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[casi] News, 10-17/9/03 (4)

News, 10-17/9/03 (4)


*  AP Staffer fact-checks Powell's UN speech - key claims didn't hold up
*  Intelligence team criticised for false impression of Iraq's WMD
*  Report reveals Blair overruled terror warning
*  No sexing up, please
*  Iraq weapons report shelved
*  Iraqi scientists say N-programme ended long ago
*  MI6 chief defends his spies
*  Blix: Iraq bluffed about WMD


*  Iraq's secret environmental horror
*  US army's detectives scour Iraqi earth for mass graves     
*  U.S. indicts son of Iraqi ex-diplomat in New York
*  Powell pays emotional visit to Halabja
*  Former Iraqi defense minister urged to surrender


*  Judge Denies Iraq Funds for 9/11 Victims
*  Iraq wants relief from Kuwait compensation     
*  Lawsuit Alleges al-Qaida Ties With Iraq


*  AP Staffer Fact-Checks Powell's UN Speech Key Claims Didn't Hold Up
Editor and Publisher, 9th September

Last month, Charles J. Hanley, special correspondent for the Associated
Press and winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2000, wrote a devastating 2,500-word
critique of claims made by Secretary of State Colin Powell in his
influential Feb. 5 speech to the United Nations on Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction. In a column published this week, E&P Editor Greg Mitchell calls
this speech the single most important moment in the march to war -- and
charges that the media's unquestioning endorsement of Powell's assertions
made invasion inevitable. Here are brief, edited excerpts from the Hanley
article (available in its entirety at

ALUMINUM TUBES: Powell said "most United States experts" believed aluminum
tubes sought by Iraq were intended for use as centrifuge cylinders for
enriching uranium for nuclear bombs. Energy Department experts and Powell's
own State Department intelligence bureau had already dissented from this CIA
view... No centrifuge program has been reported found.

REVIVED NUCLEAR PROGRAM: "We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever
abandoned his nuclear weapons program," Powell said.

On July 24, Foreign Minister Ana Palacio of Spain, a U.S. ally on Iraq, said
there was "no evidence, no proof" of a nuclear bomb program before the war.
No such evidence has been reported found since the invasion.

DECONTAMINATION VEHICLES: At two sites, Powell said trucks were
"decontamination vehicles" associated with chemical weapons.

Nothing has been reported found since... Norwegian inspector Jorn Siljeholm
told AP on March 19 that "decontamination vehicles" U.N. teams were led to
by U.S. information invariably turned out to be water or fire trucks.

BIOWEAPONS TRAILERS: Powell said defectors had told of "biological weapons
factories" on trucks and in train cars. He displayed artists' conceptions of
such vehicles.

After the invasion, U.S. authorities said they found two such truck trailers
in Iraq, and the CIA said it concluded they were part of a bioweapons
production line. But no trace of biological agents was found on them, Iraqis
said the equipment made hydrogen for weather balloons, and State Department
intelligence balked at the CIA's conclusion.

DESERT WEAPONS: According to Powell, unidentified sources said the Iraqis
dispersed rocket launchers and warheads holding biological weapons to the
western desert, hiding them in palm groves and moving them every one to four

Nothing has been reported found, after months of searching by U.S. and
Australian troops in the nearly empty desert.

ANTHRAX: Powell noted Iraq had declared it produced 8,500 liters of the
biological agent anthrax before 1991. None has been "verifiably accounted
for," he said.

No anthrax has been reported found, post-invasion. The Defense Intelligence
Agency (DIA), in a confidential report last September (five months before
the Powell speech) said that although it believed Iraq had biological
weapons it didn't know their nature, amounts, or condition.

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: Powell showed video of an Iraqi F-1 Mirage jet spraying
"simulated anthrax." He said four such spray tanks were unaccounted for, and
Iraq was building small unmanned aircraft "well suited for dispensing
chemical and biological weapons."

According to U.N. inspectors' reports, the video predated the 1991 Gulf War,
when the Mirage was said to have been destroyed, and three of the four spray
tanks were destroyed in the 1990s. No small drones or other planes with
chemical-biological capability have been reported found in Iraq since the

FOUR TONS OF VX: Powell said Iraq produced four tons of the nerve agent VX.

Powell didn't note that most of that was destroyed in the 1990s under U.N.
supervision. No VX has been reported found since the invasion. Experts at
Britain's International Institute of Strategic Studies said any pre-1991 VX
most likely would have degraded anyway.

'EMBEDDED' CAPABILITY: "We know that Iraq has embedded key portions of its
illicit chemical weapons infrastructure within its legitimate civilian
industry," Powell said.

No "chemical weapons infrastructure" has been reported found. The
recently-disclosed DIA report of last September said there was "no reliable
information" on where Iraq might have established chem-warfare facilities.

CHEMICAL AGENTS: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a
stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent," Powell

Powell gave no basis for the assertion, and no such agents have been
reported found. That same DIA report had reported "no reliable information
on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons."

CHEMICAL WEAPONS: "Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons...And we have sources
who tell us that he recently has authorized his field commanders to use
them," Powell said.

No such weapons were used in the war and none was reported found.

CHEMICAL WARHEADS: Powell said 122-mm "chemical" warheads found by U.N.
inspectors in January might be the "tip of an iceberg."

The warheads were empty, a fact Powell didn't note. No others have been
reported found since the invasion.

SCUDS, NEW MISSILES: Powell said "intelligence sources" indicate Iraq had a
secret force of up to a few dozen prohibited Scud-type missiles. He said it
also had a program to build newer, 600-mile-range missiles.

No Scud-type missiles have been reported found. No program for long-range
missiles has been reported.

by Mark Huband, Security Correspondent
Financial Times, 12th September

The joint intelligence committee was criticised for allowing imprecise
information to create a false impression about the nature of the threat from
Iraq's weapons on mass destruction.

The JIC brings together the heads of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service;
MI5, the Security Service; GCHQ, the government communications service; the
Defence Intelligence Staff, and senior officials. At the Hutton inquiry last
month John Scarlett, JIC chairman, said that he and not Downing Street had
"ownership" of the dossier. Consequently he must take ownership of the

The parliamentary intelligence and security committee sees the JIC's failure
to explain adequately and precisely convey the intelligence information used
in its September dossier as a flaw in the process that led to war.

