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what it took
Five Stories about UNSCOM Weapons Inspectors' Strategies and Confrontations in Iraq. And, an Intelligence Expert Talks About Bugging Techniques
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TWO STORIES FROM SCOTT RITTER:

September, 1997....there's another inspection team in country... a biological inspection team, headed by a scientist named Dr. Diane Seaman.

UNSCOM is full of unique characters, and she is one of the unique characters. She is a coldly efficient woman, a warm human being but, man, she is professional as the day is long.

And Diane was doing no-notice monitoring inspection. And normally, a team would show up, and you arrive in the front of the building, and the Iraqis greet you, shake your hand, you go in and you have a cup of tea with the director, you talk about your program, then you go off and you monitor the facility.

Well, Diane said, 'I'm not going to play that game this time. We're going to show up and we're going to go straight to the back stairs and go upstairs, and see what happens.'

As she got upstairs she ran into two guys coming downstairs who had briefcases. They saw her, she saw them, they tried to bar the door and run. She said, 'No, not in my lifetime,' and she got the door open. Imagine it: These are two burly, Iraqi special security organization personnel, running away from little Diane Seaman. She caught them, she intimidated them, she was the alpha dog. She got them in the room, and got the briefcases from them.

She opened up the briefcases and started rifling through, and the first thing she sees is the letterhead of the Special Security Organization. Now... if you see something about the S.S.O., that's critical. And she went, 'Ritter told me about that, this is big.' And she starts flapping through, and she sees biological activity staff of the S.S.O. Man. Looked through more: Clustering and gases, gangrene, something the Iraqis had weaponized, a prohibited bio-toxin.

No further questions. Locks it up, hands the briefcases to one of her inspectors, says, Take them down to the car and get out of here. And the guy got out, and as he was going down and getting in the car, the big Iraqi team came up, burst in, said, 'We want the briefcases.' Too late, Diane had already taken them back to the BMVC, where they were studied more.

One of the sites that we had wanted to inspect was the Al Hyatt building. We had information that it was the administrative offices of the Special Security Organization and we felt that certain activities, to include the biological activity, were being conducted there, at least staff was headquartered there. And Richard Butler had decided that that was too confrontational, and that he was going to scratch that off of this inspection.

But I now have documentation [from Diane Seaman's discovery] which justifies this kind of activity. So I worked with Diane and we coordinated with Richard Butler, and we confronted the Iraqis at an evening meeting. And Richard Butler said, If the Iraqis don't answer your questions, you're authorized to do a night inspection of the Al Hyatt building.

Mr. Ritter in an ArgumentSo, we go in, and we start meeting with the Iraqis, asking questions, and they're not giving us the answer we want. So, after a while I interrupt the meeting, I say, Look, we can do it the easy way, or we can do it the hard way. The easy way is, we ask a question, you answer it to our satisfaction, and we'll confine this discussion to this room, and we'll be done tonight. The hard way is, we ask a question, you don't answer it to our satisfaction, and then we're going to run a night inspection, and I'm telling you, you're not going to like it. And they were like, But you said your inspection was done. I said, You can start it again in a heartbeat, by not cooperating.

Apparently, they might have thought we were bluffing. We asked the question, they didn't give us the answer, we terminated the meeting and went back, got final authority from Richard Butler, and now we assembled an inspection team to go to the heart of the presidential palace area in Baghdad, where Saddam Hussein lives and works. In the middle of that is the Al Hyatt building, where the Special Security Organization had offices.

And we take off in a convoy of about 14 vehicles, Diane Seaman, me, the rest of the inspectors. Now, in the front of me is a vehicle driven by my operations officer, the brilliant Chris Cobb Smith, a former Royal Marine, artillery gunner, courageous man, a brilliant planner, and he's navigating us in. He and I had spent hours looking over U-2 photographs, picking the best route in.

So, he's leading the convoy in, as navigator. As we approach the turn-off to the Al Hyatt building, we come to an intersection. Now, we had anticipated that there would be a roadblock there, but there wasn't, the road was clear, light was green, so Chris' vehicle starts snaking through. Light turns yellow at that point, so Chris accelerates through, because standard operating procedure is, once a convoy commits through a traffic light, we all go through. Normally, what the Iraqis do is block traffic to get us through. We don't want to have a convoy split, in the city.

