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A. US turf wars betray the Iraqis, Guardian, 18 June 2002 B. Gunning for Saddam - but is the CIA capable of riggering his demise?, Independent, 18 June 2002 C. Stop trying to behave like a Hollywood hitman, Independent, 18 June 2002 [leading article] Guardian: firstname.lastname@example.org Independent: email@example.com [Letter writers: remember to include your address andf telephone number!] *************************************** A. US turf wars betray the Iraqis Fear of democracy is also holding back the drive to remove Saddam Henry Porter and David Rose Tuesday June 18, 2002 The Guardian President Bush's instruction to the CIA to kill or capture Saddam Hussein defies previous presidential orders banning the assassination of foreign leaders. It can also be seen as another bewildering turn in American policy towards Iraq. Policy has been characterised by drift, inconsistency and a marked indifference to the suffering of Iraqis. Bush may be determined that Saddam "needs to go," but the US record does not augur well. The CIA is all but starting from scratch in Iraq. In 1995, President Clinton ensured the defeat of a planned uprising by announcing the withdrawal of US support on its very eve. Many of the CIA's assets were murdered. Since the departure of the UN weapons inspectorate in 1998, the sole source of information about what is happening on the ground and in Saddam's regime has been the Iraqi National Congress, a dissident group led by Dr Ahmad Chalabi in London. The INC has helped arrange the defection of a stream of high-ranking members of the regime who have brought out crucial information. These include Adnan Saeed al-Haideri, a specialist building contractor who had documents to back his story of how his firm had built new chemical and biological weapons facilities, and Abu Zeinab al-Qurairy, an Iraqi intelligence brigadier-general, who in three days of interviews with us in Beirut, cheerfully confessed to directing massacres, torture, extra-judicial imprisonment and a training camp for terrorists near Baghdad. The INC maintains contact through encrypted emails and satellite phones with a network of agents inside Iraq, some of whom have access to political and military secrets. The INC has the wherewithal to ask specific questions of its agents in the field and to provide swift, accurate answers. This is an invaluable asset in planning insurgency and the administration could be expected to seek to boost the INC's information-gathering role. Unsurprisingly, given the US record in Iraq, it is trying to close it down. The INC depends for its funding on money voted in 1998 by Congress. The purse strings are held by the State Department. Last week, driven by bitter rivalry within the US government, officials gave Dr Chalabi an ultimatum: all funding would be withdrawn unless the INC agreed to cease its information-collection programme permanently. Chalabi refused, saying the INC would be "disembowelled" and reduced to exactly the vapid, exile talking shops its Washington critics have long claimed it to be. What makes this so hard to understand is that the US has few real alternatives on the ground in Iraq. During the past decade there has been only sporadic CIA representation in the north-east, where for a time the INC operated with the cooperation of one of the warring Kurdish factions. Bob Baer, a former CIA officer, has described in his recent book, See No Evil, how his attempt to orchestrate armed opposition against Saddam during the mid-90s was frustrated by mixed messages from the State Department and ended when he was hauled back to Washington and investigated by the FBI on a charge of conspiracy to murder Saddam Hussein. After the covert attempts on Fidel Castro's life in the 60s and many similar operations all over the world, the US was trying to clean up its act, at least for public consumption. Today America is shamelessly having it both ways, to the point where a Democrat such as Dick Gephardt can insist that the no-assassination policy is intact. That is precisely the kind of confused double-think which left so many Iraqis stranded during two uprisings against Saddam and which must make them doubt Bush's word now. The defector Abu Zeinab testified that Saddam waited to see if the US would intervene with airpower in support of the insurgents in 1991. When this failed to materialise the regime took it as a sign that it could suppress the uprising with all necessary force. Tens of thousands of people were killed. Cutting off the INC's money is a sign of the State Department's wariness of the INC's pro-democracy agenda. Since the 1995 debacle, the chief market for INC intelligence has not been the CIA, which works closely with the State Department, but the defence intelligence agency, which is run by the much more hawkish Pentagon and places a high value on information concerning the manufacture and movement of weaponry. It is this intelligence which has been used to press Bush to take action against Saddam. Much of American foreign policy seems to owe its genesis to a turf war inside the Beltway, which is at least as complicated as anything in the Middle East. But with so much at stake in Iraq and the Middle East, it is disastrous that America appears unable to elaborate a coherent policy which goes beyond the excited rhetoric of smart bombs and covert action. ********************************************************* B. Gunning for Saddam - but is the CIA capable of riggering his demise? Secret War: Bush has ordered his intelligence chiefs to drive out the Iraqi dictator, reviving all the old questions over covert US actions By David Usborne in New York Independent 18 June 2002 Saddam Hussein now knows what he is up against: President George Bush has given the