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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, Gabriel ********************************** BRITAIN'S KEY ROLE: '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.' WHO'S FILLING THE 'PLANNING VOID': '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 North.' <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 sanctions.'> THE INC AND THE CIA'S 'BRIGHTEST PROSPECT': '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.> FRANCE AND RUSSIA: '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"' TIMING: 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.' ISRAEL: '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 PLAN: '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.' THE NIGHTMARE: 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.' COMPLETE COOPERATION '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.' _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk