Full text of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech t

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Full text of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech t

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Part 1 of 2

Full text of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations on Iraq.
by Colin Powell
February 5, 2003

POWELL: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, distinguished colleagues, I would like to begin by expressing my thanks for the special effort that each of you made to be here today.

This is important day for us all as we review the situation with respect to Iraq and its disarmament obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441.

Last November 8, this council passed Resolution 1441 by a unanimous vote. The purpose of that resolution was to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq had already been found guilty of material breach of its obligations, stretching back over 16 previous resolutions and 12 years.


Resolution 1441 was not dealing with an innocent party, but a regime this council has repeatedly convicted over the years. Resolution 1441 gave Iraq one last chance, one last chance to come into compliance or to face serious consequences. No council member present in voting on that day had any allusions about the nature and intent of the resolution or what serious consequences meant if Iraq did not comply.

From that point on, I had to go get the resolution. It took seven to eight weeks to finally get it — unanimous, but with a mixed reaction. Some people said: “OK, Iraqis now have been given a get-out-of-jail card if they’ll turn in all the information we need to satisfy ourselves that they don’t have them. But this is not necessarily a license to go to war.” But we thought it was, and the French thought it wasn’t. So we knew we were going to have another round about this.

-- Colin Powell: U.N. Speech “Was a Great Intelligence Failure”, by Jason M. Breslow

And to assist in its disarmament, we called on Iraq to cooperate with returning inspectors from UNMOVIC and IAEA.

Iraq: Failing to Disarm: Transcript of Iraqi Conversation -- Modified Vehicle

Col: Peace. We just have a small question.

Gen: Yeah.

Col: About this committee that is coming...

Gen: Yeah, yeah.

Col: ...with Muhammad El Baradei [Director, International Atomic Energy Agency]

Gen: Yeah, yeah.

Col: Yeah.

Gen: Yeah?

Col: We have this modified vehicle.

Gen: Yeah.

Col: What do we say if one of them sees it?

Gen: You didn't get a modified ... You don't have a modified...

Col: By God, I have one.

Gen: Which? From the workshop ...?

Col: From the al Kindi Company.

Gen: What?

Col: From al-Kindi.

Gen: Yeah, yeah, I'll come to you in the morning. I have some comments. I'm worried you all have something left.

Col: We evacuated everything. We don't have anything left.

Gen: I will come to you tomorrow.

Col: Okay.

Gen: I have a conference at headquarters. Before I attend the conference I will come to you.

Released on February 5, 2003


We laid down tough standards for Iraq to meet to allow the inspectors to do their job. This council placed the burden on Iraq to comply and disarm and not on the inspectors to find that which Iraq has gone out of its way to conceal for so long. Inspectors are inspectors; they are not detectives.

I asked for this session today for two purposes: First, to support the core assessments made by Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei. As Dr. Blix reported to this council on January 27th, quote, ``Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament which was demanded of it,'' unquote.

And as Dr. ElBaradei reported, Iraq's declaration of December 7, quote, ``did not provide any new information relevant to certain questions that have been outstanding since 1998.'' My second purpose today is to provide you with additional information, to share with you what the United States knows about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as well as Iraq's involvement in terrorism, which is also the subject of Resolution 1441 and other earlier resolutions.

I might add at this point that we are providing all relevant information we can to the inspection teams for them to do their work.

The material I will present to you comes from a variety of sources. Some are U.S. sources. And some are those of other countries. Some of the sources are technical, such as intercepted telephone conversations and photos taken by satellites. Other sources are people who have risked their lives to let the world know what Saddam Hussein is really up to.

I cannot tell you everything that we know. But what I can share with you, when combined with what all of us have learned over the years, is deeply troubling. What you will see is an accumulation of facts and disturbing patterns of behavior. The facts on Iraqis' behavior--Iraq's behavior demonstrate that Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort--no effort--to disarm as required by the international community. Indeed, the facts and Iraq's behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.

Let me begin by playing a tape for you. What you're about to hear is a conversation that my government monitored. It takes place on November 26 of last year, on the day before United Nations teams resumed inspections in Iraq.


The conversation involves two senior officers, a colonel and a brigadier general, from Iraq's elite military unit, the Republican Guard. Let me pause and review some of the key elements of this conversation that you just heard between these two officers.

First, they acknowledge that our colleague, Mohamed ElBaradei, is coming, and they know what he's coming for, and they know he's coming the next day. He's coming to look for things that are prohibited. He is expecting these gentlemen to cooperate with him and not hide things.


But they're worried. ``We have this modified vehicle. What do we say if one of them sees it?''

What is their concern? Their concern is that it's something they should not have, something that should not be seen.


The general is incredulous: ``You didn't get a modified. You don't have one of those, do you?''

``I have one.''

``Which, from where?''

``From the workshop, from the Al Kendi (ph) Company?''


``From Al Kendi (ph).''


``I'll come to see you in the morning. I'm worried. You all have something left.''

``We evacuated everything. We don't have anything left.''

Note what he says: ``We evacuated everything.''

We didn't destroy it. We didn't line it up for inspection. We didn't turn it into the inspectors. We evacuated it to make sure it was not around when the inspectors showed up.

``I will come to you tomorrow.''

The Al Kendi (ph) Company: This is a company that is well known to have been involved in prohibited weapons systems activity. Let me play another tape for you. As you will recall, the inspectors found 12 empty chemical warheads on January 16. On January 20, four days later, Iraq promised the inspectors it would search for more. You will now hear an officer from Republican Guard headquarters issuing an instruction to an officer in the field. Their conversation took place just last week on January 30.


1/8Speaking in Arabic. 3/8



POWELL: Let me pause again and review the elements of this message.

``They're inspecting the ammunition you have, yes.''


``For the possibility there are forbidden ammo.''

``For the possibility there is by chance forbidden ammo?''



``And we sent you a message yesterday to clean out all of the areas, the scrap areas, the abandoned areas. Make sure there is nothing there.'' Remember the first message, evacuated.This is all part of a system of hiding things and moving things out of the way and making sure they have left nothing behind.


If you go a little further into this message, and you see the specific instructions from headquarters: ``After you have carried out what is contained in this message, destroy the message because I don't want anyone to see this message.''

``OK, OK.''

Why? Why?

This message would have verified to the inspectors that they have been trying to turn over things. They were looking for things. But they don't want that message seen, because they were trying to clean up the area to leave no evidence behind of the presence of weapons of mass destruction. And they can claim that nothing was there. And the inspectors can look all they want, and they will find nothing.

This effort to hide things from the inspectors is not one or two isolated events, quite the contrary. This is part and parcel of a policy of evasion and deception that goes back 12 years, a policy set at the highest levels of the Iraqi regime.

We know that Saddam Hussein has what is called quote, ``a higher committee for monitoring the inspections teams,'' unquote. Think about that. Iraq has a high-level committee to monitor the inspectors who were sent in to monitor Iraq's disarmament. Not to cooperate with them, not to assist them, but to spy on them and keep them from doing their jobs.

The committee reports directly to Saddam Hussein. It is headed by Iraq's vice president, Taha Yassin Ramadan. Its members include Saddam Hussein's son Qusay.

This committee also includes Lieutenant General Amir al-Saadi, an adviser to Saddam. In case that name isn't immediately familiar to you, General Saadi has been the Iraqi regime's primary point of contact for Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei. It was General Saadi who last fall publicly pledged that Iraq was prepared to cooperate unconditionally with inspectors. Quite the contrary, Saadi's job is not to cooperate, it is to deceive; not to disarm, but to undermine the inspectors; not to support them, but to frustrate them and to make sure they learn nothing.

We have learned a lot about the work of this special committee. We learned that just prior to the return of inspectors last November the regime had decided to resume what we heard called, quote, ``the old game of cat and mouse,'' unquote.


For example, let me focus on the now famous declaration that Iraq submitted to this council on December 7. Iraq never had any intention of complying with this council's mandate. Instead, Iraq planned to use the declaration, overwhelm us and to overwhelm the inspectors with useless information about Iraq's permitted weapons so that we would not have time to pursue Iraq's prohibited weapons. Iraq's goal was to give us, in this room, to give those us on this council the false impression that the inspection process was working.

You saw the result. Dr. Blix pronounced the 12,200-page declaration, rich in volume, but poor in information and practically devoid of new evidence.

Could any member of this council honestly rise in defense of this false declaration?

Everything we have seen and heard indicates that, instead of cooperating actively with the inspectors to ensure the success of their mission, Saddam Hussein and his regime are busy doing all they possibly can to ensure that inspectors succeed in finding absolutely nothing.

My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples, and these are from human sources.

Orders were issued to Iraq's security organizations, as well as to Saddam Hussein's own office, to hide all correspondence with the Organization of Military Industrialization. This is the organization that oversees Iraq's weapons of mass destruction activities. Make sure there are no documents left which could connect you to the OMI.

We know that Saddam's son, Qusay, ordered the removal of all prohibited weapons from Saddam's numerous palace complexes. We know that Iraqi government officials, members of the ruling Baath Party and scientists have hidden prohibited items in their homes. Other key files from military and scientific establishments have been placed in cars that are being driven around the countryside by Iraqi intelligence agents to avoid detection.


Thanks to intelligence they were provided, the inspectors recently found dramatic confirmation of these reports. When they searched the home of an Iraqi nuclear scientist, they uncovered roughly 2,000 pages of documents. You see them here being brought out of the home and placed in U.N. hands. Some of the material is classified and related to Iraq's nuclear program.

Tell me, answer me, are the inspectors to search the house of every government official, every Baath Party member and every scientist in the country to find the truth, to get the information they need, to satisfy the demands of our council?

Our sources tell us that, in some cases, the hard drives of computers at Iraqi weapons facilities were replaced. Who took the hard drives. Where did they go? What's being hidden? Why? There's only one answer to the why: to deceive, to hide, to keep from the inspectors.

Numerous human sources tell us that the Iraqis are moving, not just documents and hard drives, but weapons of mass destruction to keep them from being found by inspectors. While we were here in this council chamber debating Resolution 1441 last fall, we know, we know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was disbursing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq. Most of the launchers and warheads have been hidden in large groves of palm trees and were to be moved every one to four weeks to escape detection.

