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[casi] Excerpts from 'The debate within'

The following excerpts are taken from 'The debate within' by Seymour Hersh,
which appears in the current (March 11) edition of The New Yorker magazine.
I've added a couple of comments in <angle brackets>.  If anyone has access
to an on-line version of the whole piece it'd be good
to post it to the list.

Best wishes,




'The [US] President is expecting to meet [next] month with Tony Blair, the
British Prime Minister, *whose support for the Iraqi operation is considered
essential*' (emphasis added).

'The only ally at this point is Tony Blair's Britain.'


'In previous Administrations ... interagency fights [between the State
Department and the Pentagon] were often resolved by the national-security
adviser, now Condoleezza Rice. But the National Security Council has been
weakened recently by a series of resignations and reassignments, some of
them said to be the result of internal bickering ... The N.S.C's lack of
high-level expertise on Iraq has created a planning void which is now being
filled by retired Army Wayne Downing ... [who] has served as an ad-hoc
adviser to the Iraqi National Congress ... Downing recently hired Linda
Flohr, a twenty-seven year veteran of the CIA's clandestine sercice who,
after retiring in 1994 - her last assignment was for the top-secret Iraqi
Operations Group - went to work for [the public relations firm] the Rendon
Group ... The firm was ... retained by the Pentagon's Office of Strategic
Influence, which was eliminated last week after the [New York] Times
reported that it would provide foreign reporters with "news items, possibly
even false ones" (Rendon's contract with the Pentagon was not cancelled
however.) Flohr also worked for a private business ... founded by Oliver

<In their book 'Out of the Ashes' Andrew and Patrick Cockburn write that in
1991 John Rendon worked for the CIA on an '"atrocity exhibition" of
photographs and other memorabilia travelling around Europe to impress people
with the heinousness of the Iraqi regime ... Sanctions were at the center of
US policy as it had evolved in the first few months after the war. It was
therefore imperative to maintain international public support for what
casual readers of the Harvard [International Study] team's findings and
other reports might conclude was an indefensible cruel policy. That was
where the CIA operation, as deployed through Rendon's public relations
exercise in Europe and elsewhere came in useful. "Every two months or so
there would be a report about starving Iraqi babies." explains one veteran
of Rendon's propaganda campaign. "We'd be on hand to counter that. The photo
exhibition of atrocities and the video that we had went around two dozen
countries. It was all part of a concerted campaign to maintain pressure for


'A dispute over [INC leader Ahmed] Chalabi's potential usefulness
preoccupies the bureaucracy, as the civilian leadership in the Pentagon
continues to insist that only the INC can lead the opposition. At the same
time, a former Administration official told me, "Everybody but the Pentagon
and the office of the Vice-President wants to ditch the INC." The INC's
critics note that Chalabi, despite years of effort and millions of dollars
in American aid, is intensely unpopular today among many elements in Iraq
... The CIA and the State Department are now accelerating their efforts to
forge a coalition of former Iraqi military men and opposition groups, with
the goal of convincing the steadfast Chalabi supporters that a new approach
could work - without INC involvement. The key participants [include] ... the
Iraqi National Accord, headed by Ayad Allawi ... Allawi and a number of
former Iraqi military officers have attended meetings - more like
auditions - with CIA officials ... The CIA's brightest prospect, officials
told me, is Nizar Khazraji, a former Iraqi Army chief if staff who defected
in the mid-nineties. As a Sunni and former combat general, Khazraji is
viewed by the CIA as far more acceptable to the Iraqi officer corps than
Chalabi ... Chalabi and his allies have, in recent months ... alleg[ed] that
[Khazraji] ... was involved in a war crime - the 1988 Iraqi gassing of a
Kurdish town ...'

<The Cockburn brothers write that 'One of the founders [of the Accord] Salih
Omar Ali al-Tikriti ... once enjoyed a stellar career in Baghdad, from
supervising public hangings to diplomatic service as Ambassador to the
United Nations.' For more on the INA and their relations with the US, see
Chapter 7 of Out of the Ashes, esp. pages 174-175.>


'Any objections from France and Russia, Saddam's major oil-trading partners,
would be assuaged, a senior INC officer told me, by assurances that they
would be given access to the extraordinarily rich oil fields in southern
Iraq ... [t]he French and Russian oil companies "would have to go as junior
partners to the Americans"'


According to a recent article in Foreign Affairs by Kenneth Pollack, the
director of Persian Gulf affairs for the NSC during the Clinton
Administration:  'Building up [the necessary] force[s] in the Persian Gulf
would take three to five months, but the campaign itself would take probably
about a month.'

' ... the Washington Post last week quoted Pentagon planners as saying that
it would take six months to produce enough precision guidance systems - the
key to America's "smart" bombs - to sustain a full-scale invasion of Iraq.'

' ... a significant and largely unpublicized buildup of American military
forces [in the Gulf] is already underway ... a senior Administration
consultant told me that by mid-February there were, in fact, many times that
number on duty there, along with an extensive offshore Navy presence.'

'By June, a Presidential decision on how to proceed against Saddam should
have been made.'


'A senior Israeli official told me, "We basically said that the United
States should assume, in its considerations, that if Israel is to be hit,
Israel will hit back ... If someone thinks it can hit Israel and not be hit
ten times as strongly back, it is a serious issue. It won't happen again

'In [recent talks with the Israelis] the Bush Administration made it known
that it anticipated that the Iraqi leadership would arms its mobile Scuds
with biological and chemical warheads.'


'The American plan, officials agreed, is to make so many demands - complete
access to palaces, for example - that it will be almost impossible for
Saddam to agree.'


Geoffrey Kemp ['the NSC's ranking expert on the Near East in the first
Reagan Administration'] tells Hersh that 'Whatever happens Bush cannot
afford to fail. At the end of the day, we must have a stable, pro-Western
government in Baghdad ... One nightmare would be that Saddam used weapons of
mass destruction against Israel and you'd end up with a US-Israeli war
against Iraq. No one knows how much it will cost. You could have an
interruption in oil supplies.'


'If Saddam is gone and his sons dispatched, you will still need two things:
complete cooperation of whoever is running the show and inspection teams to
cleanse every bedroom and every crevice in the palaces ... Latent
nationalism will emerge, and there will be those who want to hold on to
whatever weapons they've held back. The danger is that those capabilities
could pop up somewhere else - in control of some small Army group with its
own agenda.'

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