Thursday, June 29, 2006

rod barton, Joseph Cirincione

here is rod barton's statement (pdf) before the iraq committee hearings this week:
On the trailers, for example, a physical inspection by the ISG engineers unambiguously established that they were not designed (and could not be readily modified) for biological agent production. My own view, as an expert on the Iraqi biological weapons program, was that you would be better starting off with a bucket, rather than try to adapt the equipment to make anthrax. But in addition to physical evidence, there was a folder of documentation on the trailers that included the original contract for their construction, acceptance trials and operating “manual,” all indicating that the trailers were for hydrogen production for artillery balloons. Chemical sampling by the ISG showed that the trailers had in fact produced hydrogen.

Charles Duelfer, the new head of the ISG, arrived in Baghdad on February 12,
2004. Naturally he had his own ideas on a report, and this was discussed with senior staff on the day of his arrival. A key feature was that it would include no assessment, but would simply report our findings without comment. The report as he envisioned it would be about 20 pages in length and would emphasize the work the ISG had yet to complete.

Over a series of three private meetings with Charles, I tried to dissuade him from this course. I argued that we had found evidence that overturned much of the
pre-war intelligence and were confident of our findings: this should be reported. Also political leaders in the U.S., UK and Australia were making public statements which we now knew were incorrect, and we had a duty to inform them of our conclusions. If we were aware of certain information and did not disclose it, then that would be tantamount to dishonesty.
However, before the report was finalized, both London and Washington proposed some changes, the consequence of which would have been to imply that there was WMD yet to found in Iraq. These particular suggestions were rejected.

At the same time as the report was being drafted, instructions from Langley
were being sent directly to the leaders of the chemical and biological teams, who were CIA analysts responsible for pre-war intelligence assessments, to channel their work.

It seemed to me that the ISG had lost its independence and, with it, its direction. This was illustrated by the approach by the senior CIA professional assisting Charles. In mid-March 2004, he told me in relation to the trailers that he did not care what they were for, but that it was “politically not possible” to say they were not biological trailers.

As soon as the report was finalized, I tendered my resignation. In a letter to
the Australian Department of Defence, I indicated that the reason I resigned was
broader than just the March report, and that “I was concerned about the objectivity of the ISG.” Two senior ISG officials (another Australian and one UK) also resigned at that time, for similar reasons, and I am aware that others were also considering quitting.

In spite of the problems in March, Charles did eventually produce an honest and objective report. Charles asked me to assist with that and, when I was convinced that it was a genuine and independent effort, I returned to Baghdad in August/September to help with its coordination and drafting. This “substantive”
report was presented to congressional committees early in October 2004. With the exception of a major (and important) section on “Regime Strategic Intent,” most of the report could have been published in March 2004.

and this (pdf) from Joseph Cirincione
Senior Vice-President for National Security and International Policy
Center for American Progress
On October 7, 2002, President Bush delivered a major address on Iraq's weapons.
Bush said that "the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than
30,000 litres of anthrax and other deadly agents. The inspectors, however,
concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a
massive stockpile of biological weapons..." UN inspectors did not reach this
conclusion; the inspectors had said that Iraq had enough growth medium that
could be used to produce more anthrax than it had declared. The inspectors did
not assert that Iraq actually had produced additional anthrax.
i hadn't realised that they'd told that specific lie.

and this:
If the United States is to reform the intelligence assessment process to better
respond to future threats, it is essential that top policymakers understand that the work is only half finished. They should resist the rushed efforts to adopt sweeping
reorganizations based on the mistaken belief that they now have the full picture of what went wrong. The Senate report and the 9/11 Commission report, as good as they are, as information-rich as they are, as well-written as they are, tell only half the story. Until the full details of the roles played by Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Vice-President Cheney and his Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby are revealed, policy-makers will not understand how the system became so corrupted.
naming names. the same names keep cropping up, no? i'd so love to see cambone nailed.


Simon said...


From this side of the water there is really only one 'biggie' that all us WMD junkies still want to know about (other than the truth about Dr Kelly).

From your post and Barton's testimony to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing:

However, before the report was finalized, both London and Washington proposed some changes, the consequence of which would have been to imply that there was WMD yet to found in Iraq. These particular suggestions were rejected.

Rod Barton spoke to The Observer/Guardian back in May 05.


In an exclusive interview with The Observer Barton details how senior figures in British intelligence tried to stop the ISG publishing its interim report when they realised what it would say. He also reveals how when this failed, John Scarlett, who was then head of the powerful Joint Intelligence Committee and was subsequently appointed by Blair as the head of MI6, tried to strengthen the ISG report by inserting nine 'nuggets' of information to imply Saddam's WMD programmes were active, despite evidence to the contrary.

A few days later, Barton circulated a draft of the 20-page report to the intelligence agencies in London, Washington and Canberra, to see if they supported the approach. He received a shock reply. On 8 March, Duelfer called Barton into his office and showed him an email he had just received from Scarlett. The Joint Intelligence Committee, of which Scarlett was head, is a hugely influential body, assessing intelligence and liaising with the Prime Minister and ministers.