In its 57-page report on the credibility of the intelligence and assessments
used by the government to justify the invasion of Iraq, it rejected
suggestions there had been political interference in the work of the
intelligence agencies. But the thrust of the ISC report is that the
government could and should have made its case for war more clearly and
accurately, rather than that the intelligence was weak.

In several references to the work of the JIC, the ISC details the
shortcomings of the process whereby intelligence analysed by the JIC
assessment staff was then presented to the public in the September 24

While the report stresses the difficulty of gathering reliable intelligence
in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule, it says that on the contentious issue
of whether Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes
of an order being given, "the JIC assessment did not precisely reflect the
intelligence" provided by MI6.

It is critical of the JIC's failure to make clear in the dossier that 45
minutes referred to battlefield chemical and biological weapons, and not
longer-range WMD. "The omission of the context and assessment allowed
speculation as to its exact meaning. This was unhelpful to understanding of
the issue," it said.

The report finds fault in the failure to explain in the text of the dossier
that the intelligence material regarding Iraq's chemical and biological
capacity was based on facts and deductions in which there were varying
degrees of confidence among intelligence officials.

Citing a dossier claim that Iraq "continued to produce chemical and
biological weapons", the ISC report says the phrasing "could give the
impression that Saddam was actively producing both chemical and biological
weapons and significant amounts of agents".

"However, the JIC did not know what had been produced and in what quantities
- it had assessed, based on intelligence, that production had taken place.
We believe that this uncertainty should have been highlighted to give a
balanced view of Saddam's chemical and biological capacity."

The committee recommends that "the way intelligence material is used to
inform the public needs to be reviewed . . It is vital that the JIC's and
the [security] agencies' credibility and effectiveness are not degraded or
diminished by the publication of their product".,3605,1040391,00.html

by Richard Norton-Taylor and Michael White
The Guardian, 12th September

Tony Blair was warned on the eve of war by his intelligence chiefs that an
invasion of Iraq would increase the danger of terrorist attacks, which they
considered by far the greatest threat to western interests.

The warning is disclosed in a report by parliament's intelligence committee
which contains fresh criticism of the dossier on Iraq's banned weapons
programme which the government used to make its case for action against

It says that last September intelligence chiefs distorted the threat posed
by Saddam Hussein - mainly by the sin of omission - but clears Downing
Street of "sexing up" the dossier and concludes that ministers did not
mislead parliament.

Yesterday's report discloses that in February this year, a month before the
invasion of Iraq, Whitehall's joint intelligence committee (JIC) warned that
"al-Qaida and associated groups continued to represent by far the greatest
threat to western interests, and that threat would be heightened by military
action against Iraq".

The intelligence chiefs added: "Any collapse of the Iraqi regime would
increase the risk of chemical and biological warfare technology or agents
finding their way into the hands of terrorists, including al-Qaida."

The MPs' committee reveals that it discussed the risk with Mr Blair. He
agreed there was "obviously a danger that in attacking Iraq you ended up
provoking the very thing you were trying to avoid".

However, he added: "You had to ask the question, 'Could you really, as a
result of that fear, leave the possibility that in time this developed into
a nexus between terrorism and WMD in any event?'"

The prime minister continued: "This is where you've just got to make your
judgment about this. But this is my judgment and it remains my judgment and
I suppose time will tell whether it's true or it's not true."

The committee's report criticises the September dossier for failing to admit
the paucity of hard information about Iraq's banned weapons programme and
for making claims out of context.

It says the use of the phrase "continued to produce chemical and biological
weapons" in the dossier and its foreword, signed by Mr Blair, could give a
misleading impression.

The JIC "did not know what had been produced and in what quantities", the
report says. It did not know "precisely which munitions could be deployed
from where to where".

Saddam was not considered a current or imminent threat to Britain - the most
likely chemical and biological munitions to be used against western forces
were battlefield weapons and not strategic, longer-range, ones. "This should
have been highlighted in the dossier," the parliamentary committee says.

It says the dossier should also have highlighted the point that the claim
that Iraqi forces could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45
minutes of an order also referred only to short-range, battlefield, weapons.
"The omission of the context and assessment allowed speculation as to its
exact meaning. This was unhelpful to an understanding of this issue."

The 45-minute claim - mentioned four times in the dossier, including, in the
strongest language, in the foreword - is at the heart of the row between the
government and the BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan.

In its overall judgment on the credibility of the September dossier, the
committee said: "The jury is still out on the accuracy of the intelligence,
the assessments, and therefore the dossier."

Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, and senior defence officials also come
under criticism for their "unhelpful and potentially misleading" lack of
candour about dissent within the defence intelligence service. Though Mr
Hoon never denied there had been dissent among his intelligence staff, the
committee was "disturbed" to discover that he had ordered his officials not
to tell the committee about written complaints from two intelligence
officials. The committee got to know about them only after they were
disclosed to the Hutton inquiry.

The Tories instantly called for Mr Hoon's resignation. "It is absolutely
clear that Geoff Hoon's position is quite untenable," said Tory leader Iain
Duncan Smith.

However, Ann Taylor, chair of the committee, said that "at no point in this
document do we call for his resignation".

"He did not tell us lies, he told us there had been a dispute," Tory MP
James Arbuthnot said.

Later in the Commons Mr Hoon said he had "no intention whatsoever other than
to be open and straightforward" with the MPs' committee over the Iraqi
dossier. "I regret any misunderstanding that might have arisen."

Downing Street will be comforted by other key findings in the ISC report.
"The dossier was not 'sexed up' by Alastair Campbell or anyone else," it
says, rebutting a central allegation of the initial BBC broadcast that
prompted the row. The committee "accepts" that there was no political
pressure placed on John Scarlett, chairman of the JIC, who produced the

One of five Labour members on the nine-member committee, Kevin Baron, said:
"Do not look for any deep conspiracy theory because we could not find it and
we did look."

Mr Campbell may be in the clear, but Mr Hoon, Mr Blair and John Scarlett are

The MPs' report did not pass a verdict on whether or not it was right to
invade Iraq. Five of its members voted for war, four - including Liberal
Democrat MP Alan Beith - voted against, and they sidestepped that issue to
ensure a unanimous report.

