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20 years

September 10, 2002

hen he contemplated what course of action to follow in Iraq based on the military intelligence he was receiving from the U.S. Army’s “spy central” in Kuwait over the past few weeks, President George W. Bush told the Associated Press after a briefing of Congressional leaders on Wednesday, September 3 that ''...Saddam Hussein is a serious threat. He is a significant problem and something the country must deal with.'' Bush added that ''...doing nothing about that serious threat is not an option for the United States.'' Several members of Congress--largely those on the other side of the partisan political divide--while agreeing in principle that Saddam Hussein is a rogue whose saber-rattling now has the possibility of possessing real teeth, are still not convinced that America needs to move against Iraq even though 64% of the American people think we should.
     This is, after all, an election year and the Democrats don’t want the Republicans doing anything that will make it more difficult for liberals to unseat incumbent Republicans and gain control of the House of Representatives and increase their margin in the U.S. Senate. Even in war or the real threat of a new war, politicians still insist on playing politics. Added to the campaign foreplay of the midterm elections is the economy--and the fact that NAFTA’s decade long job drain can no longer be concealed by either the Federal Reserve or Wall Street. The job drain was triggered by Bill Clinton when the Democratically-controlled Congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement which Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993 and launched the decade-long exodus of 18,000 jobs per month from the United States that is now impacting both the stock market and the economy in general.
     Congress aided and abetted the deceit in mid-decade by enacting new accounting rules for America’s corporations that allowed them to conceal mammoth revenue losses in order to inflate stock valuations and keep the market stable and the economy fluid. Adding to that dilemma, the Fed (which controls consumer credit in the United States) loosened up credit card rules that both allowed and encouraged credit card companies to flood America with plastic. Today, personal credit card debt, which averages $45,000 per household, is threatening to sink the American economy. The American consumer has literally been “consumed to death.” Even though personal bankruptcies are at an all time high, credit card companies continue to offer the overspent consumers of America even more credit in order to keep the economy alive.
     So even though the Democrats in both the House and Senate know that the threat posed by Iraq in the Mideast and around the world is, at this moment, very real and very dangerous, a ground war in the Middle East will infuse the economy of the United States with new life as “war jobs” cut unemployment from the current level of 6% to the 2% or 3% lows of the past decade while pouring billions of dollars of consumer income into the economy. A war with Iraq becomes a “win-win” scenario for the Republicans and a “lose-lose” scenario for Democrats seeking to regain control of Congress.
     That may be why Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle [D-SD], speaking with reporters after a White House conference on Tuesday, September 3 said: ''It would not be my assumption that the military course is the only action available to [Bush] today. 'We're hoping for more information and greater clarity in the days and weeks ahead.'' While House Speaker Dennis Hastert agrees with the President, he felt Congress would vote before the Nov. 5 elections on a non-binding resolution about what to do about Iraq. But he added, “Military action is not a done deal.”

