, it 
will be most attractive to the worst people, those willing to play 
poodle to the US, and, in the end, vindicate the administration's claim 
that the opposition is worthless.
  And, if all this were not enough, Judith Yaphe, formerly a CIA Iraq 
analyst, presently Middle East Team Chief for the Institute for National 
Strategic Studies at NDU "poured cold water on the idea that the United 
States can create an effective Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein," 
according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan 29.  Yaphe said, "Congress 
wants to spend this money to create an overt opposition to Saddam.  That 
makes my palms sweat."  She said that "when change comes to Iraq, 'It 
will be swift and unexpected. . . . The most likely successor is going 
to be probably a military guy whose shooter can get at Saddam.'"
   In the first days of Mar 91, just after the Gulf war cease-fire, 
"Iraq News" met with Yaphe, when she was at the CIA.  "Iraq News" asked 
whether she saw any signs of internal unrest in Iraq.  Yaphe said no.  
Of course, only a few days passed before 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces were 
in revolt.
  Finally, Ellen Laipson, Vice Chairman of the CIA's Nat'l Intelligence 
Council, addressing the Middle East Policy Council, Jan 29, said, "Will 
Iraq after Saddam be democratic?  Almost certainly not, at least for 
many years.  . . . If Iraq were to move on the path of greater democracy 
and greater representative form of government, Iraqis would have to 
learn to be citizens in ways that some of their neighbors, Jordan and 
Kuwait in particular, have learned over the past decade.  It's a slow 
process. . . . Secondly, I think there's a legitimate argument to be 
made that there is probably a residual longing among many Iraqis for an 
authoritarian leader who will be able to solve problems, who will be 
able to make decision and get things done in a period after Saddam."
   A senior INC official issued a statement, responding both to Zinni 
and Laipson, "General Zinni's public statement and private comments from 
other officials indicate that the US Government continues to focus on 
covert attempts to organise a military coup against Saddam.  We believe 
such a strategy attacks Saddam at his strongest point rather than his 
weakest and is doomed to failure."  Regarding Laipson's comments, he 
said, "For her to say that Iraqis 'long' for an authoritarian leader is 
not only wrong but immoral" and he concluded, "We hope that the Clinton 
Administration will disavow the comments of these two officials and move 
swiftly to implement the Iraqi Liberation Act."
I. SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE HEARING
January 28, 1999, 
Senate Armed Services Committee
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA)  In my view the United States is at a turning 
point in our policy towards Iraq.  Over the last few months we have seen 
Saddam Hussein terminate UNSCOM operations, we've seen an aborted US 
response in November, followed by an operation Desert Fox in December.  
And now we're seeing an ever-increasing Iraqi aggression against US and 
British aircraft patrolling the two no-fly zones, and Iraqi verbal 
aggression against Arab nations in the region, including a threat to 
rescind Iraqi recognition of Kuwait.   
  As these events are unfolding the United States and the international 
community appear to be in search of a policy.  The French and the 
Russians have both presented proposals to the Security Council to 
weaken, in my judgement, the UN oversight of Iraq's activities and give 
the Iraqis what they have been seeking for years, an end to 
international sanctions.  In response to these proposals, the 
Administration has offered its own plan, largely to alleviate the ever- 
present suffering from lack of food and medicine to the people of Iraq.
  And as the debate over formulation of a new international policy 
rages, Iraq is left free to rebuild its military capabilities and 
perhaps even the WMD capabilities, which the world fears so much.  We're 
all troubled by these contradictions and I see the current US policy, 
one day we're bombing; the next we're proposing some economic forms of 
relief, and the question of course, are these proposals consistent?  
Since the end of the Persian Gulf War in '91, the United States has 
spent over $6.6 billion, not including the cost of Operation Desert Fox. 
 We put at risk the lives of thousands of US and Allied military 
personnel in an effort to contain Saddam Hussein and force his 
compliance with UN Security Council resolutions that ended the '91 war. 
 We must address publicly what have we to show for this tremendous 
investment, not only of dollars, but more significantly the risk of our 
people. There's no disarmament effort in place.  UNSCOM is gone. Saddam 
continues to repress his people and threaten his neighbors in the 
region.  His WMD capability, although degraded, in some form remains.  
