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[casi] News, 6-13/8/03 (1)



News, 6-13/8/03 (1)

THE NEW RULING CLASS

*  Khomeini's grandson moves to Al-Najaf
*  UNICEF won't work with clerics in Sadr City
*  Iraq's Governing Council to Have 25 Ministries
*  Shiite divisions give the US breathing room
*  Dinner with the Sayyids

THE OLD RULING CLASS

*  Daughter of deposed Iraqi leader says Hussein's confidants betrayed him
*  Two-month standoff at Chinese Embassy ends

UNSEXING OF THE PRETEXT

*  Has Blair Sexed Up Saddam's Atrocities, Too?
*  Insider fires a broadside at Rumsfeld's office
*  Career officer does eye-opening stint inside Pentagon
*  How neo-cons influence the Pentagon ...
*  Is Iraqi Intel Still Being Manipulated?


THE NEW RULING CLASS

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*  KHOMEINI'S GRANDSON MOVES TO AL-NAJAF
RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 34, 7 August 2003

The grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has moved from the Qom-based
Hawzah Al Ilmiyah in Iran to the Al-Najaf Hawzah Al-Ilmiyah, where he will
study and teach, according to international press reports. Hossein Khomeini,
the 46-year-old son of Mustafa Khomeini, who died of a heart attack in
Al-Najaf one year before the 1979 Iranian revolution, has taken up residence
in his family's home, but there are conflicting reports surrounding his
sudden move to Iraq.

In a 29 July report, London-based "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" claimed that the move
reflected a growing division in Iran between some Qom-based clerics and the
Iranian religious authorities. The clerics reportedly claim that Qom has
lost its independence in recent years after Iranian security authorities
closed all the means by which the independent clerics could receive khoms --
a tithe amounting to one-fifth of the donor's income -- and other
contributions, leaving the clerics unable to cover their costs and pay
monthly stipends to their students. Clerics wishing to receive khoms were
forced to declare their loyalty to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The daily later reported on 4 August that Khomeini's rift with the ruling
clerics stem from his support for his uncle Ahmad Khomeini, who was killed
in 1995, reportedly by the Iranian regime. Ahmad openly criticized the
regime's policies, as well as Khamenei and Expediency Council Chairman
Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani before his death. According to
"Al-Sharq al-Awsat," "Tension between Hossein Khomeini and the religious
leadership reached its peak recently after the Iranian revolution leader's
grandson adopted a public stand supportive of the students and reformists
and his statements about the illegality of the judiciary's [statements]
against the students, intellectuals, and writers," making him a symbol for
the opposition. "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" claimed that Hossein Khomeini said in an
interview with the daily that "Iran needs a democratic system that does not
use religion as a tool to repress the people and suffocate society." He
reportedly also called for the need to "separate religion from the state and
to end the despotic theocracy" in Iran. The daily also claimed that Hossein
said his grandfather's successors were "exploiting his name, Islam, and
theocracy to continue their unjust rule." Hossein also reportedly told the
daily that Iran is on the verge of a popular revolution, adding: "Freedom is
more important than bread. If the Americans can provide it, then let them
come."

Meanwhile, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported on 4 August that
an unidentified source close to the Khomeini family denied the veracity of
an interview given by Hossein to a Dutch daily in which he reportedly made
similar remarks, including statements that the Iranian people no longer
trust reformists and calling on the U.S. to overthrow the Iranian regime.
The source told ISNA: "In a telephone conversation, Mr. Sayyid Hossein
Khomeini expressed his extreme dissatisfaction with the distortion of the
remarks he made during the interview. We hope that after his imminent return
to [Iran], he would provide the full and undistorted text of the interview
to the people." The source denied that Hossein Khomeini called for the
overthrow of the Iranian regime in the interview, adding, "He has vehemently
denied the veracity of any account or text which attributes such remarks to
him in order to taint his reputation." (Kathleen Ridolfo)


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*  UNICEF WON'T WORK WITH CLERICS IN SADR CITY
RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 34, 7 August 2003

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is reportedly no longer working with an
orphanage in Sadr City, Baghdad, after clerics running the orphanage imposed
strict control over girls in its care, marrying off some as young as 13
years old, timesonline.co.uk reported on 4 August.

The report follows two girls, Ashwarq and Zaman, first met by reporters from
"The Times" after the former was thrown out by her mother and the latter
fled the Dar Al-Rahma (House of Mercy) orphanage when U.S. troops mistakenly
threw open its doors in early April. Living on the streets of Baghdad for
weeks and sleeping in the open, often near the U.S. compound, both girls
survived by begging, and were suspected of glue sniffing and prostitution
before being "rescued" by Dar Al-Rahma clerics and taken to the orphanage.
Of the 135 children housed in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs-run
orphanage before the war, 60 have yet to be recovered. Shi'ite clerics now
run the establishment, imposing strict Islamic law on its occupants, which
are aged between six and 18. Clerics have also established their authority
at schools, hospitals, and other social institutions in Sadr City, according
to international press reports.

In May, Zaman told the daily that she feared going back to the orphanage,
saying, "They hit us, beat us, and tied our hands every day." "The Times"
visited the girls at the orphanage two months later, where care worker Hamid
Maayeh told the daily that the two girls, "have been badly damaged," adding:
"We have other girls the same age, but we can't mix them together. We have
to separate them because we are afraid they will teach the others bad
things." Maayeh reportedly boasted that in the past four months, the
orphanage has married off 10 girls aged 13 to 19, and hopes to find husbands
for Ashwarq, Zaman, and a third girl also. "Only these three were raped
because we took control of the situation quicker than others," he said,
adding, "We think we can marry these as well, if they let us work with
them."

"The Times" reported that UNICEF withdrew its support from Dar Al-Rahma more
than one month ago, taking with it any child who wanted to leave. Raghad Abd
al-Aziz, a social worker that left Dar Al-Rahma, told the daily that
marriage and social control seemed to be the priorities of the clerics at
the orphanage. "In the month I was there, they married five girls. The
shaykh in charge of the orphanage told me that the shaykh of the local
mosque was encouraging people to come and meet the young, beautiful virgins
there," she said. The UNICEF chief of mission in Baghdad, Carol de Rooy,
told "The Times" that abandoned children in Iraq are vulnerable because the
Juvenile Code, which dates to 1983, "criminalized poverty" by defining child
beggars and workers as vagrants. Children found on the streets were often
jailed with adults. "I do not think it is necessarily the right model to
empower militias and groups who rightly or wrongly spontaneously take over
government institutions," de Rooy reportedly said of the orphanage's new
management.

