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