We also have satellite photos that indicate that banned materials have recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities.

Let me say a word about satellite images before I show a couple. The photos that I am about to show you are sometimes hard for the average person to interpret, hard for me. The painstaking work of photo analysis takes experts with years and years of experience, pouring for hours and hours over light tables. But as I show you these images, I will try to capture and explain what they mean, what they indicate to our imagery specialists.


Let's look at one. This one is about a weapons munition facility, a facility that holds ammunition at a place called Taji (ph). This is one of about 65 such facilities in Iraq. We know that this one has housed chemical munitions. In fact, this is where the Iraqis recently came up with the additional four chemical weapon shells.

Here, you see 15 munitions bunkers in yellow and red outlines. The four that are in red squares represent active chemical munitions bunkers.


How do I know that? How can I say that? Let me give you a closer look. Look at the image on the left. On the left is a close-up of one of the four chemical bunkers. The two arrows indicate the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions. The arrow at the top that says security points to a facility that is the signature item for this kind of bunker. Inside that facility are special guards and special equipment to monitor any leakage that might come out of the bunker. The truck you also see is a signature item. It's a decontamination vehicle in case something goes wrong.

This is characteristic of those four bunkers. The special security facility and the decontamination vehicle will be in the area, if not at any one of them or one of the other, it is moving around those four, and it moves as it needed to move, as people are working in the different bunkers.

Now look at the picture on the right. You are now looking at two of those sanitized bunkers. The signature vehicles are gone, the tents are gone, it's been cleaned up, and it was done on the 22nd of December, as the U.N. inspection team is arriving, and you can see the inspection vehicles arriving in the lower portion of the picture on the right.

The bunkers are clean when the inspectors get there. They found nothing.


This sequence of events raises the worrisome suspicion that Iraq had been tipped off to the forthcoming inspections at Taji (ph). As it did throughout the 1990s, we know that Iraq today is actively using its considerable intelligence capabilities to hide its illicit activities. From our sources, we know that inspectors are under constant surveillance by an army of Iraqi intelligence operatives. Iraq is relentlessly attempting to tap all of their communications, both voice and electronics. I would call my colleagues attention to the fine paper that United Kingdom distributed yesterday, which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities.

In this next example, you will see the type of concealment activity Iraq has undertaken in response to the resumption of inspections. Indeed, in November 2002, just when the inspections were about to resume this type of activity spiked. Here are three examples.


At this ballistic missile site, on November 10, we saw a cargo truck preparing to move ballistic missile components. At this biological weapons related facility, on November 25, just two days before inspections resumed, this truck caravan appeared, something we almost never see at this facility, and we monitor it carefully and regularly.


At this ballistic missile facility, again, two days before inspections began, five large cargo trucks appeared along with the truck-mounted crane to move missiles. We saw this kind of house cleaning at close to 30 sites.

Days after this activity, the vehicles and the equipment that I've just highlighted disappear and the site returns to patterns of normalcy. We don't know precisely what Iraq was moving, but the inspectors already knew about these sites, so Iraq knew that they would be coming.

We must ask ourselves: Why would Iraq suddenly move equipment of this nature before inspections if they were anxious to demonstrate what they had or did not have?

Remember the first intercept in which two Iraqis talked about the need to hide a modified vehicle from the inspectors. Where did Iraq take all of this equipment? Why wasn't it presented to the inspectors?


Iraq also has refused to permit any U-2 reconnaissance flights that would give the inspectors a better sense of what's being moved before, during and after inspectors.


This refusal to allow this kind of reconnaissance is in direct, specific violation of operative paragraph seven of our Resolution 1441.

Saddam Hussein and his regime are not just trying to conceal weapons, they're also trying to hide people. You know the basic facts. Iraq has not complied with its obligation to allow immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted and private access to all officials and other persons as required by Resolution 1441.

The regime only allows interviews with inspectors in the presence of an Iraqi official, a minder. The official Iraqi organization charged with facilitating inspections announced, announced publicly and announced ominously that, quote, ``Nobody is ready to leave Iraq to be interviewed.''

Iraqi Vice President Ramadan accused the inspectors of conducting espionage, a veiled threat that anyone cooperating with U.N. inspectors was committing treason.

Iraq did not meet its obligations under 1441 to provide a comprehensive list of scientists associated with its weapons of mass destruction programs. Iraq's list was out of date and contained only about 500 names, despite the fact that UNSCOM had earlier put together a list of about 3,500 names.

Let me just tell you what a number of human sources have told us.

Saddam Hussein has directly participated in the effort to prevent interviews. In early December, Saddam Hussein had all Iraqi scientists warned of the serious consequences that they and their families would face if they revealed any sensitive information to the inspectors. They were forced to sign documents acknowledging that divulging information is punishable by death.

Saddam Hussein also said that scientists should be told not to agree to leave Iraq; anyone who agreed to be interviewed outside Iraq would be treated as a spy. This violates 1441.

In mid-November, just before the inspectors returned, Iraqi experts were ordered to report to the headquarters of the special security organization to receive counterintelligence training. The training focused on evasion methods, interrogation resistance techniques, and how to mislead inspectors.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are not assertions. These are facts, corroborated by many sources, some of them sources of the intelligence services of other countries.

For example, in mid-December weapons experts at one facility were replaced by Iraqi intelligence agents who were to deceive inspectors about the work that was being done there. On orders from Saddam Hussein, Iraqi officials issued a false death certificate for one scientist, and he was sent into hiding.

In the middle of January, experts at one facility that was related to weapons of mass destruction, those experts had been ordered to stay home from work to avoid the inspectors. Workers from other Iraqi military facilities not engaged in elicit weapons projects were to replace the workers who'd been sent home. A dozen experts have been placed under house arrest, not in their own houses, but as a group at one of Saddam Hussein's guest houses. It goes on and on and on.

As the examples I have just presented show, the information and intelligence we have gathered point to an active and systematic effort on the part of the Iraqi regime to keep key materials and people from the inspectors in direct violation of Resolution 1441. The pattern is not just one of reluctant cooperation, nor is it merely a lack of cooperation. What we see is a deliberate campaign to prevent any meaningful inspection work.

My colleagues, operative paragraph four of U.N. Resolution 1441, which we lingered over so long last fall, clearly states that false statements and omissions in the declaration and a failure by Iraq at any time to comply with and cooperate fully in the implementation of this resolution shall constitute--the facts speak for themselves--shall constitute a further material breach of its obligation. We wrote it this way to give Iraq an early test--to give Iraq an early test. Would they give an honest declaration and would they early on indicate a willingness to cooperate with the inspectors? It was designed to be an early test.

They failed that test. By this standard, the standard of this operative paragraph, I believe that Iraq is now in further material breach of its obligations. I believe this conclusion is irrefutable and undeniable.

Iraq has now placed itself in danger of the serious consequences called for in U.N. Resolution 1441. And this body places itself in danger of irrelevance if it allows Iraq to continue to defy its will without responding effectively and immediately.

The issue before us is not how much time we are willing to give the inspectors to be frustrated by Iraqi obstruction. But how much longer are we willing to put up with Iraq's noncompliance before we, as a council, we, as the United Nations, say: ``Enough. Enough.''


The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world. Let me now turn to those deadly weapons programs and describe why they are real and present dangers to the region and to the world.

First, biological weapons. We have talked frequently here about biological weapons. By way of introduction and history, I think there are just three quick points I need to make.

First, you will recall that it took UNSCOM four long and frustrating years to pry--to pry--an admission out of Iraq that it had biological weapons.

Second, when Iraq finally admitted having these weapons in 1995, the quantities were vast. Less than a teaspoon of dry anthrax, a little bit about this amount--this is just about the amount of a teaspoon--less than a teaspoon full of dry anthrax in an envelope shutdown the United States Senate in the fall of 2001. This forced several hundred people to undergo emergency medical treatment and killed two postal workers just from an amount just about this quantity that was inside of an envelope. Iraq declared 8,500 liters of anthrax, but UNSCOM estimates that Saddam Hussein could have produced 25,000 liters. If concentrated into this dry form, this amount would be enough to fill tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of teaspoons. And Saddam Hussein has not verifiably accounted for even one teaspoon-full of this deadly material.

And that is my third point. And it is key. The Iraqis have never accounted for all of the biological weapons they admitted they had and we know they had. They have never accounted for all the organic material used to make them. And they have not accounted for many of the weapons filled with these agents such as there are 400 bombs. This is evidence, not conjecture. This is true. This is all well-documented.

Dr. Blix told this council that Iraq has provided little evidence to verify anthrax production and no convincing evidence of its destruction. It should come as no shock then, that since Saddam Hussein forced out the last inspectors in 1998, we have amassed much intelligence indicating that Iraq is continuing to make these weapons.


One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq's biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents. Let me take you inside that intelligence file and share with you what we know from eye witness accounts. We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.

The trucks and train cars are easily moved and are designed to evade detection by inspectors. In a matter of months, they can produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War.

Although Iraq's mobile production program began in the mid-1990s, U.N. inspectors at the time only had vague hints of such programs. Confirmation came later, in the year 2000.

The source was an eye witness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities. He actually was present during biological agent production runs. He was also at the site when an accident occurred in 1998. Twelve technicians died from exposure to biological agents.

He reported that when UNSCOM was in country and inspecting, the biological weapons agent production always began on Thursdays at midnight because Iraq thought UNSCOM would not inspect on the Muslim Holy Day, Thursday night through Friday. He added that this was important because the units could not be broken down in the middle of a production run, which had to be completed by Friday evening before the inspectors might arrive again.

This defector is currently hiding in another country with the certain knowledge that Saddam Hussein will kill him if he finds him. His eye-witness account of these mobile production facilities has been corroborated by other sources.

A second source, an Iraqi civil engineer in a position to know the details of the program, confirmed the existence of transportable facilities moving on trailers.

A third source, also in a position to know, reported in summer 2002 that Iraq had manufactured mobile production systems mounted on road trailer units and on rail cars.