Sadr City, once known as Saddam City, was renamed after Operation Iraqi
Freedom in honor of a prominent Shi'ite Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr,
killed by the Hussein regime in 1999. The neighborhood is also where his
son, anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, draws his support. (Kathleen Ridolfo)


http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=8/7/03&Cat=2&Num=020

*  IRAQ'S GOVERNING COUNCIL TO HAVE 25 MINISTRIES
Tehran Times, 7th August

BAGHDAD - Iraq's Governing Council has decided to establish a total of 25
ministries, six more than under the previous regime of Saddam Hussein, a
spokesman for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said Wednesday.

"The council proposed the creation of 25 ministries. We started to discuss
it Tuesday and we will continue today in a detailed manner," KDP's Hoshyar
Zebari told AFP.

"Nominations of ministers will take time, because we have to choose
qualified persons for each post," he added.

He also said the council was busy working out the planned number of
employees per ministry, and studying the physical structure of each of the
existing ministry buildings.

All the ministries with the exception of the oil ministry, protected from
the start of the war by the Americans, were looted, burned or bombed, and
many of them are structurally unsound and must be rebuilt.

The three-week-old, 25-member council was also mulling which ministries need
to be closed, created or merged, a council member said.

"In some cases, we have to merge a few ministries, while in other cases,
ministerial departments must be elevated to full ministerial status,"
council member Ghazi al-Yawar told AFP.

Iraq's electricity department is expected to be made a ministry, while
council members Tuesday also recommended the creation of an environment
ministry.

According to Yawar, all council members must present detailed proposals on
which ministries are created and which are shuttered.

To date, the council has yet to propose any names for new ministers.

"But the general trend is to choose experts or technocrats because the
situation needs actions and not words," said Yawar.

The council created a security committee of six members headed by council
member and former intelligence officer Iyad Allawi, which is liaise with the
U.S.-led occupation on quelling the continuing unrest in Iraq. "We know
better than the Americans what is necessary for security. As an Arab proverb
says, 'The people of Mecca know the town better than the pilgrims'."

Yawar said the council had asked for a meeting with U.S. Central Command
chief General John Abizaid, but the date had yet to be confirmed.


http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/09_08_03_e.asp

*  SHIITE DIVISIONS GIVE THE US BREATHING ROOM
by Juan Cole
Lebanon Daily Star, 9th August

Most Shiite leaders in Iraq have made a tactical decision not to resist the
Anglo-American occupation during the coming year. They hope the US, in
recreating Iraq as a parliamentary democracy, will give them the political
power they deserve by virtue of their numbers. If not, or if the Americans
overstay their welcome, the Shiites might well turn against them. It is not,
however, clear that the community is united enough yet to effectively close
ranks against coalition forces.

As a result of their differences over the shape of a future Iraq, Shiite
clerics have fallen to fighting an underground guerrilla war against one
another. The chief prizes are the populous neighborhoods of eastern Baghdad
and the revered shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala. Najaf contains the tomb
of Ali, the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law, who was assassinated in 661.
Karbala is the site of the shrine of Imam Hussein, Ali's martyred son, who
was cut down when he sparked a rebellion in 681. Shiite Islam revolves
around the commemoration of these two martyrdoms, with annual readings,
processions and rituals of self-flagellation.

The forces of young firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr appear to have
succeeded in dominating the east Baghdad neighborhoods. In Najaf, Sadrists
have clashed with followers of the Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) over control of the shrine of Imam Ali. They are
also attempting to force the quietist Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and his
clerical allies out of the city. Last week, Sadrists in Najaf threatened the
life of the son of a senior ayatollah close to Sistani, put a junior
clergyman in the hospital and beat up a Sistani aide.

These acts of hooliganism are likely to convince most of Najaf's Shiites
they need the US to protect them from Sadrist gangs. Tribal chieftains from
the area loyal to Sistani have demanded weapons be forbidden in Ali's
shrine. They have also recently threatened to send in tribesmen to curb
Sadrist excesses. A senior cleric, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Said al
Tabatabaii al-Hakim, declared that the religious establishment sought a
peaceful dialogue to end the coalition's "occupation," which, he said, "we
never asked for." His followers held a demonstration in Najaf late last week
against the tactics of the Sadrists.

In Karbala, Sadrists and followers of Sistani have also struggled for
control of the mosque of Imam Hussein, one of the premier pulpits in the
Shiite world. Last June they had reached an agreement to alternate
preachers, but Sadr abrogated it in July. On July 26, Sadrists held a rally
in Karbala against US Marines patrolling too close to the Imam Hussein
shrine. Someone in the crowd fired at the US troops, who returned fire,
reportedly killing a man. They also struck the shrine with tear gas
canisters. This provoked another demonstration the following Sunday, which
turned ugly when Marines wounded nine demonstrators. It seems likely that
hard-line Sadrists deliberately drew the Marines into firing on a civilian
crowd in front of the emotionally charged shrine.

Last Friday, Sadr called for the Marines to be tried by Islamic law courts
for their "attack on the shrine of Imam Hussein." He called on all Shiites
who were cooperating with the American civil administration, including Kurds
and SCIRI members, to repent and instead join his proposed militia, the Army
of the Mahdi. His congregation repeatedly shouted: "No, no to America  No,
no to the occupier  No, no to tyranny."

The divisions among the major religious currents in Iraqi Shiism and the
differences between Iraq's religious, secular and tribal groups have proved
a boon to US administrators in Iraq, giving them breathing room. A united
Shiite community could likely force the Americans out of the country by
holding huge, urban demonstrations, as happened in Iran in 1978 as a prelude
to the Iranian revolution.

There is clearly a widespread sentiment that the Americans should depart
within a year. If they commit any further mistakes like shooting civilians
in front of the Imam Hussein shrine, they could easily incite more hatred
against themselves and shorten their timetable. At that point many Shiites
might turn away from the staid Sistani and follow Sadr, not only in the
slums where he is already popular, but also in Basra and other Shiite cities
in the south.

