Iraq was responsible for the 11 September
supposed meeting in Prague between Mohammed
Atta, leader of the 11 September hijackers,
and an Iraqi intelligence official was the
main basis for this claim, but Czech intelligence
later conceded that the Iraqi's contact could
not have been Atta. This did not stop the
constant stream of assertions that Iraq was
involved in 9/11, which was so successful
that at one stage opinion polls showed that
two-thirds of Americans believed the hand
of Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks.
Almost as many believed Iraqi hijackers were
aboard the crashed airliners; in fact there
Iraq and al-Qa'ida were working together
claims by US and British leaders that Saddam
and Osama bin Laden were in league with each
other were contradicted by a leaked British
Defense Intelligence Staff report, which said
there were no current links between them.
Mr Bin Laden's "aims are in ideological conflict
with present-day Iraq", it added.
strand to the claims was that al-Qa'ida members
were being sheltered in Iraq, and had set
up a poisons training camp. When US troops
reached the camp, they found no chemical or
Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa for a
"reconstituted" nuclear weapons program
head of the CIA has now admitted that documents
purporting to show that Iraq tried to import
uranium from Niger in west Africa were forged,
and that the claim should never have been
in President Bush's State of the Union address.
Britain sticks by the claim, insisting it
has "separate intelligence". The Foreign Office
conceded last week that this information is
now "under review".
Iraq was trying to import aluminum tubes to
develop nuclear weapons
US persistently alleged that Baghdad tried
to buy high-strength aluminum tubes whose
only use could be in gas centrifuges, needed
to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Equally
persistently, the International Atomic Energy
Agency said the tubes were being used for
artillery rockets. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed
El Baradei, told the UN Security Council in
January that the tubes were not even suitable
Iraq still had vast stocks of chemical and
biological weapons from the first Gulf War
possessed enough dangerous substances to kill
the whole world, it was alleged more than
once. It had pilotless aircraft which could
be smuggled into the US and used to spray
chemical and biological toxins. Experts pointed
out that apart from mustard gas, Iraq never
had the technology to produce materials with
a shelf-life of 12 years, the time between
the two wars. All such agents would have deteriorated
to the point of uselessness years ago.
Iraq retained up to 20 missiles which could
carry chemical or biological warheads, with
a range which would threaten British forces
from the fact that there has been no sign
of these missiles since the invasion, Britain
downplayed the risk of there being any such
weapons in Iraq once the fighting began. It
was also revealed that chemical protection
equipment was removed from British bases in
Cyprus last year, indicating that the Government
did not take its own claims seriously.
Saddam Hussein had the wherewithal to develop
allegation was made by the Secretary of State,
Colin Powell, in his address to the UN Security
Council in February. The following month the
UN said there was nothing to support it.
US and British claims were supported by the
to Jack Straw, chief UN weapons inspector
Hans Blix "pointed out" that Iraq had 10,000
liters of anthrax. Tony Blair said Iraq's
chemical, biological and "indeed the nuclear
weapons program" had been well documented
by the UN. Mr Blix's reply? "This is not the
same as saying there are weapons of mass destruction,"
he said last September. "If I had solid evidence
that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction
or were constructing such weapons, I would
take it to the Security Council." In May this
year he added: "I am obviously very interested
in the question of whether or not there were
weapons of mass destruction, and I am beginning
to suspect there possibly were not."
Previous weapons inspections had failed
Blair told this newspaper in March that the
UN had "tried unsuccessfully for 12 years
to get Saddam to disarm peacefully". But in
1999 a Security Council panel concluded: "Although
important elements still have to be resolved,
the bulk of Iraq's proscribed weapons programs
has been eliminated." Mr Blair also claimed
UN inspectors "found no trace at all of Saddam's
offensive biological weapons program" until
his son-in-law defected. In fact the UN got
the regime to admit to its biological weapons
program more than a month before the defection.
Iraq was obstructing the inspectors
February "dodgy dossier" claimed inspectors'
escorts were "trained to start long arguments"
with other Iraqi officials while evidence
was being hidden, and inspectors' journeys
were monitored and notified ahead to remove
surprise. Dr Blix said in February that the
UN had conducted more than 400 inspections,
all without notice, covering more than 300
sites. "We note that access to sites has so
far been without problems," he said. : "In
no case have we seen convincing evidence that
the Iraqi side knew that the inspectors were
Iraq could deploy its weapons of mass destruction
in 45 minutes
now-notorious claim was based on a single
source, said to be a serving Iraqi military
officer. This individual has not been produced
since the war, but in any case Tony Blair
contradicted the claim in April. He said Iraq
had begun to conceal its weapons in May 2002,
which meant that they could not have been
used within 45 minutes.