The email suggested inserting nine 'nuggets' into the interim report. Barton has refused to reveal what these nuggets were because the contents of the email remain classified. But it is understood from other sources that these included suggestions that Saddam was working on a smallpox weapon, did have mobile biological laboratories and was developing research equipment for use in nuclear weapons.

When Barton saw Scarlett's email he was shocked. He had worked with previous heads of the JIC and believed such behaviour was unacceptable.

'I couldn't believe it,' he said. 'He was suggesting dragging things from a previous report [that the ISG had been found to be false] to use them to, well, "sex it up". It was an attempt to make our report appear to imply that maybe there were still WMD out there. I knew he had been responsible for your [government's] dossier and then I realised he was trying to do the same thing.'

A note Barton made at the time suggests that he believes one possible reason for Scarlett's attitude may have been to 'establish breaches of UN Security Council resolutions'. This was, of course, a vital plank in the government's legal and political justification for invasion. Barton told Duelfer that they could not include these so-called 'nuggets'.

Yet more was to follow. Ten days after Scarlett sent his email, another video conference was arranged between Washington, London and Baghdad. This time Scarlett appeared personally. He asked whether his 'nuggets' were going to be included. Duelfer stood up to Scarlett and told him that they were not.

Although Barton had considered resigning earlier, he was pleased he stayed: 'If I resigned those nuggets might have been put in. I stayed and gave Charles a backbone.'

Barton firmly believes Scarlett was trying to 'sex up' the report and that his email to the ISG should be declassified and made public. While the published report did not include Scarlett's nuggets, Barton believed it was still a dishonest document and resigned along with two other inspectors. The short report, which lacked any firm conclusions, received little media attention - a successful outcome for the intelligence agencies in London and Washington.

This is powerful stuff, big enough to bring down a government. So far, no-one at the top wants to even think about it, far less talk about it.

(From the UAV thread: - is the ISG report generally regarded as objective/reasonable? David Kay's interim report was sh*te. Charles Duelfer made a good attempt to be honest, but there is still the question of certain omissions. If I say anything more here I may get myself in trouble... (Private e-mail to follow :-) )

lukery said...

simon - thnx

i couldnt quite work out why you 'bolded': "Barton has refused to reveal what these nuggets were because the contents of the email remain classified."

is it cos they were classified? or that he refused to reveal? something else?

thnx for yuor comments - have fp'd them to the extent possible.

also - thnx for the UAV-post comments re ISG report. barton seems to have basically given that report the green-light.

Simon said...


I bolded that bit cos that's the bit we want to know about - what specifically did JS want included into the report. Emptywheel etc has plenty on the false US claims (yellowcake, aluminium tubes etc) but over here we don't even know what they wanted to, dare I say it, lie about.

Also, from where we have been before with this, the risk of RB revealing what the nuggets were is countered by the blackballing he is receiving.

N.B.There is a tricky bit here, there may have been three reports, rather than just the interim (Kay) and final (Duelfer), from my reading of this the second was morphed into the third when all the detail was added.

Rod Barton, I think, gives his support to Duelfer's final report, which he went back to work on. The second one stemmed from when CD took over from DK and was CD's, I haven't seen a copy, nor have I seen the full (classified) version of DK's interim being as all that is available is his testimony to Congress (STATEMENT BY DAVID KAY ON THE INTERIM PROGRESS REPORT ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE IRAQ SURVEY GROUP (ISG) BEFORE THE HOUSE PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE), which obviously accompanied his actual report.

Regarding the available interim statement, I will demonstrate a DK lie:

Continuing covert capability to manufacture fuel propellant useful only for prohibited SCUD variant missiles, a capability that was maintained at least until the end of 2001 and that cooperating Iraqi scientists have said they were told to conceal from the UN.

From S/2003/1135 - Fifteenth quarterly report on the activities of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission in accordance with paragraph 12 of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999), dated 26 November 2003.

3. During the period under review, no information was available to UNMOVIC on the results of the investigations of the United States-led Iraq Survey Group, other than the statement released to the public on the interim progress report made by the Group to the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and other committees within the United States Congress. The actual report was not provided to UNMOVIC or to IAEA.

7. Several activities relating to liquid propellants were observed during inspections, all consistent with Iraq’s declarations. Both research and some production were being pursued on the regeneration or manufacture of IRFNA liquid oxidizer, as well as the regeneration of TG-02 fuel. These propellants are used in several of Iraq’s missiles. No evidence was found pointing to the manufacture of the fuel that is specific to the Scud missile. Pilot plant production of UDMH, a more energetic and advanced fuel, was also observed. Iraq declared that it had tested a fuel containing UDMH in SA-2 engines but because it was unsuccessful the project had been terminated. No evidence was found of any new, undeclared missile development using UDMH fuel. Iraq however continued its work on pilot plant
production of UDMH, which is a component of the fuel used in other nonproscribed missiles it possessed.

Simon said...

(Oops, interim statement link messed up try again!)

emptywheel said...