Juan Cole is professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at
the University of Michigan. His web address is www.juancole.com. He wrote
this commentary for THE DAILY STAR


http://www.iht.com/articles/105839.html

*  DINNER WITH THE SAYYIDS
by Thomas L. Friedman
International Herald Tribune, from New York Times, 11th August

BAGHDAD: The best thing about being in Baghdad these days is that you just
never know who's going to show up for dinner. Take last Wednesday night. I
was invited to interview a rising progressive Iraqi Shiite cleric, Sayyid
Iyad Jamaleddine, at his home on the banks of the Tigris. It was the most
exciting conversation I've had on three trips to postwar Iraq. I listened to
Jamaleddine eloquently advocate separation of mosque and state and lay out a
broad, liberal agenda for Iraq's majority Shiites. As we sat down for a meal
of Iraqi fish and flat bread, he introduced me to a small, black-turbaned
cleric who was staying as his houseguest.

"Mr. Friedman, this is Sayyid Hussein Khomeini" - the grandson of Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran's Islamic revolution.

Khomeini told me he had left the Iranian spiritual center of Qum to meet
with scholars in the Iraqi Shiite spiritual centers of Karbala and Najaf.
He, too, is a progressive, he explained, and he intends to use the freedom
that the U.S. invasion has created in Iraq to press for real democratic
reform in Iran. Now I understand why his grandfather once threw him in jail
for a week. He has Ayatollah Khomeini's fiery eyes and steely determination,
but the soul of a Muslim liberal.

The 46-year-old Khomeini said he's currently advocating a national
referendum in Iran to revoke the absolute religious and political powers
that have been grabbed by Iran's clergy. But in other interviews here, he
was quoted as saying that Iran's hard-line clerical rulers were "the world's
worst dictatorship," who have been exploiting his grandfather's name and the
name of Islam "to continue their tyrannical rule." He and Jamaleddine told
me their first objective was to open Shiite seminaries and schools in Iraq
to teach their ideas to the young generation. I have no idea whether these
are the only two liberal Shiite clerics in Iraq. People tell me they
definitely are not. Either way, their willingness to express their ideas
publicly is hugely important. It is, for my money, the most important reason
we fought this war: If the West is going to avoid a war of armies with
Islam, there has to be a war of ideas within Islam. The progressives have to
take on both the religious totalitarians, like Osama bin Laden, and the
secular totalitarians who exploit Islam as a cover, like Saddam Hussein. We
cannot defeat their extremists, only they can. This war of ideas needs two
things: a secure space for people to tell the truth and people with the
cour-age to tell it. That's what these two young clerics represent, at least
in potential.

Jamaleddine, 42, grew up in Iraq, sought exile in Iran after one of Saddam's
anti-Shiite crackdowns, tasted the harshness of the Iranian Islamic
revolution firsthand, moved to Dubai, and then returned to Iraq as soon as
Saddam fell. Here is a brief sampler of what he has been advocating:

On religion and state: "We want a secular constitution. That is the most
important point. If we write a secular constitution and separate religion
from state, that would be the end of despotism and it would liberate
religion as well as the human being. The Islamic religion has been hijacked
for 14 centuries by the hands of the state.

"The state dominated religion, not the other way around. It used religion
for its own ends. Tyrants ruled this nation for 14 centuries and they
covered their tyranny with the cloak of religion.  When I called for
secularism in Nasiriyah [in the first postwar gathering of Iraqi leaders],
they started saying things against me. But last week I had some calls from
Qum, thanking me for presenting this thesis and saying, 'We understand what
you are calling for, but we cannot say so publicly.'

"Secularism is not blasphemy. I am a Muslim. I am devoted to my religion. I
want to get it back from the state and that is why I want a secular state. 
When young people come to religion, not because the state orders them to but
because they feel it themselves in their hearts, it actually increases
religious devotion.  The problem of the Middle East cannot be solved unless
all the states in the area become secular.  I call for opening the door for
Ijtihad [reinterpretation of the Koran in light of changing circumstances].

"The Koran is a book to be interpreted [by] each age. Each epoch should not
be tied to interpretations from 1,000 years ago. We should be open to
interpretations based on new and changing times."

How will he deal with opposition to such ideas from Iraq's neighbors? "The
neighboring countries are all tyrannical countries and they are wary of a
modern, liberal Iraq.  That is why they work to foil the U.S. presence. 
If the U.S. wants to help Iraqis, it must help them the way it helped
Germany and Japan, because to help Iraq is really to help 1.3 billion
Muslims. Iraq will teach these values to the entire Islamic world. Because
Iraq has both Sunnis and Shiites, and it has Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.  If
it succeeds here it can succeed elsewhere. But to succeed you also need to
satisfy people's basic needs: jobs and electricity. If people are hungry,
they will be easily recruited by the extremists. If they are well fed and
employed, they will be receptive to good ideas.  The failure of this
experiment in Iraq would mean success for all despots in the Arab and
Islamic world. [That is why] this is a challenge that America must accept
and take all the way."

Jamaleddine, Khomeini; these are real spiritual leaders here. But if the
United States does not create a secure environment and stable economy in
Iraq, their voices will never get through. If we do, though - wow. To the
rest of the Arab world, I would simply say: Guess who's coming to dinner.


THE OLD RULING CLASS

RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

*  DAUGHTER OF DEPOSED IRAQI LEADER SAYS HUSSEIN'S CONFIDANTS BETRAYED HIM
RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 34, 7 August 2003

Deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's eldest daughter told Al-Arabiyah
Television in an interview broadcast on 1 August that Baghdad fell because
Iraqis betrayed the regime. "The people in whom [Saddam Hussein] placed his
full trust and whom he considered his right-hand men were the main sources
of treason," Raghad Hussein said. She also accused Saddam Hussein's
half-brothers -- Sab'awi, Watban, and Barzan -- of "overburdening" the
family by "hatching plots" against her brothers Uday and Qusay Hussein, and
even herself. "The factor of deadly jealousy was the source of the
[Al-Bayjat] tribe's tragedy," she said. "It is as if God distributed
jealousy among humanity in two parts; he gave half to the world and the
other half to the Al-Bayjat" tribe. The Al-Bayjat is actually a clan of the
Al-Bu Nasir tribe, to which the Hussein family belongs.

Raghad said that Shaykh Jamal Kamil al-Majid, the brother of her dead
husband, Husayn, facilitated her asylum to Jordan. She and her younger
sister Rana arrived in Jordan with their nine children on 31 July (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August 2003). Raghad Hussein also described to
Al-Arabiyah how she fled Iraq amid the bombing of Baghdad and met with her
mother, sisters, and Qusay Hussein's wife outside the capital, before her
mother advised them all to disperse.