So, he accelerates through. As he accelerates, an Iraqi Special Republican Guard, one of the elite troops protecting Saddam Hussein, who's supposed to be manning this roadblock, had apparently been snoozing on the side, wakes up and goes, My God, cars. So, he comes up and he slaps Chris' car, but Chris just kept going. He turns around, and there's my car. Now, I have a French driver that night, a French military officer, whose command of the English language was limited. And I look at the situation. The guy's got a gun. And I said,' We might want to stop the car right now.' And he keeps going, towards this soldier. The soldier's screaming, shrill voice, panicked. I said,' We really might want to stop the car right now, go ahead and stop the car.'

He keeps going, straight at the solider. The soldier locks and loads his weapon, puts it on fire, gets down into a crouch -- I mean, he's ready to fire. You see him bracing, and he's screaming.

I turn, and I scream at the top -- 'Stop the damn car, you son of a bitch.' Stops. The guy's screaming, getting ready to shoot, and I'm thinking, 'That's it, we're dead,' when this flash of green comes off of my right shoulder. It was one of the Iraqi minders, the people who escort us, and he jumps between me and the soldier. A spilt-second, I think, we would have all been dead. The solider now has it, and he's screaming at this guy, getting ready to knock him off.

Meanwhile, another guy comes up, a Special Security Organization uniformed officer, pulls his pistol, points it at this Iraqi colonel, then points it at me, he's got it leveled at my head, and he's going back and forth, the soldier's going back and forth, screaming at the top of the voice, and I'm thinking, 'This is really interesting.'

Chris, meanwhile, is zipping on, and three Iraqi vehicles were following him at high speed. So, Chris is moving on fast, and in front of him there's another check point. And you see guys pulling out RPGs, rocket propelled grenades, loading machine guns, getting on their knees, ready to shoot. I grab their radio, and I don't want to make any sudden moves because I've got these two goons, who are very nervous: 'Chris, you might want to stop the car, these guys have guns. '

And Chris had an Australian driver, a military guy, at the wheel, who's a very cool character, and slowly, without screeching the brakes, stopped the car. The Iraqis come in front of him, and we finally get Chris back, and the situation calmed down, somewhat.

Later on, we had more S.S.O. guys come out, and they were not happy about us being here. These were big thugs come out, and they're all waving their pistols around, and a lot of guns in the area, a lot of testosterone and a lot of adrenaline and a lot of energy. And it was a very, very tense situation there for a while. We got it calmed down and we were able to get people focused on the matter at hand, which was, do we -- are we going to be allowed to proceed to the Al Hyatt building? The answer, in short, was no.

But it was a tough situation, and it's about the closest, I think, we came to getting a lot of people killed. It was just that close.


TWO STORIES FROM David Kay:

The first week of the inspection [in June 1991], we played by the rules that the I.A.E.A. had before the war. We would tell the Iraqis that the next day, 'we would like to inspect this area.' Of course, the next day they wouldn't allow us in, and ultimately would lose the material.

Finally, after a week, I decided that we're going to use the full powers we had under the UN Resolution 687 and carry out a no notice inspection. Because otherwise we weren't going to find anything. So we suddenly appeared at the gate of a military facility and demanded access.

The poor commander of the base that day said, "I have no orders to let you in." But he made what turned out to be a genuinely fatal mistake for him. He said, "You can put up as many members of your team as you want to on this water tower, which is right inside the gate." So I had four of my daring-do members climb this 50 meter water tower, and literally-- because we video-taped this-- if you look at the timeline of the video, it's about 90 seconds into it and it looks like dinosaurs rolling around the back of the base, there's so much dust being stirred up. What had happened is the calutrons were stored on these very large tank transporters, which are about 90 feet long, actually, some of the bigger ones. And they were charging out the back of the base.

calutrons for uranium enrichment secretly destroyed by iraq
Now, this was a problem for us, because the photo interpreters had told us, "Don't worry about covering the whole perimeter of this huge base, because there is no rear entrance. Well, there was a rear entrance. It was a very small one, but the Iraqis decided to use it, and that's what kicked up the dirt. So I had the team split and go around the base to try to get parallel to the calutrons being moved, and stop them or photograph them. In the process, the Iraqis decided to fire shots over their head, but we did get the photographs. And the photographs are damning as to what the Iraqis were doing.

