spying on saddam
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DAVID KAY: He  was the chief nuclear weapons  inspector  for UNSCOM 1991-1992.

I think it was a Faustian bargain. The intelligence communities of the world had the only expertise that you could use if you were unmasking a clandestine program...

Once you were dealing in a clandestine, competitive environment, you needed access to satellite photography, access to signals intercept, access to measurements of leakage and contamination from the programs, so you could identify where it is. Access to defectors, who, after all, were not defecting to the U.N. They were defecting to national governments to use them.

So, from the very beginning, you needed that expertise, but I can say for myself personally -- and I'm really only comfortable talking about myself -- although a number of us discussed this in the early days -- I realize it was always a bargain with the Devil -- spies spying. The longer it continued, the more the intelligence agencies would, often for very legitimate reasons, decide that they had to use the access they got through cooperation with UNSCOM to carry out their missions.

For me, the real change occurred in '94. I really think that was the period in which, in many governments, the dawning realization, which now the president speaks out--the necessity of getting rid of Saddam. Once that dawned on national policymakers, that maybe the only way out of this dilemma of Iraq with weapons of mass destruction, is the replacement of Saddam.

That meant that, for the United States, for example, American men and women were likely to be asked to fight and die again in Iraq. Well, if you're asking American men and women to fight and die, it's incumbent that they have the best available of intelligence. So at that point, the intelligence agencies became under increasing pressure to collect all the possible information.

Now, what did they do? They immediately realized that the only access they had to Iraq in those days was through UN inspection teams. And my view is, that's the point where the relationship started to tilt. There's an old Russian term that goes back to the Russian Revolution ... it means, "Who eats whom?" And that was always the relationship. I'm convinced that in the period of 1991, '92, '93 the intelligence community contributed a lot more to UNSCOM's success than they ever got out of it. I think by 1994 and '95, the balance inevitably started swaying as the realization was, "The only way out is Saddam goes." It's a Faustian bargain.

RICHARD BUTLER: He became Executive Chairman of UNSCOM in July 1997, succeeding Rolf Ekeus.

richard butlerIraq erected a wall of deception... Now, what we did when we hit this wall of deception was that we had to find ways to penetrate it, in order to do our job.

... Member states of the UN are obliged to give us assistance wherever they can. The process was really simple. We would contact a whole range of member states and say, we need a biologist, or we need two chemists, or whatever, can you help us? And they would make us that offer. We would select the people that we needed, provided they had the required skills; we would try to get a geographic balance, where we could. And it's not been bad. Some 40 or 50 different countries have helped us, and, clearly, those people, in many instances, would come from the national defense or scientific or intelligence agencies of that country.

Obviously, that's where you get weapons experts. You don't get weapons expects from the public health or social security ministry. When these experts with those skills would come to us, we would have them sign an agreement saying that they worked for us and they wouldn't divulge information, again, while working for us, to unauthorized sources, to unauthorized recipients.

Now, do I believe that, in no case, when those officers went back to their sending government that they would have debriefed that government? Of course not. Of course they would, whether I'm talking about a Russian, a Frenchman, an American, whatever -- of course they would.

What is really important is that that material be maintained in a sensitive way. And, on the whole, our track record has been outstanding. We've leaked less than most sending governments themselves leaked. On the whole, our people have behaved the rules and behaved honorably.

RICHARD HAASS: He currently is  director of  Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution.

I think so long as the information that was gathered by UNSCOM or by Americans for the purpose of helping UNSCOM do its job, I think that was 100 percent legitimate.

... A much more questionable thing, which I haven't seen supported, would be that we used UNSCOM to get people into Iraq to collect intelligence for other purposes. If that was indeed what it was that we did, then I would say that was an unwise risk, because we would have risked discrediting UNSCOM for other purposes, and I would say probably not worth it. But I have not seen evidence that we've done that.

Let's distinguish between some important types of information. Imagine UNSCOM picked up some information about where the Iraqis were, doing something for weapons of mass destruction -- say, biological weapons -- and they couldn't get in there? The fact that we would then pass that information to a pilot -- an American or a British pilot -- for taking it out, seems to me to be perfectly legitimate. Because, essentially, what we were doing was telling the Iraqis, "Look, you either let us inspect these things and reassure ourselves, or we're going to take them out and reassure ourselves." So to me that's not an issue.