Asked about Saddam's second marriage to Samira al-Shahbandar, which produced
a son, Ali, Raghad first replied that she did not know, but then said: "He
is free with his personal life. I cannot ask him why he married another
woman." Regarding Ali, she added, "I, like you, heard from people that my
father has a son called Ali." Raghad said she had never seen him, and
questioned his existence, saying: "It could also be a legend...coincidence
might have played a role. When my son Ali was born in 1984, there was a
strong rumor that Saddam Hussein had a new son." She also denied that
Hussein had body doubles. Asked why her father had not planned ahead for his
family members to seek refuge outside Iraq, she said that Saddam believed
that his family should live as Iraqis, whatever their fate.

Asked by Al-Arabiyah Television in the 1 August interview about the 1996
assassination of her husband Husayn Kamil al-Majid and his brother Saddam,
who was married to Rana, Raghad Hussein blamed her father's cousin Ali Hasan
al-Majid. She said her father had pardoned the men after they fled Iraq, but
al-Majid insisted that the tribe would not pardon the men and had them
killed along with several other family members.

She did not address the details of Husayn and Saddam Kamil al-Majid's
defections, but maintained that the men were loyal to Saddam Hussein until
their deaths. "I can swear by God that these two people were, to the last
minute, totally loyal to my father, and they loved him so much," Raghad
said. Coalition forces initially reported that they believed they killed Ali
Hasan al-Majid when his Al-Basrah home was bombed in early April, but
officials later withdrew that claim (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 April and 6
June 2003).

Meanwhile, Jamal Kamil al-Majid called on the U.S. military and Iraqi Red
Crescent Society to help locate the graves of his brothers Husayn and
Saddam, dpa reported on 3 August. (Kathleen Ridolfo)


RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

*  TWO-MONTH STANDOFF AT CHINESE EMBASSY ENDS
RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 34, 7 August 2003

A two-month standoff at the Iraqi Embassy in Beijing between Iraq's former
ambassador and his staff ended on 31 July, Reuters reported on 4 August.
Muwaffaq al-Ani and his wife had holed up in the embassy on 7 June, refusing
to vacate the premises. Al-Ani had been appointed by former Iraqi President
Hussein and ordered back to Iraq by the U.S. postwar administration in June.
It is not known whether al-Ani will return to Iraq, but an unidentified
Western diplomat told Reuters, "The U.S. has requested that the Iraqi
ambassador be made PNG [persona non grata]."

Meanwhile, the de facto Iraqi ambassador in Beijing, Talal al-Khudayri, told
the news agency in a telephone interview that al-Ani is wanted in Iraq for
"armed assault" on the embassy and for preventing staff from working. "It
was approximately 55 days," al Khudayri said, adding: "We now have control
of the embassy and the ambassador's residence. Things are back to normal."
According to Reuters, al-Ani was expelled from the Philippines in 1991,
where he served as first secretary, after he was linked to an attempted
bombing of a U.S. library in Manila. (Kathleen Ridolfo)


UNSEXING OF THE PRETEXT

http://www.antiwar.com/rep/laughland18.html

*  HAS BLAIR SEXED UP SADDAM'S ATROCITIES, TOO?
by John Laughland
The Mail on Sunday, 3rd August

As Tony Blair waltzed out of his final press conference and off to Barbados
last week, he once again sidestepped crucial questions on Iraq. Indeed,
faced with the collapse of his pre war "intelligence" on Iraqi weapons of
mass destruction, Tony Blair is falling back on human rights abuses
committed by Saddam Hussein as the new justification for his war.

In the past ten days, Mr. Blair has said at least three times - including
once on the floor of the House of Commons - that the United Nations is
claiming that some 300,000 bodies lie in mass graves in Iraq, and that this
alone justifies the US-UK invasion.

In making this claim, Blair is doing with this evidence exactly what he did
with the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction.

He is stretching it to the limit, and even telling a partial untruth; he is
obscuring the bits which contradict his view of the world; and he is
attributing an authority and a reliability to the information which it does
not have.

First, the figure does not come from the United Nations. Blair has
emphasised the UN as the source, and stressed that the figures does not come
from the British or American governments. But the real source is a private
non-governmental organisation in America called Human Rights Watch. UN
officials may have lent credence to the figure by quoting it in their
speeches, but it is not an official UN figure.

Nor is it an official Red Cross figure. The International Committee of the
Red Cross is the body which is responsible in international law for
establishing the names of people missing in conflict. It is not the role of
a private, unaccountable organisation like Human Rights Watch. While Red
Cross officials in Geneva say they might privately accept it as a working
basis for evaluating the scale of their task, they absolutely refuse to give
the figure their official support. "We would not say that there are 300,000
people missing in Iraq," Antonella Notari, a spokesman, told me.

Human Rights Watch currently has two staff in Iraq. This compares with about
800 Red Cross staff, and a substantial United Nations presence. The
International Committee of the Red Cross has had people in Iraq ever since
1980, and the United Nations has had a huge operation there since the end of
the Gulf War in 1991. By contrast, Human Rights Watch has had its few staff
in the main part of Iraq only for the last few weeks.

Moreover, Blair is quite wrong to imply that the 300,000 figure (which in
any case he has inflated a little from the actual Human Rights Watch figure
of 290,000) is the numbers of people killed by Saddam. This is not even what
Human Rights Watch claims. Their report speaks of an estimated 290,000
missing, "many of whom are believed to have been killed". In other words,
their deaths have not been established, and some or all of them may still be
alive.

The methods used by Human Rights Watch to calculate these numbers are
questionable. They do not have anything like complete lists of the names of
people missing. Nor do they even seem to know how many names are on the
lists they do have. How can you claim to have reliable information about
missing people if you do not even know their names?

In the past, these methods have led to appalling exaggerations of the
numbers of people killed in conflict. In the Kosovo war of 1999, Human
Rights Watch stated categorically that the number of people killed
unlawfully by the Serbs was "certainly" more than 4,300. This was the number
of bodies which had by then been exhumed. Moreover, Human Rights Watch
claimed to have itself documented 3,453 killings, based on interviews. But
the legal indictment against Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of
Yugoslavia, refers to 564 killed, not thousands.

In fact, the Human Rights Watch figures are not even their own figures.
Instead, they come from other people. One of their main sources is the Kurds
in Northern Iraq. They can hardly be regarded as neutral observers. For the
last twenty years, the Kurds have been fighting the Iraqis for their
autonomy. In the very bloody, decade-long Iran-Iraq war, they sided with
Iran, a massive and very powerful country. The Kurds present Iraqi military
action against their forces as "genocide", which Human Rights Watch does
too.