The humorous story.. is, we threw together these inspection teams. There was no preparation during the war for them. So it was come as you go with whatever equipment you had. Rich had managed to bring his family's camera, the only camera he had. And his wife had told him before the mission, "One thing: don't lose this camera. This is our brand new camera." So the Iraqis, after firing shots over their heads, stopped finally, ran the team off the road, and demanded the cameras and the film. Well, Rich, at that point, had secreted the film in a place that the Iraqis were unlikely to easily find, but he didn't want to give up the camera, so he managed to convince the Iraqis, "It's not a camera. It's binoculars." I later told him, "Give up the camera. We'll chip in together. It's the film that's ...(inaudible), not the camera." But he remembered his wife's charge to him.

And that [inspection] was a turning point... the senior officials of the I.A.E.A., including the Director General, had wanted to declare that Iraq was in total compliance, because we had in the first mission found everything that they had said they had. And it was only because a few of us were determined to look at the evidence seriously and really see if in fact we had found everything-- that we had a second mission. Well, this was proof that no one could deny. It was physical evidence of a very, very large uranium enrichment program. And it was also the evidence of concealment, that from the very beginning, the Iraqis had not been living up to their obligations. And you couldn't deny that.

Starting in July [1991] we had evidence from a defector that they were consolidating documents [describing their nuclear program], and some evidence as to where the site was...

By late August, early September, we were convinced that, in fact, we knew where the documents were, and we decided to conduct this inspection mission. This was a mission going after the very heart of the program, and in fact we were lucky....

We got the documents, and the Iraqis were astounded. In fact, one of the documents we got is still an amazing one-- an order to the Iraqis two weeks before we arrived, saying that I would be leading the team. They thought we would be going after the documents and they were ordering the Chief of Security to the building to empty the building of all sensitive documents. He wrote back on the bottom of the memo, "I can't do it in this time frame." And, thank God, he wasn't successful in that time frame. We suddenly were in the building, and the Iraqis realized we had the damning evidence, the full extent of their program. And this was laid out exactly in black and white that they were proceeding to produce a nuclear weapon. Not just enriching uranium, as they claimed: "Well maybe we did that. But we didn't have any intent to produce a weapon." This described their progress in great detail towards producing successfully designed nuclear weapons.

And so they kicked us out of the building, literally, by force, and said, "You can leave the parking lot, but you're not taking these documents." We said, "If the documents don't go we're not leaving the parking lot." And so, that was the source of that standoff. The determination of our team of international inspectors that their mission was sufficiently important that they were willing to be hostages, or as the Iraqis preferred to refer to us, "guests of the state," in a downtown Baghdad parking lot.

If you're in a situation like that, you survive by two things. A), you've got to go through the normal bureaucracy of filling out reports anyway, so you keep the team busy that way. And you think of how you make the Iraqis more uncomfortable than they're making you. That is, you don't let the pressure focus on you. I mean, it was dangerous, from our point of view, for us, but you forget, it was also dangerous for the Iraqis. Here they had a group of 43 inspectors stuck in a parking lot, not letting them go. They didn't know how the U.S. and the Coalition would respond. And we kept trying to emphasize to them that they didn't know how, and that it could be dangerous for them. We had the advantage--it was the first time that satellite communications made a difference to an international inspection.

I had the rule, on every inspection I led, that as soon as we got to wherever we were inspecting, we set up a satellite telephone. Now, in the first mission, it was two suitcases-- two huge suitcases. By the time of the September mission it was the size of a modest sized briefcase. That's how much the technology had progressed. So in fact, we were in communication with the rest of the world. People could and did call in from wherever to ask to interview. So we did that as a means of keeping the world informed of what the Iraqis were doing. The Iraqis had no way of understanding the power of the world's media and the larger public as they focused on that issue. And by the time they figured out that this probably wasn't in their interest-- We now know they considered taking out our satellite communication capability, but they were worried. How would the world respond if suddenly we went off the air?