Finally, a fourth source, an Iraqi major, who defected, confirmed that Iraq has mobile biological research laboratories, in addition to the production facilities I mentioned earlier. We have diagrammed what our sources reported about these mobile facilities.

Here you see both truck and rail car-mounted mobile factories. The description our sources gave us of the technical features required by such facilities are highly detailed and extremely accurate.

As these drawings based on their description show, we know what the fermenters look like, we know what the tanks, pumps, compressors and other parts look like. We know how they fit together. We know how they work. And we know a great deal about the platforms on which they are mounted.

As shown in this diagram, these factories can be concealed easily, either by moving ordinary-looking trucks and rail cars along Iraq's thousands of miles of highway or track, or by parking them in a garage or warehouse or somewhere in Iraq's extensive system of underground tunnels and bunkers.

We know that Iraq has at least seven of these mobile biological agent factories.


The truck-mounted ones have at least two or three trucks each. That means that the mobile production facilities are very few, perhaps 18 trucks that we know of--there may be more--but perhaps 18 that we know of. Just imagine trying to find 18 trucks among the thousands and thousands of trucks that travel the roads of Iraq every single day.

It took the inspectors four years to find out that Iraq was making biological agents. How long do you think it will take the inspectors to find even one of these 18 trucks without Iraq coming forward, as they are supposed to, with the information about these kinds of capabilities?

Ladies and gentlemen, these are sophisticated facilities. For example, they can produce anthrax and botulinum toxin. In fact, they can produce enough dry biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. And dry agent of this type is the most lethal form for human beings.

By 1998, U.N. experts agreed that the Iraqis had perfected drying techniques for their biological weapons programs. Now, Iraq has incorporated this drying expertise into these mobile production facilities.

We know from Iraq's past admissions that it has successfully weaponized not only anthrax, but also other biological agents, including botulinum toxin, aflatoxin and ricin.

But Iraq's research efforts did not stop there. Saddam Hussein has investigated dozens of biological agents causing diseases such as gas gangrene, plague, typhus (ph), tetanus, cholera, camelpox and hemorrhagic fever, and he also has the wherewithal to develop smallpox.


The Iraqi regime has also developed ways to disburse lethal biological agents, widely and discriminately into the water supply, into the air. For example, Iraq had a program to modify aerial fuel tanks for Mirage jets. This video of an Iraqi test flight obtained by UNSCOM some years ago shows an Iraqi F-1 Mirage jet aircraft. Note the spray coming from beneath the Mirage; that is 2,000 liters of simulated anthrax that a jet is spraying.

In 1995, an Iraqi military officer, Mujahid Sali Abdul Latif (ph), told inspectors that Iraq intended the spray tanks to be mounted onto a MiG-21 that had been converted into an unmanned aerial vehicle, or a UAV. UAVs outfitted with spray tanks constitute an ideal method for launching a terrorist attack using biological weapons. Iraq admitted to producing four spray tanks. But to this day, it has provided no credible evidence that they were destroyed, evidence that was required by the international community.

There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction. If biological weapons seem too terrible to contemplate, chemical weapons are equally chilling.

UNMOVIC already laid out much of this, and it is documented for all of us to read in UNSCOM's 1999 report on the subject.


Let me set the stage with three key points that all of us need to keep in mind: First, Saddam Hussein has used these horrific weapons on another country and on his own people. In fact, in the history of chemical warfare, no country has had more battlefield experience with chemical weapons since World War I than Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Second, as with biological weapons, Saddam Hussein has never accounted for vast amounts of chemical weaponry: 550 artillery shells with mustard, 30,000 empty munitions and enough precursors to increase his stockpile to as much as 500 tons of chemical agents. If we consider just one category of missing weaponry--6,500 bombs from the Iran-Iraq war--UNMOVIC says the amount of chemical agent in them would be in the order of 1,000 tons. These quantities of chemical weapons are now unaccounted for.

Dr. Blix has quipped that, quote, ``Mustard gas is not (inaudible) You are supposed to know what you did with it.''

We believe Saddam Hussein knows what he did with it, and he has not come clean with the international community. We have evidence these weapons existed. What we don't have is evidence from Iraq that they have been destroyed or where they are. That is what we are still waiting for.

Third point, Iraq's record on chemical weapons is replete with lies. It took years for Iraq to finally admit that it had produced four tons of the deadly nerve agent, VX. A single drop of VX on the skin will kill in minutes. Four tons.

The admission only came out after inspectors collected documentation as a result of the defection of Hussein Kamal, Saddam Hussein's late son-in-law. UNSCOM also gained forensic evidence that Iraq had produced VX and put it into weapons for delivery. Yet, to this day, Iraq denies it had ever weaponized VX. And on January 27, UNMOVIC told this council that it has information that conflicts with the Iraqi account of its VX program.

We know that Iraq has embedded key portions of its illicit chemical weapons infrastructure within its legitimate civilian industry. To all outward appearances, even to experts, the infrastructure looks like an ordinary civilian operation. Illicit and legitimate production can go on simultaneously; or, on a dime, this dual-use infrastructure can turn from clandestine to commercial and then back again.

These inspections would be unlikely, any inspections of such facilities would be unlikely to turn up anything prohibited, especially if there is any warning that the inspections are coming. Call it ingenuous or evil genius, but the Iraqis deliberately designed their chemical weapons programs to be inspected. It is infrastructure with a built-in ally.
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Re: Full text of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's spee

Postby admin » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:56 am

Part 2 of 2

Under the guise of dual-use infrastructure, Iraq has undertaken an effort to reconstitute facilities that were closely associated with its past program to develop and produce chemical weapons.

For example, Iraq has rebuilt key portions of the Tariq (ph) state establishment. Tariq (ph) includes facilities designed specifically for Iraq's chemical weapons program and employs key figures from past programs.

That's the production end of Saddam's chemical weapons business. What about the delivery end?

I'm going to show you a small part of a chemical complex called al-Moussaid (ph), a site that Iraq has used for at least three years to transship chemical weapons from production facilities out to the field.


In May 2002, our satellites photographed the unusual activity in this picture. Here we see cargo vehicles are again at this transshipment point, and we can see that they are accompanied by a decontamination vehicle associated with biological or chemical weapons activity. What makes this picture significant is that we have a human source who has corroborated that movement of chemical weapons occurred at this site at that time. So it's not just the photo, and it's not an individual seeing the photo. It's the photo and then the knowledge of an individual being brought together to make the case.


This photograph of the site taken two months later in July shows not only the previous site, which is the figure in the middle at the top with the bulldozer sign near it, it shows that this previous site, as well as all of the other sites around the site, have been fully bulldozed and graded. The topsoil has been removed. The Iraqis literally removed the crust of the earth from large portions of this site in order to conceal chemical weapons evidence that would be there from years of chemical weapons activity.

To support its deadly biological and chemical weapons programs, Iraq procures needed items from around the world using an extensive clandestine network. What we know comes largely from intercepted communications and human sources who are in a position to know the facts.

Iraq's procurement efforts include equipment that can filter and separate micro-organisms and toxins involved in biological weapons, equipment that can be used to concentrate the agent, growth media that can be used to continue producing anthrax and botulinum toxin, sterilization equipment for laboratories, glass-lined reactors and specialty pumps that can handle corrosive chemical weapons agents and precursors, large amounts of vinyl chloride, a precursor for nerve and blister agents, and other chemicals such as sodium sulfide, an important mustard agent precursor.

Now, of course, Iraq will argue that these items can also be used for legitimate purposes. But if that is true, why do we have to learn about them by intercepting communications and risking the lives of human agents? With Iraq's well documented history on biological and chemical weapons, why should any of us give Iraq the benefit of the doubt? I don't, and I don't think you will either after you hear this next intercept.

Just a few weeks ago, we intercepted communications between two commanders in Iraq's Second Republican Guard Corps. One commander is going to be giving an instruction to the other. You will hear as this unfolds that what he wants to communicate to the other guy, he wants to make sure the other guy hears clearly, to the point of repeating it so that it gets written down and completely understood. Listen.


1/8Speaking in Foreign Language. 3/8



POWELL: Let's review a few selected items of this conversation. Two officers talking to each other on the radio want to make sure that nothing is misunderstood:

``Remove. Remove.''

The expression, the expression, ``I got it.''


``Nerve agents. Nerve agents. Wherever it comes up.''

``Got it.''

``Wherever it comes up.''

``In the wireless instructions, in the instructions.''

``Correction. No. In the wireless instructions.''

``Wireless. I got it.''

Why does he repeat it that way? Why is he so forceful in making sure this is understood? And why did he focus on wireless instructions? Because the senior officer is concerned that somebody might be listening.

Well, somebody was.

``Nerve agents. Stop talking about it. They are listening to us. Don't give any evidence that we have these horrible agents.''

Well, we know that they do. And this kind of conversation confirms it.

Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets.Even the low end of 100 tons of agent would enable Saddam Hussein to cause mass casualties across more than 100 square miles of territory, an area nearly 5 times the size of Manhattan.


Let me remind you that, of the 122 millimeter chemical warheads, that the U.N. inspectors found recently, this discovery could very well be, as has been noted, the tip of the submerged iceberg. The question before us, all my friends, is when will we see the rest of the submerged iceberg?

Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein has used such weapons. And Saddam Hussein has no compunction about using them again, against his neighbors and against his own people.

And we have sources who tell us that he recently has authorized his field commanders to use them. He wouldn't be passing out the orders if he didn't have the weapons or the intent to use them.

We also have sources who tell us that, since the 1980s, Saddam's regime has been experimenting on human beings to perfect its biological or chemical weapons.

A source said that 1,600 death row prisoners were transferred in 1995 to a special unit for such experiments. An eye witness saw prisoners tied down to beds, experiments conducted on them, blood oozing around the victim's mouths and autopsies performed to confirm the effects on the prisoners. Saddam Hussein's humanity--inhumanity has no limits.


Let me turn now to nuclear weapons. We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program.

On the contrary, we have more than a decade of proof that he remains determined to acquire nuclear weapons.

To fully appreciate the challenge that we face today, remember that, in 1991, the inspectors searched Iraq's primary nuclear weapons facilities for the first time. And they found nothing to conclude that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program.