The "dodgy dossier"
Blair told the Commons in February, when the
dossier was issued: "We issued further intelligence
over the weekend about the infrastructure
of concealment. It is obviously difficult
when we publish intelligence reports." It
soon emerged that most of it was cribbed without
attribution from three articles on the internet.
Last month Alastair Campbell took responsibility
for the plagiarism committed by his staff,
but stood by the dossier's accuracy, even
though it confused two Iraqi intelligence
organizations, and said one moved to new headquarters
in 1990, two years before it was created.
War would be easy
fears of war in the US and Britain were assuaged
by assurances that oppressed Iraqis would
welcome the invading forces; that "demolishing
Saddam Hussein's military power and liberating
Iraq would be a cakewalk", in the words of
Kenneth Adelman, a senior Pentagon official
in two previous Republican administrations.
Resistance was patchy, but stiffer than expected,
mainly from irregular forces fighting in civilian
clothes. "This wasn't the enemy we war-gamed
against," one general complained.
fall of Iraq's southernmost city and only
port was announced several times before Anglo-American
forces gained full control - by Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld, among others, and by Admiral
Michael Boyce, chief of Britain's Defense
staff. "Umm Qasr has been overwhelmed by the
US Marines and is now in coalition hands,"
the Admiral announced, somewhat prematurely.
that the Shia Muslim population of Basra,
Iraq's second city, had risen against their
oppressors were repeated for days, long after
it became clear to those there that this was
little more than wishful thinking. The defeat
of a supposed breakout by Iraqi armour was
also announced by military spokesman in no
position to know the truth.
The "rescue" of Private Jessica Lynch
Jessica Lynch's "rescue" from a hospital in
Nasiriya by American special forces was presented
as the major "feel-good" story of the war.
She was said to have fired back at Iraqi troops
until her ammunition ran out, and was taken
to hospital suffering bullet and stab wounds.
It has since emerged that all her injuries
were sustained in a vehicle crash, which left
her incapable of firing any shot. Local medical
staff had tried to return her to the Americans
after Iraqi forces pulled out of the hospital,
but the doctors had to turn back when US troops
opened fire on them. The special forces encountered
no resistance, but made sure the whole episode
Troops would face chemical and biological
US forces approached Baghdad, there was a
rash of reports that they would cross a "red
line", within which Republican Guard units
were authorized to use chemical weapons. But
Lieutenant General James Conway, the leading
US marine general in Iraq, conceded afterwards
that intelligence reports that chemical weapons
had been deployed around Baghdad before the
war were wrong.
was a surprise to me ... that we have not
uncovered weapons ... in some of the forward
dispersal sites," he said. "We've been to
virtually every ammunition supply point between
the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're
simply not there. We were simply wrong. Whether
or not we're wrong at the national level,
I think still very much remains to be seen."
Interrogation of scientists would yield the
location of WMD
have got absolutely no doubt that those weapons
are there ... once we have the co-operation
of the scientists and the experts, I have
got no doubt that we will find them," Tony
Blair said in April. Numerous similar assurances
were issued by other leading figures, who
said interrogations would provide the WMD
discoveries that searches had failed to supply.
But almost all Iraq's leading scientists are
in custody, and claims that lingering fears
of Saddam Hussein are stilling their tongues
are beginning to wear thin.
Iraq's oil money would go to Iraqis
Blair complained in Parliament that "people
falsely claim that we want to seize" Iraq's
oil revenues, adding that they should be put
in a trust fund for the Iraqi people administered
through the UN. Britain should seek a Security
Council resolution that would affirm "the
use of all oil revenues for the benefit of
the Iraqi people".
Britain co-sponsored a Security Council resolution
that gave the US and UK control over Iraq's
oil revenues. There is no UN-administered
from "all oil revenues" being used for the
Iraqi people, the resolution continues to
make deductions from Iraq's oil earnings to
pay in compensation for the invasion of Kuwait
WMD were found
repeated false sightings, both Tony Blair
and George Bush proclaimed on 30 May that
two trailers found in Iraq were mobile biological
laboratories. "We have already found two trailers,
both of which we believe were used for the
production of biological weapons," said Mr
Blair. Mr Bush went further: "Those who say
we haven't found the banned manufacturing
devices or banned weapons - they're wrong.
We found them." It is now almost certain that
the vehicles were for the production of hydrogen
for weather balloons, just as the Iraqis claimed
- and that they were exported by Britain.
2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
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