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[casi] From today's papers: 3-03-02

A.  'Bombing Saddam is ignorance', Observer, 3rd March 2002
B. War with Saddam is inevitable, Sunday Telegraph, 3rd March 2002
C. US puts the finishing touches to Saddam war plan, Sunday Telegraph, 3rd
March 2002

Sunday Telegraph:

A. is a profile of ex-CIA man Richard Baer. Baer is opposed to a military
attack on Iraq on the tactical grounds 'what comes after that?.' An
interesting account of Mr Baer's activities in Iraq, and the 'failed
uprising in 1995' referred to in the piece, can be found in Chapter 7 of the
Cockburn brothers' book 'Out of the Ashes.' The Iraqi National Congress
launched their uprising at midnight on March 3rd 1995. In the morning a
cable arrived from the Anthony Lake (then national security adviser to
President Clinton) stating that 'the United States would not support this
operation militarily or any other way' - consistent with the United States'
long-term preference for 'leadership change' (ie. a coup) as opposed to
'regime change.' According to Hoshyar Zibari, senior adviser to KDP leader
Massoud Barzani, 'Bob [had] lied to everybody. He came to see us and said,
'I represent the President of the United States. I am here to execute his
plan.'' The INC's Ahmad Chalabi claims that Baer 'encouraged Barzani to
believe that there would be US air cover' for the uprising 'When Barzani
asked him if there would be air cover, I heard Bob say, 'Yes'.'

B. is an opinion piece by Con Coughlin who, perhaps predictably, is
'surprised that there are still those who have reason to doubt that Iraq is
a legitimate target.'

C. is the latest from the War Plan Iraq rumour mill with the editor of
Jane's World Armies predicts a 'massive air campaign.'

A. 'Bombing Saddam is ignorance'

Robert Baer, the ex-CIA man in Iraq during the failed uprising in 1995, says
the US is not in a position to strike against Iraq because it does not
understand anything about the country

Henry Porter
Sunday March 3, 2002
The Observer

Robert Baer's objections to an attack on Iraq could hardly be principled. As
the CIA's point man in Iraq during the failed uprising in 1995, he
encouraged dissident groups to believe that the United States wanted the
overthrow and death of Saddam Hussein. Yet Baer, whose memoir of life in the
CIA, See No Evil, is published in Britain tomorrow, is appalled at the idea
of a US strike against Iraq today.
'If the US is to bomb Saddam and his army until there is no army, what comes
after that? No one is discussing the ethnic composition of Iraq or what Iran
is likely to do.'

Few in America appreciate the tribal ethnic and religious faultlines that
run through the Middle East as Baer does. Iraq is particularly divided. In
the south there is a Shia majority which now looks to Iran for support.
Occupying the geographical and political centre of the country are the
followers of the Sunni sect, which includes Saddam's tribe, and in the north
are the Kurds, who are split into two warring parties, the PUK and the KDU.

'The US is in no position to rejigger this because we don't understand
anything about the country. If I were the Iranians, for instance, I would
try to set up a state in southern Iraq and add three million barrels a day
to my account. That could begin to rival Saudi Arabia. Of course, I don't
know this is going to happen, but the US government doesn't know either. The
heart of the debate is about taking out all Saddam's tanks in a couple of

Baer worked for the CIA's Directorate of Operations for 25 years, with
postings in Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Tajikistan, India and Europe. His
devastating portrait of the agency's decline adds much to the understanding
of why America was caught off guard on 11 September, but as important is
what he has to say about American sluggishness when it comes to
institutional reform.

Towards the end of his time, he searched CIA computer for files on subjects
that interested him, for example, the Pasdaran (the Iranian Intelligence
service), the Saudi royal family and Syria.

'You know what? There was nothing there. Nothing. They didn't have anything.
That's America now, you know. It can't reform.'

After a quarter of century abroad, Baer hardly recognises the States and is
appalled at the level of public ignorance.

'There is no debate,' he says. 'People will not address the question of
Palestine in the context of the World Trade Centre attacks. It's not in the
terms of the discussion. They simply believe that Israel has the right to
defend its democracy like the US does. They don't understand that Israel
gives no democratic rights to the Palestinians whatsoever. They don't see
that it's not a democracy.'

