There is more, but this is a good start. More to come...
February 15, 1848
In a letter to his law partner, William H. Herndon, Abraham Lincoln disagrees with Herndon's argument for preemptive war. “Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion ... and you allow him to make war at pleasure. ... The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.”
People and organizations involved: Abraham Lincoln
The first “Zippe-type” gas centrifuge, named after one of its main developers, German scientist Gernot Zippe, is produced. The centrifuge uses duralumin rotors. Centrifuge rotors are thin-walled tubes that spin at high speeds producing enriched uranium 235. Centrifuge rotors are highly sensitive and must be made from specialized high-strength material.
People and organizations involved: Gernot Zippe
After the 1950s
The use of aluminum for rotors in gas centrifuges is discontinued. Other materials, such as maraging steel and carbon fiber, are used instead.
At this time, an engineer named “Joe T.,” is working in the gas centrifuge program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His work pertains not to actual centrifuges, but to the platforms upon which the centrifuges are installed.
People and organizations involved: Joe T.
Joe T., an engineer, begins working for the CIA.
People and organizations involved: Joe T.
Iraq begins developing “Zippe-type” centrifuges (see 1950s). The centrifuges use rotors made from maraging steel and carbon fiber, which are more advanced than aluminum and allow the rotor to spin at significantly higher speeds. But Iraq has problems building them—even with considerable assistance from German experts.
Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, moves to Europe where he forms al-Tawhid, a terrorist organization whose aim it is to kill Jews and install an Islamic regime in Jordan. While in Europe, Al Zarqawi and other members of his group make plans to attack Jews and Israeli targets in Germany. In late 1999, Al Zarqawi is allegedly involved in an attempt to blow up the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman, Jordan, whose customers are frequently Israeli and American tourists. At some point during this period, Al Zarqawi establishes a terrorist training camp near Herat, Afghanistan, which competes with al-Qaeda for new recruits. According to the Bush administration, the training camp specializes in poisons and explosives. While in Afghanistan, Zarqawi maintains contact with his cells in Europe.
People and organizations involved: Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi
Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, CIA Director William acknowledges the West's increasing dependency on Middle East oil.
People and organizations involved: William H. Webster
The Pentagon, citing top-secret satellite images, claims that some 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks are gathering on Saudi Arabia?s border in preparation for an attack. But two commercial Soviet satellite images of the border area, taken at the same time, obtained by Florida?s St. Petersburg Times, show only an empty desert. “The bulk of the mighty Iraqi army, said to number more than 500,000 in Kuwait and southern Iraq, couldn't be found,” Newsday reports. ; Los Angeles Times, 1/5/03; St. Petersburg Times, 1/6/91]
The US National Security Council presents a white paper to President Bush in which it describes Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq as the optimum contender “to replace the Warsaw Pact” and on that basis argues for the continuation of Cold War-level military spending.
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
August 2, 1990
The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 678 authorizing “Member States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait ... to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area.”
People and organizations involved: United Nations Security Council
August 2, 1990
The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 660 condemning Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and demanding that Iraq “withdraw immediately and unconditionally all its forces to the positions in which they were located on 1 August 1990.”
People and organizations involved: United Nations Security Council
An unconfirmed report of Iraqi soldiers entering a Kuwaiti hospital and removing newborns from their incubators is distributed widely. The rumor, which later turns out to be false, is seized upon by senior executives of the PR firm Hill and Knowlton, which has a $10 million contract from the Kuwaiti royal family to win support for a US-led intervention against Iraq. The PR firm, which has very close ties to the Bush administration, helps a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only as “Nayirah,” prepare to speak before a congressional caucus. In her testimony, she describes in detail how she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers storm the hospital where she was an intern and steal the incubators, leaving 312 babies “on the cold floor to die.” President Bush refers to the incident numerous times as he lobbies Congress to authorize the use of military force against Iraq. But it is later discovered that Nayirah is actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington and that she was never an intern at the Kuwait hospital. The story was a complete fabrication. ; Christian Science Monitor 9/6/02 ; Los Angeles Times, 1/5/03]
People and organizations involved: Hill and Knowlton, George Herbert Walker Bush
After the First Gulf War, the British Defense Ministry's Defense Intelligence Staff creates a secret intelligence office known as Operation Rockingham. The purpose of the top secret cell is to collect intelligence that can be used by the US and British to support the case for maintaining UN sanctions on Iraq. After the September 11 attacks, Rockingham helps build Britain's case for the need to use military force against Iraq. Former US Marine intelligence officer Scott Ritter, who has first-hand knowledge of the operation, will later tell reporters that the members of the cell were backed by officials “from the very highest levels,” including military and intelligence officers, as well as civilian officials from the ministry of defense. Sources equate Rockingham to the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (see August 18, 2003), which is also later accused of producing misleading assessments on Iraq based on the selective use of intelligence. The operation is similar to Operation Mass Appeal (see 1991-2003), another British intelligence disinformation program.