We have to ask these tough questions and others and we'll do that today. 
. . .
SEN. MCCAIN: Now, when the Iraqi Liberation Act was passed general you 
said, quote, "I don't think these questions have been thought through or 
answered.  If they have, no one asked me about it. I'll be honest with 
you, I don't see the parts of this act that make it sensible".  Yours 
were the most vociferous of official statements condemning the Iraqi 
Liberation Act, which by the way, happened to be a law that was passed 
and signed by the President of the United States.  Do you still believe 
that the act represents an expensive pipe dream?
GEN. ZINNI: Sir, there are 91 opposition groups, 91.  We follow every 
one of those opposition groups in great detail.  I will be honest. I 
don't see an opposition group that has the viability to overthrow Saddam 
at this point.
SEN. MCCAIN: So, you do not believe that the Iraqi Liberation Act is a 
viable piece of legislation?
GEN. ZINNI: I think it would be very difficult and I think if not done 
properly, could be very dangerous.  
SEN. MCCAIN: Of course, it might have given us a greater opportunity if 
we had not allowed the last opposition group to be wiped out without 
responding.  . . . .
GEN. ZINNI: They cross the line a few nautical miles.  Anytime our 
planes appear, our interceptors, they run away.  We've even had them 
crash and run out of fuel - 
SEN. MCCAIN: What you've described, this exercise that they were trying 
to draw our pilots into the missile zone so that they could be shot 
down.
GEN. ZINNI: That's the threat, senator.  The threat of the surface to 
air missiles.  And if I had to be very specific, it's the radar.  
SEN. MCCAIN: So, they are part of that threat.
GEN. ZINNI: A part of an entire system.  And we have attacked the part 
of the system that's most dangerous to us, the communication, the 
radars, and the missiles.
SEN. MCCAIN: General, the fact remains, those planes are flying and 
compose part of the threat.  If you want to sit and insult my 
intelligence and that of other members of the committee, that's fine 
with me.  But the reality is a reality. . . . 
SEN. WARNER: Senator, I say I join you on this, because it ties in to my 
opening question of the cost-benefit of these continued high intensity 
air operations versus insignificant, in my research -- perhaps in closed 
we can get into it --ground operations by Saddam against his people.  
And we are at risk, as Senator McCain says, of losing an aviator.  Even 
if an engine malfunction, and that would complicate the situation 
enormously to solve it diplomatically. . . .
SEN ROBB But, to the extent, we appear to be continuing a policy of 
maintaining the status quo without significantly degrading Saddam's 
ability to threaten our pilots, among other things, and to wage war 
against his own people and his neighbors.  Why have we not ratcheted up, 
if you will, the proportionality of our response against Saddam, 
particularly when he continues to engage in the type of activity he's 
been engaging in, in recent weeks?  Is it a matter of lack of resources, 
lack of assets? 
   I hesitate to say lack of will, because I certainly would not accuse 
either a CENTCOM commander, or the deputy secretary of defense [Walt 
Slocombe], of lacking of will in this area. But there's an element 
missing it seems to me with respect to our military response to 
provocations that continue by Saddam without any definitive change or 
significant downgrading in his ability to threaten us under those 
circumstances, particularly in challenging on the no-fly zone.  . . .
SEN. MCCAIN: General Zinni, have you requested a change in the policy or 
an increase in assets in order to stop or prevent this scenario which is 
taking place almost on a daily basis?
GEN. ZINNI: No sir, if you mean to go after the airfields as you 
mentioned before.
SEN. MCCAIN: Command and control from which the orders to launch the 
missiles disseminates?  So you are requesting no change in policy?
GEN. ZINNI: No, sir.  We obviously have plans and those commands come 
out of Baghdad directly.
SEN. MCCAIN: I'm aware of that and you're not doing anything to stop 
those commands from being transmitted.  You said in your statement due 
to the destruction of key facilities and specialized equipment, we 
assure that Iraq's ballistic missile program has been set back one to 
two years. What about their biological and chemical weapons development? 
How much has that been set back?
