Anniversary of Second U.S. Iraq War
March 20, 2003
From the Party Press
Inspections as Disinformation
Flawed Report About Iraqi Warheads
Following a finding by UN inspectors in Iraq of 11 empty warheads, the monopoly controlled media and government officials raised a big hue and cry that “chemical warheads” had been found and that Iraq was potentially in violation of Security Council Resolution 1441 because it did not disclose these. Even the UN news agency repeated the propaganda that they were “chemical warheads.” “UN inspectors report finding empty chemical warheads in Iraq,” it said. “United Nations inspectors on January 16 found empty chemical warheads at a storage area in Iraq, according to a spokesman for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection commission (UNMOVIC) in Baghdad. During a visit of the Ukhaider Ammunication Storage Area to inspect a large group of bunkers constructed in the late 1990s, a UNMOVIC multidisciplinary team discovered 11 empty 122 mm chemical warheads and one that required further evaluation, Hiro Ueki said,” the UN news agency reported. “The warheads were in excellent condition and were similar to ones imported by Iraq during the late 1980s,” Mr. Ueki said. “The team used portable X-ray equipment to conduct a preliminary analysis of one of the warheads and collected samples for chemical testing,” the UN agency reported.
It turns out that this Mr. Ueki presented the media with a false report. The warheads were not chemical at all, just empty cylinders without a payload. Nonetheless, this story was picked up by the media in all countries and especially the U.S. administration in their enthusiasm to find “a smoking gun” and justify an invasion of Iraq.
TML Daily is posting below the text of the letter sent to CNN by William Rivers Pit, author of War on Iraq, which explains this matter.
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To: Staff / Aaron Brown CNN
Subject: Flawed Report; Iraqi Warheads Found
Thursday 16 January 2003
My name is William Rivers Pitt. I am the author of the book War on Iraq, which has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, and has cracked the top ten bestseller lists of the Washington Post, L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle and others. I am also a writer for the publication truthout.org.
I apologize for flouting my resume at you, but I wanted to make sure that you do not dismiss this email as coming from someone not very well versed in this Iraq situation. A correspondent named (name deleted) at CNN gave me your address, so that I might pass a note through you to Mr. Aaron Brown. I am hoping he is prepared to hear what I am saying.
First things first: The warheads.
Let’s be clear. These were not “chemical warheads.” In the Iraqi arsenal, a warhead is a warhead – an empty ordnance space strapped to a missile. What matters is the payload, be it explosive or chemical or nuclear. The item placed in the warhead denotes the designation. These warheads were stone-cold empty, so by definition they are not “chemical warheads.” They are, in fact, nothing, because they were loaded with no payload. Furthermore, the word “warhead” is in itself misleading, as these were artillery munitions.
Second. Iraq is allowed by UN resolutions to have a variety of weapons, including the Al Samoud missile. We did not want to pull Iraq’s fangs completely after the Gulf War, considering the neighbourhood they live in. We allowed them to keep missiles that fly only a certain distance (150km most often). Many people will not know this, and will think the presence of these munitions will represent a breach of the UN resolution. This is not the case.
Third. Scott Ritter informed me today that these munitions were part of Iraq’s declaration last December. I await further confirmation of this, and so should the journalism world.
Fourth. This is absolutely a vindication of the inspections regime. They found the stuff, and it will be destroyed, and no American soldiers or Iraqi civilians died in the process. Inspections work.
Fifth. Recall how the UNSCOM inspections were undermined by meddling from the American intelligence community. Understand that this warhead story did not come from Blix, or through the normal channels, but through a Japanese (read: close ally) inspector who contacted the news media and let rip before the facts were in hand. Why?
Finally, I want to address a comment you made earlier this week. You said on your show that it was unconscionable that viewers were writing in claiming that CNN wants war because war is good for the media business. I understand that this idea offends the core of your professionalism, but I wonder if you have been watching CNN today.
Your station has referred, over and over again, to these discovered warheads as “chemical warheads.” The debate has not been centred on what the facts are behind these items – when they were made, whether they were loaded with anything, how long they have been there, whether they were declared – and instead has focused on whether the White House can use this as a pretext for war. Calling these things “chemical warheads” is a gross exaggeration, which I have heard on CNN no less than seven times during the period I have been writing this message. Mull that.
Please, take the data I have given you and air it, for the sake of a reasoned and complete debate. I remind you that CNN’s viewership increased by 500% after 9/11 and that your network made its bones on the first Gulf War. I beg you to get this data out to the American people, who desperately need facts and not overheated innuendo.
With great appreciation,
William Rivers Pitt
The Case of the “Undisclosed Documents”
“UN arms experts found 3,000 undisclosed documents apparently relating to nuclear weapons technology in an Iraqi scientist’s home, atomic agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said,” Agence France Presse reported on January 19. Speaking in an interview with CNN, ElBaradei questioned why the Iraqis had not told of the documents, and warned inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction would continue to raid private homes despite protests, AFP said. “We haven’t received these original documents before and that’s precisely the point we have been emphasising, Iraq should be pro-active, we shouldn’t find these documents on our own,” he said.
The documents were found at the home of a senior Iraqi scientist on January 16 in the first raid of its kind, AFP said.
“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief said the documents, which were being translated from Arabic, dated from the 1980s and referred to ‘laser technology used for enriching uranium … to make a nuclear bomb,'” AFP reported. “But he added that ‘we know they have not gone that far’ in making a nuclear bomb,” AFP said.
“The case shows that since we found documents in private homes that it is necessary to go there, if they stopped us going it would be a bad signal,” Blix said in the joint interview, AFP reported.
The case of the documents seems to be another in which announcements are made which are a straightforward example of disinformation. In the case of the “hidden documents” it seems that the same Mr. Ueki who discovered the “chemical warheads,” discovered the “hidden documents.” The UN news agency, in the same report where it quoted Ueki finding the “chemical warheads,” continues: “Meanwhile, UN inspectors visited the homes of two Iraqi scientists in Baghdad in search of documents, according to the UN spokesman. ‘Some documents related to past proscribed activities, dating from the early 1990s, [and] were taken for further evaluation,’ Mr. Ueki said.”
The documents were found in the home of Iraqi scientist Faleh Hassan Hamza, director of the Al-Razi factory which develops lasers and other projects for the military, AFP said. “The inspectors seized thousands of documents from his house after a stormy meeting and took photocopies before handing them back,” AFP said. Faleh Hassan Hamza categorically denied any link between Iraq’s former nuclear program and documents found at his home. He said that a female inspector from the United States proposed that he leave the country after searching his house. He said she suggested he could leave the country by pretending to take his wife abroad for medical treatment for her diabetes, and called it “mafia behaviour.”
“The inspectors put their hands on personal documents which have nothing to do with the former (nuclear) program,” Faleh Hassan Hamza said in Arabic during a press conference in Baghdad. “Unfortunately, ElBaradei made hasty declarations, without referring to the former documents,” he said.
Hamza explained that “we did research on laser isotopic separation and in 1988 we reached the conclusion that this technology was very difficult given our infrastructure, so the decision was taken to abandon that approach.” He said parts of the documents relating to the laser technology were included in various Iraqi weapons declarations to the United Nations since the launch of the disarmament process in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War.
“I am ready to sit down with ElBaradei and to examine them one by one, line by line, word by word,” he said. The inspectors “were eager to find something to provoke a problem,” he said. “I will sue UNMOVIC for such mafia methods,” he added.