But based on defector information in May of 1991, Saddam Hussein's lie was exposed. In truth, Saddam Hussein had a massive clandestine nuclear weapons program that covered several different techniques to enrich uranium, including electromagnetic isotope separation, gas centrifuge, and gas diffusion. We estimate that this elicit program cost the Iraqis several billion dollars. Nonetheless, Iraq continued to tell the IAEA that it had no nuclear weapons program. If Saddam had not been stopped, Iraq could have produced a nuclear bomb by 1993, years earlier than most worse-case assessments that had been made before the war.

In 1995, as a result of another defector, we find out that, after his invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein had initiated a crash program to build a crude nuclear weapon in violation of Iraq's U.N. obligations.

Saddam Hussein already possesses two out of the three key components needed to build a nuclear bomb. He has a cadre of nuclear scientists with the expertise, and he has a bomb design.

Since 1998, his efforts to reconstitute his nuclear program have been focused on acquiring the third and last component, sufficient fissile material to produce a nuclear explosion. To make the fissile material, he needs to develop an ability to enrich uranium.


Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb. He is so determined that he has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries, even after inspections resumed.

These tubes are controlled by the Nuclear Suppliers Group precisely because they can be used as centrifuges for enriching uranium. By now, just about everyone has heard of these tubes, and we all know that there are differences of opinion. There is controversy about what these tubes are for.

Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Other experts, and the Iraqis themselves, argue that they are really to produce the rocket bodies for a conventional weapon, a multiple rocket launcher.

Let me tell you what is not controversial about these tubes. First, all the experts who have analyzed the tubes in our possession agree that they can be adapted for centrifuge use. Second, Iraq had no business buying them for any purpose. They are banned for Iraq.

I am no expert on centrifuge tubes, but just as an old Army trooper, I can tell you a couple of things: First, it strikes me as quite odd that these tubes are manufactured to a tolerance that far exceeds U.S. requirements for comparable rockets.


Maybe Iraqis just manufacture their conventional weapons to a higher standard than we do, but I don't think so. Second, we actually have examined tubes from several different batches that were seized clandestinely before they reached Baghdad. What we notice in these different batches is a progression to higher and higher levels of specification, including, in the latest batch, an anodized coating on extremely smooth inner and outer surfaces. Why would they continue refining the specifications, go to all that trouble for something that, if it was a rocket, would soon be blown into shrapnel when it went off?

The high tolerance aluminum tubes are only part of the story. We also have intelligence from multiple sources that Iraq is attempting to acquire magnets and high-speed balancing machines; both items can be used in a gas centrifuge program to enrich uranium.

In 1999 and 2000, Iraqi officials negotiated with firms in Romania, India, Russia and Slovenia for the purchase of a magnet production plant. Iraq wanted the plant to produce magnets weighing 20 to 30 grams. That's the same weight as the magnets used in Iraq's gas centrifuge program before the Gulf War. This incident linked with the tubes is another indicator of Iraq's attempt to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program.

Intercepted communications from mid-2000 through last summer show that Iraq front companies sought to buy machines that can be used to balance gas centrifuge rotors. One of these companies also had been involved in a failed effort in 2001 to smuggle aluminum tubes into Iraq.

People will continue to debate this issue, but there is no doubt in my mind, these elicit procurement efforts show that Saddam Hussein is very much focused on putting in place the key missing piece from his nuclear weapons program, the ability to produce fissile material. He also has been busy trying to maintain the other key parts of his nuclear program, particularly his cadre of key nuclear scientists.

It is noteworthy that, over the last 18 months, Saddam Hussein has paid increasing personal attention to Iraqi's top nuclear scientists, a group that the governmental-controlled press calls openly, his nuclear mujahedeen. He regularly exhorts them and praises their progress. Progress toward what end?


Long ago, the Security Council, this council, required Iraq to halt all nuclear activities of any kind. Let me talk now about the systems Iraq is developing to deliver weapons of mass destruction, in particular Iraq's ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs.


First, missiles. We all remember that before the Gulf War Saddam Hussein's goal was missiles that flew not just hundreds, but thousands of kilometers. He wanted to strike not only his neighbors, but also nations far beyond his borders.

While inspectors destroyed most of the prohibited ballistic missiles, numerous intelligence reports over the past decade, from sources inside Iraq, indicate that Saddam Hussein retains a covert force of up to a few dozen Scud variant ballistic missiles. These are missiles with a range of 650 to 900 kilometers.

We know from intelligence and Iraq's own admissions that Iraq's alleged permitted ballistic missiles, the al-Samud II (ph) and the al-Fatah (ph), violate the 150-kilometer limit established by this council in Resolution 687. These are prohibited systems.

UNMOVIC has also reported that Iraq has illegally important 380 SA-2 (ph) rocket engines. These are likely for use in the al-Samud II (ph). Their import was illegal on three counts. Resolution 687 prohibited all military shipments into Iraq. UNSCOM specifically prohibited use of these engines in surface-to-surface missiles. And finally, as we have just noted, they are for a system that exceeds the 150-kilometer range limit.

Worst of all, some of these engines were acquired as late as December--after this council passed Resolution 1441.

What I want you to know today is that Iraq has programs that are intended to produce ballistic missiles that fly of 1,000 kilometers. One program is pursuing a liquid fuel missile that would be able to fly more than 1,200 kilometers. And you can see from this map, as well as I can, who will be in danger of these missiles.


As part of this effort, another little piece of evidence, Iraq has built an engine test stand that is larger than anything it has ever had. Notice the dramatic difference in size between the test stand on the left, the old one, and the new one on the right. Note the large exhaust vent. This is where the flame from the engine comes out. The exhaust on the right test stand is five times longer than the one on the left. The one on the left was used for short-range missile. The one on the right is clearly intended for long-range missiles that can fly 1,200 kilometers.

This photograph was taken in April of 2002. Since then, the test stand has been finished and a roof has been put over it so it will be harder for satellites to see what's going on underneath the test stand.

Saddam Hussein's intentions have never changed. He is not developing the missiles for self-defense. These are missiles that Iraq wants in order to project power, to threaten, and to deliver chemical, biological and, if we let him, nuclear warheads.

Now, unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs.


Iraq has been working on a variety of UAVs for more than a decade. This is just illustrative of what a UAV would look like. This effort has included attempts to modify for unmanned flight the MiG-21 (ph) and with greater success an aircraft called the L-29 (ph). However, Iraq is now concentrating not on these airplanes, but on developing and testing smaller UAVs, such as this.

UAVs are well suited for dispensing chemical and biological weapons. There is ample evidence that Iraq has dedicated much effort to developing and testing spray devices that could be adapted for UAVs. And of the little that Saddam Hussein told us about UAVs, he has not told the truth. One of these lies is graphically and indisputably demonstrated by intelligence we collected on June 27, last year.


According to Iraq's December 7 declaration, its UAVs have a range of only 80 kilometers. But we detected one of Iraq's newest UAVs in a test flight that went 500 kilometers nonstop on autopilot in the race track pattern depicted here.

Not only is this test well in excess of the 150 kilometers that the United Nations permits, the test was left out of Iraq's December 7th declaration. The UAV was flown around and around and around in a circle. And so, that its 80 kilometer limit really was 500 kilometers unrefueled and on autopilot, violative of all of its obligations under 1441.

The linkages over the past 10 years between Iraq's UAV program and biological and chemical warfare agents are of deep concern to us. Iraq could use these small UAVs which have a wingspan of only a few meters to deliver biological agents to its neighbors or if transported, to other countries, including the United States.

My friends, the information I have presented to you about these terrible weapons and about Iraq's continued flaunting of its obligations under Security Council Resolution 1441 links to a subject I now want to spend a little bit of time on. And that has to do with terrorism.


Our concern is not just about these elicit weapons. It's the way that these elicit weapons can be connected to terrorists and terrorist organizations that have no compunction about using such devices against innocent people around the world.

Iraq and terrorism go back decades. Baghdad trains Palestine Liberation Front members in small arms and explosives. Saddam uses the Arab Liberation Front to funnel money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers in order to prolong the Intifada. And it's no secret that Saddam's own intelligence service was involved in dozens of attacks or attempted assassinations in the 1990s.

But what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaida terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, an associated in collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida lieutenants.

Zarqawi, a Palestinian born in Jordan, fought in the Afghan war more than a decade ago. Returning to Afghanistan in 2000, he oversaw a terrorist training camp. One of his specialities and one of the specialties of this camp is poisons. When our coalition ousted the Taliban, the Zarqaqi network helped establish another poison and explosive training center camp. And this camp is located in northeastern Iraq.


You see a picture of this camp. The network is teaching its operatives how to produce ricin and other poisons. Let me remind you how ricin works. Less than a pinch--image a pinch of salt--less than a pinch of ricin, eating just this amount in your food, would cause shock followed by circulatory failure. Death comes within 72 hours and there is no antidote, there is no cure. It is fatal.


Those helping to run this camp are Zarqawi lieutenants operating in northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein's controlled Iraq. But Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization, Ansar al-Islam, that controls this corner of Iraq. In 2000 this agent offered Al Qaida safe haven in the region. After we swept Al Qaida from Afghanistan, some of its members accepted this safe haven. They remain their today.

Zarqawi's activities are not confined to this small corner of north east Iraq. He traveled to Baghdad in May 2002 for medical treatment, staying in the capital of Iraq for two months while he recuperated to fight another day.

During this stay, nearly two dozen extremists converged on Baghdad and established a base of operations there. These Al Qaida affiliates, based in Baghdad, now coordinate the movement of people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for his network, and they've now been operating freely in the capital for more than eight months.

Iraqi officials deny accusations of ties with Al Qaida. These denials are simply not credible. Last year an Al Qaida associate bragged that the situation in Iraq was, quote, ``good,'' that Baghdad could be transited quickly.

We know these affiliates are connected to Zarqawi because they remain even today in regular contact with his direct subordinates, including the poison cell plotters, and they are involved in moving more than money and materiale.

