Friday, August 25, 2006

The trick of the military

* in the bamford interview that i pointed to yesterday, Peter B Collins asked him whether he could finger Ledeen re the Niger forgeries. Bamford couldn't - but he pointed to a few 'connections' - including the fact that Ledeen used to work at Panorama (a story larisa broke)

i'm still running around trying to put together the mobile weapons lab story - and came across this interview in Panorama (owned by Berlusconi,), Jan 03 (2 months before the invasion)
EXCLUSIVE: THE CONFESSIONS OF COLONEL QASSEM
Iraqi and Syrian Complicity
"Alongside Saddam"
Interviewed by Buongiorno Pine
[Excerpts]
16/1/2003

A high official of Iraq, neighbor of Saddam Hussein, reveals the secrets of the Iraq regime.

From Amman (Jordan) - "Call me Colonel Qassem, at least for the moment." The official, holding an important role in the Iraqi, looks around frequently. He appears nervous, has a frowned face, and watches the clock every two minutes. The encounter, established, and postponed at various times, through the mediation of a major Jordanian trader who has transactions in Europe and Baghdad, took place in the cafeteria of a small hotel in Amman. "When all it ends" he promises "I will be able to reveal to the readers of its newspaper my true name and my rank. You understands that I am at risk to be here. What I want is only a better future for my sons ".

"Colonel Qassem ", as wrinkled as a sixty year old but is probably not over forty five, was in Jordan, the day after the interview he gave to the envoy of Panorama, without expecting compensation, will return to his unit in Baghdad who has been in a state of permanent war for 15 years. His testimony is important because it comes from the Iraqi Armed Forces and he is not an opposition in exile who is protected by some foreign country.

Q: Up to now the inspectors of the UN have not found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction. What is the truth in this case of cat and mouse?

A: Since they arrived, the inspectors have worked in Iraq without pause and with the aid of sophisticated instrumentation. They have visited soldiers, searched laboratories, government palaces of the government and even the president. Also they have tried unsuccessfully to interrogate some Iraqi scientists. In this massive job, there is a basic error of a lack of information or imagination. And that is due to the fact that they presume that substances needed for the fabrication of chemical or bacteriological weapons have been necessarily hidden in well protected bunkers. Quite the opposite is true, these weapons are not necessarily cumbersome and simple to transport. The trick of the military and intelligence services is to render these devises invisible by placing them on tankers trucks traveling under escort or followed at a distance. Saddam Hussein is proud of this simple expedient. In a recent government meeting Saddam Hussein burst out laughing laugh and, "While these inspectors go underground, our trucks pass over their head".

Q: Where do these trucks travel?

A: They travel anywhere there is a usable road, also in the northern regions controlled by Kurdish clans... What surprises us in the Middle East is that the CIA has not supplied information to the inspectors of the UN about the existence of these trucks, whose movements could not be unnoticed. It is not then therefore difficult to intercept them. Enough to stop of one in order to make to collapse all the constructed walls of lies from Saddam Hussein to collapse.

Q: The official excuse of the authorities Americans is that one not to want to compromise the net of local informers.

A: I don't feel the CIA has these scruples. We are speaking about an international crisis that may throw the entire world in chaos . And then the information can be always attributed to the spy satellites. It is politics that control all. In 1991 the Americans soldiers were already on the doors of Baghdad when they receive orders to stop operations. And this is the reason many Iraqi official don't trust Americans and never succeeded in really understanding the intentions of the Americans. And many of us do not trust Americans and do not want to collaborate with them.
[]
Q: Which type of devices and missiles do you still have at your disposal?

A: Of course, all the biological and chemical weapons have not been dismantled as demanded by the UN. You, in the West, speak of scientists often occupied in the search for the production of these weapons. Well, the search is useful, but not indispensable. Some materials are available on the black market. Others are simple to produce, without need of sophisticated studies. As far as various missiles we have Scud of Ukranian production.
(*cough* is that you Mr Chalabi? *cough*)

Obviously all bullshit. We know that the German BND had these stories from Curveball going back at least to 2000, and we know that Hatfill was building mobile labs at least as far back as Sep 01.

I don't know whether UNMOVIC was particularly looking for mobile labs - but we know (at a minimum) via simon, that in May 02, in public, Charles Duelfer said:
"And some serious areas of concern. And that is Iraq's consideration for using mobile production facilities. Now we first heard about that in biology from General Amril Al-Saudi(?), which I think, in a moment of weakness, he said he instructed the bio personnel to evaluate using mobile facilities for production purposes. And then he quickly backed off about five minutes later in saying that, no, that was just a whim of his at the time and it wasn't taken seriously. Well, reports that I've heard recently, not from any intelligence sources but from other open sources, indicate that maybe there's a lot more to that than just that whim of Dr. Saudi."
So we know that when the journo says:
'The official excuse of the authorities Americans is that one not to want to compromise the net of local informers'
it is transparently bunk.

My question, then, is whether this daring, brave, non-compensation-seeking, non-exiled INC'er was making the case for war, making the case for Powell's imminent presentation, or making the case for the post-invasion "we found WMD"?

I presume it was in preparation for Powell's speech - if so, it'd be nice to know the info-channel such that Chalabi et al were aware, even at this late stage, of what was going into Powell's speech.

I don't want to make too much of this, but it jumped out at me:
Q: Where do these trucks travel?

A: They travel anywhere there is a usable road, also in the northern regions controlled by Kurdish clans...
Why the apparently gratuitous Kurdish reference? Is it a coincidence that the Kurds found some of the trailers? probably. or were they already trying to conflate the hydrogen trailers and the mobile labs?

2 comments:

emptywheel said...

Two things. The inspectors were looking for MBLs. In fact, they visited the factory where Curveball had said they were constructed, and showed that the actual layout of the place made his claims impossible.

Second, James Risen tells of a network of assets set up by some CIA guy working from the Kurdish north in the months before the war. The network is where the Dora Farms tip came from--as well as a bunch more false leads. So if this guy wasn't an INC property (I'm not entirely convinced he wasn't, since he was in Jordan), then it may be he's part of that network.

lukery said...

thnx ew. ever helpful.

so if the inspectors were looking for trailers et al - why was panorama pushing this transparent nonsese? (rhetorical)