Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Friday, September 13, 2002

Want a good look at what inspectors go through in Iraq. Here you go.

Lt-Col Gabriele Kraatz-Wadsack, of the German Army Medical Service, was one of Unscom’s top on-site investigators. In July 1998, deep inside the six-storey command post of Saddam Hussein’s Air Force, she had managed to persuade some officers to open a safe filled with documents. She was seeking evidence of the past manufacture, possession and use of biological agents as weapons.

As usual, the Iraqis had lied and lied - saying the documents were irrelevant to her enquiries. With the temperature inside the office rising to 54C (130F), Wadsack now faced a growing number of Air Force thugs and bully boys. As they menaced her, her eyes flicked to the document and caught the giveaway word “khas” - “special”, the euphemism used by the Iraqi military for biological and chemical warfare matters. She took the document, as she was fully entitled to do.

Her UN interpreter confirmed that it appeared to contain written evidence of munitions used by the Iraqi Air Force. These weapons included LD-250 bombs which Iraq had used to test biological warfare agents such as anthrax and botulinum toxin. The Iraqi Air Force officers shouted at her that the document was not relevant and she could not take it. She held her position and suggested a compromise: by which she would photocopy the document and the original would stay in the safe.

But when Wadsack tried to make copies the photocopy machine had already been sabotaged. The Iraqis made urgent phone calls to Baghdad. They came back and told her that permission to take photocopies had been revoked but she could make notes.

More phone calls to Baghdad, then another security officer bore down on her and said permission to take notes had been rescinded. He asked to see something on the document as a pretext and, as she held it up, he snatched it from her, thus crossing the dangerous line between verbal harassment and physical coercion. The colonel used her phone to call her chief executive, Ambassador Richard Butler, direct in New York. He negotiated an arrangement by which the document would be placed in a tamper-proof plastic envelope with UN seals at each end. The Iraqis would keep the document but it would eventually be revealed. It remains unexamined to this day.

Perhaps Kofi and Jaques and Gerhardt ad Daschle and the other appeasers are right. Let's just go through a few more years of that. After all it should only be a year or so until Saddam completes a nuke and then the inspectors can leave once and for all. Want some more

Terry Taylor, the former Colonel of the Royal Anglian Regiment, and now director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington, was an Unscom arms inspector in Iraq who was deeply hated by the Iraqis. By 1997 the Iraqi spy apparatus had penetrated Unscom’s own offices on the 30th and 31st floors inof the UN building in New York, both with electronic listening devices and one active Iraqi-paid agent.

When Taylor and Wadsack planned one key operation infor Baghdad they were forced to retire to a noisy Thai restaurant on Third Avenue, where strategies were discussed quietly and diagrams drawn on table napkins.

Taylor says: “Before entering Baghdad for the operation we went to a safe house in Bahrain where we dry-ran the operation. We knew our hotel room in Baghdad was bugged 24/7 and we knew the usual ‘special girls’ would be on duty in the lobby. Next we had to agree the use of special code words we could use in front of our numerous Iraqi minders. Also, in the past, people we have been looking for have literally jumped out of windows carrying secret files, so we had a plan to deal with that too.”

The ever-present minders would often discover where the UN inspectors were heading and give warning. “There was no point giving them a hint of our destination,” Taylor recalls, “as they invariably sanitised the location within hours. I forbade all operational discussions on internal phones in the hotel or even in public places or rooms. Important conversations were scribbled on scraps of paper and shown to the person concerned. All very le Carré, and all very necessary, believe me. “Even when we set off, we used a small portable GPS (Global Positioning System) to plot the route and we kept our hands over it because the minders were desperately trying to find out where we were going.” Taylor eventually got to his man, a university professor and expert on the deadly ricin, a favoured toxin for individual assassination.

There is example after example here of how useless the inspections were.

< email | 9/13/2002 11:23:00 AM | link

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