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Did the same for MilBlogs. If you've got a pda version of your site available leave a link in comments - I want to compile a "Tactical" blogroll. If you don't have one, what better way to spend 5 minutes out of your weekend?
*For instance - the most recent post does not appear - not sure why yet.
From Haider Ajina
Greetings,This is part of a growing trend in Iraq - more on that later.
The following is my translation of a headline and article from the Iraq's 'Aswat Aliraq' September 28th.
Iraqi Shiite leader calls on Sunnis to return to Karbala,
By Ali Alnashi,
On Thursday a Shiite religious leader in Karbala province called upon the Sunnis who left Karbala to please return to their homes. These Sunnis left after the attack on Askariah Shrine in samara last February. Please return to your homes to help of our national unity and national reconciliation programs started by Iraqi PM Alamliki to succeed.
Mr. Ahmad Alhussieny, a member of the Karbala provincial assembly (thus an elected official) and committee chair talked to Aswat Aliraq (an independent Iraqi news agency). Alhussieny said; 'the return of displaced Sunnis to Karbala province (a heavily Shiite province) and the return their mosque's use, which was vacated after the explosion at the Askariah shrine in Samara, is essential to the success of national reconciliation. This is very important and a way for the people of Karbala to show that we are committed to peace and reconciliation and will not be drawn, by the enemies of Iraq, into sectarian or religious strife. Alhussieny then called on the other provinces to follow Karbalas' lead, by opening their hearts and their doors to their dear Sunni brethren who have been with us through out history'.
He added, 'In Karbala we have four Sunni tribes who carry prestige and influence, they are well known tribes like the Alsarifat & Alzakariet. We have over four thousand Sunnis brethren living in Karbala, none of who have suffered any harm since the fall of Saddam. The proclamation (or petition) calling for the return of any Sunni who has left Karbala for any reason was signed by the people of Karbala. The proclamation also demanded the return of the Sunni Alabasiah Mosque, to allow the Sunnis to practice their rituals and prayers. The Sunni residents of Karbala left their homes after sectarian strife was ignited by the Samara incidence; they locked up their Abasiah Mosque'.
We continue to hear about what are reported as sectarian attacks. Most these attacks are by Saddamists and Alqaida in Iraq and their ilk. These groups are working together to continue to destabilize the government and try to start the fire of civil war and sectarian violence. Try as hard as they may Iraq is not going to draw Iraqis to that. Most of religious and political leaders both Sunni and Shiite are continually calling for national reconciliation and national unity. There are few fiery leaders who are not of the main stream and for their political benefit and to try to gain more power are preaching strife and non-cooperation. Iraqis know who they are and continue calling on them to stop this behavior. Most of these leaders are supported by Iran, Syria & Saudi Arabia, directly or indirectly.
Recently the Iraqi president Jelal Talebani (in an interview, on September 26, during his visits to the USA) warned Iraq's neighboring countries that Iraq can cause difficulties for them if they do not stop meddling in Iraq's internal affairs. He added that Syria, Iran and Turkey (Turkey was accused of shelling some Kurdish villages and sending some troops in and out of the boarder with Iraq) are interfering with Iraq's affairs and warned them that Iraqi patience is on the verge of running out. We demand that you (Iran, Syria and Turkey) stop interfering in Iraq's internal affairs, and respect its sovereignty and independence, or we will be forced to make certain statements'.
Very interesting words indeed. It appears that those who are truly afraid of a strong, independent, democratic, secular, strong, law respecting Iraq are pushing harder and harder to stop that from happening. Is that because Iraq is gradually moving in the right direction?
Just my luck to be offline when The Book came out. If you've already got a copy, I recommend buying a box full to distribute to the members of your local chapter of Code Pink, MoveOn, or the Cindy Sheehan Fan Club.
Click here to purchase via Amazon.
According to the just released National Intelligence Estimate (pdf), US actions in Iraq inspire terrorism. For a second - and earlier - opinion on the topic, here's Osama bin Laden:
The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post...Those comments are from February, 1998 - but they aren't the first (see bin Laden's 1996 Fatwa, for example) or last words from that source on that subject. In fact, in May, 1998 bin Laden answered questions posed to him by some of his followers and ABC news reporter John Miller.
Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million... despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.
All these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on Allah, his messenger, and Muslims...
On that basis, and in compliance with Allah's order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims:
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.
Praise be Allah and prayers and peace upon Mohammed. With respect to the Western governments that participated in the attack on the land of the two Holy Mosques regarding it as ownerless, and in the siege against the Muslim people of Iraq, we have nothing new to add to the previous message. What prompted us to address the American government in particular is the fact that it is on the head of the Western and the crusading forces in their fight against Islam and against Muslims. The two explosions that took place in Riyadh and in Khobar recently were but a clear and powerful signal to the governments of the countries which willingly participated in the aggression against our countries and our lives and our sacrosanct symbols...Bin Laden's 1998 comments can be read in the broader context of that year's events here.
John Miller, ABC: Describe the situation when your men took down the American forces in Somalia.
Osama bin Laden: After our victory in Afghanistan and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims, the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower. So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier... America assumed the titles of world leader and master of the new world order. After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them.
John Miller, ABC: The American people, by and large, do not know the name bin Laden, but they soon likely will. Do you have a message for the American people?
Osama bin Laden: I say to them that they have put themselves at the mercy of a disloyal government, and this is most evident in Clinton's administration ...
The American government is leading the country towards hell. ... We say to the Americans as people and to American mothers, if they cherish their lives and if they cherish their sons, they must elect an American patriotic government that caters to their interests not the interests of the Jews. If the present injustice continues with the wave of national consciousness, it will inevitably move the battle to American soil...
John Miller, ABC: In America, we have a figure from history from 1897 named Teddy Roosevelt. He was a wealthy man, who grew up in a privileged situation and who fought on the front lines. He put together his own men - hand chose them - and went to battle. You are like the Middle East version of Teddy Roosevelt.
Perhaps they lacked satellite or cable television at headquarters in 1998. And while we can sometimes see the past in significantly more clarity than the future, eight years later one can only read the current NIE, acknowledge that intel agencies are seemingly catching on, but still wonder how the course of history might have changed if a US government superspy from that bygone era had used an antenna to intercept the ABC broadcast signal, and a radio or television to unscramble and display the encoded message...
Update/footnote: Hillary Clinton now:
"I'm certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States,' he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team."Apparently the Clintons weren't paying attention to ABC in 1998.
1998: The tensions continue. Meanwhile, President Clinton is confronted with a growing domestic scandal that will ultimately become politically interwoven with military actions against Iraq. A more complete timeline of those events can be found here. Excerpts considered essential to this account will be included below.
January 13, 1998: Iraq blocks an inspection by an American dominated team. It accuses the leader of the team, Scott Ritter, of spying for the US. UNSCOM timeline: The Executive Chairman reports to the Council that during the first day of an inspection, Iraq announced that it was withdrawing its cooperation with the inspection team on the pretext that the team had too many individuals of US or UK nationality (S/1998/27 of 13 January 1998).
January 14, 1998: Iraq continues to block the work of the inspection team. The President of the Security Council issues a statement terming Iraq's actions unacceptable and a clear violation of the relevant resolutions and reiterates its demand that Iraq cooperate fully and immediately without conditions (S/PRST/1998/1).
January 17, 1998: President Clinton, testifying under oath to lawyers in the Paula Jones harassment case, denies having had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
January 19, 1998: Monica Lewinsky's name and the rumours linking her with Clinton are published on the Drudge report internet site.
January 22, 1998: Following a visit to Iraq, the Executive Chairman reports to the Council that, despite the Council's Statement on the need for unrestricted access to all sites, the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq continues to assert that Iraq would not permit access to eight so-called Presidential sites (S/1998/58).
January 26, 1998: "I want you to listen to me. I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky. I never told a single person to lie, not a single time, never." - President Clinton
Investigations will continue throughout the summer.
January 28, 1998 - President Clinton delivers his State of the Union address, and says the US is prepared to carry out a military attack against Iraq.
January 1998: In a Sep. 14, 2002 Time magazine interview, Scott Ritter describes his visit to a "childrens prison" in Iraq during this month.
You've spoke about having seen the children's prisons in Iraq. Can you describe what you saw there?February 1, 1998: "We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction." - US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
The prison in question is at the General Security Services headquarters, which was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. It appeared to be a prison for children -- toddlers up to pre-adolescents -- whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene. Actually I'm not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace.
Early February, 1998: Two technical evaluation meetings (TEMS) take place in Baghdad, reviewing 1998 the position with respect to the chemical weapons agent VX. and missile warheads. The report of the outcome of the meetings is submitted to the Council (document S/1998/176). Despite Iraq's assertions and it having had a full opportunity to present its views on all matters pertaining to the two issues, the team of UNSCOM international experts conclude unanimously that Iraq has still not provided sufficient information for UNSCOM to conclude that Iraq had undertaken all the disarmament steps required of it in these areas. The Commission's experts provide the Council with an oral briefing of the outcome on these two TEMS in March 1998.
February 4, 1998: "One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line." - President Bill Clinton.
February 9, 1998: The Arab League puts forward proposals to end the crisis. It says the inspection teams should be chosen by UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.
February 11, 1998: The US Navy is poised for strikes against Iraq:
ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON...February 13, 1998: Russia objects to US plans for military action. The United States insists it will not walk away from stopping Iraq developing weapons of mass destruction, and Russian objections would not prevent use of force. Russia says diplomatic effort should not end before Kofi Annan visits Baghdad. (BBC)
As the United States prepares for possible strikes against Iraq, Navy and Marine Corps pilots are set to fly the majority of missions in an operation code-named "Desert Thunder" that will hinge, by all accounts, on downpours of precision munitions...
At the center of any U.S. air assault on Iraq would be the F/A-18 and F-14 fighter jets on this aircraft carrier and another, the USS Independence, along with about 250 Tomahawk cruise missiles spread among eight other ships.