And we did that. We played on that as a means of keeping pressure on them. Now, let me say, we got out of that parking lot not because of communications; we got out of that parking lot because the Security Council was united behind the inspection purpose. And that's the real difference of what changed over the eight years. When I came out of that parking lot raid, I went back to a private member meeting of the Security Council. The first two states to speak in support of what we had done after I finished a briefing, were Cuba and Yemen, neither states generally friendly to the United States nor personally friendly to me at any time in my career.

They were united. This was not something led by the United States or the British. There was a strong Security Council purpose there. And my great regret is, in fact, that purpose is gone now. And I think that's what's happened to UNSCOM. The Coalition has fundamentally fissured.

Back then, the world was worried about Iraqi nuclear weapons. There was a period of optimism that if in the post-cold war world, that the Council could act together, it could deal with the threats of the peace. I guess in retrospect, maybe it was naive optimism that the UN Security Council could do the role that was intended for it in 1945. In '91, '92, that still prevailed. But certainly by '94, '95 and now in '99, that optimism is gone. It's gone as a result not only of Iraq, but because of Somalia, as a result of Rwanda, as a result of Bosnia and Kosovo now. And fundamentally, as a result of Russia falling apart.

One last thing on the parking lot incident. You're surrounded by the Iraqis, and yet you're on a satellite phone to CNN!

That's correct. You know, that's the power of communication. In fact, it's the first time I personally realized, the Earth really is round, because you would sit there, and not only was it CNN. You'd do the Japanese morning television news, the Australian-- I had a very accurate understanding of where the sun was at any one time, because of the schdule of morning and noon and evening newscasts.

"Live from the Baghdad parking lot, David Kay."

Well, my favorite interview was actually a Chicago radio station called in and asked what we really wanted. I said, "We'd really like some pizza." Because we were existing off of MRE's and there was a promise, "Well, don't worry. When you get out of the parking lot we'll see that you get Chicago pizzas." We're still waiting for those pizzas, as the matter of fact

[But] I think the Iraqis were genuinely worried about military action being taken place. And that's why they didn't take the satellite telephone down.


JOURNALIST BARTON GELLMAN ON SCOTT RITTER'S 'SHAKE THE TREE' STRATEGY:

"Shake the Tree" was, you could say, the last desperate effort of UNSCOM to break through Iraq's concealment mechanism. You had in Iraq many overlapping layers of special services, whose principal job was to foil UNSCOM's work; to anticipate where UNSCOM would go, to build cover stories, to evacuate the material. There were networks of temporary and more permanent hide sites. Sometimes they tried to develop a good cover story for UNSCOM, and sometimes they didn't even bother. Toward the end, this competition was increasingly open.

One of the last inspections that Scott Ritter did, he shows up at the headquarters of Special Security Organization Directorate in downtown Baghdad. It's a site from which he's been barred before. They've recently been given permission to go back into Iraq. So he shows up at this site. As he's driving up, the power-- quote unquote-- fails. Lights go dark. Unexplained power outage. "Sorry about that, Scott." He goes into the building, using flashlights through the hallways, and in every office, he finds a clean desk, a man with a mustache with two or three sharp pencils and two or three empty file folders, and they ask him, "What do you do here?" And he says, "I register marriages." This is at the Special Security Organization headquarters in Baghdad.

And so it was very much in your face by the end. The Iraqis saying, "We know what you're trying to do and we're never going to let you do it. You're not going to catch us at it." So "Shake the Tree" is an effort to puncture through all these walls of deception and cover up. And it goes like this:

u2
There will be a very open effort by UNSCOM inspectors to come upon a sensitive site. Simultaneous with that, there will be covert efforts to look and listen to what the Iraqis are doing in response to the UNSCOM approach. Now from the start, they've synchronized U2 overflights with these inspections. They've synchronized some other overhead assets like U.S. satellites or signals aircraft that are operating on the edges of Iraq. This time, they're using these ground based scanners to listen to Iraqi radio communications.