Last year, two suspected Al Qaida operatives were arrested crossing from Iraq into Saudi Arabia. They were linked to associates of the Baghdad cell, and one of them received training in Afghanistan on how to use cyanide. From his terrorist network in Iraq, Zarqawi can direct his network in the Middle East and beyond.

We, in the United States, all of us at the State Department, and the Agency for International Development--we all lost a dear friend with the cold-blooded murder of Mr. Lawrence Foley in Amman, Jordan last October, a despicable act was committed that day. The assassination of an individual whose sole mission was to assist the people of Jordan. The captured assassin says his cell received money and weapons from Zarqawi for that murder. After the attack, an associate of the assassin left Jordan to go to Iraq to obtain weapons and explosives for further operations. Iraqi officials protest that they are not aware of the whereabouts of Zarqawi or of any of his associates. Again, these protests are not credible. We know of Zarqawi's activities in Baghdad. I described them earlier.

And now let me add one other fact. We asked a friendly security service to approach Baghdad about extraditing Zarqawi and providing information about him and his close associates. This service contacted Iraqi officials twice, and we passed details that should have made it easy to find Zarqawi. The network remains in Baghdad. Zarqawi still remains at large to come and go.

As my colleagues around this table and as the citizens they represent in Europe know, Zarqawi's terrorism is not confined to the Middle East. Zarqawi and his network have plotted terrorist actions against countries, including France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany and Russia.


According to detainee Abuwatia (ph), who graduated from Zarqawi's terrorist camp in Afghanistan, tasks at least nine North African extremists from 2001 to travel to Europe to conduct poison and explosive attacks.

Since last year, members of this network have been apprehended in France, Britain, Spain and Italy. By our last count, 116 operatives connected to this global web have been arrested.


The chart you are seeing shows the network in Europe. We know about this European network, and we know about its links to Zarqawi, because the detainee who provided the information about the targets also provided the names of members of the network.

Three of those he identified by name were arrested in France last December. In the apartments of the terrorists, authorities found circuits for explosive devices and a list of ingredients to make toxins.

The detainee who helped piece this together says the plot also targeted Britain. Later evidence, again, proved him right. When the British unearthed a cell there just last month, one British police officer was murdered during the disruption of the cell.


We also know that Zarqawi's colleagues have been active in the Pankisi Gorge, Georgia and in Chechnya, Russia. The plotting to which they are linked is not mere chatter. Members of Zarqawi's network say their goal was to kill Russians with toxins.

We are not surprised that Iraq is harboring Zarqawi and his subordinates. This understanding builds on decades long experience with respect to ties between Iraq and Al Qaida. Going back to the early and mid-1990s, when bin Laden was based in Sudan, an Al Qaida source tells us that Saddam and bin Laden reached an understanding that Al Qaida would no longer support activities against Baghdad. Early Al Qaida ties were forged by secret, high-level intelligence service contacts with Al Qaida, secret Iraqi intelligence high-level contacts with Al Qaida.

We know members of both organizations met repeatedly and have met at least eight times at very senior levels since the early 1990s. In 1996, a foreign security service tells us, that bin Laden met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Khartoum, and later met the director of the Iraqi intelligence service.

Saddam became more interested as he saw Al Qaida's appalling attacks. A detained Al Qaida member tells us that Saddam was more willing to assist Al Qaida after the 1998 bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Saddam was also impressed by Al Qaida's attacks on the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000.

Iraqis continued to visit bin Laden in his new home in Afghanistan. A senior defector, one of Saddam's former intelligence chiefs in Europe, says Saddam sent his agents to Afghanistan sometime in the mid-1990s to provide training to Al Qaida members on document forgery.

From the late 1990s until 2001, the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan played the role of liaison to the Al Qaida organization.

Some believe, some claim these contacts do not amount to much. They say Saddam Hussein's secular tyranny and Al Qaida's religious tyranny do not mix. I am not comforted by this thought. Ambition and hatred are enough to bring Iraq and Al Qaida together, enough so Al Qaida could learn how to build more sophisticated bombs and learn how to forge documents, and enough so that Al Qaida could turn to Iraq for help in acquiring expertise on weapons of mass destruction.

And the record of Saddam Hussein's cooperation with other Islamist terrorist organizations is clear. Hamas, for example, opened an office in Baghdad in 1999, and Iraq has hosted conferences attended by Palestine Islamic Jihad. These groups are at the forefront of sponsoring suicide attacks against Israel.

Al Qaida continues to have a deep interest in acquiring weapons of mass destruction. As with the story of Zarqawi and his network, I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to Al Qaida.

Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story. I will relate it to you now as he, himself, described it.

This senior Al Qaida terrorist was responsible for one of Al Qaida's training camps in Afghanistan. His information comes first-hand from his personal involvement at senior levels of Al Qaida. He says bin Laden and his top deputy in Afghanistan, deceased Al Qaida leader Muhammad Atif (ph), did not believe that Al Qaida labs in Afghanistan were capable enough to manufacture these chemical or biological agents. They needed to go somewhere else. They had to look outside of Afghanistan for help. Where did they go? Where did they look? They went to Iraq.

The support that (inaudible) describes included Iraq offering chemical or biological weapons training for two Al Qaida associates beginning in December 2000. He says that a militant known as Abu Abdula Al-Iraqi (ph) had been sent to Iraq several times between 1997 and 2000 for help in acquiring poisons and gases. Abdula Al-Iraqi (ph) characterized the relationship he forged with Iraqi officials as successful.

As I said at the outset, none of this should come as a surprise to any of us. Terrorism has been a tool used by Saddam for decades. Saddam was a supporter of terrorism long before these terrorist networks had a name. And this support continues. The nexus of poisons and terror is new. The nexus of Iraq and terror is old. The combination is lethal.

With this track record, Iraqi denials of supporting terrorism take the place alongside the other Iraqi denials of weapons of mass destruction. It is all a web of lies.

When we confront a regime that harbors ambitions for regional domination, hides weapons of mass destruction and provides haven and active support for terrorists, we are not confronting the past, we are confronting the present. And unless we act, we are confronting an even more frightening future.


My friends, this has been a long and a detailed presentation. And I thank you for your patience. But there is one more subject that I would like to touch on briefly. And it should be a subject of deep and continuing concern to this council, Saddam Hussein's violations of human rights.

Underlying all that I have said, underlying all the facts and the patterns of behavior that I have identified as Saddam Hussein's contempt for the will of this council, his contempt for the truth and most damning of all, his utter contempt for human life. Saddam Hussein's use of mustard and nerve gas against the Kurds in 1988 was one of the 20th century's most horrible atrocities; 5,000 men, women and children died. His campaign against the Kurds from 1987 to '89 included mass summary executions, disappearances, arbitrary jailing, ethnic cleansing and the destruction of some 2,000 villages. He has also conducted ethnic cleansing against the Shi'a Iraqis and the Marsh Arabs whose culture has flourished for more than a millennium. Saddam Hussein's police state ruthlessly eliminates anyone who dares to dissent. Iraq has more forced disappearance cases than any other country, tens of thousands of people reported missing in the past decade.

Nothing points more clearly to Saddam Hussein's dangerous intentions and the threat he poses to all of us than his calculated cruelty to his own citizens and to his neighbors. Clearly, Saddam Hussein and his regime will stop at nothing until something stops him.


For more than 20 years, by word and by deed Saddam Hussein has pursued his ambition to dominate Iraq and the broader Middle East using the only means he knows, intimidation, coercion and annihilation of all those who might stand in his way. For Saddam Hussein, possession of the world's most deadly weapons is the ultimate trump card, the one he most hold to fulfill his ambition.

We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he's determined to make more. Given Saddam Hussein's history of aggression, given what we know of his grandiose plans, given what we know of his terrorist associations and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not some day use these weapons at a time and the place and in the manner of his choosing at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond?

The United States will not and cannot run that risk to the American people. Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11th world.

My colleagues, over three months ago this council recognized that Iraq continued to pose a threat to international peace and security, and that Iraq had been and remained in material breach of its disarmament obligations. Today Iraq still poses a threat and Iraq still remains in material breach. Indeed, by its failure to seize on its one last opportunity to come clean and disarm, Iraq has put itself in deeper material breach and closer to the day when it will face serious consequences for its continued defiance of this council.

My colleagues, we have an obligation to our citizens, we have an obligation to this body to see that our resolutions are complied with. We wrote 1441 not in order to go to war, we wrote 1441 to try to preserve the peace. We wrote 1441 to give Iraq one last chance. Iraq is not so far taking that one last chance.

We must not shrink from whatever is ahead of us. We must not fail in our duty and our responsibility to the citizens of the countries that are represented by this body.

Thank you, Mr. President.
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Re: Full text of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's spee

Postby admin » Mon Mar 06, 2017 5:47 am

Colin Powell: U.N. Speech “Was a Great Intelligence Failure”
by Jason M. Breslow
May 17, 2016



Colin Powell has called his 2003 speech to the United Nations, laying out the Bush administration’s rationale for war in Iraq, a “blot” on his record. The speech set out to detail Iraq’s weapons program, but as the intelligence would later confirm, that program was nonexistent.

More than 13 years later, the speech continues to haunt the administration — not just for what it got wrong, but for the unintended consequences it may have set in motion.

In one section, for example, Powell mentioned the name Abu Musab al-Zarqawi 21 times. The aim was to establish Zarqawi as the link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. The problem, according to former members of the intelligence community, is that although Zarqawi once travelled to Afghanistan hoping to meet Osama bin Laden, he was considered a poor recruit for Al Qaeda.

Powell’s U.N. speech helped elevate Zarqawi’s status, and within months, he was rapidly gaining followers in Iraq, fomenting sectarian warfare and laying the groundwork for the organization that would become ISIS.

Today, Powell says his speech was approved by former CIA chief George Tenet, but says he doesn’t remember the details about Zarqawi.

“Zarqawi was not anything uppermost in my mind,” he told FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore in an interview for the documentary The Secret History of ISIS. “It was not a significant part of the speech for me. It was almost a passing reference.”

In the below transcript of that conversation, conducted Feb. 5, 2016, Powell talks about the speech, what he remembers about Zarqawi, and why he warned President Bush on Iraq, “If you break it, you own it.”

