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From owner-imap@chumbly.math.missouri.edu Sat Feb 1 11:00:21 2003
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 2003 06:45:58 -0600 (CST)
From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org>
Article: 151013
To: undisclosed-recipients:;


Bush aides debate how much secret information to disclose

By David E. Sanger, International Herald Tribune, 31 January 2003

WASHINGTON: President George W. Bush’s top national security aides, trying to put forth a convincing case that Iraq must be disarmed by force if needed, are hotly debating how much classified information to make public. The potential intelligence material ranges from satellite photographs of suspected Iraqi weapons sites and truck convoys to telephone intercepts and interviews with defectors and detainees.

The pressure to declassify the material comes as officials search for a way to help Secretary of State Colin Powell make a credible argument Wednesday at the United Nations. They need to prove not only that Iraq is blocking real inspections but also that it has active links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network and without compromising the sources of the intelligence. Officials from the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the State Department and intelligence agencies sifted through evidence that may be declassified in coming days.

It includes satellite photographs suggesting that Iraq is trying to sanitize sites before inspectors arrive and evidence suggesting that scientists interviewed by UN inspectors were actually Iraqi intelligence agents. That evidence, along with telephone intercepts of discussions among Iraqi officials and the accounts of defectors and detainees, may constitute the most powerful part of Powell’s case.

According to senior administration officials, Powell has said that he wants to be armed with a brief containing a few select, vivid items of solid evidence, not a mosaic of bits and pieces of murky material that could be discounted by dubious allies and critics of the Bush administration. He plans, officials say, to catalog discrepancies between Iraq’s recent weapons declaration and previous findings of biological and chemical weapons and agents during inspections, and to offer more details of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

A crucial part of his case, officials say, will center on continuing obstructions, including the fact that Iraq has so far made it impossible for UN inspectors to fly U-2 surveillance aircraft over the country. A senior White House official called Iraq’s refusal to allow the flights the biggest material breach of all, so far. But some officials here and many abroad say that new, convincing evidence is hard to come by.

A senior official warned not to expect the kind of vivid pictures that Adlai Stevenson, the U.S. representative to the UN during the Cuban missile crisis, famously offered of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962.

Those moments don’t exist anymore, the official said, precisely because they were so effective when Adlai Stevenson did it.

The administration is still debating the credibility of intelligence about an Iraqi truck convoy in December that some American analysts say could have been transporting weapons of mass destruction or scientists to Syria, where they would be safely out of inspectors’ hands. The convoy was unusually well-protected, a senior administration official said. But after weeks of research, the contents of the shipment are still unclear. Complicating the issue, the Central Intelligence Agency doubts there was a suspicious convoy at all, noting that there is a constant parade of trucks and tankers moving across the border.

It is such disputes—nothing out of the ordinary in the intelligence world, where evidence is always incomplete and analysts from different agencies rarely come to the same conclusion—that are plaguing the debate over how to best arm Powell.

I worry about this one, a foreign diplomat familiar with the intelligence said. Powell has one shot to do this right, and he’s careful, so I’m sure his standard of evidence will be high. But expectations are high, and there’s naturally a tendency to throw in everything you’ve got and ask hard questions later.

Powell was cautious Wednesday, acknowledging the tension over what he could make public at the United Nations. We will be as forthcoming as we can next week, he said, but mindful of sources and methods.

He told a German television network that the United States would illustrate some of the things they have done to deceive the inspectors. We will also show information concerning the programs they have had over the years to develop chemical weapons, biological weapons and nuclear weapons and why it is so important that the world must insist that Saddam Hussein disarm, he added.

John Wolf, the assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, also would not specify what kind of intelligence was available. But he said: We will dip into the intelligence that we have to help amplify the kinds of concerns that the inspectors have cataloged and the kinds of concerns that were on the record from even 1998 and previously. It’s not some special Hollywood contrivance, he said. It will be factual, it will be sober, and it will be straightforward. In other words, the story is out there and we will amplify it.

Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld briefed some members of Congress on Wednesday, and a few Democrats who emerged from the meeting said they were impressed with links that the two men had drawn between Saddam and Qaeda.

Bush cited that connection in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, but administration officials said Wednesday that ... most of the evidence came from detainees who have been imprisoned for nearly a year. Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday that there was intelligence gathered in Britain that showed links between Iraq and Qaeda.

But British officials said he based his comments largely on evidence that has been available for some time, and they noted that Blair was careful not to overstate the connections.