The Guardian October 8, 2003


Deceit and dirty tricks on Iraq

by Susan Webb

Accusations that the White House illegally leaked information to stifle 
dissent over its Iraq war policy are the latest in a series of charges that 
the administration used deceit and dirty tricks to sell the Iraq war. The 
charges fuelled widening dissatisfaction over the cost of the occupation of 
Iraq  both in lives and dollars  and further battered President Bush's 
sagging credibility.

It was revealed last week that the CIA filed a "crime report" with the 
Justice Department, asking for an investigation of whether Bush officials 
illegally leaked to reporters the fact that the wife of former ambassador 
Joseph Wilson is an undercover CIA operative.

Wilson was sent by the CIA last year to investigate claims that Iraq had 
tried to purchase uranium in Africa. Wilson reported that the claims were 
false. Recently, he has publicly denounced the administration for knowingly 
using the false information to justify the war, including in Bush's State 
of the Union speech last January.

Wilson and others charge that the "outing" of his wife was done for 
revenge, and to warn others of the consequences of challenging the 
administration's policies. Revealing the name of an undercover agent is a 
federal crime. The Justice Department and FBI have now been forced to 
launch an investigation of White House involvement. Leading Democrats have 
called for the appointment of an independent prosecutor, saying the 
Ashcroft Justice Department is incapable of conducting an impartial 
investigation.

Earlier in the week, the Republican and Democratic heads of the House 
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released findings that the 
administration launched the war even though it had no solid evidence that 
Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction or had ties with 
terrorists.

In a September 25 letter to CIA director George Tenet, the committee's 
chair, Republican Porter Goss, a former CIA agent and a long-time supporter 
of Tenet, and the ranking Democrat, Jane Harman, charged that intelligence 
agencies' conclusions about Iraq's weapons programs were based largely on 
outdated, "circumstantial" and "fragmentary" information with "too many 
uncertainties".

Administration officials have delayed indefinitely the publication of a 
report by a group they sent to Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction, 
after the group found no evidence that any such weapons exist, following a 
four-month search. The report by the "Iraq Survey Group", consisting of 
1400 US and British scientists, military and intelligence experts, may 
never be published, British Government sources said.

Earlier last month, former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said he 
believes that Iraq destroyed most of its weapons of mass destruction 10 
years ago.

"I'm certainly more and more to the conclusion that Iraq has, as they 
maintained, destroyed all, almost, of what they had in the summer of 1991", 
Blix told an Australian radio station. "The more time that has passed, the 
more I think it's unlikely that anything will be found." His successor, 
Demetrius Perricos, told Reuters it was becoming "more and more difficult 
to believe stocks [of WMD] were there" in Iraq.

CNN's top war correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, recently accused the Bush 
administration of conducting a campaign of "fear" and "disinformation at 
the highest levels" during the Iraq war. On a CNBC talk show last month, 
Amanpour said CNN and journalists in general were "intimidated" by the 
administration, which, with the help of Fox News, created "a climate of 
fear and self-censorship."

On September 30, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 29-0 to approve 
President Bush's $87 billion "supplemental" request to pay for the 
occupation of Iraq. Most Senate Democrats are not opposing the bulk of 
Bush' s request  $67 billion for military operations. They are focusing 
instead on the $20 billion requested for Iraq's reconstruction. The fight 
is expected to continue on the Senate floor until mid-October.

During a nation-wide "call-in" organised by the Win Without War coalition 
and MoveOn.org, in five hours over 12,000 people called their senators to 
oppose giving Bush a blank cheque, saying Congress should require him to 
hand over control of Iraq to the United Nations, and fire those responsible 
for mismanaging Iraq, starting with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Bush's $87 billion request, in the midst of record job losses and budget 
cuts for domestic needs, has sparked wide public discontent. But rather 
than challenging the occupation, pressing for transfer of control to the 
UN, or suggesting that Pentagon funds or war profits pay for repairing the 
damage caused by US actions, many Democrats are limiting their objections 
to calls for shifting reconstruction costs to Iraq.

At the UN, the administration is continuing its efforts to push through a 
resolution that would give a cover for military and financial help from 
other countries, without ceding real control either to the UN or to Iraqis. 
Thus far the US remains isolated.

"They're on their own", a UN official said. "It's just between them and the 
American taxpayer."

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People's Weekly World, newspaper of the CP USA

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