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter Additional Info
The report acknowledged the existence of Operation Rockingham and linked it to the UNSCOM inspections. — 1998
“The Government would feed off those reports to promote the notion that Iraq was a nation ruled by a dictator addicted to WMD.” — winter 2003
“ was an organization designed to support a pre-ordained conclusion of the British Government that Iraq will never be found in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions.” — winter 2003
“The Government would feed off those reports to promote the notion that Iraq was a nation ruled by a dictator addicted to WMD.” — winter 2003
“ Rockingham was spinning reports and emphasizing reports that showed non-compliance (by Iraq with UN inspections) and quashing those which showed compliance. It was cherry-picking intelligence.” — summer 2003
Rockingham's intelligence was built from “single source data of dubious quality.” — November 2003
“Operation Rockingham cherry-picked intelligence. It received hard data, but had a preordained outcome in mind. It only put forward a small percentage of the facts when most were ambiguous or noted no WMD... It became part of an effort to maintain a public mindset that Iraq was not in compliance with the inspections. They had to sustain the allegation that Iraq had WMD Unscom was showing the opposite.” — summer 2003
The British MI6 establishes Operation Mass Appeal, a British intelligence mission “designed to exaggerate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction” in order to shape public opinion. The operation plants stories in the US, British, and foreign media from the 1990s through 2003. Intelligence used by Mass Appeal is said to be “single source data of dubious quality.” After the First Gulf War, the operation seeks to justify the UN sanctions policy. But after the September 11 attacks, its objective is to secure public support for an invasion of Iraq. The mission is similar to Operation Rockingham (see 1991-2003), another British intelligence disinformation program. Former US Marine intelligence officer Scott Ritter says in late in 2003 (see November 21, 2003) that he supplied Mass Appeal with intelligence while serving as UN chief weapons inspector from the summer of 1997 until August 1998 and that he met with British agents involved in the operation several times in both New York and London.
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter Additional Info
Operation Mass Appeal “took this information and peddled it off to the media, internationally and domestically, allowing inaccurate intelligence data, to appear on the front pages.” — November 2003
The intelligence data provided to the media by Operation Mass Appeal “dealt with Iraq's efforts to procure WMDs, with Iraq's efforts to conceal WMDs. It was all single source data of dubious quality, which lacked veracity.” — November 2003
“The government, both here in the UK and the US, would feed off these media reports , continuing the perception that Iraq was a nation ruled by a leader with an addiction to WMDs.” — November 21
“I was approached by MI6 to provide that data, I met with the Mass Appeal operatives both in New York and London on several occasions. This data was provided and this data did find its way into the international media.” — November 2003
“The government, both here in the UK and the US, would feed off these media reports, continuing the perception that Iraq was a nation ruled by a leader with an addiction to WMDs.” — November 21, 2003
“They took this information and peddled it off to the media, internationally and domestically, allowing inaccurate intelligence data, to appear on the front pages.” — November 21, 2003
“I was brought into the operation in 1997 because at the UN... I sat on a body of data which was not actionable, but was sufficiently sexy that if it could appear in the press could make Iraq look like in a bad way.” — November 21, 2003
“I was approached by MI6 to provide that data, I met with the Mass Appeal operatives both in New York and London on several occasions. This data was provided and this data did find its way into the international media.” — November 21, 2003
“It was intelligence data that dealt with Iraq's efforts to procure WMDs, with Iraq's efforts to conceal WMDs. It was all single source data of dubious quality, which lacked veracity.” — November 21, 2003
“Over the next year , a former American intelligence officer told me, at least one member of the UN inspection team who supported the American and British position arranged for dozens of unverified and unverifiable intelligence reports and tips-data known as inactionable intelligence-to be funneled to MI6 operatives and quietly passed along to newspapers in London and elsewhere. ‘It was intelligence that was crap, and that we couldn't move on, but the Brits wanted to plant stories in England and around the world,’ the former officer said. There was a series of clandestine meetings with MI6, at which documents were provided, as well as quiet meetings, usually at safe houses in the Washington area. The British propaganda scheme eventually became known to some members of the UN inspection team. ‘I knew a bit,’ one official still on duty at UN headquarters acknowledged last week, ‘but I was never officially told about it.’ ” — October 2003
Unnamed Clinton Administration official
“I knew that was going on. We were getting ready for action in Iraq, and we wanted the Brits to prepare.” — October 2003
Under the supervision of UNSCOM weapons inspectors, Iraq destroys more than 38,000 filled and unfilled chemical munitions, 690 tons of chemical warfare agents, over 3,000 tons of precursor chemicals, more than 400 pieces of production equipment, 48 missiles, 6 missile launchers, and 30 missile warheads modified to carry chemical or biological agents. After cross-referencing weapons-making materials found in Iraq with sales records from other countries, UNSCOM inspectors conclude that at least 90% of Iraq's weapons have been destroyed or dismantled. Chief UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter believes that a good portion of the remaining 10% was destroyed during the First Gulf War, thus leaving only a small fraction unaccounted for.