February 15-18, 1998: In order to understand the scope (size and perimeters) of the eight Presidential sites which Iraq had decided to declare off-limits to the UNSCOM inspectors, the Secretary-General decides to despatch a technical survey team to Iraq. The report of this mission is forwarded to the Council under cover of a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council (S/1998/166 Add.1).
February 17, 1998: "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program." - President Bill Clinton
February 18, 1998: "Iraq is a long way from Ohio, but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face. And it is a threat against which we must, and will, stand firm." - Secretary of State US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
February 18, 1998: "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983." - Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser.
February 18, 1998: "If a soldier's life needs to be lost let it start with mine." - an un-named American GI expressing his support for President Clinton's policy on Iraq.
February 20-23, 1998: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan visits Iraq in an effort secure inspections of what Iraq terms "presidential sites." The United Nations and the Republic of Iraq agree on the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MO.) (S/1998/166) which was signed on 23 February. The Secretary-General secures Iraq's reconfirmation of its acceptance of all relevant resolutions of the Council and the reiteration of its undertaking to cooperate fully with UNSCOM and the IAEA. In the Memorandum, Iraq also undertakes to accord to UNSCOM and the IAEA immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access in conformity with the resolutions of the Council. For its part, the United Nations reiterates the commitment of all member States to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. The Memorandum also includes an undertaking by the Commission to respect the legitimate concerns of Iraq relating to national security, sovereignty and dignity. The Memorandum also provides for the establishment of special procedures which would apply to initial and subsequent entries for the performance of the tasks mandated at the eight Presidential sites. The Memorandum. also makes provisions for the appointment of a Commissioner to head the Special Group established for the mandated tasks at Presidential sites. Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala is appointed to this position by the Secretary-General.
February 20, 1998: Annan arrives in Baghdad, saying he has a "sacred duty" to try to defuse the crisis. In Jordan, a bystander is killed in clashes between police and a crowd of worshippers demonstrating in support of Iraq.
February 22, 1998: The UN secretary general holds a three-hour meeting with Saddam Hussein, and the UN later announces a deal on weapons inspections. The US says it will await Kofi Annan's formal report to the Security Council. "What really matters is Iraq's compliance, not its stated commitments; not what Iraq says but what it does. In the days and weeks ahead, Unscom must test and verify." - President Clinton.
February 23, 1998: Osama Bin Laden, enraged by the presence of US forces in Saudi Arabia enforcing sanctions against Iraq, issues a fatwa with the Islamic Group, Al Jihad, the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh and the "Jamaat ul Ulema e Pakistan" under the banner of the "World Islamic Front," which stated that Muslims should kill Americans including civilians--anywhere in the world.
No one argues today about three facts that are known to everyone; we will list them, in order to remind everyone:February 26 1998: The diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis is not universally well received, and critics of President Bill Clinton respond. The NY Times reports that Senator Trent Lott, (R-Ms) argues against the UN solution, and that he was not alone:
First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.
If some people have in the past argued about the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless.
Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million... despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.
So here they come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.
Third, if the Americans' aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews' petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel's survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula.
All these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on Allah, his messenger, and Muslims. And ulema have throughout Islamic history unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual duty if the enemy destroys the Muslim countries. This was revealed by Imam Bin-Qadamah in "Al- Mughni," Imam al-Kisa'i in "Al-Bada'i," al-Qurtubi in his interpretation, and the shaykh of al-Islam in his books, where he said: "As for the fighting to repulse [an enemy], it is aimed at defending sanctity and religion, and it is a duty as agreed [by the ulema]. Nothing is more sacred than belief except repulsing an enemy who is attacking religion and life."
On that basis, and in compliance with Allah's order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims:
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.
Many lawmakers Wednesday yearned for more than the administration's policy to contain Saddam.But other Senators disagree:
"A democratic Iraq is certainly in our interest," Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., said in floor speech. "But it is above all for the sake of the Iraqis that we must replace Saddam."
"The president was in a tough spot, and this may be workable for him," said Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, the House majority leader.The BBC reports:
Rep. Tillie Fowler, R-Fla., a Republican on the National Security Committee, said, "We need to learn more about the agreement, but let's give it an opportunity to work."
Rep. Constance Morella, R-Md., said, "We should proceed with caution and see if he keeps his word."
As Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., the senior Democrat on the House National Security Committee, put it, "Saddam's feet will be held to the fire. We'll see if he complies. If not, we'll thump him."
First, it appears that the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has achieved the optimum objectives of Washington's policy over the past few weeks. President Clinton and his senior foreign policy advisors can boast free and unfettered access for UN weapons inspectors, conceded after diplomatic pressure, not military action. That's what said they wanted all along.February 27, 1998 UNSCOM Chief Inspector Richard Butler endorses the agreement, and Kofi Annan dismisses his critics in the US:
Second, US military commanders privately confide they told the President a diplomatic exit would suit them just as well, given the uncertainties about the possibility of outright military success.
Trent Lott, the Republican leader in the US Senate, expresses one element of this feeling by accusing the Clinton administration of appeasement. Mr Lott said the outcome of the Iraqi crisis showed that it was the UN calling the shots, not the United States.
This should strike a chord with many Americans nostalgic for the heyday of US power who see no reason why the world's only superpower should not dictate policy to other nations. They find the idea that Washington might have backed down because France or Russia or China were disinclined to go to war an insult to their national self-image.
But, the Clinton Administration itself may have generated some of this sense of anti-climax.
Over the last few weeks the President and his advisors used some tough talk about dealing with Saddam Hussein in their arguments for a military strike. They demonised the Iraqi leader as a "dangerous tyrant" and an "insidious dictator". Now they have to explain to Americans why they'll have to live with this man still in power in Baghdad.
The noisy town meeting in Ohio last week contained some clues as to the confused state of American public opinion.
Sure there were loud voices, reminiscent of the anti-Vietnam protests opposed to any US military action. But the Clinton foreign policy team was also assailed by those who argue that American troop losses are not worthwhile unless Saddam is driven from power.
Attempts to explain that the objectives of military action would be limited and would not include Saddam Hussien's removal didn't seem to capture anyone's imagination.
Now President Clinton must have recourse to subtlety once again to explain the deal cut in Baghdad. Americans weaned on simple truths about evil empires may not respond wholeheartedly.
The BBC UN correspondent said Mr Butler's endorsement was politically vital for Mr Annan, whose deal with Baghdad has been criticised by some American politicians as a sell-out to Iraq.February 28, 1998: Recap, Operation Desert Thunder - In addition to the U.S. and coalition forces already in Kuwait, a brigade task force from 3d Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga., rapidly deployed to Kuwait. Departing from Hunter Army Airfield, the brigade task force deployed 4,000 personnel and 2,900 short tons of equipment on 120 aircraft. Within 15 hours of landing at Kuwait City International Airport, the unit had drawn prepositioned equipment and was in battle positions in the desert. On Feb. 28, Coalition/Joint Task Force-Kuwait was prepared to defend Kuwait with a ground force strength of more than 9,000 personnel.
As part of a bid to stop UN staff being disheartened by critics of the agreement, Mr Annan told them: "It is the (Security) Council, not a few critics, who will have the last word.
"It was not unexpected that there would be some criticism of us and misrepresentations of what we have done in Iraq, but you must not be disheartened," he said. "The alternative to the agreement would have ended UNSCOM's work."
Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, United Kingdom, and Kuwait rounded out the C/JTF by providing liaison teams, aircraft support, special operations elements, Chemical/Biological, Base Defense Units, MASH units, and medical personnel.
Added to forces on the ground was equipment for two more brigades (one Army and one Marine) afloat in the Arabian Gulf with the Maritime Preposition Force. These ships were poised to link up with soldiers and Marines who would draw their equipment and head to the front if required. Attack air provided by Navy, Air Force, and Coalition assets rounded out this formidable force.
In February and March USTRANSCOM supported the deployment of troops to Southwest Asia in response to Saddam Hussein's defiance of UN inspections. In all USTRANSCOM flew more than 300 airlift missions and nearly 200 air refueling missions, carrying 10,000 passengers and 11,000 short tons of cargo in about three weeks.
Within days of being notified, USS George Washington (CVN 73) arrived in the Gulf to join the Nimitz (CVN 68) battle group. USS Independence (CV 62) ensured the presence of two carrier battle groups, when she relieved Nimitz on station a few months later. These 5th Fleet forces, combined with allied and coalition ships such as the British carriers HMS Invincible (R 05) and HMS Illustrious (R 06), accounted for a fleet of 50 ships and submarines and 200 naval aircraft, which assembled in a matter of weeks to put some weight behind diplomatic efforts.
While the 366th Air Expeditionary Wing from Mountain Home AFB were waiting to deploy to Bahrain because of the continuing problems with Iraq, the 347th Air Expeditionary Wing from Moody AFB GA was in Bahrain as the first true Air Expeditionary Wing in the Air Force. The 366th AEW replaced the 347th AEW on 01 April 1998, after the 347th spent over 120 days in Bahrain supporting Operation Southern Watch and Operation Desert Thunder.
During this large scale contingency deployment of Allied Forces into the theater in the spring of 1998, the size of US Army Forces Central Command (ARCENT), Third US Army increased while at the same time relocating their headquarters from the Eastern Province to its present location in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. ARCENT-SA closed its installations in the Eastern Province and moved soldiers and civilian technicians as well as over a billion dollars of equipment safely without incident.
"Without firing a shot, the combined force flexed enough muscle to bring about Iraqi compliance. In early June 1998 the USS Independence (CV 62) Battle Group returns to Yokosuka, Japan after deploying on short notice to the Arabian Gulf and remaining there four months in support of Operation Southern Watch and Desert Thunder. Ships returning with Independence included USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56)."
March 2, 1998: Security Council resolution 1154 endorses the provisions of the MOU. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asks Richard Butler to keep Scott Ritter from heading any inspection team that is going to inspect Iraqi "sensitive" sites. But after other leaders of UNSCOM inspection teams show support for Ritter in a memo to the Executive Chairman, Ritter returns to Iraq.