But this presentation of the Kurds as passive victims is absurd. In 1996,
when the two Kurdish factions started to fight each other, one of them asked
Saddam to send the Iraqi army to help, which he did. Moreover, my sources
within one of the two groups, the Patriotic  Union of Kurdistan, confirm
that the PUK has its own death squads, which it uses to eliminate political
enemies. How many of these victims are being counted by Human Rights Watch
or Tony Blair?

Because the figures come from other people, even Human Rights Watch does not
present them as anything other than estimates. Although Tony Blair speaks as
if the figure has been firmly established, the actual Human Rights Watch
report is massively hedged around with qualifiers.

Caution should also be exercised because of the unreliability of eye-witness
accounts which have not been subject to judicial cross-examination. Human
Rights Watch did not start to interview the witnesses of one of the worst
alleged atrocities until between four and five years after the events. Some
of the evidence is clearly unreliable. One report quotes a man saying, "They
blindfolded us ... and then they put us in Landcruisers with shaded
windows." But how could he know the make of the car, or the colour of the
windows, if he was blindfolded? The same man claims to have escaped alive
from a mass grave, a story I have heard too many times in Kosovo to find
easy to believe.

No one would deny that huge numbers of people have died in Iraq in the last
two decades. The Iran-Iraq war claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Huge
numbers were killed by the Americans in the first Gulf War, and their bodies
were sometimes bulldozed into mass graves. Amnesty International reckons
that Saddam executed a few hundred people a year. If true, it is an
appalling level of violence - so why exaggerate it? It is, incidentally, far
lower than the rate at which we have killed Iraqi civilians in the war on
Saddam. The civilian death toll in the last few months is at least 6,000.

But people do have an extraordinary tendency to exaggerate the figures
whenever mass killing is alleged. In May, a mass grave was discovered near
the town of Hilla: the BBC correspondent, Stephen Sackur, said, "I have
personally counted 200, 300 bodies." But which had he counted? 200 or 300?
Within hours, the numbers were inflated from a few hundred to 3,000 and then
to 10,000 or 15,000. The official from Human Rights Watch alleged to me that
"tens of thousands of bodies" had already been exhumed in Iraq. But when I
pressed him on this, he had to admit that the figure was, in fact, in the
low thousands.

Tony Blair has come very close to meeting his own political death for sexing
up information about weapons. It seems that he simply cannot get out of the
habit where human rights abuses are concerned.


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EH07Ak01.html

*  INSIDER FIRES A BROADSIDE AT RUMSFELD'S OFFICE
by Jim Lobe
Asia Times, 7th August

WASHINGTON (Inter Press Service): On most days, the Pentagon's "Early Bird",
a daily compilation of news articles on defense-related issues mostly from
the US and British press, does not shy from reprinting hard-hitting stories
and columns critical of the United States Defense Department's top
leadership.

But few could help notice last week that the "Bird" omitted an opinion piece
distributed by the Knight-Ridder news agency by a senior Pentagon Middle
East specialist, Air Force Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked in the
office of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith until her
retirement in April.

"What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and
discipline," Kwiatkowski wrote. "If one is seeking the answers to why
peculiar bits of 'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or
why the post-Saddam [Hussein] occupation [of Iraq] has been distinguished by
confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside
the Office of the Secretary of Defense [OSD]."

Kwiatkowski went on to charge that the operations she witnessed during her
tenure in Feith's office, and particularly those of an ad hoc group known as
the Office of Special Plans (OSP), constituted "a subversion of
constitutional limits on executive power and a co option through deceit of a
large segment of the Congress".

Kwiatkowski's charges, which tend to confirm reports and impressions offered
to the press by retired officers from other intelligence agencies and their
still-active but anonymous former colleagues, are likely to make her a prime
witness when Congress reconvenes in September for hearings on the
manipulation of intelligence to justify war against Iraq.

According to Kwiatkowski, the same operation that allegedly cooked the
intelligence also was responsible for the administration's failure to
anticipate the problems that now dog the US occupation in Iraq, or, in her
more colorful words, that have placed 150,000 US troops in "the world's
nastiest rat's nest, without a nation-building plan, without significant
international support and without an exit plan".

Kwiatkowski's comments echo the worst fears of some lawmakers, who have
begun looking into the OSP's role in the administration's mistaken
assumptions in Iraq. Some are even comparing it to the off-the-books
operation run from the National Security Council (NSC) during the Ronald
Reagan administration that later resulted in the Iran-Contra scandal.

"That office [OSP] was charged with collecting, vetting, disseminating
intelligence completely outside the normal intelligence apparatus," David
Obey, a senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, said last month.
"In fact, it appears that the information collected by this office was in
some instances not even shared with the established intelligence agencies
and in numerous instances was passed on to the National Security Council and
the president without having been vetted with anyone other than [Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld]."

Little is known about OSP, which was originally created by Rumsfeld and his
top deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, to investigate possible links between Saddam and
Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist group. While only a dozen people
officially worked in the office at its largest, scores of "consultants" were
brought in on contract, many of them closely identified with the
neo-conservative and pro-Likud views held by the Pentagon leadership.

Headed by a gung-ho former navy officer, William Luti, and a scholarly
national-security analyst, Abram Shulsky, OSP was given complete access to
reams of raw intelligence produced by the US intelligence community and
became the preferred stop, when in town, for defectors handled by the Iraqi
National Congress (INC), led by Ahmed Chalabi.

It also maintained close relations with the Defense Policy Board (DPB),
which was then chaired by Richard Perle of the American Enterprise Institute
(AEI), Feith's mentor in the Reagan administration. Perle and Feith, whose
published views on Israeli policy echo the right-wing Likud party,
co-authored a 1996 memo for then-prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu that
argued that Saddam's ouster in Iraq would enable Israel to transform the
balance of power in the Middle East in its favor.

The DPB included some of Perle's closest associates, including former
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director James Woolsey and the former
Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, who
played prominent roles in pushing the public case that Iraq represented an
imminent threat to the United States and that it was closely tied to al
Qaeda and other terrorist networks.

In her article, Kwiatkowski wrote that OSP's work was marked by three major
characteristics:

First, career Pentagon analysts assigned to Rumsfeld's office were generally
excluded from what were "key areas of interest" to Feith, Wolfowitz and
Rumsfeld, notably Israel, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. "In terms of Israel and
Iraq, all primary staff work was conducted by political appointees; in the
case of Israel, a desk officer appointee from the Washington Institute for
Near Policy [a think tank closely tied to the main pro-Israel lobby in
Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee]."