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter
March 8, 1992
The Defense Planning Guidance document, a “blueprint for the department's spending priorities in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union,” is leaked to the New York Times. The paper causes controversy, because it hadn't yet been “scrubbed” to replace candid language with euphemisms. The document argues that the US dominates the world as sole superpower, and to maintain that role it “must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” ] As the Observer summarizes it, “America's friends are potential enemies. They must be in a state of dependence and seek solutions to their problems in Washington.” The document is mainly written by Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby, who hold relatively low posts at the time, but under Bush Jr. become Deputy Defense Secretary and Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, respectively. The document conspicuously avoids mention of collective security arrangements through the United Nations, instead suggesting the US “should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted.” It also calls for “punishing” or “threatening punishment” against regional aggressors before they act. Interests to be defended pre-emptively include “access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, threats to US citizens from terrorism.” Senator Lincoln Chafee (R), later says, “It is my opinion that plan for preemptive strikes was formed back at the end of the first Bush administration with that 1992 report.” In response to the controversy, in May 1992 the US releases an updated version of the document that stresses the US will work with the United Nations and its allies (see also January 1993).
People and organizations involved: Lincoln Chafee, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby, Paul Wolfowitz
August 22, 1995
Hussein Kamel, Iraq's former minister of military industry—who was Saddam Hussein's son-in-law and who had overseen Saddam's nuclear, chemical, biological and missile weapons programs for almost a decade—is interviewed shortly after defecting by UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Rolf Ekeus, Professor Maurizio Zifferero, deputy director of the Internal Atomic Energy Agency,and Nikita Smidovick of UNSCOM. During the interview, Kamel says that Iraq had destroyed all of its banned weapons after the First Gulf War. “I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed,” he tells his interviewers. With regard to Anthrax, which Kamel says had been the “main focus” of Iraq's biological program, Kamel says, “nothing remained.” Regarding the nerve gas, VX, Kamel says, “they put it in bombs during last days of the Iran-Iraq war. They were not used and the program was terminated.” When asked if the program had been reconstituted, Kamel replies, “We changed the factory into pesticide production. Part of the establishment started to produce medicine ... We gave instructions not to produce chemical weapons.” On the issue of prohibited missiles, Kamel states: “ot a single missile left but they had blueprints and molds for production. All missiles were destroyed.” Kamel also says that inspections worked in Iraq. “You have important role in Iraq with this. You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq,” he reveals. But this information is not made public. Newsweek reports in March 2003 that according to its sources, “Kamel's revelations about the destruction of Iraq's WMD stocks were hushed up by the UN inspectors ... for two reasons. Saddam did not know how much Kamel had revealed, and the inspectors hoped to bluff Saddam into disclosing still more.” Kamel also says that Khidhir Hamza, an Iraqi nuclear scientist who defected in 1994 and who will be a source for claims regarding Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is “a professional liar.” “He worked with us, but he was useless and always looking for promotions,” he tells his interviewers. “He consulted with me but could not deliver anything. . . . He was even interrogated by a team before he left and was allowed to go.” At around the same time, Kamel is also interviewed by the CIA and Britain's MI6. According to sources interviewed by Newsweek, Kamel provides them with the same information. But after this is revealed on February 24, 2003 by Newsweek's John Barry, the CIA issues a strong denial. “It is incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue,” CIA spokesman Bill Harlow will say.
