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Re: [casi] Whimsical de-Ba'thification

> This piece refers to 'countless reports, over and above the usual
> rumours, that the Americans are keeping a section of the old Iraqi
> secret service intact.' Does anyone know anything more about these
> reports?

Don't know a great deal about it myself, but this was in the New York
Times on July 22:


U.S. Said to Seek Help of Ex-Iraqi Spies on Iran

[B] AGHDAD, Iraq, July 21 . Relying on the help of an Iraqi political
party, the United States has moved to resurrect parts of the Iraqi
intelligence service, with the branch that monitors Iran among the top
priorities, former Iraqi agents and politicians say.

The Iraqi National Congress, which is led by Ahmad Chalabi, the longtime
exile who is now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, says its senior
officials have met with senior members of the so-called Iran and Turkey
branch of the Mukhabarat, or Iraqi intelligence, over the last several
weeks. The party has received documents from the intelligence officers and
recruited them into a reconstituted version of the unit, said Abdulaziz
Kubaisi, the Iraqi National Congress official responsible for the
recruiting effort.

American officials, he said, are fully informed about what the party is
doing. Iraqi intelligence officers who have been asked to rejoin the
branch contend that the United States is orchestrating the effort.

"As far as what we do, we are sending back information to the Pentagon, to
people who are responsible," Mr. Kubaisi said. "They know the nature of
what we're doing. There is coordination. We have representatives of
Rumsfeld at the I.N.C."

But some Middle East experts said trying to revive the branch before a
sovereign government was in place and working through a political party
could backfire.

"This sets a bad precedent because you don't have a government in place,
and because Chalabi's party is a minority and doesn't represent the
majority of Iraqis," said Edward S. Walker Jr., former ambassador to Egypt
and Israel under the first President Bush and now president of the Middle
East Institute, a Washington research group. "I think it will be highly
controversial to rebuild the intelligence arm when there are so many
unresolved questions about Iraqi intelligence from before."

The effort to reach out to former Iraqi intelligence officials also
appears hard to harmonize with the American drive to "de-Baathify" Iraqi
society, given the prominence of the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein in his

A senior American official said concern about Iran was driving some of the
discussion about moving quickly to re-establish an intelligence service.
The official said the United States recognized that Iraq had a good
intelligence apparatus focused on Iran because activities in the
neighboring country might affect Iraqi security at home.

People close to the Iran branch said the Americans had also expressed
interest in reviving the intelligence service's Syria branch.

Mr. Kubaisi also said the possibility that Iran might try to interfere in
Iraq's affairs made the revival of the Mukhabarat's Iran branch a top
priority. "There are political parties . not the main seven ones . who
have alliances with Iran, who are flirting with it," he said. "I think the
Iranians are interfering in Iraq's affairs. They've been meddling here for

American officials in Washington and Baghdad maintained that reviving the
Iran branch was only being discussed now. Senior United States government
officials in Washington said the question of when and how to re-establish
Iraq's intelligence service was under active consideration at the highest
levels of the government. They said that it was discussed recently by the
Deputies Committee, which represents the second-ranking official at
national security agencies, and that the C.I.A. had been designated the
lead agency in the process.

"There's been a lot of discussion, but I haven't seen anything that has
developed into concrete thinking," one official said. Asked whether the
Defense Department was working through the Iraqi National Congress to
recruit former Iraqi intelligence officers, the official declined to

But people close to the Iraqi members of the Iran branch say recruitment
efforts began two months ago, when the crisis over Iran's nuclear program
flared, and continue now. Sabi al-Hamed, a former Iran branch member in
Zubayr, in southern Iraq, said two of his former colleagues made contact
with him two week ago and told him that they had been working with

Mr. Hamed, a Mukhabarat officer since 1976, said he refused to join the
revived unit when former co-workers told him that it would be cooperating
with the Mujahedeen Khalq, or People's Mujahedeen, an Iranian opposition
group that is on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist
organizations. Mr. Hamed said he had worked with the group during the
Iran-Iraq war and called them butchers, adding that he had seen bodies of
people they had executed.

The People's Mujahedeen, which seeks the overthrow of the government in
Tehran, found refuge in Iraq under Mr. Hussein, playing an important role
during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980's and later in 1991, in crushing the
uprisings of the Shiites in the south and the Kurds in northern Iraq. In
April, the United States signed a cease-fire with the group's troops in
Iraq and in early May began to disarm them. A sizable contingent of senior
members of Congress now advocate removal of the group from the terrorist
list, arguing that its members' knowledge should be mined for use against

A person close to the Iran branch members says the currently coalescing
intelligence service has been in touch not only with former Iran branch
officers in Iraq, but also with those in Iran and with former People's
Mujahedeen members.

Mr. Kubaisi denied that a future intelligence arm in Iraq would work with
the People's Mujahedeen, and a spokesman in Paris for the group did not
return e-mail messages seeking comment.

Mr. Kubaisi said the Iran unit would begin working once the Governing
Council settled in and the ministries were fully functioning. But the
former Iraqi agents who had discussions with the Iraqi National Congress
and with members of the Iran branch say the unit is already working in a
building in central Baghdad.

Mr. Kubaisi said Iran branch members were being vetted before being signed
up. He and others close to the branch said none of the officers had been
paid yet.

"These are people we should attract and make use of," he said. "But they
shouldn't be bad people. They should not have a criminal past, and they
shouldn't be stained with people's blood."

The officials said it was unclear to whom a new Iraqi intelligence service
would report. But they said the C.I.A. now had a sizable operation in
Iraq, with at least several dozen officers on the ground.

On Tue, 29 Jul 2003, Voices UK wrote:

> Gabriel

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