Q. Let’s start out in 2002. You were concerned about the consequences of what would happen after an invasion of Iraq. You were telling the president that famous phrase, “If you break it, you own it.” What were your concerns, and why were they not listened to?

A. The second part of your thing may not be accurate, and I’ll come to that. In the summer of 2002, when I returned from an overseas trip, I could see that the president had been receiving a lot of military briefings about how one would go into Iraq, but they didn’t take him all the way through what might happen once you go into Iraq, so I asked to see him. I went up to his private quarters in the White House on the evening of Aug. 5, 2002, for dinner.

I just laid it out for him. I said: “Mr. President, it isn’t just a simple matter of going to Baghdad. I know how to do that. What happens after? You need to understand, if you take out a government, take out a regime, guess who becomes the government and regime and is responsible for the country? You are. So if you break it, you own it. You need to understand that 28 million Iraqis will be standing there looking at us, and I haven’t heard enough of the planning for that eventuality.”

He took it very seriously, and he said, “What do you think I should do?” I said: “One, I think we should try to avoid a war, and the way to do that is to go to the offended party, which is the United Nations. Take this case to the United Nations and see if we cannot resolve the issue of weapons of mass destruction diplomatically.”

He said, “Good idea,” and he discussed it in conferences, meetings, television conferences with some of the other members of his team over the next several days. He asked me to brief the chief of staff, and I did. And he said, “I think this is the right thing to do,” and with some reluctance they all agreed to take it to the U.N. …

From that point on, I had to go get the resolution. It took seven to eight weeks to finally get it — unanimous, but with a mixed reaction. Some people said: “OK, Iraqis now have been given a get-out-of-jail card if they’ll turn in all the information we need to satisfy ourselves that they don’t have them. But this is not necessarily a license to go to war.” But we thought it was, and the French thought it wasn’t. So we knew we were going to have another round about this.

Saddam Hussein simply didn’t — he did not give us persuasive evidence that he did not have them or that he was not developing them. … Early in January, the president decided, “Sorry, I cannot take the chance in this post-9/11 environment that somebody who might have or does have or is working on these weapons is allowed to continue in violation of U.N. resolutions.” And he made the decision in the middle of January that it was going to require military action. And he asked me to take the case up to the United Nations.

Q, So that speech, why you?

A. I’m secretary of state. Who else would you send? You can’t send the secretary of defense to the U.N. The U.N. ambassador — this is a little above that pay grade. So he selected me, and I think he thought I had credibility to deliver a speech, and it would be believable.

The speech supposedly had been prepared in the White House in the NSC [National Security Council]. But when we were given what had been prepared, it was totally inadequate, and we couldn’t track anything in it. When I asked Condi Rice, the national security advisor, where did this come from, it turns out the vice president’s office had written it.

“I said: ‘Mr. President, it isn’t just a simple matter of going to Baghdad. I know how to do that. What happens after? You need to understand, if you take out a government, take out a regime, guess who becomes the government and regime and is responsible for the country? You are. So if you break it, you own it.'”

So I asked, well, can we delay this a little bit? And the answer was no, because the president has already announced that you’re doing it next Tuesday, I think it was. So I had about four days. I was disturbed but not panicked because it all came out of the National Intelligence Estimate, NIE. The National Intelligence Estimate had been given the previous fall to the Congress; they’re the ones who asked for it, and they’re the ones who got it. And all the information about weapons of mass destruction as the intelligence community analyzed it was in that NIE.

So I said, no problem; let’s go out to the CIA and draw the best items out of that NIE and make the speech out of that. That’s what we did.

Q. What’s the first time the name [Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi first shows up on a piece of paper on your desk?

A. I don’t know. I don’t have the slightest idea.

Q. Why was that speech so important? And what was it like walking into that hall?

A. You have to remember that at the time I gave the speech on Feb. 5, the president had already made this decision for military action. The dice had been tossed. That’s what we were going to do. The Congress had passed a resolution three months before that speech that essentially gave the president the authorization to do it. Overwhelmingly they voted for it, and it was on the basis of that National Intelligence Estimate. The president had been using these very significant points about biological vans and chemical weapons in his speeches and in the State of the Union address. There was really nothing in my speech that hadn’t already been covered in the State of the Union or other speeches.

The reason I went to the U.N. is because we needed now to put the case before the entire international community in a powerful way, and that’s what I did that day.

Of course walking into that room is always a daunting experience, but I had been there before. And we had projectors and all sorts of technology to help us make the case. And that’s what I did. I made the case with the director of central intelligence sitting behind me. He and his team had vouched for everything in it. We didn’t make up anything. We threw out a lot of stuff that was not double- and triple-sourced, because I knew the importance of this.

When I was through, I felt pretty good about it. I thought we had made the case, and there was pretty good reaction to it for a few weeks. And then suddenly, the CIA started to let us know that the case was falling apart — parts of the case were falling apart. It was deeply disturbing to me and to the president, to all of us, and to the Congress, because they had voted on the basis of that information. And 16 intelligence agencies had agreed to it, with footnotes. None of the footnotes took away their agreement.

So it was deeply troubling, and I think that it was a great intelligence failure on our part, because the problems that existed in that NIE should have been recognized and caught earlier by the intelligence community.

Q. … What do you say about Zarqawi? Why does he make it into the speech?

A. I don’t remember. Zarqawi was not anything uppermost in my mind.
What specific language did I use in that one?

Q. He was the tie to Saddam. He was the tie to Al Qaeda. So in some ways, he was the tie between Saddam and Al Qaeda. He was in Iraq; he had been down to Baghdad to a hospital; he was in northern Kurdistan on the border in a terrorist camp; he was based there. But what falls through later is some of the evidence about that. Do you remember the importance of that story?

A. No, I don’t remember the importance of it. It was for the purpose of showing some kind of connection between Saddam Hussein and these kinds of gentlemen and ladies, and whatever they are. But it was not a significant part of the speech for me. It was almost a passing reference, because it was not clear to me what the connection really was from the NIE and the intelligence. But it was in there.

Q. That’s surprising to me, because the way it’s been sold is that was the one piece of evidence that sort of tied —

A. You say “the way it’s been sold.” I didn’t sell it, so go talk to the person who was selling it. I didn’t make a big deal of that. I don’t think I ever talked about it again. It was in the speech because it was part of the NIE, and it was more than weapons of mass destruction. It was a way to connect these bad people, these bad organizations, to perhaps Saddam Hussein, and it was in the intelligence product, so I made a reference to it. But I don’t think it was a very significant reference, even though it may have been sold as such later.

I was a salesman that day to present a product, but the product was something that came out of the intelligence community.

Q. Did that intelligence hold up?

A. I don’t remember. I didn’t follow that. I went about my business, back to being a diplomat.

Q. … We know what happens to him afterward; he really does become a huge part of the insurgency. Was he somebody that was on your radar screen as things developed?

A. You keep asking me about Zarqawi, and I keep telling you, I really did not follow him that closely. You need to ask the intelligence community. That was not my job. I was a salesman that day to present a product, but the product was something that came out of the intelligence community. …

Q. I keep asking because he’s one of our main characters.

A. I know, but it’s not mine.

Q. Some of the reporting afterward claims that Zarqawi was sort of an unknown at that point, and yet the speech in some ways made him famous, infamous.

A. My speech did not make him famous or infamous. It may have been sold by others, but it was in the National Intelligence Estimate. It was a view held by the intelligence community. So if you really want to know why it was there and how important it was, those are the people who can give you the answer, if you can get anybody to talk to you.

Q. In the summer of ’02 and early ’03, an attack on this camp, the one that Zarqawi was based in, was talked about. The CIA had people on the ground that were watching over it, miles from it. They were interviewing people about whether we should bomb this thing before the invasion. But there were worries that it would complicate the invasion. Do you remember any of that part?

A. I remember there were discussions about attacking various camps that we thought bad guys were hanging out in or weapons of mass destruction might be being developed inside. I think the one you’re referring to, we made a judgment that, let’s not start the war before we’re ready, and it is not clear that we are so confident of who’s there or what’s there that this will be worth a strike. There was a difference of opinion within the administration, and the president decided not to make the strike and start the war while we were still doing diplomacy, trying to avoid a war.

My goal in this period was to make sure that the president was taking into account all the consequences of military action, and I even said to him one day: “You do understand, Mr. President, if you do what I’m suggesting you do, try to find a diplomatic solution, and Saddam Hussein meets the test, he might stay in power; he might still be there. Can you live with that? If you can’t live with that, then let’s not waste our time at the U.N. But are you prepared to live with an Iraqi regime, a Saddam Hussein who has no weapons of mass destruction, no programs for weapons of mass destruction, but he’s still there? Do you really care?”

He says, “I care, but I would have to accept that outcome.” I couldn’t have done what I did if he said, “I will not accept a diplomatic solution.”

Q. One last thing on Zarqawi. … In Peter Baker’s book, which has gotten a lot of renown, in Days of Fire, [he] talked about specifically the attack on the camp where Zarqawi was based out of, and you were reluctant to allow it or advise it because you were afraid it might undermine the upcoming U.N. speech, which was the main pillar of the terrorist network —

A. The upcoming U.N. speech?

Q. Yeah.

A. When was this done?

Q. This was ’03.

A. What date? There was no U.N. speech until Jan. 30, and the president told me to do it.

Q. Exactly. That’s the speech he’s talking about. He’s saying that one of the reasons that you didn’t want the attack to happen beforehand, or you had advised against the attack, was because it would undercut one of the main pillars of your speech. Do you have the belief that that’s true?

A. Well, of course it’s true. If I’m getting ready to go to the U.N. and present our case, and suddenly before doing that we start a war, it will be a start of a war. I didn’t think that was a terribly good idea, and it wasn’t clear to me that there was something at that camp that was of such enormous importance. I don’t even remember whether it was Zarqawi’s presence or some products that are being made. It didn’t seem to me, and it didn’t seem to Dr. Rice, that this was worth doing at the time that we were trying to persuade the world that we are seeking a diplomatic solution. …

Q. How do you hear first about CPA-1 and CPA-2 [the Coalition Provisional Authority 1 and 2 orders which governed de-Baathification and dissolving the Iraqi army] when [L. Paul] Bremer is sent over to Iraq? When is the first time you hear about them, and what are your thoughts on them?