People and organizations involved: Nikita Smidovick, Maurizio Zifferero, Rolf Ekeus, John Barry, Hussein Kamel, Bill Harlow
July 8, 1996
The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, an Israeli think tank, publishes a paper titled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The paper advises the new, right-wing Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy “based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism ....” The document advocates the removal of Saddam Hussein and the weakening of Syria. Other suggestions for Israel include abandoning the Oslo Accords, developing a foreign policy based on a traditional balance of power strategy, reserving its right to invade the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a strategy of “self-defense,” abandoning any notion of “land for peace,” reestablishing a policy of preemptive strikes, forging closer ties to the US while taking steps towards self-reliance, and seeking an alternative to Yasser Arafat as leader of the PLO. Some of the paper's authors will later be appointed to influential government and quasi-government positions during the administration of George W. Bush. The lead writer, Richard Perle, will serve on the Defense Policy Board (for the first year and a half he will serve as chairman). Douglas Feith will serve as undersecretary of defense for policy. He will oversee the activities of several controversial offices including the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (see Shortly after September 11, 2001) and the Office of Special Plans (see September 2002). David Wurmser will help run the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (see Shortly after September 11, 2001) through August 2002 and then will be transferred to the State Department to serve as a senior advisor to Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John R. Bolton (see September 2002).
People and organizations involved: Jeffrey T. Bergner, Richard Armitage, Richard V. Allen, Douglas Feith, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, Meyrav Wurmser, Jonathan Torop, Binyamin Netanyahu, Robert Loewenberg, James Colbert, David Wurmser, Charles Fairbanks, Jr.
June 3, 1997
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think tank formed in the spring of 1997, issues its statement of principles. PNAC states that its aims are “to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests,” to achieve “a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad,” “to increase defense spending significantly,” to challenge “regimes hostile to US interests and values,” and to “accept America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.” The statement is significant because it is signed by a group who will become “a rollcall of today's Bush inner circle.” ABC's Ted Koppel will later say PNAC's ideas have “been called a secret blueprint for US global domination” (see January 26, 1998) (see also September 2000, August 21, 2001 (B)).
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz, Steve Rosen, Peter Rodman, Henry S. Rowen, Vin Weber, Midge Decter, George Weigel, Norman Podhoretz, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Elliott Abrams, Steve Forbes, Donald Rumsfeld, William J. Bennett, Dick Cheney, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Lewis Libby, Dan Quayle, Jeb Bush, Donald Kagan, Fred C. Ikle, Eliot A. Cohen, Paula J. Dobriansky, Hasam Amin, Frank Gaffney
November 12, 1997
David Wurmser, director of the Middle East program at the American Enterprise Institute, writes an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the US government should support Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress and work to foment “an Iraqi insurgency to depose the butcher of Baghdad.” Wurmser writes: “Washington has no choice now but to abandon the coup option and resurrect the INC. An insurgency may be able to defeat Saddam's weak and demoralized conventional army. But one thing is clear: There is no cost-free way to depose Saddam. He is more resolute, wily and brutal than we. His strength lies in his weapons of terror; that is why he is so attached to them.... Organizing an insurgency to liberate Iraq under the INC may provoke Saddam to use these weapons on the way down. Better that, though, than current policy, which will lead him to use them on his way back up.”
People and organizations involved: David Wurmser, Ahmed Chalabi
The National Security Council (NSC) completes a review of Iraq and terrorism. In an interview with journalist Robert Dreyfuss four years later, Daniel Benjamin, then-director of counterterrorism at the NSC, summarizes the report's conclusions: “e went through every piece of intelligence we could find to see if there was a link al-Qaeda and Iraq, says Benjamin. We came to the conclusion that our intelligence agencies had it right: There was no noteworthy relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq. I know that for a fact. No other issue has been as closely scrutinized as this one.”
People and organizations involved: Daniel Benjamin
Radio Free Europe, headquartered in Prague, begins transmitting anti-Saddam programs into Iraq. Late in the year, Iraqi diplomat Jabir Salim defects and tells Czech officials that before leaving Iraq he had been given $150,000 in cash to finance a plot to blow up Radio Free Europe's headquarters. This information is apparently passed on to Washington and US officials warn Tom Dine, program director of Radio Free Europe, about the plot. In response, Radio Free Europe begins 24-hour video surveillance of the building.
People and organizations involved: Radio Free Europe, Jabir Salim, Tom Dine
Expert committees report that Iraq has failed to adequately account for 500 mustard-gas shells, 25 “special warheads,” 150 aerial bombs, 2 scud missiles, 520 kilograms of yeast extract growth medium specifically for anthrax, 15,000 122 mm artillery shells, 25,000 rockets and several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX.
25 Special Warheads - Iraq failed to account for 25 “special warheads” . Former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter will tell the Christian Science Monitor in mid-2002, “Even if he hid some warheads, they would have degenerated by now.”
Scud Missiles - Iraq has accounted for or destroyed 817 of its 819 Scud missiles. It is later suggested by experts, such as former UN inspector Scott Ritter and Charles Duelfer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that Iraq could possibly salvage and manufacture enough components to build up a store of between five and 25 missiles. But as the San Francisco Chronicle later notes, citing unspecified weapons experts, “there is no evidence that these have been tested or that Iraq has any functional launchers.”