This is significant because Iraq has no reason to believe that these can be listened to. First of all, they're encrypted, using the best European technology that money can buy. Second of all, they're VHF signals, meaning that they are quite short range, and that means it's very, very hard to hear them from space or even from aircraft. So, they have good reason to think that these are secure. UNSCOM, in cooperation with the United States, Israel and Great Britain, has brought in these scanners which are capable of intercepting these signals and recording on the digital tape. The tapes are then brought out and they are stripped, which is the intelligence term for breaking the code, and they are then translated form the Arabic. And even then, you need to understand the way Iraqi communications security works.

Even when it's encrypted, they're still speaking in a kind of code. For example, they would never use the word "missile." Sometimes they would say, "eagle" when they meant "missile". But, gradually UNSCOM is learning a great deal about Iraqi concealment methods and who's ordering it and who's running the organizations. For example, they find out that the people who look like traffic cops on all the streets where UNSCOM is driving are operating on the network of the intelligence services, and are being given information and providing information about UNSCOM's movements in real time. Because one of UNSCOM's cardinal principles was no advance notice. You would know which site was being inspected when the inspectors turned up. But you'd know a little sooner, because you knew which direction they were heading, and the traffic cops were reporting back and so on. This is perhaps not surprising. But UNSCOM broke through the mechanism of the concealment in an effort to come up with a way of catching these hidden caches, either in place or on the open road. If they ever got to a point where they arrived where the materials were, and they were under guard, then they would simply be turned away, and then it becomes a matter for the Security Council.

Every now and then, though, they would catch the Iraqis where the stuff isn't under guard. There was the case back in '91 where the Army Major managed to photograph the calutron. There is a case much more recently-- I think it's September of '97-- when a diminutive female microbiologist from the University of Florida-- decides to go in the back door instead of the front door of a food laboratory which she's inspecting, because all those sorts of laboratories are dubious. And two great big, husky, Iraqi security guards clutching briefcases literally run into her on their way out the door as she's on her way in. And she says, "Stop." And they don't know what to do. There's this woman standing in front of them. And they turn back around and run back inside the building. And this woman starts running and chasing them. And she catches them. And at this point I guess they could either shoot her or give her the briefcases, and they gave her the briefcases.

And this is the kind of thing that "Shake the Tree" was supposed to create: more and more opportunities like this, in which UNSCOM finally would get its hands on the hidden stuff.


MIKE FROST, A CANADIAN INTELLIGENCE EXPERT,  ON BUGGING TECHNIQUES IN IRAQ  and ELSEWHERE

The famous office safe that was planted at UNSCOM headquarters in Baghdad. Can you discuss this?

Well I chuckled when I found out that the UNSCOM people had used an office safe to camouflage their intercepting equipment because that's exactly what I did when we had to mount an operation in Moscow. We used an office safe to house all the intercept equipment and also to protect it from radiation which emanates from all equipment. It's called tempest radiation. An office safe prevents this radiation so we used it many years ago.

So the reason you use a safe is because the surroundings.. steel cover of the safe prevents what?

Prevents the unwanted radiation coming from the equipment within that safe radiating out to perhaps a van which would be sitting on the street close to the embassy, that's one reason. The other reason is when you've finished your operation for the day, you slam the door of the safe, you swing the combination lock and it just looks like an ordinary office safe.

Right. But the shielding is to prevent the buggers being bugged.

Absolutely, that's what it's for. Now you do have to shield the front of the safe with a copper mesh so the knobs to the receivers and demodulators etc come through a copper mesh. Again, this thing is completely airtight and 'tempest proof' they call it.

And you developed this in Canada?

Yes, we did. We did that many years ago and used this in Moscow at our embassy in Moscow.

What did you call it?

We called it Stephanie. It was a code name given to that operation. Stephanie was the name of the daughter of one of the chiefs of the organisation I worked for.

So in Baghdad they actually had a safe in place. Would that then have had to be adapted?