Second, the same group of appointees tended to work with like-minded
political appointees in other agencies, especially the State Department, the
NSC, and Vice President Dick Cheney's office, rather than with those
agencies' career analysts or the CIA. "I personally witnessed several cases
of staff officers being told not to contact their counterparts at State or
the National Security Council because that particular decision would be
processed through a different channel," Kwiatkowski wrote.

The CIA's exclusion from this network could help explain why Cheney and his
National Security Advisor, I Lewis Libby, a long-time associate of
Wolfowitz, frequently visited the agency, in what analysts widely regarded
as pressure to conform to OSP assessments.

Third, this exclusion of professional and independent opinions, both within
the Pentagon and across government agencies - according to Kwiatkowski -
resulted in "groupthink", a technical term defined as "reasoning or
decision-making by a group, often characterized by uncritical acceptance of
conformity to prevailing points of view". In this case, the prevailing
points of view were presumably shaped by neo-conservatives like Feith,
Wolfowitz and Perle.

Kwiatkowski's broadside coincides with the appearance in neo-conservative
media outlets, notably the Wall Street Journal, of defenses of Feith, who is
widely seen as the Pentagon's most likely fall guy if it is forced to
shoulder blame for bad intelligence and planning. The government of British
Prime Minister Tony Blair has pressed President George W Bush to fire Feith
for several months, according to diplomatic sources.

In a lengthy defense published on Tuesday, the associate editor of the
Journal's editorial page described Feith's policy workshop as "the world's
most effective think tank".


http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/beaconjournal/news/editorial/6424570.htm

*  CAREER OFFICER DOES EYE-OPENING STINT INSIDE PENTAGON
by Karen Kwiatkowski, a recently retired Air Force Lieutenant colonel.
The Beacon journal, 31st July

After eight years of Bill Clinton, many military officers breathed a sigh of
relief when George W. Bush was named president. I was in that plurality. At
one time, I would have believed the administration's accusations of
anti-Americanism against anyone who questioned the integrity and good faith
of President Bush, Vice President Cheney or Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld.

However, while working from May 2002 through February 2003 in the office of
the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Near East South Asia and Special
Plans (USDP/NESA and SP) in the Pentagon, I observed the environment in
which decisions about post-war Iraq were made.

Those observations changed everything.

What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and
discipline. If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of
``intelligence'' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the
post-Hussein occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps,
one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary
of Defense. I can identify three prevailing themes.

 Functional isolation of the professional corps. Civil service and
active-duty military professionals assigned to the USDP/NESA and SP were
noticeably uninvolved in key areas of interest to Undersecretary for Policy
Douglas Feith, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld. These included
Israel, Iraq and to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia.

When the New York Times broke the story last summer of Richard Perle's
invitation of Laurent Muraviec to brief the Defense Policy Board on Saudi
Arabia as the next enemy of the United States, this briefing was news to the
Saudi desk officer. He even had some difficulty getting a copy of it, while
receiving assignments related to it.

In terms of Israel and Iraq, all primary staff work was conducted by
political appointees, in the case of Israel a desk officer appointee from
the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and in the case of Iraq, Abe
Shulsky and several other appointees. These personnel may be exceptionally
qualified; Shulsky authored a 1993 textbook Silent Warfare: Understanding
the World of Intelligence.

But the human resource depth made possible through broad-based teamwork with
the professional policy and intelligence corps was never established, and
apparently, never wanted by the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld organization.

 Cross-agency cliques: Much has been written about the role of the founding
members of the Project for a New American Century, the Center for Security
Policy and the American Enterprise Institute and their new positions in the
Bush administration. Certainly, appointees sharing particular viewpoints are
expected to congregate, and an overwhelming number of these appointees
having such organizational ties is neither conspiratorial nor unusual. What
is unusual is the way this network operates solely with its membership
across the various agencies -- in particular the State Department, the
National Security Council and the Office of the Vice President.

Within the Central Intelligence Agency, it was less clear to me who the
appointees were, if any. This might explain the level of interest in the CIA
taken by the Office of the Vice President. In any case, I personally
witnessed several cases of staff officers being told not to contact their
counterparts at State or the National Security Council because that
particular decision would be processed through a different channel. This
cliquishness is cause for amusement in such movies as Never Been Kissed or
The Hot Chick. In the development and implementation of war planning it is
neither amusing nor beneficial for American security because opposing points
of view and information that doesn't ``fit'' aren't considered.

 Groupthink. Defined as ``reasoning or decision-making by a group, often
characterized by uncritical acceptance or conformity to prevailing points of
view,'' groupthink was, and probably remains, the predominant characteristic
of Pentagon Middle East policy development. The result of groupthink is the
elevation of opinion into a kind of accepted ``fact,'' and uncritical
acceptance of extremely narrow and isolated points of view.

The result of groupthink has been extensively studied in the history of
American foreign policy, and it will have a prominent role when the history
of the Bush administration is written. Groupthink, in this most recent case
leading to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, will be found, I believe, to
have caused a subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and a
co-optation through deceit of a large segment of the Congress.

I am now retired. Shortly before my retirement I was allowed to return to my
primary office of assignment, having served in NESA as a desk officer
backfill for 10 months. The transfer was something I had sought, but my wish
was granted only after I made a particular comment to my superior, in
response to my reading of a February Secretary of State cable answering a
long list of questions from a Middle Eastern country regarding U.S. planning
for the aftermath in Iraq. The answers had been heavily crafted by the
Pentagon, and to me, they were remarkably inadequate, given the late stage
of the game. I suggested to my boss that if this was as good as it got, some
folks on the Pentagon's E-ring may be sitting beside Hussein in the war
crimes tribunals.

Hussein is not yet sitting before a war crimes tribunal. Nor have the key
decision-makers in the Pentagon been forced to account for the odd set of
circumstances that placed us as a long-term occupying force in the world's
nastiest rat's nest, without a nation-building plan, without significant
international support and without an exit plan. Neither may ever be required
to answer their accusers, thanks to this administration's military as well
as publicity machine, and the disgraceful political compromises already made
by most of the Congress. Ironically, only Saddam Hussein, buried under tons
of rubble or in hiding, has a good excuse.


