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FW: Softening Public Opinion For All Out War On Iraq

with thanks to Rick Rozoff for this - don't bother with legalities, just
bomb the usual suspects - best, f.


Softening Public Opinion For All Out War On Iraq
by Stephen Gowans
October 29, 2001

"I'm convinced that the American people will not only
tolerate the casualties that would come from war, they
will demand victory."
--Former CIA Director James Woolsey
Ex-CIA Boss Calls For War On Iraq
Absolute Destruction of Saddam Hussein Is Next Step In
War On Terrorism: Top Advisor
If you read this, what would you think?
Something along these lines?
I guess the war on terrorism will be extended to Iraq.
That's what a top US advisor says. And he's ex-CIA, so
he probably has intelligence to show that Iraq's
connected in some way to Sept. 11 and the anthrax
Despite what the headline says -- and it's real --
there's no evidence that Iraq is any way connected to
either the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and
Washington, or the anthrax attacks that followed.
Which isn't to say that Iraq isn't involved, only that
before you make allegations, it's a good idea to have
a sound basis for making them. That's something US
officials don't have.
In fact, careful reading of this particular story,
suggests the headline should read:
Ex-US Official With Links To Iraq's Opposition Urges
Stepped Up War On Iraq; Admits He Has No Evidence Iraq
Involved In Terrorist Attacks
The headline's so-called top advisor is James Woolsey,
director of the CIA from 1993-1995. Today, Woolsey
holds no government position, but was reportedly
assigned by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
to determine whether Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11
He's decided that Baghdad is involved. His evidence?
He doesn't have any.
Wisps of smoke
In a speech to the American Jewish Congress, the
ex-CIA chief cited "wisps of smoke" that point to
Baghdad's complicity, but admitted he couldn't prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that Iraq was involved.
In fact, so tenuous is Woolsey's evidence, it would
get him flunked out of first year law school.
The first wisp of smoke wafting from Baghdad, says
Woolsey, is the alleged meeting of Mohammed Atta with
an Iraqi intelligence officer, in Prague. Atta is
believed to have piloted one of the planes that
crashed into the World Trade Center.
Assuming Atta met with Iraqi intelligence, and we
don't know that he did, so what? Atta met with a lot
of other people too, including scores of Americans.
Does that mean they're involved?
Probably not. But to Woolsey, that's beside the point.
He hasn't much to go on, he says, but what he has, he
points out, is good enough for him.
Taliban minimized
Another of Woolsey's wisps of smoke is Iraq's
intelligence apparatus. "(I)t is quite likely that
there is a government and intelligence service with
Al-Qaeda in what has happened -- a government beyond
the Taliban, because I don't regard the Taliban as a
modern government that has an intelligence service
with world-wide reach."
This is clearly at odds with the 70-point brief
British Prime Minister Tony Blair made public to back
up his country's decision to join Washington in waging
war against Afghanistan. In that brief, Blair
concluded that Al-Qaeda was the only organization with
the resources to carry out the Sept. 11 attacks.
Now, Woolsey, and other hawks, are challenging Blair's
view, downgrading Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, from
resourceful, cunning terrorists, capable of planning
and co-ordinating the New York and Washington attacks,
to guys who live in caves. The developing view is that
the Taliban and Al-Qaeda couldn't possibly have
co-ordinated the attacks alone. Who does that leave?
In a stunning leap of logic, Woolsey concludes it can
only leave Iraq.
With the war against Afghanistan now well underway,
this reversal of opinion on Al-Qaeda's capabilities
seems conveniently timed to provide a justification
for a stepped up war on a country Washington and
London have subjected to a medieval blockade and
almost daily bombing attacks for the last decade. The
UN says well over a million Iraqi civilians have died
from sanctions-related causes. (1) And political
scientists John and Karl Mueller point out that the
sanctions have contributed to more deaths than all the
weapons of mass destruction throughout history.
Sanctions of mass destruction, they call them. (2)
Today, Iraq is a burned out shell of its former self.
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter says the
country has been effectively disarmed. (3) Its
civilian infrastructure, destroyed by coalition forces
in the Persian Gulf War, lays in ruins, victim of a
kind of reverse-Marshall Plan, which prevents Iraq
from rebuilding, and ensures that civilians continue
to die from diseases linked to unsanitary conditions
and untreated water. The country's military
infrastructure is severely weakened. To describe Iraq
as a modern state with a world-wide reaching
intelligence service is a cruel joke, but if Iraq is
behind the attacks, and not the Taliban, why is Kabul
being reduced to rubble, why have hundreds, if not
thousands, of Afghan civilians died in the bombing,
and why, with the bombing disrupting the work of
humanitarian relief agencies, are 7.5 million Afghans
being put at risk of starvation? (4)
The official reason these days is that war is
necessary to punish the Taliban for not handing over
Osama bin Laden. But the Taliban offered to turn bin