Yes. Primarily drill some holes in the bottom so you can get some power into the safe in your antennae cables, that's primarily what you have to do. And drilling a hole through a safe is not too difficult a task. And then they would have to protect the front of the safe with copper mesh or something like that. But if the safe is on site, it's fairly easy to do.

Now open the safe door for me and I see about 5 trays. What are they doing?

Well you would have one which would be a pre-amplifier which would amplify the signal as it comes from the antennae. Then you'd go into a de-modulator which breaks the signal down into a readable form. And if the signal contains two or more signals on their own, then you would have to de-multiplex it, and then you.....

What does that mean?

It means to break the two signals apart. You can put two telephone calls, for instance, on the same line. Well you'd have to de-multiplex it or separate the two into two separate conversations. And then you would have maybe some other gismos, a scanner might be in there to pick up active frequencies. You probably have.. oh maybe a recorder button would be in there too to record the conversations or whatever it is you're after, and something maybe to change the analogue to digital form so it would be easy to record, and then maybe compress it.

Well I want to raise that with you. The bottom tray apparently was the compressor for all the signals. How would that work?

That compresses it timewise. If the signal is already in a digital form you just push the digits closer together timewise. So instead of taking 10 micro seconds to transmit a word it would only take 2 or 3 micro seconds.

The famous burst transmission.

The famous burst transmissions yes.

Now how do you transmit from that office safe? Where would the information have gone and where would it have finished up and how would it have been transmitted?

It would have been transmitted from the office safe to a location safe but outside the borders of Iraq. In this case I believe it's Bahrain. It would be transmitted there by low power microwave signal - very, very low power - in a burst transmission so very difficult for the Iraqis to intercept that.

Where's the transmitter?

It would be in the safe also. A very, very small low powered transmitter, right within the safe, and the antennae used to intercept the signals would be used also to transmit the burst transmission out.

But if the safe is shielded from interception, how can it then transmit out?

Oh it goes by a coaxial cable through the holes in the bottom of the safe to the transmitter which is probably concealed in the form of a video camera or an air vent or something on the roof of the building or close to it.

In fact we're told there was a video camera on the roof disguised as an aerial.

Common practice used by the Special Collection Service to hide antennas.

So that's both receiving and transmitting?

Can be used for either one, yes, and usually is.

I'm told that there was something that identified key words so that not too much material was transmitted to Bahrain. What would that have been and how does it work?

Well I am familiar with the system called Oratory which was developed by the NSA to filter out the unwanted conversations on transmissions. You feed into Oratory the words that you want the intercept on, such as Saddam Hussein, such as Inspectors, such as anthrax, whatever you wish. You feed these words into this computer and tell the computer you want all conversations or communications containing these words. The other end of the computer you feed in all the intercept that you get, and coming out of Oratory would be the intercepts that you asked for containing these words.

Where is Oratory and what does it look like?

The Oratory that I was familiar with was about the size of a bread box. Now I'm sure today they've reduced this down to the size of a package of American cigarettes or even smaller.

Would that have been in the safe?

Yes, that would have been in the safe also unless it in itself is tempest proof. Now the Oratory that I worked with was tempest proof so you could leave it out - but not necessarily so.

So the signal then goes from UNSCOM headquarters in Baghdad to Bahrain, and it's received by what?

Would be received by a normal dish antennae, it would receive that, Bahrain, in that form, and maybe broken down for some real time analysis and real time intelligence reporting.

If you're getting real time reporting, logically that information would go to the nearest base we know of which would be Royal Airforce, Akrotiri in Cyprus.

That's a logical place to send it, yes.

But we know some of the signals went to Fort Mead.

Yes.

So again, how would that be transmitted and what happens when the information gets to Fort Mead?

If the information received at Bahrain is in an analogue form it would be changed to a digital form. It would be multiplexed together. You'd have more than one transmission and in this case I believe it's five. You'd put these five transmissions together in a digital form, then you would multiplex, in other words mix them all up. So you'd have five conversations mixed up digitally. Then they would be compressed into a very small time frame, then encrypted and then relayed via satellite from Bahrain to NSA at Fort Mead or the Special Collection Service at Belsville Maryland, and at that location they would do the opposite. They would decrypt it, decompress it, de-multiplex it, get the plain language and do a long-term analysis.