     The question is, what does the leadership in the Executive Branch and Congress (on both sides of the aisle) know? Why has the Administration engaged in its own saber rattling against Saddam Hussein? Was it to force Hussein to readmit UN weapons inspectors into Iraq? That’s not likely since everyone with an ounce of brains knows that the weapons inspectors that were in Iraq at the end of the Gulf War were grossly ineffective because their movement throughout Iraq was tightly controlled and restricted by the Iraqi government. Weapons inspectors did not have the freedom to move quickly and freely to investigate suspected weapons stockpiles. They were required to request permission from the Iraqi government before they could proceed to a suspected weapons site. Many times, after the request was made, days passed before the inspectors were allowed to proceed. By the time permission was granted, the weapons stockpiles, if they were actually sequestered in any those locations, had been moved. Many times, it was suspected, the stockpiles were moved to locations just cleared by the inspectors. The Iraqi terrain was nothing more than a large, sandy shuffle board with the Republican Guard moving tons of chemical and biological agents hours or days ahead of the arrival of the inspection teams. Needless to say, the weapons inspectors found nothing of any consequence over a period of four years.
     Re-activating the UN inspection teams is meaningless if the inspectors have to say “Mother may I?” before taking a step in the sand. Further, without an “immediate and overwhelming force of arms” to back up their edicts, the inspectors would never be allowed by the Iraqis to seize and destroy any contraband they discovered. The UN inspectors themselves have argued that even if they were allowed back in Iraq today it would take them a year before they would be geared up to accomplish anything. In point of fact, if past experience is a yardstick by which current inspections are measured, they will accomplish nothing by returning. While “inspectors” are theoretically needed to take possession of any chemical and biological contraband that might be found, a new round of “inspections’ will simply repeat the sham of yesteryear’s inspection fiasco.
     In the past, the National Security Agency’s “eye in the sky” (excluding AWAC surveillance) had a completely unobstructed view of the Iraqi terrain for only about twelve hours a day. Today NSA has the ability to zero in on any inch of Iraq it wishes to inspect 60-minutes per hour, 24-hours a day. Using space age spy technology the military can read the writing on any box or canister the Iraqi military is burying under the sand or storing in empty warehouses, schools, hospitals--or mosques. Heat tracking technology also detects covert nighttime operations in the Iraqi desert, preventing the “elite” Iraqi Republican Guard from moving weapons systems in the dead of night without our knowledge.
     Iraq is now a nation without secrets. At least, not those visible by spy satellites.

     According to a well-placed, knowledgeable military source, the U.S. Army Command in Kuwait has determined that Saddam Hussein currently has “...three or four active nuclear missile sites.” Active means operational. Although not confirmed by this source, it appears that covert Special Ops teams (the “eyes on the ground”) may have physically verified what the NSA spy satellites detected--that Saddam has what appears to be portable nuclear weapons launchers complete with weapons-tipped Scud missiles ready to fire that are currently stored in warehouses.
     The weapons systems are vulnerable and could easily be taken out today by an air strike. The information I received was not precise enough to determine with any degree of certainty if the Scuds are armed with radiological devises or with actual nuclear fusion warheads. A congressional source with access to military intelligence data told the Washington Times that “...Saddam Hussein is most likely not building a nuclear weapon similar to what we used in 1945.” What does that mean? Does it mean that Saddam is attempting to build a nuclear weapon more sophisticated than what we used in 1945? Or does it mean that he does not possess the ability to build anything as powerful as the bombs that were dropped on Japan to end World War II? The Congressional source acknowledged that Saddam “...has enriched uranium and perhaps plutonium that he could use to make dirty bombs. [But] [h]e’s got the money to buy nuclear capability. If he gets it, would we then take him out?” Since the military knows Saddam has constructed nuclear warheads we are back to the question whether those warheads are radiological or fusion weapons.
     The US government has known since the Gulf War that had that war not happened, Iraq would have had the capability to create nuclear weapons by mid-decade. The question today is not whether or not Iraq, even under the NSA’s watchful eye in the sky, has been able to build nuclear weapons but rather, when he would have one at his disposal. In a press conference held on Friday, September 6, 2002, President Bush announced that according to the best intelligence available to the American government, Saddam would have a nuclear bomb in his weapons arsenal in less than six months. Thus, the reason for the Bush saber-rattling and the urgency to attack Iraq before Saddam has a delivery system that will allow him to strike the United States.
     At the moment the military is more worried about guided missiles containing chemical and biological warheads. Again, there is no doubt within the Bush Administration that Saddam Hussein has an arsenal of chemical and biological warheads--and a delivery system that will carry catastrophic destruction to any nation in the Mideast and, of course, primarily to Israel. What they surmise is that Saddam has been able to purchase the technology needed to perfect a guidance system that will deliver a missile--with reasonable accuracy--to targets as far away as Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

