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Iraq and 9-11

Posted by Ed Davis, DPM on 3/07/03 at 14:45 (112158)

March 07, 2003
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Friday, March 7, 2003 1:57 p.m. EST
CIA's Woolsey Tells Court: Iraq Involved in 9/11

Former CIA Director James Woolsey offered bombshell testimony this week in a lawsuit brought by the families of World Trade Center victims that implicates Saddam Hussein in the 9/11 attacks.

The one-time Clinton administration intelligence chief described what he said was a conspiracy between al-Qaeda and Baghdad. As evidence he offered accounts from Iraqi defectors who have described a Boeing 707 jet parked on the ground at the terrorist training camp Salman Pak. The plane, the eyewitnesses insist, was used as a hijacking school prior to 9/11.

Since 1995 Saddam's most elite terror operatives had allegedly used Salman Pak to train al-Qaeda recruits to overcome U.S. flight crews using methods employed on 9/11, according to London's Observer newspaper. In November 2001, dozens of other reports, including several in the New York Times, covered news of Saddam's Salman Pak hijacking school based on the defectors' accounts.

'I believe it is definitely more likely than not that some degree of common knowledge between [al-Qaeda and Iraq] was involved here,' Woolsey told a Manhattan federal court on Monday, according to the New York Daily News.

He compared the relationship between Baghdad and Osama bin Laden's terror network to two Mafia families 'who hate each other, kill each other from time to time but are still capable of working together against a common enemy,' according to testimony quoted by the Associated Press.

At the very least, Saddam Hussein is guilty of aiding and abetting the activities of al-Qaeda, Woolsey contended.

He also offered evidence suggesting that Baghdad had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

A July 21, 2001, article in an Egyptian newspaper, headlined 'America, an Obsession with Osama bin Laden,' indicated that Baghdad knew what was coming less than months later, the former U.S. intelligence chief told the court. The report, written by an Iraqi, predicted bin Laden would target both New York City and the Pentagon.

Woolsey noted a line in the story warning that bin Laden would 'strike America on the arm that is already hurting,' explaining that the phrase was likely a reference to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

No Iraqi journalist would write such a report without his government's knowledge and approval, Woolsey testified.

Read more on this subject in related Hot Topics:
Saddam Hussein/Iraq

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Re: Iraq and 9-11

Sharon W on 3/07/03 at 15:05 (112163)

Dr. Ed,

Do you think it could be true that Saddam has said if the US and Britain attack Iraq again he will send out Iraqui troops in US and British uniforms to attack Iraqui cilillians, thus further darkening the world's perceptions of us?

I caught that 'sound bite' from a news report that I hadn't been paying much attention to, and I didn't catch the source of the comment -- but I wondered if it could be true, would Saddam actually DO that to his own loyal citizens, just to (further) manipulate the world press?

That comment was heard out of context, so I HOPE I misunderstood!!


Re: Iraq and 9-11

Carole C in NOLA on 3/07/03 at 16:34 (112170)

That's enough to send chills up and down one's spine. If it is still possible for the US to gain the support we deserve, this revelation will do it.

Carole C

Re: Iraq and 9-11

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/07/03 at 16:45 (112172)


I heard the same thing. When you consider that he has executed many of his own people including use of chemical and biologic agents against ethnic minorities in his own country, I would not be surprised if he would do this. He is a tyrant that can be compared to some of the worst in history, limited only by his countries military capabilities and the will of the West to contain him. He has tried for nuclear weapons before, only to be stopped by the Israelis and have no doubt that he will try for them again. Containment then, will be extremely dangerous.

It is great to be for 'peaceful solutions' but there really is little to negotiate with a tyrant who has little respect for human life. Not only Saddam, but the world, and other tyrants must see that we are resolute in our goal to promote freedom, democracy and human rights.

Re: Iraq and 9-11

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/07/03 at 21:57 (112212)

A good overview of the situation:
Random Gleanings

Pollack's Case for Invasion
Article date: 02/28/03

Eric Miller
Senior Contributor, bankstocks.com
(email removed)

More by this Author...