Laden over to a third country for prosecution, if
Washington disclosed evidence the Saudi-born exile
ordered the Sept. 11 attacks. "No negotiations," said
President George W. Bush.
But it wasn't negotiations the Taliban asked for. It
was evidence. They got bombs instead. We, on the other
hand, get innuendo, leaps of logic, conjecture -- all
good enough for the likes of Tony Blair, Paul
Wolfowitz and James Woolsey -- but not good enough to
stand even one moment of scrutiny in a court of law.
Is there an emerging pattern here? First Al-Qaeda and
the Taliban are fingered for the Sept. 11 attacks, so
war is waged on Afghanistan. Then the Taliban are said
to be without sufficient resources to have
co-ordinated the attacks alone, that Iraq is also to
blame, so Iraq must be attacked. What next? Will the
US finish the job it didn't complete in the Persian
Gulf War, march on Baghdad, oust Saddam Hussein, and
then declare that Iraq was too weak to have been the
only other state involved in the Sept. 11 atrocities
and follow-up anthrax attacks? Will Syria become the
new suspect, to be attacked on the basis of evidence
that can't stand up in court, but is good enough for
US officials? At what point in this war that
Washington says could last a lifetime will Cuba be
bombarded? Before of after American lives are put on
the line to wipe out Iran, Libya and North Korea, the
other "states of concern?"
Iraq's biological weapons program
Iraq's biological weapons program also suggests the
Middle Eastern country could be involved in the
anthrax scares, Woolsey says.
But former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, says "it
would be irresponsible to speculate about a Baghdad
involvement." (5)
Ritter points out that Iraq's anthrax program was
based on the Vollum strain of the bacteria, procured
from American Type Culture Collection, a Rockville,
Maryland based company. Iraq used the Vollum strain to
mass-produce weapons grade anthrax, before UN
inspectors blew up Iraq's major biological production
facility -- al Hakum.
But federal investigators believe the strain found in
New York and Florida is the Ames strain, while the
strain used in Washington was non-weapons grade.
Despite the obviously tenuous evidence -- not even
wisps of smoke, but will-o'-the-wisps -- Woolsey is
urging the administration to wage war "ruthlessly"
against Iraq, "if we find we have a reasonable
"I'm convinced that the American people will not only
tolerate the casualties that would come from war, they
will demand victory," Woolsey said.
Whether Americans are prepared to accept US casualties
seems to be frequently on the minds of US officials.
The hope is that Americans will regard the events of
Sept. 11 and after as so flagrantly provocative that
they'll be able to put "the Vietnam Syndrome" behind
them, freeing the Pentagon to unleash the American
military to engage in large scale campaigns that send
thousands of American GIs back home in flag-draped
caskets, without having to run the risk of a public
opinion backlash.
Reporters wondered whether Woolsey has already made up
his mind that Iraq is behind the Sept. 11 attacks and
anthrax incidents, and is now trying to amass evidence
to back up his conclusion. Woolsey didn't deny the
Links to exiled Iraqi National Congress
Woolsey has a vested interest in backing a stepped up
war on Iraq aimed at ousting Saddam Hussein and his
Baath party. Woolsey is a partner in the Washington
law firm Shea and Gardner, which represents the exiled
opposition Iraqi National Congress. The Iraqi National
Congress is likely to be installed as the new
government if the Baath party is destroyed.
That makes Woolsey a private citizen who stands to
gain personally from a war to destroy Saddam Hussein,
not a top government advisor, as the headline says. In
fact, Woolsey concedes he's not in a position to make
formal recommendations to President Bush or to Deputy
Secretary Wolfowitz.
That raises the question of why the views of a private
citizen with no formal government role, but with links
to an opposition group that would benefit from an all
out assault on Iraq, are presented as the lead story
in a newspaper.
Would the views of a former government official who
opposes Bush's war on terrorism be given similar
prominence? If so, when has it happened?
"Mr. Woolsey appears to be softening public opinion
for a post Afghanistan assault on Iraq," said the
What it didn't say is that Woolsey's -- and others' --
softening of public opinion couldn't be carried out
without the eager assistance of the main media.
[The Woolsey story appeared in the Oct. 24 edition of
The Ottawa Citizen, the major broadsheet newspaper in
Canada's capital.]

1. UNICEF and Government of Iraq Ministry of Health,
Child and Maternal Mortality Survey 1999: Preliminary
Report (Baghdad: UNICEF, 1999). (back)
2. John and Karl Mueller, "Sanctions of Mass
Destruction," Foreign Affairs, May 1999. (back)
3. Scott Ritter, "The Case for Iraq's Qualitative
Disarmament," Arms Control Today, June, 2000. (back)
4. Krista Foss, "Cash floods New York, but Afghan
relief lags," The Globe and Mail, Oct. 23, 2001.
5. Scott Ritter, "Don't blame Saddam for this one,"
The Guardian, Oct. 19, 2001. (back)

 Stephen Gowans is a writer and political
activist who lives in Ottawa, Canada. He writes a
regular column for Canadian Content and is also a
frequent contributor to the Media Monitors Network. In
addition, Gowans maintains his own Web site, What's
Left in Suburbia?, that is filled with relevant

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