Washington Gathers Own Evidence of Saddam’s WMD

Running circles around the UN arms inspection headed by Swedish diplomat Hans Blix, the Iraqi government dropped a massive pile of documents – its reply to the UN Security Council demand for a full accounting of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – in the laps of the international media Saturday, December 7, before allowing Blix a peek. The presentation was accompanied by yet another formal denial that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction.
The 11,880 pages on CD-Rom, landing with a thud in Baghdad, will not reach UN Headquarters in New York before late Sunday, exactly on the dot of the Security Council deadline.
Saddam’s demonstration of openness is in fact another exercise in obfuscation. It will take the world media and the world body days to digest the forbidding mass, particularly when parts are in Arabic and sections are historic and will need to be matched up. It also makes sly fun of Blix’s solemn pledge to hold back sensitive nuclear, chemical and biological data that might be used as recipes for the proliferation of such weapons – even from Security Council members, including the United States.
Washington in any case had no expectation of substance from the UN inspectors.
Thursday, December 5, the White House declared it already had “solid evidence” that Iraq does indeed have weapons of mass destruction. Where did that evidence come from?
DEBKA-Net-Weekly (No. 88, Dec. 6)called on its military sources to divulge the secret, independent inspection project launched by the United States well before the UN Security Council sent its inspectors to Iraq.To subscribe to DNW clickHERE.
This project is in the hands of a special multinational task force made up of special elite units and armed with combat helicopters and aircraft, spy-planes and satellites. Unlike the Blix outfit, which is based in Baghdad, the alternative investigators are fanned out across the country. One well-placed source disclosed: “Our men in the field know where 90 percent of Saddam’s missiles and unconventional weapons systems are located, even the mobile ones that are moved from place to place every hour. We are keeping them under tight, on-site observation because when the war begins we want to be there before Saddam orders his men to hit the triggers.”
According to our sources, this highly sensitive, elaborate and secret inspection project has been going for more than three months. Its success could pre-determine the course of the war before it begins. Its members are drawn from the United States, Britain, Jordan and Turkey and possibly Israel. They operate under the Special Forces command at Al Udeid in Qatar and its sub-command in the Jordanian base of Mafraq.
For the purpose of the search, Iraq has been divided into 16 squares, each the province of an elite unit for a set period. The Talil air base complex in north Iraq, for instance, with its air fields, missile bases and air defense batteries, was assigned for the first three weeks of December to US special forces.
When these units end their tour of duty, they return to base and are replaced.
All the units on this mission are briefed down to the last detail on the unconventional weapons in their zone, their precise locations and the names of the Iraqi officers and men assigned to each site. They keep watch around the clock over the comings and goings inside those sites and are on the ready at all times to move in and seize the facility if ordered to do so.
Conscious of those watchful eyes, the Iraqis have made almost all their weapons systems mobile and shift them perpetually. Each of these elite units is afforded broad autonomy of action. They may call up reinforcements as needed, or air assistance from their home base. The Turkish northern Iraqi observation unit, for example, is in the care of the south Turkish military command. Any urgent medical aid requirement will therefore be supplied by the Turkish air force.
However, when aerial bombardment is called for to prevent the movement of weapons from one square to another, or air cover is required in the frequent cases of the special units coming under artillery or tank gun fire, the request for aerial assistance is routed through the US headquarters in Qatar or Jordan and US and UK warplanes scramble to raid Iraqi military targets.
Most of the dozens of “Western” or “allied” air sorties against Iraqi ground targets that are reported every few days are connected, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources can reveal, with Iraq’s maneuvers for concealing its weapons of mass destruction.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘ssources say that this invisible arms inspection project has a dual purpose: it locks suspected weapons of mass destruction in position under close observation; it harvests the data inaccessible to the UN inspection teams and holds it ready for the Bush administration whenever it is called for.
The White House is therefore able to call on General Tommy Franks, commander of the Iraqi sector, to produce the evidence needed to prove Iraq’s mountainous declaration false. All the general needs do is to order the elite unit guarding any one of the 16 squares to seize a weapons system, possibly with its Iraqi crew.
Since no one has any notion of how Saddam Hussein will react to this denouement, all American and allied forces in the Middle East and the Gulf were put on a high state of preparedness as of Wednesday, December 4. General Franks’ arrival at the Qatari rear base of Al Udeid on Friday, December 6, was timed accordingly.
The story going around the Gulf, according to debkafile‘s sources, is that in the week since the UN inspection team started work, it has been well penetrated by Iraqi agents.The most disturbing aspect of this – and the reason for the sharp responses coming from the White House – is that the spies have managed to fit “electronic jackets” on the UN measuring instruments, which throw them off and make them emit false data. The technical assistants, some from Arab countries, are also thoroughly infiltrated by Iraqi intelligence.

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