8,5000 liters of anthrax - Iraq maintains that these remaining stores of Anthrax were unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991, however they offer no evidence of this. Scott Ritter, a former Marine intelligence officer and chief weapons inspector, will later say that evidence indicates that Iraq's liquid bulk anthrax has not been produced by Iraq since 1991. Furthermore, he adds, the factory where Iraq had produced the pathogen was destroyed in 1996. He says that any anthrax produced before then is no longer a threat to anyone because after three years liquid bulk anthrax becomes “useless sludge.”
Several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX - UNSCOM is unable to account for several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX. Iraq maintains that these remaining stocks were unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. In March 2003, UNMOVIC, the successor to UNSCOM, will report “that Iraq's production method created nerve agent that lasted only six to eight weeks.” Critics believe that most of these stocks were destroyed during the First Gulf War. Scott Ritter, a former chief weapons inspector, speaking at the Suffolk Law School building in downtown Boston, will say on July of 2002: “The research and development factory is destroyed . The product of that factory is destroyed. The weapons they loaded up have been destroyed. More importantly, the equipment procured from Europe that was going to be used for their large-scale VX nerve agent factory was identified by the special commission—still packed in its crates in 1997—and destroyed. Is there a VX nerve agent factory in Iraq today? Not on your life.”
“... from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq has in fact been disarmed... The chemical, biological, nuclear and long-range ballistic missile programs that were a real threat in 1991 had, by 1998, been destroyed or rendered harmless.” — March 9, 2000
“Under the most stringent on-site inspection regime in the history of arms control, Iraq's biological weapons programs were dismantled, destroyed or rendered harmless during the course of hundreds of no-notice inspections. The major biological weapons production facility—al Hakum, which was responsible for producing Iraq's anthrax—was blown up by high explosive charges and all its equipment destroyed. Other biological facilities met the same fate if it was found that they had, at any time, been used for research and development of biological weapons...No evidence of anthrax or any other biological agent was discovered.” — October 19, 2001
“Every single one of ... facilities” bombed in 1998, had been “subjected to repeated inspections and never did we detect anything to remotely suggest that these were involved in producing anything prohibited. There's nothing there. Nothing.” — Summer 2002
“What Iraq had in 1991 wasn't a weapon, it was a large chunk of metal with some sludge in it. The only way it was going to kill you was if it landed on your head.” — Summer 2002
“While we were never able to provide 100 percent certainty regarding the disposition of Iraq's proscribed weaponry, we did ascertain a 90-95 percent level of verified disarmament. This figure takes into account the destruction or dismantling of every major factory associated with prohibited weapons manufacture, all significant items of production equipment, and the majority of the weapons and agent produced by Iraq.” — July 20, 2002
“If Iraqi disarmament were a five-lap race, we would be three quarters of the way around the fifth and final lap.” — July 1998
“Chemical and biological weapons have a limited shelf life. All the materials that Saddam had in 1991 (at the end of the gulf war) would have degraded to the point of being useless long before 2003, whether or not he had destroyed them.” — Late May 2003
January 26, 1998
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter to President Clinton urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein because he is a “hazard” to “a significant portion of the world's supply of oil.” In a foretaste of what eventually happens, the letter calls for the US to go to war alone, attacks the United Nations, and says the US should not be “crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.” The letter is signed by many who will later lead the 2003 Iraq war. 10 of the 18 signatories later join the Bush Administration, including (future) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretaries of State John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, presidential adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams, and Bush's special Iraq envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. Clinton does heavily bomb Iraq in late 1998, but the bombing doesn't last long and its long-term effect is the break off of United Nations weapons inspections.
People and organizations involved: Richard Perle, William Schneider Jr., Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, Jeffrey T. Bergner, William Kristol, Donald Rumsfeld, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Robert Kagan, Francis Fukuyama, Peter Rodman, Paula J. Dobriansky, John R. Bolton, Vin Weber, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, William J. Bennett, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, Robert B. Zoellick
February 19, 1998
The Committee for Peace and Security publishes an open letter to President Bill Clinton outlining a 9-point “comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime.” The letter is signed by a litany of former US government officials known for their neoconservative viewpoints. Several of the signatories are also involved with the Project for the New American Century and had endorsed a similar letter published by that organization the previous month.
