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Re: [casi] Simple summary of UNSCOM and spying?

Hi Eric,

> Is there a simple summary somewhere of the specifics of the
> spying that was conducted via UNSCOM/

The Washington Post article below explains quite well what went on.
An aspect worthy of notice is the claim that much of the interception
of communications etc. that UNSCOM carried out supposedly was within
its UN mandate, with any additional benefit to the US being mainly a

I hope this helps,

Per Klevnas


January 08, 1999, Friday, Final Edition
LENGTH: 1396 words
HEADLINE: U.S. Says It Collected Iraq Intelligence Via UNSCOM
BYLINE: Thomas W. Lippman; Barton Gellman, Washington Post Staff

The United States for nearly three years intermittently monitored the
coded radio communications of President Saddam Hussein's innermost
security forces using equipment secretly installed in Iraq by U.N.
weapons inspectors, according to U.S. and U.N. officials.

In 1996 and 1997, the Iraqi communications were captured by
off-the-shelf commercial equipment carried by inspectors from the
organization known as UNSCOM, then hand-delivered to analysis centers
in Britain, Israel and the United States for interpretation, officials

But early last year, when UNSCOM decided it was too dangerous for its
inspectors to carry the equipment, the United States took control of
the operation and replaced the store-bought scanners and digital tape
recorders with more sophisticated automated monitors. The intercepted
Iraqi communications were sent by satellite relay in a nearby country
to the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, where they were decoded
and translated into English, the officials said.

Information relevant to the work of the U.N. weapons inspection force,
which was searching for Iraq's prohibited weapons or the means to
conceal them, was shared with UNSCOM's chairman and his deputy,
officials said. Other information, including material that might be
helpful to the United States in destabilizing Saddam Hussein, was
retained by Washington. The U.S. officials said intelligence kept by
Washington has proven to be of scant value in its campaign against the
Iraqi government. U.S. officials confirmed the monitoring operation in
an effort to rebut allegations that the United States had
inappropriately used UNSCOM as a tool to penetrate Saddam Hussein's
security and promote his downfall. Until yesterday, U.S. officials had
denied using intelligence gathered in connection with UNSCOM for U.S.
purposes. Elements of the operation were reported this week in The
Washington Post and the Boston Globe. The Wall Street Journal added
further details in a story published yesterday.

The Post assembled over several months an account of the intelligence
operation from U.N. and U.S. officials, but agreed last fall not to
publish details about sources and methods used to gather the
information after U.S. officials said the disclosure would damage
national security. This week, U.S. officials have themselves disclosed
many of the same details.

U.S. officials have said the purpose of the radio intercepts was to
help UNSCOM do the job assigned to it by the U.N. Security Council. To
the extent the operation provided additional information was a bonus
that did not deviate from UNSCOM's mandate, the officials said.

UNSCOM has had no staff or operations in Iraq since the U.S. and
British missile strikes last month, but there are indications that the
monitoring has continued. White House national security adviser Samuel
R. "Sandy" Berger said after the airstrikes that "with or without
UNSCOM, we have formidable intelligence capabilities" in Iraq.

"We try to monitor as best we can the internal situation in Iraq,"
Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, commander of U.S. forces in the Persian
Gulf region, said at a Washington news conference yesterday.

As recounted to The Post by U.S. and U.N. officials, the UNSCOM effort
to get inside Saddam Hussein's security apparatus began early in this
decade, after UNSCOM concluded that Iraq did not intend to comply with
U.N. Security Council resolutions requiring it to destroy its nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons.

While officials said that intelligence agents from several countries,
including the United States, were assigned to work on UNSCOM
inspection teams, U.S. officials insisted that no Americans report to
Washington outside UNSCOM channels.

Instead, U.S. officials and others said, it became apparent over time
that Iraq was bent on concealing its banned weapons, and that the
security forces assigned to that task were the same as those assigned
to Saddam Hussein's security. Penetration of one was tantamount to
penetration of the other, officials said, especially because they used
the same encrypted radio frequencies.

Rolf Ekeus, then UNSCOM's chairman and now Sweden's ambassador to the
United States, said he briefed members of the Security Council in
early 1997 on this discovery and on the possibility that tracking
weapons could also end up gathering information that might be helpful
in tracking Saddam Hussein.

The idea of taking scanners into Iraq originated with Scott Ritter, a
former U.S. Marine officer who was working as an UNSCOM inspector in
1995. On a trip to Israel, Ritter proposed that Israeli intelligence
provide inspectors with commercial all-frequency scanners and
recording devices that they could carry with them.

Ekeus approved these so-called "special collection missions" in 1996.
Inspectors were soon able to map the frequencies used by the Iraqi
special security apparatus and intercept communications by the
National Monitoring Directorate, the Special Security Organization,
the Special Republican Guard and the Office of the Presidential

These communications included warnings to weapons facilities that
UNSCOM inspectors were on their way and instructions to hide
contraband material. But that information did not help the inspectors
at the time, officials said, because it had to be relayed to Israel
and Britain -- or, at a later date, to the NSA -- to be decoded and

The inspectors never had access to Iraqi communications in "real
time," officials said, but the information was useful in understanding
Iraqi concealment techniques.

In March 1998, for reasons that are in dispute, the United States took
over the operation and arranged for the installation of the more
sophisticated, stationary equipment. The equipment was automated and
could have been moved as UNSCOM inspectors left the country.

Ritter has accused the United States of putting pressure on Britain
and Israel to pull out in an effort to gain full control of the
intelligence produced. U.S. officials said Ekeus and his successor,
Richard Butler, were concerned that inspectors' lives would be
endangered if the Iraqis discovered the portable equipment they were

Once the NSA arranged to have the so-called "black boxes" installed,
that danger was eliminated, officials said. The black boxes
automatically tracked Iraqi frequencies that NSA was interested in,
skipping others, and relayed the communications to a satellite uplink
in a nearby country.

So complete was this penetration that some UNSCOM officials believed
that NSA deliberately slowed down the process of decoding and
redistributing the material, for fear of showing how good the system
was. But while Israel's decryption operation, called Unit 8200, had
provided complete transcripts, the NSA returned "tear line"
transcripts with only partial versions.

The Iraqis may have suspected that their communications were being
monitored, and used Arabic code words to describe individuals and
equipment, officials said.

A decision by the United States at the time it took over the
monitoring operation sowed the seeds of later trouble. Washington
specified that only Butler and his deputy, Charles Duelfer, be given
access to the intercepted material.

Ritter was cut out because of questions arising from his marriage to a
Russian and because of Washington's fears that a Justice Department
investigation into allegations that Ritter had improperly given
classified information to Israel would provide anti- UNSCOM propaganda
fodder for Saddam Hussein.

In August, shortly after Iraq expelled the arms inspectors, Ritter
resigned and made the explosive accusation that the United States had
undercut UNSCOM by cutting off the flow of crucial intelligence data.
U.S. officials say they did not cut off UNSCOM, only Ritter

Butler has categorically denied that UNSCOM was used for spying on
behalf of the United States.

U.S. officials said Washington relayed to UNSCOM all information from
the intercepts that was relevant to its work. But because Washington
now has sole control of the data flow, UNSCOM has no way of knowing if
that is true. At one point, UNSCOM officials were so suspicious that
Washington was withholding data that U.S. officials arranged a visit
to Fort Meade to let them inspect the raw material.

LOAD-DATE: January 08, 1999

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