An affable but watchful man in his late forties, Baer is aware that the CIA
is mightily displeased with his first literary effort. It can't help that
the book has been on the New York Times ' bestseller list for four weeks in
a row; that Warner Brothers bought an option and hope to develop the project
with the team that made Traffic ; and that Baer is never off US television,
often doing three national shows in an evening.

He seems to have few regrets about leaving the CIA. 'I would rather drive a
taxi than serve in the CIA,' he says convincingly over lunch at the Alistair
Little restaurant in West London.

'Don't ask me how it happened, but the people who work in it just don't
match up to the people who got to Silicon Valley or the people who make
cruise missiles or design derivatives.'

It's in the innocuous detail that Baer's book is telling. At one point he
remembers taking over from a female officer in the Paris station and being
handed her list of contacts and agents. When he followed them up, he found
that instead of using them to gather intelligence she had been trying to
recruit them to a religious sect. The serving US ambassador to France was
also involved in the sect. When the two of them were observed handing out
leaflets in the street, the French security service thought some kind of
operation was in progress.

With good reason he is a pessimist about the CIA and US foreign
policymaking. Examples of incompetence abound in See No Evil . In 1986, he
was contacted in Germany by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood who wanted a
meeting. He went to Dortmund and listened to Syrian con tacts propose an
intelligence alliance against President Assad. He wrote up a report (on a
typewriter, whose ribbon he destroyed afterwards) and sent it to the US
embassy in Bonn. A message came back that they weren't interested.

But that was not the last he heard of it. In the wake of 11 September, 16
years later, the FBI contacted Baer to say that associates of the Syrian
contacts had been involved in al-Qaeda. That channel, closed down so
peremptorily, might have led them to Mohamed Atta.

Over lunch we circled the problem of Iraq. He mentioned that it is easily
within Saddam's power to forestall the long-announced air attacks from US
bases in Diego Garcia. He could, says Baer, 'simply move his tanks into
Syria and proclaim that he was going to liberate the Palestinians', thus
pitching Israel into a war with an Arab state.

If there is a fault in Baer's analysis of the Iraqi problem, it is that
while he acknowledges Saddam's willingness to use force against civilians he
does not believe that the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction is
anything but defensive.

Baer says we should look at it through Saddam's regional mentality and that
his chief concern is, as it always has been, Iran.

·See No Evil, by Robert Baer, Crown Publications £12.99.

B. War with Saddam is inevitable
Sunday Telegraph
(Filed: 03/03/2002)
by Con Coughlin

IT is a sure sign that Saddam Hussein knows he is in trouble when he finds
it necessary to launch a charm offensive.

With a wide variety of torture chambers and an extremely effective security
apparatus to support him, Saddam has the means, and the will, for dealing
with his critics, at home and abroad.

It is only when Saddam dispatches his key aides on a diplomatic offensive to
present Baghdad's case, as he has done over the past few weeks, that one can
be sure that the cracks are starting to appear in his otherwise steely

Tariq Aziz, his long-suffering deputy prime minister, went to Moscow to
lobby the Russians (an unsuccessful mission, if the recent anti-Russian
rhetoric in the Baghdad press is to be believed), the Iraqi mission at the
UN headquarters in New York has been busy bending the ear of the UN
secretary-general, Kofi Annan, and Saddam himself has sent a personal
message of friendship to Bulent Ecevit, the Turkish prime minister.

The reason for Saddam's latest attempt to build alliances is the realisation
that his regime is likely to be next on the agenda in the war on terrorism.
While President Bush has made no secret of his desire to remove Saddam,
naming Iraq, with Iran and North Korea, as one of the three principal
components of the "axis of evil", other countries, including Britain, are
now lining up squarely behind the American position.

Tony Blair, who was initially reticent about taking on Saddam, now appears
to be the chief cheerleader in favour of deposing the Iraqi dictator.

Last week Mr Blair asked his intelligence chiefs for a dossier of Iraq's
involvement in international terrorism that he can present to Mr Bush in
Washington next month - as if the Americans needed any persuading.

Geoff Hoon, the Blairite Defence Minister, dutifully echoed his master's
sentiments on Thursday's Today programme when he said that Britain would
back a US-led military strike against Iraq "in the right conditions".

As Operation Enduring Freedom enters its sixth month, I am surprised that
there are still those who have reason to doubt that Iraq is a legitimate

While there is no hard evidence of direct Iraqi involvement in the events of
September 11 (Saddam's nomination of Osama bin Laden as Iraq's man of the
year is merely a juvenile provocation), there is more than enough evidence
to link Saddam with a galaxy of infamous terrorists from Abu Nidal to Carlos
the Jackal.

Indeed, Saddam's involvement in terrorism extends to London. For example, in
1978 Abdul Razzak al-Nayif, a former Iraqi prime minister and fellow
conspirator of Saddam's in the 1968 coup that brought the Baathists to power
in Baghdad, was shot dead outside his home by Saddam's killers, and Shlomo
Argov, the former Israeli ambassador to London, suffered severe brain damage
during an assassination attempt by Saddam's hitmen in 1982.

However, the real reason for seeking Saddam's removal is his insistence on
acquiring vast arsenals of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons which
cannot be justified purely in terms of Iraq's own self-defence.

During the Gulf War, which was due to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, Iraq
fired Scud ballistic missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia; the only reason
they did not contain chemical or nuclear warheads is that the Iraqis did not
have the means to fit them.

At the end of the Gulf War the Iraqis signed a ceasefire agreement in which
they promised to dismantling their weapons of mass destruction. More than 10
years later they still have not complied with the terms.

So rather than worrying about the start of a Third World War, as some Labour
back-benchers were doing last week, the struggle to remove Saddam should be
seen as a resumption of hostilities in the Gulf War.

C. US puts the finishing touches to Saddam war plan
By Sean Rayment and David Wastell in Washington
Sunday Telegraph
(Filed: 03/03/2002)

THE Pentagon is applying the finishing touches to a war plan that has a
clear and concise mission - to remove Saddam Hussein from power once and for

The only questions about the second main phase of the war on terrorism - a
Desert Storm II air and ground assault which will involve fighting all the
way to Baghdad if necessary - are exactly when it will be launched, and who
will be involved on the Allied side.

Operation Desert Storm, the American-led Allied attack on Iraq in 1991,
provided the world with the blueprint of how modern wars are fought: an
intense bombing campaign followed by an blitzkrieg-style attack by land

In 1991, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait provided the reason for the assault on
Baghdad. This time, it is Iraq's continuing production of weapons of mass
destruction, along with deep-founded suspicions that it has been involved in
the al-Qa'eda terror attacks on the West.

It is unfinished business. Despite the initial success of United Nations
weapons monitors in the years after the Gulf war, Iraq's biological
stockpile was never really uncovered. Defence analysts believe that the
regime continues to experiment with nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons, including VX nerve agent, anthrax and mustard gas.

Despite Saddam's claim last week that UN weapons inspectors would be welcome
in Iraq, the country remains "uninspectable" because of its complex
mechanism for hiding its arsenal in laboratories scattered across government
buildings, private homes, presidential palaces, factories and mobile
facilities protected by security teams.

President Bush and, last week, Tony Blair, have signalled growing
frustration with the Iraqi regime. Both have made it clear that action
against Baghdad is now all but certain.

Military officials have drawn up plans that would see a build-up of hardware
and troops in the region this summer. If diplomatic pressure fails to
achieve the desired results, attacks would commence in the autumn.

Defence analysts estimate that a force of between 200,000 and 300,000 troops
will be needed for the task, with a commitment from Britain in the region of
30,000 troops. It would almost certainly be the 1st (UK) Armoured Division,
composed of three armoured brigades from Germany, consisting of about 25,000
men; a carrier group; tanker and reconnaissance aircraft - and the SAS.

Charles Heyman, the editor of Jane's World Armies, said: "What we will
probably see is a massive air campaign, in which Iraq's air defence and
communications systems are targetted by a mixture of cruise missiles and
stealth bombers followed by the destruction of Iraq's political and military
headquarters. In that way the military structure is unable to command its
troops, air supremacy is achieved and Iraq is unable to protect itself.

"If the Americans get this right, so the theory goes, Iraq's
1960s/1970s-equipped army should be ready to surrender without a fight."

It is also understood that America is already revamping its air fields in
Iraqi Kurdistan in preparation for attacks.

The removal of Saddam. however, may prove to be the easiest part of the

"Make no mistake, this is going to be a huge, a massive undertaking
requiring hundreds of thousands of troops," said Mr Heyman. "Once Saddam has
gone and America has the government in place to do its bidding, I believe it
will need to keep at least 100,000 troops in the country to provide security
for the new regime - and they could be in Iraq for years."

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