Many are exhausted by the issue of Iraq and understandably so, as the topic has gone on for a long time, and has come to dominate people's thinking both on Wall Street and Main Street. But even as a final countdown approaches, a clear resolution to the crisis may prove elusive, even with the best possible military outcome. World and domestic opinions have polarized and emotion levels are running high, with rational discussion frequently absent. A major contribution to mature discussion is The Threatening Storm (Council on Foreign Relations), published last year by Kenneth Pollack. Hailed by Bill Keller of The New York Times as the most influential book on foreign policy in years, it was also characterized by The Economist (12/14), as the book to be read before listening to anyone else on the subject.

What are the author's credentials? Pollack spent seven years in the Central Intelligence Agency as a Persian Gulf analyst, and was one of the few to predict the invasion of Kuwait. He was also the primary author of the CIA's history of that invasion. A graduate of Yale and the holder of a doctorate from MIT, Pollack was the Olin Senior Fellow of National Security Studies for the Council on Foreign Relations at the time that he authored the book. He is now serving as the Director of Research for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He previously served on the National Security Council under President Clinton from 1995 to 1996 and again from 1999 to 2000.

Reluctant Warrior
The book's subtitle is 'The Case for Invading Iraq,' yet Pollack came to his current conclusion reluctantly. While many of his arguments seem to mirror the rhetoric of the Bush administration, Pollack offers a number of criticisms of U.S. policy over the last 15 years. He is far more critical of the policies and perfidy of the French, Russians, and Chinese for their roles over the last decade in undermining the resolve of the United Nations. Pollack's book painstakingly details the history of Iraq, the mindset of Saddam Hussein, and the pros and cons of five key policy options: containment, deterrence, covert action, the Afghan approach, and invasion.

Pollack calls this our last chance to stop Iraq, and says that a war today would be much less costly and risky than an inevitable conflict with Hussein down the road. Pollack strongly fears that Hussein will not be deterred, and that it is reckless to assume he can be. Other policy options pose a greater risk than war.

A Brief History
Hussein came to power in Iraq in the early 1970s and assumed the presidency in 1979. Following the model of his idol, Joseph Stalin, he cruelly and relentlessly purged his opposition early on and continues to do so right up to this day. In his first purge, he forced a confession from an opponent at a party meeting, then read the names of 54 others sitting in the room, alleging their conspiracy against him. Hussein had each dragged out by guards to confront a kangaroo court. They were then dispatched by a firing squad consisting of the other high officials whose names hadn't been called.

As Saddam eliminated his internal opposition, external checks on him weakened. The British had withdrawn from east of Suez, and the U.S. relied on its proxy in the region, the Shah of Iran. Hussein invaded Iran in 1980, after the Shah's overthrow, in the hope of winning what was then 20% of the world's oil reserves. The U.S. tilted toward Iraq in the war as the lesser of two evils, and didn't interfere when Iraq used chemical weapons against the Iranians in 1983, and against its own Kurds in 1988.

Bankrupted By War
The eight-year war cost Iraq the equivalent of 18 million Americans killed or wounded, and distorted and virtually bankrupted its economy. The U.S. tried to turn Saddam into a regional ally from 1988 to 1990, but he distrusted our intentions, and Israel's. It was at this point that Saddam attempted to build a uranium enrichment facility.

The first Bush administration decided on a hands-off policy, and Hussein invaded Kuwait in August of 1990 with the purpose of snaring its huge treasure chest. After a lightning victory, he moved his troops to the border of Saudi Arabia. Pollack asserts that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Hussein expected an American military response to his invasion of Kuwait, but thought that he could thwart the light military effort that he expected the U.S. to mount, and that we would soon back down. According to Pollack, Hussein did not contemplate the coalition building and massive use of air and ground power that followed.

Hussein made what Pollack enumerated as four wrong assumptions about the Gulf War. But then, we made some miscalculations of our own in 1991. Following our quick military victory, we didn't thrust into Baghdad, and expected Hussein's government collapse, instead. The U.S. wanted to leave a strong, cohesive Iraq to serve as a counter to Iran. Neither did we wish to exceed the UN mandate, or agitate world opinion with further slaughter of helpless Iraqi troops. The next miscalculation was to underestimate the remaining strength of Iraq's military capability; we stood by as they used air power and the Republican Guards to eliminate revolts by the Kurds in the north and the south.