Now we're told that a substantial amount of the signals that came in were garbage. Is that the usual...

Always the case. Yes, that is most usual. I would say 99.9% of the material intercepted in any one location is garbage and goes to ground. But that .1% that you get is a gem, it's the Hope diamond.

It will be denied.. it will be formally denied that the process that you've just talked about took place.

Of course. Of course it would be formally denied.

Why?

Well I don't think anyone in that business would get up and say yes we are doing this. The plausible deniability is so easy and done by all countries that participate in this.

How would equipment have been brought into Baghdad?

Baghdad historically is a very difficult capital city to get the equipment into. It is known that they X-ray all diplomatic bags coming into Baghdad and going out of Baghdad. Very, very difficult to get equipment in. I do know that in the early days when I was involved in an operation the Americans were not very welcome in Baghdad but the British were somewhat more welcome. So the British were able to bring into Baghdad receivers, demodulators, de-multiplexers, literally piece by piece, knob by knob, in diplomatic bags, that is the normal way.

But if the bags were X-rayed, why weren't these things discovered?

Because they were normally wrapped in tin foil and then put into a tin box of some sort and concealed. So when the bag is X-rayed, all that will show up is just a square box of something.

So your best bet on that one, how Stephanie was smuggled into Baghdad?

Well Stephanie was definitely smuggled into Moscow that way, but the British into Baghdad would have been going by diplomatic bag. It's the normal way to send equipment.

Can I ask you about some of the eavesdropping and bugging equipment - I suppose it's the same really - that according to Ritter was left in Baghdad and was used. What are we talking about here?

Well we could be talking about a number of different types of equipment, probably some stuff that was bought at the local radio shack and modified for that purpose, probably some stuff that was developed by the Special Collection Service at Belsville, Maryland, probably some stuff that they could probably obtain right on the open market in Baghdad and modified for their own use.

What kind of bugging equipment would we not expect to see?

Very little. I would think in Baghdad just about every type of bugging equipment that has been used by the NSA or the GCHQ was probably in use then.

No, but what did you use that was really unusual?

We used listening devices, in Moscow and other places, to intercept conversations of the leaders of that country that we used that type of equipment.

But what did the bugs look like?

Oh the bugs looked... we never used bugging of rooms, we didn't use that type of bugging at the organisation I worked for. Again, the RC impeded that sort of thing. But when I was in the business, bugs were quite big and difficult to conceal, and I know nowadays they're very small and very difficult to find.

I want you here really to talk about pigeons and twigs and roses and so on.

I didn't know you're into that because they're not bugs, those are intercept.

What about intercept devices?

Well I do know that the Special Collection Service was able to have some very sophisticated and funny intercept devices. An example would be right in Washington DC. The Soviet Embassy there was a very difficult embassy to plant a bug in an office, but one of the engineers at NSA decided to catch a pigeon which always sat on a ledge of the window of this office and bug the pigeon. So the pigeon actually contained a little receiver and a little transmitter and a little antenna, and as it sat on the window ledge of this office it picked up the conversations within that office and transmitted them to an NSA van just down the street.

And it worked?

It worked very, very well. Typical NSA fashion, after the operation was over they caught the pigeon, removed the bug, but stuffed it as a memento and it sits there at NSA as the prize.

Any other devices like that for...

Tree branches commonly used also at the embassy in Washington again, the Chinese Embassy. It was known that the Ambassador would not hold classified conversations in his office because he thought that his office was bugged, which in fact it was, but he did go outside and sit on a garden bench on a regular basis and talk to his senior advisors on presumably classified matters. So again the NSA got a tree branch, fashioned one similar to it out of fibre glass and then planted the bug inside this tree branch. On a very windy night in Washington DC the branch was thrown over the fence of the Embassy and it sat right underneath the bench where the Ambassador held his conversations, and again it transmitted these conversations to a van down the street.

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