People and organizations involved: William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Donald Rumsfeld, Dov Zakheim, Paul Wolfowitz, Joshua Muravchik, Robert A. Pastor, Martin Peretz, Roger Robinson, Peter Rodman, Robert C. McFarlane, Jarvis Lynch, Frederick L. Lewis, Bernard Lewis, Paula J. Dobriansky, William B. Clark, Fred C. Ikle, Sven F. Kraemer, David Wurmser, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Frank Gaffney, Frank Carlucci, Max Singer, Richard Armitage, Richard V. Allen, Stephen Solarz, John R. Bolton, Gary Schmitt, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Stephen Bryen, Jeffrey Gedmin, Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Caspar Weinberger, Peter Rosenblatt, Leon Wienseltier, Richard Burt
UNSCOM weapons inspector Richard Butler states, “If Iraqi disarmament were a five-lap race, we would be three quarters of the way around the fifth and final lap.”
People and organizations involved: Robin Cook
Late December 1998
According to US intelligence sources, Farouk Hijazi, the Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, visits Afghanistan in late 1998 after US cruise missiles are fired on al Qaeda training camps following the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Hijazi, who is also a longtime intelligence officer, meets Osama bin Laden in Kandahar and extends an offer from Baghdad to provide refuge for him and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Bin Laden reportedly rejects the offer because he doesn't want his organization dominated by Saddam Hussein. After the 9/11 attacks, proponents of invading Iraq will claim the visit makes Hijazi a key link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Hijazi will be captured by US troops in late April 2003 after the US/British invasion of Iraq begins. When interrogated by US authorities, he will deny any Iraq-al-Qaeda ties.
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Mullah Mohammed Omar, Farouk Hijaz
Iraqi diplomat and suspected intelligence officer Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani arrives in Prague to replace his predecessor, Jabir Salim, who had defected (see 1998). Fearing that Al-Ani had a similar mission to that of Salim, Czech intelligence closely monitors al-Ani's activities. Sometime in 1999, al-Ani is reportedly videotaped loitering around and photographing the Radio Free Europe building. Al-Ani is sometimes seen with a thinner, taller man wearing a Shell Oil jacket who is never identified. The pictures are passed onto the Czech intelligence agency .
People and organizations involved: Radio Free Europe, Jabir Salim, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani
Joe T. begins working in the Winpac unit of the CIA, which analyzes intelligence related to dual-use technology and export controls.
People and organizations involved: Joe T.
Wissam al-Zahawie, Iraq's ambassador to the Vatican, sets off on a trip to several African countries, including Niger, where he meets with the country's president. Zahawie's visit is reported in the local newspaper as well as by a French news agency. The US and British governments are also aware of the trip but show no concern. At this time, Niger is “actively seeking economic assistance from the United States.” No one suggests that the trip's motives have anything to do with acquiring uranium. Soon after the September 11 attacks, the Italian intelligence service, SISMI, will provide the US with information it has about the trip and will suggest that the motive behind the visit was to discuss the future purchase of uranium oxide, also known as “yellowcake” (see Fall 2001).
People and organizations involved: Wissam al-Zahawie
(After February 1999)
Rocco Martino, an Italian security consultant, provides French officials with documents suggesting that Iraq intends to expand its “trade” with Niger. Martino was formerly a member of Italy's foreign intelligence service (SISMI). The French assume the trade being discussed would be in uranium, Niger's main export. At French intelligence's request, Martino continues supplying them with documents.
People and organizations involved: Rocco Martino
A special panel of the UN Security Council reports that “the declared facilities of Iraq's biological weapons program have been destroyed and rendered harmless.”
December 17, 1999
With the passing of UN Resolution 1284, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) is created to assist in the disarming of Iraq. The new body replaces the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM). UNMOVIC is deliberately designed to prevent infiltration by spies of the UN Security Council member states, specifically the US and Britain. This had been a problem with its predecessor, UNSCOM. The UN diminishes the role of Americans in the new commission by abolishing the powerful office of deputy chairman, which had always been held by an American, and by appointing non-Americans to important positions. In the new inspections body, “The highest-ranking American in the agency now has a relatively lowly job, in charge of the training division.” A Chinese official holds the senior “activity evaluation” position and a Russian official is in charge of “liaising with foreign governments and companies.” Another reform is that the inspectors will use commercial satellite companies, instead of US spy satellites, to monitor Iraq's activities.
Rocco Martino, an Italian security consultant and information peddler, is approached by a former colleague at SISMI, Italy's foreign intelligence agency, who tips him off to a former SISMI source working at the Nigerien Embassy in Rome who can provide Martino with information in exchange for a monthly retainer fee. Martino pursues the lead, and agrees to pay her 500 euros/month. The source, however, remains on SISMI's payroll providing the agency with a way to distribute information to the public while concealing its role. Most of the documents he will receive from the lady will be related to immigration into Italy and Islamist activities in North and Central Africa.