The unanimous report appears to conflict with evidence to the Hutton
inquiry, notably over the claim that no one "sexed up" the dossier. The
inquiry has heard how the language was strengthened, albeit with Mr
Scarlett's blessing.,6903,1041576,00.html

by Nick Cohen
The Observer, 14th September

The BBC story which began the hysterical confrontations which led to the
suicide of David Kelly was a story in the pure meaning of the word. Even
after it has been discredited, you can feel its emotional force. Tony Blair
arrives at Downing Street promising to clean up the corruption of the old
Conservative regime and bring in a new politics. At the beginning, only a
few cynics notice that Blair achieved power by the use of spin.

As the years pass, the ranks of the doubters grow. But Blair has a winning
formula and is constitutionally incapable of changing it. He determines to
commit an act of breathtaking audacity and spin Britain into a war. Honest
spies warn him that he mustn't mislead Parliament and the public, but,
blinded by his past success, he orders his sinister henchman, Alastair
Campbell, to instruct the intelligence services to 'sex-up' the dossier on
Saddam Hussein's arsenal. When the BBC blows the whistle, Blair's government
falls apart. The Prime Minister's reputation is destroyed by the spin which
created him.

The story had a classical appeal. What the Today programme offered was a
Shakespearean narrative. The tragic hero has a fatal flaw. His vaulting
ambition produces hubris and then, with a satisfyingly inevitability,
nemesis. The intelligence services are cast in the role of Cordelia: they
tell the truth to a man who must listen if he is to avoid calamity, but
refuses to listen because he can't escape his fate.

All sides now accept that the story was compelling but false. John Scarlett,
the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, had 'ownership' of the
dossier and denies absolutely that Campbell forced him to exaggerate the
threat. No one has unearthed evidence to contradict him. If you doubt me,
note how John Humphrys no longer tries to defend Today's reporting but
instead shouts down Ministers who point out his programme's mistake.

Unless there is a sensational twist, Lord Hutton will conclude that neither
Campbell nor any other political appointee forced the intelligence services
to include the claim that Iraq could launch chemical or biological weapons
in 45 minutes in its dossier. But the fact remains that Iraq didn't have
chemical or biological weapons to launch in 45 minutes or 45 hours or 45
days. It seems very unlikely that it had them at all, other than in penny

One of the most murderous tyrants on the planet wouldn't have accepted
defeat without firing everything he had at his enemies. Saddam went down
without the coalition troops catching a whiff of mustard gas. He couldn't
own up to his weakness and readmit UN weapons inspectors before an invading
army arrived on his borders, because the fear of being poisoned was one of
many gruesome reasons to think again he could offer to Iraqis who dreamed of
a revolution.

The Hutton inquiry and last week's report by Parliament's Intelligence
Committee show that the role of the intelligence services was more like that
of Iago or the witches in Macbeth. Far from restraining the fatally flawed
PM, they egged him on.

That last sentence needs to be qualified a little. There were many in
junior- and middle ranking positions in the intelligence services who were
uneasy with the dossier. Brian Jones, the retired analyst from the Defence
Intelligence Staff, told Hutton that he and his colleagues had concluded
that 'there was no evidence that significant production had taken place
either of chemical warfare agents or chemical weapons'.

Whatever the controversies about what he did or didn't say to journalists,
it's clear that Dr Kelly held a broadly similar view. Meanwhile, the
Intelligence Committee found that Scarlett and his colleagues were prepared
to tell the Prime Minister that an invasion of Iraq would increase the
danger of an Islamic fundamentalist attack, news he didn't want to hear.

But on the question of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the senior civil
servants and Blair's political advisers were as one. The Hutton inquiry has
shown that the old distinctions between the two become meaningless when you
get to the top of the Blair administration. If you were to black out the
names on the documents Hutton has posted on the inquiry website, readers
would be hard-pressed to know whether they were from civil servants or New
Labour advisers.

Take the warning written a week before the dossier's publication that 'we
will need to make it clear in launching the document that we do not claim
that we have evidence that he [Saddam] is an imminent threat'. It reads as
if it's from a sober civil servant who was anxious to restrain political
appointees from going too far. In fact, it was delivered by Jonathan Powell,
Blair's political appointee.

The round-robin email sent which implored the espionage bureaucracy to look
under sofas and behind filing cabinets for any scrap of information which
might bolster the government's case reads as if it has been sent by a
political appointee anxious to prod cautious civil servants into doing their
utmost to help the Prime Minister. With an air of jovial desperation, the
author accepts that the recipients have 'been around at least some of these
buoys before' but none the less is making 'a last call for any items of
intelligence' on the Iraqi nuclear and chemical programmes. As it turns out,
the plea for one last heave wasn't from Campbell or Powell but an
intelligence bureaucrat determined to pull out all the stops to help Number

The men around Blair share another characteristic - they weren't elected by
anyone. At no point has Hutton found evidence of Blair calling in his senior
Cabinet colleagues and inviting them to tell him frankly if he was making
the right decision in releasing the dossier or going for a bare-knuckle
fight with the BBC.

With the exception of Geoff Hoon, who was little more than a messenger boy,
and Jack Straw, who has nimbly skipped away from the débcle, decisions were
taken by men whose position depended entirely on the favour of the King.

As for Parliament, there were no sadder sights at the first round of the
Hutton inquiry's hearings than Donald Anderson and Andrew MacKinlay from the
Foreign Affairs Committee. Both described how they couldn't call the
witnesses Hutton was calling or see the documents he was reading.

In the overflow tent for reporters who couldn't find a seat in court,
journalists giggled when Anderson appeared on the screen and spoke of his
frustration. It took me a few moments to work out why they were laughing. He
wasn't cracking jokes or making a fool of himself. The penny dropped when I
realised they were displaying the pack's traditional contempt for weakness.
If nothing else, Hutton has shown that power in Britain lies with unelected
advisers, unelected media grandees and unelected judges. MPs, even if
members of the Cabinet, don't get a look in.