March 20-27, 1998: UNSCOM and Iraq conduct a further technical evaluation meeting (TEM) in Vienna dealing with all aspects of Iraq's biological weapons program.
April, 1998: Scott Ritter complains to Richard Butler that the US, Israel, and the United Kingdom have stopped providing intelligence reports to him. US officials disagree, stating that only Ritter was cut off from information.
April 4, 1998: The initial entry to the eight Presidential sites is completed by mission UNSCOM 243 (S/1998/326, Appendix III).
April 8, 1998: The report of the biological weapons TEM is transmitted to the Council (S/1998/308). As with the other TEMs, the experts unanimously conclude that Iraq's declaration on its biological weapons programme is incomplete and inadequate. (BBC: A UN report claims Iraq is continuing to hold back information about its germ warfare programme)
April 15, 1998: The report of the Special Group on the visit to Presidential sites is submitted to the Council by the Secretary-General (S/1998/326).
April 16, 1998: UNSCOM's semi-annual consolidated report is submitted to the Council (S/1998/332).
April 17, 1998: UN inspectors say they have made no progress in verifying whether Iraq has destroyed its weapons of mass destruction.
April 18, 1998: The Iraqi Foreign Minister describes the UN inspector's April 9 report as "baseless and boring" and calls for a time limit to be set on inspections.
April 28, 1998: The UN decides that it is too early to lift sanctions against Iraq, renewing the embargo for another six months. But the US acknowledges progress in the access to presidential and sensitive sites.
May 1, 1998: In an open letter to the Security Council, Iraq warns of grave consequences if UN sanctions against it are not lifted.
May 6, 1998: The Executive Chairman informs the Council (S/1998/377) that its requirements with respect to access to sites are sufficiently implemented to allow for the termination of the travel ban called for in resolution 1137.
May 14, 1998: Statement by the President of the Security Council in which the Council welcomes the improved access provided to the Special Commission and the IAEA by Iraq, following the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding of 23 February 1998. The Council expresses the hope that the agreement by the Government of Iraq to provide immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to the Special Commission and the IAEA would reflect a new Iraqi spirit with regard to providing accurate and detailed information in all areas of concern (S/PRST/1998/11).
May 1998: Osama bin Laden answers questions posed to him by some of his followers and ABC news reporter John Miller at his mountaintop camp in southern Afghanistan. The "land of the two Holy Mosques" is a reference to Saudi Arabia, where US troops have been stationed since the Persian Gulf cease fire, enforcing the "no-fly zone" and other sanctions on Iraq:
"Follower": ... What is the meaning of your call for Muslims to take arms against America in particular, and what is the message that you wish to send to the West in general?May 26, 1998: Richard Butler says he intends to draw up a list of outstanding issues that must be addressed by Baghdad to see sanctions lifted by October. On the same day the US announces it is to cut its forces in the Gulf.
Osama bin Laden: The call to wage war against America was made because America has spear-headed the crusade against the Islamic nation, sending tens of thousands of its troops to the land of the two Holy Mosques over and above its meddling in its affairs and its politics, and its support of the oppressive, corrupt and tyrannical regime that is in control. These are the reasons behind the singling out of America as a target.
"Follower": In your last statement, there was a strong message to the American government in particular. What message do you have for the European governments and the West in general?
Osama bin Laden: Praise be Allah and prayers and peace upon Mohammed. With respect to the Western governments that participated in the attack on the land of the two Holy Mosques regarding it as ownerless, and in the siege against the Muslim people of Iraq, we have nothing new to add to the previous message. What prompted us to address the American government in particular is the fact that it is on the head of the Western and the crusading forces in their fight against Islam and against Muslims. The two explosions that took place in Riyadh and in Khobar recently were but a clear and powerful signal to the governments of the countries which willingly participated in the aggression against our countries and our lives and our sacrosanct symbols. It might be beneficial to mention that some of those countries have begun to move towards independence from the American government with respect to the enmity that it continues to show towards the Muslim people. We only hope that they will continue to move in that direction, away from the oppressive forces that are fighting against our countries. We however, differentiate between the western government and the people of the West...
The Western regimes and the government of the United States of America bear the blame for what might happen. If their people do not wish to be harmed inside their very own countries, they should seek to elect governments that are truly representative of them and that can protect their interests. ...
John Miller, ABC: Mr. bin Laden, you have issued a fatwah calling on Muslims to kill Americans where they can, when they can. Is that directed at all Americans, just the American military, just the Americans in Saudi Arabia?
Osama bin Laden: Allah has ordered us to glorify the truth and to defend Muslim land, especially the Arab peninsula ... against the unbelievers. After World War II, the Americans grew more unfair and more oppressive towards people in general and Muslims in particular. ... The Americans started it and retaliation and punishment should be carried out following the principle of reciprocity, especially when women and children are involved. Through history, American has not been known to differentiate between the military and the civilians or between men and women or adults and children. Those who threw atomic bombs and used the weapons of mass destruction against Nagasaki and Hiroshima were the Americans. Can the bombs differentiate between military and women and infants and children? America has no religion that can deter her from exterminating whole peoples. Your position against Muslims in Palestine is despicable and disgraceful. America has no shame. ... We believe that the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans. Nothing could stop you except perhaps retaliation in kind. We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets, and this is what the fatwah says ... . The fatwah is general (comprehensive) and it includes all those who participate in, or help the Jewish occupiers in killing Muslims.
John Miller, ABC: Wali Khan Amin Shah was captured in Manila. American authorities believe he was working for you, funded by you, setting up training camps there and part of his plan was to plan out the assassination or the attempted assassination of President Clinton during his trip to Manila.
Osama bin Laden: Wali Khan is a Muslim young man; his nickname in Afghanistan was the Lion. He was among the most courageous Muslim young men. He was a close friend and we used to fight from the same trenches in Afghanistan. We fought many battles against the Russians until they were defeated and put to shame and had to leave the country in disgrace. As to what you said about him working for me, I have nothing to say. We are all together in this; we all work for Allah and our reward comes from him. As to what you said about the attempt to assassinate President Clinton, it is not surprising. What do you expect from people attacked by Clinton, whose sons and mothers have been killed by Clinton? Do you expect anything but treatment by reciprocity?
John Miller, ABC: The federal government in the US. is still investigating their suspicions that you ordered and funded the attack on the US military in Al Khobar and Riyadh.
Osama bin Laden: We have roused the nation and the Muslim people and we have communicated to them the fatwahs of our learned scholars who the Saudi government has thrown in jail in order to please the American government for which they are agents. ... We have communicated their fatwahs and stirred the nation to drive out the enemy who has occupied our land and usurped our country and suppressed our people and to rid the land of the two Holy Mosques from their presence. Among the young men who responded to our call are Khalid Al Said and Abdul Azeez Al... and Mahmud Al Hadi and Muslih Al Shamrani. We hope Allah receives them as holy martyrs. They have raised the nation's head high and washed away a great part of the shame that has enveloped us as a result of the weakness of the Saudi government and its complicity with the American government ... . Yes, we have instigated and they have responded. We hope Allah grants their families solace.
John Miller, ABC: No one expected the mujahedeen to beat the Russians in Afghanistan. It came as a surprise to everyone. What do you see as the future of American involvement in the Middle East, in taking on groups like this?
Osama bin Laden: ... Allah has granted the Muslim people and the Afghani mujahedeen, and those with them, the opportunity to fight the Russians and the Soviet Union. ... They were defeated by Allah and were wiped out. There is a lesson here. The Soviet Union entered Afghanistan late in December of '79. The flag of the Soviet Union was folded once and for all on the 25th of December just 10 years later. It was thrown in the waste basket. Gone was the Soviet union forever. We are certain that we shall - with the grace of Allah - prevail over the Americans and over the Jews, as the Messenger of Allah promised us in an authentic prophetic tradition when He said the Hour of Resurrection shall not come before Muslims fight Jews and before Jews hide behind trees and behind rocks.
We are certain - with the grace of Allah - that we shall prevail over the Jews and over those fighting with them. Today however, our battle against the Americans is far greater than our battle was against the Russians. Americans have committed unprecedented stupidity. They have attacked Islam and its most significant sacrosanct symbols ... . We anticipate a black future for America. Instead of remaining United States, it shall end up separated states and shall have to carry the bodies of its sons back to America.
John Miller, ABC: Describe the situation when your men took down the American forces in Somalia.
Osama bin Laden: After our victory in Afghanistan and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims, the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower. So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world. ... As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging and all that noise it was making in the press after the Gulf War in which it destroyed the infrastructure and the milk and dairy industry that was vital for the infants and the children and the civilians and blew up dams which were necessary for the crops people grew to feed their families. Proud of this destruction, America assumed the titles of world leader and master of the new world order. After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them. I was in Sudan when this happened. I was very happy to learn of that great defeat that America suffered, so was every Muslim. ...
John Miller, ABC: The American people, by and large, do not know the name bin Laden, but they soon likely will. Do you have a message for the American people?
Osama bin Laden: I say to them that they have put themselves at the mercy of a disloyal government, and this is most evident in Clinton's administration ... . We believe that this administration represents Israel inside America. Take the sensitive ministries such as the Ministry of Exterior and the Ministry of Defense and the CIA, you will find that the Jews have the upper hand in them. They make use of America to further their plans for the world, especially the Islamic world. American presence in the Gulf provides support to the Jews and protects their rear. And while millions of Americans are homeless and destitute and live in abject poverty, their government is busy occupying our land and building new settlements and helping Israel build new settlements in the point of departure for our Prophet's midnight journey to the seven heavens. America throws her own sons in the land of the two Holy Mosques for the sake of protecting Jewish interests. ...
The American government is leading the country towards hell. ... We say to the Americans as people and to American mothers, if they cherish their lives and if they cherish their sons, they must elect an American patriotic government that caters to their interests not the interests of the Jews. If the present injustice continues with the wave of national consciousness, it will inevitably move the battle to American soil, just as Ramzi Yousef and others have done. This is my message to the American people. I urge them to find a serious administration that acts in their interest and does not attack people and violate their honor and pilfer their wealth. ...