Also, intelligence works a little bit like your vacuum cleaner. When you collect intelligence, you collect a lot of information. Now I'm not going to tell you that UNSCOM, in the process of picking up information for its purposes, didn't perhaps hand over to U.S. intelligence -- who had to in any case analyze everything, because they were the recipients-- some extra information. And perhaps, indeed, probably, some of that information was going to be used for other purposes. But that wasn't the expressed purpose they were sent in there for. I would actually see that as something of a byproduct, or, to be blunt, a dividend. But we were not using UNSCOM for unrelated purposes. If it turned out in a few cases we got some byproducts or dividends, so be it. We would have been insane not to have taken advantage of it. But that was not what this was about.

If we were using UNSCOM, say, to collect information so we could target certain types of Iraqi military units for political leadership, for other purposes, I would have said, "You had better be real sure that that information is extremely critical and is going to lead to some extremely valuable operations. Because otherwise, you are jeopardizing an awfully valuable enterprise -- UNSCOM -- for some high risk venture.

And it's not clear to me that that cost/benefit ratio would have been worth it. So if that was the case, I only hope that some people high up in the American intelligence community made their calculations carefully and are comfortable with their decision even if it didn't turn out well.

BARTON GELLMAN: A reporter for The Washington Post, he covered UNSCOM from the beginning and, more recently, wrote several in-depth articles on Scott Ritter and UNSCOM's involvement with western intelligence agencies.

barton gellmanScott Ritter tells the story that there was a Frenchman on his team who learned about Operation Cabbage Patch under strict rules of confidentiality. He was forbidden to tell anyone else, including his own government. And next thing Scott knew, he sees a letter in French in Rolf Ekeus's out basket describing Operation "Le Cabbage Patch" to the French Defense Ministry. And this kind of thing happened all the time.

...When David Kay was in the parking lot and smuggled out documents, Washington heard at least as soon as New York did about the contents of those documents. And in fact, Rolf Ekeus was angry about it and forbade direct communications like that again. I'm quite confident they continued.

So it is a story not only of Iraqi deception -- lies and cheating -- but then within UNSCOM, you're having to deal with all these different national goals of the countries represented on the Security Council. Boxes within boxes.

Yes. Think about who are the permanent five members of the Security Council. The United States and Britain. You have France, which has enormous interests in Iraqi oil fields. You have Russia, which is owed, I believe, on the order of $3 billion by Iraq, which cannot be repaid until the end of the oil embargo. You have China, which throughout its history has been profoundly suspicious of any international intervention across national boundaries.

And so you had quite different ideas about what was this UNSCOM and what was it going to do. Inside the Commission you had experts from numerous countries. You had from the beginning an effort to make, in effect, an inner circle in UNSCOM that would be American, British, Australian, Canadian. The Executive Chairman never was, but there was always an American deputy. There as always an American Director of Operations. And there were always Americans in important roles.

So the CIA and the NSA essentially piggy-backed on UNSCOM, taking advantage of an opportunity that UNSCOM creates?

That's right. If you look at it from their point of view, they have a very high priority mission to collect information about Iraq, both conventional and special weapons, and the command structure, and how Saddam Hussein works, and who the inner circle is, and all the stuff that a military intelligence operation would want to know about a hostile power.

They have all kinds of equipment overhead. They have readily available cover for human agents. There's an international trade embargo on Iraq, so there's no businessmen coming in and out, and no flights in and out. They don't have academic exchanges and so on. They don't have all the usual covers that they use. Here they're given the opportunity, on a periodic basis, to include Americans on UNSCOM inspection teams, and to carry large amounts of equipment and to build things and leave them in Iraq. The temptation was simply too great.

From their point of view it makes perfect sense. From UNSCOM's point of view--

From UNSCOM's point of view it's a betrayal. UNSCOM knows perfectly well that all these contributing states are pursuing their own agendas, are learning as much as they can, are putting the information they learn to their own uses. That's part of the deal. But UNSCOM is trying very hard throughout its history to preserve its independence.

For example, it established a principle from the beginning, that it would never swap intelligence. It would never say, "I'll give you something you want if you give us something we want." To the extent that they provided information to other countries, it was only because they had to do so in order to get the information that they wanted. Just for example, you go to the government of Germany and say, "We have reason to believe that Company X sold these fermenters to Iraq. We'd like to know if you know whether they sold any more fermenters or any other equipment, or any other company that did the same." You can't get that information without saying, "We know about these fermenters." Likewise, you can't get Israeli help interpreting photographs without showing them the photographs.

But UNSCOM fiercely guarded its independence. It knew that it could become hostage to other people's agendas. They insisted that there be no chain of command over its inspectors, which were lent to it, other than through UNSCOM. And so to have covert American operations using UNSCOM as cover, not only undermines UNSCOM, but these are dedicated arms controllers, and they're very worried that it's going to undermine the idea of intrusive multinational inspections in other agencies and other countries.

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Solitary NationApril 22nd


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