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Iraq recruited U.N. inspectors as informants and learns in advance which facilities will be searched, giving Saddam advance warning that enables him to play “rope-a-dope in the desert,” according to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

As World Tribune.com first reported, Wolfowitz offered details of Iraq’s “concealment” strategy in an
address to the Council on Foreign Relations late last week.

President Bush offered highlights in his State of the Union address last night.

Middle East Newsline reported that much of the information on Iraq’s infiltration of U.N. inspectors and concealment strategy U.S. officials cite comes from foreign intelligence services, including Middle East agencies.

“When U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998, it was concluded that: ‘The history of the Special Commission’s work in Iraq has been plagued by coordinated efforts to thwart full discovery of Iraq’s programs.’” Wolfowitz said. “What we know from the testimony of Iraqis with first-hand knowledge, from U.N. inspectors, and from other countries about Iraq’s current efforts to deceive inspectors, suggests that Iraq is fully engaged today in the same old practices of concealment and deception.”

According to Wolfowitz, Saddam’s son Qusay runs the concealment operation and uses the Special Security Organization under his control for that purpose. Another Iraqi security organization, the National Monitoring Directorate – whose stated purpose is to facilitate inspections – provides tip-offs to
inspections sites.

Former U.N. inspector David Kay recalls that in 1991, inspectors found a document warning the chief security official of a facility about to be inspected by Kay’s team. The Iraqis got the heads-up less than 48 hours after the U.N.’s decision to search the facility was made. Kay stresses fewer than 10 people within the inspection organization were supposed to know about the operational plan.

Inspector-informants

Wolfowitz said that just as in the 1990s, Iraqi intelligence has recruited U.N. inspectors as informants and uses pressure tactics to obtain information about the inspectors. He cited a 1990s incident where one inspector was reportedly filmed in a compromising situation and blackmailed.

WorldNetDaily pointed out last week that
former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter served during this period under the auspices of UNSCOM, the United Nations Special Commission.

He subsequently resigned from UNSCOM, stating he felt “Iraq remained insufficiently disarmed and ready to restart its nuclear and biological weapons programs.”

But in an apparent turn-around Ritter – who made headlines last week over the revelation of a June 2001 arrest New York media report stemmed from a police sex-sting operation – now says he would ”be surprised if there is anything in Iraq worth finding.”

Last December, it was reported that the State Department and U.N. – without any background check – selected a munitions expert for the inspection team who had no specialized scientific degree and who served in a leadership role in sadomasochistic sex clubs.

Iraq’s ‘anti-inspectors’

Other Iraqi government agencies – including the Military Industrial Organization, the SSO, the
Iraqi Intelligence Service, the Special Republican Guard and the Director of General Security – reportedly provide thousands of personnel for hiding documents and materials from inspectors, to sanitize inspection sites, to monitor the inspectors’ activities and act as “minders” to intimidate witnesses.

Prohibited material and documents are said to be repeatedly relocated to agricultural areas and private homes or hidden beneath mosques and hospitals.

The recent discovery by inspectors of a box containing 3,000 government documents on a program to enrich uranium in a scientist’s home underscored Wolfowitz’s claim.

According to the deputy secretary, this army of “anti-inspectors” vastly outnumbers the couple of hundred U.N.
personnel on the ground in Iraq.

As WorldNetDaily reported, Secretary of State Colin Powell alluded to this Iraqi network of anti-inspectors and “minders” in his comments following the U.N. reports on Monday.

“There is an entire state apparatus in Iraq whose sole purpose is to obstruct the inspections. … It benefits no one to let Saddam think he can wear us down in a business-as-usual as he has practiced
over the last 12 years,” he said.

U.N. chief inspector Hans Blix also complained of Iraq’s “disturbing harassment” of his inspectors
and alluded to Saddam’s concealment strategy in his status report to the Security Council Monday.

“Inspections are not a game of catch-as-catch-can,” charged Blix, who said that inspectors had been given information by member states about the concealment of “missiles and chemical
weapons and mobile units for biological weapons productions.”

But when asked this morning to comment on U.S. officials’ reports that inspectors were compromised by Iraq, Blix told Fox News, “You mean that there were deliberate leaks? I don’t think that anyone at the high level of the administration would contend that.”

In a foreshadowing of Bush’s annual speech to Americans Wolfowitz concluded: “If a government is unwilling to disarm itself, it would be unreasonable to expect inspectors to do it for them. They cannot be charged with a ‘search and destroy’ mission to uncover so-called ‘smoking guns’ – especially not if the host government is intent on hiding them and impeding the inspectors’ every move.”

After saving Iraq for last in his hour-long address, President Bush echoed the concealment details laid out by Wolfowitz.

“The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving,” he declared before listing Saddam Hussein’s tactics, as reported by intelligence sources and laid out by Wolfowitz.

Bush said Hussein had failed to account for materials sufficient to produce more than 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent, 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents and several mobile biological weapons labs.

“Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say. And intelligence sources indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered that scientists who cooperate with U.N. inspectors in disarming Iraq will be killed, along with their families,” said Bush.

Iraq admitted yesterday that interviews with scientists remained a sticking point with U.N. inspectors.

“The 108 U.N. weapons inspectors were … not sent to conduct a scavenger hunt for hidden materials across a country the size of California. The job of the inspectors is to verify that Iraq’s regime is disarming. It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see, and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened,” Bush said.

The president announced his administration would ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on Feb. 5 to “consider the facts of Iraq’s ongoing defiance of the world.”

He said Powell would present information and intelligence about Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors and its links to terrorist groups.

“If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him,” he vowed.

Previous stories:

Blix blasts Iraq at U.N.

Evidence against Iraq building toward war

Rumsfeld: ‘People of Iraq are hostages’

Rumsfeld: Immunity possible for

Saddam

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