CIA Finds No Evidence Hussein Sought to Arm Terrorists
Sun Nov 16 15:27:25 2003
CIA Finds No Evidence Hussein Sought to Arm Terrorists
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 16, 2003; Page A20
The CIA's search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has found no evidence
that former president Saddam Hussein tried to transfer chemical or biological
technology or weapons to terrorists, according to a military and intelligence
This undated photo from the State Department shows intercepted aluminum tubes in
Iraq. Investigators have judged the aluminum tubes "innocuous." (Courtesy Of
Department Of State)
Anthony Cordesman, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International
Studies, provided new details about the weapons search and Iraqi insurgency in a
report released Friday. It was based on briefings over the past two weeks in
Iraq from David Kay, the CIA representative who is directing the search for
unconventional weapons in Iraq; L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil administrator
there; and military officials.
"No evidence of any Iraqi effort to transfer weapons of mass destruction or
weapons to terrorists," Cordesman wrote of Kay's briefing. "Only possibility was
Saddam's Fedayeen [his son's irregular terrorist force] and talk only."
One of the concerns the Bush administration cited early last year to justify the
need to invade Iraq was that Hussein would provide chemical or biological agents
or weapons to al Qaeda or other terrorists. Despite the disclosure that U.S. and
British intelligence officials assessed that Hussein would use or distribute
such weapons only if he were attacked and faced defeat, administration spokesmen
have continued to defend that position.
Last Thursday, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith defended the
administration's prewar position at the Council on Foreign Relations. "The idea
that we didn't have specific proof that he was planning to give a biological
agent to a terrorist group," he said, "doesn't really lead you to anything,
because you wouldn't expect to have that information even if it were true. And
our intelligence is just not at the point where if Saddam had that intention
that we would necessarily know it."
Yesterday, allegations of new evidence of connections between Iraq and al Qaeda
contained in a classified annex attached to Feith's Oct. 27 letter to leaders of
the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence were published in the Weekly
Standard. Feith had been asked to support his July 10 closed-door testimony
about such connections. The classified annex summarized raw intelligence reports
but did not analyze them or address their accuracy, according to a senior
administration official familiar with the matter.
During the recent Baghdad briefing, Cordesman noted that Kay said Iraq "did
order nuclear equipment from 1999 on, but no evidence [has turned up] of [a] new
major facility to use it."
Although there was no evidence of chemical weapons production, Kay said he had
located biological work "under cover of new agricultural facility" that showed
"advances in developing dry storable powder forms of botulinum toxin," Cordesman
During his Nov. 1-12 trip, Cordesman visited Baghdad, Babel, Tikrit and Kirkuk,
where he met combat commanders and staff in high-threat areas. Reporting on his
briefing by Bremer, Cordesman said 95 percent of the threat came from former
Hussein loyalists while most foreign terrorists, who entered Iraq before the
war, arrived from Syria, with some from Saudi Arabia and only "a few from Iran."
Bremer "felt Syrian intelligence knows [of the volunteers] but is not proactive
in encouraging [them]." He also said there was "no way to seal borders with
Syria, Saudi [Arabia] and Iran. Too manpower intensive."
Bremer said Hussein loyalists "still have lots of money to buy attacks [because]
at least $1 billion still unaccounted for." He also said the Syrians had
admitted "some $3 billion more of Iraqi money [is] in Syria."
The Coalition Joint Task Force briefers noted that the Iraq Governing Council
felt "the U.S. is too soft in attacking hostile targets, arrests and use of
force," while the U.S. side "feels restraint is the key to winning hearts and
Hussein, according to the briefers, "is cut off, isolated, moving constantly,
[and has] no real role in control." They told Cordesman that the "problem is
ex-generals and colonels with no other future -- not former top officials." They
also said Hussein "made officers read 'Black Hawk Down' [Mark Bowden's book
about the fatal downing of U.S. helicopters in Somalia a decade ago] to try to
convince them U.S. would have to leave if major casualties."
They said there will be attacks "until the day U.S. leaves" and "cannot ever get
intelligence up to point where [they can] stop all attacks."
During his visit to the Polish-led international division, south of Baghdad
where the Shiites predominate, Cordesman said there were 34 attacks before a
Pole was killed Nov. 6.
The force there considers the holy cities "stable" but notes that Shiite leaders
such as Grand Ayatollah Ali Hussein al-Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric,
"protect themselves with their own militias with CPA [Coalition Provisional
Authority] approval. This has its advantages, but it means they cannot be given
effective coalition protection," he wrote.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
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