John Miller, ABC: In America, we have a figure from history from 1897 named Teddy Roosevelt. He was a wealthy man, who grew up in a privileged situation and who fought on the front lines. He put together his own men - hand chose them - and went to battle. You are like the Middle East version of Teddy Roosevelt.
June 3-4, 1998: At the UN Security Council's request, experts from UNSCOM's New York Headquarters staff provide a technical briefing to Council members in informal session. At the conclusion of the meeting the Executive Chairman circulates to Council members for information an informal paper on disarmament issues which the Commission deems necessary to be completed and verified for the formulation of a report pursuant to paragraph 22 of Security Council resolution 687 (1991).
June 14, 1998: The Executive Chairman agrees on a schedule for work on certain outstanding disarmament issues with the Deputy Prime Minister covering the following six weeks (S/1998/529).
June 15, 1998: The BBC reports:
The United Nations' chief weapons inspector has said the completion of a two-month programme on Iraqi disarmament may raise the prospect of an easing in eight-year sanctions on Baghdad.Comments from Iraq Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz
He said the light at the end of the tunnel was now more visible that it had been for a long time.
International pressure has increased following the recent crisis, to bring both the inspections process and sanctions to an end.
Central to the discussions were Mr Butler's "road map" of demands.
It contains a definitive list of information the inspectors say they still need on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
The map charts the future course of disarming Iraq's prohibited chemical, biological and ballistic weapons.
Accompanying Mr Butler are 18 UN arms experts who claimed to have satellite images and other evidence that Iraq continues to hide information on its illegal weapons programmes.
Before the talks, Baghdad maintained it has no further information to give the UN about its illegal weapons programme.
But Mr Butler said earlier that if the information he is seeking was forthcoming, he would be able to make a report to the UN Security Council in October which could open the way for the lifting of sanctions.
The UN Special Commission (Unscom) report will be the key to the easing of sanctions imposed after the 1991 Gulf War.
Diplomats say if the UN Security Council endorsed such a report it would trigger the lifting of an embargo on Iraqi oil exports.
However, they say it would not herald the automatic end of wider trade sanctions, despite Iraq's insistence that all sanctions must go when it is declared free of chemical, biological and long-range ballistic weapons.
"There will be strings attached to lifting trade sanctions. It's a political issue," one diplomat in Baghdad was reported to have said. "But this is the best day for Iraq since Kofi Annan's visit."
In a press conference before the talks Mr Butler said there had been a great deal of co-operation from the Iraqis since February when the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, visited Iraq.
He added that UN weapons inspectors were "near the end" of their task. "We have no second list in the backroom," he said.
But Iraqi newspapers have accused the chief UN weapons inspector of overstepping his mandate in his latest visit to Baghdad.
The newspaper Babel, owned by President Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, called for the Australian diplomat to be silenced. "Isn't it time we stopped being courteous and cut off the tongue of this dog?" Babel demanded.
The Iraqi deputy prime minister repeated Iraq's insistence that it has implemented the provisions of the Gulf War ceasefire resolution and was entitled to see sanctions lifted.June 19, 1998: The Security Council approves a resolution allowing Iraq to spend $300m on importing spare parts to improve its oil facilities.
He also complained about a new UN draft resolution on Iraq's oil-for-food agreement which he said was an attempt to turn that deal into a substitute for lifting sanctions.
Iraq appears to have softened its stance on the UN Security Council resolution passed on Friday clearing the way for Iraq to import $300m of much-needed industry equipment as part of the UN's oil-for-food agreement with Baghdad.June 24, 1998 : Richard Butler confirms reports that traces of the nerve gas VX has been found in Iraqi missile fragments. Iraq had always insisted it had not weaponised VX. Iraq dismisses the charges, warning of "grave consequences" if sanctions are not lifted.
June 30, 1998: An American fighter plane opens fire on an Iraqi missile site. The US Department of Desfense says the action was taken after four British Tornado military jets were illuminated by Iraqi radar. Iraq condemns 'US aggression'. The US says it considers the event an isolated incident, and sees no reason to increase the American military presence in the region.
July 10-15, 1998: A team of UNSCOM international experts meets with their Iraqi counterparts in Baghdad to give Iraq an account of the Commission's VX. findings.
July 14, 1998: As a consequence of the high-level talks between the Deputy Prime Minister and the Executive Chairman in June 1998, a team of UNSCOM international biological experts is assembled in Baghdad to review, for the third time, Iraq's declaration on its biological weapons program. The experts conclude that the declaration is not verifiable.
July 30, 1998: Iraq again warns that it will take unspecified action unless the UN embargo is lifted.
August 3, 1998: During a visit to Baghdad, the Executive Chairman is told by the Deputy Prime Minister that he must certify to the Security Council that the requirements of section C of resolution 687 (1991) have been met. The Chairman responds that he is not in a position to do so. The Deputy Prime Minister suspends the talks (S/1998/719).
August 4, 1998: Richard Butler leaves Baghdad after talks collapse on proposals designed to ensure Iraq is fulfilling its committments to destroy weapons of mass destruction. Tariq Aziz says it was pointless becoming involved in an unending process to prove what the Iraqis had already shown. He denies Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction and accused the UN Special Commission in charge of disarmament of dragging out its work in order to suit hostile American policy.
August 5, 1998: Iraq halts cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA pending Security Council agreement to lift the oil embargo, reorganize the Commission and move it to either Geneva or Vienna. In the interim, Iraq would, on its own terms, permit monitoring under resolution 715 (1991).
August 6, 1998: The Executive Chairman briefs the Security Council on Iraq's position and the results of his talks in Baghdad (S/1998/719). The Security Council's President terms Iraq's actions "totally unacceptable".
August 7, 1998: African embassy bombings This is the eighth year anniversary of the arrival of U.S. troops into Saudi Arabia and the start of United Nations sanctions against Iraq. A bomb explodes at the rear entrance of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 12 U.S. citizens, 32 Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs), and 247 Kenyan citizens. About 5,000 Kenyans, six U.S. citizens, and 13 FSNs were injured. The U.S. embassy building sustained extensive structural damage. Almost simultaneously, a bomb detonates outside the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing seven FSNs and three Tanzanian citizens, and injuring one U.S. citizen and 76 Tanzanians. The explosion caused major structural damage to the U.S. embassy facility. The US holds Osama bin Laden responsible for these acts.
August 12, 1998: The Executive Chairman informs the Security Council (document S/1998/767) that, in addition to halting all disarmament activities, Iraq's actions with respect to monitoring have impinged on the effectiveness of the monitoring system and UNSCOM could not continue to provide the Security Council with the same level of assurances of Iraq's compliance with its obligations not to reestablish its proscribed weapons programs.
August 18, 1998: In a letter from the President of the Council (S/1998/769), the Security Council reiterates its support for UNSCOM in the full implementation of its mandate and notes that Iraq is obliged to provide UNSCOM with cooperation necessary for it to undertake activities, including inspections.
August 19, 1998: The Executive Chairman proposes, in a letter to the Deputy Prime Minister that Iraq and the Special Commission resume the full range of activity. This is rejected by the Deputy Prime Minister in remarks to the press stating that Iraq does not trust the Executive Chairman or the elements dominating UNSCOM and that it does not believe that there is any use in resuming work with them.
August 20, 1998: Operation Infinite Reach - US cruise missile strike on purported terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Sudan as retaliation against bin Laden for teh embassy bombings. Cruise missiles hit suspected terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Al Shifa, a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum. US intelligence claims that Al Shifa is tied to the production of chemical weapons for bin Laden. The Sudanese government vehemently denied these claims.
The Washington Post:
...lawmakers from both parties were quick to rally behind Clinton in a deluge of public statements and appearances yesterday, a marked contrast to the relatively sparse and chilly reception that greeted his Monday statement on the Lewinsky matter.August 26, 1998. Scott Ritter resigns from UNSCOM. In his letter of resignation, he says the Security Council's reaction to Iraq's decision earlier that month to suspend co-operation with the inspection team made a mockery of the disarmament work, stating they were "hobbled by unfettered Iraqi obstruction and non-existent Security Council enforcement of its own resolutions." Ritter also charges that the U.N. Security Council has become "a witting partner to an overall Iraqi strategy of weakening the Special Commission." UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler accepts Ritter's resignation.
"I think the president did exactly the right thing," House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said of the bombing attacks. "By doing this we're sending the signal there are no sanctuaries for terrorists."
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) called the attacks "appropriate and just," and House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) said "the American people stand united in the face of terrorism."
Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) praised Clinton for doing "the right thing at the right time to protect vital U.S. interests against terrorist attacks," and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) said the United States "should respond forcefully when U.S. lives are at stake."
Gingrich dismissed any possibility that Clinton may have ordered the attacks to divert attention from the scandal. Instead, he said, there was an urgent need for a reprisal following the Aug. 7 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
"Anyone who watched the film of the bombings, anyone who saw the coffins come home knows better than to question this timing," Gingrich said. "It was done as early as possible to send a message to terrorists across the globe that killing Americans has a cost. It has no relationship with any other activity of any kind."
August 31, 1998: Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter is interviewed for PBS Newshour
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What was happening in your investigations that made you feel you had to resign?
WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Well, basically, is the investigations had come to a standstill were making no effective progress, and in order to make effective progress, we really needed the Security Council to step in in a meaningful fashion and seek to enforce its resolutions that we're not complying with.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Could you describe the most recent investigation that you wanted to undertake. Give us a little detail about it and what happened to derail it.
WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Well, basically, the investigations that I was tasked with carrying out by the executive chairman involved looking at exposing the means by which Iraq hides their prohibited weapons and weapons capabilities from the special commission. We needed to expose this methodology so that they used so we could get at the weapons, themselves.