When Containment Failed
With Hussein still in power, the U.S. and the UN stitched together a containment policy--which the 'doves,' both here and abroad, thought would work. Hussein was determined to resist inspections from the outset. He formed a Concealment Operations Committee in June 1991, and had no intention of giving up his weapons of mass destruction. Hussein credited the chemical weapons with salvaging a victory over the Iranians, quashing the Kurds in northern Iraq, and deterring the U.S. with attacking Baghdad. The Iraqis withheld documentation, key equipment, and key people from the inspection teams from the beginning. For a while, the containment program seemed to be working and had broad international support.

In 1993, an attempted assassination of the former President Bush was foiled in Kuwait, and in 1994 Iraq issued warnings that unless the UN sanctions, which he claimed were starving his people, were lifted, he would take action. There were even indications that he was going to reinvade Kuwait, until the U.S. responded with a military threat. While Hussein tried to enlist world pity for the impact of the sanctions on his people, he continued to build what amounted to fifty new palaces, and proceeded with the production of banned weapons.

Meanwhile, defectors indicated that the inspectors were being hoodwinked, but France pushed to ease the sanctions. The Iraqis were sufficiently emboldened in 1995 to announce that they would cease all cooperation with the inspectors. Should the U.S. respond militarily, the Iraqis threatened tie the inspectors to the machinery likely to be attacked.

U.S. Distracted
The inspectors made concessions to the Iraqis in 1996, and Iraqi efforts to circumvent the sanctions by smuggling had increasing success. Support for any retaliatory efforts on our part came increasingly in question as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey began to waver. U.S. governmental policy fluctuated somewhat as the doves in the foreign policy establishment, Anthony Lake, Strobe Talbott, and Warren Christopher, were replaced, and we were distracted by the problems in Somalia and Haiti.

The CIA had been given the green light in 1997 to pursue coup attempts, but at least six attempts didn't come close to succeeding. Clinton didn't want Iraq to be the centerpiece of his foreign policy, but his efforts at ameliorating the Israeli-Palestinian issue, however promising for a time, couldn't maintain momentum. Americans tend to forget that during those years, when the Clinton administration attempted a more even-handed Mideast policy, a series of major terrorist attacks occurred, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. The attacks, while not positively linked to Hussein, may have been financially and morally supported by his regime.

Matters came to head in 1997 when Iraq blocked the inspectors from entering the country. At that time, Richard Butler, a much tougher leader than Hans Blix, led them. They had two close calls: One occurred when an Iraqi tried to seize control of a UNSCOM helicopter almost crashing it. In the second, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired into UNSCOM headquarters. That fall, the Iraqis blocked an inspection, but when the Security Council threatened to impose travel restrictions on Iraqi officials, there were five abstentions in the vote, including France, China, and Russia. When the U.S. and Britain massed forces in the area, Arab and European governments distanced themselves from any support. When matters reached the boiling point once again in 1998 regarding the inspections process, Clinton again began rebuilding U.S. forces in the region, but found little support, with only the Kuwaitis willing to allow us the use of their bases. The UN showed little determination and, one more time, Saddam proved that few nations would support the use of force.

Obstruction Continues
When the inspections team found VX nerve gas on missile warheads, the Iraqis destroyed them, and the Security Council offered only a muted reaction. In August 1998, al Qaeda detonated car bombs outside our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and in October, Saddam expelled 10 Americans from the inspections team and renounced any cooperation with UNSCOM. In November, along with the British, we had attack planes in the air but the operation was aborted when Iraq announced on CNN that the inspectors would be allowed back in the country. That situation lasted only a short while, because Richard Butler informed the Security Council that Iraq was still impeding the inspectors, and he withdrew his staff.

A few days later, on December 19th, President Clinton announced that it was henceforth the policy of the U.S. government to replace the Hussein regime, but that it would be very difficult to accomplish without an invasion. That possibility was derailed the following year when the U.S. got involved in the war in Kosovo. International resolution was further damaged when the French went back on their word, according to Pollack, and abstained on voting for Resolution 1284 to preserve the military embargo and the United Nations' control over Iraq's finances, thereby defeating U.S. efforts for a consensus. The presumed reason was that Iraq trade had grown to $17 billion and other countries were trying to get a share of that. When Russia abstained, so did France, fearing that otherwise they would lose contracts to the Russians.

In the meantime, smuggling mushroomed to the benefit of some of the Gulf countries, Syria, and Turkey. Arab-Israeli violence inflamed the Arab street. Saddam urged this on, knowing that it was to his advantage. In its last year in office, the Clinton administration was just playing defense in regard to Iraq. When the Bush camp came in, there was no clear priority set initially, because, as earlier, the foreign policy establishment was split between doves, moderate hawks, and extreme hawks. The new administration, like its predecessors, initially chose the 'least bad' solution, adopting the dovish version, which remained in place until 9/11 changed everything.

Saddam Hussein
So what about this man, who some name in the polls as 'less dangerous' than George Bush? The atrocities attributed to him are mind-boggling. An estimated 200,000 have disappeared into the prison system and the number tortured vastly exceeds that. He employs 500,000 people in his internal intelligence security and police, exclusive of the army. One of his sons is said by defectors to have athletes beaten and tortured if their teams lose in international matches. While Pollack doesn't think that Hussein is irrational or suicidal, he's sure that he's totally out of touch with reality, and surrounded only by sycophants. Saddam's views of the world are amazingly narrow and distorted.

Saddam shares some of Hitler's most dangerous traits, Pollack says. His history of foreign policy decisions is littered with bizarre judgments and catastrophic miscalculations, such as his invasion of Iran, his expectation of repulsing the U.S. in Kuwait, and his continued dismissal of our will and capabilities. He sees himself as a great man in history, the new Saladin. His goal is to head a new pan-Arab union with Iraq as a superpower in total control of the Persian Gulf.

Once Saddam has a nuclear weapon, he expects to deter the U.S. and Israel under all circumstances. His weapons of mass destruction program have been so important to him that he's been willing to give up $130 to $180 billion in oil revenue in order to hang on to them, sacrificing his people, the Iraqi economy, and conventional military power. Pollack believes, as many other experts do, that Saddam may achieve that nuclear capability within one to four years, and could become emboldened by its possession. He is far more of a gambler than were the Soviets.

The Inspections Trap
Pollack has long been a disbeliever in the effectiveness of weapons inspection, doubting that we could ever get and be able to retain the quality of inspection regime required. In the past, the UN has periodically weakened inspections' effectiveness, and the French, Russians, and Chinese have consistently attempted to shift the burden of proof from Iraq to the inspectors. At times, they've colluded with the Iraqis. Even as strong as UNSCOM was, it couldn't eradicate WMD. Iraq has played the inspection game the last several weeks exactly as Pollack had predicted in his book, completed months earlier.

Other Options
The author dismisses the alternatives to invasion as useless and riskier than invasion itself. Some politicians have advocated an attempted coup, but we're tried that a number of times, never successfully. Pollack isn't impressed with the quality of leadership among the opposition groups. Hussein's security wall seems almost impenetrable, especially after he eliminated any potential adversary. George Tenet, the CIA director, has said that the chances of success of covert action are no better than 20%. Some observers have championed the adoption of the 'Afghan Approach' in lieu of war. This would consist of using overt military forces at arms length, supported by Special Forces units and air power such as we did with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Pollack doesn't think the Iraqi opposition forces are of the caliber of the Northern Alliance, and is cautious on any expectations of a mass uprising or even widespread surrenders.

The Iraqi army is not of uniformly high quality and isn't as well equipped as in 1990-91, but the Republican Guard fought hard in that brief conflict, although not effectively. The use of air power in Iraq would be hampered in urban conflict, unlike in Kuwait. Our tactical air campaigns have not always been wildly successful as, for example, against the Serbian group forces in Kosovo where we inflicted little damage. What was effective in the Gulf War was the psychological pounding from five weeks of bombing by B-52s, but in this campaign, care would be taken regarding population centers.

Many Europeans and members of the Gulf States favor the option of deterrence, relying on American military action short of invasion. But that's what has been practiced in part since 1991 without great success. It could not be maintained once Hussein has the bomb. He's the risk taker that the Soviets were not. As we've seen, support for U.S. military action has flickered off and on, with several Gulf States showing increasing reluctance to let the U.S. use their bases.

Pollack feels that containment is the least bad of the alternatives to invasion. Sanctions have been the greatest impediment to Iraqi military rebuilding, but the sanctions policy has been eroding due to the increase in smuggling and the Iraqi leveling of surcharges on oil going through the UN system. It's estimated that Iraq has earned $2 billion per year through the breakdowns in the system. Other breaches in discipline have been uncovered as well. In 2000, it was discovered that China was constructing a nationwide fiber optic system for the Iraqi government that would have military and internal security capabilities. There just hasn't been the will to punish violators of the sanctions program. The Chinese and Russians have even sold arms to the Iraqis. Another example of a breakdown is the disintegration of the ban on air travel to Iraq.

Having written about this subject three weeks in a row, we should get off it, but we find ourselves troubled and even sickened by so much of what we hear in our cynical and often ignorant world. A reading of this book should refamiliarize many with what a grotesque brute Hussein has always been, and always will be and how few major countries have shown a consistent will other than Britain and the U.S. The UN has wavered, and France, Russia, and China have obstructed. The inspections process has been ineffective. One may disagree on the wisdom of a war alternative, but the hawks' motives shouldn't be subject to the ridicule they have been. Even if our government should be drawing the wrong conclusion, the intentions of the administration and Tony Blair are purer than many in the opposite camp, abroad. And anyway, we may already have passed the point of no return. We can't keep our forces in the Gulf doing nothing for six months, and soon the weather will become an obstacle. The risks of our backing down at this stage would be formidable. Better to brace yourselves, take a deep breath, and hope.

What do you think? Let me know!



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Re: Iraq and 9-11

Carole C in NOLA on 3/07/03 at 22:19 (112215)

This seems like a sensible analysis of the situation.

Although he may have been in a position to know about them, he doesn't mention any ties between Hussein's regime and Al Queda. Maybe nothing of that nature was public information at the time.

Carole C

Re: Iraq and 9-11

BGCPed on 3/10/03 at 21:44 (112506)

I read that the drone plane they found that Blix didnt site has them all riled up. I can see the point since we used a drone to blast that group that was dring across the desert a month or so back. I dont know why they would waste time with a drone since they have about 300,000 idiots that would volunteer to fly a real plane on that mission. I am not being sarcastic just wondering why they would bother with one knowing the mindset of many men over there

Re: Iraq and 9-11

Carole C in NOLA on 3/10/03 at 21:54 (112508)

Could the reason be that a drone can be set up to spray chemicals or biologicals more cheaply than a manned aircraft, and it would be possible to deploy many more drones at once than hijacked cropdusters, maybe?

I was agog at the lastest news, that they may be planning to attack us inside the US with drones (focusing on small towns that are not within range of a major airport's radar). So many awful scenarios have been suggested, from smallpox to dirty bombs to chemical drones, bridges, and more, that I am nearly becoming numb to them.

Carole C

Re: Iraq and 9-11

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/10/03 at 23:47 (112513)


Saddam trusts almost no one. He realizes that if he puts a pilot on a plane, many of them will take off and just keep flying.

Re: Iraq and 9-11

BGCPed on 3/11/03 at 06:42 (112519)

Good point Dr Ed. I imagine the tension around that guy must be nuts. He will kill his own family members or long time friends at the drop of a hat. Talk about walking on eggshells. I just hope they get him and his two sons soon on. I think once they are done many of the Iragi soldiers will give up. I was reading a big piece yesterday and it seems like we are going to play 'nice' in this war. I know wars are not nice but I was amazed at all the strategic changes we are making to spare many people and things.

Re: Iraq and 9-11

john h on 3/11/03 at 13:01 (112556)

Actually I saw the Iraqi drone aircraft on TV several weeks ago well before the Blix report. Certainly these are something to worry about but the media is feeding us with unlimted numbers of scenieros most of which will never come to pass. Will he use gas and bio in the battlefield? I think so even though we argue daily in the UN that he does not even have them. This is totally a dumb argument. He had them before and he has them now. Do I want Cammeron to decide the fate of the U.S. in a security council vote. Hardly? Freedom is not free and it never has been not will it ever be.