green light to the Central Intelligence Agency to do all it can to drive him from power even killing him, although this would have to be in "self-defence". But if the Iraqi leader is quaking at the news, is it from fear or just laughter? On the one hand, the CIA has 55 years of experience in diverting the politics of other nations, sometimes to historic effect. Governments have been ousted in countries as far apart as the Congo and Chile thanks to its dastardly doings. And leaders have indeed been killed, with CIA connivance. During the 1950s, 60s and 70s the agency clandestinely and successfully masterminded coups in Iran, Guatemala, Iraq, Chile, Guyana and the Congo, formerly Zaire. On the other hand, the CIA's operations over the decades have frequently either gone awry remember the disastrous "Bay of Pigs" invasion of communist Cuba in 1961 or even when deemed a success, left a tragic political legacy. The CIA-backed assassination of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo in 1960 made way for the 32-year reign of terror by the former dictator Joseph Mobutu, later Mobutu Sese Seko. The 1954 coup in Guatemala led to 35 years of civil war that left more than 140,000 dead. And as secret documents have been declassified, Americans have learned of many of the unsavoury alliances CIA operatives have forged to achieve their aims for example, in America's efforts to oust President Salvador Allende of Chile. And there was Washington's silent approval of the invasion of East Timor by Indonesia, along with the illegal use of US arms. Mr Bush's order to the CIA, detailed by The Washington Post last weekend, to use all its resources to precipitate Saddam's ousting, means the agency will once more be up to its old tricks in Iraq. As well its own spies, it will have crack teams of American special forces at its disposal. It is a mission in the best and arguably the very worst of the agency's traditions. That it might fail is something that the CIA director, George Tenet, has reportedly put on record already. According to the Post, Mr Tenet told the President and his cabinet recently that the CIA's actions alone, without any kind of follow-up military assault, stands only a 10 to 20 per cent chance of succeeding. He knows his history and his caution was probably well-placed. So dismal was the image of the CIA when it turned 50 in 1997 that voices were raised in Washington including those of two former directors that it be dismantled and a new intelligence body be built from scratch. That didn't happen. It is ironic that since 11 September, when its worst failure of all protecting America from foreign terror was exposed, the agency has been given new and multiplied burdens, notably hunting al-Qa'ida and now toppling President Saddam. Now all the old questions about the CIA and its methods will be asked anew. How far can its operatives go in precipitating the murder of a foreign leader? And what sort of tactics ethical or repugnant might it employ? And in the event that the CIA does trigger President Saddam's demise, would Iraq without him prove more benign or even more of a nightmare than it is now? The killing of Saddam should be as easy as popping some poison in his whisky he is, we are often reminded, fond of more than an occasional glass of the stuff. That sounds silly but it was, after all, the kind of approach that was adopted by the agency in the early 1960s when Washington was clamouring for the removal of Cuba's left-wing leader, Fidel Castro. Early in 1961, the CIA sought the services of a mobster from Chicago to kill the Cuban revolutionary. At a secret meeting in Miami, they furnished him with tiny gelatine capsules filled with botulinum toxin. The gangster, John Rosselli, was instructed to drop the capsules in Mr Castro's food, with the warning they wouldn't work in "boiling soup". The plan failed, of course, partly because Mr Castro suddenly stopped frequenting the restaurant that Rosselli had cased. There were plenty of other, equally comical, plots hatched in the corridors of the agency. Famously, one proposed lacing one of Castro's cigars with a hallucinogenic similar to LSD, in the hope that he would then give a speech under its effects and be revealed as a ranting madman. Someone else in the agency thought of dusting his shoes with thallium to make his beard fall out. There was also the idea of infecting his diving suit with a fungus to cause a chronic skin disease. It was also in 1961 and in Cuba that the CIA suffered possibly its most humiliating disaster ever. That was the CIA-led Bay of Pigs mission: designed to topple Mr Castro, it foundered almost as soon as the brigade of anti-revolutionary fighters tried to come ashore. Despite attempts at secrecy, Mr Castro apparently had ample warning to respond. When it was over, 114 members of the invading force were killed and 1,189 more were taken prisoner. It is unclear, meanwhile, just how far the CIA could go in seeking, or orchestrating the murder of President Saddam. Mr Bush couched his authorisation for the Iraqi to be killed in "self-defence" for a very good reason. Since the 1970s, the CIA or any agent of the US government is prohibited from directly seeking the assassination of a foreign leader. The attempts on Mr Castro's life were first revealed to a Senate intelligence committee, known as the Church Committee after its chairman, Senator Frank Church, in 1976. Members also learned how the CIA tried to infect a toothbrush of Lumumba, the first post-colonial premier of the Congo, with a deadly African plague. That led President Gerald Ford to issue an executive order banning assassinations by all US agencies. Later presidents renewed the ban. There has always been debate, however, as to how water-tight the ban really is. An executive order does not have the