A. When I read it in the newspaper. I got up in the morning, and I opened the paper, and I saw that an order had been issued that was eliminating or deactivating or getting rid of the Iraqi army. I was stunned, because this was not the plan. The Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld’s officials, had briefed us in National Security Council meetings with the president present, three times in the previous couple of months, that said our plan is to drop leaflets on the Iraqi army telling them, “Don’t fight; just go to your house and wait for us”; that our plan was to get rid of the bad leadership of the Iraqi army and fill it with good leaders, and then reconstitute it from the soldiers that had been there or were there.

Ambassador Bremer had a different point of view. He thought it was so contaminated that the politicians in Iraq wouldn’t like it, and he thought, and some thought, well, they already disbanded themselves; the army’s gone. Well, an army doesn’t go just because some people have left. The structure’s still there, and it could have been filled. This wasn’t my recommendation. It was the recommendation of the Pentagon. Three times they made this recommendation.

So when suddenly in May 2003 a change is made within the Pentagon, and they are authorized to issue these instructions — first the army and then the Baath Party — it was not anything that was considered at NSC level. Some have said in their memoirs, well, the NSC was told about it. But I can tell you, I wasn’t told about it. Condi wasn’t told about it. The president wasn’t told about it. The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wasn’t told about it. The CIA was stunned, and the commanders in the field out there were stunned, because this was the solution to the security problem. We were going to reconstitute the Iraqi army so that they could secure their country, and instead we dismissed them, and we turned loose all of these trained military people who might have weapons with them and knew where weapons were. And a couple of weeks later, we were paying them as they demonstrated against what had happened to them. And Mr. Bremer had to pay them to get them calmed down.

Same thing with the Baath Party. When we had made a judgment that we have to sort of decimate the top of the Baath leadership, none of us understood that this was going … to go down to every last schoolteacher. Every one of them had to be a member of the Baath Party just to get a job. Doesn’t mean they were bad. If you’re going to take out the top, “decimation” is a good word. We were going to decimate the top, the people who were closest to Saddam Hussein, and reconstitute the rest of the society.

We didn’t do that with the military; we didn’t do that with the Baath Party, and [we] created a massive vacuum with respect to security and stability and bureaucracy. And that vacuum was filled by the insurgency. I think it was a major, massive strategic error.

Q. Did you have a conversation with Condi Rice about this?

A. I called Dr. Rice as soon as I saw it, and I said: “Condi, do you know about this? Does the president know about this?” She said no. I said: “What’s going to be our action? What is he going to do about it?” The answer was, the decision has been made by the people on the ground, Bremer, and so we will not overturn his decision; that would be very awkward. So we lived with it.

Q. Hard to live with.

A. Yes, it turned out to be very hard to live with. Then there was sort of great excitement and joy that Baghdad had been taken, and people wondered, well, why aren’t they parading up and down the streets in support of what we did? Why are we still having this sort of tension, difficulty? Why are they burning down the ministries? Why are the art galleries and museums being ripped apart? Why are the schools closed? What’s going on? …

Q. Let’s talk about the insurgency. July 2003, early on, Rumsfeld is talking about dead-enders. … CIA, of course, was warning that there is an insurgency. There were military folks on the ground saying, “Hey, guys, I think you’re getting this wrong.” What was going on? What was the conversation in Washington? Why was the vice president, why was Rumsfeld talking about this as dead-enders?

A. Well, you might have to ask them, but my own view, looking in and being part of that, is they thought that the fall of Baghdad and the elimination, at least out of the capital for the moment, of Saddam Hussein was a great victory. And it was.

But it was a tactical victory. It didn’t reflect the overall situation, which the State Department, I have to say, cautioned them about. What happens after, it isn’t just going to be the fall of Baghdad. They were so pleased with the tactical success, which was noteworthy, that they thought we won; it’s over.

You may recall Mr. Rumsfeld giving almost daily press conferences that were enormously popular. I just sat in the State Department watching, saying, “Fellas, it ain’t over.”

“[We] created a massive vacuum with respect to security and stability and bureaucracy. And that vacuum was filled by the insurgency. I think it was a major, massive strategic error.”

And then Sergio [Vieira] de Mello, our U.N. fellow, [the U.N. high commissioner for human rights and special representative of the secretary-general in Iraq], great guy, he was assassinated with this bomb. Then we started to get reports that an insurgency was growing, and then we started to get casualties. By the early fall of 2003, it was clear that it was time for the joy to be over. We were in trouble.

So by the early fall of 2003, we were in an insurgency, a serious insurgency that was growing, and I don’t think we reacted to it adequately. You have to remember that once Baghdad fell, the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld, cut off the flow of additional troops, and then we started ordering those that were there to go home. The two corps commanders were sent back home with their corps staffs, and a very junior two-star was put in charge of the theater, the most important theater we were in. He didn’t have a staff for it; he wasn’t given a staff for it, and there weren’t good relations between he and Mr. Bremer. We simply were not responding to the facts on the ground.

Q. General, this is so antithetical, opposite of the Powell doctrine.

A. Well, it wasn’t the Powell doctrine.

Q. So what were you thinking, and what were you telling them?

A. … Even before the war started, I asked [CENTCOM Commander in Chief] Gen. Franks: “Tommy, do you think you have enough troops for what you might be facing, not just in the war, but what you might have to do?” And the reaction was, you know, “That’s old thinking. We’re now agile; we’re now swift,” because they were only thinking — and the only mission Tommy had, CENTCOM had, was to take Baghdad.

We tried to insert into the process the kinds of problems you would face afterward. You, I’m sure, are well familiar with the study we had done. The study wasn’t a plan. It’s been dismissed by some of my old colleagues in the Pentagon: Well, this wasn’t a plan that would work. It wasn’t a plan. It was a study that said, fellas, when you take a regime, these are the issues you’re going to face — water, sanitation, education, military — all of the things that you had to take into consideration.

My staff, working with everybody involved, had prepared these plans. [Lt. Gen.] Jay Garner [Ret.], who was going to have initial responsibility as head of ORHA [Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance], as it was called, he was enjoying getting this information from somebody. But then the Pentagon got wind of it all, and it didn’t fit into their thinking that this was going to be a joyous celebration of newfound democracy, and we needed to put people in who we thought were politically reliable from the United States. So they essentially dismissed the plan.

Q. Did you just see disaster looming?

A. No, I didn’t see disaster. I didn’t know what was happening. But I just knew that something was going on, [and] we’d better get on top of. Everybody says, “Well, why didn’t you see this disaster?” Because it wasn’t a disaster at the time. Disasters sort of grow on you over time. And the disaster in this case grew until the president ordered the surge in 2006, 2007.

But to summarize all of this, we should have had the surge in the beginning of 2003. But that was not the game plan, and when I recommended it, Gen. Franks called Mr. Rumsfeld — as he should have, because I was sort of out of my channel at that point, general to general, not secretary of state to general — and Don’s reaction, according to Tommy Franks in his memoir, is, “Well, I’m glad Gen. Powell has raised this, Secretary Powell has raised this, and let’s discuss it with the president at the next meeting.” And at the next meeting, it was discussed. I don’t have firm memories of that meeting, but it was discussed, according to Gen. Franks. …

They had no obligation to listen to me. But you’re being a little devious with this. The president had a lot of advisers — his military advisers, four-star generals and admirals, a secretary of defense, a whole defense staff, the CIA, others within the Cabinet — and they said to him: “Look, we’re going to get to Baghdad. It’s not going to be a problem. And we don’t expect to happen the kinds of things that maybe Gen. Powell, Secretary Powell is worrying about.”

And the president, taking all that into account, listened to those advisers who were his principal military advisers. He was under no obligation to listen to a former chairman who had some experience in this, but who was in somewhat of a disagreement with the guys who had the responsibility.

It wasn’t the first time in my life that somebody has chosen another course of action that was not quite my course of action.

Q. When the U.N. bombing and the Jordanian embassy were bombed in August 2003, … and Sergio [Vieira de Mello] is killed, did we understand that the insurgents were choosing their targets carefully? Because what we now know from intelligence, of getting their documents and stuff, they were trying to complicate the international partnership that we were so intent on growing. Did we know that? What was the effect of those bombings?

A. I knew that clearly they killed a distinguished individual, who was a well-known diplomat and was not carrying the United States’ water on this. In fact, he was sent in by [Secretary-General] Kofi [Annan] to kind of give it an international patina. And he was the right guy for it. The insurgents clearly said, “We’re not looking for this, so let’s get rid of this guy.” So they blew him up. And they pulled the entire U.N. contingent out for a while. The secretary-general had to do that.

My own experience with these kinds of insurgents over time is that they just don’t bomb for the sake of bombing; it’s part of a greater strategy. Even if it’s just a car bomb in the street, it’s intended to terrorize; it’s intended to kill a particular person.

I knew by then that we were in a sophisticated counterinsurgency operation. But some of the administration still believed that these were nothing but dead-enders, and it was sort of the last twilight of the Saddam Hussein regime. It took them another couple of years, with mounting U.S. casualties, with the coalition that was not the kind of coalition we had for Desert Storm, to realize that we were kind of isolated with some friends of ours — the British and a few others.

But the president didn’t realize the significance of it all, I don’t think — but you’ll have to ask the president about that — until he realized something was wrong and he brought in some outside advisers, outside the folks he’s been listening to, who said, “This is falling apart,” and with Steve Hadley, then his national security advisor, who did really the legwork on this, and said: “You’ve got to do something. And we have to do something. This is failing.” That’s when the president decided that the surge was appropriate. I was gone by this time.

Q. Did we understand at that point Zarqawi’s role?

A. You’ll have to — I wasn’t there.

Q. I’m talking about at the point of the Jordanian bombing.

A. No, no. Look, I understand you have a single focus on this one guy. I had 192 countries to worry about; I was not worried about this guy. He wasn’t causing me any sleepless nights. I had a lot of other things causing me sleepless nights. So you’ll have to go to others to get what you’re really looking for in this.

