What we learned from Seymour Hersh 4.

In 1998, Major General Anthony Zinni[1], commander of Central Command (CENTCOM), told a Senate committee that “I don’t see any opposition group that has the viability to overthrow Saddam. Even if we had Saddam gone, we could end up with fifteen, twenty, or ninety groups competing for power.” (Quoted, p. 165.)

In 1998, David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security[2], and Khidhir Hamza, shopped around a book proposal for Fizzle: Iraq and the Atomic Bomb, which described the failure of the Iraqi nuclear project. They found no interest among publishers.[3]

In October 1998, Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, providing $97 million to support training and equipment for the INC and other military forces.[4]

In 2000, after the failure of American publishers to take his story of Iraqi failure in the pursuit of nuclear weapons, Hamza reversed course and began talking about Iraq’s comparative success. This may have led to a break with Albright and the ISIS. In any event, Hamza alone published Saddam’s Bombmaker.[5]

By 2000, Anthony Zinni had not become more optimistic about plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein. He wrote an estimate of what it would take to get rid of Saddam Hussein for the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings. It would take six divisions of ground forces (150,000 men), lots of close air support, and the united political support of the American government and people. “There are congressmen today who want to fund the Iraqi Liberation Act, and let some silk-suited, Rolex-wearing guys in London gin up an expedition….And what will we have? A Bay of Goats most likely.” (Quoted, p. 174.) How did he ever make Major General? Should be a retired Lieutenant Colonel, playing golf in South Carolina, running a paving company.

In January 2001, the inauguration of President George W. Bush brought in a new group of policy-makers. Some of them had signed the open letter to President Clinton in 1998 urging support for the INC and warning of the danger posed by Saddam Hussein’s WMD program. Donald Rumsfeld became Secretary of Defense; Paul Wolfowitz became Deputy Secretary of Defense; Douglas Feith became Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy; Richard Perle became chairman of the Defense Policy Board; and Richard Armitage became Deputy Secretary of State.

In March 2001, Richard Perle[6] testified before a sub-committee of the Senate Foreign Relations committee. “Does Saddam Hussein now have weapons of mass destruction? Sure he does. We know he has chemical weapons. We know he has biological weapons….How far he’s gone on the nuclear-weapons side, I don’t think we really know. My guess is it’s further than we think. It’s always further than we think, because we limit ourselves, as we think about this, to what we’re able to prove and demonstrate…And, unless you believe that we have uncovered everything, you have to assume there is more than we’re able to report.” (Quoted, pp. 209-210.)

In April 2001, the INC opened a liaison office in Tehran, Iran—with the approval of the Bush administration. (p. 171.)

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Zinni

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Albright

[3] Apparently, NOT running around with your hair on fire is an undesirable quality in mass market non-fiction publishing. Maybe if they had called it “The Saddam Hussein Diet,”…

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Liberation_Act

[5] For a sense of the contemporary reaction among interested readers, see http://www.amazon.com/Saddams-Bombmaker-Daring-Escape-Secret/dp/0743211359

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Perle

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