People and organizations involved: SISMI, Rocco Martino
US intelligence learns from the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) that Iraq has made arrangements to purchase tubes, made of 7075-T6 aluminum, from China through Garry Cordukes, the director of the Australian company International Aluminum Supply. The company is associated with Kam Kiu Propriety Limited, a subsidiary of the Chinese company that will manufacture the aluminum tubes. Concerned that the tubes may be related to Iraqi efforts to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, an Australian intelligence agent contacts Cordukes to obtain a sample of the tubes for examination. A CIA agent, Joe T., is said to have played a significant part in this discovery.
People and organizations involved: Joe T.
Former CIA director James Woolsey serves as a corporate officer for the Iraqi National Congress Support Foundation which manages the Iraqi National Congress' US funding. Also during this time, Woolsey and his former law firm, Shea and Gardner, provide the INC and Iraqi exiles with pro bono work.
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress (INC), Shea and Gardner, James Woolsey
During the 2000 presidential campaign, the Republican Party calls for “a comprehensive plan for the removal of Saddam Hussein.” Similarly, the Democratic Party's platform supports using “America's military might against Iraq when and where it is necessary.”
People and organizations involved: Democratic National Committee, Republican National Committee
The neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century writes a “blueprint” for the “creation of a ‘global Pax Americana’ ” (see also June 3, 1997). The document, titled, Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century, was written for the Bush team even before the 2000 Presidential election. It was written for future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor and President Bush's brother Jeb Bush, and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. The report calls itself a “blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.” The plan shows that the Bush team intended to take military control of Persian Gulf oil whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power and should retain control of the region even if there is no threat. It says: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” The report calls for the control of space through a new “US Space Forces,” the political control of the internet, the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates “regime change” in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran and other countries. It also mentions that “advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” (see also Spring 2001 and April 2001 (D)). However, the report complains that these changes are likely to take a long time, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” In an NBC interview at about the same time, Vice Presidential candidate Cheney defends Bush Jr.'s position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq because the US should not act as though “we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments.” This report and the Project for the New American Century generally are mostly ignored until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war (see February-March 20, 2003).
People and organizations involved: Robert Killebrew, Dov Zakheim, Robert Kagan, Fred Kagan, Donald Kagan, William Kristol, David Fautua, Dan Goure, Mark Lagon, Barry Watts, Michael Vickers, Mackubin Owens, Abram Shulsky, Gary Schmitt, David Epstein, Phil Meilinger, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Martinage, James Lasswell, Lewis Libby, Thomas Donnelly, Devon Gaffney Cross, Eliot A. Cohen, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, Roger Barnett, Alvin Bernstein, Stephen Cambone, Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Steve Rosen Additional Info
“This is garbage from right-wing think-tanks stuffed with chicken-hawks—men who have never seen the horror of war but are in love with the idea of war. Men like Cheney, who were draft-dodgers in the Vietnam war.... This is a blueprint for US world domination—a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world. I am appalled that a British Labour Prime Minister should have got into bed with a crew which has this moral standing.” — September 2000
Shortly after Bush is inaugurated into office, Greg Thielmann, an analyst for the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), is appointed to serve as the intelligence liaison to John Bolton. But Thielmann's intelligence briefings do not support Bolton's assumptions about Iraq, and Thielmann is soon barred from attending the meetings.
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton, Greg Thielmann Additional Info
John R. Bolton
“I found that there was lots of stuff that I wasn't getting and that the INR analysts weren't including. I didn't want it filtered. I wanted to see everything—to be fully informed. If that puts someone's nose out of joint, sorry about that.” — October 2003
John Bolton claimed that Greg Thielmann had “invited himself” to his daily staff meetings, while Thielmann had told Seymour Hersh he had been assigned the duty. Bolton explained: “This was my meeting with the four assistant secretaries who report to me, in preparation for the Secretary's 8:30 a.m. staff meeting. This was within my family of bureaus. There was no place for INR or anyone else—the Human Resources Bureau or the Office of Foreign Buildings.” — October 2003
“Bolton seemed to be troubled because INR was not telling him what he wanted to hear. I was intercepted at the door of his office and told, ‘The Under-Secretary doesn't need you to attend this meeting anymore’ ,” he was told by one of Bolton's aides. “The Under-Secretary wants to keep this in the family.” To ensure that Bolton received the intelligence he wanted, explained Thielmann, “He surrounded himself with a hand-chosen group of loyalists, and found a way to get CIA information directly.” — October 2003
Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian Muslim militant later alleged by the Bush administration to have ties to Osama bin Laden, is arrested in Jordan sometime in 2001 for his involvement in a late 1999 plot to blow up the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman, Jordan, whose customers are frequently Israeli and American tourists. Some time after his arrest, he is released. At some point he is convicted for his role in the plot and sentenced to death by a Jordanian court in absentia.