>From Blair's point of view, the court politics brought by unelected advisers
has been a disaster. Instead of confronting his opponents by saying that
Britain has been at war with Iraq since 1991, and rubbing home the point
that the UN-authorised status quo which allowed sanctions and bombing raids
but kept Saddam in power was intolerable, he and his courtiers chose to
highlight dubious intelligence.

I've argued in these columns before that the Iraq war marked a moment of
deep moral ambiguity for the liberal-Left in Britain and across the world.
Otherwise decent people were saying in effect that George W. Bush was worse
than Saddam Hussein, and refusing to give a hearing to former comrades in
Iraq who said they were talking nonsense and seeking to deny Iraqis the only
chance they had to remove the Baath Party dictatorship.

We're now in the ludicrous position where even the Iraqi Communist Party,
which hasn't previously been regarded as a tool of the CIA, is saying that
the priority for its members is to confront 'those criminal elements [from
Saddam's regime] who attempt to obstruct the reconstruction of our country
and the restoration of its sovereignty and independence'. From the Kurds in
the north to the Shia in the south, there isn't a reputable political group
which thanks Blair's opponents for presuming to speak on behalf of Iraqis.

Yet the reality of the terror the Baath Party imposed, a terror so thorough-
going it can make communists temporary allies of Bush's Republicans until
the remnants of the old regime have been suppressed, barely intrudes on the
debate in Britain. The Government is paying the price for failing miserably
to present the evidence of Saddam's barbarism. It was there in abundance and
it didn't need sexing up.


by David Leppard
Sunday Times, 14th September

BRITAIN and America have decided to delay indefinitely the publication of a
full report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction after inspectors found no
evidence that any such weapons exist.

Efforts by the Iraq Survey Group, an Anglo-American team of 1,400
scientists, military and intelligence experts, to scour Iraq for the past
four months to uncover evidence of chemical or biological weapons have so
far ended in failure.

It had been expected that a progress report would be published tomorrow but
MPs on Westminster's security and intelligence committee have been told that
even this has been delayed and no new date set.

British defence intelligence sources confirmed last week that the final
report, which is to be submitted by David Kay, the survey group's leader, to
George Tenet, head of the CIA, had been delayed and may not necessarily even
be published.

In July Kay suggested on US television that he had seen enough evidence to
convince himself that Saddam Hussein had had a programme to produce weapons
of mass destruction. He expected to find "strong" evidence of missile
delivery systems and "probably" evidence of biological weapons.

But last week British officials said they believed Kay had been
"kite-flying" and that no hard evidence had been uncovered.

The hunt for weapons is seen in London and Washington as a vital step in
convincing an increasingly sceptical public that the war was justified.
There have already been false alarms. One early suggestion, by Downing
Street and the White House, was that an unmanned plane found by UN
inspectors could have been used to spray chemical weapons. But a US air
force report leaked yesterday said such drones were primarily used for

by Charles Clover in Baghdad
Financial Times, 15th September

Throughout 12 years of sanctions and weapons inspections, Iraqi nuclear
scientists who denied the existence of a nuclear weapons programme were
accused of being bought and threatened into silence by the Iraqi regime.
Now, at last, they are free to talk without fear of repercussions and they
are still saying the same thing - that the programme was scrapped long ago.

"It was surprising to hear these things from the Americans, that we could
build a nuclear bomb in six months, while meanwhile we were sitting here
scrounging for a screwdriver," says a scientist who formerly headed a
department in "Bomb Design Group Four", and who asked not to be named.

Now that he is free to talk without fear of the regime, he admits that he
and his colleagues were instructed to lie to United Nations inspectors about
Iraq's nuclear weapons programme for about four years, starting when the
inspectors arrived in 1991, until the defection of Hussein Kamel, head of
weapons programmes and Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, in 1995.

For the past seven years, he says,they have been telling the truth: that
Iraq's nuclear weapons programme was shut down following the 1991 Gulf war
and never restarted.

"Before [Hussein Kamel's defection], we had had to sign a declaration that
we cannot tell inspectors anything about the true aims of the programmes.
Otherwise we were liable for dangerous repercussions," he says. "Afterwards,
we had to sign another declaration: if we don't tell the truth and hand over
all the documentation, then we will be punished."

He said the equipment that was not destroyed in the 1991 war was tracked
down and eliminated by inspectors from the UN and the International Atomic
Energy Agency during the first few years of UN sanctions on Iraq. If what
the scientist says is true, it will further undermine pre-war claims by the
US government that Iraq's nuclear programme was an imminent threat.

While the IAEA inspections found little to contradict Iraq's claim the
programme was defunct, the US continued to sound the alarm before the war
over Iraq's nuclear capability.

"We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear
weapons programme," said Colin Powell, US secretary of state, to the UN
Security Council on February 5. "On the contrary, we have more than a decade
of proof that he remains determined to acquire nuclear weapons."

However, not all scientists appear to have followed the instructions to hand
over prohibited equipment, either because of personal decisions or because
they were singled out as exceptions.

Mahdi Obeidi, a nuclear scientist, told inspectors in May he had buried
parts for a gas centrifuge under his rose garden at the request of Qusay
Hussein, son of the dictator. IAEA investigators said the burial was
evidence that the programme had not been restarted but US officials said
this might have indicated a plan to begin the nuclear programme again after
sanctions were lifted.

"I honestly don't know what [Mr Obeidi] was thinking," says the scientist,
who believes his former colleague to be outside Iraq now.

One thing that still puzzles experts is why Mr Hussein should have gone to
such lengths to prevent scientists from travelling outside Iraq and not to
co-operate more with the inspections if Iraq had nothing to hide.

The scientist says one reason is the number of Iraqi defectors who, he says,
made exaggerated claims to US authorities.

On July 31 2002, Khidir Hamza, a former nuclear scientist who defected to
the US in 1994, told the US Senate foreign relations committee: "With a
workable design and most of the needed components for a nuclear weapon
already tested and in working order, Iraq is in the final stages of putting
together its enrichment programme to enrich enough uranium for the final
component needed in the nuclear core."

The scientist dismisses Mr Hamza's information as untrue. "To tell the
truth, we all thought the reason these defectors made these claims was
because the Americans made them do it," he says.