Q. The violence continues. And there’s always another, more horrific thing that happens. [American contractor] Nick Berg is slaughtered; his head is cut off by Zarqawi. … Did that change the debate in Washington?

A. It changed the debate. I think the president knew that he was playing a weak hand at that point. But it had not changed the debate totally within the administration to the point that he thought something different had to be done. There was still the hope that if we now do rebuild the Iraqi forces from zero, as opposed to using the structure that was there, eventually they’d be able to manage it. But they were not able to manage it, nor were their police forces able to manage it.

The real crisis that has bedeviled us almost ever since is weak leadership in Baghdad. You know, when the surge finally came under the leadership of a great officer, Dave Petraeus, and he was able not only to get the additional American forces in there, but he was able to get the Anbar Awakening, where the Sunnis joined the battle — once that happened and we stabilized the situation, and everybody declared, “See? We won. We won,” no, we didn’t. Even Dave said it, you know: “This isn’t over.” And sooner or later, this is going to bite us again, because the Anbar Awakening went back to sleep because the leadership in Baghdad wasn’t interested in doing anything that would accommodate Sunni interests.

So we came in, I think, with a very weak prime minister, Mr. [Nouri al-]Maliki. He wasn’t weak personally, but he was weak in terms of the political choices and the compromises he had to make to bring this country together. And that all blew up in our face later when the Iraqi army wouldn’t fight.

Q. Was there anything else we could have done with Maliki?

A. No, I don’t think so. I wouldn’t have picked him. I wouldn’t have anointed him. As I said to the president — this was after I was out of office, but at a meeting when we were being introduced to this decision — I said: “The only thing I know is nobody in this room really knows him. But the one thing I do know about him, he spent the last 25, 30 years in Damascus and in Tehran, not down at George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.”

I had my doubts that this Shia with enormous support and contact with Tehran and Damascus would necessarily be the kind of democrat we were looking for — small d. …

Q. The removal of the troops in 2011, this is just sort of, if you can put on your —

A. Speculative that.

Q. Your expertise. Long-term effect? Did we miss the boat again? What did it cost?

A. President Bush is the one who said we will come out a certain time, and then President Obama inherited it, and he was implementing it in accordance with his estimate of the situation. People will argue that if we had left 10,000 or 15,000 — some people wanted 20,000 there — this would have made it all better. We would have been able to keep stability and security in the country, and none of what happened would have happened subsequently.

I don’t know how to test that. First of all, what would our troops be doing there? Would they be fighting somebody? If the Sunnis rose up, would we fight the Sunnis? If the Shia militia rose up, would we fight them? Or were we just there to train and provide logistics support and some air control support for the Iraqis?

I didn’t have a clear understanding and never heard a clear understanding of exactly what our forces would be doing. A lot of people say this was a horrible mistake not to leave more American troops there.
I don’t know if it’s provable or not, because I don’t know if it would have made any difference. But the reality is that Maliki would not go along and give the president the status of forces agreement [SOFA] that we had to have. He’s the one who really took the risk at this. People say the president didn’t push him hard enough. I don’t know how hard you can push the guy when he didn’t want U.S. forces there. It was really his political activities that I think blew up that ability to leave troops in place. …

And now we’re sneaking back in, or slowly slipping back in. …

Q. When ISIS comes back and takes Mosul, what are you feeling?

A. I’m feeling that we are in a very difficult situation. … This is so different from, say, Desert Storm, where the Iraqi army conveniently put itself out there in the desert and didn’t move and allowed me to do anything I wanted to against them, and did. Overwhelmingly decisive force. …

These guys are not sitting there waiting to be beaten. They’re moving all over. And they’re holding ground, not cities.
So the fact that they’re occupying Mosul or occupying Ramadi or some other town, … it’s that they hold the ground around it, so they will fight for these places for a while.

Once they think they, you know, “Well, let’s not take any more casualties,” they’ll just leave — don’t think you’ve beaten them. I’m watching now a film coming out of Ramadi where Iraqi soldiers are looking through holes in the wall to snipe back at the ISIS people that are 100, 200 yards away, but we claim that Ramadi is now under our control.

“My own experience with these kinds of insurgents over time is that they just don’t bomb for the sake of bombing; it’s part of a greater strategy. Even if it’s just a car bomb in the street, it’s intended to terrorize; it’s intended to kill a particular person.”

So we have a conflict now in which we’re fighting two different wars. We’re fighting a war of: Let’s bomb things, and let’s send in Special Forces. Let’s try to kill individual bad guys, and let’s use airplanes to destroy their so-called installations. But what I see is every bad guy shot is immediately replaced by another bad guy. And most of the destruction I see taking place may be hurting ISIS, but I know for sure it’s destroying cities. It’s creating a flow of refugees that is overwhelming Europe.

Between what ISIS has done to these cities, and then kind of move back into the countryside, and what our ground forces have done to these cities, and what airpower has done to these cities, it’s creating a terrible situation. Homes are being destroyed. Schools are being destroyed. I know it’s for the purpose of going after ISIS, but I’m concerned that it is also creating a flood of refugees that makes you wonder, are we fighting the right battle?

The right battle is one where the indigenous forces on the ground, the Iraqi army, has to be the one to defeat ISIS by occupying the ground and holding it. Even after they did that in Ramadi, they weren’t getting the right kind of support out of the national government with respect to payroll and salaries and food and ammunition, so they’re, you know, a little disheartening.

Q. How did we get to this point 13 years after the invasion? Why didn’t we understand more, this chess game that we’re playing with these insurgents, with these terrorists? Did we not play as well as they did in this area?

A. We have to remember, we went in for a singular purpose, and that was to take out Saddam Hussein and his government, and to make sure we had dealt with the weapons-of-mass-destruction problem. That’s what we went in for. Once we were there, it was clear from “If you break it, you own it” that you’re going to have to do more than that, because you had a population now that is without leadership. The institutions have been destroyed. They’re expecting us to help rebuild those institutions. …

You need to understand, when you have a dictatorial regime like these, and suddenly you take the top off, it’s like a pressure cooker that just had the top taken off. Inside is all this boiling stew that suddenly starts spilling out in all directions. Oh, my goodness, where did this come from? It’s always been there. And it was the dictatorial leadership that was keeping the top on.

And be careful when you find yourself in a situation like that, where you demand that the top go away. [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak must go. [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad must go. [Libyan leader Muammar] Qaddafi must go. You’d better think through what’s inside that pot waiting to come out.

Q. Can you connect the dots between the disbanding of the army and the lack of American troops and what becomes the insurgency? …

A. Disbanding of the military was done at a time when there were a lot of American troops. And there could have been more, but they cut off the flow, thinking things were going to be nice now that everybody sees what a great thing democracy is.

So there was a vacuum in security. The Iraqi army wasn’t up to it because it had been disbanded. And the Baath Party leadership and the bureaucrats and the schoolteachers and the civil servants and the police officers, that had been shattered, so you had chaos.

It remained that way until the different segments of Iraq started to exercise opinions, exercise authority in different places. The Sunnis went about their business. The Shias went about their business. The Kurds went about their business. And insurgency grew from that. There were outsiders willing to come in, as we see, and feed that insurgency.

The administration, in my judgment, didn’t respond quickly enough. They didn’t respond until the president realized, based on what he was hearing from his national security advisor and some outside experts that he had brought in, that if you don’t do something now, you’re not going to want to see the results of inaction.

And he acted. And that’s when Gen. Petraeus went in with the surge. I take nothing away from that effort. It was terrific. Great soldiers were participating in that. But when it was over, it was almost like 2003, when we thought it was over, but it really wasn’t over.

Q. … When you hear that there’s a thing called Al Qaeda in Iraq, and after we had gone back to Afghanistan, fighting Al Qaeda, and now there’s this Islamic extremist movement building in Iraq as part of the insurgency, what was your reaction to that?

A. We hadn’t cut the head off. It still existed, and now it was franchising. It would never go back to Afghanistan, in my judgment, because why would they go there and put themselves at risk again? So they moved to the western provinces of Pakistan, and now they’re franchising themselves in other parts of the world. And Iraq seemed to them to be a very fertile place to do that.

But it was not the Al Qaeda of Osama bin Laden. It wasn’t that kind of organized, “We understand, and we’re going to go get New York” kind of operation. It still isn’t, in my judgment, even with ISIS. Everyone thinks ISIS is on their way to New York. They’ve got a lot to worry about right now, and they’ve got a lot of other places they can go right now — which they are going to, to Libya and other places. And they’re rounding up others who are in like mind: Boko Haram [in Nigeria], Libya. It’s a spreading thing. Al Qaeda and ISIS are in competition with each other in various places, and then we have the whole Syrian mess.

So I no longer worry about Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The problem in Afghanistan is the Taliban. … I don’t think the Taliban would tolerate Al Qaeda again, if they were able to take over the country again, like they did after the Russians left.

But frankly, at the time, all I saw was Al Qaeda as no longer a threat of a 9/11 kind, and Osama bin Laden is dead. But we didn’t wipe them out. It grew back, and it’s franchising itself.

Q. As a warrior, how do you judge the decisions that were being made by these insurgents? I mean, the idea of creating a civil war between the Sunni and the Shia, for instance, specifically to accomplish the goals to destroy the situation in Iraq in the way they had intended it.

A. Good. They’re very good, and they think strategically. So while we are using airpower and Special Forces guys and Forward Air Controllers [FACs], and only putting in a few at a time, incrementally, not a decisive action, they are thinking strategically. They are controlling land; they are running courts; they are creating economies.

It is an insurgency of people who believe in what they are doing and have a passion for it, and are prepared to pay heavily in terms of life for what it is they’re trying to create, this caliphate, if it ever gets to that; I’m not sure it will. But they’re prepared to put a lot more on the table than we are, the international community is.

The only one with the ability to match them with putting stuff on the table are the Iraqis themselves. And they’d better get going. But you can’t outfit a bunch of divisions and give them all the weapons they need and the training they need, and they go into battle and walk away. Because why? Because they don’t trust the government that they’re fighting for. They don’t believe in their government. They don’t think that government is taking care of their people. Until you fix that, you’re not on the same game plan as the insurgents are. …
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