And the investigation has been going on for several years now, and this summer we were in the process of resuming these inspections, you know, in accordance with the agreement reached by Kofi Annan and Saddam Hussein in accordance with the Security Council resolutions that said Iraq had to comply or face severe consequences, so we're trying to get back on task. We had some very specific information, which led us to believe we could go to locations where we would find aspects of this hidden weaponry, of these hidden components, and also uncover how Iraq actually went about hiding these weapons from the commission.
We had very specific information, and we believe that if we'd been allowed to accomplish this inspection, we could have achieved meaningful disarmament results.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And why weren't you allowed to accomplish it?
WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Well, again, we have a problem with this-with the United States. On April 6th, the President of the United States submitted a report to Congress in which he clearly states that a diplomatic solution had been tried. We have a memorandum of understanding, and the marker's on the table now. Iraq must be held accountable for the agreement that they have signed with the Secretary-General and which was endorsed by the Security Council in its Resolution 1154. If Iraq didn't, there would be the severest consequences.
You had this statement on the one hand, but on the other hand, this administration's saying, wait a minute, we can't go forward with aggressive inspections because they will lead to a confrontation with Iraq, but let's understand the confrontation is because Iraq will not comply with the law passed by the Security Council. So we weren't allowed to do our job out of fear of a confrontation in which the United States would not be able to muster the required support of the Security Council to respond effectively or to respond in a manner which they had said they would respond in Resolution 1154.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Who specifically blocked the investigation?
WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Well, I mean, now we're getting down to who made the phone calls. The bottom line is the people held accountable are the national security policy team of the United States. Policy is made in policy coordination meetings, where the principal people meet. This would be Sandy Berger, the national security adviser; Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state; and other principal personnel from the State Department, from the Department of Defense, from the intelligence community.
They will meet and they will decide on policy issues. And it's this body that makes a determination that they needed to basically put pressure on the special commission to slow down, to postpone, to cancel certain operations because they would lead to confrontation, which the United States was not willing to step up to.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And how many inspections were blocked in this way?
WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Well, I mean, the list is actually quite long over the years. But since November there-since November of 1997, I would say that there have been a half dozen or so inspections, which have been either delayed or postponed or canceled outright, due to pressure exerted on the executive chairman by the United States.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Now, we just heard the UNSCOM chairman, Richard Butler, saying that there had been conversations with the secretary of state and others, but that he was never pressured, that it never crossed the line. Is that untrue?
WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Look, Richard Butler is the one that has to make that decision. He's the executive chairman. He makes the call. You know, that's his determination. What I will say is that, you know, Madeleine Albright, you just showed a clip of her saying that they've been the strongest supporter of UNSCOM. In fact, they're the ones who stand at the back of UNSCOM. That's absolutely correct.
And you have your friend who's supposed to be backing you up as you carry out implementation of the law that they're encouraging you to execute and that friend calls you up and says excuse me, if you try and do this job, we're not going to be able to back you up, we don't agree with this. I believe Richard Butler would be under an awful lot of pressure, whether he wants to state that that was the case or not, but you just don't go forward with an inspection when the friend that you're requiring to back you up says they won't support it.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Ritter, as you know, this change has been described by some people as tactical, that the secretary of state and others wanted to wait until they had support in the Security Council to move forward with these more confrontational investigations. What's your response to that?
WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: This is lunacy. The bottom line is we haven't had-the United States hasn't had this kind of Security Council support for many years now, and Security Council support is eroding, eroding in large part because of a lack of American leadership. I don't know what they're waiting for. The Security Council is on a gradual, even a steep slide downhill in terms of its ability to support, or willingness to support the special commission. And there's no indication that anything the United States has been doing would turn the Security Council around. So I don't know-it sounds an awful lot like an excuse.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Ritter, does Iraq still have prescribed weapons?
WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Iraq still has prescribed weapons capability. There needs to be a careful distinction here. Iraq today is challenging the special commission to come up with a weapon and say where is the weapon in Iraq, and yet part of their efforts to conceal their capabilities, I believe, have been to disassemble weapons into various components and to hide these components throughout Iraq.
I think the danger right now is that without effective inspections, without effective monitoring, Iraq can in a very short period of time measure the months, reconstitute chemical biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their nuclear weaponization program.
September 3, 1998: Ritter testifies in a similar manner before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Relations on U.S. policy regarding Iraq weapons inspection and Iraq's capacity to reconstitute weapons of mass destruction in a very short period of time.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee; last week I resigned my position out of frustration that the United Nations Security Council, and the United States as its most significant supporter, was failing to enforce the post-Gulf War resolutions designed to disarm Iraq. I can speak to you today from firsthand experience about the effectiveness of American policy or lack thereof, with respect to the United Nations's effort to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. I sincerely hope that my actions might help to change things.September 3, 1998: The Executive Chairman briefs the Security Council on the status of UNSCOM's work in Iraq, including three incidents where Iraq has placed further limits on the Commission's rights and activities with respect to monitoring.
It was very sad to hear the secretary of State on Tuesday night giving an interview from Moscow challenging my credentials. She told the world through CNN that Scott Ritter doesn't have a clue about what our overall policy has been, that we are the foremost supporters of UNSCOM. I do have a clue, in fact several, all of which indicate that our government has clearly expressed its policy in one way and then acted in another. Such clues include various statements by the secretary of State, a report to Congress on 6 April by the president of the United States and several statements made to me and to other UNSCOM officials at a variety of inter-agency briefings held at the State Department, the Pentagon and the White House. If these were the only clues, the administration's record would be impressive. However, I can say without fear of contradiction and with the confidence that most of my former colleagues agree with me that those clues derive from the practical experience obtained on the ground in Iraq and behind the scenes at the United Nations tell another story: that the United States has undermined UNSCOM's efforts through interference and manipulation, usually coming from the highest levels of the administration's national security team, to include the secretary of State herself.
Iraq today is not disarmed, and remains an ugly threat to its neighbors and to world peace. Those American who think that this is important and that something should be done about it have to be deeply disappointed in our leadership. I'm here today to provide you with specific details about the scope and nature of interference by this administration in UNSCOM, the debilitating effect that such interference has on the ability of UNSCOM to carry out its disarmament mission in Iraq and to appeal to the administration and to the Senate to work together to change America's Iraq policy back to what has been stated in the past: full compliance with the provisions of Security Council resolutions, to include enabling UNSCOM to carry out its mission of disarmament in an unrestricted, unhindered fashion.
September 9, 1998: Security Council resolution 1194 unanimously condemns Iraq's decision to suspend cooperation with UNSCOM, terming Iraq's actions a totally unacceptable contravention of Iraq's obligations; demands Iraq rescind its decision and decides not to conduct the 60-day sanctions reviews until Iraq does so and the Commission reports to the Council that it is satisfied that it has been able to exercise its full range of activities, including inspections.
September 24-25, 1998: UNSCOM holds a second international expert meeting in New York to discuss the results of 1998 analyses conducted on remnants of Iraq's missile warheads.
September 29, 1998: Representative Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) introduces H.R.4655, a bill "To establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq". Co-sponsored by Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Ca) the bill will ultimately be known as "The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998"
September 29, 1998 Former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter tells BBC radio why he left the international team investigating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
October 5, 1998: HR 4655 passes the House, 360 - 38, with 36 not voting. Republicans vote 202-9 with 16 not voting, Democrats 157-29 with 20 not voting, among them are Nancy Pelosi (Ca) and John Murtha (Pa).
October 6, 1998: UNSCOM submits its semi-annual report to the Security Council (S/1998/920).
October 7, 1998: HR4655 passes the Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.
October 8, 1998: The House of Representatives vote for impeachment proceedings to begin against President Clinton. The House judiciary committee will be given wide powers to draw up detailed charges based on 11 allegations by the independent counsel Kenneth Starr in his report on the Monica Lewinsky affair.
October 9, 1998: "[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." - Letter to President Clinton. - Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, others,
October 10, 1998: Senator Kerry follows up on the Senate floor
Mr. President, there are two subjects that I wish to bring to my colleagues' attention this afternoon. First, I want to talk about an issue of enormous international consequence--the situation with respect to Iraq. For the last 2 months, as we know, Saddam Hussein has been testing, yet again, the full measure of the international community's resolve to force Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction. That has been the fundamental goal of our policy toward Iraq since the end of the gulf war and is reflected in the U.N. agreements reached in the aftermath of the war.October 13, 1998: The UNSCOM Executive Chairman briefs the Council on the Commission's semi-annual report.
Two months ago, on August 5, Saddam Hussein, formally adopting a recommendation that had been made by the Iraqi parliament 2 days earlier, announced that Iraq would no longer permit U.N. weapons inspectors to conduct random searches in defiance of its obligations under those U.N. resolutions that were adopted at the end of the war, and also in violation, I might add, of its agreement last February with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, to give UNSCOM teams, accompanied by diplomatic overseers, unconditional access to all sites where UNSCOM believed that Iraq may be stockpiling weapons or agents to make those weapons.
Let's understand very clearly that ever since the end of the war, it has been the clear, declared, accepted, and implemented policy of the United States of America and its allies to prevent Saddam Hussein from building weapons of mass destruction. And as part of that agreed-upon policy, we were to be permitted unlimited, unfettered, unconditional, immediate access to the sites that we needed to inspect in order to be able to make that policy real.
Iraq's defiance and the low-key--some would say weak--response of the United States and the United Nations initially went unnoticed, in part because of other events, including the dual bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as the obvious fascination with domestic events that have dominated the headlines now for so many months. Those events, frankly, have continued to obscure the reality of what is happening in Iraq; and, accordingly, the reality of the potential threat to the region--a region where, obviously, the United States, for 50 years or more, has invested enormous amounts of our diplomatic and even our domestic energy.
Press reports of the administration's efforts to intervene in, or at minimum, to influence UNSCOM's inspection process and the resignation of American UNSCOM inspector, Scott Ritter, focused the spotlight briefly on our Iraqi policy and raised some serious and troubling questions about our efforts to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The principal question raised was a very simple one: Are those efforts still intact, or has our policy changed?