Mr Hamza, who has apparently returned to Baghdad, could not be reached for

Others have speculated that many Iraqi defectors had trumped up their own
importance and claims to become more attractive candidates for asylum in the

According to news reports, the Central Intelligence Agency has begun an
investigation into whether it was duped by bogus defectors.

by Bob Sherwood
Financial Times, 15th September

The head of the Secret Intelligence Service made an unprecedented, and
unannounced, appearance by audio link at the Hutton inquiry on Monday to
defend his spies' intelligence gathering and denounce David Kelly for
discussing such sensitive material.

Sir Richard Dearlove - known as "C" - insisted the claim that Iraq could
launch chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes was accurate but
was "misinterpreted" by the public and media.

Sir Richard also said Mr Kelly's remarks about the disputed Iraq arms
dossier to the BBC reporter Susan Watts were "off the mark". He added: "I am
shocked to see someone discussing one of the CX [intelligence] reports -
which is what he was discussing - with a journalist without authorisation .
. . It is a serious breach of discipline."

The spymaster, whose service is more popularly known as MI6, has never made
such a public announcement. His face was not shown on the inquiry's computer
screens even to the lawyers involved, and he said that it was only the
exceptional circumstances of the inquiry that had compelled him to comment
publicly on the status of an intelligence source.

Sir Richard was pressed by James Dingemans, the inquiry's counsel, over the
"45-minute claim" which is at the centre of the BBC allegations that the
government exaggerated its case against Iraq in the run-up to war.

He immediately replied: "Can I just say you used the word 'claim'? I would
prefer to refer to it as a piece of well-sourced intelligence."

He broke with SIS practice to confirm that the source for the 45-minute
claim was an "established and reliable source quoting a senior Iraqi
military officer who was certainly in a position to know this information".

Questioned whether the 45-minute claim had been given "undue prominence",
Sir Richard appeared to concede the criticism levelled at the dossier last
week by the Commons' intelligence and security committee that the claim
lacked context.

He said: "I think, given the misinterpretation that was placed on the
'45-minute' intelligence, with the benefit of hindsight you can say that is
a valid criticism but I am confident the intelligence was accurate and that
the use made of it was entirely consistent with the original report."

Pressed by Lord Hutton on what he meant, he added: "The original report
referred to chemical and biological munitions and that was taken to refer to
battlefield weapons. I think what subsequently happened in the reporting was
that it was taken that the 45 minutes applied, let's say, to weapons of a
longer range, not just battlefield material."

But he dismissed criticism that the information was only from a single
source, saying: "Much high-quality intelligence which is factual or proved
to be factual is single source material."

Aljazeera, from AFP, 17th September

Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix believes that Iraq got rid of
its weapons of mass destruction 10 years ago.

Blix, who repeatedly disputed US claims that Saddam Hussein  had chemical
and biological weapons, told the Australian national radio that the deposed
Iraqi ruler possibly pretended to have an arsenal only as a deterrent.

"I am certainly more and more to the conclusion that Iraq has, as they
maintained, destroyed all almost of what they had in the summer of 1999,"
Blix said.

Asked if it was likely that Iraq has not had weapons of mass destruction for
at least 10 years, Blix said it could be right.

"You see, if they didn't have anything after 1991, there must be some
explanation why they behaved as they did. They certainly gave the impression
that they were denying access and so forth," he said.

"I mean, you can put up a sign on your door, Beware of the Dog, without
having a dog," Blix said

Blix's latest comments are sure to fuel further the controversy over Iraqi

Though the US and its allies invaded Iraq on the pretext that it had
chemical and biological weapons, nothing has been found even months after
the war ended.


Singapore Straits Times, 13th September

HORROR stories of all types have emerged in Iraq since the fall of Saddam
Hussein. But it wasn't only people who were horrifically abused; Iraq's
environment was tormented as well.

In the early 1970s, a major methyl mercury poisoning catastrophe occurred in
which an estimated 10,000 people died and 100,000 were severely and
permanently brain-damaged. Saddam's regime was largely successful in
suppressing information on the event.

The problem began in the late 1960s, when Iraq experienced a series of
abysmal harvests. It began importing 'wonder wheat' from Mexico. The risk
however was that the seed might grow mouldy during the long, humid ocean
transport to Iraq if it was not dressed with some fungicide.

Methyl mercury became the most cost-effective fungicide. It had recently
been banned in Scandinavia and several American states due to environmental
and toxicological risks, so the world market was flooded and prices dropped.

The wheat seeds were thus dressed with methyl mercury and sent to Basra in
Iraq's south. Because the shipment arrived late, trucks and trains that had
been at hand were reassigned. So, it took another couple of months before
the grain reached the farmers.

By then, the sowing season was long over. Farmers were left with a pink
grain that they were told not to eat, only to plant. But recent harvests had
been lousy and farmers had little or nothing to feed their animals and

Some began feeding the grain to chickens or sheep to see if there were any
side effects. Nothing happened for weeks. So, some gave the grain to old
grandfathers and grandmothers, who also didn't drop dead instantly.

At that point, it seems, most farmers began giving the grain to their
livestock and eating it themselves. Children supposedly liked the pink

But within half a year or so, bad things started to happen. Hospitals were
flooded with patients showing symptoms of damage to the central nervous
system. At first, doctors had no idea what the cause was. Some suspected an
epidemic of 'brain fever' of some sort. Others more accurately pointed to
methyl mercury.

A small group of international experts on mercury were called in. I went as
a World Health Organisation staff member. We confirmed that it was methyl
mercury poisoning through contaminated food.

But what food had been contaminated? Bread could be and sometimes was. Grain
was fed to chicken, sheep and cows, so meat, milk, cheese, and butter became
contaminated. To avoid problems, I ate only dates and American corned beef
canned in 1941 and 1942 for the United States Army.

When the imported grain was identified as the cause of the poisoning, Iraq's
government acted decisively. Farmers were ordered to hand over all remaining
supplies within a fortnight. To stress the urgency, a death penalty for
possessing pink grain after that date was declared.

But most farmers had no access to radio, television or daily newspapers. By
the time most learned about the order and the penalty, the two weeks had
passed and the army had started to execute those found to be still in
possession of the grain. So, the farmers dumped grain wherever they could -
along roadsides, in irrigation canals and in rivers.