     The fear within the Bush Administration is that Saddam Hussein has not only perfected its guidance system on the Russian Scud missiles that failed to hit their targets in Israel during the Gulf War, but that Saddam Hussein has secured, or will shortly possess, a missile system that can reach not only the core nations of Europe but perhaps even the coastal urban centers in the United States. As America watched Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle remark that we have time to analyze the situation over the next few days, weeks or months before reacting, it would appear the view of the Majority Leader was that the only delivery system Saddam possessed was the unreliable Scud, and the only weapons systems Iraq possessed were the same biological and chemical agents found during the closing days of the Gulf War. However, the source with whom I spoke suggested that the “view on the ground” is that Saddam Hussein poses a very real catastrophic threat to the entire world at this moment.
     Before meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday, September 5, 2002 for a House-Senate leadership security briefing from CIA Director George Tenet and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the seriousness of the threat, Daschle criticized the Bush Administration’s war plans, comparing them to the Kennedy-Johnson excursion into Vietnam that consumed the administrations of four presidents. “We learned the lessons of secrecy during Vietnam,” Daschle told the media in a morning press conference before his CIA briefing. “We learned the lessons of what it is to move without public support in Vietnam. And I would hope that we would not lose one American life because the American people were left in the dark.”
     Apparently Daschle “saw the light” during the briefing because when he emerged sober-faced from the briefing his partisan rhetoric had softened.
     When he came out of briefing, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott [R-MS] noted only that “...the information was interesting and troubling.” House Speaker Dennis Hastert [R-IL] was tight-lipped and silent as he left the hearing. That, of course, didn’t stop Congressman Peter A. DeFazio [D-OR] from trying to put a partisan spin on it. DeFazio, an Oregon liberal tried to make political hay by commenting that “The president’s plans are being driven by ‘hawkish’ advisers who served during his father’s presidency during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Mr. Cheney,” he declared on the House floor, “was Secretary of Defense at the time. Is this left over from his father’s administration? They want to revisit the issue.” This will likely be the spin from the far left--that “43” wants to finish “41’s” war and capture Saddam Hussein.
     When the political rhetoric is stripped aside and the bare bones are exposed, it is clear that [a] Saddam Hussein has three or four active nuclear missile sites that in a worst case scenario can reach Israel, Saudi Arabia, and very likely Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan; [b] that Iraq has massive stores of biological and chemical weapons that include both anthrax and sarin gas; [c] that Iraq has nuclear bomb-making materials including enriched uranium and plutonium; [d] that Iraq has the financial resources to purchase nuclear warheads as well as the expertise to create them “at home” (and will, according to Bush, have them in less than six months); [e] that Iraq has been able to purchase the technology needed to improve the guidance systems of its obsolete Scud missiles, and [f] it is likely that Iraq is attempting to purchase, or has already purchased, more advanced missile systems (or the technology to build them) from the People’s Republic of China or from North Korea.
     It is clear to the Bush Administration that [a] Saddam does have weapons of mass destruction that include radiological, biological and chemical devises; [b] that within six months Iraq will possess a nuclear fusion bomb; [c] that he is trying to purchase even more sophisticated systems at this moment; and [d] that his current missile system (with or without a fusion warhead) is “hot” and ready to fire. While it is unlikely that the weapons systems Iraq currently has can reach any target, with any degree of accuracy, more than 500 to 1,000 miles from the missile site, the reality exists that Saddam may already possess guided missile systems that can reach targets up to 2,000 miles from the missile site. Even if they don’t have active long range missiles at this moment it is becoming increasingly clear to the intelligence community in the United States, England and Israel, that within six months to a year or two at the most, Iraq--if allowed to pursue these systems undeterred--will possess a delivery system that will allow Saddam to strike virtually any target in the world. And, once he gets it, it is clear to the intelligence community that he will use it.
     Unlike the “former” Soviet Union whose penchant to destroy America with its vast nuclear arsenal was held in check by the philosophy of mutually-assured destruction [MAD], Iraq will not be deterred by the knowledge that launching a nuclear, biological or chemical strike against the heartland of America will bring catastrophic retaliation against them since the radical Muslim is convinced that the highest calling in life is to die as a martyr to Islam in a Jihad against the infidels.



Just Say No
Copyright 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
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