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EH08Ak01.html

*  HOW NEO-CONS INFLUENCE THE PENTAGON ...
by Jim Lobe
Asia Times, 8th August

WASHINGTON (Inter Press Service): An ad hoc office under US Undersecretary
of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith appears to have acted as the key base
for an informal network of mostly neo-conservative political appointees that
circumvented normal inter-agency channels to lead the push for war against
Iraq.

The Office of Special Plans (OSP), which worked alongside the Near East and
South Asia (NESA) bureau in Feith's domain, was originally created by
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to
review raw information collected by the official US intelligence agencies
for connections between Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Retired intelligence officials from the State Department, the Defense
Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have
long charged that the two offices exaggerated and manipulated intelligence
about Iraq before passing it along to the White House.

But key personnel who worked in both NESA and OSP were part of a broader
network of neo-conservative ideologues and activists who worked with other
George W Bush political appointees scattered around the national security
bureaucracy to move the country to war, according to retired
Lieutenant-Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, who was assigned to NESA from May 2002
through February 2003.

The heads of NESA and OSP were Deputy Undersecretary William Luti and Abram
Shulsky, respectively.

Other appointees who worked with them in both offices included Michael
Rubin, a Middle East specialist previously with the neo-conservative
American Enterprise Institute (AEI); David Schenker, previously with the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP); Michael Makovsky; an
expert on neo-conservative icon Winston Churchill and the younger brother of
David Makovsky, a senior WINEP fellow and former executive editor of the pro
Likud Jerusalem Post; and Chris Lehman, the brother of the John Lehman, a
prominent neo conservative who served as secretary of the navy under former
president Ronald Reagan, according to Kwiatkowski.

Along with Feith, all of the political appointees have in common a close
identification with the views of the right-wing Likud Party in Israel.
Feith, whose law partner is a spokesman for the settlement movement in
Israel, has long been a fierce opponent of the Oslo peace process, while
WINEP has acted as the think tank for the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in
Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which
generally follows a Likud line.

Also like Feith, several of the appointees were proteges of Richard Perle,
an AEI fellow who doubled as chairman until last April of Rumsfeld's unpaid
Defense Policy Board (DPB), whose members were appointed by Feith, and also
had an office in the Pentagon one floor below the NESA offices.

Similarly, Luti, a retired naval officer, was a protege of another DPB board
member also based at AEI, former Republican Speaker of the House of
Representatives Newt Gingrich. Luti in turn hired retired Colonel William
Bruner, a former Gingrich staffer, and Chris Straub, a retired
lieutenant-colonel, anti-abortion activist, and former staffer on the Senate
Intelligence Committee.

Also working for Luti was another naval officer, Yousef Aboul-Enein, whose
main job was to pore over Arabic-language newspapers and CIA transcripts of
radio broadcasts to find evidence of ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam that
may have been overlooked by the intelligence agencies, and a DIA officer
named John Trigilio.

Through Feith, both offices worked closely with Perle, Gingrich and two
other DPB members and major war boosters - former CIA director James Woolsey
and Kenneth Adelman - in ensuring that the "intelligence" that they
developed reached a wide public audience outside the bureaucracy.

They also debriefed "defectors" handled by the Iraqi National Congress
(INC), an opposition umbrella group headed by Ahmed Chalabi, a long-time
friend of Perle, whom the intelligence agencies generally wrote off as an
unreliable self-promoter.

"They would draw up 'talking points' they would use and distribute to their
friends," said Kwiatkowski. "But the talking points would be changed
continually, not because of new intel [intelligence], but because the press
was poking holes in what was in the memos."

The offices fed information directly and indirectly to sympathetic media
outlets, including the Rupert Murdoch-owned Weekly Standard and FoxNews
Network, as well as the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and
syndicated columnists, such as Charles Krauthammer.

In inter-agency discussions, Feith and the two offices communicated almost
exclusively with like-minded allies in other agencies, rather than with
their official counterparts, including even the DIA in the Pentagon,
according to Kwiatkowski.

Rather than working with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and
Research, its Near Eastern Affairs bureau, or even its Iraq desk, for
example, they preferred to work through Undersecretary of State for Arms
Control and International Security (and former AEI executive vice president)
John Bolton; Michael Wurmser (another Perle protege at AEI who staffed the
predecessor to OSP); and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East
Affairs, Elizabeth Cheney, the daughter of the Vice President Dick Cheney.

At the National Security Council (NSC), they communicated mainly with
Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, until Elliott Abrams,
a dyed-in-the-wool neo conservative with close ties to Feith and Perle, was
appointed last December as the NSC's top Middle East aide.

"They worked really hard for Abrams; he was a necessary link," Kwiatkowski
told Inter Press Service on Wednesday. "The day he got [the appointment],
they were whooping and hollering, 'We got him in, we got him in'."

They rarely communicated directly with the CIA, leaving that to political
heavyweights, including Gingrich, who is reported to have made several trips
to the CIA headquarters, and, more importantly, I Lewis "Scooter" Lilly,
Dick Cheney's chief of staff and national security adviser.

According to recent published reports, CIA analysts felt these visits were
designed to put pressure on them to tailor their analyses more to the liking
of administration hawks.

In some cases, NESA and OSP even prepared memos specifically for Cheney and
Libby, something unheard of in previous administrations because the lines of
authority in the vice president's office and the Pentagon are entirely
separate. "Luti sometimes would say, 'I've got to do this for Scooter',"
said Kwiatkowski. "It looked like Cheney's office was pulling the strings."

Kwiatkowski said that she could not confirm published reports that OSP
worked with a similar ad hoc group in Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's
office. But she recounts one incident in which she helped escort a group of
half a dozen Israelis, including several generals, from the first floor
reception area to Feith's office. "We just followed them, because they knew
exactly where they were going and moving fast."

When the group arrived, she noted the book which all visitors are required
to sign under special regulations that took effect after the September 11,
2001. "I asked his secretary, 'Do you want these guys to sign in'? She said,
'No, these guys don't have to sign in'." It occurred to her, she said, that
the office may have deliberately not wanted to maintain a record of the
meeting.

She added that OSP and MESA personnel were already discussing the
possibility of "going after Iran" after the war in Iraq last January and
that articles by Michael Ledeen, another AEI fellow and Perle associate who
has been calling for the US to work for "regime change" in Tehran since late
2001, were given much attention in the two offices.

Ledeen and Morris Amitay, a former head of AIPAC, recently created the
Coalition for Democracy in Iran to lobby for a more aggressive policy there.
Their move coincided with suggestions by Sharon that Washington adopt a more
confrontational policy vis-a-vis Tehran.