Fish soon became contaminated, as did migratory birds. One father of a
family with several poisoned members, and without any traditional food left,
stood in his doorway praising Allah for having made these birds easy to
catch when they had nothing else to eat.

At hospitals throughout the country, doctors concluded that there was
nothing they could do. There is no real treatment for methyl mercury

In rural Iraq, the tradition is that a person preferably should die at home
with his family around. Thus, when they saw and heard that doctors couldn't
help, people brought their sick family members home.

The official figures that put the number of deaths from methyl mercury
poisoning at 6,500 people only cover those who died in hospital. The real
number is certainly far higher.

The crisis provided doctors with some greater understanding of how to detect
methyl mercury poisoning. 'Quiet baby syndrome', for example, when mothers
praise their babies for never crying, is now considered a warning sign for
methyl mercury-induced brain damage in children.

Treatment, too, has changed in the wake of the mass poisoning. The agents
traditionally used to speed up excretion of inorganic metals from poisoned
patients turned out to aggravate symptoms of methyl mercury poisoning.

Through tricks and threats, Iraq's fallen dictatorship largely succeeded in
keeping this tragedy under cover.

Now, the story can be told. But whether anything can and will be done to
belatedly help the victims is very much an open question.

Arne Jernelov, a professor of environmental biochemistry in Vienna, is a UN
expert on environmental catastrophes

Jordan Times, 15th September
AL RADWANIA, Iraq (AFP) ‹ "This looks like a tibia," said Special Agent
Scott Russ, scraping brown earth from a piece of bone he found Sunday at a
site just south of Baghdad. For Russ and his partners, the hunt for mass
graves in Iraq is a piecemeal affair.

The men from the US army's detective unit were given information that the
bodies of people executed by the former regime were buried at Al Radwania
jail, which once sat within the compound of a police station.

Russ and his colleagues belong to the military's Criminal Investigation
Command, generally known as the CID. There are several hundred of them in
Iraq, inspecting mass graves, probing bomb attacks on soldiers and
investigating serious crime involving the army.

"We didn't expect this," said CID spokesman Marc Raimondi, surveying the
heaps of rubble and the collapsed buldings that are all that remain of the
compound. "Looks like the US air force paid a lot of attention to this

An estimated 300,000 to half a million people were put to death by Saddam
Hussein's regime, beginning in 1979, according to officials from the US-led
Coalition Provisional Authority.

Some people linked to the mass executions were arrested in post war

But the coalition is only now beginning in-depth investigations and
officials say they do not want to make further arrests before judicial
processes are in place.

But the evidence-gathering continues apace until those processes are set up.

The information the CID was acting on here at Al Radwania said the bodies
were buried near the front of the prison. But working out what was the front
was impossible in this devastation.

The eight-man team, protected by a dozen soldiers securing the perimeter of
the site, fanned out to check the grid coordinates they were given for
possible grave sites.

Nothing turned up at any of them.

But a local farmer came and told the soldiers he knew where some bodies were
buried. Special Agent Jerry Luedecking loaded the man onto a Humvee and
drove him to the spot on a nearby stretch of wasteland.

Out came the spades and within minutes the special agents had uncovered some
bones, including the tibia leg bone, and bits of clothing which he placed on
a sheet of black plastic to be taken away and analysed in laboratories.

"It's just old-fashioned detective work," said Luedecking, an army reservist
who works as a police officer in a crime laboratory back home in Kalamazoo,

A bullet was found, and as the soldiers dug deeper, more fleshless bones
turned up along with parts of a skull. Three femur leg bones were dug up,
revealing that at least two people were buried here.

By the United Nations' definition, three bodies constitute a mass grave.

"You can see ... that the wound was inflicted from the inside," said Russ,
holding up a piece of skull. "Most probably a bullet wound."

As the soldiers shovelled and scraped, another man drove up and said,
through one of the army's translators, that he could take them to a site
where hundreds were buried.

"I used to watch them take people out of the prison and truck them over the
road to this site," said the man, who gave his name as Mukaram Subhai
Shokat. "It was after the 1991 uprising. They were bringing them in from
morning till night."

But the ground at the place ‹ a bombed out air defence radar site ‹ was
scattered with what looked like car batteries but, said the soldiers, could
be mines.

"We're going to call for explosives people and engineering support," said
Russ, adding that the digging there would have to wait for another day.

RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 38, 15 September 2003

A second son of a former Iraqi diplomat in New York has been indicted on
charges of aiding Iraqi intelligence officials in locating Iraqi dissidents
in the U.S. that were hostile to the Hussein regime, reported on
6 September. According to federal prosecutors, Wisam Numan al-Anbuge, 24,
was indicted. His older brother, Raed, was charged in April with failing to
register with the U.S. Justice Department as a foreign agent after it was
discovered that he had been working for Iraqi intelligence since January
2001. The reported that the elder brother had met with Iraqi
intelligence officers posted to the Iraqi mission in New York City and had
identified dissidents for them. According to the Wisam al-Anbuge indictment,
the younger brother was charged after it was discovered that he provided
Iraqi intelligence officials with information on the location of two
dissidents in 2001. He also is alleged to have lied to FBI officials about
his activities. Both men pled "not guilty" to the charges. The father of the
men, Rukan al-Anbuge, served as a diplomat in New York in the 1990s.
(Kathleen Ridolfo)

Lebanon Daily Star, 16th September

US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday honored thousands of Kurds
gassed by ousted President Saddam Hussein's forces 15 years ago, as violence
surged elsewhere in Iraq with the killing of another US soldier and an Iraqi
police chief.

In Halabja, 130 kilometers east of Kirkuk, Powell and US civil administrator
Paul Bremer held talks with Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan, and Massoud Barzani, chief of the Kurdistan Democratic Party,
which share power in the region.

Powell was warmly welcomed in the town, where about 5,000 people perished in
1988 when the Iraqi Army unleashed poison gas in retaliation for a Kurdish

Children thronged the streets while the crowd held aloft portraits of US
President George W. Bush and banners emblazoned with the words: "Our
liberators are welcome."

At a poignant ceremony, with hundreds of relatives of those who died
present, Powell stood flanked by Talabani, Barzani, Bremer and PUK member
Barham Saleh.  Addressing the crowd, Powell said: "This town is marked in
history forever. The world should have acted sooner. What happened here in
1988 is never to happen again.