same legal standing as a law passed by Congress. Nor is it obvious how far America's spies are at liberty still to help engineer a murder of a foreign leader, for instance by assisting would-be assassins from indigenous dissident groups to commit the act so long as they leave no American fingerprints. The other possible loophole the one apparently chosen by this White House is to allow the killing of a leader "in self-defence". Few people would mourn the death of President Saddam. But other unintended consequences might flow from an extended CIA operation in Iraq. The catalogue of the CIA catastrophes around the world albeit some of them catastrophes with the benefit of hindsight is, after all, depressingly thick. Previous CIA plots IRAN The 1951 nationalisation of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company by Iran's Prime Minister at the time, Mohammed Mossadegh, brought him into conflict with the Shah of Iran when Britain boycotted Iranian oil in protest. The US and Britain orchestrated a coup by encouraging Iranians working for the CIA to turn the Islamic community against the nationalist Mossadegh. In August 1953, the Shah signed a CIA-penned royal decree replacing Mossadegh with General Fazlollah Zahedi, who was handpicked by America and Britain. CHILE The CIA began undermining the coalition government of the socialist President Salvador Allende even before he was elected in 1970, amid fears of the impact of his election on US-owned mining firms. President Nixon ordered the CIA to prevent him taking office but the first attempted coup failed. The CIA did not give up, having been told to "make the economy scream". The US approved $1m in covert aid to political parties and private organisations three weeks before Allende's overthrow in 1973 by General Augusto Pinochet. For years, Washington denied its role in the coup. CUBA Two years after the overthrow of the US-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959 by Fidel Castro, the US launched its disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, which sent 1,300 CIA-trained Cuban exiles to the island. Their defeat after three days of battles was a huge embarrassment for President John F Kennedy. Various madcap assassination schemes followed. President Castro has survived 40 years of sanctions, which the US is refusing to lift. CONGO Patrice Lumumba, who led his country to independence from Belgium and became its first elected Prime Minister in 1960, was assassinated in a CIA-backed operation with the help of Belgian intelligence – and UN connivance -- four months after he took office. He was abducted by Congolese rebels and killed in the province of Katanga, which declared independence after Lumumba's election. The order for his assassination came from President Eisenhower. Belgium has apologised for its role in his killing. INDONESIA President Suharto came to power in a CIA-backed coup in 1966 that ousted Sukarno, the father of the current President, Megawati Sukarnoputri. The coup followed an abortive putsch in 1965, engineered by America and Britain, and blamed on Indonesia's Communist Party. Hundreds of thousands of Communist sympathisers were massacred by the army.Historians have said America passed on the names of Communists to the army. The new president offered lucrative concessions to Western firms. ******************************************* C. Stop trying to behave like a Hollywood hitman Independent 18 June 2002 If the United States had wanted to confirm every worst suspicion in the world, it could do no worse than reveal that it has set the CIA free to organise a coup against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Few disagree with the objective. The fall of Saddam is overdue and much-desired, even among Arab countries. But for Washington to disclose that it now plans to do this extra-judicially sends out entirely the wrong message, however good it sounds to American voters. The road to global condemnation of the United States is paved with the coups and attempted coups of the CIA, from the overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadeq in Iran and Allende in Chile onwards. It is not without justification that the organisation has managed the rare feat of combining a reputation for deviousness with that of incompetence; recent events show little evidence that it has changed its bungling ways. Of course, these latest revelations may prove to be a deliberate leak, intended to pile the pressure on Saddam while the administration decides whether or not to invade his country. President George Bush and his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, want to proceed with early action, but this has been held up by two factors. Firstly, the vociferous international objections, especially from the Arab world. Secondly – and probably more importantly – has been the failure of America to develop the kind of credible support within Iraq that could act as its ground force in the way that the Northern Alliance did in Afghanistan. These two factors should be just as much a check on covert CIA action as they are on direct invasion. Additionally, to let the CIA off the leash would be a breach of both international law and of domestic US legislation; this is not disguised by the formula of saying that special forces would be free to kill the Iraqi president "if he resisted". This is no way for a mature democracy to proceed, let alone the world's only remaining superpower. If America believes – as well it might – that the peace and security of the world is best served by a change in regime in Iraq, then it should proceed through legitimate action and co-ordinated world pressure. This is the real world, not Hollywood. _______________________________________________ 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