GEN. ZINNI: Sir, we didn't attack that. That's very difficult because 
many of the plants that could produce that are pharmaceutical plants or 
agricultural chemical production plants. It's easy, in dual- use 
facilities like that, to produce it. Biological it's even less difficult 
in labs.
SEN. MCCAIN: So Mr. Ritter's assessment is correct that their 
development of biological and chemical weapons continues unimpeded. They 
still have a Scud missile capability, isn't that true?
GEN. ZINNI: We believe they may have, sir. We don't have any definite 
proof. 
SEN. MCCAIN: So conceivably they could continue their development of 
biological and chemical weapons, put it on a Scud missile and attack 
Israel?
GEN. ZINNI: That's possible, yes, sir. . . . .
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thanks. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Secretary Slocombe, 
General Zinni, thanks for being here. I wanted to ask you just a few 
questions about Iraq. I was proud to be a cosponsor of the Iraqi 
Liberation Act, and I appreciate very much that the administration has 
moved toward the policy embraced there, which is after eight, nine years 
now that we have to focus, not just on containment, but on a change in 
the regime in Iraq. And that as long as Saddam Hussein is there, we and 
the region are going to be in danger. The report that Mr. Butler of 
UNSCOM submitted to the Security Council earlier this week just confirms 
all of our fears that Saddam and Iraq remain a threat, that they have 
weapons of mass destruction and capability to deliver them, and it gives 
--it should give all of us a sense of real urgency about trying to deal 
with this problem and him, particularly. 
   I don't think any of us who sponsored the act or who support it now, 
or who is pushing the administration are naive about the difficulties 
involved, but unless we try, there's going to be no change.  
   And I must say, on this committee and elsewhere in the Congress, 
there is, I think, justified confidence in the ability of the American 
military to carry out, you know, very difficult missions.  The fact is, 
that as the situation has changed in Iraq recently and the conflict 
politically that seems to be going on between Saddam and his Arab 
neighbors, what we hear is instability within Iraq, is the result of the 
affective employment of force by the United States with that round of 
attacks.  But obviously there's a lot more to do.
  Let me go now to my questions.  Secretary Slocombe, I wanted to as you 
whether the Defense Department is participating with the Department of 
State in discussion with Iraqi opposition groups concerning 
implementation of the Iraqi Liberation Act?  And then, have you 
identified the other -- has the department identified the material for 
drawdown, as authorized by the act, and has there been any planning for 
the training and use of some of those opposition groups?
MR SLOCOMBE: We are involved.  The lead responsibility rests with the 
State Department.  And I'd like to discuss this issue in more detail in 
the closed session.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Fine, including the question of whether you have 
identified drawdown -- material for drawdown pursuant to the act?
MR. SLOCOMBE: I'd like to defer that until the closed session.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Okay. General Zinni, let me ask you this question.  I 
know -- I have great respect for you -- I know you have some skepticism 
about, which has been expressed here earlier, about the capacity of 
these opposition groups, because they're so many of them, to get 
together and represent a viable force.  Sometimes, when we have these 
discussions, we hear that Saddam is going to be overthrown; it has to 
come from within -- come from within his military, but we also know that 
that's difficult because of the circumstances.  And we're left with a 
policy that leads to a series of blocked doors.  So, I wanted to give 
you an open question to help us open the doors, which is, how would you 
begin to work with some of these opposition groups?  Or, how would you 
counsel us to pursue the goal of trying to change the regime, which is 
now American policy?  Or, would you not?
GEN. ZINNI: Senator, I had the unfortunate experience of spending a lot 
of time, three tours of duty in Somalia and I have Afghanistan and Iran 
in my area of responsibility. . . .
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, okay.  I would pursue this perhaps further in the 
closed session.  I understand the negatives that come with destabilizing 
the regime, but there are such negatives about him staying there.  I 
continue to have this sense that he's a time bomb that's already 
exploded, but it's going to explode again and this time, the next time, 
a lot people are going to be hurt because of the capacity that he has.  
And therefore, I think a lot of us here feel that the risks of moving 
him out of power are less than the risks of keeping him in power.  And 
the question then becomes, how do we break through this policy gridlock, 
this roadblock and do what you've said, which is to get rid of Saddam. . 
. . .





NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list


One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias