Wolfowitz: Saddam Threatening Scientists

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) — Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has ordered death for Iraqi scientists — and their families — who cooperate with U.N. arms inspectors, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said in a speech Thursday to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

“Furthermore, we know that … Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as scientists to be interviewed by the inspectors,” he said. The fresh charges against the Iraqi leader, credited by Wolfowitz to “multiple sources,” comes during a week marked by speeches and reports from Bush administration officials on what they call Iraqi transgressions of international law and U.N. resolutions and human rights conventions.


Wolfowitz spoke three days after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned the disarmament stand-off with Iraq would be handled — either peacefully or with force — within weeks, rather than months.

“Time is running out,” Wolfowitz asserted Thursday. “Nevertheless, there is still the hope — if Saddam is faced with a serious enough threat that he would otherwise be disarmed forcibly and removed from power — that he might decide to adopt a fundamentally different course.”

Getting access to Iraqi weapons scientists is critical to finding a “smoking gun” to prove U.S. allegations that Iraq is deceiving the world, and the Bush administration fought hard to get the U.N. Security Council to demand unfettered interviews with them.

“Iraq has yet to make a single one of its scientists or technical experts available to be interviewed in confidential circumstances free of intimidation, as required by the U.N. resolution,” Wolfowitz said, referring to Resolution 1441.

He said though U.S. intelligence capabilities were extraordinary, they were not “omniscient.”

“For a great body of what we need to know, we are very dependent on traditional methods of intelligence — that is to say, human beings who either deliberately or inadvertently are communicating to us,” Wolfowitz said.

The intelligence the United States has provided to the inspectors — described for the first time by Wolfowitz — has thus far yielded nothing conclusive on its own. The United States has provided names of individuals to interview; information about sites suspected to be associated with illicit weapons; suggested strategies and techniques for inspections; “counterintelligence support” to combat Iraqi attempts to penetrate the inspectors’ organizations; and laboratory equipment and services, sampling equipment, secure communications equipment and ground-penetrating radar.

The United States has also offered U-2 spy planes and Predator unmanned surveillance drones, which thus far have not flown any missions because of Iraqi objections.

But without knowledgeable insiders providing a map to hidden chemical and biological weapons, Wolfowitz said the inspection process is doomed to failure.

“Sending a few hundred inspectors to find hidden weapons in an area the size of the state of California would be to send them on a fool’s errand. Or to play a game,” he said. “And let me repeat: this is not a game.”

While the Bush administration has shared some intelligence capabilities and information with the inspectors, it has not shown all of its cards, and neither has it opted to make public new intelligence proving fresh Iraqi violations. When challenged in a question period after his address, Wolfowitz said he was “astonished” the credibility of the United States is being called into question given Saddam’s track record.

“The real issue is, can you trust Saddam Hussein?” he asked. “And it seems to me the record is absolutely clear that you can’t … we are trusting our security in the hands of a man who makes ricin, who makes anthrax, who makes botulinum toxin, who makes aflatoxin, and who has no compunctions whatsoever about consorting with terrorists. Who do you want to trust?”

Wolfowitz outlined what he called Iraq’s “anti-inspection” apparatus, led by Saddam’s younger son, Qusay, and his Special Security Organization; the National Monitoring Directorate, which tips off inspection sites and intimidates witnesses; and the Military Industrial Organization (OMI), the SSO, the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS), the Special Republican Guard, and the Director of General Security, all of which “provide thousands of personnel for hiding documents and materials from inspectors, to sanitize inspection sites and to monitor the inspectors’ activities.”

“The anti-inspectors vastly outnumber the couple of hundred U.N. personnel on the ground in Iraq,” Wolfowitz said.

U.N. computers are not safe from Iraqi obfuscation either, Wolfowitz warned.

“We also anticipate that Iraq is likely to target U.N. and IAEA computer systems through cyber intrusions to steal inspections, methods, criteria, and findings,” he said.

The administration has “multiple reports” that sensitive documents are being hidden in private homes of low-level officials and in universities, and chemical, biological and possibly nuclear materials being hidden in agricultural areas, in private homes, and under mosques and hospitals, Wolfowitz said.

“It is a shell game played on a grand scale with deadly serious weapons,” he said.

Wolfowitz recited a now familiar litany of holes in Iraq’s 12,000-page weapons declaration left over from the failed U.N. inspections in 1999: the location of 1.5 tons of the nerve gas VX, 550 mustard-filled artillery shells, 400 biological weapons-capable aerial bombs and two-tons of anthrax growth media.

Wolfowitz also attempted to draw a tight link between Saddam and terrorist organizations. The administration fears Iraq may give some of its chemical or biological capabilities to terrorists, to be used on U.S. soil or against American allies.

“Disarming Iraq and the war on terror are not merely related,” he said. “Disarming Iraq of its chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction and dismantling its program to develop nuclear weapons is a crucial part of winning the war on terror.”

Wolfowitz warned that how the world community addresses Iraq could have far reaching implication for North Korea, which Washington said admitted to it last fall it was pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang later kicked out international atomic energy inspectors.

“Our credibility (with North Korea) will be greatly increased if we have managed peacefully or if necessary by force (the situation in Iraq),” he said.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International. All rights reserved.