WRT what the Brits wanted to lie about--I keep thinking of Judy's relationship with Kelly, and the provocative chance Judy tried to show in Iraq at the same time Kelly was there in June 2003. And Judy's comment about mutual friends in her last email to Kelly.

I can't help but think that Judy was working with the Brits, too. And that her lies are the British lies (well, they were shared lies, but the Brits have the legal exposure here that BushCo doesn't).

Also, one more Judy detail. Kay's interim report wasn't leaked out precisely because the May White Paper on the "mobile weapons labs" had been leaked out. There was a very fun Jehl-Judy article at the time reporting this that neglected to mention that Judy had been the one who had leaked that White Paper.

The Duelfer Report, IMO, is a fairly curious document. I know it obscured the provenance of the uranium document that Judy "Found" in the Mukhabarat (presenting it as "found" by ISG, which wasn't yet active). But Duelfer only "reports" the more bogus aspects of the Mahdi Obeidi story, not claiming things ISG didn't witness. I think it has a number of these "tells" where we might find a bit of a coverup out of an anxiety to be up and up.

Simon said...


I've got to say from the outset that I don't entirely go along with the idea that Judy was an integral part of a propaganda machine. Regarding the white paper on the labs, she didn't exactly 'leak' it, she reported it after she was apparently briefed about it by her official sources, straight after it was presented to the White House. Being as she was the embedded reporter covering the hunt for WMD this is really not so surprising. I can find nothing to suggest that this document was initially classified in any way, so in reality she only got an early look-see before it was posted on the CIA website. It made very little difference that she had reported it on May 21st and it was not publicly issued until May 28th. I cannot see Emptywheel's point that David Kay's October 2nd 2003 Interim Report was not leaked BECAUSE of this. By the time of the Interim Report (or at least the statement referring) it must have been much more obvious to all concerned that there was going to be precious little to find in Iraq, witnessed by the fact that the statement contained many circumstantial points which were portrayed as some kind evidence when they still had not been fully investigated and properly qualified. Indeed that whole report now holds very little water with the benefit of hindsight (and the complete Duelfer Comprehensive Report).

I do agree that this last report is a little curious insofar as it attempts to ever-so-neatly tie up all the Iraqi WMD loose ends, but it does draw very heavily on UNSCOM and UNMOVIC's reporting, including the quarterly reports established under SC Resolution 1284 (1999). These reports continued throughout the 2003 invasion, past the publication of the Final Report, and on up to the present (the 25th and latest s-2006-342 being issued on 30 May 06). These reports contain annexes detailing different aspects of Iraq's earlier WMD programmes, and are going to be the definitive account(s) of Iraq's malfeasance, even if very few people are aware of them.

On Dr Kelly, I take the view that he was an scrupulously honest man, who killed himself because he was no longer willing to lie for his masters. I can well imagine Judy and other reporters seeking him out to further her/their WMD reporting. Judy was plainly working alongside a number of Brits, but to suggest that she was working FOR the Brits, at least those in the Security Services and the Cabinet Office and higher who had a vested interest in demonstrating their justification for war, may be stretching the point a little bit too far (IMO).

emptywheel said...


A couple of points. First, Judy was no longer embedded by the time she received the White Paper. She was back in the States, just a few days removed from getting kicked out of Iraq when she tried to reembed to find out more about the trailers.

Also, the chronology of the White Paper is significant:

May 21: Judy publishes details of White Paper that had not yet been published, just as debunking team is about to leave
May 25: Debunking team assmbles in Kuwait
May 27: Debunking team issues their report debunking the claims about the trailers
May 28: CIA publishes White Paper
May 29: Bush publicly uses the trailers as proof of finding WMD

The orchestration of the White Paper allowed the Administration to make claims that had been debunked.

Also, there was significant coverage as Kay's interim report came out about why they hadn't leaked it--people in INR and some in DIA said specifically that they weren't releasing early copies of the document because of the way the White Paper had been publicized back in May. Here's one take on it (in a Judy/Jehl article, but it appears in others):

The details of Mr. Kay's findings have been closely held within the administration as part of a strategy that officials said was intended both to prevent unauthorized leaks and to minimize internal disputes about any emerging findings. Issues related to the Iraqi weapons program have been contentious inside the administration as well as outside, with the State Department's intelligence branch and some officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency taking issue with a report made public in May by the C.I.A. that said mysterious trailers discovered in Iraq were used to manufacture biological weapons.

WRT Judy "working" for the Brits--that's perhaps too strong. I brought up Kelly mostly because of Judy's odd reference to one of Kelly's fans discussing his testimony. It's an odd reference regardless of what one thinks of Kelly's death.

But mostly, I don't think one can distinguish between the US and the British weapons teams. Professionals from both countries (and Australia) were obviously both working the same issues. And going back to UNSCOM, there was a tolerance at least on the Brits' part to allow the US to play their misinformation games. I suspect that tolerance would be much greater, given that the Brits are the one with the legal problem.

lukery said...

thnx EW.

i actually kinda hijacked this thread.

i've added your comment here over there