Last month, press reports suggested that administration officials had secretly tried to quash aggressive U.N. inspections at various times over the last year, most recently in August, in order to avoid a confrontation with Iraq--this despite repeatedly demanding the unconditional, unfettered accesses that I referred to earlier for the inspection teams. Scott Ritter, the longest serving American inspector in UNSCOM, charged at the time that the administration had intervened at least six or seven times since last November when Iraq tried to thwart UNSCOM's work by refusing to allow Ritter and other Americans to participate on the teams, in an effort to delay or postpone or cancel certain UNSCOM operations out of fear of confrontation with Iraq.
Those were serious charges. We held an open hearing, a joint hearing between the Armed Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee on these charges. There were some protestations to the contrary by the administration and a subsequent effort to ensure that the Security Council would maintain the sanctions against Iraq, but, frankly, nothing more.
In explaining his reasons for resigning, Scott Ritter stated that the policy shift in the Security Council supported `at least implicitly' by the United States, away from an aggressive inspections policy is a surrender to Iraqi leadership that makes a `farce' of the commission's efforts to prove that Iraq is still concealing its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs.
Administration officials have categorically rejected the notion that U.S. policy has shifted, either in terms of our willingness to use force or support for UNSCOM. They have also disputed Ritter's charges of repeated U.S. efforts to limit UNSCOM's work...
The fact of the matter is, in my judgment, the U.S. response and that of the Security Council to Saddam Hussein's latest provocations are different in tone and substance from responses to earlier Iraqi provocations.
Three times in the last 11 months Saddam Hussein has launched increasingly bolder challenges to UNSCOM's authority and work. In November, he refused to allow American inspectors to participate on the teams. Although that crisis ultimately was resolved through Russian intervention, the United States and Britain were leading the effort to push the Security Council to respond strongly. In subsequent weeks, Saddam Hussein refused to grant UNSCOM access to Presidential palaces and other sensitive cites, kicked out the team that was led by Scott Ritter, charging at the time that he was a CIA spy, and threatened to expel all inspectors unless sanctions were removed by mid-May.
By February, the United States had an armada of forces positioned in the gulf, and administration officials from our President on down had declared our intention to use military force if necessary to reduce Iraq's capacity to manufacture, stockpile or reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction, or to threaten its neighbors.
Ultimately diplomacy succeeded again. In a sense, it succeeded again. It averted the immediate crisis. One can certainly raise serious questions about how effective it was with respect to the longer-term choices we face. But certainly in the short term, Secretary General Kofi Annan successfully struck an agreement with Iraq to provide UNSCOM inspectors, accompanied by diplomatic representatives, full and unfettered access to all sites. There is little doubt that this agreement would not have been concluded successfully without the Security Council's strong calls for Iraqi compliance combined with the specter of the potential use of American force.
Saddam's latest provocation, however, Mr. President, strikes at the heart of our policy, and at the capacity of UNSCOM to do its job effectively. As long as the U.N. inspectors are prevented, as they are, from undertaking random no-notice inspections, they will never be able to confirm the fundamentals of our policy. They will never be able to confirm what weapons Iraq still has or what it is doing to maintain its capability to produce weapons of mass destruction.
Yet, when confronted with what may be the most serious challenge to UNSCOM to date, the administration's response, and that of our allies and the United Nations, has been to assiduously avoid brandishing the sword and to make a concerted effort to downplay the offense to avoid confrontation at all costs, even if it means implicit and even explicit backing down on our stated position as well as that of the Security Council. That stated position is clear: That Iraq must provide the U.N. inspectors with unconditional and unfettered access to all sites.
Secretary Albright may well be correct in arguing that this course helps keep the focus on Iraq's defiance. It may well do that. But it is also true that the U.N.-imposed limits on UNSCOM operations, especially if they are at the behest of the United States, work completely to Saddam Hussein's advantage.
They raise questions of the most serious nature about the preparedness of the international community to keep its own commitment to force Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, and the much larger question of our overall proliferation commitment itself. They undermine the credibility of the United States and the United Nations position that Iraq comply with the Security Council's demands to provide unconditional and unfettered access to those inspectors. And, obviously, every single one of our colleagues ought to be deeply concerned about the fact that by keeping the inspectors out of the very places that Saddam Hussein wants to prevent them from entering, they substantially weaken UNSCOM's ability to make any accurate determination of Iraq's nuclear, chemical or biological weapons inventory or capability. And in so doing, they open the door for Iraq's allies on the Security Council to waffle on the question of sanctions.
I recognize that the Security Council recently voted to keep the sanctions in place and to suspend the sanctions review process. But, Mr. President, notwithstanding that, the less than maximum level of international concern and focus on the underlying fact that no inspections take place, the continuation of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, and the fact that Saddam Hussein is in complete contravention of his own agreements and of the U.N. requirements--that continues to be the real crisis. And Saddam Hussein continues to refuse to comply.
Since the end of the gulf war, the international community has sought to isolate and weaken Iraq through a dual policy of sanctions and weapons inspections. Or, as one administration official said, to put him in a `box.' In order to get the sanctions relief, Iraq has to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and submit to inspections. But it has become painfully apparent over the last 11 months that there are deep divisions within the Security Council particularly among the Permanent 5 members over how to deal with Saddam Hussein's aggressive efforts to break out of the box.
Russia, France and China have consistently been more sympathetic to Iraq's call for sanctions relief than the United States and Britain. We, on the other hand, have steadfastly insisted that sanctions remain in place until he complies. These differences over how to deal with Iraq reflect the fact that there is a superficial consensus, at best, among the Perm 5 on the degree to which Iraq poses a threat and the priority to be placed on dismantling Iraq's weapons capability. For the United States and Britain, an Iraq equipped with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons under the leadership of Saddam Hussein is a threat that almost goes without description, although our current activities seem to call into question whether or not one needs to be reminded of some of that description. Both of these countries have demonstrated a willingness to expend men, material and money to curb that threat.
France, on the other hand, has long established economic and political relationships within the Arab world, and has had a different approach. Russia also has a working relationship with Iraq, and China, whose commitment to nuclear nonproliferation has been less than stellar, has a very different calculus that comes into play. Iraq may be a threat and nonproliferation may be the obvious, most desirable goal, but whether any of these countries are legitimately prepared to sacrifice other interests to bring Iraq to heel remains questionable today, and is precisely part of the calculus that Saddam Hussein has used as he tweaks the Security Council and the international community simultaneously.
Given the difference of views within the Security Council, and no doubt the fears of our Arab allies, who are the potential targets of Iraqi aggression, it is really not surprising, or shouldn't be to any of us, that the administration has privately tried to influence the inspection process in a way that might avoid confrontation while other efforts were being made to forge a consensus. But now we have to make a judgment about the failure to reinstate the inspection process and ask ourselves whether or not that will destroy the original `box' that the administration has defined as so essential to carrying out our policy.
Is it possible that there is a sufficient lack of consensus and a lack of will that will permit Saddam Hussein to exploit the differences among the members of the Security Council and to create a sufficient level of sanctions fatigue that we would in fact move further away from the policy we originally had?
To the extent that his efforts are successful, we will find ourselves increasingly isolated within the Security Council. In fact, it is already clear that some of our allies in the Security Council are very open to the Iraqi idea of a comprehensive review of its performance in dismantling all of its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons--a review which Iraq hopes will lead to a lifting of some if not all of the sanctions.
I think the question needs to be asked as to how long we can sustain our insistence on the maintenance of sanctions if support for sanctions continues to erode within the Security Council. If it is indeed true that support is eroding--and there are great indicators that, given the current lack of confrontation, it is true--then the question remains, How will our original policy be affected or in fact is our original policy still in place?
In April, Secretary Albright stated that, `It took a threat of force to persuade Saddam Hussein to let the U.N. inspectors back in. We must maintain that threat if the inspectors are to do their jobs.'
That was the policy in April. Whether the administration is still prepared to use force to compel Iraqi compliance is now an enormous question. The Secretary says it is, but the recent revelations raise questions about that.
In addition, it seems to me that there are clear questions about whether or not the international community at this point in time is as committed as it was previously to the question of keeping Iraq from developing that capacity to rob its neighbors of tranquility through its unilateral development of a secret weapon program.
I would point out also that there are experts on Iraq, those in the inspections team, those at the U.N. and elsewhere in our international community, who are very clear that Saddam Hussein's first objective is not to lift the sanctions. His first objective is to keep Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program--that will come ahead of all else.
The situation is really far more serious than the United Nations, the Congress or the administration have made clear to the American people or demonstrated through the level of diplomacy and focus that is currently being placed on this issue. It is not simply about eliminating Saddam Hussein's capacity to threaten his neighbors. It is about eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction--chemical, biological, and nuclear. Failure to achieve this goal will have a profound impact, I believe, on our efforts with respect to our other nonproliferation efforts including completion of our talks with Russia and the ultimate ratification of the START II treaty by the Duma.
In recent conversations that I had with Chairman Butler, he confirmed that Saddam Hussein has only this one goal--keeping his weapons of mass destruction capability--and he further stated with clarity that Iraq is well out of compliance with U.N. resolutions requiring it to eliminate those weapons and submit to inspections and out of compliance with the agreement that he signed up to in February with Kofi Annan.
Mr. President, I believe there are a number of things we could do, a number of things both in covert as well as overt fashion. There is more policy energy that ought to be placed on this effort, and I believe that, as I have set forth in my comments, it is critical for us to engage in that effort, to hold him accountable.
October 14, 1998: The House judiciary committee chairman Henry Hyde announces the impeachment inquiry will concentrate its focus on two core charges: that Mr Clinton lied under oath and attempted to obstruct justice.
October 22-23, 1998: UNSCOM convenes a further international expert meeting to discuss the 1998 analysis of samples taken from remnants of Iraq's special warheads. The report of the meeting is submitted to the Council.
October 27, 1998 - Richard Butler says tests carried out by international scientists confirm that Iraq filled missile warheads with the deadly nerve agent VX before the 1991 Gulf War.
October 28, 1998 - The Iraqi army embarks on a training exercise to enable hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens to defend themselves.