People and organizations involved: Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi
The US intelligence community—most notably the intelligence gatherers working in the Pentagon offices under Douglas Feith (see September 2002) —bases several of its intelligence assessments concerning Iraq on information offered by the Iraqi National Congress (INC) and by Iraqi defectors provided by the INC, despite warnings from the State Department and some CIA analysts that the lobbying group cannot be trusted. Some of the INC's intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed ties to terrorists are reportedly funneled directly to the office of Vice President Dick Cheney by Francis Brooke, the DC lobbyist for the group. Brooke will later acknowedge that the information provided by the INC was driven by an agenda. “I told them , as their campaign manager, ‘Go get me a terrorist and some WMD, because that's what the Bush administration is interested in.’ ” Brooke had previously worked for the Rendon Group, “a shadowy CIA-connected public-relations firm.”
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, Frank Gaffney, Dick Cheney, Francis Brooke Additional Info
“The Iraqi opposition, particularly the group led by Ahmed Chalabi, whose intelligence was underwritten by the Pentagon, played a crucial role in informing the Pentagon ... with information that looks, from this vantage point, like it was fraudulent, in many cases was fabricated, and the most benign interpretation was that it was just flat wrong.” — June 2003
“Our guys working this area for a living all believe Chalabi and all those guys in their Bond Street suits are charlatans. To take them for a source of anything except a fantasy trip would be a real stretch. But it's an article of faith among those with no military experience that the Iraqi military is low-hanging fruit.” — October 2002
“The UN stopped using Chalabi's information as a basis for conducting inspections once the tenuous nature of his sources and his dubious motivations became clear. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the mainstream US media, which give prominent coverage to sources of information that, had they not been related to Hussein's Iraq, would normally be immediately dismissed.” — January 28, 2002
“The intelligence isn't reliable at all. Much of it is propaganda. Much of it is telling the Defense Department what they want to hear. And much of it is used to support Chalabi's own presidential ambitions. They make no distinction between intelligence and propaganda, using alleged informants and defectors who say what Chalabi wants them to say, cooked information that goes right into presidential and vice-presidential speeches.” — Before March 19, 2003
(Mid-July 2001)-August 17, 2001
Almost immediately after Joe T.'s theory is circulated through US intelligence and science circles, a team of centrifuge physicists at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other similar institutions review the case. The team includes Dr. Jon A. Kreykes, head of Oak Ridge's national security advanced technology group; Dr. Duane F. Starr, an expert on nuclear proliferation threats; and Dr. Edward Von Halle, a retired Oak Ridge nuclear expert. They are advised by Dr. Houston G. Wood III, a retired Oak Ridge physicist considered to be “among the most eminent living experts” on centrifuges, and Dr. Gernot Zippe, one of the German scientists who developed an early uranium centrifuge in the 1950s (see 1950s). On August 17, the team publishes a classified Technical Intelligence Note which details why they believe the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes sought by Iraq were not intended for use in a gas centrifuge.
The tubes sought by Iraq are very different from tubes Iraq used previously in its centrifuge prototypes before the first Gulf War. The intercepted aluminum tubes are significantly longer and narrower.
Aluminum has not been used in gas centrifuges since the 1950s (see After the 1950s). Furthermore, Iraq is known to have had the blueprints for a more efficient centrifuge, which used maraging steel and carbon fiber, not aluminum (see (Late 1980s)). “Aluminum was a huge step backwards,” Dr. Houston Wood will later explain to the New York Times.
There are no known centrifuge machines “deployed in a production environment” that use tubes with such a small diameter.
The tubes' walls, measuring 3.3 millimeters, are three times too thick for “favorable use” in a “Zippe-type” centrifuge, which requires tubes with a thickness of no more than 1.1 millimeter.
The tubes are anodized, which is “not consistent” with a uranium centrifuge because the anodized coating can react with uranium gas. Houston G. Wood later tells The Washington Post in mid-2003 that “it would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges,” adding that it stretched “the imagination to come up with a way.” Though the scientists' report concludes that “rocket production is the much more likely end use for these tubes,” Joe T. sticks with his theory. His position is backed by CIA director George Tenet.
People and organizations involved: Duane F. Starr, Jon A. Kreykes, Houston G. Wood III, Gernot Zippe, George Tenet, Joe T., Edward Von Halle
January 2, 2001 %
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