"'Chemical Ali' is in jail," he added, referring to Ali Hassan al-Majid, the
man believed to have ordered the attack and who was captured last month. "He
will stay in jail until an Iraqi court decides his fate," .

Talabani replied: "We are very proud to be your allies in your struggle
against tyranny. Now we have good chance to achieve a democratic Iraq."

Leaving Iraq Monday evening, Powell arrived in Kuwait City, where he was
expected to meet the Kuwaiti foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed Sabah
al-Salem al-Sabah.

He told journalists there that the US will keep trying to overcome the
objections of Kurdish politicians to accepting Turkish troops as part of a
multinational force in Iraq.

"There are, let me put this delicately, serious sensitivities associated
with Turkish troops. Nevertheless we are going to continue to discuss it,"
he said.


Houston Chronicle, (from AP), 16th September

MOSUL, Iraq -- The commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division has
promised to treat Saddam Hussein's fugitive defense minister with "utmost
dignity and respect" if he surrenders.

The offer, made in a letter dated Aug. 28 by Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, was
in response to a request by Sultan Hashim Ahmed's family and tribal chiefs
that Ahmed's name be removed from America's list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis in
return for his surrender.

"I offer you a simple, yet honorable alternative to a life on the run from
coalition forces in order to avoid capture, imprisonment and loss of honor
and dignity befitting a general officer," Petraeus said in the letter, which
was shown to The Associated Press by an Iraqi mediator.

Giving Ahmed special treatment could be an effort to defuse the continuing
guerrilla-style attacks taking a heavy toll on American soldiers. Many
attackers are thought to be former Iraqi soldiers who melted into the
civilian population after Saddam was ousted. Seeing their former military
leader treated well by the Americans, such thinking runs, could encourage
them to lay down their arms.

Also, there were reports before and during the American-led invasion that
Ahmed was actually cooperating with the Americans. That was never confirmed.

"I officially request your surrender to me. In return, I will accept this
from you in person," the letter says. "You have my word that you will be
treated with the utmost dignity and respect, and that you will not be
physically or mentally mistreated while under my custody. As a sign of good
faith, I will personally ensure that my staff will attend to any medical
conditions you have."

Master Sgt. Kelly Tyler, spokeswoman for the 101st, said she was not aware
of the letter, but said the division has written to other wanted Iraqis
seeking their surrender. Before the U.S. invasion, there were rumors that
Ahmed had fallen out of favor with Saddam and was under house arrest.
Spokesmen for Saddam's government denied that.

Dawood Bagistani, a human rights activist in Mosul, is mediating between the
Americans and Ahmed's family. Bagistani, a Kurd, also wrote to President
Bush this month, asking him to remove Ahmed from the list.

"This man has not done any crime," the letter said. He added that his
investigation found no complaints against Ahmed by the Iraqi people.

"If we were not certain of his innocence, we wouldn't have intervened,"
Bagistani said in an interview. He said Ahmed was liked by all groups --
Kurds, Arabs, Christians and Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Bagistani said he would go on local TV on Tuesday night to tell Ahmed the
Americans had agreed to take his name off the most-wanted list if he
surrendered. The offer, Bagistani said, would call for Ahmed to be kept in
U.S. custody only long enough for him to be thoroughly questioned. He could
then return to normal life without prosecution by the Americans.

There was no confirmation from U.S. officials.

Bagistani said Petraeus' letter to Ahmed was in "so many words, an
acceptance of his family's condition for his surrender."

He said his organization and the U.S. Army were still awaiting a response
from Ahmed and his family to Petraeus' offer.

"I think it is going to be OK. His family, his brothers want this to end
peacefully. But they are afraid that the Americans may renege on their
promise. They think the U.S. is like the previous regime or those of other
Middle Eastern countries."

The Americans have an idea where Ahmed is hiding, Bagistani said, adding
that if Ahmed took too long to respond, they might try to take him by force,
possibly resulting in his death or injury.

One of the senior leaders of the al-Tai tribe to which Ahmed belongs said if
Ahmed's name was removed from the list, the tribe would invite the Americans
to a big party and slaughter 150 sheep in their honor.

In the letter, Petraeus acknowledged Ahmed's reputation.

"I understand that you are the most respected senior military leader
currently residing in Mosul. Your reputation as a man of honor and integrity
is known throughout the country," he said.

He even struck a note of camaraderie with his fellow army officer.

"Although we find ourselves on different sides of this war, we do share
common traits. As military men, we follow the orders of our superiors. We
may not necessarily agree with the politics and bureaucracy, but we
understand unity of command and supporting our leaders in a common and just
cause," Petraeus said.

"However, the collapse of your regime necessitates your thoughtful
reconsideration of support. I am concerned that your perceived resistance to
the Coalition's efforts to bring back this country's honor is detrimental
and will result in further and needless loss of lives," he added.

He warned, however, that the U.S. Army was "resolute" and would "do all that
is necessary to ensure that we achieve our objectives."


Las Vegas Sun, 11th September

NEW YORK (AP) - A judge ruled Thursday that families of Sept. 11 victims
cannot tap into Iraqi funds frozen by the United States at the start of the
first Gulf War because the money will be spent to reconstruct war-torn Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Harold Baer issued the decision after family members
sought to freeze some of the $1.7 billion in funds - which the Bush
administration has already started to use to help pay for Iraq's revival -
to satisfy an earlier court ruling saying Iraq owed the families $63.5

Baer said the law gave him little choice but to deny the request even though
it may mean that the families are denied the only available source to
satisfy the judgment.

"The government contends that these funds ... are needed to rebuild Iraq,"
Baer wrote. "That need is clear, nonetheless one wonders whether American
families who lost loved ones as a result of terrorism here and abroad ought
not be compensated first."

Earlier this year, Baer had concluded that Iraq aided Osama bin Laden's
terror network prior to Sept. 11, 2001, when roughly 3,000 people died in
attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a hijacked plane that
crashed in Pennsylvania.

Baer said lawyers for two victims "have shown, albeit barely ... that Iraq
provided material support to bin Laden and al-Qaida."

James Beasley, a Philadelphia lawyer for the families, did not immediately
return a telephone message for comment.