October 31, 1998: Iraq announces that it will cease all forms of interaction with UNSCOM and its Chairman and to halt all UNSCOM's activities inside Iraq, including monitoring. The Security Council, in a statement to the press, unanimously condemn Iraq's decision to cease all cooperation with UNSCOM.
October 31, 1998: President Clinton signs the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998:
Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998." This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers.From the document itself:
Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.
The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.
Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 - Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.Iraq cuts off all work by U.N. monitors. The United States and Great Britain warn of possible military strikes to force compliance. A renewed military build-up in the Persian Gulf begins.
Urges the President to call upon the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, and other criminal violations of international law.
Expresses the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition to democracy by providing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people and democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, including convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to the foreign debt incurred by the Hussein regime.
The Congress makes the following findings:
(1) On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, starting an 8 year war in which Iraq employed chemical weapons against Iranian troops and ballistic missiles against Iranian cities.
(2) In February 1988, Iraq forcibly relocated Kurdish civilians from their home villages in the Anfal campaign, killing an estimated 50,000 to 180,000 Kurds.
(3) On March 16, 1988, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurdish civilian opponents in the town of Halabja, killing an estimated 5,000 Kurds and causing numerous birth defects that affect the town today.
(4) On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and began a 7 month occupation of Kuwait, killing and committing numerous abuses against Kuwaiti civilians, and setting Kuwait's oil wells ablaze upon retreat.
(5) Hostilities in Operation Desert Storm ended on February 28, 1991, and Iraq subsequently accepted the ceasefire conditions specified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 (April 3, 1991) requiring Iraq, among other things, to disclose fully and permit the dismantlement of its weapons of mass destruction programs and submit to long-term monitoring and verification of such dismantlement.
(6) In April 1993, Iraq orchestrated a failed plot to assassinate former President George Bush during his April 14-16, 1993, visit to Kuwait.
(7) In October 1994, Iraq moved 80,000 troops to areas near the border with Kuwait, posing an imminent threat of a renewed invasion of or attack against Kuwait.
(8) On August 31, 1996, Iraq suppressed many of its opponents by helping one Kurdish faction capture Irbil, the seat of the Kurdish regional government.
(9) Since March 1996, Iraq has systematically sought to deny weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) access to key facilities and documents, has on several occasions endangered the safe operation of UNSCOM helicopters transporting UNSCOM personnel in Iraq, and has persisted in a pattern of deception and concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs.
(10) On August 5, 1998, Iraq ceased all cooperation with UNSCOM, and subsequently threatened to end long-term monitoring activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and UNSCOM.
(11) On August 14, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-235, which declared that `the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.'.
(12) On May 1, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-174, which made $5,000,000 available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition for such activities as organization, training, communication and dissemination of information, developing and implementing agreements among opposition groups, compiling information to support the indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes, and for related purposes.
October 31, 1998: Denis Halliday, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, resigns his postion in protest. The BBC:
The outgoing co-ordinator of the UN oil-for-food deal in Iraq, Denis Halliday, has launched a scathing attack on the policy of sanctions, branding them '' a totally bankrupt concept''.November 1998: Publication in the Washington Post and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of investigations into Iraq's quest for nuclear weapons. Both center on events from November 1995 when missile components from Russia were intercepted before delivery to Iraq, and additional parts were discovered submerged in the Tigris River. (See November 1995 entry this timeline.)
In his surprise remarks, Denis Halliday, said his 13-month stint had taught him the "damage and futility" of sanctions. ''It doesn't impact on governance effectively and instead it damages the innocent people of the country,'' he told Reuters news agency.
"It probably strengthens the leadership and further weakens the people of the country.'' Mr Halliday, who has resigned after more than 30 years with the United Nations, leaves his post in Baghdad on Wednesday. He was co-ordinator of the programme that allows Iraq to sell limited amounts of oil to buy food, medicine and other supplies.
He said maintaining the crippling trade embargo imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait was incompatible with the UN charter as well as UN conventions on human rights and the rights of the child. But Mr Halliday believed UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan favoured a fresh look at sanctions as a means of influencing states to change their policies - in Iraq's case making it scrap its weapons of mass destruction, and long-range missiles. "I'm beginning to see a change in the thinking of the United Nations, the secretary-general, many of the member states, who have realised through Iraq in particular that sanctions are a failure and the price you extract for sanctions is unacceptably high.''
His comments follow criticism recently by a top UN weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, of the US and UK for failing to take a tougher line over the inspections.
November 4, 1998: The UNSCOM Executive Chairman informs the Council (S/1998/1032) that, as a result of Iraq's actions, the Commission is not in a position to provide the Council with any level of assurance of Iraq's compliance with its obligations not to retain and not to reestablish proscribed activities.
November 5, 1998: Security Council resolution 1205 unanimously condemns Iraq's actions and demands that Iraq rescind immediately and unconditionally its decisions of 31 October and 5 August.
November 11, 1998: The United Nations withdraws most of its staff from Iraq.
November 14, 1998: CNN
The United States has rejected Iraq's latest offer as unacceptable. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said Saturday night that Baghdad's offer to comply was "neither unequivocal nor unconditional."November 14, 1998: With B-52 bombers in the air and within about 20 minutes of attack, Saddam Hussein agrees to allow U.N. monitors back in. The bombers are recalled before an attack occurs. Weapons inspectors return. Just days later, however, another flap ensues, this one over documents demanded by Richard Butler, the chief U.N. weapons inspector -- documents that the Iraqi government says either do not exist or have been destroyed. In a letter to Butler, the Hussein administration calls the request for documents "provocative rather than professional."
Berger asserted the terms Iraq placed on its compliance had already been found unacceptable by the United Nations Security Council. And Berger warned that to accept the Iraqi offer now would only lead to another crisis down the road.
Berger also said there was every reason to be skeptical of the offer from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to comply fully with inspections. "We've seen this before, broken and unfulfilled promises," Berger explained. "So-called positive answers that turned negative over time."
The security adviser said the United States was not negotiating with Iraq and that the only acceptable response from Baghdad would be a statement of complete compliance with U.N. resolutions.
When asked how long Hussein had to make an acceptable response of compliance, Berger said he would not comment, but he did say it would not be an unlimited amount of time.
"We were poised to take military action, we remain poised to take action," Berger said when a reporter asked if President Clinton had given the order for attacks to begin.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Saturday if there are any conditions attached to Iraq's offer to allow weapons inspectors to resume their work, then the Iraqi offer is unacceptable.
"There can be no negotiation, no further deals, no more amendments to what they have agreed," said Blair. "In the meantime, our forces remain on alert to the possibility of military action at any time without further warning."
Blair also said experience showed Hussein is not a man to be trusted. "We all know, too, that it is only the threat of force that has ever allowed us to achieve any of our objectives in respect to him," said the prime minister.
Pentagon sources say Clinton had already ordered a cruise missile strike against Iraq, when Baghdad's last-minute offer to allow U.N. inspections prompted the president to call off the attack.
Sources say B-52 bombers, armed with cruise missiles, were already in the air, having left their base in the United States, when the order came to stand down.
U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf were at "general quarters" and were less than an hour away from launching "hundreds" of cruise missiles, sources say, when the strike was halted.
Pentagon officials said there has been no change in the plans for the deployment of 140 additional aircraft and 4,000 additional troops to the Persian Gulf region.
Air Force officials said 55 planes have left the United States for bases in the region, and by the end of Saturday, at least 12 more will have left.
Officials say all the additional planes should be in the region by Monday or Tuesday.
If all the forces, troops and planes move, it will take 10 days to two weeks to complete the buildup.
Pentagon officials say six B-52 bombers from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, loaded with air-launched cruise missiles, are at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington state and have not yet moved to the Persian Gulf region.
Six others left Saturday morning from Barksdale Air Force Base to fly directly to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, sources say.
November 15, 1998: Press Statement by the President of the Security Council in which the Council takes note of Iraq's statement of 14 November to cooperate fully with the Special Commission and the IAEA. The Council members underline that their confidence in Iraq's intentions needs to be established by unconditional and sustained cooperation with the Special Commission and the IAEA in exercising the full range of their activities. The Council members also reaffirm their readiness to proceed with the comprehensive review once the Secretary-General has confirmed, on the basis of reports from the Special Commission and the IAEA that Iraq has returned to full cooperation on the basis of resolution 1194 (1998) and the Council President's letter of 30 October to the Secretary-General (SC/65/96-IK258).
December 3, 1998: UNSCOM submits the first of a series of weekly reports on its activities during the period 17 November to 2 December 1998. The report covers inspection activities during that period and also provides an account of correspondence exchanged with Iraq regarding matters such as the provision of documents, clarifications on a number of points previously raised with Iraq and asking that Iraq provide new substantial information on its biological weapons program.
December 8, 1998: Chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler reports that Iraq is still impeding inspections. Cooperation ends between Iraq and inspectors when the country demands the lifting of the U.N. oil embargo. UNSCOM and the IAEA pull their staffs out of Iraq in anticipation of a US-led air raid on Iraqi military targets.
December 9, 1998: The Special Commission submits its second weekly report to the Security Council describing monitoring activities and the difficulties encountered in the course of those activities, including blockage at a site.
December 11, 1998: The House Judiciary Committee approves three articles of impeachment on a 21-16 party line vote, passing them to the full House of Representatives. The three articles accuse Clinton of lying to a grand jury, committing perjury by denying he had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, and obstructing justice. Clinton declares himself "profoundly sorry" and willing to accept censure.
December 12, 1998: The committee approves a fourth article of impeachment on a party-line vote, accusing Clinton of abusing power in a direct parallel to Watergate-era language.
December 15, 1998: UNSCOM reports to the Security-General concerning UNSCOM's activities and the status of Iraq's cooperation with the Commission in the period since 14 November 1998. The Executive Chairman concludes that Iraq did not provide the full cooperation it had promised on 14 November 1998 (S/1998/1172). The report details a repeated pattern of obstructing weapons inspections by not allowing access to records and inspections sites, and by moving equipment records and equipment from one to site to another.
