Thursday, 26 June 2003

Undermining Blix

Wolfowitz Had CIA Investigate Blix

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, was so eager to see the United States launch a preemptive strike against Iraq in early 2002, that he ordered the CIA to investigate the past work of Hans Blix, the chief United Nations weapons inspector, who in February 2002, was asked to lead a team of U.N. weapons inspectors into Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, in an attempt to undermine the scientist.

The unusual move by Wolfowitz underscores the steps the Bush administration was willing to take a year before the U.S. invaded Iraq to manipulate and or exaggerate intelligence information to support it's claims that Iraq posed an immediate threat to the United States and that the only solution to quell the problem was the use of military force.

U.S. military forces in Iraq have yet to find any evidence of WMD. Some U.S. lawmakers have accused the Bush administration of distorting intelligence information, which claimed Iraq possessed tons of chemical and biological agents, to justify the attack to overthrow Iraq's President Saddam Hussein. Although the Bush administration continues to deny the accusations, evidence, such as the secret report Wolfowitz asked the CIA in January 2002 to produce on Blix, prove that the administration had already decided that removing Saddam from power would require military force and it would do so regardless of the U.N..

Earlier this month, Blix accused the Bush administration of launching a smear campaign against him because he could not find evidence of WMD in Iraq and, he said, he refused to pump up his reports to the U.N. about Iraq's WMD programs, which would have given the U.S. the evidence it needed to get a majority of U.N. member countries to support a war against Iraq. Instead, Blix said the U.N. inspectors should be allowed more time to conduct searches in Iraq for WMD.

In a June 11 interview with the London Guardian newspaper, Blix said "U.S. officials pressured him to use more damning language when reporting on Iraq's alleged weapons programs."

"By and large my relations with the U.S. were good,'' Blix told the Guardian. "But toward the end the (Bush) administration leaned on us.'"

Tensions between Blix and the hawks in the Bush administration, such as Wolfowitz, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, go back at least two years, when President Bush, at the urging of Secretary of State Colin Powell, said he wanted the U.N. to resurrect U.N. arms inspections for Iraq.

The move angered some in the administration, such as Wolfowitz, who, according to an April 15 report in the Washington Post, wanted to see military action against Iraq sooner rather than later.

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