Iran recently said it was prepared to turn over five senior al-Qaeda
figures, including the son of Osama bin Laden, who are currently in its
custody if Washington permanently shuts down an Iraqi-based Iranian rebel
group that is listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department.

Pentagon officials, particularly Feith's office, have reportedly opposed the
deal, which had been favored by the State Department, because of the
possibility that the group, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, might be useful in
putting pressure on Tehran.


http://www.msnbc.com/news/950224.asp#BODY

*  IS IRAQI INTEL STILL BEING MANIPULATED?
by Michael Hirsh
NEWSWEEK, 8th August

Aug. 8  His story seemed, in the beginning, a godsend for the Bush
administration. In early June, Iraqi nuclear scientist Mahdi Obeidi revealed
to CIA investigators that in 1991, just after the Persian Gulf War, he had
gone into his backyard to bury gas-centrifuge equipment used to enrich
uranium.

IT APPEARED TO be hard evidence backing up what the Bush team had maintained
all along: that Saddam Hussein had a secret nuclear-weapons program and had
hidden it so well that United Nations inspectors never would have found it
on their own. This, after all, was one of the justifications for the war
that began in March, and evidence for Vice President Dick Cheney's charge
that the Iraqis were "reconstituting a nuclear program." Obeidi also turned
over to the CIA 180 documents on Iraq's enrichment program, as well as about
200 blueprints for centrifuges.

Suddenly the Bush administration seemed about to reap one of the windfalls
it had long anticipated from the ouster of Saddam. Newly enfranchised Iraqi
scientists now felt free to speak the truth. Obeidi himself, when he was
interviewed by U.N. inspectors back in the mid-'90s, had lied outright,
denying that he had anything to do with the gas-centrifuge program, though
in fact he was in charge of it as director-general in Iraq's Ministry of
Industry and Military Industrialization. In late June, when Obeidi's tale of
the furtive burial beneath his backyard rosebush broke on CNN, White House
spokesman Ari Fleischer said "we're hopeful that this example will lead to
other Iraqi scientists stepping forward to provide information." Among those
who led the way in playing up the new revelation was David Kay, the former
U.N. inspector who is today heading the Bush administration's probe into
Iraq's WMD program. "There's no way that that would have been discovered by
normal international inspections," said Kay, then on his second day on the
job as special adviser to the CIA after spending much of the Iraq war as a
hawkish TV pundit.

But for the Bush administration, things quickly began to go wrong with the
Obeidi story. True, Obeidi said he'd buried the centrifuge equipment, as
he'd been ordered to do in 1991 by Saddam's son Qusay Hussein and son-in-law
Hussein Kamel. But he also insisted to the CIA that, in effect, that was
that: Saddam had never reconstituted his centrifuge program afterward, in
large part because of the Iraqi tyrant's fear of being discovered under the
U.N. sanctions-and-inspections regime. If true, this was a terribly
inconvenient fact for the Bush administration, after months in which
Secretary of State Colin Powell and other senior officials had alleged that
aluminum tubes imported from 11 countries were intended for just such a
centrifuge program. Obeidi denied that and added that he would have known
about any attempts to restart the program. He also told the CIA that, as the
International Atomic Energy Agency and many technical experts have said, the
aluminum tubes were intended for rockets, not uranium enrichment or a
nuclear-weapons program. And he stuck by his story, despite persistent
questioning by CIA investigators who still believed he was not telling the
full truth.

Soon, not only was Obeidi no longer a marquee name for the Bush team, he was
incommunicado. Whisked off to a safe house in Kuwait, with no access to
phones or the Internet, he waited in vain for what he thought had been
offered to him: asylum in the United States and green cards granting
permanent residency to him and his eight-member family. Former U.N.
inspector David Albright, who got to know Obeidi in the mid-'90s in Iraq and
acted as middleman in putting him in touch with the CIA in mid-May after
Operation Iraqi Freedom, spoke with him on June 29. Albright says Obeidi
told him then that he thought his asylum would be granted by early July and
was "in the final stages." But another month passed. As recently as Aug. 5,
the last time Albright spoke to him, Obeidi did not know when he would be
allowed to leave for the United States, Albright said.

Asked about the Obeidi case, CIA spokesman William Harlow said Friday, "We
don't issue green cards  We never said he was coming here. We never made a
promise." (In fact, the agency does on occasion arrange asylum for useful
informants). Later, Harlow called back to say that Obeidi was not "cooling
his heels" in Kuwait any longer and that "we're not unhappy with him." But
Harlow would not say where Obeidi had been sent or whether he had been
granted asylum in the United States. "We just don't discuss asylum cases,"
Harlow said.

Albright and others suggest that, with the Obeidi case, the message being
sent by the Bush administration to Iraqi scientists being interrogated in
Iraq is a troublesome one: if you don't tell us what we want to hear, you
won't be rewarded. In fact, things might even get a little unpleasant for
you. As Albright points out, provisional green cards can be arranged very
quickly; among those so favored, for example, was the Iraqi man who tipped
off the U.S. military to the whereabouts of Pfc. Jessica Lynch. "I think
they're just keeping him under wraps," said Albright.

The treatment of Obeidi has in turn raised questions about whether even
fresh intelligence from Iraq is being manipulated in advance of the report
being prepared by David Kay, which is intended as the definitive account of
Iraq's WMD program. One Capitol Hill legislator told NEWSWEEK that the
administration's plan is to put out a vast compilation of data about
Saddam's decades-long effort to build weapons of mass destruction and "hope
the issue will go away." And several Democrats say they are disturbed by
what Sen. Dianne Feinstein told NEWSWEEK was the "very vague and nonprecise"
nature of Kay's testimony when he appeared at closed sessions of two
congressional committees last week. "Signs of a weapons program are very
different than the stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons that were a
certainty before the war," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, ranking Democrat on
the Senate Intelligence Committee. "We did not go to war to disrupt Saddam's
weapons program, we went to disarm him." President Bush himself in late July
said Kay would require a long time to analyze "literally the miles of
documents that we have uncovered."

While suggesting that more surprises are to come, especially on biological
weapons, Kay also indicated last week that the most "amazing" evidence he
was uncovering involved not caches of weapons, but new details of efforts by
the Iraqis at deceiving U.N. inspectors. State Department spokesman Philip
Reeker, asked Friday about the allegations that the forthcoming Kay report
might amount to less than the full story, said that Kay "has been very clear
that he's doing a very thorough and methodical look at all of this."




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