December 15, 1998: With military action looming, France suspends participation in Operation Southern Watch.
December 16, 1998: The United States and Great Britain begin a four-day air campaign against targets in Iraq, Operation Desert Fox. The stated mission: "to strike military and security targets in Iraq that contribute to Iraq's ability to produce, store, maintain and deliver weapons of mass destruction." UNSCOM withdraws its staff from Iraq.
December 16, 1998: CNN reports responses from key congressional leaders:
"I cannot support this military action in the Persian Gulf at this time," [Senate Majority Leader Trent] Lott [(R-Ms)] said in a statement. "Both the timing and the policy are subject to question."Armey ans Fowler had supported the president in his February decision to allow time for a UN solution to work, Lott was reportedly opposed. (See Feb 16 above).
"The suspicion some people have about the president's motives in this attack is itself a powerful argument for impeachment," [House Majority Leader Dick] Armey [(R-Tx)] said in a statement. "After months of lies, the president has given millions of people around the world reason to doubt that he has sent Americans into battle for the right reasons."
Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-New Jersey) called the GOP reaction "as close to a betrayal of the interests of the United States as I've ever witnessed in the United States Congress. It's unforgivable and reprehensible."
"This is a time for our country to be united, even though we're divided on other matters," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota).
He and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Missouri) issued a joint statement defending the timing, saying "any delay would have given (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein time to reconstitute his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and undermine international support for our efforts."
Rep. Porter Goss, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was unaware that U.S. airstrikes were planned against Iraq until he saw them under way on CNN.
Goss (R-Florida) expressed anger that he was never notified by the White House that a strike was imminent and that no members of the House Intelligence Committee were brought into the loop.
"To be cut out at the eleventh hour is annoying, and it's certainly not helpful," Goss said.
He called the fact he was not contacted "a bad mistake of judgment or an oversight by the White House. ... Today the White House should be looking for friends. It's not a good idea to ambush people."
"It's certainly rather suspicious timing," said Rep. Tillie Fowler (R-Florida). "I think the president is shameless in what he would do to stay in office."
Also quoted was Representative Gerald Solomon of New York, a Marine Corps veteran:
Rep. Gerald Solomon (R-New York) issued a statement with the headline: "Bombs Away -- Save Impeachment for Another Day?""As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.
"It is obvious that they're (the Clinton White House) doing everything they can to postpone the vote on this impeachment in order to try to get whatever kind of leverage they can, and the American people ought to be as outraged as I am about it," Solomon said in an interview with CNN.
Asked if he was accusing Clinton of playing with American lives for political expediency, Solomon said, "Whether he knows it or not, that's exactly what he's doing. When you put our troops in the air or on the ground, you are risking their lives. This president ought to know better. I don't know if he does or not, because he's so unpredictable."
Solomon complained that key congressmen had not been told of the military strike. He said Clinton should have briefed more members of Congress and delayed the attack until early next week.
"It would still be spontaneous," Solomon said. "He could still launch the attack, but it would not have been political the way it is today."
Upon hearing Solomon's remarks, Democratic Rep. Sam Gejdenson of Connecticut went before CNN's cameras to rip into Solomon for his accusation.
"Gerry Solomon's spent a career here making outrageous statements, but as an ex-Marine, he ought to know better," Gejdenson said. "That was an outrageous, outrageous statement."
Gejdenson said the nation cannot tie a president's hands based on developments on Capitol Hill.
"Think of the message," Gejdenson said. "If we tell every country out there that might want to do harm to America's interests that every time there's a political squabble in Washington, the presidency has to be frozen, that's outrageous."
Some Republicans also were supportive of Clinton's actions. Outgoing House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) said the strikes were an example of "the U.S. leading the world by exercising its military power in an appropriate way."
The responsibility of the United States in this conflict is to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, to minimize the danger to our troops and to diminish the suffering of the Iraqi people. The citizens of Iraq have suffered the most for Saddam Hussein's activities; sadly, those same citizens now stand to suffer more. I have supported efforts to ease the humanitarian situation in Iraq and my thoughts and prayers are with the innocent Iraqi civilians, as well as with the families of U.S. troops participating in the current action.
I believe in negotiated solutions to international conflict. This is, unfortunately, not going to be the case in this situation where Saddam Hussein has been a repeat offender, ignoring the international community's requirement that he come clean with his weapons program." - Representative Nancy Pelosi (D, CA)
December 17, 1998:The Congressional impeachment vote is postponed until the conclusion of US military action against Iraq.
December 19, 1998: Operation Desert Fox concludes. "On Wednesday when U.S. and British forces launched strikes against Iraq, I stated that we were pursuing clear military goals. And as President Clinton has announced, we've achieved those goals. We've degraded Saddam Hussein's ability to deliver chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. We've diminished his ability to wage war against his neighbors. Our forces attacked about 100 targets over four nights, following a plan that was developed and had been developed and refined over the past year. We concentrated on military targets and we worked very hard to keep civilian casualties as low as possible. Our goal was to weaken Iraq's military power, not to hurt Iraq's people." - Secretary of Defence William S. Cohen
"As the President's principal military advisor, I am confident that the carefully planned and superbly executed combat operations of the past four days have degraded Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs, his ability to deliver weapons and his ability to militarily threaten the security of this strategically important Persian Gulf region. Gen. Zinni made the same assessment.
Now that Operation DESERT FOX is over, we will carefully evaluate the forces we need to keep in place in the region to keep an eye on Saddam. Make no mistake about it, we will maintain a significant capability there to defend our national interests and the security of the region as we have for many years. - General Hugh Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Following the statements above, the Secretary responded to questions from the media:
Q: Do you plan to try to convince the U.N. to send the UNSCOM inspectors back in or is that now a dead issue after the air strikes?UN weapons inspectors would not return to Iraq until late November 2002.
A: It's not at all a dead issue. As a matter or fact, Saddam Hussein will have the burden of demonstrating in some affirmative fashion that he is prepared to allow the inspectors to come back in to be effective. We are not going to simply go through the motions once again where he is able to obstruct their ability to carry out their mission. And so, he must demonstrate a willingness to allow the inspectors to come back and to complete their job. And barring that, we intend to maintain the containment policy which continues to keep the sanctions in place. We'll continue our military as we have been, in place and ready to take action, if it becomes necessary.
Q: If the UNSCOM inspectors are not allowed back in, will there be further air strikes?
A: We are prepared to carry out such air strikes, but we intend to maintain the containment policy and also to make sure that he doesn't threaten the region again. So we'll have our own intelligence observations and make the kind of determination that would lead us to the obvious conclusions.
Q: You use the [word] diminish to describe --
Q: "Diminish" to describe the damage done to the conventional capability. What is diminish in your words versus destroy, eliminate?
A: It's less than what he had before and we think significantly less than what was available before in terms of his capacity to move against his neighbors. We've looked at his Republican Elite Guard, so to speak. We have damaged in substantial fashion, their facilities, some of their housing. We have destroyed his missile production capability, at least, in the factory that we targeted. So there is a significant degradation in our judgment of that.
:...more cruise missiles were fired on Iraq in Desert Fox than during the entire Gulf War in 1991...December 19, 1998: President Clinton is impeached as the Republican controlled House approves two of the four proposed articles of impeachment by narrow partisan majorities: 228-206 and 221-212. Mr Clinton is sent for trial in the Senate.
Funeral services have been held for 68 people who Iraqi officials say were killed in the raids. But Iraq's Ambassador to the UN, Nizar Hamdoon, said: "I'm told that the casualties are in the thousands in terms of numbers of people who were killed or wounded."
But because the Iraqi authorities control journalists' access to damage sites, confirmation of this has been impossible. The UK Ministry of Defence said it was not certain that the full facts about Iraqi casualties would ever be known.
The Iraqi authorities say the air strikes deliberately targeted civilian facilities including hospitals, colleges, residential areas of Baghdad and food storage areas.
Several weeks after the strikes, the UN children's fund, Unicef, made a first preliminary assessment of damage to civilian facilities. They said a warehouse containing rice was destroyed in Tikrit in northern Iraq, ten schools in the southern port city of Basra were damaged, and an agricultural college in Kirkuk in northern Iraq received a direct hit.
They said that in Baghdad medical and maternity centres, a water supply system and parts of the health and social affairs ministries were damaged.
December 21, 1998: In the wake of his impeachment, President Clinton's approval level with the voters leaps 10 points to a personal all-time high of 73 per cent in a Gallup poll. Sixty-eight per cent believe the Senate should not convict Mr Clinton in the pending impeachment trial, while support for resignation falls to 30 per cent. Other polls confirm the trend. CNN's top news stories of the year will list the attack on Iraq as #9, and the impeachment scandal at #1.
December 28, 1998: DoD press release: At approximately 1:30 p.m., Iraqi time, coalition aircraft were attacked by Iraqi surface-to-air missiles fired from sites in northern Iraq. The Iraqis fired three SAMs at Northern Watch aircraft; all missed. Although initial reports claimed that the planes retaliated by launching three HARMs, in fact three F-15Es each dropped two GBU-12 500-pound precision guided munitions (PGMs). Two of the F-15Es hit the SA-3 target site tracking radar and optical guidance unit. The other F-15E had one bomb hit the SA-3 missile site command and control van, and the other hitting the target site tracking radar and optical guidance unit. The other F-15E in the four-ship formation did not drop bombs because he did not have positive target identification. Video footage from U.S. aircraft responding in self-defense to Iraqi aggression on Dec. 28 show that coalition forces attacked the launch sites only after being fired upon. Video of the Iraqi missile firings clearly shows time of their fire prior to any release of coalition ordnance. The SA-3 site used both radar and optics when firing their offensive missiles.
December 30, 1998: An SA-6 site near Talil fires 6-8 missiles at Southern Watch aircraft. F-16s retaliate by dropping six GBU-12 laser-guided bombs on the site. They also launch two HARMs "as a preemptive measure" to deter Iraqi radar operators.
2005-11-19 01:26:43All done!