The ruling stemmed from lawsuits brought on behalf of the estates of George
Eric Smith, 38, a senior business analyst for SunGard Asset Management, and
Timothy Soulas, 35, a senior managing director and partner at Cantor
Fitzgerald Securities. Both men worked at the World Trade Center.

A 1996 law permits lawsuits against countries identified by the State
Department as sponsors of international terrorism.

Jordan Times, 14th September

BAGHDAD (AFP) ‹ Iraq wants donors at a conference in Madrid next month to
resolve the issue of compensation to Kuwait, cut its foreign debt load and
provide much-needed funds for reconstruction.

The October 23-24 conference is expected to create a multi-donor trust fund
for Iraq, through which reconstruction funds would be channelled, according
to the European Commission. The meeting will be attended by the United
States, the European Union, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, the World Bank,
the International Monetary Fund as well as the Coalition Provisional
Authority (CPA) and Iraq's interim Governing Council.

"We need a solution to the issue of compensation decreed by Security Council
resolution 1483," Mahdi Al Hafez, Iraq's planning minister told AFP Friday.

Under the resolution, Iraq was ordered to pay Kuwait five per cent of its
oil revenue as compensation for its August 1990 invasion and its seven-month
occupation of the emirate.

Baghdad has already paid $19 billion of the $50 billion already approved
under the scheme set up in 1991 and further payments would "put a heavy and
an unjustified financial burden on the Iraqi economy because the Iraqi
people is not responsible for the crimes of the previous regime," said

He said claims by Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti individuals and companies affected
by the first Gulf war have reached about $300 billion.

Another burden for Iraq is its foreign debt, estimated by international
organisations to total $130 billion of which $80 billion is original debt
and $50 billion is debt service built up over the past 20 years.

Hafez wants the international community to reduce this debt and cancel part
of it through new agreements.

Last week World Bank President James Wolfensohn said an accord over Iraq's
external debt was needed as soon as possible to decide which part of it
would be cancelled and what would be restructured.

Las Vegas Sun, 15th September

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration's claims of ties between Saddam
Hussein's regime and al-Qaida terrorists are being tested in federal court,
where the family of the FBI's late counterterrorism chief has sued Iraq over
the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings.

The wife and children of John O'Neill, who died in the attack on the World
Trade Center, allege that Iraq began communicating with al-Qaida as early as
1992, provided training to Osama bin Laden's warriors and sent intelligence
agents to work with the terror network in Afghanistan.

The suit accuses Iraq of complicity in the Sept. 11 attacks by providing
support to terrorists, and seeks $1 billion in damages.

The Associated Press reported over the weekend, based on interviews with
intelligence officials, that the Bush administration has evidence of
contacts between Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaida but no proof of direct
Iraqi sponsorship of al-Qaida attacks.

The evidence, the sources said, includes statements by Iraqi defectors and
al-Qaida prisoners that Iraqi intelligence provided al-Qaida with training
in document forgery and chemical and biological weapons in a series of
contacts that spiked in 1996, and again after 1998.

In its lawsuit, which was filed quietly last month in U.S. District Court,
the O'Neill family says its information was gleaned from documents uncovered
in Afghanistan and Iraq as recently as a few months ago, as well as
information from interrogations of al-Qaida and Iraqi prisoners.

For instance, the lawsuit alleges that bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman
al-Zawahri, visited Baghdad in 1992 and 1998, and that contact between Iraq
and al-Qaida increased markedly in 1998, the year the terror network bombed
two U.S. embassies in Africa.

"Documents recently found in the bombed headquarters of the Mukhabarat,
Iraq's intelligence service, reveal that an al-Qaida envoy was invited
clandestinely to Baghdad in March 1998," the lawsuit states. "The documents
reveal that the purpose of the meeting was to establish a relationship
between Baghdad and al-Qaida based on their mutual hatred of American and
Saudi Arabia."

Bush administration officials declined comment on the O'Neill suit. A
recently retired intelligence officer who was friends with O'Neill says he
fears the family's suit contains rumors and hearsay that have not been
corroborated by intelligence.

"John O'Neill was a true American patriot. But given what we know about the
alleged Iraq-al Qaida connection, my concern is that his family is now being
taken advantage of," former National Security Council official Roger Cressey

But one of the family's attorney said all the allegations will be proven in
court. "We can substantiate through witnesses and documents all the
allegations," said attorney Joshua Ambush, who has helped other families in
successful lawsuits involving terrorism.

The lawsuit says, without citing a source, that two of bin Laden's senior
military commanders, Muhammed abu-Islam and Abdullah Qassim, visited Baghdad
in April and May 1998 to meet with Qusay Hussein, one of Saddam's sons.

The suit also claims that bin Laden then sent al-Zawahri, his top deputy, to
meet with Iraqi officials, including then-Vice President Taha Yassin
Ramadan. During his stay, al-Zawahri went to an Iraqi military base and a
suspected nuclear and chemical weapons facility near al-Fallujah, Iraq, the
suit alleges.

The suit does not identify its source of information for al-Zawahri's 1998
visit to Baghdad, but cites information from a specific captive as evidence
that the same bin Laden deputy met in 1992 with Iraqi intelligence in

"An Iraqi serving with the Taliban who fled Afghanistan in fall of 2001 was
captured in Kurdistan and has corroborated this meeting and confirmed that
Iraqi contacts with al Qaida began in 1992," the suit states. It identifies
the captive as Abu Iman al-Maliki.

O'Neill was one the FBI's top terrorism experts, leading investigations into
such attacks as the 2000 USS Cole bombing. He left the FBI shortly before
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks over an investigation into his loss of a
briefcase with sensitive FBI documents. He accepted a job as chief of
security at the World Trade Center in New York City and was in the towers
when they collapsed.

The family's lawsuit alleges documents recovered in Iraq show that three
employees of the al-Jazeera Arab TV network "received substantial funding
from the Iraqi regime in exchange for acting as a liaison between Iraq and

"One document reveals that al-Jazeera passed letters from Osama bin Laden to
Saddam Hussein," the suit states.

Al-Jazeera has denied aiding bin Laden or his network, although one of its
correspondents was recently arrested in Spain on terrorism charges.

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